Tests of Rank

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Two sets of testing criteria exist.  Gun Fu is a rigorous martial art.  It requires great strength, endurance, and discipline.  Like it or not, those qualities exist most frequently in adults, and not as frequently, in persons under 18 years old.  To attain Black Belt, an adult must actually execute self defense techniques in full attack situations.  A child or young adult, no matter how talented, would be physically challenged to perform effectively under those circumstances.  There are two sets of testing criteria, one for the adults, the other for students under 18 years old.  The objective is fairness, and creating a path where all students can progress in accordance with their capabilities.  The ranks for those under 18 are referred to as Junior Ranks.  Most juniors reach maturity and transfer to the adult program before they are ready to test for Purple, Brown, or Black Belt.  They arrive in the adult program well grounded in basics, and ready to go to the next level.

It is a unique feature of the Gun Fu system that any student can challenge any test for rank at any time.  So, even if a student is under the age of 18, he or she has the option of challenging the test for adult rank.  It is not encouraged, and is rarely attempted.

Addendum of February 15, 2018:

Some folks have asked whether every student has passed every test to the standard, exactly as written. The simple answer is, “No.” The tests and standards are recommended guidelines. While it is true some of the masters have met or exceeded the standards, we must acknowledge the times we now live in, and the consequences and repercussions when someone is needlessly injured. We’re trying to grow people, not harm them. I’ve noticed the disturbing tendency in recent years for some instructors to try and “up the ante.” Without giving full weight to where it will lead, they test their students to a more rigorous degree than they met for themselves. Don’t ever let your own inflated ego cause you to do that.

No student should be forced to do what is physically beyond their capabilities or understanding. A master teacher will know when and how to make adjustments to protocol, while assuring the expectation of excellence is met. Always remember, there are many paths to the same end. Our standards are not the only ones. They are simply signposts and guides, nothing more. They’re not carved in stone.

There are also situations where students who have proven themselves, and who are ready for testing at the next level are prevented by life circumstances from taking the test. Some may be in the military and have no control over where they will be, or when they will be there. Others may simply be trying to survive, supporting families and going where the need for work takes them. All said, in the end there are ofttimes good reasons for flexibility, and knowing when the promotion should be made, rather than hesitating and risk losing the opportunity forever. These types of decisions generally fall to the authority and discretion of Black Belts, rated 7th degree or higher.  When that is not possible, they fall to the panel of masters. Deal with it head on!

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