Most people don’t realize that there wasn’t a black belt “degree” before 1964. Black belts were used to signify status under the Dan System. However, each rank was given a specific name.
The wearing of a Black Belt was symbolic of the above five ranks. These ranks could be achieved by students who had to pass a formal exam or participate in a competition. However, exceptions were made for practitioners with special status or weaker practitioners.
The three highest ranks were represented smoking skull belt by either a black belt or a red and white sectioned belt. Traditional formal examinations only were required for Yond an (or Godin) up to the fifth Dan. All rankings above 5th Dan were awarded without standard tests and were given for service and time in grade. The service to the art could be defined as practicing, teaching, judging tournaments, writing papers about the martial arts or speaking out for the art to general audiences.
These two ranks were represented by either a Black Belt (or a Red Belt). Notably, the Dan System ranks did not require belts. Martial arts didn’t use straps. They did not use any external representations of class in systems such as Kendo (art that involves drawing with the sword), Aikido (art that consists in fighting with a short stick), and Kendo [art of fencing with swords with the blade.
For example, if you were promoted to the fourth Dan System level, you would be given the title “Yoda”, which is what your certificate would read. The idea of “degrees in the black belt” was created by Grandmaster Ed Parker, who is also known as the “Father” of American Karate.
Grandmaster Ed Parker, March 19, 1931 -December 15, 1990) was the one who made martial arts mainstream in America. He was the first to establish iwgp heavyweight championship replica an extensive network of schools in America and taught Elvis Presley and many other celebrities. Many considered him a giant and self-promoter.
Began his training in Kenpo under Professor William Chow in the 1940s. In 1953, he was promoted to Shodan and moved to the mainland to open his first school. His primary school, Pasadena Kenpo Karate Studio, was located in Pasadena. Three brothers, Jim, Al and Will Tracy, started attending classes there in 1957. In 1959, the school was handed over to them for management. They continued to operate it until 1962 when they opened their school.
It was the first attempt to make martial arts a commercial venture in America. Grandmaster Parker was not an expert on martial arts, but he was learning how to run a business. Grandmaster Parker was impressed by the Tracy brothers, who created a system that allowed schools to be more profitable. They also organized teaching methods and standardized what was taught in all schools. They made Kenpo more organized, more accessible to students and more profitable. Grandmaster Parker often adopted most of their methods as the “official” way. There were, however, many areas of contention between Grandmaster Parker and the Tracy’s.