The Path to Mastery



    To earn a Black Belt, begin at White Belt and just keep training.

    Every Black Belt walked that path. To get there, the system is simple: Train.

    As simple and obvious as it is, an unfortunate fact is that 99 in 100 will quit. Most of them quit in the first year! They haven’t walked down the path far enough to know what they’re walking away from - and they quit. To Black Belts and Masters, that’s sad because we know what training can mean!

    Anyone can start on the Path to Mastery. In fact, everyone should. You can get off at any moment. At any time, someone can decide “this is enough for me.” For most people who commit to The Path, Black Belt is enough.


    As parents, we can start our children on The Path to Mastery. A child can try the Adult Programs as early as Age 8. More typical would be Age 10-12. A Black Belt typically takes 4-6 years to earn. A student who starts young should expect a 6 year path since the 4 year path can be very demanding on young students.

    Starting young will usually include starting with Little Guardian, and a student who can transfer into Junior Guardian at Age 5 can be on an ideal path if that child focuses on Leadership Training. Junior Guardian Black Belt typically takes four years, though it can be achieved as early as three years for students who step up to include Leadership and Adult-Level training. The fastest path for a young student to earn his or her first title, Sempai, is by earning a Junior Black Belt.

    Junior Guardian Students who step up get a 2 for 1 lateral belt. A Junior Student below the rank of Yellow Belt starts as a White Belt. Yellow Belts start at Advance White in the adult program. Junior Orange Belts begin at Yellow Belt in the adult class. The pattern continues to Junior Black Belt. A Junior Black Belt laterals in as a Purple Belt in the adult program.

    Part of the goal is to step up into the adult program between the age of 8 and 10. Most young students between 8 and about 12 will benefit from continuing to train in the Junior Guardian Karate program as they step up into the Guardian Karate program. The supplemental training will help make the adult training more manageable.


    Guardian Karate, Guardian Jujutsu and Guardian Kobujutsu are what we call “predicate arts.” Each of them is actually a fraction of the basics of Guardian Kempo. It takes about two years to learn the material in each of the three arts, and four to six years to get good at them.

    The Path to Mastery requires a minimum of two years each in Karate, Jujutsu and Kobujutsu (at the adult level) to become “Kempo Qualified.” The two years can be done concurrently. That’s what a Triple Guardian does - all three. Many begin with one or two and add the remaining art(s) later.

    Kempo has a separate rank system, starting at Blue Belt. It should take about four years to reach Black Belt, and four more years to complete the material at Third Degree Black Belt. All in all, there are 14 years of material to learn. It takes a minimum of ten years, more typically twelve to fourteen to learn all of the material. Add another five to ten years to really master the material.

    If someone had a goal to become a Renshi – the basic master rank – someone who started at Age 8 could be there at 25. But if you started at Age 13, it would take you until 30 to 32. If it was 18 when you started, it would be 33 to 35. There are minimum ages, there are normal time-in-grades and minimum time-in-grades. These govern a maximum rate of advancement.

    At whatever time the age and minimum time in grade bump, then the age minimum takes over. Here’s a chart.

    The optimal Path to Mastery begins at age 3. So if someone was actually aiming their child at becoming a Master of Martial Arts, the ideal starting place is when the child is 3.

    One of the important things to note is that even at an optimal pace, there is no shortening of time during material-learning time. That’s why the minimum time isn’t any lower until 3rd degree black belt in Kempo.

    The chart shows minimum time and since many people will certainly not do Kempo in just two year, the time just in Kempo. Once you start Kempo, you’re 13-15 years away from Renshi. That’s not much of a time compression, but you could make Kyoshi in 19-26 years, Shihan in 27 to 41 years, or Hanshi in 32 to 50 years.

    Even if you were 37 when you started, like one of our Senior Sensei was, you could still make Hanshi by age 71, which is still young enough to make it possible. If you are 26 or younger when you start, you can get your Hanshi right on time when you’re 60.

    If you’re 31, Hanshi is in reach at 65. Even if you’re 41, you can reach Hanshi at age 75, which if you’re a health and fitness member, you train with the Safe2bSafe system we teach, you move the way we teach to move - there’s no reason you should not still be active and involved at age 75.

    Assuming you attend frequently enough, teach frequently enough, and pass belt tests, you can go fast until your minimum time and age intersect. If you are 28 when you start Kempo, your age and the minimum time in grade intersect at 10th dan. If you start Kempo at 24, the intersect happens at 9th dan. If you start Kempo at 20, the intersect is at 8th dan. If you start at 17, the intersect is at 7th dan. If 14, then 6th. If 12, then 5th. If 11, then 4th. If 10, then it’s the age minimum all the way.


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