Grandmaster Rose 01/1999 Winter Address
C&S Self Defense Association
Dear Students and Friends,
As your Grandmaster and guide in C&S Self Defense Association, I would like to speak to you about rank promotions and what they mean to me. Since I am the final certifying authority for all ranks within our association, it is important for each of you to not only understand my purpose in structuring our ranking system and the requirements of each rank the way that I do, but also for you to understand the "why" of it. Hopefully, all of you have read your Program's copy of the Program Director's Orientation Manual which I wrote many years ago. This manual clearly states the purpose of each rank, and what is looked for at each level. If you have not read this manual, ask your instructor.
Also know that your Board of Directors has undertaken an extensive reorganization of the presentation of promotion standards at the black belt levels to make your journey through our association more intellectually stimulating and fulfilling. Spearheaded by Tiger Master Dr. Paul Dusenbery, Dragon Master David Landers and myself are investing untold hours of our time in this effort in order to make things as clear as we can for you as to the mechanics of the rank promotion process. This is not to say that we are changing anything. Rather, we are organizing and presenting the material in what we hope will be a more consistent and meaningful manor. We are striving for a June 1, 1999 release of this material at my Grandmaster's Retreat.
As to the "why" part- well, why have ranks at all? Good question! To me, a rank identifies what material you are currently working on and at what level you should be performing that material. And taking an exam for the next rank doesn't necessarily imply how good you are, but rather how good you can become if you continue your work.
The karate ranking system of colored belts originated from the Judo system. It was designed as an aid for a student to see their progress through the various material they needed to master. From the white belt of innocence and eagerness to learn to the black belt as a sign of hard work and mastery, the student gages his progress by the reward of successive ranks. So too, I- as your instructor- can immediately tell what material you have been presented with and basically what your level of performance at that material should be. Additionally, the higher in rank that you are, I assume you have (and want) more responsibility. As you go even higher in the ranks, I assume that you have (and want) more authority, and that you have the work ethic, discipline, and desire to be an example to others. At the highest of levels, you are a mentor- a guide- to and for your fellow association members.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, it is my (and ultimately, your own instructor's) job to challenge you. The higher you are in rank, the greater the challenge. At times, this challenge (and I) may seem insurmountable. The easy way out is to blame me: I am too tough, or I don't care, or I have forgotten how to be compassionate. But before you get to this point, you need to step back from it all and take an objective look at just what it is that you are studying and why. I teach a martial art. Note that the operative word here is "martial"- as in fighting. As in survival. As in life itself. And life is tough. It is only through the discipline of ones own character that one becomes tough, and who can care, and who are passionate and thus can be compassionate. And it is I who must layout a framework for you the student to accomplish this within the contex of a "martial" art.
But this framework is not for the student to just become tough for toughness sake, or caring for life because that is what they think they are supposed to do, or to work themselves up into a furor of the false sense of passion for something they can never be compassionate about. No. The framework I teach, in fact share with, you clearly identifies that it is you who have the power to make your life whatever you want it to be. You have the choice. You can make your life happy, healthy, terrific, and calm. Orů or you can choose to have a miserable life. My job is to teach you how to have the confidence, faith, and strength. And this will allow you to eliminate the fears in your life so that you can truly reach out and grab the essence of your life. I will show you how to use that essence for not only your own benefit, but also for the benefit of the society we all exist within. I do this through the gradual steps laid out in our rank promotion structure. The rank structure I present to you consists of the tools I use to show you how to mold yourself into the person you want to be.
First, you are a student. You are a student up through and including certified first degree black belt. A student studies. A student learns. A student works hard at accumulating information. Then- for those who see that despite how hard I press you that I am simply acting as a guide for you through some very tough decisions- you can make the transition to a disciple at the 2nd degree black belt level. A disciple is one who follows the teachings of a master. A disciple works hard at assimilating the information that has been learned. A disciple takes responsibility for themselves and their development. A master is one who has attained the rank of 5th degree black belt and who has trained their own disciples who in turn follow them. A master strives to teach strength, discipline, and faith in the self to those who follow. And a Grandmaster is one who has brought disciples to the master level.
But no matter the level that we are: we all have our work to do, we all make mistakes, and- if we work hard and believe in ourselves- we can smile at our effort and the good feelings that only come from a true effort. No matter our level, we can not avoid life's problems. What we can do, however, is deal with those problems more efficiently than anyone else. No other activity that we could possible involve ourselves in could challenge us in the ways that our art, and myself as that art's representative, can challenge us. So, come along. The going will not always be easy- in fact, many times it will seem to be the most difficult and frustrating process you can imagine. I guarantee it. In fact, it is my responsibility in life to make sure that it is. Survive me and you will be the wind, and the sea, and the fire. Survive me and you will be the warrior. But we will do this together, one step at a time- one rank at a time. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow: day after day in each and every way we will get better, better, and better.
In our art,
Grandmaster Peter M. Rose