Belt Testing advice

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by DomoArigato, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. DomoArigato

    DomoArigato White Belt

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    Hi, I'm new to this forum but need to reach out to the community for advice. My spouse any myself as well as out 7 year old practice Karate in a traditional Japanese dojo.
    The 7 year old has been at the school for 2 years and only moved up one belt rank in that time. So from white, to yellow, and it took him 8 months, which is long for that stage. It's been a full year ( and 4 testing cycles) since that last test and going to class 2x per week consistently. All his peers passed him up, so he is now at the level of students who began training after him. He has not been invited to test but the other children in his group have. I am NOT one of those parents who thinks my child is perfect, as a practitioner myself I see where he needs to be better, and these kids are at the same level, one even being slightly behind the group in technique but still invited to test.
    I broke etiquette and asked one of the directors (there are 5) "what's holding him back? I'm concerned because it's been a full year." This black belt didn't know and said he'd ask the board (who votes on who tests) and get back to me. I'm afraid I will be given a blanket answer of "he's just not ready!" but there seems to be a personal reason behind this since my son has been doing the test techniques every day for a year.

    Any way I'm looking for feedback, and opinions. My spouse and other parents and I are baffled why he's being intentionally excluded.
     
  2. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    If he's not good enough then he's not good enough simple as that. Just because he practices every day doesn't mean he's doing them right. At least he'll know he deserves the belt when he gets it. If your kid is learning then that's the main thing belts really aren't important it's the skills you learn. Just see what the instructor says but if he says he's not good enough then you can't do anything about it. Sounds like a good school to be honest not just giving it to them and holding them back if they're not ready
     
  3. DomoArigato

    DomoArigato White Belt

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    Yes, I completely agree with what you're saying about it being a good school. It's not a belt buying school. My concern is that he is meeting the standard--- but it is coming down to something other than that. I'm not one of those parents huffing and puffing my child is so great etc.... I hope it doesn't come off that way.
    No one but the sensei can tell me the true reason, but I am just interested in other's opinions, so thanks for the feedback.
     
  4. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

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    well ask, if they say he is not ready, but you think he is, take him somewhere else, or stump up for some private lessons to get him up to speed
     
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  5. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Well maybe in your eyes he is but to the people in charge he isn't. I mean there's a reason they're the instructor and you're not. This isn't intended to be rude but hey other kids passing him is it fair? Maybe or maybe not but it's life. It's also good character building getting him to deal with disappointment and overcoming it. Is there any reason for it to be personal? If not then don't take it personally
     
  6. gerardbu07059

    gerardbu07059 Yellow Belt

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    I do not think there is a need to rush. I would suggest you ask what the weak points are on your son's skills and work on that with him

    Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk
     
  7. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 2nd Black Belt

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    I'm amazed your child is still willing to stick it out. I can't see myself holding back a kid that long, especially at a beginner rank, except under extraordinarily circumstances, and I'm not even sure what those circumstances would be.

    I want my students to be "good," but I also want them to stick around (and that's not motivated by $). I can't impact a student if they quit. If you're kid still enjoys training despite being held back/passed up, you're doing a heck of a job as a parent, your instructor has an amazing connection with your child, or your kid is weird (in a good way).


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  8. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Personally I think you and your kid should be honoured that the instructor cares about your kid. I've been passed over for promotion before and yeah sure it's a bit frustrating but it shows me my instructor cared about me. If they didnt care about me they'd put me in a test and maybe give me the belt and take my money even if I don't deserve it. But by holding me back it shows they want me to actually deserve the belt and make me a better martial artist. That's how I've always seen it
     
  9. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Welcome to MartialTalk, Domo. Hope you enjoy it here.

    Have to say, it's refreshing to read about dojos that don't promote just for the sake of a buck or just to keep students coming. But I do understand your concerns about your son, and there isn't anyone who knows him like you and his mom. Hope it all works out, my friend.

    He's but seven years old. Just a little kid. As long as he's enjoying training, keep him training. The belts usually work themselves out over the years.
     
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  10. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Are these "peers" that you're comparing him to similar in age, or just equal ranks? Even if the group is all the same age, there could be maturity or conduct issues that you may not be seeing. Would being promoted change his class? Maybe he's simply not quite ready to handle the expectations behaviorally in the next class -- and that may be nothing more than being a 7-year old! That's about the earliest I personally will teach, because of attention spans and general behavior. Of course there are exceptions -- but by and large, teaching a 7 year old takes a lot of different patience and teaching techniques than kids even a couple of years older...
     
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  11. DomoArigato

    DomoArigato White Belt

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    Hi, thank you so much. I am the mom, and yes hoping it all works out. It's affecting his will to train, and at 7 years old, we don't push him and hope he continues despite the "set back"! appreciate the welcome and support!!
     
