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
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
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.
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
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
her gold belt in the next month or so and says that she's starting to actually
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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
CCBBA Karate Curriculum | Gold belt |
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.