Tag Archives: martial arts ranking

How the Kenpo Belt Rank System changed the Martial Arts

The Kenpo Belt Rank System

The Kenpo Belt Rank System is an interesting, little work. It is divided into a colored ranking system that goes like this: white, orange, purple, blue, green, brown (3 ranks), and Black Belt (multiple ranks).

kenpo karate system training manual

150 Kenpo techniques scientifically analyzed.

There is a problem with this, which I will describe in a second, but first, let me tell how the belt system came about.

Originally there were fewer colors. Some hold only a white belt and black belt, but most belt systems, at least inKarate, had four colors. white, Green, Brown, and Black Belt.

Students of Ed Parker, the Tracy Brothers came a cross a dance instructor from Fred Murray Dance Studios, and he showed the brothers how to put students on contracts. This was a boon to the hard working karate instructor, for it enabled him to hold people to contracts, and therefore paying dues longer.

The problem was that there were so many techniques to be dispersed through the belts. Thus, the kenpo karate techniques were divided into 8 groups, which turned out to be about 40 techniques per belt.

Students were taught a technique every lesson, thus keeping them on a belt level for 20 weeks. 8 times 20 and you have 160 weeks, divided by 50 weeks in a year, and you have three polls years to get to black belt. And, it actually took about four years.

A complete system of Kenpo, including 150 techniques, made to work.

A complete system of Kenpo, including 150 techniques, made to work.

The problem was that before that people earned their black belts in a fraction of the time. Mike stone, arguably the best karate tournament fighter in the world, got his black belt in 7 months.

Now, if somebody like Mike Stone came along, he couldn’t earn his black belt fast, but was stuck in the time scheme of four years.

In other words, he could only go as fast as the contract allowed. The odd thing was that people loved it. Although, to be honest, this writer thinks they loved it because of the intimacy and efficiency of the private lesson.

Anyway, one can argue about this, dispute it if they wish, and so what. People either buy into it or not, and that is up to the person.

As for myself, I was to test for brown belt, and I got drafted, and then, when free again, I joined a different school.

The belt ranking system in this school was 8 belts, but there were only four colors: white, green, brown, and black belt. Each color had a level or two in it.

lop sau rolling fists freestyle drill

Making Kenpo Karate unique to every individual.

And, the odd thing, we weren’t on contract, and people could go as fast as they learned the material. This made us work harder, for we could see the end of the race, and didn’t feel we had to go around the track three or four extra times.

So we had people who earned a black belt in a couple of years, and sometimes less.

Oddly, time was increasing to black belt, but that was because karate, and then Kung Fu (courtesy of Bruce Lee) was popular, new systems were being discovered, and more forms and techniques were being added to the system.

So I made it through, just in time, I might add.

And that is the story, plus a couple of extras thrown in, about how the Kenpo Belt system came to be.

If you want to break out of the forced time to black belt, it is recommended that you start studying on your own, outside of school, and accumulate sufficient information so that you know what works, especially in Kenpo, and have a large database of martial arts knowledge.

Check out the ‘Creating Kenpo Karate’ series by Al Case. It has 150 techniques completely and scientifically analyzed, plus a wealth of data concerning how to make any martial art system efficient and workable.

This has been an article about the Kenpo Belt Rank System.

Should There Be Ranking in the Martial Arts

Ranking in the martial arts. An interesting question. On the surface, there has to be. There have to be grades so on can order there progress. First grade, second grade, third grade, and so on.

martial arts ranking

Martial Arts Ranking should establish a brotherhood…especially extended to the lower ranks.

The problem is when the grade becomes significant, and a way to separate people.

I remember being in an Aikido class. I had just joined, was having a ball, and I had no stops on me. I had a question, I’d go to whoever I wanted. I’d ask whatever I wanted, and I could see that there was upset in the eyes of some. You see, I was breaking the rules. I was talking freely to people outranked me.

Other lower ranks would look at me, stare at me, and I could feel their consternation, and here was the real crime. People of low standing were buying into their lower standing.

So I was in trouble with everybody. Not real physical trouble, but that subtle social trouble where people start thinking you odd, start treating you different, and you become…outside. Socially unacceptable.

But I had a secret.

One day it was ferreted it out.

I walked into the room reserved for black belts (no lower belts allowed, doncha know) and I grabbed the first black belt i saw and I asked my question. “What about this technique. It doesn’t make sense to me. Is there…?) and I finished my question.

Everybody in the room had stopped doing what they were doing. A half a dozen black belts were staring at me. Suddenly, one of the smarter ones blurted, “You’ve got a black belt, don’t you?”

“Sure, Karate,” but I really wanted to know about this technique…”

Grins, smiles, they had figured it out, I was accepted. Or, at least not judged as socially inadequate.

But, don’t you see, that separation exists in ranks. And it shouldn’t.

It used to be, in the military back in the civil war and before, that men could go right up to an officer and ask a question. “Don’t think we oughta charge, Sir.”

And officers knew better than to think they were better. You see, they were elected by their men, they ‘owed’ to their men. And they knew that their men weren’t dummies.

Yet, there is some sort of exalted viewpoint that many people put on once they put on their black belts. They are better. And, it shouldn’t be.

You see, it says in The Tao, there is no higher with out lower, no front without back, and that sort of thing. And if you buy into it, any any endeavor, not just the martial arts, then you stifle yourself, you cause yourself not to learn.

Honestly, when somebody says, ‘it took me seven years to earn my black belt,’ as if that makes them better, I often wonder why they think being slow makes them important.

So I make black belts as fast as I can these days. Sometimes I screw up, but not often, and I’m getting better. And consider what I am doing, my mistakes are all right.

You see, there is no front with rear, and a black belt should be humbling, not exalting, and it is the black belts duty to break down the barriers and get the teaching going.