  12. DomoArigato

    DomoArigato White Belt

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    Yes, the 3 kids in his group (belt rank) are all the same age, ability and relative maturity. It's not my style to speak unfavorably about children but as far as maturity, the other two, especially one boy have had more discipline for etiquette than mine, so I question if it's a manners issue. The classes are moderately formal, there is allowance for levity at certain times. The class won't change just rank, as it's already an intermediate class. I've been observing testing/expectations for the junior ranks for 2 years now and it's not adding up. 7 year olds definitely have shorter attention spans, I do look objectively at my child and am not seeing an ability/manners discrepancy here, especially in contrast to the other two. Appreciate your feedback!
     
  13. marques

    marques Master Black Belt

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    Even if it is personal, don't make it personal yourself. :)
    If he keeps motivated, just keep going and the rank will advance, eventually. If not, say in 1 or 2 years, so there is something and perhaps you may look for training elsewhere. Until it is really absurd or demotivating, just keep going.
     
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  14. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yeah try to find out the issue. Then train him to death to fix it.

    Having said that I am a fout stripe white belt from 6 years training.
     
  15. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    I'm going to perhaps go against the grain here...

    I honestly feel like you deserve more of an answer than "he's not ready yet." What (relatively) specifically does he need to work on? What can you do to help him improve? What is their assessment criteria?

    I'm a school teacher. I know it's not an apples to apples comparison, but there's some crossover (or at least should be) - I'd never suggest holding a student back and simply say "he's not ready yet" and walk away. Forget educational laws and regulations, I feel personally obligated to tell the parents what their kid's strengths and weaknesses are, and how they can help their kid improve whenever asked.

    You're obviously confused and frustrated by this. Completely understandable. And even more understandable for your son to be. My advice is make an appointment with the chief instructor/owner and ask him/her what's going on professionally and politely. And in private. You are a paying customer and you're entitled to a professional explanation.

    None of that means you're entitled to the answer you want to hear, nor should you have the "I pay your salary" mentality. It just means you deserve an honest answer. You can either accept the answer and follow whatever is recommended, or you can leave and look for another place. But you can't make the rules.

    My dojo has the rule of don't ask to promote too. But that doesn't mean I can't ask my teacher what I need to work on. If I couldn't ask my teacher what he thinks I need to do to get better, I'd find another teacher. If I regularly wasn't invited to test, I'd ask him privately what I need to do to move forward. If he didn't want to answer that, I'd leave.

    But remember, there's a way to ask. Don't come off as a jerk and you deserve the CI's honest assessment.
     
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  16. DomoArigato

    DomoArigato White Belt

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    Hi JR137. Thank so much for this thoughtful reply. Good advice and wisdom here. I'm hoping to get specifics and have all those questions answered, I feel we cannot accept the simple, "he's not ready" answer. I appreciate the approach you suggested, and may just do that. Thank you for the feedback!
     
  17. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    I never suggested they don't deserve an explanation; there could be many -- including something as simple as "well, gee, we forgot" or "we keep giving him the form, he doesn't take it home."

    They absolutely deserve a reasonable explanation, and can then respond appropriately. They just have to be ready for explanations that aren't flattering...
     
  18. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Hi, welcome to MT. that may be a long time for your school but for many that's about normal or even quick. Seven years old is awfully young to be honest, many martial arts instructors won't take children that young or even take children at all. It may be that the other parents are pushing their children so they get promoted to shut them up!
     
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  19. DomoArigato

    DomoArigato White Belt

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    Hi, thanks for the welcome. I hear what you're saying. The school accepts 5 year olds who are mature enough. But what's puzzling is, to test he needs to know his kata, 3 point sparring and a few more intermediate basics. He does and does them to the level of the other kids. Thanks for your opinion/perspective!
     
  20. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Not to sound the wrong way, but do you have any training in karate? Do you know what they're looking for?

    On the surface and to the untrained eye it could appear that he's doing what he's supposed to. It could appear to be the same thing as everyone else is doing. But to a trained eye it could be that he's not executing things properly. Or that he's got the basics against no resistance down but isn't able to apply them.

    I'm quite sure there's something they're seeing that you're not, otherwise there wouldn't be an issue. Again, ask the CI in private at a mutually agreeable time.

    Just to expand on my previous post...

    Being a school teacher, I really hate it when a parent comes up to me at an awkward time and asks why their kid isn't doing what's expected. I politely smile and tell them we can discuss whatever's on their mind in private. I don't have anything to hide, but their kid's progress and how I'm handling their kid specifically is no one else's business. I've never had anyone demand an immediate answer when I tell them it's best to discuss things privately. I'm quite sure any reasonable teacher of anything would agree with that.

    It doesn't have to be a formal meeting with "the grade books out" or anything like that. But asking him why your son isn't testing in front of other parents, students, and/or when he's getting ready to start class isn't going to get you the answers you deserve. And it puts the teacher in an odd spot. Asking when there's a good time to privately discuss your son's progress is the way to go IMO. If he doesn't give you the time of day, that's cause for concern.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
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