Got all the way up to 1st degree brown, which was test before black, when my studio closed. Wasted a year at another studio owned by a first degree black belt with no instructor of his own who initially assured me that he was getting an instructor and expected to be bumped up to 3rd degree soon. This was the only studio within driving distance which taught the same lineage as I had been working on at the first studio. Should have known better than to buy that. A few months after I started, he promoted his first black belt with a certificate signed by all 1st degree black belt. It has been my understanding that you need a third degree or higher signature to be legitimate. He assured me that a fifth degree black belt he (and I) knew was going to start teaching and become involved in the studio. The fifth degree was going to start next month, then he was moving, then there was to be a meeting or the higher ups in the lineage before it happened ... Never happened. Certainly my bad for not confirming what he said was true. Without going into details of the politics of that situation, I will just say I wanted to stay out of the middle of the politics. Found out later that the 5th degree was never planning to teach or get involved with the studio. Left second studio rather than pay $300 for a black belt that would not be recognized outside of the studio. That was my first (or only?) smart move. Studio closed 7 months later. Found another American kenpo studio which is a different lineage, but still kenpo. Great instructors. I enjoy the classes, for the most part. Always do everything on the body - no air karate. We don't do many forms, which is a disappointment, though. I was bumped down 3 ranks (which still allowed my to wear a brown belt) when I started here because it is a different curriculum. No problem. Instructor told me that I could test for black in 2 years. Again, not a problem. Incidently, I did not ask him when or even if, I could test for black, he brought it up. In the past 2 years I have been working on predominantly advanced material because that is the way the classes are set up. I have advanced the 3 ranks so I am back where I started 3 years ago. There is a black belt prep class (great idea) that goes over all material prior to the black belt test. This starts about 5 months before the test. Dec. would be two years for me at the studio. Last Jan., he told me I would test in Dec. 2016 or June 2017. Last few months he has made comments that indicated that it would be Dec.. I am not the only person who interpreted his comments that way as another student made a comment to me about how happy I must be to be testing for black next cycle. I replied that I did not really know that yet as the list was not out. List came out with a bunch of names and rank testing for (black, junior black, 2nd black, etc,) My name is on the list but it is the only one without a rank after it. Other instructor told me I was not really testing, I just get to go to the prep class. I can take the prep class with this group, me being the only one not testing, and then again next year "for real". This has never been done for anyone else. Rational is that I learned the beginner techniques elsewhere so they are not identical. I have seen these other techniques. I think if I am shown them I would be able to pick them up quickly. The way the curriculum is, the other advanced students would not have practiced the earlier material in years either, so I am pretty sure they will also need a pretty intensive review. No, the prep class is not at a convenient time for me. I can make it work, but it is inconvenient. I asked him about this as my husband insisted I should in case there was a mistake and to let him know not to do this sort of thing to me again (get my hope up for nothing). I didn't actually think this would be fruitful since if he changed his mind at that point and said I could test I might think he just didn't want to lose a student. I don't want a black belt if I have not earned it. He didn't change his mind (actually good for him), but his reason for my not testing was just that I had not been a student of his long enough. This bothers me because he should not have said I could test in 2 years if you have to be a student longer than that to test. He also said it would not matter if I mastered all the material after the first prep class, I have to wait for the next test, basically a whole year from now. Incidentally, I will have been taking kenpo for 6 years in Nov.. No breaks. I attend at least 3 times per week. Don't know if I am too cynical from past experiences of not cynical enough, but I feel like I may be getting strung along again. Can't decide if I should dig my heels in and try harder, back off (if I only go when I feel like it, it will not bother me that I cannot advance), or quit and do yoga. In retrospect, I wish I had walked into that studio claiming that I had no experience with karate. Then, I could be the white belt who picked things up quickly instead of the brown belt who should not really be a brown belt.