Every rank at MPMA is EARNED. Yes, even the white belt that most schools give out for free IS a rank that is TESTED FOR.
Every student starts out without rank and tests for each stripe as they learn the material in their own time.
It’s not uncommon to see someone with prior martial arts experience get to their first colored belt ranks in less then 2-3 months per rank; on the other hand, someone with no experience or poor body control will take longer to test for the stripes, and thus take longer before they can test for rank.
Stripe testing happens during regular class times when the instructor and student are confident in their abilities; it is possible to fail these tests, but it will never the less be a great way to truly see where your skill level is as well as a great way to check in one-on-one with your instructor on ways to improve.
Students may also test for stripes on their belt at the end of the month advancement testing day; as long as they are prepared and feel confident in their understanding and ability; and have instructor & parental permission when applicable.
Rank testing is held on the last Thursday of the Month and is open to all students who have achieved the requisite number of stripes on their current rank, have permission of their parents(when applicable) and have the confidence of their instructor.
Rank testing simply contains a single combination test of all previous stripe material with the test focusing on marked improvement and understanding as well as the ability to blend all objectives together towards the ranks overall goals and outcomes.
There are no trick questions, there are opportunities to review everything in classes leading up to the test and all improvement at this time is also taken into account should the student get too nervous during their official test.
As long as the student demonstrates the appropriate knowledge for advancement, remains calm and honest, and demonstrates their best effort; there’s a good chance they will pass their rank.
Should behaviors such as breakdowns, reports of inappropriate use of material (I.e. bullying others, rudeness to parents, etc.) and other things occur to an unreasonable amount based on the instructor and assistant instructor opinion then the student will be asked to review and test again at a later date.
I HATE turning people away during testing based on behavior but I have to be sure the students are mature enough to apply the knowledge safely and appropriately before allowing them to participate in the physical sparring aspects of the test which is paramount in progression in any physical endeavor such as, in this case, martial arts.
CHALLENGE TESTING OR ”CALL OUTS” like one might see in Kung Fu films and other blockbusters is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.
Now let’s talk about the rank structure at MPMA Self Defense; or what we call: “Your road map to black belt.”
These are broken down to: FOUNDATIONAL RANKS; INTERMEDIATE RANKS; AND ADVANCE RANK
Student Leadership can begin with any adult student who has passed their level 2 Material; whereas children and teens need to be, at least, 13 years of age AND reach the rank of level 5: GREEN BELT.
ROAD MAP TO BLACK BELT AT MPMA
Level 0: All students that complete their free trial are tested for their WHITE BELT. This ranks objective is: TO BE A STUDENT. While every student will have a different definition for what this means to them personally; the key to being a good student in martial arts- As in life- is to:
1. BE TEACHABLE; 2. TRY YOUR HARDEST; 3. BE KIND TO EVERYONE 4. BE RESPECTFUL TO PARENTS/ELDERS AND INSTRUCTORS.; 5. FAILURES TEACH MORE THEN SUCCESSES; 6. CHAMPIONS ARE MADE IN PRACTICE.
Level 1: YELLOW BELT: From white belt(lv0), the student will learn 5 main objectives each with their own definition, sparring objective, and training material.
This rank is about survival and escape; with a focus on controlling distance and ending an altercation quickly when escape is impossible. This is foundational training building off of ones own fight-or-flight response in a safe and constructive environment meant to empower as well as prepare.
