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Welcome to our news and archives.  Please note that all test results are posted for the current year, but may not appear in the archives.  Full records are kept at our main office.  In addition, photographs and news releases prior to 1997 are kept in our school library at our main location dating back to the 1960s.

New 4th Degree Black Belt

January 2, 2024

Testing is not a priority for traditional martial artists. While the rank can visually communicate to others where you stand within a school or organization and it can be a moment of confirmed growth for the individual's training, traditional martial arts is not about rank. Days come and go, and you train. Weeks come and go, and you train. Years come and go, and you train. For some the martial arts can be a significant part of their life and who they are. It is a means to structure yourself and your life. For others, it may be a smaller part. The personal growth may be almost imperceptible or the changes may be more obvious, but the student continues their martial arts journey through training and patience under the guidence and mentorship of their instructor. There are moments along this journey where a testing becomes relevant, for the student and or the school in which they train. That testing can take on many different forms. Usually this takes place on particular day before a panel of judges. Usually there are other students testing with you, but at higher ranks for black belt you may very well be the only candidate who is ready.

Occasssionally a unique situation will arise, a student may demonstrate their skills over the course of a day or multiple days for the Grandmaster and be testing, but they do not know that they are being tested. This was the case for one of our instructors recently. Instructor Josef Byrne has been training under Headmaster Stalloch for many years. He currently lives in California, geographically isolated from our main training hall in New Hartford, New York. This means that he trains alone in California with a class or fellow students or instructors. He practices the katas and other aspects of the style by himself. He utilizes our schools textbook, guidebook, video, and stays in regular communication with his instructor. And once or twice per year he travels back to the New Hartford to train and assist in teaching classes.

Sensei Byrne was training with Headmaster Stalloch on New Year's day at the school. Grandmaster Crandall happened to stop in and asked Sensei Byrne to demonstrate a kata, then another, then another. As the morning continued he demonstrated all of his required katas, standing waza, ippon kumites, hanza escape techniques, multiple weapons forms, and a variety of other skills. After this Grandmaster Crandall notified him that he was half way through his testing and would need to complete the rest the next evening during the class.

When oppunity knocks you have a choice, and Sensei Byrne was prepared and committed, and answered the call. He trained for two more hours with Headmaster Stalloch that afternoon.

The next evening he took the written exam, demostrated self defense, demonstrated an addiitonal weapons form, and more skills for Grandmaster Crandall, completing his testing near the end of the Adult Class.

At the end for the adult class Grandmaster Crandall announced that he had completed and passed his testing for 4th Degree Black Belt.

Sensei Byrne is not the first student to have tested in this manner. Though it is rare, it can and does happen.

We are please to announce that Josef Byrne is now a 4th Degree Black Belt.


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