American Martial Arts Institute News, Testing Results, and Special Events

American Cane System Black Belt Testing
Held at the NorthEast Headquarters of the Cane Masters International Association in New Hartford, NY

Testing held on March 11, 2017:

The rank of black belt is internationally recognized as a prestigious accomplishment. Not every martial art style uses a belt ranking system or the same ranks, but most people are universally familiar with two ranks: white belt and black belt. In most traditional styles, including the American Cane System, white belt signifies a beginner.  Explaining the significance of a black belt is more complicated because the requirements for this rank can vary widely from style-to-style.

In the American Cane System, there are ten levels of black belt, and it takes years before an individual may test for the level of first degree black belt, also called first Dan. The length of time to achieve this status can vary. As a traditional style, it has a philosophy. While this philosophy may not be discussed at every class, it is always in practice. This aspect of the Art means that earning a black belt is more than just an ability to demonstrate physical skills. It involves being knowledgeable about the style and its “larger picture,” being accountable and responsible, being patient, and other crucial aspects. The rank itself is a milestone along the journey, but it is truly the journey that matters and not the destination. In Japanese culture, this concept is referred to as the "Do" or “the Way”, a path.
American Cane System practitioners take their first steps as white belts, and they mark their progress in moments of visible achievement in the form of belt ranks: yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, tan, and brown. Having achieved the standards for knowledge, skills, involvement, and consistency, the student may one day be put up to test for the rank of black belt. Being recommended to test is determined by the student's instructor.

On Saturday, March 11, 2017, three individuals tested for first degree black belt in the American Cane System.  The testing was held at the American Martial Arts Institute, which is the Cane Masters International Association Northeast Main Office.  The judging panel was led by 9th Dan Master Instructor of the American Cane System, Eric Stalloch (Grandmaster Shuey's designated successor for the his style). The panel also included 8th Dan Senior Canecaster Clifford C. Crandall, Jr. (who is also the founder of the American Martial Arts Institute and Grandmaster of the American Eagle Style, 10th Dan), and 8th Dan Senior Canemaster Lynn Jessee. The American Cane System is under the direction of its founder (10th Dan), Grandmaster Mark R. Shuey, Sr.

The testing lasted over 4 hours and included an intensive written exam, a verbal exam, and a physical exam. The first degree exam was scored, and the candidates must receive an 80% or higher to pass. The physical exam involved a demonstration of katas including Old Man with a Cane, designed by Grandmaster Shuey. First Dan candidates must be prepared to demonstrate the katas Reflection 1, Reflection 2, Reflection 3, Reflection 4, Reflection 5, Natural Walk, Autumn Wind, and Old Man with a Cane. The American Cane System has 100 standardized CTs (Cane Techniques) required for first degree black belt. The CTs can be done with both left and right hands, and cover scenarios for punches, kicks, grabs from the front and behind, stick, knife, and gun assaults. The candidate had to demonstrate CTs 78-100 and choose an additional 25 techniques to perform. Other areas covered included blocks, strikes, sets, drills, kicks, shoulder roll, bag work, self-defense, 50 crook strike sets of 3 to the head with each hand without a break, empty hand techniques, and more.

The exam was documented, evaluated, and sent to Grandmaster Shuey at the International Headquarters in Nevada, USA.

It is with great pleasure that Grandmaster Shuey announces the following promotions:

Thomas McCune is now a 1st Degree Black Belt
RoseAnne Mussar is now a 1st Degree Black Belt
Marilyn Stalloch is now a 1st Degree Black Belt

The candidates did not receive their results the day of the exam. Instead, the testing was discussed with Grandmaster Shuey, who chose to announce his decision during his visit to the NorthEast Headquarters on March 20. Two of the individuals were able to be present at the class and were presented with their black belts by Grandmaster Shuey. All three candidates will be presented with their certificate of rank, signed by Grandmaster Shuey, at the next American Martial Arts Institute Ceremonial Black Belt Luncheon in April. This is also where the candidate who could not be present will receive their belt, as well.

It is at these luncheons where American Martial Arts Institute students of the American Eagle Style, Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall Iaido, and the American Cane System receive certificates for black belt ranks or an advanced status.

All results for testings held at the Northeast Headquarters are posted
on the Internet at, and at the training hall.