When a student has 5 stripes on their white belt they can test for their Yellow Belt.(lv1)
Level 2: YELLOW BLACK-STRIPE BELT: From level one, students learn new self defense drills, and point sparring objectives of set ups, mobility, and, endurance. As well as how to use these to get clean hits and to use these to create better opportunities to take their opponent to the ground and get away. When a student has 5 stripes, they can test for their Yellow Black-Stripe Belt (lv2)
LEVEL 3: BLUE BELT: As students start their training towards level 3; they deal with the first real “disability” that can occur. That of being taken to the ground or falling to the ground against a standing opponent. This rank also teaches self defense against common Bear Hugs/holds. After achieving the 4 stripes, a student can test for their Blue belt.(lv3)
LEVEL 4: BLUE BLACK-STRIPE BELT: Having dealt with standing opponents against ground ranges of fighting; the student now tackles the situation of someone wrestling them to the ground. Many of the techniques taught at this rank are routinely seen in MMA matches but as we are a self defense academy; creating distance or disabling ones opponent as a way to create an opportunity to get up and disengage is paramount. After 5 stripes, a student can test for their Blue Black-Stripe belt (lv4)
THIS IS A GREAT TIME TO CHECK IN WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR AS TO YOUR GOALS MOVING FORWARD AND AS A WAY TO SET A GOAL TO ACHIEVE YOUR BLACK BELT.
LEVEL 5: GREEN BELT: After a student has passed their level 4; they start working on new ranges incorporating single escrima stick attack and defenses. This is the first rank to teach Kata as a way to practice weapon skills at home without harm to others or damage to property.
Students under the age of 16 will need permission of their parent/guardian in order to start this training. After 5 stripes of material; a student can test for their Green Belt(lvl 5)
LEVEL 6: GREEN-WHITE BELT: After passing the basic strikes blocks and angles of escrima, students now tackle the use of two sticks versus two sticks. After 6 stripes of material, students can test for their green with white stripe belt.
LEVEL 7: GREE-BLACK BELT: After learning the use of single and double stick; students now start their advance training tackling one of the hardest objectives. That of dealing with an armed opponent without a weapon. Students will learn to defend against opponents armed with a single stick AND double sticks.
After 6 Stripes a student can test for their Green-Black Stripe Belt.
LEVEL 8: BROWN BELT: For this rank, students set aside their sticks and learn to tackle the aggressive nature of defending against multiple opponents unarmed. Joint locks, take downs, and assessments are critical at this level.
THIS LEVEL may be where students have trouble sticking to the rudimentary outline of time for this achievement. AFTER 8 STRIPES A Student can test for their BROWN BELT.
Level 9: BROWN BLACK STRIPE: This rank blends the escrima material with the objective of multiple opponents. This is an advance rank that pushes students awareness, endurance, and ability to multitask under perceived threat of danger.
During the training for this rank students that haven’t started yet; are beginning to assist with instruction of little dragons and/or level 1 and level 2 of the adult/teen ranks listed above.
After 8 stripes and an assistant instructor test: Students can test for their Brown with Black Stripe Belt
Level 10: RED BELT: This rank replaces the stick of the first escrima rank; with that of an armed opponent with a knife. This is an advance rank that deals with the dangers of a knife on knife combat situation.
After 6 stripes a student can test for their Red belt.
Level 11: Red with white stripe: This rank trains students to handle two knife and single knife versus two knife combat.
After 6 stripes; a student can test for their Red with white stripe belt.
Level 12: red with black stripe: this rank tests students unarmed against a single knife wielding opponent and unarmed against two knife wielding opponent.
After 6 stripes a student can test for their red with black stripe rank.
Level 13: Pre-Black belt: this rank is all about overcoming disability. With simulated injury, students are tested to overcome the loss of one of their limbs/hands; starting from a disadvantaged position on the ground; and adding knife and stick to ground fighting ranks. This is the last rank before black belt and may take quite awhile for students to truly pass all the stripes.
After 8 stripes; a student can test for their pre-black belt.
Level 14: 1st degree black belt: this rank incapsulates the 7 major objectives of the entire program, and has 7 stripes to earn before testing. (Unarmed combat; ground combat; stick combat; knife combat; multiple opponents unarmed; multiple opponents with stick and knife; and teaching.)
Once completed, a student can test for their 1st Degree Black Belt and move into the black belt degree levels and true positions of leadership within MPMA SELF DEFENSE.