Black belt Thesis

Black belt Thesis

  • I did it.

  • Never had to do one.

  • What is it?/Never heard of it.

  • Wish our school hd to do them.

  • Seems like a waste of time to me.

Results are only viewable after voting.


For those of you studying American Kenpo, I am curious about the Black Belt thesis. Is it still being used? Let me know what you think about the idea of the Black Belt Thesis.
I wrote my original Balck Belt thesis on Short Form 1. I learned more about Short Form 1 in my study of than any teacher could have ever have showed.
Come on guys share about your thesis, this is a place to share knowledge. We already have 4 people who have answered they have done one, what were they about.
I'm not a black belt yet, but I'll ask my instructor if he does it or not. The closest I have come to doing one is in TKD you had to describe the meaning behind each form, from white to black.


Mine was Breath Control : The Master Key. It has lead to much experimentation so much to the point that what I originally wrote about I now have learned is only a small portion of what can be done with breathing.

you forgot on your poll.......Who is in the Midddle of one?

LOL........I am currently doing mine. It is kinda lengthy...but I will brief you. It is about the first 10 weeks in kenpo, and what one should expect in Kenpo and our School. Seeing as how I work in video production on a Professional level, I will be doing a Video Thesis to present to Mr. Mitchell, and also help to Promote my school. I will probably do some commercial spots for them also.

Well, I guess the Kenpo I am involved in would be considered a off-shoot of the Parker system. So what I had to do may not apply to what EPAK systems do.

The only thing that would be considered a thesis is we have to write a sort of auto-biography about ourselves in the context of our training. Besides the usual biographical info, you need to add some insights to Kenpo and how it applies to your life. Mine was about the way Kenpo has made my life more balanced and centered. I wrote about the aggressive/passive nature of the human being and how there is a need to try to create balance of the two. Focusing on one and ignoring the other could be one of the reasons why people may "flip out" at times. Example, "Johnny was such a quiet man. He always was polite, quiet, respectful, and kind. He would never hurt a fly. I can't believe he killed all those people at McDonalds with a machine gun." Basically the usual Yin/Yang theory.

The only other thing required, is to create your own form. Not sure if others have to do that.
My 1st Black was on "Positive Aggression" - training not just physically, but psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

3rd Black on leverage and clubs.

4th Black was my web page. Circa 2000 - at that time 300+ printed pages. A lot more now.

Actually, I did more than one, but that's a longer story.

My *written* thesis was on the book "What to say when you talk to yourself", and how it applied to the style, the art, and the philosophy behind it.

All of our advanced levels have to read a book relevant to a martial mindset, although not Kenpo in particular, and write a thesis on it. Another book we read, for example, is "The West Point Way of Leadership". Good material, and good to get people thinking in the right way about the mentality they will be expected to exhibit and have when they are advancing.

My *physical* "thesis" was to come up with 10 unique techniques, against armed opponents, unarmed, or both; either against one or more attackers, and put them together in a personal kata. I had to be able to demonstrate the techniques on both sides, and against actual opponents (this was not just theoretical). Finally, I had to be able to detail what concepts I was using in each technique, not just say, "Well, it *looked* cool".

I assume these count....;)

Originally posted by Rob_Broad

For those of you studying American Kenpo, I am curious about the Black Belt thesis. Is it still being used? Let me know what you think about the idea of the Black Belt Thesis.
I did not study Kenpo per se, but WHKD and I wrote of the merits of defensive fighting agains the merits of offensive fighting. I did include things like critical distance and attitude with it..

Gene Gabel
Originally posted by kenpo3631

Did mine on how to teach children....

So did I, but it barely made it through.
But I've written some small articals for a local jujitsu news letter.

One day I was bored and I sent off a video to a guy and asked him what he thought about me. He sent me back a black belt certificate. Jaybacca and I laughed for days.

I don't wear a black belt though. In fact I rarely wear a gi anymore. The last seminar I assisted Jaybacca in I work some pants and a t-shirt.

When I visit my friend's Kenpo school though I wear a gi out of respect 'cause I like him.

But overall, I'd like to think that my personal exploration of the arts I have been doing is my own Thesis in the making. Of course it's never finished so I can't submit it, but I can share it.

When I am at my friend's Kenpo school I always tell them that what we are doing I am sharing with them. It's just a chance for them to gain something by the exposure I have had. It's by no means the end all be all.

I feel that the greatest gift anyone can do is to share their time with someone. Money and gifts come and go and we really never own those things but we have control over our time and what we do with it. For an instructor or a student to voluntarily decide to spend a portion of time with someone is really something special. If you think about it the best teachers you ever have are the ones who go beyond the professional call.

I never have, and I hope never will, take money for teaching or assisting. It's a luxury I afford myself. My time is very important to me and I decide when and where I will spend it. So I always thank the people I work out with or teach for choosing to spend their time with me.

