Author Topic: "Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"  (Read 4584 times)

Karazenpo

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"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« on: June 08, 2003, 12:20:01 PM »
I'm from Massachusetts, and remember back to the martial arts craze of the 70's when Fred Villari just broke away from Nick Cerio and began opening up dojos across New England with a string of them in Canada. He parted company with Professor Cerio in 1971. Now, this post is not intended to discredit Mr. Villari in any way.  In a sense I will point out some things that I now see in retrospect that may seem supportive to him BUT before anyone gets on my case for that, remember, I left that organization over two decades ago due to political differences then and  I still have them now. However, that does not cloud my judgement if I see hyprocisy and feel someone is getting a raw deal even though on other issues I don't agree with them at all.  In other words, I can be quite unbiased and just deal with the facts and circumstances of each indivividual situation. That being said let me get to the meat of this matter!

Way back then, Villari was under scrutiny and highly criticized for several things. First, and I have these quotes right from the old karate mags from other instructors of that time period. Here's one: "He advertizes Kung Fu but teaches Karate". The Villari schools advertized Karate-Kung Fu-Ju Jitsu...............now that I know the history & lineage, may I say, Hello? Isn't his martial art a subsystem of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu which is a direct subsystem of Kajukenbo......Hello again to these past critics. Isn't Kajukenbo an acronym for Karate-Judo/Ju Jitsu-Kenpo-Chinese Boxing(KungFu). These same critics are now advertizing the same eclectic blend in regards to their styles, as a matter of fact, it is accepted today to promote 'eclectic' blends of martial arts, true? Look at the heat he took then because some people didn't know what the heck Kajukenbo was!

Next,  He took all kinds of heat for breaking from tradition to be independant of his original teacher, develop his perspective of this kempo and eventually take the title of 10th dan. WOW, he took a vicious beating for that one! Those that know me or know of me also know that I am an avid martial arts historian. Well, let me say this. Do you know how many so-called 10th dans at that time we either self promoted, bought their promotions or were promoted through very questionable circumstances? Not to mention, started their own styles?  Many! Check it out! I have an article in an old karate mag stating three Americans, I think they were shodans, no more than nidans but I think shodans, I'd have to check it. Regardless, they drank Saki with a renowned Okinawan master on a visit to Okinawa, at the end of the night, all drunk, the master promoted them to 8th Degree black belts. When the master sobered up in the morning he realized what he had did and was embarrassed. He got a hold of them and told them in the U.S. they may claim 8th dan but in Okinawa, they may only claim 3rd. This mag is about 15 or so years old and at that time it stated two of these guys are 9th now and one is claiming 10th. By now, I'm sure the other two are 10th also. Did you ever hear the statement: "He got on the plane in Okinawa as a brown belt and got off the plane in the United States as a high ranking black belt?" I have, reported in the same magazines. My point? Here's what Villari did wrong that the others did right (tongue in cheek). Mr. Villari sh.t  in his own back yard. He trained in Rhode Island, lived and worked in Massachusetts and eventually set up shop in New England. His background, although a legitimate Cerio black belt, could easily be verified as a probationary 2nd dan when he left Professor Cerio. Should he have studied in Okinawa, Japan or Hawaii , he probably would have went unquestioned back then or at least not to the extent that he was.

Now, he was also chastised because here's this guy who only went up to 2nd dan (on the books he's listed as a shodan because he didn't complete his probation period with Cerio) and he has the audacity to start his own system. Well, guess what? In my study of martial arts history, do you know how many of his vehement critics and others did the same exact thing? Check it out!

Finally, the expansion that has been referred to as the McDojo schools. Do you know who had that idea? I'm not sure exactly what the date was but at one time that was Mr. Ed Parker's dream-to open up a large chain of American Kenpo schools on the lines of a franchised operation like MacDonald's where one could study quality martial arts at affordable rates. Some of Mr. Parker's close associates were not in favor of this idea and from what I was told spoke to him about it. Many of Parker's people today refer to these schools as McDojos! I wonder what they would have said back then if Mr. Parker had made that dream come true?

My total point of this post is dealing with hypocrisy and facing the truth along with people in glass houses that shouldn't be throwing stones! I do not support the Villari schools and have had nothing to do with them since the beginning of February 1981 and I stand by my political differences with, let's say, their 'quality control'.
My point is that I am just being unbiased and honest as I look back at that era now in 2003. So, will the real 10th degree Black Belt please stand up?  ;)  What say you?  :)

                                                  Respectfully submitted, Shihan Joe Shuras
« Last Edit: June 08, 2003, 12:45:18 PM by Shihan Joe Shuras »

Jon Pack

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2003, 09:59:53 AM »
Shihan Shuras this has been the topic of discussion many a night.

How many tenth degree grandmasters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?... None. They are to busy debating who created it/or who is the rightful heir to Edison! lol.

So, many are left in the dark.

Sooo many left in the dark.

On one hand it makes one find out the answers for themselves and to make their own minds up.

On the other hand you have to appreciate people like John Sepulveda, Jeff Speakman who are still representing there instructor at the level they were acknowleged by Mr. Parker.

On a finishing note I again appreciate your time and energies in these areas.  I wish I would have known you ten years ago! Oh well as one instructor said, the easiest way to mess up your student is to give them all the answers.  

Jon Pack
chippewavalleykempo.com
p.s.
I always think of spinal tap when disussing ranking of the highest level. Our grandmasters go to...insert 11thdegree-15thdegree.

