Frustration with Black Belt Quest

Discussion in 'Kenpo / Kempo - General' started by Tortoise, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. Tortoise

    Tortoise Yellow Belt

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    Got all the way up to 1st degree brown, which was test before black, when my studio closed.

    Wasted a year at another studio owned by a first degree black belt with no instructor of his own who initially assured me that he was getting an instructor and expected to be bumped up to 3rd degree soon. This was the only studio within driving distance which taught the same lineage as I had been working on at the first studio. Should have known better than to buy that. A few months after I started, he promoted his first black belt with a certificate signed by all 1st degree black belt. It has been my understanding that you need a third degree or higher signature to be legitimate. He assured me that a fifth degree black belt he (and I) knew was going to start teaching and become involved in the studio. The fifth degree was going to start next month, then he was moving, then there was to be a meeting or the higher ups in the lineage before it happened ... Never happened. Certainly my bad for not confirming what he said was true. Without going into details of the politics of that situation, I will just say I wanted to stay out of the middle of the politics. Found out later that the 5th degree was never planning to teach or get involved with the studio. Left second studio rather than pay $300 for a black belt that would not be recognized outside of the studio. That was my first (or only?) smart move. Studio closed 7 months later.

    Found another American kenpo studio which is a different lineage, but still kenpo. Great instructors. I enjoy the classes, for the most part. Always do everything on the body - no air karate. We don't do many forms, which is a disappointment, though.

    I was bumped down 3 ranks (which still allowed my to wear a brown belt) when I started here because it is a different curriculum. No problem. Instructor told me that I could test for black in 2 years. Again, not a problem. Incidently, I did not ask him when or even if, I could test for black, he brought it up. In the past 2 years I have been working on predominantly advanced material because that is the way the classes are set up. I have advanced the 3 ranks so I am back where I started 3 years ago.

    There is a black belt prep class (great idea) that goes over all material prior to the black belt test. This starts about 5 months before the test. Dec. would be two years for me at the studio. Last Jan., he told me I would test in Dec. 2016 or June 2017. Last few months he has made comments that indicated that it would be Dec.. I am not the only person who interpreted his comments that way as another student made a comment to me about how happy I must be to be testing for black next cycle. I replied that I did not really know that yet as the list was not out.

    List came out with a bunch of names and rank testing for (black, junior black, 2nd black, etc,) My name is on the list but it is the only one without a rank after it. Other instructor told me I was not really testing, I just get to go to the prep class. I can take the prep class with this group, me being the only one not testing, and then again next year "for real". This has never been done for anyone else. Rational is that I learned the beginner techniques elsewhere so they are not identical. I have seen these other techniques. I think if I am shown them I would be able to pick them up quickly. The way the curriculum is, the other advanced students would not have practiced the earlier material in years either, so I am pretty sure they will also need a pretty intensive review.

    No, the prep class is not at a convenient time for me. I can make it work, but it is inconvenient.

    I asked him about this as my husband insisted I should in case there was a mistake and to let him know not to do this sort of thing to me again (get my hope up for nothing). I didn't actually think this would be fruitful since if he changed his mind at that point and said I could test I might think he just didn't want to lose a student. I don't want a black belt if I have not earned it. He didn't change his mind (actually good for him), but his reason for my not testing was just that I had not been a student of his long enough. This bothers me because he should not have said I could test in 2 years if you have to be a student longer than that to test. He also said it would not matter if I mastered all the material after the first prep class, I have to wait for the next test, basically a whole year from now. Incidentally, I will have been taking kenpo for 6 years in Nov.. No breaks. I attend at least 3 times per week.

    Don't know if I am too cynical from past experiences of not cynical enough, but I feel like I may be getting strung along again. Can't decide if I should dig my heels in and try harder, back off (if I only go when I feel like it, it will not bother me that I cannot advance), or quit and do yoga.

    In retrospect, I wish I had walked into that studio claiming that I had no experience with karate. Then, I could be the white belt who picked things up quickly instead of the brown belt who should not really be a brown belt.
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Don't get hung up on the color of your belt.

    Do, however, get all hung up over the quality of instruction and training you are getting. Meaning: that does matter and should be a big deal in your search for a good school.

    The belt will take care of itself, in its own time, if you train diligently and honestly.
     
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  3. Kenpoguy123

    Kenpoguy123 Purple Belt

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    Hey can I ask you say you were moved down belts but if you getting ready for your black belt at your school surely you should know the whole 164 techniques and all forms up to long 4 or was it a case of you knowing them but they wanted it done better?

