5 year old black belts?

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Calhoun, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. mango.man

    mango.man 2nd Black Belt

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    This is really my point. I think it is great that people with downs, autism, etc can do and enjoy TKD and martial arts in general. However they should not be expected to perform the same exact test at the same level as an adult that does not suffer from such ailments. Not being able to perform at the same level though does not mean that they did not earn their belt though. And that was the real point of my question of would you rip the black belt off of a retarded adult that did not take the same exact test as the other adults or is it just kids that need to be tested to the same standards as adults or have their belts ripped off of them?
     
  2. StuartA

    StuartA Black Belt

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    You mean an adult black belt who is mentally handicapped right?
     
  3. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Mango.man I think probably without meaning to you are being unneccesarily offensive.
    I wouldn't rip a belt off anyone child or adult. As someone correctly pointed out, it's not the students fault it needs taking up with the instructors.
    Using the word retarded to describe people as again has been pointed out and as far as British English is concerned, calling someone a retard or retarded is an insult.
    I wouldn't be so quick to assume Downs Syndrome people couldn't take a grading that the rest of the class couldn't take, like many things there are degrees of Downs Syndrome. I have seen people with Downs run businesses of their own, work in 'normal' jobs and function far better than others who are designated 'normal' The same applies to Autism, it all depends as always in a class, on the student.
     
  4. Sylo

    Sylo Purple Belt

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    To me.

    Like I said earlier..

    there are different "measures" for what is considered "black belt".

    Does it mean you can do perfect side kicks? nope..
    Does it mean you can do a split? nope...
    Does it mean you will perform your forms from white ---> black the same as <insert grandmaster here>? nope.. probably not.

    To me, black belt.. is a measure of the combined time, effort, and knowledege one has attributed and gained in martial arts to the best of that persons ability. If its someone with a mental or physical illness or ailment.. then obviously the measure is changed. Is it any less strenuous or effort provoking? No..

    "to the best of ones ability"

    the key words here I believe.

    If the student is doing his absolute best in class, in terms of learning the moves, practicing his forms, and understanding the art. In my eyes, he deserves black belt. whether he can kick someone in the head 20 times or fight off 5 men twice his size doesn't have any bearing to me. His "effort" is all that I would measure.

    It should be relatively easy to see who is working hard, and who is not. I can spot them in seconds of being in class.

    The only tough spot in this situation.. is at what age a person is deemed competent enough to grasp the concepts of martial arts, and in my humble opinion 5 years old is too young.
     
  5. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    This is where a lot of people differ on this subject: should a blackbelt be a measure of personal best and a reward for equal effort and work, with the student's ability to perform being relative depending upon age, ability, disability, or other factors, or should it be an outward indicator that the student has passed a specific test?

    Ultimately, that is up to the regulatory body that issues the certificate and belt, be it a master at a school or a full fledged federation like the Kukkiwon.

    Personally, I have always held that the belt and dan cert should only be given to those who can pass a uniform test. I also think that the belt itself is over emphasized to the detriment of many students. It is skills that should be emphasized, as the skills are what people will recognize when the student isn't in the dojang with his/her rank plainly visible. I have sadly seen many students who have been rewarded with black belts who cannot handle themselves against even a wannabe schoolyard bully, which is very often the reason that they signed up for martial arts in the first place.

    That is my opinion; some agree and others don't, which is just fine. It is more important to me that the school isn't simply doing the 'belt for fee' thing, where money is the driving factor in the awarding of belts. This tends to be the case with the five year old blackbelt scenarios nearly 100% of the time, which is probably why people on forums get so charged up over it.

    The belt system is a part of taekwondo. Taekwondo was established with the system of belts and rank, rather than being a preexisting martial system that adopted the rank system later on, so I am not an advocate of doing away with the belts.

    But as I said above, the black belt is over emphasized: every student does not need one. If one wishes to be nothing more than a skilled technician, they don't need one at all, and certainly don't need to go for higher degrees. In addition, I find the whole emphasis on ranks above fifth dan to be a bit out of hand as well, though that is another subject entirely.

    Daniel
     
  6. BrandonLucas

    BrandonLucas 3rd Black Belt

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    I just wanted to throw this in here:

    I think it was either in '98 or '99, I was assisting with a testing in another school. I wasn't judging, but I was along for the fun and to assist in sparring and holding boards and all that good stuff.

    There was a guy there testing for redbelt that was about 22 at the time, and he had down syndrome. So they put me up to spar him.

    I'm serious when I say this: I wouldn't have messed with that guy if I could help it. Sure, his kicks and punches weren't the most impressive, and his form (of course) looked slightly awkward, but the guy could spar. He hit like a mule! And he was also faster than I gave him credit for...there were several times that he caught me with a roundhouse kick to the head, and I'm serious when I say I felt it.

    He earned his redbelt at the testing. And he did a great job. So, I wouldn't be quick to judge someone just because they have any kind of disabliity.
     
