Tag Archives: martial arts test

The Truth About Martial Arts Testing

Martial Arts Testing has Some Problems

I recently came across the most interesting discussion concerning Martial Arts testing for belts. It was interesting because it was well thought out, concerned, and because I disagreed with most of what was said.

Sometimes I will make a comment, but in this case I am prompted to tell the truth about Martial Arts testing. What makes this particularly juicy is that the people involved in this discussion were nibbling at the edges of what I did a lo-o-ong time ago, and which is more in keeping with the true spirit of the martial arts.

Originally there were no belts, which doesn’t mean there were no ranks.

Gichin Funakoshi introduced belts which, I believe, came from the a method used by swimming teams.

The first two belt ranks were white and black. This expanded to white, green, brown and black.

Some fifty years ago ranks and belts exploded. Ed Parker and Kenpo Karate led the way with a rainbow of colors. Taekwondo expanded the colors even further.

Now, this is the way it happened, but, there is an incredibly valuable piece of data missing.

I began studies with Kenpo, and was introduced to the belt system, and found it valuable in encouraging people to study.

Isn’t it interesting that people have to be encouraged to study?

But, when I went to the Kang Duk Won, I wasn’t encouraged to study. We had four basic belts, white, green, brown and black, further delineated by stripes, and nobody much cared.

Simply, people who cared about flashy belts left the school, and only the faithful, the ones who didn’t need to be encouraged to study, were left.

Nowadays people treat the martial arts like a business, structure everything around sales and promotion, and the belt is held up as the goal.

Fact: the belt means nothing.

Fact: knowledge means everything.

But these two facts seem to have become twisted, and the belt means everything, and knowledge means nothing.

I didn’t understand my Kang Duk Won instructors thoughts concerning belts, and I didn’t care. I was one of the faithful. I worked out till I bled, and there was no middle ground. There was no entertainment, and freestyle while recognized as a game, was treated like life or death.

Not to beat somebody else up, but to hone your own skills.

Interestingly, this type of freestyle brought one to mushin no shin (mind of no mind), which is an intuitive method, and it was a science, and it was TOTALLY combat effective. When people say their art is not combative effective, or not useful on the street, I know they didn’t study the real art, but rather an art that entertains children.

When I became an instructor I awarded rank according to forms and techniques learned.

As I progressed I realized the inadequacy of that, and I stopped giving out belts. For years I gave no martial arts tests, simply gave a person a black belt when he had the knowledge.

This thing of knowledge is quite interesting.

The number of forms learned, of techniques done, has no relationship to martial arts knowledge.

And I could ascertain the depth of knowledge a person had by simply looking at him.

Just to mention a couple of the actual criteria:
how deeply does a person ‘screw’ himself into the ground when doing his forms and techniques.
Or, what level of intuition has the student progressed to.

And there are other criteria, all coming from the removal of the student from his body.

I know, sounds crazy, but the awareness that is a human being becomes removed from his body through the method of doing the martial arts forms and techniques correctly.

Emphasis on ‘correctly,’ as it requires an experience of physics beyond the normal ‘fist in the face’ ‘apple falls on the head’ physics. This is an entirely different set of physics which I have seen only a few dozen people demonstrate, and none of whom actually understood.

Now, fees. I charge little, if at all. The rationale here is: how can I charge somebody for what he already knows? What he already paid for, and not just in money, but in sweat and blood?

Yet I had one fellow come to me and said he was required to pay $800, plus plane fare to Japan, plus lodgings and meals and all, to take a martial arts test.

For what?

Three old guys would sit behind a table and watch him demonstrate for an hour, then pass or fail with NO comment on why he was passing or failing!

Obviously, these guys loved themselves…and wanted his money. And they called themselves masters.

Anyway, as time went on I got back into giving not belts, but checklists, and then I would just work people to the bone, making sure they screwed themselves into the ground during form and technique, that they reached intuitive levels of freestyle, and other things.

And, eventually, I made these checklists public, selling them as courses, and here an interesting thing happened. Knowledge became able to be transcribed on paper.

Yes, the student still has to work, and those students in it for the entertainment or the belt and so on will have problems.

But a student who actually reads the courses, does the courses, gets the knowledge.

And they usually stop needing to be entertained and become the faithful.

This became an immense and tremendous boon to ANYBODY who possesses these courses.

It eliminated guesswork. It gave workable knowledge.

It enabled the true art to be passed on even if the instructor didn’t have all the knowledge, as it passed on the knowledge to all involved.

Then I come across discussions on how to test.

Man, there are hundreds of theories out there, but all passed on being able to monkey see monkey do a form, and none having to do with the perception of knowledge, of how to actually increase the students awareness.

So I say this: stop entertaining. Get brutal. Search for knowledge and not belts. Award rank for knowledge and not memorized skits.

This is the only way to the true art, and it is the way martial arts testing should be.

Martial Art Testing by Video.

Martial Art Testing Can be Quick and Easy!

I really need to write a page on Martial Art Testing by video, but let me sum it up real quick here.

martial art testing

Martial Art Testing by video is the latest rage.

You need to get a copy of the course (art) you are testing in, and a copy of the Master Instructor Course. All corrections will be based on these two courses. No hidden data or nasty surprises.

You need to send a video of yourself doing the forms and applications of the art you are testing in. First video is free, additional videos I charge twenty bucks.