    And as has been said don't worry about the belt I've been a 1st brown for about 4 years now and have done 3 pre tests I don't care. One thing I always say about belts is. When you step in the grading with your brown belt you're a certain ability if you pass and get your black when you leave the hall that day you are still the same ability just with a different belt. It takes the months after of training to actually impove it's not the belt that makes you better it's the training.
     
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  4. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    Did you learn and become a better martial artist during that year? If you did, then the year wasn't wasted. If you didn't, then it would have been a waste even if there was a higher ranked instructor on hand to promote you.

    Forget about the rank for a moment. Are you a better martial artist than you were 3 years ago? If yes, then you aren't back where you were 3 years ago. If no, then you might want to find a better place to train.

    I'd recommend going to train exactly as much as makes you happy. Putting in extra work because you enjoy it or because you value the learning is worthwhile. Putting extra work that you don't enjoy just in the hopes of earning a rank is pointless.

    If it's between martial arts and yoga, ask yourself which activity you enjoy more and which gives you benefits that you value more. Don't take rank into consideration.
     
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  5. Tortoise

    Tortoise Yellow Belt

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    I had about 120 techniques and up to form 4 in previous system. We don't really do forms in this system.

    There are 71 techniques required for black belt in this system, no forms required for black belt. There are 14 sets. There are a few sets I am have not done in this system, but I have done similar ones in the other system

    Thanks for replies. I know you guys are right.
     
  6. Tortoise

    Tortoise Yellow Belt

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    To be honest, I believe I was a better martial artist when I left the first studio than when I left the second. We did not do techniques on the body enough at the second studio. Way too much air karate. I can't learn well that way.

    The time at this past studio has made me a better martial artist, I think. We do everything on the body. I need that because I am too small to muscle my way through anything.
     
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  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'll second what others have said. Focus on the journey, the learning, the satisfaction you get. It took me more than 12 years to get my black belt, and I never really minded. Much of that was my own choice. I was often the most competent at whatever rank I held at the time, because I had more time to work on and refine my skills, rather than learning another new technique. I also knew some students who stayed at Brown for several years (student teaching was required to reach Black, and some couldn't fit it in their schedule). These folks were often as good as any of the Black belts, and sometimes better partners.
     
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  8. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Your place of training closing down really sucks. As do dojos that aren't what you expect. I wish I, and many of us here, didn't know that first hand.

    But you still have that fire in your belly. There isn't anything in Martial Arts more important than that. Hang in there, bro.
     
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  9. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Well if you want to get a black belt at the studio you're attending you know what you have to do. The way you describe it, it sounds to me like you will be testing for your black belt in June 2017 if you decide to take to pursue a black belt. If that is what you want to do my advice would be to just keep working hard and working smart and that way you will be prepared as best you can. When your instructor initially said you can test in 2 years and now it appears if you do choose to test it will be in 3 years well instructors can make mistakes too. Apparently though his standards for the black belt is that you have to be a student at his dojo for a certain length of time, 3 years, and that he failed to mention that to you at first. As I said instructors make mistakes. As for going to the prep class 5 months before the December test I would highly recommend doing that and that way you will know the material and what you need to work on and it will give you close to a year to prepare. At least you know your instructor's standards and that, along with hard work is what's important for meeting your goal. Goals require planning along with hard work and what I mentioned above I believe to be good planning. Again though, whether you want to pursue this goal or not the choice is yours.
     
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  10. kuniggety

    kuniggety 2nd Black Belt

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    Not to beat a dead horse but I think you're worrying about rank too much. What does the black belt mean to you? I think most martial artists would concur on the fact that it means something different for both each style and each particular school or lineage. You switched lineages and apparently your instructor feels you are on your way considering he's lining you up for a promotion time.

    Different system but I'm hoping to make purple belt by my 6 yr mark... The second colored belt in most BJJ schools. It's just a mark where you're at in a particular system.
     
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  11. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Setting goals is a great thing. But is the goal simply a different piece of cloth, or is ability? Or is it possibly preconceived abilities that the piece of cloth inherently carries?

    If you get your black belt at 5 pm today, will you be a different person that you were at 4:59? Will you be a better martial artist than you were?

    When I earned my black belt 16 years ago, I was like the dog who finally caught the car he was chasing and thought "now what do I do?" The answer was I get to keep doing what I've been doing all along.

    If you're in it just for a belt, you won't last long after you get the belt. I've seen it so many times.
     
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  12. Kickboxer101

    Kickboxer101 Master Black Belt

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    That's why I prefer not having belt rankings because there's no favouritism or people who don't deserve it getting them or being passed over. Also everyone learns the same thing the beginners do the same combos as the advanced and everyone learns the same stuff at the same time
     
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  13. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Six years isn't that long, :cool:
     
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