Martial Arts ranking is just a grade, you see, not an attitude…at least that is the way it is in the true martial arts.kick balls

Monster Newsletter #342–When to Promote

Good morning and good life to all!

This newsletter is thanks to Derek R.

Derek is homeschooling his kids, and teaching them martial arts as part of the program. I am a long time fan of home schooling. Mind you, I think we have the greatest teachers in the world in our country, but I think they have been effectively hamstrung by the system. So, with all respect to ‘official’ teachers, I am a fan of homeschooling. I think home schooling is going to give a flexibility and depth that is lacking in the public systems. Yes, I know there will be mistakes, but there are going to be glorious successes, too. The US used to have the best educational system in the world, and it was because individuals took a hand and made it so.

That all said, Derek’s exact question concerned when to promote in Matrix Karate. Here’s some data that will help in answering that question.

Classical systems include everything, strikes, disarms, energy generation, everything under the sun. Putting all that data in one package mushes the data, confuses it. The point of Matrix Karate is to isolate Karate as a striking art, make it quick and easy to learn, and lead into the next segment of knowledge one wishes to absorb. Thus, Matrix Karate leads into certain throws, which throws can be explored in Matrix Kung Fu or Matrix Aikido. Further courses explore other concepts, and do lead to internal energy.

Thus, while one is learning in a linear fashion, they are filling in squares in a matrix that will lead to a whole picture that has never been seen in the martial arts.

The correct way of teaching Matrix Karate would be:


Matrix One

House One (two man form)


Appropriate Freestyle


Matrix Two

House Two (two man form)


Appropriate level of Freestyle


Matrix Three

House Three

(two man form)


Appropriate level of Freestyle


One could earn further degrees of black belt by learning further arts.

The idea behind this is to separate the data unique to individual arts, to purify it and make it easier to absorb (it will be not only pure, but logical). Doing this art by art makes for learning the martial arts extremely fast. It also purifies the program, which makes it easier to access (select techniques for instant and intuitive usage), clears up muddy data, and resolves the martial arts as a field of data.

Now, the matrixing data is set in stone, but certain things are not set in stone, and should be flexible according to what the potential student knows. And somewhat flexible when it comes to fitting other arts into the matrix (karate) template.

A fellow with no experience might take a month or two for each form.

And, you might want to add the Power Kicks form (included for free in the Matrix Karate package). After all, people expect kicks to be part of karate. They aren’t (Karate means ‘empty hands,’ and there are few kicks in the original forms), but they can be taught easily through the Power kicks course. I haven’t broken them down into matrix style forms, but you could do that, or you can just drill pieces until the student is ready for the whole thing.

Now, here is something interesting. The people I teach have usually have been with me for a while, or they have 20 or 30 years of experience in a half dozen arts.

Lessons with them are interesting, because they already know so much, so the lesson might consist of looking at a karate kick, then sliding into a wing chun block, tying that together with a silat throw, and then…I’m all over the place.

But I’m not trying to drill them. I’m trying to organize what they already know. Once the initial onslaught of overwhelm is over (“This is matrixing? But that’s easy! Oh, crap, everything I’ve been doing…”) and then we shift a whole body of knowledge over to the left side of his brain and he wakes up the next morning all energized and realizing that there are whole bunches of things that he didn’t know were confusing him that are no longer confusing him.

You see, I am not telling anybody their art is wrong. I’m just sorting through arts and trying to make sure they are pure and in the right order. No round pegs in square holes. you know?

But a beginner is not ready for a matrix. He is ready for linear input of data (which, fortunately, is how the matrix is arranged), and drilling so that he can make it work.

And here is the point of it all. It ain’t art if it don’t work.

So the beginner might be able to robot the form, but you have to make sure the basics under his basics are all functioning. This might take a few months, but its all in the courses…and here’s something interesting. Once the basic-basics are understood, matrix fashion, the teaching should speed up.

Most arts, once you learn the basics (they don’t, except in haphazard and meandering fashion teach the basic-basics), start to slow down. They are too mushed up with the intermingling and out of order maze consisting of blocks and throws and spiral energy v suspended energy v karate v wudan v…

All the data from all the techniques from all the arts, it just mushes. In fact, the arts one knows can even fight each other. If that doesn’t screw up developing intuitive abilities I don’t know what will.

You need nice, clean alphabets of ordered data if you are going to make sense out of all the arts.

You need to separate the data, and input it in nice, clean flows. Do it that way and, once you learn the basics, you should start learning faster, not slower.

When some instructor says, “well, you’ve got your green belt, now you have to be prepared to spend six months drilling while the data gets absorbed by your brain.”

What he is saying is that his art isn’t matrixed, that he doesn’t know how to make it all real for you (he doesn’t know the basic-basics that I show you in the Matrix courses, and especially in the Master Instructor Course), but this is the way it has been done for a thousand years, and this is the way he is taught, and if you don’t get blown away by the confusion of it all, then you might get to the next belt.

Hey, I’m not insulting them! I respect anybody who has made it through to a high level of martial art, and especially the teachers. But their job would be a thousand times easier if they had my matrixing data.

Anyway, sorry about the rant, but passion ain’t a bad thing.

Derek just asked a timely question that set me off. I’ve answered him specifically elsewhere, and this newsletter should give some general info that should answer some questions. And, hey, if it doesn’t? You can always write me.

Here’s the URL for Matrix Karate, though I suggest getting the core package right from the get go. All the data through a variety of arts will really light a rocket under your, uh…jeans.

Monster Martial Arts

There is knowing that the water is wet…and there is getting wet.

There is knowing what I am saying in this article, and then there is actually getting the Matrixing data and doing it.

You guys and gals have a stupendous day and I’ll talk to you later.


Send me your wins!