In SDSS, we have three levels of Black Belt; Junior Black Belt, Zhongi Black Belt, and Adult Black Belt. As parents we’ve all heard someone boast, “my child made black belt in a year,” or “my child made black belt second degree at age 10!” The SDSS approach is very different. Grandmaster DeMasco gave us a few minutes of his time to talk about why we take all our Black Belt ranks very seriously, and how each program is designed to meet the needs of our students at every level of learning.
Three Levels of Black Belt
“I created these age-appropriate levels for a very specific reason. Children are not adults. In addition, children process information differently at different ages. Many martial arts organizations pride themselves on promoting young children to levels of black belt. They do this to promote their business. So, parents think that their children are achieving something that they are really not. This is the SDSS difference.
“Being a Black Belt is a major accomplishment and even more of a responsibility. As a child they cannot be expected to understand all that it takes both mentally and physically to be an adult black belt, nor do we expect them to.”
Junior Black Belt
We then asked him to talk about the different levels. The rank reserved for our youngest students is Junior Black Belt. What does that rank mean?
“I created this level to first and foremost to reward the young student for his/her martial arts and life skills accomplishments. It is a preparation rank to get them ready and prepared for the Zhongi level. The martial arts material required for Jr. Black Belt is not as lengthy and stringent as the Zhongi Level and Adult level. The Jr. BB level is a great stepping stone into Zhongi.”
Black Belt Zhongi
We then asked him about Black Belt Zhongi. How does this bridge the gap between Junior Black and Adult Black?
“These are teenagers or close to it depending on maturity level. These young men and women test with adults but are not required to know all the adult material. This level and this test not only prepares them for the adult rank of Black Belt, it also prepares them for adulthood and the responsibility that is required to be an SDSS Black Belt.”
A Journey for a Lifetime
Any serious martial artist will tell you, earning a Black Belt is a life-changing accomplishment. It is also just the beginning of learning in Martial Arts. Regardless of what age you begin, your Martial Arts journey will last a lifetime.