An Overview of The American Cane System

Grand Master Mark Shuey, founder of Cane Masters Inc., North Lake Tahoe Martial Arts, and The American Cane System broadcasts Yoga and Cane System techniques in a series of sessions.  Get pricing and other information on your Virtual Dojo class subscription by contacting us or by calling us at 775-832-6550.  Subscription periods cover a month, a half year, or a full year and are available in both live and recorded training sessions. Train in the privacy of your own home or go to the nearest park to stream your Dojo sessions. The American Cane System instructs in cane based martial arts  techniques and movements, with and without a cane, to ensure you become adept at cane fighting and self-defense, while you build strength, balance and confidence. 

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The American Cane System is an internationally recognized martial arts system.  TACS teaches students self-defense techniques using the cane as a weapon, and instructs in empty handed combat techniques too.  As they advance through levels in the American Cane System, students earn colored belts.  But before you qualify to test for the black belt, there are eight Katas (forms or sets) that must be mastered first.  There are also around a hundred fundamental self defense techniques that must be learned throughout the belt levels, as you ascend to the black belt.

LEVEL 1: The Requirements for Your Yellow Belt:

Level one is an introduction to The American Cane System style’s fundamentals.  The introduction includes an overview of the system, safety and training considerations, parts of the cane, and how to work with and without a training partner.  This last part is especially great today, while so many are straining to stay active while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

In this first level, TACS students will learn three fundamental grips, four stances, five empty-hand basics, ten required blocks, twelve striking angles, five methods of punching with the cane, the single-handed jab set, side twirls, front kick, and more.  The student will also learn the introductory level of The American Cane exercise System which includes proper stretching and strength training.  This training will develop control, power, and speed for cane techniques.  Level one concludes with the first required kata, Reflection One.

LEVEL 2: Orange Belt Requirements

Level 2 builds on the student’s level one knowledge introducing partner drills (blocking and striking cane-against-cane with a partner).

In the second level of The American Cane System, students will learn two new grips, one stance, punching with and without a cane, eight fundamental blocks, swing strikes, double-handed jabs, figure-8 swings and flow drills, six double-handed crook strikes, crook strike combinations, and more.  The students’ self-defense technique repertoire grows to include four more techniques, which deal with punches, a bear hug, and an introduction to the eleven elements of self-defense.

New strength training is added, including lower body stretches and stretches that improve shoulder mobility, both of which will be important in higher levels of training.  The second level finishes with instruction in the required kata Reflection Two.

LEVEL 3: Green Belt Requirements

The third level expands the student’s fundamental blocks and strikes to include more self-defense techniques and other advanced skills, including the accelerated torso block, helicopter twirls, reversing the horn (flipping the cane), and more.  Students are gradually introduced to traditional martial arts philosophy and concepts, including the relevance of time, repetition, and the “three eyes” of the student.  New drills are introduced, and exercises are added that develop fresh muscle groups.

Thirteen new self-defense techniques are presented including defenses against punches, bear hugs, frontal bear hugs, sleeve grabs, kicks, and more.  This segment expands on the elements of self-defense.  Drill sets are expanded, and new empty-hand techniques are presented. The curriculum concludes with instruction in the required kata Reflection three.

LEVEL 4: Blue Belt Requirements

In the fourth Level, students are preparing for advanced material and concepts.  The emphasis for quality in the material of the first three levels continues.  Additional traditional martial arts philosophy and concepts including the student-instructor relationship will be shared in the fourth level.

Thirteen new self-defense techniques are added which include throws, defenses against kicks, punches, grabs, attacks from behind, and attempts to take your cane.  Now, the instruction will include resistance bands to accelerate the system training.  Some of the exercises in level four include triceps extensions, the back squat, curls, and more.

New grips and shifting between grips are explained in detail for better cane control and flow.  There will be additional empty-hand techniques, stances, cane blocks, and cane strikes instruction, as well as single-handed and double-handed partner 8-point partner drill sets (cane-against-cane) The fourth level finished with instruction in the required kata Reflection four.

LEVEL 5: Purple Belt Requirements

The fifth level of training focuses intensely on self-defense, adding fourteen new techniques that involve more complex joint locks and counters, front and lateral raises, wrist flexion, the front squat, leg abduction, and more.

The fifth level expands into advanced concepts regarding tradition. Theories and techniques covered at this level include 17 vital striking targets, 8 double-handed striking angles, 7 new blocks and 4 new strikes, spinning back kick (taught but not a requirement for advancement), along with new drills.  In addition, 3 styles of crane stance and more empty hand techniques are explained.  The fifth level finishes with the last of the Reflection family of Katas, Reflection Five.

LEVEL 6: Tan Belt Requirements

At level six, student learn to apply their newly gained skill set in practical application of self-defense techniques. 

This level involves instruction in seventeen new self-defense techniques, joint locks, double-punches, cane retention, disarming an attacker (such as wielding a stick or pipe), defense against underhand and overhand knife assaults, and more.  New blocks and strikes are added, and combination techniques are introduced.  Standard 12 block partner drill and the 12 block variations partner drill are presented.  Other areas include empty-hand techniques, back kick, bag work, and exercises like the overhead press, row, lateral pull-down, Romanian dead lift, good morning, band twists, and more.

The sixth level finishes with the required kata Natural Walk. This kata is a fighting form and does not follow the pattern or symmetry of the previous five Reflection katas.

 LEVEL 7: Brown Belt Requirements

In the seventh level the student prepares to test for BROWN BELT, one step below 1st degree black belt.  This training includes 14 new advanced self-defense techniques including seated self-defense, throws, headlocks, and many other scenarios.  New empty-hand techniques, strikes, and self-defense concepts are presented. The 12 standard double-handed partner drill is presented, and exercises are added, such as the inverted row, floor press, overhead lunge, leg raises, and more.  The seventh level finishes with the required kata, Autumn Wind.

LEVEL 8: Black Belt Requirements

And then you reach level eight. This level prepares students to test for the prestigious rank of first degree Black Belt. In this level, students are reminded of the importance of maintaining the correct marital arts attitude, etiquette and proper technique of each preceding level.  Once the first degree black belt is earned, the holder will enjoy the opportunity to become a certified instructor of The American Cane System.

The last of the 100 required cane self-defense are taught, including defenses against punches, grabs, knives, guns, from a seated position and more, new empty-hand techniques, strikes and concepts and more.  Defense against a gun and continuous blocking drills, and sparring types of blocks and strikes are demonstrated and explained.  Advanced stretching techniques, hybrid exercises, progressions and individual training will also be covered.  Then the eight level of training will finish with the required kata “Old Man with a Cane”.

This is the overview of The American Cane System broken down by level and segments, but it is nothing like the invigorating real thing.  Mark Shuey will have you moving, building strength and skills before you know it.  You will actually look forward to these sessions, some of which will feel misleadingly gentle, but which are calculated to deliver measurable results.  If you are worried that you won’t be able to follow along due to physical limitations, contact us or call 775-832-6550.  Grand Master Mark Shuey began the program with inclusiveness in mind, and we think you’re going to love it. 

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