So perhaps a thesis is simply a way your instructor asks you to devote some time to thinking about and organizing in some way the time s/he has spent with you?



As part of your examination for promotion in American Kenpo, you will be required, at different
levels of your progress, to compose and write a thesis and/or create a FORM of your own. Mr. Parker's concept of writing a thesis and creating a FORM is designed to help you develop individual creativity. In fulfilling this requirement, you will be required to think as well as analyze each and every effort you make. In completing this assignment, it is hoped that you will be motivated to become critical of yourself, and strive for perfection. Through self analyzation and your quest for perfection, you will inevitably function independently. Such independence will allow you to make quick decisions, remain steadfast and cool when in a crises -- all of which ultimately leads to positive and victorious results.


You will be required to choose the subject matter for your written thesis. It can be on any subject related to the Martial Arts. On rare occasions, Mr. Parker or your instructor, will select a subject related to your skill, profession or hobby if he feels it will benefit all members of the Association. If a specific subject is selected, you will be notified in ample time so that you can complete your thesis prior to the deadline.

If you cannot decide upon a topic, or in the event that you have an array of topics which you would like to choose from, but are having difficulty making a decision, consult with your Instructor for his recommendation. His suggestions are important in any case.

Your educational background will be considered in evaluating your written thesis. Therefore, more will be expected of you if you have higher academic credentials. All students, however, will be required to follow the format outlined in the following paragraphs.

The following information should serve as a guide in the presentation of your required written thesis. It will be your responsibility to organize and develop your thesis in the foregoing manner. Suggestions are not given about writing, but only how to present your facts.


Your thesis shall consist of three main parts. The following must be adhered to:


(a) TITLE PAGE (followed by a blank page). This page should include:

(1) The name of the studio along with its branch
name directly under it. (Both should be
centered at the top of the page.)
(2) The exact title of the thesis;
(3) The belt promotion it is for;
(4) The date;
(5) Your name as the author all suitably
capitalized, centered, and spaced upon the

Included in the preface (or forward) should by
your reasons for picking your topic, for making
the study, the background, scope, and purpose, an
acknowledgement to those who have aided
you in the process of your research. If you think you have nothing significant to say about your thesis, and wish to acknowledge the assistance you have received, you should entitle your remarks "Acknowledgements" instead of "Preface".

This is basically an outline setting forth the
major divisions of the thesis, the introduction,
the chapters, the glossary,the appendix, and the
bibliography, with their respective page numbers.

The list of illustrations should be placed on a
separate page. There should be a number, title,
and page number for each illustration.

2. THE TEXT shall consist of an:
(a) INTRODUCTION It should lead into the main
body of the paper.

b) THE MAIN BODY of the paper. This is the actual
meat of your thesis. Should the thesis be
lengthy, divisions, such as chapters or their
equivalent, should be used to divide the text.
Each chapter should have a title, and begin on
a new page.

(a) A BIBLIOGRAPHY The bibliography is a
listing of all of the sources used in the
writing of your thesis. Just those relevant
to the subject should be listed.

(b) A GLOSSARY The glossary should list all
specialized terminology utilized in your
thesis, in alphabetical order, with their
accompanying definitions.

(c) AN APPENDIX The appendix should contain
all supplementary information pertinent to
the formation of your thesis, but would be
inappropriate elsewhere. This might include
how a model was constructed, or the method
or means of acquiring certain information,


Each student testing for Third Degree Brown Belt
shall be required to present an abstract of the thesis they intend to write for First Degree Black Belt. This abstract is a brief one or two page statement about your proposed thesis and should include:
1. Verification of the approval of your
topic by your instructor. It is
important that your subject matter be a
worthy one, one
that is sufficient in depth, and one
that you are capable of completing.

2. A tentative title for your thesis.

3. One or two paragraphs highlighting the
proposed subject, and an explanation of
how you intend to cover your subject in
greater depth.

4. A paragraph explaining why you have
chosen this topic.

5. A list of your intended sources of

Your Thesis Abstract must be presented to your
instructor at least two weeks prior to testing. This will allow time for him to approve its form and content and allow you time to make revisions. The final Abstract must be presented by your instructor to Organization Head prior to your test with sufficient time to read and approve it.


Your final thesis for First Degree Black Belt should be concise, accurate, and to the point. Like all members of American Kenpo, your goal has been to learn Mr. Parker's system. Part of that educational process is to contribute knowledge, perspective, and insight to the overall development of our system. Although there is no minimum length required, your topic should be of sufficient depth to require several typewritten pages.

Each written thesis MUST BE COMPLETED and presented to your instructor at least two weeks prior to testing. This will allow time for him to approve its form and content, and allow you time to make revisions.


