JUNIOR RANK BLACK BELT CLASS ASSISTANTS
THE "RED TOP" PROGRAM
This page expains the program as it presently exists and gives the names and locations of the students presently in the program.
What is the Red Top or Black Belt Junior Rank Assisting Instructors Program?
First, it is important to realize that all of the classes at the American Martial Arts Institute are taught by yearly certified black belt instructors. Instructors are over 18 years of age and attend four instructional staff meetings plus seminars each year to maintain this certification.
In the tradition of the martial arts, we at the American Martial Arts Institute realize that an apprenticeship is the most effective way for an individual to learn the intricate areas of the martial arts and how to teach the style to someone else. Also realizing that a young adult 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 has not taken on the responsibilities that most adults have, we realize that the maturity of their personality which is essential in the true understanding and teaching of the art has not taken place as of yet either. With that in mind, we identify these helpers in class with a red top when they are assisting the instructors in the class. When they are attending as students, they wear their normal white top and are asked to do nothing more than any other student. The program is designed to allow this junior rank black belt who has been a student for the school for over 6 years and who has a desire to someday be able to join the staff and teach this style to see first hand the methods and details involved in passing on an art to other individuals that are physically, mentally and emotionally different than themselves. How in effect does the style adapt to each individual and still keep its form and standards? The program allows the Red Tops to learn how to represent the school with the community in various ways. They answer the office phone and become familiar with the general paperwork and running of the office. They represent the school at demonstrations and talks by answering questions from interested or just curious spectators as to the school, style and history. They assist the instructors in the general clean up of the training hall and office after the day's classes. The Red Tops serve the needs of the school.
In the classroom, they are available partners for student exercises as well as partners for the Black Belt instructors themselves. This is very helpful because in our school instructors do not touch to teach, cannot use students as partners or ever spar or do self-defense with any student regardless of age. Also Red Tops hold kicking shields, focus pads and targets for the classroom students during class. Only in the children's classes are the Red Tops allowed to call off count commands for push-ups or standard (pre-chosen by the black belt instructor) basic forms for the class. They may be assigned to watch a student's form as the student practices to make sure that they do not leave out a part, but they are to get a black belt instructor if they see that a mistake has been made. They may call out the stretching commands for the class as well as the count commands for the class doing their katas.
Red Tops are not allowed to teach any aspect of the style. They are an extra pair of eyes and ears, hands and feet for the certified black belt that is on the floor responsible for the class and what the students will learn. Red Tops are not allowed to be on the floor in an assisting way without a certified black belt on the floor with them. Again they are an extension of the instructor in charge.
Much of this program is documented in the book Leadership Piece by Piece by Grandmaster Crandall and Master Stalloch. To become a part of this program, the black belt teenager must go to their instructor and indicate their interest and at that time are told some of the responsibilities that go with being a part of the program. Then they write a letter to Grand Master Crandall explaining their desire to do this, why they believe they will be able to help the students and school and what they believe they will gain from being in the program. Normally, a three to four month passes as their request is considered and they are observed in class as well as how they are doing in school before a decision is made. There is not an additional fee to be in this program, although a great deal of one-on-one time is spent with these students in teaching and working with them. This program does not change their status as students in the school, nor their rank in anyway. Participants are teenagers under the age of 18. Once 18, the individual has the option to consider going into the regular black top staff program. If they chose to, and evaluation period takes place again for this level of teaching. Additional guidelines and details can be found in Leadership Piece by Piece.
Students in the Red Top program may find that their personal skills in the martial arts, social interaction, leadership, mental focus and patience all improve. They also see the complexity of teaching to a variety of individuals and begin to truly understand the importance of each person being an individual. They learn business skills, greater responsibility regarding their own actions, and start to develop a self-confidence balanced with caution and adult judgment.
This list of junior rank black belts, that are "Red Tops" does change. This is partially because they turn 18 years of age and also because of time constraints that are of a constant challenge to students of this caliber and who are involved in so many productive community ventures.
We in the American Martial Arts Institute are proud of these young ladies and gentlemen who have chosen to help pass on our style.
CURRENT, ACTIVELY SERVING RED TOPS:
Camila Rodriguez Plate