Abstract

About the time we moved to Falmouth from San Diego, my two pre-teen children became interested in Karate. Having had a positive experience with the martial arts in my past, I decided to take them on a tour of the local martial arts schools to see if we could find an appropriate one for them to study in. Unfortunately, they were all horrible. In fact, I think that the entire spectrum of horrible was represented. From a glorified yoga class with some kicks and punches added in, to an ex-green beret drill master, whose kids terrify the local high school. Well, I guess they weren't all horrible.  The Tae Kwon Do night class at the community center was promising.  But there was only one class a week and that won't get you anywhere fast. 

So, I took a deep breath and harkened back to the promise I had made to my own Karate teacher, back in Texas, that I'd use what I had learned to teach someone else someday. In short I started my own, semi-private Karate school, mostly just to teach my own kids.  

The Cape Cod Black Belt Academy (CCBBA) was created and I arranged commercial accounts with suppliers1 and bought all the stuff:  workout mats, punching bags, protective gear, uniforms and a huge poster of Bruce Lee. I also dug out all my Karate paperwork and notes from my earlier Karate training.  We began formal classes in the summer of 1998

That was almost five years ago. Last weekend, both of my kids graduated to 2nd degree brown belt.  That's one test, and probably a year, away from their black belts. My wife is also involved, as a student. Part of the requirements for the kids to advance is teaching experience and she is their student. She will be eligible to test for her gold belt in the next month or so and says that she's starting to actually enjoy it.

So, below and in the related articles2, you'll find the CCBBA Karate curriculum, from soup to nuts.  I'll provide all the requirements for each belt grade and some comments on what is involved in advancing through the system. 

The CCBBA system is based primarily on the Korean Tae Kwon Do Karate, style developed by  Grand master Jhoon Rhee in the early 1960's.   The curriculum is also is strongly influenced by the "Blood -N- Guts Karate" style developed in Texas by Allen R. Steen.  Allen is credited as being Mr. Rhee's first American black belt and he went on to win 30 major titles as well as defeating both Chuck Norris and Joe Louis to win the prestigious Long Beach International Tournament in 1966.  Allen also developed a karate business empire including many schools and tournaments. 

I've added in a general fitness program, weight training and some of my own quirky philosophy.  This isn't necessarily a "standard," or "model" Karate program, but I believe that it's a good example of the volume, depth and character of any good program.

The intended reader is one with an interest in the subject, as well as the patience to parse out the dense technical prose that comprises much of this curriculum. If you have ever wondered just what one has to do to earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do Karate, you're in the right place because that's the story I will attempt to tell below.

DISCLAIMER:  I don't believe one can or should even try to learn Karate without a competent professional instructor guiding your studies.   Consequently,  this is not intended for any direct instructional use as a Karate teaching aid. That said, I hope that some readers will enjoy attempting to try to perform some of the techniques below based on this text.  If you find anything in my descriptions that you think is logically impossible, or just plain wrong, please let me know and I'll correct it, or explain it further. 

A Typical Karate Class

Classes are structured to fill a one hour block, including a moment of silent contemplation at the beginning of each class, followed by ten minutes of warm up and stretching exercises. The bulk of the class time is utilized for a variety of drills, exercises and on occasion, the introduction of new material. The level of physical exertion ranges from intensely aerobic to cerebral and almost sedentary depending on the specific workout.

The Student Creed

The Student Creed is recited by one of the students, or in cases of extreme gravity, by the Master.  The last line of the Creed, "Might for right!" is shouted by all students to commence the class.  

To build true confidence 

Through Knowledge in the Mind

Honesty in the Heart and

Strength in the Body

To keep Friendship with one another

And to build a strong and happy Community.

Never to fight for selfish ends

But to develop

MIGHT FOR RIGHT!

Warm up Exercises

The following warm up and stretching exercises are performed by the class as a group prior to instruction.

  1. Single Leg Pull.  Assume a sitting position, extend your left leg fully and tuck the heel of the right leg up on the left thigh.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, extend both arms above your head and lean forward trying to stretch until both hands are touching the left foot.  Repeat twice more on the left leg, then switch to the right leg and repeat three more times.
  2. Abdomen Stretch. Assume a sitting position with both legs locked in front of you and both heels touching.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, extend both arms above your head and lean forward trying to stretch until both hands are touching your feet.  Repeat twice more.
  3. Cross Leg Hip Twist.   Assume a sitting position, extend your left leg fully and cross the right leg over the left leg so that the right foot is touching the floor just to the left of your left kneecap.  Place your right hand on your right knee.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, twist your torso to the right and touch the ground behind you with your left hand.  The further you can twist the better, but do not jerk, just slowly stretch as you exhale.  Repeat twice more. 
  4. Half Bridge. Assume a sitting position with both knees bent in front of you and both feet on the ground.  Extend both arms behind you, palms down so that you are leaning back against your arms.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, push your stomach upwards to form an arch.  Repeat twice more.
  5. Reverse Toe-touch and Shoulder Stance. Lie on your back with your feet together, toes pointed up and your arms outstretched.  Lift  your legs up so that your feet are above your head.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, roll your feet over your head trying to touch your toes to the floor behind you.  Return your feet to a position above your head and repeat the stretch twice more.
  6. Vertical Leg Twist. Lie on your back with your feet together, toes pointed up and your arms outstretched.  Lift your left leg straight up so that your knee is locked and your toes are pointed toward your head.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, roll  your left leg so that it crosses over your right leg and touches the floor on your right side about waist high. Try to keep your shoulders flat on the ground. Repeat twice more on the left leg, then switch to the right leg and repeat three more times.
  7. Full Bridge.  Lie on your back with your feet spread to shoulder width, knees bent and feet flat on the ground.  Place your hands on the floor behind your shoulders with your elbows pointed above your head.   Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, push your stomach upwards to form an arch.  Repeat twice more.
  8. Upper Body Pushup.  Lie on your stomach with your feet together and heels touching.  Place your hands, at breast level with your palms down and your fingers pointed toward your head.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, push your shoulders upwards to form an low arch. Tilt your head back as far as you can and try to look at the ceiling.  Repeat twice more.  
  9. Bowl.  Lie on your stomach with your knees bent and each of your hands grasping your foot at the ankle. Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, pull ankles with your hands to form an arch.  Repeat twice more. 
  10. Scorpion.   Lie on your stomach with your feet together and heels touching.  Place your hands, at breast level with your palms down and your fingers pointed toward your feet.  Take a deep breath and as you slowly exhale, push with your arms to raise your heels and lower body to form a low arch. Try to raise your feet and lower body off the ground.  Repeat twice more.
The Kihap (Shout)

A kihap is a loud shout coming from the belly that focuses the energy of a technique and increases its power.  Each student will develop their own distinctive kihap, and women must sometimes be encouraged to really shout loudly in order to release this energy.


Want More?

CCBBA Karate Curriculum | Gold belt | Green belt | Purple belt | Blue belt | Red belt | 1st Degree Brown belt | 2nd Degree Brown belt | Black belt | Tae Kwon Do Terminology | Tae Kwon Do | Karate | Martial Arts

Acknowlegements:  Muchas Gracias to the steadfast and resolute Ms. T for her astute and insightful editorial assistance, also to the thaumaturgic dannye for explicating the intricacies of multi-volume noding.

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