Ken’s 4th Degree Black Rank Physical Challenge

When I left my former Taekwondo school in 2014, I was at the crossroads of my martial arts journey.  To continue in Taekwondo was not an option because I would never go to another master.  I also still felt I had something to offer in the area of self-defense.


Kenneth, Caleb and Me after the 4th Degree Black Rank Test Physical Challenge

My oldest son Kenneth convinced me it was time to develop our own reality based self-defense system.  Part of organizing the curriculum involved creating a ranking system.  We decided on seven ranks below Black Rank: Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Red Ranks.

We decided on seven degrees of Black Rank but if a student wanted to move past 1st Degree Black Rank, they have to be an instructor.  The requirement for 2nd Degree Black Rank is lead a student to Blue Belt.  The requirement for 3rd Degree Black Rank is lead a student to Red Rank, etc.  For 4th Degree Black Rank, you must lead a student to 1st Degree Black Rank.  I completed this requirement two years ago.


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Traditionally, the Founder of a System would take the highest rank (in this case 7th Degree Black Rank) but I didn’t want to go this route.  It brings credibility to the art for the Founders to go through the same process as everyone else.

I also wanted to do a physical challenge, so I decided to do a defensive roll with both my sons.  I would ground spar with them for 20 minutes each for 40 minutes straight.  No easy task at 46 years old.

I wanted to primarily defend myself from guard, protect against punches and only take a submission if it presented itself.  I wanted to implement a defensive mindset in my ground game.

In the first 20 minute round, I spent too much time on top after sweeping Caleb.  I also made a big mistake in allowing Caleb to make a big move to my neck towards the end of the round.  If it was a punch, it would have struck hard.

In the second 20 minute round, I was tiring and Kenneth is more skilled on the ground, so it was easier to maintain the defensive mindset.  I made it through both rounds without getting tapped despite being so fatigued.  It took me two days to physically recover from the challenge.

Kenneth presented me with my new belt after the test with an inspiring speech.  I don’t know what I will come up with next time but it won’t be this challenge.

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