We wish to congratulation you on your advancement to the rank of Gokyu. Very few people achieve this ranking; it is quite a difficult feat requiring years of dedication and commitment. Take a few moments to relish your accomplishment, then let’s get to work.
Green Belt Introduction
The material to achieve the rank of Yonkyu is very different from what you have studied previously in Tensoku Ryu. In your previous training you have been focused primarily on defensive skills and approaches that largely had a standing opponent in mind. This all suddenly shifts now. You will, until you have achieved the rank of Shodan, focus now almost entirely on offensive skills and opponents who may be in nearly any position.
Thinking offensively is usually a major mental shift for students. You have spent many years training yourself to be defensive. Now offense takes priority. These are two very different approaches to a conflict situation. You will likely struggle for a time to view martial skills from an offensive perspective. This is a much more difficult mental transition than you are probably envisioning. It typically takes several months for a student to begin to subconsciously appreciate the difference.
A word of caution is of course necessary here. Simply because you are now training to be more offensively minded does not mean you have license to randomly attack people or to use offensive skills where defensive skills would have been sufficient. You must not forget that in Tensoku Ryu we do not wish to harm anyone unnecessarily. Escaping a situation with nobody being injured remains our primary goal.
Green Belt Curriculum Overview
Students who are studying for their Green Belt are at a cross roads. At this ranking level there is a confluence of concepts, skills, and responsibilities that make this both a very exciting and very challenging period of development. This is a period of dramatic transitions.
As mentioned in the introduction to this manual, you will transition from a defensive mindset to an offensive mindset. This does not always mean using destructive skills to overcome an opponent, but it does mean taking the initiative so that the opponent is left with very few options. This is not an easy transition, and it is not the only significant transition you will encounter in this curriculum material.
You will continue to spar so that you maintain and further develop your distance fighting skills. But you will now begin to work on other essential skills that you will need in your next belt. These skills involve a series of exercises and practices that will ensure you are prepared for future grappling activities. Until now, you have focused almost exclusively on the standing arts. That begins to change in this belt.
This belt also introduces you to two weapons that are completely different from the stick weapons you have previously utilized. You will become quite proficient in the use of both the Nunchaku and the Sai. The Sai and optionally the Nunchaku will be the first metallic weapons you will utilize. It (they) will not be the last.
You will see a tremendous focus on perfection of fundamental skills. We are not talking about knowing how to do a kick, or understanding how to apply centering during a movement. Rather, we are talking about removing every bit of unnecessary movement, power, and strength from a movement so it is as fast and effective as possible. You can expect that in most cases we will improve your overall speed and efficiency of movement by fifty percent or more. Often improving your speed by a factor of two or more. This is largely a process of studying biomechanics and eliminating any unnecessary or counterproductive movements. It is also a process of establishing a proper mindset. This takes time, but your skills will improve dramatically as a result.
Some of these improvements will come as a natural result of studying the skeletal system. You will study all of the bones of the body, the various types of bones, and the various functions that bones perform for the body. As part of these studies you will better appreciate how bones move and how they are used to reposition and propel the body. This will then enable you to understand how to accomplish a movement with minimal effort and maximum speed.
Additional focus is placed on overall conditioning, from both the perspectives of strength and endurance. You will need both to achieve your next belt, but more importantly, you will need improved conditioning for later training activities. Things are always more challenging as you gain additional rank.
There is also a potential transition in the way you look. As a student who has earned the rank of Blue Belt you are authorized to wear an optional uniform other than the standard white Gi. You will learn more about this when you review the section on Uniforms.
As a Blue Belt you are, for the first time, a potential candidate to become an instructor. This is not a right and it is neither an obligation nor an honorary role your head instructor must offer you. If you are interested in potentially becoming an instructor, read the section on Teaching and then ask to speak to your Head Instructor about his or her views and how you might eventually become an instructor. Becoming an instructor is not an easy journey and requires a good deal of additional study. If you remain interested, please let us know.
As you can see, this belt offers you a great many new opportunities and substantial challenges. Congratulations again on your achievement. Now, remember to remain humble, and let’s dive directly into your new curriculum material.
Green Belt Curriculum
Once you are fully prepared for your Green Belt ranking examination you will have extensive training in sparring, fundamental principles, weapons utilization, Kata, self-defense, Nage, and conceptual understanding. This is, by any measure, pretty extensive training. But it may not serve you well in a brawl where you have been forced onto the ground. This is a common occurrence in physical conflicts and should not be ignored as a possibility. To deal with that situation effectively we will need to learn more about ground work. Once you know how to think like a seasoned martial artist, spar effectively and handle yourself well on the ground you will be ready for the final major challenges on your way to your Black Belt. After completing your next belt you will have all of the fundamental skills needed to be an effective Tensoku Ryu practitioner. Then we will work on combining all these skills into one last major set of conceptual insights that will enable you to be a truly exceptional martial artist. We can’t wait to show you.
The next belt requires a good deal of strength and stamina. You will benefit from beginning to build your arm, leg, and core body strength as early as possible. You will also want to work on overall endurance training. You will find many of the skills you learn and practice in the next belt can be quite arduous if you are not adequately prepared for them. We will take it slowly when you are first learning, but there is no sugar coating it, ground work can be exhausting.