The Kenpo Belt System
The Kenpo Belt 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).
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.
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.
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 System.