The fastest I ever had anybody do was two videos. I don’t think it would take more than three or four videos, however.

I look for your ability to make it work. I correct you according to the six points listed in the Master Instructor Course, or on the seven things necessary for perfect form listed, again, int eh master instructor course. That, and knowing the moves from your art, is what it is all about.

I send you a certificate, I don’t send a belt. It is up to you to find the belt that fits you.

Martial Art testing by video is a concept whose time has come. People are tired of the time and gas and other things necessary to attending a martial arts school.

Mind you, I still think schools are cool, and you should definitely find as many work out partners as you can. But, society is changing, the internet is the thing, and even martial arts testing can be done through it.

If somebody had asked me, even ten years ago, whether this would be possible, I would have said no. But now? Heck. It’s probable.

Take a look at http://www.monstermartialarts.com/You_Can_Get_a_Black_Belt_Online%21.html

It will give you ALL sorts of information concerning this, and even a case history of one fellow who did it.

This post has been about martial arts testing by video.

Martial Arts Test Your Knowledge Quiz!

Take the Martial Arts Test!

This Martial Arts Test will let you know how learned you are in the martial arts. The questions cover a variety of martial arts, and instructions for grading yourself are at the end. Write the answer to each question on a piece of paper, and have fun.

martial arts testing

Get smart the smart way!

Who was the Asian Superstar called ‘The Little Dragon?’  What was the name of the main art studied by the founder of Aikido? Who were the brothers responsible for creating a national chain of Kenpo Karate studios?

Who was the originator of the art wherein the students spends great amounts of time ‘walking the circle?’ Who was the first American President to study the art of Judo? What was the name of the movie that Bruce Lee didn’t finish before he died?

Which style of Karate received the official blessing of Gichin Funakoshi to spread his teachings (it was not Shotokan)? What is the name of the World Taekwondo Headquarters and home of the World Taekwondo Academy? Who was the Taekwondo instructor behind the martial arts in ‘Billie Jack?’

What is the name of the martial arts book written by the greatest Japanese Samurai to have ever lived (it is now used to train Japanese businessmen)? What martial art trains one in the use of the Parang? Who was the founder of Black Belt magazine?

How long did it take Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace to earn his black belt? Which famous athlete did Bruce Lee study the films of in a mirror to make sure he got the movements of down on both sides? What was the title of the first book Ed Parker wrote on the martial arts (according to wiki)?

Who was the CIA operative who wrote the first book on Shaolin to receive widespread publishing in the United States, and what was the name of the book? What was the name of the first Kung Fu Movie to receive widespread viewing in the United States? What is the name of the Chinese actor to defeat a villain in a Chinese movie made in 1979, and then play that same villain (not as a complete villain) in the American movie ‘Kill Bill?’

To find any answers you are unsure about do a quick google. To score your results simply take the number of questions you got right and divide them by 18. Don’t worry if you got any answers wrong, for you now have the answers and are a smarter person. 

martial art belts

Martial Arts Test on How to Deal with a Home Intruder

I first wrote up this martial arts test in my newsletter. I received such good comment on it that I decided to publish it here.

martial arts test

Can you survive?

Where you are, right now, you hear sounds of somebody breaking in. You’ve got ten seconds to get it together and defend yourself. So how many weapons can you find?

The clock is ticking. You can throw the computer. But you might want to leave this room, get the home intruder as he is coming up the stairs, especially if it sounds like there are more than one.

Eight seconds.

Pens and pencils can be used to stab.

Six seconds.

A heavy object easy to throw with sharp edges on it.

Four seconds.

Shove the couch across the doorway.

Two seconds.

Look around, look around…


So what do you have?

As for myself, I’ve got a folding knife on my desk, along with some pens. I’ve also got a mug which I can use to bludgeon and, when it breaks, use to slash and cut. Eight feet away I’ve got three swords. Alas, they do not sharpened edges. Curse me for wasting money on display swords! Twelve feet away, next to the front door, I have escrima sticks. Again. No edges. And, of course, I have lots of things I could throw, but not much that would make a dent in the heat of battle.

Now, mind you, I am not entirely helpless. After forty-five years of martial arts, there are some things I could do with a pencil that would shock you. Obscure the fact that I’ve got it until I can insert it in an ear or an eyeball or through the throat.

And, there are some grab arts I could do with some ordinary objects that would surprise most people.

And, last but not least (grin) I’ve got a dog. A big one. 120 pounds. And his teeth are very big and sharp and gleaming white! Normally he’s a big chicken, but I have seen him go to the door with a snarl and a bark that would frighten king kong.

But, the point of all this has merely been to assess a couple of things.

You will be attacked not when you are prepared, but when you least expect it. That is the law of the universe.

And, to the degree that you are prepared, to that degree you will survive.

So, do you have weapons? Can you make weapons out of anything? Can you use absolutely anything at all for a weapon?

I advise you to keep a sharp knife in every room. And have a machete at some central type of location. And have a sturdy pole, not just a broomstick, but some pole that won’t break.

And, most important, learn how to use them.

Check out the Blinding Steel page.


Remember, anything and everything you touch is a potential weapon, and you have to know how to use it as a weapon. The thug who home invades may not give you the chance to use your cell phone, so your life will literally be in your own hands.

This has been a page about a Martial Arts Test.