Black Belt Testing Results
Saturday, March 11, 2023 was a moment of tremendous growth for the American Eagle Style of martial arts. Six dedicated students earned black belt ranks. This was a unique testing because the individuals were testing for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Degree Black Belt.
In the American Martial Arts Institute, beginners wear white belts. As they train, improve their skills, and grow within the Art emotionally, mentally, and physically, they may achieve new ranks, which are certified by the head of the school, Grandmaster Crandall. To visually identify these ranks, the students wear colored belts: yellow, green, blue, purple, and three levels of brown. It takes years of dedication to achieve the highest level of brown (called 1st Rank or 1st Gyup). This is followed by black belt. Therefore, the students who earns a First Degree Black Belt has trained a minimum of 5 1/2 years, but often the time is longer.
Black belt is a true milestone and prestigious achievement for the students who earn the rank, yet it is in some regards an intermediate rank because there are ten levels of black belt in the American Eagle Style (called degrees or Dan). Each degree of black belt requires years of training with continued practice of the fundamentals and knowledge learned at previous ranks. The ranks are a cumulative growth process, and through training the individual cultivates themself and strengthens their mind, body, and emotions. As a traditional school, everyone testing for a particular rank must learn the same katas and required skills and knowledge, making the testing a moment when the style's unwaivering consistency is demonstrated.
The testing lasted nearly six hours and the judging panel was led by the head of the school, Grandmaster Crandall. (10th Dan) He was assisted by Headmaster Stalloch (9th Dan), five of the school's Master Instructors (7th Dan), and additional 6th and 5th Dan judges.
One of the most impressive aspects of this testing was the demonstration of more than 35 empty hand katas from American, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese heritages. More specifics about these forms are described below.
,One individual tested for first degree black belt. All candidates began with a written exam testing the student's knowledge of our style, school, and traditional martial arts information. For the first degree candidate it is part of a numerical score. Along with the physical skills evaluated, the student must earn a minimum of 80 out of 100 points to pass the exam. The first degree candidate must be able to demonstrate eight Pal-Gwes, three Ki-Cho (basic katas), Chulgi 1, Old Koryo, and Eye of the Eagle. In addition they had to perform one extension tool form (either bo, sai, tonfa, kama, eku, cane, sword, naginata, half moon staff, or escrima). Other areas demonstrated included: punches, kicks, 36 basic forms from memory, 10 ippon kumites, 5 defensive hanza escape techniques, 9 takedowns, come-alongs, SD1 and SD2, self defense against grabs, punches, kicks, gun and knife assault scenarios, board breaking, and sparring (one, two, then three people simultaneously). Other areas can include mat work, bag work, verbal questions, and others. The candidates for 1st dan had to write a paper and complete other pre-requisites to qualify to be considered for testing.
Second Dan through Fourth Dan
The individuals testing for second degree black belt had already been first dan for a minimum of two years (but longer is very common). Candidates for second dan and higher do not receive a numerical score, but the standard remains rigorous. Additional areas tested involved some of the advanced techniques taught to black belts (there are more than 60), multiple extension tool forms, seated self defense techniques, and a variety of other skills. Below are the kata each rank need to demonstrate.
Second Dan: Heian 1, Chulgi 2, Geumgang, New Koryo, Chip Su
Third Dan: Heian 2, Chulgi 3, Taebaek, Chip Jang, Bassai Dai, American Eagle
Forth Dan: Heian 3, Pyongwon, Long Hand, Continuity 2, Aoyangi (male and female variations)
Fifth Dan Fifth Dan is a significant rank in the American Eagle Style. First, the length of time can be several years (even more than a decade). Second, the individual must also have chosen the path to be an instructor. In the American Martial Arts Institute not all black belts are permitted to teach. The ability to personally demonstrate the style and to teach it are different skills. In order to become an instructor in this school you must be a minimum of 18 years old, have started as a white belt in this school, earned at least first degree black belt in the style, and requested to become an instructor. If accepted into the instructor program, the student undergoes an educational certification process as they learn how to teach, and must maintain their teaching status annually. It is not a paid position; all instructors are volunteer and they do it out a commitment to the school, a desire to assist in the perpetuation in the style, and in knowing that while teaching can be challenging and demanding, it is also fulfilling.
Students can earn up to fourth degree black belt, but to become a fifth Dan or higher, you must be an instructor teaching students. Also, fifth Dan is the last testing that happens with other candidates (typically in a single day
Testings for 6th Dan and above take months to complete, and not everyone will be eligible for these ranks.
The fifth dan written exam is mostly essay based and more conceptual than previous exams.
Katas demonstrated include: Heian 4, Hookiyu, Sil Lum, Hansoo, and Simplicity. These are forms from four different heritages: American, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, meaning they represent the four national and international influences that are part of the American Eagle Style. These forms challenge the student to switch between different body languages of execution from one historical origin to the next. They must also demonstrate three extension tool forms that they have not previously demonstrated at any of their other testings.
Grandmaster Crandall is pleased to announce that the following students have passed their testings and have earned the following ranks:
1st Degee Black Belt (Adult Rank Status)
2nd Degree Black Belt
Jessica Ritz and Victor Chambers
3rd Degree Black Belt Maria Quintal
4th Degree Black Belt Kyleigh Hoyle
5th Degree Black Belt Mary Margaret Krukonis