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June 15, 2007

A disciplined art

With all of the action – attacks and counter-attacks, grappling and throws – one may not realize just how much emphasis there was on education as black belt testing kicked off the Self Defense Systems - Jeet Kune Do International Summer camp on Thursday.

During the testing, several advanced students completed oral board examinations and tested their physical technique in the hopes of advancing their rank as martial artists.

According to Professor Gary Dill, SDS/JKDI founder, students are graded by a group of high-level instructors, much like board examinations in a university program.

“As they [students] move up in levels, they have to test each time, much like college courses, said Dill. “At the end of each course there are finals you must pass to move up. In our system, a black belt is equal to a bachelor’s degree, at higher levels, equal to earning a master’s degree or a Ph.D.”

Dill explained the educational aspects of this weekend’s testing and training.

“The philosophy of this camp is based on education – SDS is an educational system,” Dill said. “My title in martial arts is ‘professor,’ and not ‘grand master.’ Martial arts schools in Japan and China also use that same educational parallel, masters there are also called ‘professor.’”

The camp is held each year in Tahlequah, in a park on the edge of the Town Branch, near the NSU campus. Sessions will continue all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, consisting of specialized training in several martial arts systems including Jeet Kune Do, Kempo, Jujitsu and Aiki-Jitsu.

“We’ve been doing the summer training camp every June for the past 17 years – right here in this spot,” said Dill. “This park at NSU has become famous in the martial arts community. People from all over the world have come and trained at this location.”

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