Black Belt Essay

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Bill Mattocks, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I can agree with introspection, and ita importance. I just dont like how many places seem to have that as the only option. Some people just plain do not do good with writing, for whatever reason (not talking about me as you can probably tell if you look at my post count here). If schools that did that offered an option of an essay, or an oral presentation, or a comic/drawing, or just a general guideline of "complete a project (ie: essay, presentation, host a doscussion), in which you demonstrate the impact karate has had on your life/what you consider the key features of karate to be/whatever the essay would be about", i would have no issue with that. But having it as many schools seem to is just unfair to those who have difficulty putting pen to paper to express their thoughts, and didnt sign up for martial arts lessons to become a better writer.
     
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  2. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    I respect that. My counter to it is the person has sufficient notice and time. And the person can ask for help and/or direction. There are people who genuinely aren’t very capable of writing well, and the person assigning it should have realistic expectations. On the other hand, people with difficulties don’t like to let them be known, so I’m sure that causes undue anxiety.
     
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  3. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Thoae are the people that im thinking about. People with dyslexia or some sort of developmental or intellectual disability (or even lack of education) that is mostly hidden. Its embarassing to say "i cant write an essay", and some people wont say that because of the embarrassment. It becomes an issue in a field where it shouldn't be an issue at all. If there were other options 95% of people would probably still do the essay, people with other talents could make some really friggin cool stuff, and people who for whatever reason dont want to write an essay would have other options.
     
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  4. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    Being a teacher, I’ve seen that stuff more times than I can count. And not just from my students, but their parents/caregivers as well.
     
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    And probably a valuable lesson learned.
     
  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a good point. And I've thought about this, though haven't yet gotten to the point where I need to deal with it. There should be reasonable alternatives for folks who will benefit from them. If someone just doesn't write well, I think it's good practice for them. I don't need them to deliver me something Henry James would be proud of - I just want them to challenge themselves in that area. My thought on the essays and other non-martial bits is the same as the martial bits. If it's hard for them, I want to see some effort. If it's easy for them, I want to see some effort. That means if it's easy for someone (relative to other people), I expect more.
     
  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Good food for thought on this, KD. Thanks.
     
  8. frank raud

    frank raud Master Black Belt

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  9. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I think it's to give the practitioner an opportunity to give their thoughts and perspective on the art. I don't think it's graded in the sense of how well did you write it, but more in the sense of making you go through that experience and thinking about it from outside the mat. We have students as young as 8 doing these essays, and they don't pass or fail because of the way they wrote them. Some of their essays are very clunky, some of them are very informal, but they all give us a good insight into what the student is thinking regarding martial arts.

    It's always nice to hear the kids read their "what Taekwondo means to me" essay and hear things like how TKD has inspired them to live a healthier lifestyle, has given them the confidence to try new things or to be a leader in their regular school, how they've made friends in TKD, or (my personal favorite, for biased reasons) how great their instructors are that got them to this point.
     
  10. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    Something else to consider is that a good part of martial arts training is to teach the practitioner how to deal with situations that cause anxiety and stress. I've never had to write an essay personally, but I've been graded in a couple of martial arts that require one to stand up and perform in front of a crowd, and I've been put on the spot numerous times in order to learn how to familiarize myself with the negative attention, and subsequent adrenaline rush that comes with it.

    I feel that if someone has a true issue with something such as writing an essay, then they should vote with their feet and find another martial art that doesn't require it.

    Just my thoughts on it.
     
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  11. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Personally, if I wasn’t given an option, and had some serious inability to write an essay (assuming I otherwise liked the dojo), that wouldn’t be enough for me to leave...grading just isn’t that important. I’d stay and just not test, and if other students asked why I’m not a black belt yet, I’d tell them it’s not their business
     
  12. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    I used to teach my kids classes, including teenagers, that their school teachers was also their senseis. And if they treated them with any less respect than that we would just kick their butts first on general principle, then secondly - as a memory exercise.

    Our students, all the way up until they were in college, had to bring report cards to the dojo. If they went down in a one subject, they had until next report card to get it back up or they were suspended from the dojo. if they went down in two or more, suspended right there until next card.

    You could frequently find people helping kids with school work in the dojo. A lot.

    Now, before anybody gets all "that's not what a dojo is supposed to be like" that may be true for you, but it was not that way for us. Everybody, every parent and every student, knew all this going in. They were told in great detail before they were allowed to sign up. Anyone that didn't like it went out the door.

    I used to work in high schools and I used to work in overnight arrest units for juvenile offenders. I know of the connection between poor performance in school for varying reasons and how it relates to antisocial behavior and possible incarceration of youngsters and young adults. You might not be taught and disciplined at home, but you sure as heck were going to be in the dojo. This is sometimes necessary in city dojos.

    It worked well for us. The kids, all grown up with their own kids now, teach them a lot of what they learned in the dojo. I don't mean fighting techniques or exercise, I mean behavior and respect. Or so they keep telling me. But I believe them, all their kids I've met behave like ladies and gentlemen, even the wild ones.
     
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  13. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    My former teacher does something similar with the kids. They have a sheet their academic teachers fill out on regular intervals. Stuff like behavior, conduct, etc. They also have a sheet they fill out with their parents - behavior, chore completion, etc.

    The parents love it. Like you, they were also informed of it before they were allowed to sign up. And it’s not optional. If parents don’t agree to it, no problem at all; it’s just not the right place for them and best of luck to them. He’s got a pretty good sized student-body and not a lot of turnover, so he’s doing something right.
     
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  14. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    A note somewhat related to your closing comment, PG. As an instructor, I'd be open to folks asking to do something different. Them being willing to ask for it is probably harder than for me to write an essay, and they probably learn more from the process (about themselves, if nothing else) than they'd learn from the writing process.123
     
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