Essence Kenpo’s Black Belt Progression Concept
2018-Essence Kenpo was founded with 5 levels of progression from 1st Dan through 5th Dan. As you can see from the above, there are 5 stripes that can be awarded in Essence Kenpo’s system. The top stripe is red, signifying power, while the following 4 stripes are yellow, signifying truth. 1st through 4th Dan are meant for the practitioner to find truth through technique, style, and personal preference. 5th Dan is reserved for the practitioner who wishes to take what they’ve learned physically and conceptually to the next level by promoting the system to others. Promoting a system effectively is a power that can only be attained once truth has justified the integrity of the system itself.
Here are the level progression requirements of Essence Kenpo, which will be discussed in a moment:
1st Dan – Create or adopt 20 offensive combination techniques + add 2 forms + (optional) attend 5 martial arts seminars, events, competitions, or camps as a 1st Dan representative or higher rank.
2nd Dan – Create or adopt 60 offensive or defensive combination techniques, with 10 combinations to include grappling progression to pin or submission + add 1 form + add 1 weapons form + (optional) attend 5 martial arts seminars, events, competitions, or camps as a representative of the system.
3rd Dan – 100 hours of stand-up sparring, light to heavy contact, reversible with 4th Dan.
4th Dan – 100 hours of ground or grappling experience, reversible with 3rd Dan.
5th Dan – Attend 10 martial arts seminars, events, competitions, or camps as a representative of the system with the intention to promote or act as an ambassador of Essence Kenpo.
The 1st Dan rank allows the practitioner to create offensive techniques that they feel comfortable with. This builds on the Red Belt level which has a focus on defense. Generally, offensive techniques are delivered by opportunity, are minus a block, but still follow the recommended 2-4 strike rule, distance, finish, or take to the ground.
Forms additions for 1st or 2nd Dan are open season as far as style goes. You may select your favorite that you already learned or create your own.
By opting in to martial arts events as a promoter of the system, you may skip from 2nd Dan to 5th Dan and bypass 3rd and 4th Dan if you do not wish to pursue live sparring or grappling, which is fine.
3rd and 4th Dan are interchangeable depending on your chosen focus, stand-up, grappling or both. I call them conflict ready ranks and are just a representation of your experience against an opponent who is reasonably trying to beat you or who has provided significant resistance in practice. You may also skip from 3rd to 5th by attending events.
As far as sparring goes, it can be any stand-up style from Karate to Boxing. And grappling can be anything from wrestling to Aikido. Something like Aikido may be a more suitable substitution for practitioners who dislike a more competitive grappling experience.
Essence Kenpo is an adaptable system in the sense that you can reach the same rank as someone else but with a personalized approach that can be very different from the next guy.
While the labels can be interchangeable, I’d call the 1st Dan an artist, the 2nd Dan a self-defense expert, the 3rd and 4th Dan a competitor, and the 5th Dan a modern traditionalist. After all, how did all those well known styles get to be so well known?
The Essence Kenpo Concepts Black Belt is unranked, no Dan stripes, and can be worn to unify your training under one flag without rank bars or by using the above guidelines to personalize your martial arts experience with Dan rankings. It’s merely a reflection of your chosen path.
The EKC Black Belt comes with an official Certificate of Recognition for authenticity, is the only belt you’ll ever need for training, and is priced with your prior experience in mind.