Most systems hold to eight belt levels to black belt ranking, though a few junior belts are often added into the mix. Actually, this is too many belts, for people are kept on the runway too long. This became extremely obvious when I started teaching matrixing, for people started learning at faster rates, which upset the whole rate of learning martial arts systems.
The proper number of belts should be four. This would be the white belt, the green belt, the brown belt, and the black belt, which equates to beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert. Past that would be assistant instructors and instructors.
A white belt student should be learning basic forms. This would be the equivalent of kebon patterns, and these patterns would teach basic blocks, stances, punches, and kicks. Time necessary to learn would be 3-6 months.
A green belt student could learn Pinan 1-5 (Heian 1-5). This a good intermingling of intermediate patterns, and one will find all manner of grabbing tricks, different and odd ways of developing blocks, more advanced kicks, and etcetera. Time necessary to learn would be about a year.
The brown belt should learn advanced forms depending on his size and shape. A large person might be suited to learn sanchin, seisan and sanseirui. A smaller, more nimble person might be better suited to learn umbe, botsai and the Iron Horse.
Time for brown to black would be 6 months, though, I have to admit, I often teach faster than that. I teach faster because I coordinate the number of techniques to the belts, and this gives a higher sense of reality to the form. The real key, however, is matrixing, for that subject tends to uncover all the hidden factors, and to arrange the techniques in a logical and much easier to learn format.
Whether you have matrixing or not, however, you should structure your classes so that they are a couple of hours long, and you teach no few than three times a week. One of the reasons martial arts systems have failed is because schools have become polite and ordered and there is no sense of urgency to learning. Quite seriously, your life could well depend on how fast you can get to a Martial Arts Black Belt, so I wouldn’t waste time.
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