  7. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Good post! I keep meaning to post up for help with a adult student I have who finds kata difficult and is so stiff that it also looks awkward, he's a serving NCO in the army so it just goes to show that anyone can find things in martial arts difficult!!
    We've had discussions on here about all sorts of things that people find handicap them, short sightedness, balance problems, hip and joint problems etc. And how many times have people posted up for help with understanding techniques because it puzzled and baffles them (That'll be me and me and me)?
    Does it only mean that only physically perfect people who understand everything first time and perform everything exactly right can have blackbelts?
     
  8. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    A American Kenpo student from Latin America put up this YouTube video of a young man's brown belt test under the heading of "Motivation".

    The text is in Spanish, I'll offer a translation.

    The first frame says that in 1980, Roberto, at 8 months of age, fell gravely ill.

    The second frame says his diagnosis was meningitis. His prognosis was that he would not be able to speak or walk another day.

    The third frame says...26 years later, Robert demonstated how just how mistaken science would be.

    [yt]GSz7sOubV6A[/yt]

    The frame at the end says Roberto Rivas Castillo, is today, a 3rd degree Brown Belt (3rd belt away from black), AKKS - Chile.

    Personally I found this video to be incredibly inspiring. Watch it all the way to the end where he gets his kick for his new rank and you can get a feel for how inspired his classmates were as well.
     
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  9. IcemanSK

    IcemanSK El Conquistador nim!

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    Well since Carol started sharing videos & the conversation has turned to disabilties, I'll add this one. I've posted it before, but it bears repeating.

    Luke is a 20 year old 2nd Dan who as been training in Taekwondo for 13 or so years. He has cerebral palsy on the right side of his body. He cannot make a fist with his right hand. Last summer, he told his instructor he wanted to break the school's brick breaking record of 9 bricks. This is the result of his break with his left hand.

     
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  10. phatbway

    phatbway Yellow Belt

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    Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, what's the meaning of a Black belt? this 15 year old blue belt kid @ my school floored the ONLY BB in the school (she's about 50 ish) So, again, what's a BB?
     
  11. Traditionalist

    Traditionalist Orange Belt

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    I said the number 17 because in my original school in korea you have to be 18 to test for a "adult" black belt. We go by a different birthday system there so in America the student would be 17. And I won't even answer the question about the retard queston. I find it rude and out of line. rip wasn't meant literally either. I didn't know what other word to use. Sorry!
     
  12. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    Poom belts which are a junior BB in Korea are giving out all the time at any age. Then at 15 it can be transfer to an adult without any more test. Just fill out the proper paperwork and pay the tramsfer fee.
     
  13. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Would you say that Korean children at 15 are perhaps more mature than western children? When I was 15 although I stayed on to go on to further education, 15 was the school leaving age, you left school and went into the workplace and were treated as an adult even if it was an apprenticeship. Admittedly you couldn't drink, marry or drive but you did pay tax and take on work responsibilites. Now we think 18 is the age you should be doing all this.
     
  14. MasterWright

    MasterWright Purple Belt

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    I try to have faith that the quality of a school is up to a certain level of competence for rank given.

    At my school a five year old only tests when he or she can do the same requirements as an adult. Self Defense,sparring & kicking teqniques,forms etc. Usually it takes them longer to go up a level.

    If I don't reward the student I think it would be wrong. Some of the younger ones may not pay attention and be easily distracted, so they will not move up as quickly.

    In the World Taekowndo Federation a person does not start all over when they test for a Dan over the age of 15. For example if a student holds a 2nd Poom Dan at 14 and tests for a 3rd Dan at 16, This person holds an adult 3rd Dan. It is possible for your Master to have these previos Poom Dans re-issued as adult by the Kukkiwon. I'm not sure there is a fee, though.
     
  15. Kwan Jang

    Kwan Jang Purple Belt

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    I've just come back from a multi-style instructors conference and one of the round table topics was how to retain black belt students and promote high standards for black belts. During this round table, the topic of junior black belts came up and there was a group discussion on people's feelings on this. There was no one there who promoted children of Li'l Dragon age to even a junior black belt level and that was universally condemned by all in attendance.

    What came out was that there are some schools that do have a modified or easier curriculum with simpler requirements for kids. And y'know what? These were the ones who were having the most trouble retaining black belts past the time they were given their belts. OTOH, the schools that had the junior black belts earn their belts going through the same requirements as the adults were the schools that were the ones who were keeping them, in many cases for years and years (often decades).

    The panel members for the round table on black belt retention were well known as leaders in the MA industry for having high numbers of advanced black belts. Each had at least 50 direct, active students under them who had reached master levels (4-5 th dan depending on the system) and those students had been training with them for 20-30(+) years. I don't think it is a coincidence that those instructors also have some of the most vigorous and challenging requirements for black belt in the USA. I have always felt that the quality of my program/school is evident in the quality of my advanced students, especially my black belts. Some of the McDojos/McDojangs are simply belt a belt factory and put out an inferior product to try to give an ignorant public what it thinks it wants. IMO, like any industry (speaking from a business standpoint), you will not have longevity if you don't put out a quality product.

