Joe Lewis Promotes John Graden to 7th Degree Black Belt
The Black Belt is the most well-known symbol of the martial arts. We all know that people perceive that the higher your Black Belt rank is the more accomplished you are. However, many dedicated black belts like me were orphaned at some point in their career and left without an instructor to advance them in rank.
As I describe in my book, I was devastated when my instructor Walt Bone died in a plane crash in 1982. In 1983, Mike Anderson (Founder of the PKA, WAKO, Professional Karate magazine, and this thing called semi-contact karate) stepped in and promoted me.
Then Joe Lewis moved in with Mike in 1984. We became close friends and training partners. Over the course of the next 14 years, Joe Lewis promoted me through the ranks all the way to 8th in 2007.
Rank in martial arts is important. While there are no real standards, there is confidence in rank.
- Your students have more confidence in you because they see that you are still in the game.
- You have more confidence because you are advancing in the ranks of your profession.
- Regardless of the profession, advancement is always better than stagnation.
This is why I’ve created the MATA Rank Advancement Program. As the MATA Certification program has grown, graduates have been asking me if they could advance in rank under the MATA organization.
To be clear, MATA Certification is the first step to rank advancement. We’re not considering anyone who has not completed the MATA Certification course.
The requirements for the MATA Rank Advancement are not style oriented but are weighted on important technical skills and teaching ability.