Looking for Your Post Black Belt Journey Stories

D Hall

Orange Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
82
Reaction score
82
This subject came up on another thread; but wasn't the topic being discussed.

I am very interested in hearing from as many Traditional Martial Artists (TKD, Karate, etc) as possible on their learning after earning their 1st Dan.

- Besides new patterns (hyung, tul, kata), what were some of the things that you were not taught until after black belt?

- If your school had a formal curriculum for black belts; what did that consist of generally? Or

- Were there no tangible new techniques that were saved for these ranks; making the focus on developing mastery of the skills already learned?

- What new skills were you graded on during subsequent tests?

Looking to obtain a more broad picture of the rest of the martial arts world outside my little buble.
Thanks
 

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,216
Reaction score
1,852
Location
Southeast U.S.
Honestly, other than a brief high from the accomplishment it has really blurred into my lower BB's (yes I can tell you the exact date:)). I was competing very heavily up until 3rd Dan and was a school owner/instructor before I was a BB so a Lot of stuff was happening.
FWIW, I am definitely in the consensus who feel 1st Dan is just a serious beginner.

My 3rd Dan is by far my most memorable. It literally lasted over 12 hours. I have no idea how many times I sparred and did drills and forms. It was a Very critiqued testing. Largely because of where I was in the
competition/TKD business/community side of things.
I was one fit dude back then.
 

isshinryuronin

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
768
Reaction score
587
Location
Las Vegas
Honestly, other than a brief high from the accomplishment it has really blurred into my lower BB's (yes I can tell you the exact date:)). I was competing very heavily up until 3rd Dan and was a school owner/instructor before I was a BB so a Lot of stuff was happening.
FWIW, I am definitely in the consensus who feel 1st Dan is just a serious beginner.

My 3rd Dan is by far my most memorable. It literally lasted over 12 hours. I have no idea how many times I sparred and did drills and forms. It was a Very critiqued testing. Largely because of where I was in the
competition/TKD business/community side of things.
I was one fit dude back then.
I agree that 1st dan is just the beginning to really knowing the art, pretty much having all the basics down regarding form, speed and power. That test took 2 days, 2.5 hours each day (not counting the all-nighter in between creating and memorizing my own kata - a surprise requirement.) A lot of stress training and taking the test as I flunked my first brown belt test (yes, test failure at all belt levels was not unheard of as standards were very high - nothing was given away) and I didn't want a repeat of that experience.

My 2nd and 3rd dan tests were mostly empty hand kata refinement and newly learned (since 1st dan) bo and sai weapons kata (17 katas total) concentrating on finesse, efficiency and basic application. Tiring, yes, but not high pressure like 1st dan. But TWELVE HOURS? Hope your certificate has plenty of curly Q's around the border.

Took some time off (though still practiced on my own) and 35 years later recommitted to the art, finding a sensei who knew what true Okinawan karate really was (what very few Western practitioners were shown) as he spent years in Okinawa learning from authentic 9th and 10th dans. Yes, I lucked out, again.

A whole new art opened before my eyes. This was it - the oyo, the real meaning of kata techniques, and learning what actual combat requires of karate to make it work. Reworking everything I knew (and getting back in shape) took a few years. I got my 5th dan. That test took 2+ hours of basics, kata, and sparring. Luckily, my training regimen was so demanding (no coddling, even at my age) that I was physically prepared for it.

I'm hungry for more. As Buka and I agreed in another recent thread, there ain't enough time - but you're never too old. It really is an unending journey.
 

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,216
Reaction score
1,852
Location
Southeast U.S.
I agree that 1st dan is just the beginning to really knowing the art, pretty much having all the basics down regarding form, speed and power. That test took 2 days, 2.5 hours each day (not counting the all-nighter in between creating and memorizing my own kata - a surprise requirement.) A lot of stress training and taking the test as I flunked my first brown belt test (yes, test failure at all belt levels was not unheard of as standards were very high - nothing was given away) and I didn't want a repeat of that experience.

My 2nd and 3rd dan tests were mostly empty hand kata refinement and newly learned (since 1st dan) bo and sai weapons kata (17 katas total) concentrating on finesse, efficiency and basic application. Tiring, yes, but not high pressure like 1st dan. But TWELVE HOURS? Hope your certificate has plenty of curly Q's around the border.

Took some time off (though still practiced on my own) and 35 years later recommitted to the art, finding a sensei who knew what true Okinawan karate really was (what very few Western practitioners were shown) as he spent years in Okinawa learning from authentic 9th and 10th dans. Yes, I lucked out, again.