    Back to the subject of teaching kids and awarding junior black belts. Our schools begin teaching an age specific program for children 4-7 (if there is enough attention span, we will take the exceptional 3 year old). At this age, research says that this is the time that we will make the biggest impact on a child's life by teaching them the lifeskills and developing positive habits that will truly help to shape who that child will become. In our L'il Dragons class, we break down the our curriculum for 10th-8th gup into five levels for the 6-7 yr. olds and ten levels for the 3-5 yr. olds. The greater emphasis is on building balance, motor skills, and life skills. The kids wear a white belt with a corresponding colored stripe to the belt level of a "big kid" to their level. When they graduate at black dragon, which is equivalent to gold belt in our system, they move into the juniors class at green belt. At this point, they have the same curriculum base as the older kids and adults (kids with jobs) that came up through the regular program, but with a much stronger learning base that the kids who didn't come up this way. BTW, both the kids and their parents are very aware that a Black Dragon belt is FAR from being a black belt. They know that it is equivalent to a gold belt in the regular program and that they are not a black belt. if anything, they are a white belt with a black stripe running through it.

    Regarding junior black belts, our association has produced many high level and well known youngsters over the years including Ernie Reyes, Jr. We will on rare occasion promote someone to junior black belt as young as nine or ten if they are truly exceptional, but more commonly at twelve. They are not full dans with us until the age of 18. Our schools come from a traditional TKD base, but have evolved qutie a few years ago into a true MMA system including muay thai, grond striking, NHB, submission grappling, and the FMA's. Our junior black belts go through the same demanding requirements that the adults do. The only exception is that when they spar, they are sparring someone closer to their own size, though bigger than them. Also, on the PT, their two mile run time is 17 minutes and the adult men is 15 and adult women have to make it in 16.

    Junior black belts must learn all the same patterns, grapple, kickbox, box, stick and knife work that the adults do. The main difference is that in general, the kids kick higher. They go through the same 10-16 weeks of diet, nutrition and PT that the adults do to prepare for their tests. IMO, if a 10-11 year old can do "a man's work", they should get the reward. One exception is that as a child, while they may assist with teaching younger children (mostly as role models), they are never put in an instructor's position with an adult. Though I have no problem with having a mature 14 year old helping an adult with palgwe 6 or showing them how to improve their side kick. I personally look at it more like a warrant officer in the military.

    As I read through this thread, I noticed some people complained that some schools have third dans at 18. Keep in mind that in judo (y'know, the system that started the belt system in the first place and the rest of just copied), Kimura had EARNED his fifth dan at 18. Also in TKD and TSD, Hwang Kee was the (then) 4th dan Kwan Jang Nim of Moo Duk Kwan at the age of 21. Yes, these were exceptional individuals, but IMO keep the standards and requirements very high and then see what they can grow into if we guide and encourage them (plus give them that swift kick when needed). They just might surprise you.
     
  16. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    Being very old school in my thinking on rank I do not even like to see verry young people walking around with black belts on.
    My true feeling is that children should have a different ranking system from adults. Make the tigers, storks, eagles, greenor any color dragon in progression but not Black Belts.
    If they need a rank belt for compition let them compet with those that are of the same age and length of training.
    When they come of age then test them as an adult and if a 1st or 2nd degree belt is warrented theen award it but please do not make some fifteen year old a master
     
  17. BrandonLucas

    BrandonLucas 3rd Black Belt

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    I think it should be common knowledge that just because someone makes a 1st or 2nd dan rank doesn't make them a master. I think that's part of what the problem is with the ranking system...people equate blackbelt with adult excellence, instead of art excellence.

    I don't see a problem with a young teen achieving 1st dan....not as long as they have earned the rank. I still think that a blackbelt of any age should be made to test under the same conditions...conditions that are adult oriented. If a young adult can pass the test, then he/she has earned the rank, and the number of years they have spent on Earth shouldn't be called into question.

    The hard part is setting an age limit on maturity, both physical and mental. Everyone matures at different levels...although it should be pretty obvious that a 5 year old is not going to be mature enough to handle an adult test for blackbelt. The test is what should be called into question, not the age of the student.
     
  18. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Thanks for the clarification. I know you didn't literally mean that you wanted to rip the belt off.:) I was trying more to get at the idea that kiddie blackbelts and undeserving blackbelts of any age are not at fault for the belt they have, but that it is the instructors who promoted them that should be the targets of any ire.

    Regarding the retard comment, I believe that Mango used the term retarded, not retard:

    The term retarded was an acceptable technical term for a very long time. Using it in this fashion is very different from using the pejorative, 'retard.'

    Daniel
     

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