February, 2018 —   Portsmouth will be sending four of our teenagers to Danbury, CT on March 3rd to test for their Zhongji-level Black Belt!   These will be the very first of our students to test for this “intermediate” Black Belt rank. Daniel T., Alana R., Nikolai K., and Katie R. will be evaluated by Sr. Master Meyer and Grandmaster DeMasco, along with several other higher-ranked Black Belt instructors.   This is both an honor, and if we’re being honest, a bit intimidating. But our students have been working hard on their material and are very ready to accept this challenge.

So, what, exactly, is a Zhongji-level belt, and how does it differ from the full Shodan rank?   The rank of Shodan is a full adult-level first degree Black Belt. This is usually only given to students aged 18 and older who successfully demonstrate their material to the level required to meet the Black Belt standards. On the other end of the spectrum, the Jr. Black Belt is awarded to students aged 12 and under who also successfully demonstrate their material, based on their age and skill-levels.   The Zhongji Belt (roughly translated as “middle” or “in between” or “intermediate”), is awarded to those students, aged 13-17, who successfully navigate a test that is nearly as rigorous as a full adult test, but also takes into account the age and skill-levels of those teen years.

We’re very proud of our four students. When you see them in the studio, offer your best wishes and encouragement to them. This is a true milestone in their lives. One that very few ever experience. Getting to this point represents a high level of commitment and dedication—life skills that will serve them well as they continue to mature into responsible adults. And let’s not forget their parents and siblings, either!   Working towards a Black Belt truly involves a family commitment to succeed. Juggling schedules, transporting, encouraging, sometimes chastising (!), and supporting their student martial artist is what makes this milestone event a reality.

Good Luck to all four!