9th Dan Promotion
On Friday, February 10, 2023, Grandmaster Clifford C. Crandall, Jr., the head and founder of the American Martial Arts Institute and American Eagle Style, promoted Master Eric Stalloch to 9th Degree Black Belt in American Eagle Style. This was done at the instructors' class workout before a group of 16 instructors who were able to attend. Master Stalloch's testing took place over the course of several different days with Grandmaster Crandall for the past 2 and 1/2 months.
The American Martial Arts Institute is a very traditional school, following many of the old values and structures of martial arts. One of these concepts is that a school's organizational structure is like a pyramid, rising to a single point. At the top of that structure is the Grandmaster (Headmaster or Hanshi are other common terms) who is solely responsible for the style and school's direction. For our style this person is Grandmaster Crandall, and his rank is 10th Degree Black Belt (10th Dan). In American Eagle Style only one person can occupy the rank of the 9th Degree and they are also the successor to the position and rank of Grandmaster; although, only one person can hold each of these ranks per generation for the school at a time. The rank of 8th Dan may be held by more than one person but is a rare distinction. The rank of 7th Dan also certifies the student as a Master Instructor in the style for American Eagle Style. The base of the pyramid is created by the white belts and colored belt ranks.
The position of being the successor to the Grandmaster is a separate concept from the rank. The rank involves a testing process with a demonstration of skills and knowledge. The position of successor is chosen by the Grandmaster. Therefore, a person can be a rank lower than 9th Dan and be the successor, but only the designated successor can test for the rank of the 9th Dan.
Our process of teaching and perpetuating the American Eagle Style of martial arts is still very much a master and apprentice system, a student and instructor/mentor. Master Stalloch has been a student of Grandmater Crandall's for more than 34 years and continues to train under him. 9th Dan is a significant milestone of achievement and its value is to the school, its stability, and future continuation. Master Stalloch continues to learn and train from his mentor, Grandmaster Crandall.
Below is the text that can found on Master Stalloch's 9th Dan Certificate. The certificate will hang on public display at the training hall.
This is to certify that Eric Stalloch is ranked as 9th Degree Black Belt in the American Eagle Style of Martial Arts as of February 1, 2023.
Grandmaster Crandall recognizes Eric Stalloch as a true and traditional martial artist with the rank of 9th Degree Black Belt. Eric Stalloch had earned his 8th Degree Black Belt on August 18, 2016. Prior to that on August 8, 2013, he was chosen by Grandmaster Crandall to be his successor regarding the American Eagle Style and the American Martial Arts Institute. This has not changed.
The growth of an individual martial arts student does not stop simply because they have reached the level of knowledge and skill that identifies them as a 6th, 7th, or 8th Degree Black Belt. The growth and knowledge never stop for those who are committed to their training, and as a result Eric Stalloch has achieved a new level of martial arts understanding. That is the grasp of the concepts and the emotional awareness necessary for a traditional style to maintain its heritage amidst a constantly changing society and world. The achievement of 9th Degree Black Belt is truly the fulfillment of the martial arts belief that martial arts is ultimately 90% mental. Whether he oversees one student or one-thousand students, these beliefs cannot be compromised, or the core traditions of the style will be lost.
This certificate is validated by the signature and hanko of the founder and Grandmaster of the American Martial Arts Institute and of the American Eagle Style of martial arts.
Grandmaster Clifford C. Crandall Jr.