A whole new art opened before my eyes. This was it - the oyo, the real meaning of kata techniques, and learning what actual combat requires of karate to make it work. Reworking everything I knew (and getting back in shape) took a few years. I got my 5th dan. That test took 2+ hours of basics, kata, and sparring. Luckily, my training regimen was so demanding (no coddling, even at my age) that I was physically prepared for it. I'm hungry for more. As Buka and I agreed in another recent thread, there ain't enough time - but you're never too old. It really is an unending journey. Eatand

Yea, it really was 12 hours. I did get a break and a blow from time to time while my GM 'corrected' me or some other tester. There were anywhere from 8-10 on the floor at a time. Very defined, specific, detailed instruction and performance(s). A hell of a day but Great times.
 
OP
D Hall

D Hall

Orange Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
82
Reaction score
82
So if I was to summarize your differences on your 3rd Dan tests:
My 3rd Dan is by far my most memorable. It literally lasted over 12 hours. I have no idea how many times I sparred and did drills and forms. It was a Very critiqued testing.
Yours was maybe more about physicality and endurance over technical nitpicking;
My 2nd and 3rd dan tests were mostly empty hand kata refinement and newly learned (since 1st dan) bo and sai weapons kata (17 katas total) concentrating on finesse, efficiency and basic application.
And yours was more about knowledge of curriculum, application and technical details?
 

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,216
Reaction score
1,852
Location
Southeast U.S.
So if I was to summarize your differences on your 3rd Dan tests:

Yours was maybe more about physicality and endurance over technical nitpicking;

And yours was more about knowledge of curriculum, application and technical details?
No; it was Extremely critiqued. Yes it was Very physical.
 

Shatteredzen

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
378
Reaction score
106
Yea, it really was 12 hours. I did get a break and a blow from time to time while my GM 'corrected' me or some other tester. There were anywhere from 8-10 on the floor at a time. Very defined, specific, detailed instruction and performance(s). A hell of a day but Great times.
You can tell by the way you tell the story that it made a big impression on you. My first dan in Aikido is fondly remembered the same way. Not nearly as great of a story but it was a very long ten minutes of Randori that definitely made me feel like I had earned it and could apply what I had trained for. I like stories like that where the storyteller can't help but smile at the memory :)
 
OP
D Hall

D Hall

Orange Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
82
Reaction score
82
I certainly can't top the 12 hour marathon. My 1st Dan was my more memorable exam.
Highly critiqued linework (lots of exhausting jumping and/or spinning kicks);
Patterns (obviously all about technique);
1on1 and 2on1 Sparring; and
Breaking solid and 'air' breaks (mandatory successful break or retest).

2nd was fairly similar, with the sparring 3on1 (reds and black belts).
 

isshinryuronin

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
768
Reaction score
587
Location
Las Vegas
ThSo if I was to summarize your differences on your 3rd Dan tests:

Yours was maybe more about physicality and endurance over technical nitpicking;

And yours was more about knowledge of curriculum, application and technical details?
The physicality was a main aspect of brown and 1st dan. The technical execution was expected to be at a very high degree at 1st dan. Back then (1970) most all the respected instructors from various styles knew each other and reputation was important, so black belts were not given away. I was also the second black belt from that school, and as such, was a representative of that school and instructor, so expectations were stringent. Most dojos were fighting dojos then as well.

In the 1960's - 90's, few karate schools had an understanding of the true nature of "hidden" application, as practiced by the Okinawans in the early 1900's. Many things were not revealed to the general public and especially the Americans who brought the art to the USA in the 50's. But for 3rd dan, the basic applications were tested with very enthusiastic attackers. Aside from the weapons, poise and fluidity were stressed as well.

By the time I got 5th dan, the true nature of Okinawan karate was understood by me as a close in, strike and grab art using leg position offensively and incorporating the concept of simultaneous offense and defense. This meant a complete reinterpretation of the forms. Also, subtle adjustments to tweak an extra 10 or 20% combat efficiency out of the techniques. Not too much more to learn now, but still a ways to go on the path to perfection.

Just today, I reworked the first form I learned 55 years ago (seisan kata) changing the timing a little to be more effective in real combat. Maybe someday I'll get it down to my satisfaction. And then again, maybe not.
 

sddoherty

White Belt
Joined
May 11, 2021
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Honestly, other than a brief high from the accomplishment it has really blurred into my lower BB's (yes I can tell you the exact date:)). I was competing very heavily up until 3rd Dan and was a school owner/instructor before I was a BB so a Lot of stuff was happening.
FWIW, I am definitely in the consensus who feel 1st Dan is just a serious beginner.

