American Cougar Martial Arts













American Cougar Martial Arts

Ruckersville, VA 22968



American Cougar Martial Arts


Stay the Path ... "The path of the martial artist is life long, and mastery is often simply staying the path." - Adapted from Richard Strozzi Heckler

The following are the Adult Ranks. A combination of performance and time-in-grade (minimum number of classes) is required to test. Students start as White Belt and progress up to 1st Dan Black Belt. Young adultstudents must earn a progress stripe prior to being permitted to test. (There are additional ranks as a Black Belt.)

Rank is awarded based on skill and time-in-grade. The emphasis of our school is to learn the martial arts while having fun; the awarding of belts is a secondary benefit of that process. It is not uncommon for some students and schools to make the belts the primary focus. If your goal is the rapid achievement of rank, you should seek out another school. Our promotion times cannot be compared to other students or other schools since everyone progresses at their own pace and we are an Independent school with our own rank criteria.


Book of Changes
Black Belt   1st Dan Black Symbol Meaning Info

Black Belt Preparation

  1st Gup Red/Black Gon Earth Info
Advanced   2nd Gup Brown Gan Mountain - stability  
  3rd Gup Red Gam Water - liquid & formless  
  4th Gup Purple Seon Wind - humility, good nature  
  5th Gup Blue Jin Thunder - act calm & brave Info
  6th Gup Green Ri Fire&Sun - enthusiasm  
  7th Gup Orange Tae Joyfulness - appear gentle  
  8th Gup Yellow Keon Heaven&Light - the beginning Info
  9th Gup Yellow/White      
Beginner   10th Gup White     Info

Youth have a stripe on each level through Brown Belt. Youth 15 and under are awarded a Junior Black Belt.


Students and especially Advance Belts, please read the following information on testing for rank at American Cougar Martial Arts.

American Cougar Martial Arts awards rank certification through a national organization. Membership in this organization requires that the School's Instructor follow certain standards of conduct and requirements for promotion. This requirement ensures that member schools meet the organization's standards and are eligible to award the organization's rank. Because not all schools belong to this organization and follow these guidelines, students will see differences between the method, time frames and format of the promotions if they compare themselves to another school.

Promotions at American Cougar are based on three factors:

Time-in-grade: A minimum time is required at each rank. Even if a student is extremely proficient and can learn the material fast, it is required that it be practiced for a minimum number of classes. The amount of time-in-grade increases with each higher rank. Also, time-in-grade is based on actual time in class, not simply the passage of calendar time. Some students have missed large amounts of time and still expect to test in the same time frame as others. For example, a Black Belt candidate cannot spend nine to ten months out of class and expect to test in two months after returning to class.

Ability and Knowledge of Techniques: Students must be capable of performing techniques in a fashion suitable for their rank. Students of Advanced rank must perform with more confidence, speed and power than beginner and intermediate. Adjustments are made for certain physical limitations, medical conditions, or special circumstances approved by the head Instructor. Black Belt candidates will be held to higher requirements than all previous ranks.

Attitude: Attitude is an important aspect of testing and is major part of the criteria for the Black Belt test. All students must demonstrate the five tenets of Respect, Humility, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Honesty. In addition to these tenets, Black Belt candidates must demonstrate confidence, tenacity, and an Indomitable Spirit ... or a"Black Belt Attitude". The testing of the Indomitable Spirit and proper attitude can be tested or proven in a single act or over a period of time.

Rank promotion is not given nor automatic, but earned through hard work. Students should not expect that they will test when their time-in-grade is up, but when the Instructor feels they are ready. The Instructor monitors each student's ability and will inform the student when he feels they are ready to test. This may be near the required time or many months later if certain aspects need improvement. Students can ask what areas they must improve to test. However, the other side of this issue is that when the Instructor suggest that you test, the answer should be "yes sir, I will start preparing immediately". Refusing to test demonstrates clear disrespect to the Instructor by assuming that the student's judgment of ability is greater than their Instructor.

The road to Black Belt is a hard, yet rewarding journey. Many people in today's fast life style are unwilling to put the time and effort into earning a Black Belt. The actual cloth belt cost about $25 and can be purchased through any mail-order martial arts store, but the pride and honor that comes with truly earning that Black cloth is priceless to the individual who earned it.