Karazenpo

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2003, 10:13:01 AM »
Thank you Jon. On a different note I would like to say because I may not agree with the politics of the organization we were discussing I do not wish to offend any of the many hard working, talented martial artists in this group who train hard, have good basics and are trying to do the right thing within these type of commercialized chains. There is nothing wrong with their curriculum as I have discussed in other posts, my disagreements with them lie in other areas. Mr. Villari has a saying, "The cream always rises to the top." You will eventually break free and seek the right path. Many of us have and many more will.  Best of Luck!  Respectfully, Shihan Joe :)

Kempo-Sensei

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2003, 02:41:57 PM »
I am a 9th dan in the John Evans Kempo Karate system.  In fact, I am the only one ranked in this system.  This is because no one else in the world can be exactly like me.  (sorry to break your hearts!  :'(  ;D  )

So since I am already the supreme master of myself, I now have the ability to not worry about rank or what others perceive my rank to be.  That does not matter to me.

What matters to me is that I will teach my students to be good students.  I will do this by being an example to follow.  I will continue to learn and grow and thus redefining what it means to be a 9th dan in the John Evans Kempo Karate system.

Oh, I would be 10th dan, but I still believe that you must die before having that honor bestowed upon you!


Offline Rob Poelking

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2003, 03:34:41 PM »
Can I give a brown belt's perspective on this.

1) I'm not sure I can appreciate self titled promotions. I kinda like the idea of some schools where a black belt is a black belt is a black belt. There are no first thru 10th degrees. If you are an accomplished and talented black belt, does it really make a difference that "degree" your rank really is? I've seen a 3rd degree (other system) black belt who executed kicks like a purple belt. That sickens me. Then I've seen respected and incredible black belts of lower rank who were not that concerned about what degree they were. As an observer, you were compelled to respect them because you could see what they are capable of. You WANTED to train with them.

2) Chain martial arts schools are one smart individuals way of making money doing what he loves best. Nothing wrong with that. A man (or woman) should be so lucky as to enjoy the work they do. My observation, however, is that, exponentially, the further from the source you chain has grown, the more the quaility of training suffers. You history buffs I'm sure can fill in the gaps, but wasn't there a time when Tae Kwon Do was respectable? Now it is so commercialized and turned into a profit machine that students pay for their black belt and are shuttled out the door in a year and a half! Whoa, I've got a really great instructor, but I still sucked after a year and a half!

So which do you prefer? The umpteenth billion BigMac Black Belt? or the slow roasted back yard barbeque Black belt?
Rob Poelking, Black Belt, Original Method
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http://www.ohiokajukenbo.com

Kempo-Sensei

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2003, 03:59:07 PM »
Big Macs aren't good for you... so I choose the slow-roasted!


I agree, we shouldn't be concerned with rank.  If you are a black belt and still need to set short-term goals (i.e. stripes) then you are missing something.  Just promote yourself to 10th dan of your own system and move on with your training.  Get rank out of the picture so you can focus on learning.





Offline EmptyCup

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2003, 02:42:57 AM »
Interesting thread...

I'm a Novice (notice the capital N) to KSDI so I may be asking what you guys think a super basic question...

Who exactly are universally and unquestionably recognized as 10th degree black belts?  And what makes them different from the 'so-called' 10th degree black belts?

Thanks for letting my novice nose poke into this thread. hehe
As the young man told the wise man about all that he had learned from other wise men, the wise man continued to pour tea until the cup over flowed. When the young man asked the old man why he continued to pour the old man responded, "You must first empty your cup to receive anything."

Karazenpo

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2003, 10:55:06 AM »
Good question, EmptyCup, I'll give it a shot. Now, keep in mind, this subject of ranking is a gray area, many shades of gray. It is much more if not all subjective than objective. It is based mainly on many diversified opinions. I think it would be easier to first explain who would be an accepted 10th dan.
 

An accepted 10th dan would be a legitimate black belt with credentials and traceable lineage of some kind. Verifiable. It may not be perfect by any means because martial arts history can be vague and inaccurate at times, many times but a basic framework of who this person is and where their system originated from. The art should be a practiced system over a period of time, in other words, acceptable by a following and effective in what it teaches. It should have a base or core if anything, in some traditional, long accepted ryu . This black belt again, would have to have a following and would be considered the senior teacher in his group. He or she for that matter, must put the needs and training of the students before monetary gain in curriculum and testing. In other words, propagate the art, don't prostitute it! ;) Anything less than the above would be considered a so-called 10th dan! Hope this helped. :)

                                              Respectfully, Shihan Joe

PS: Plug in the above 'formular' and with a little investigation you can draw your own conclusions on who is accepted and who is not. ;)
« Last Edit: June 12, 2003, 10:58:59 AM by Shihan Joe Shuras »

Offline EmptyCup

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2003, 12:10:13 AM »
Thanks for the reply Shihan Joe!!

That definitely gives me a better idea of what is meant by being a 10th dan.

I'm learning so much about an art I'm now totallyl hooked on.  Keep up the good work!
As the young man told the wise man about all that he had learned from other wise men, the wise man continued to pour tea until the cup over flowed. When the young man asked the old man why he continued to pour the old man responded, "You must first empty your cup to receive anything."

Offline D-Man

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Re:"Will the Real 10th Degree Black Belt Please Stand Up?"
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2003, 11:06:40 AM »
He will.