What is it for? Why is it so arduous? We test the candidates’ mettle. They should already know and execute the required material with a high degree of skill. No one is recommended unless they can perform at a Black Belt skill level. The exam is really evaluating the ability to perform Kempo under intense pressure and stress.
Is there historical precedence? There is none, day to day life is stress enough. In most early schools, your name got moved from the grade level list to the Black Belt list. As people read the board, they would shake your hand. Most of the modern day Black Belt testing is a new development.
Here is our take on the test. We live in a comfortable and safe community. We need to add the pressure of survival to this existence. It should bring forth the indomitable spirit of the Kempo candidate. Black belts don’t give up, they just do. The Nike sales mark “Just Do It” should be the motto of all Kempo Black Belts.
Why is it so physically draining? You have to be exhausted to teach the concept of “second wind”, third wind and so on. You must overcome your tiredness to complete your mission and achieve your goal. You can’t explain that, it must be done. It must be experienced. Everyone must do it for himself or herself. The test provides an opportunity to do that. An opportunity to experience your real boundaries.
The Black Belt test should never degrade into a hazing ritual or a sadistic “Simon Says”. It should be a furnace to forge the final mental and emotional elements needed for Black Belts.
The Black Belt test should not be dreaded, but it should not be feared either. It is a milestone on your personal development. This test only marks the halfway point to mastery.