As part of your examination, you will be required, at different levels of your progress, to create a FORM of your own. When creating your Form, first reflect on the many different concepts, theories, and principles that you know, and how each of these ideas will affect your Form. Using the Clock Principle, imagine yourself in the center of a large clock that has been placed upon the ground (or, if you can, imagine a nine Dimensional Clock that encompasses you, your imaginary opponents, and your entire environment.) Perceive (using any of your senses) from which direction(s) an opponent(s) is coming. Respond with an appropriate technique sequence. Then ask yourself, "Where is the next opponent coming from, how is he attacking, and how shall I respond?" Continue this process until you have completed your thesis. Remember this is a THESIS FORM and not simply a collection of techniques. You should be able to describe the basic theme of your form and what it contains as well as what it teaches. As a guideline, your form should contain 20 technique sequences. You may choose to use weapons in your Form, but please have this approved by your instructor well in advance of your test date.

Originally posted by Goldendragon7

Yep. I will assume that is how you do it and those are your reasons for doing it that way.
Let's see here:

1) Personal Form or forms
2) Thesis (written or otherwise)
3) Teaching Hours (who makes this mandatory?)
4) Several (heard anywhere from 5 to 20) 'new' and personal self-defense techniques
5) How about fitness requirements?
6) Sparring matches?
7) Knowing and living the standards set out by our creeds
...and of course all your usual Forms, Sets & Teachniques.

mmmm, is there anything I left out?

The requirments Goldendragon7 posted are the same written format I require also. The format was created & disseminated in the the late 1980's, albeit may differ from school to school after a decade plus.

The thesis is an an effort to promote critical thinking by advanced students. Expectations vary from student to student as educational background, life and martial arts experience dictate. Think about the source of the written techniques, sets, forms, drills, etc. The creativity by a group of individuals is brought together under Mr. Parker, even to this day, through the creation of new forms and sets by Black Belt canidates all over the world.

I consider this a great source of positive, creative thought, within the outline given by Mr. Conatser such that: 1) it is somewhat structured and consistant in format from student to student; 2) analytical thought is encouraged in a format we can all benefit from; and 3) the student has some assistance in writing a thesis and is not left to flounder on their own. It can be fairly intimidating to prepare a thesis for someone like Sigung LaBounty, Sibok Tom Kelly, Mr. Conatser or Bob Liles when you have never written anything before in your life. This gives the canidate some assistance in how to approach the project without it being the creation of the instructor, but rather the student.

Thanks for sharing Dennis.
My thesis was called "The Personal Journey of Kenpo" and was fifty two pages long (after I condensed it). It was about how Kenpo shapes the individual, and what it means to different people. I spent close to two years (off and on) doing research and interviewing people. It was one of the greatest experiences I ever had.

The thesis is important because it makes you look inside your head and spirit, and demonstrates to your instructor what you have learned in the esoteric sense vs. the physical. I believe that wearing a Kenpo black belt means more than the ability to do "X" number of forms and techniques from memory- any bozo can learn to do that. It is symbolic of a level of cultivation of mind, spirit, and body. If you lack the mental element, you should not be awarded the belt.

The make-up form should not be just a bunch of techniques "stuck together" either. It should be representative of the universal pattern, the web of knowledge, and should have an overall objective to it which makes it unique to you. The student should be able to explain the nuts and bolts of every single move and technique and why they are connected the way they are. The form should be able to be drawn on a diagram and broken down elementally. The form, like the thesis, should demonstate the level of understanding the student has with regard to application and dynamic reasoning.

At our school, it was required that you have 200 teaching hours to qualify for black belt testing. If you have to ask why, then you have never taught. I learned as much or more by teaching than I did by being taught. Students ask questions you never thought of, and expect you to answer them. Again, this requires you to THINK, analyze, and respond. This is very important to deepening and maturing your knowledge.

These subjects are VERY significant to me, as I feel that these elements are what seperate the Kenpo black belt from the "Jethro's McTae-Bone" black belt. reminded me to make another point.

Another requirement for advanced belt rankings (brown and up) at my school is that you spend at least 50 hours instructing between each rank. There is no one in our advanced ranks who is not at least a student instructor, and many of us have also been part- or full-time employees of the school as instructors at one time or another (many who are not paid now and were once had to stop due to their "day jobs", but still teach as much as they can , "just because").

Hehe....."Jethro's McTae-Bone"....hehe....yep.

Personally, I am *proud* it took me 10 years to get my Black. I worked like a mad dog to earn it, and I *still* didn't think that I was *truly* ready for it. However, my instructor said that I was, and I ain't arguing with *him*...:eek:

That the "Thesis" even with all that was listed is still geared towards the abilities of the individual. The greater the education the greater the degree of difficulty.

So don't fret all you from Kentucky and Tennessee!

Just kidding......