My 3rd Dan is by far my most memorable. It literally lasted over 12 hours. I have no idea how many times I sparred and did drills and forms. It was a Very critiqued testing. Largely because of where I was in the
competition/TKD business/community side of things.
I was one fit dude back then.
I am working towards 3rd Dan, but I am really disappointed. The school has moved 4th and 5th Dan forms into our requirements.
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
11,200
Reaction score
7,500
Location
Maui
This subject came up on another thread; but wasn't the topic being discussed.

I am very interested in hearing from as many Traditional Martial Artists (TKD, Karate, etc) as possible on their learning after earning their 1st Dan.

- Besides new patterns (hyung, tul, kata), what were some of the things that you were not taught until after black belt?

- If your school had a formal curriculum for black belts; what did that consist of generally? Or

- Were there no tangible new techniques that were saved for these ranks; making the focus on developing mastery of the skills already learned?

- What new skills were you graded on during subsequent tests?

Looking to obtain a more broad picture of the rest of the martial arts world outside my little buble.
Thanks
I never used a curriculum per say. Basics were drilled all the time, but everything was exposed to students from the git go. Worked pretty good for us.

Learning after I made Black belt - I don’t know, I don’t think a computer page would be long enough to list everything. Heck, I’ve learned so much just hanging on this forum for ten years, it’s probably more info than I had when I first wrapped a Black Belt around my waist.

One might point out that a computer page could go on and on forever. So does this learning stuff.
 
OP
D Hall

D Hall

Orange Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
82
Reaction score
82
Learning after I made Black belt - I don’t know, I don’t think a computer page would be long enough to list everything.
One might point out that a computer page could go on and on forever. So does this learning stuff
Of course that goes without saying. I guess my query is really more about, what were the structured curriculum based requirements and learning post black belt (if there were any). I should hope that anyone who's carried on to higher dan levels has continued to learn and hone their techniques as they go.

I'm just researching a more broad picture of what different styles etc do as part of their advancement curriculum.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
5,678
Reaction score
1,359
My school takes roughly the same approach to black belt as it does to color belts. The only difference is everything is dialed up to 11. Personally, I wish there was much less memorization at this stage, and more refinement of what we already know. In fact, I'm working on developing my own curriculum, and I want to focus less on memorization and more on understanding concepts and techniques.
 
OP
D Hall

D Hall

Orange Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
82
Reaction score
82
I wish there was much less memorization at this stage, and more refinement of what we already know.
What sort of memorization? Besides patterns, is it mostly prearranged sparring and self-defense sequences?
Do you teach new movements, or just more complicated combinations of the moves you already know?
 

TSDTexan

Master of Arts
Joined
Jul 18, 2015
Messages
1,853
Reaction score
517
Dan.... Ranks. Chojun Miyagi was opposed to em. I've seen too many students walk out the door after earning 1st Dan.

Something about earning a bb makes people think they are ready for a real world fight.

God help them if they have been in a points only school, that never prepared them for ground game... Or a solid right to the face.

After my black bely, its been cross training other styles to close holes. And trying to find ways to avoid injury while training.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
5,678
Reaction score
1,359
What sort of memorization? Besides patterns, is it mostly prearranged sparring and self-defense sequences?
Do you teach new movements, or just more complicated combinations of the moves you already know?
Punch combinations, kick combinations, self-defense. Some of the self-defense concepts are new, others are recycled in slightly different ways. The combinations are all just more complex versions of techniques we already know (more kicks, a lot more spinning and jumping).
 

geezer

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
6,711
Reaction score
2,678
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Personally, I wish there was much less memorization at this stage, and more refinement of what we already know. In fact, I'm working on developing my own curriculum, and I want to focus less on memorization and more on understanding concepts and techniques.

I'm of the same opinion regarding the amount of memorization in the system that I've been in all these years. The role of memorization in traditional arts, the positive and the negative ...would be a great topic for a new thread.
 
OP
D Hall

D Hall

Orange Belt
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
82
Reaction score
82
The role of memorization in traditional arts, the positive and the negative ...would be a great topic for a new thread.
In the words of the Dread Pirate Wesley...
"As you wish".
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
11,200
Reaction score
7,500
Location
Maui
Dan.... Ranks. Chojun Miyagi was opposed to em. I've seen too many students walk out the door after earning 1st Dan.

Something about earning a bb makes people think they are ready for a real world fight.

God help them if they have been in a points only school, that never prepared them for ground game... Or a solid right to the face.

After my black bely, its been cross training other styles to close holes. And trying to find ways to avoid injury while training.
By the way, good to see you back, bro. Hope you're well. :)
 
Top