Black belt is a prestigious rank, one recognized around the world. In the American Eagle Style, there are ten degrees (Dan) of black belt. Only one person may hold the rank of 10th Dan, the head of the school who determines its direction and certifies its instructors. For the American Martial Arts Institute, this is Grandmaster Crandall. In addition, there are 8 gyups (belt ranks) that must first be earned. All students begin as white belts and test for each rank, maturing in the style through its traditional process.
Essential for all students who test for the black belt ranks is a demonstration of school involvement, a proper martial arts attitude, self-motivation, and accountability. This includes participating in seminars, school competitions, weapon's classes, cleaning days, ceremonial luncheons, and other events held by the school throughout the year which help students grow as traditional martial artists. These events are held specifically as part of their training, and the student must choose to become involved in these areas areas as part of their rank's responsibilities. These events provide opportunities for students to grow within the style in ways that are crucial to becoming a black belt. They must also have attended multiple classes each week in the months prior to testing, including have attended each class day multiple times to be observed by all five Master Instructors and other instructors. They must be directly accountable to their instructor reporting on their attendance, participation, and other factors. Black belt candidates should have read in their entirety and be familiar with the Amerian Eagle Style Textbook, the American Martial Arts Institute American Eagle Style Superkick Workbook, Be Safe Physically and Mentally with the Crandall System, and Leadership Piece by Piece. Black belt candidates need to be self-motivated and responsible for their own effort in training. In addition, they must write a 500-650 page paper. This paper is due no later than 30 days prior to their possible test date, and the paper must be accepted by Grandmaster Crandall and all five Master Instructors. Guidelines for this paper are available to all first rank brown belts. These are all pre-qualifications before the student's instructor can even consider them to test. They must also have a minimum of 6 months as a first rank brown belt, but this is a minimum and it can often take much longer.
On Friday, March 3, 2017 four candidates met these pre-qualifications and were granted permission to test after their instructors made recommendations in writing to Grandmaster Crandall. The candidates all tested for 1st Degree Black Belt, Junior Rank before a panel of judges led by Grandmaster Crandall. The panel was comprised of the five Master Instructors, the titled instructors and several additional fifth and sixth degree instructors. The testing lasted over 4 hours with the candidates demonstrating a wealth of knowledge and skills, beginning with an intensive closed-book written examination including information about the style, the school and more.
Following the written exam, the candidates had to complete a second open-book written exam referred to as the "Library Exam." The students were permitted to bring up to 15 books, DVDs, or ebooks from their personal martial arts library to assist them in completing these questions. These items can include educational resources produced by our school that students have been required get as part of their training as well as additional resources from other authors. The students are expected to have written their name in each of these items, as they are part of their personal library. Students interested in learning more about this requirement can speak with their instructor.
Following the written exams some of the physical skills and knowledge of the students were tested. The first degree (junior rank) candidates are required to know 13 traditional katas, including Chulgi 1, Eye of the Eagle, the Palgwes, and others. Other areas included punches, kicks, stances, 36 basic forms, advanced techniques, floor exercises, takedowns, self-defense, defenses against guns and knives, sparring individual and multiple opponents, bag work, flying side kick on a hanging bag, and other areas. The junior rank candidates did not need to demonstrate board breaking, weapons forms, spar partners over 18 years of age, or demonstrate the kata Old Koryo, as adult rank candiates must.
The American Martial Arts Institute is a traditional school. In part, this means that the style's knowledge, techniques, ettiquettes, philosophy, and processes are maintained consistently from generation-to-generation. The rank of first degree black belt cannot be earned prior to a minimum of 5 1/2 years of training, and generally takes 6-8 years or more to earn. The rank of first degree is graded out of a score of 100 possible points, with a minimum of 80 points needed to pass.
This is only a small part of what goes into earning a black belt in the Amerian Eagle Style.
Grandmaster Crandall is pleased to announce that the following American Eagle Style students have passed their black belt examination:
1st Degree Black Belt, Junior Rank Status Jessica Ritz, Alyse Lisi, Dakota Fedor, and Julia Mazzotta
Candidates receive their certificate of rank at the next black belt ceremonial luncheon on Saturday, April 22, 2017.