Low or High Ranking Teachers

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by MJS, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    While reading some posts recently, on the subject of finding a school to train at, I found it interesting, that this person stated that he only wanted to train with a teacher who had high rank. Of course, I was glad to see someone else chime in, and state that this potential student, should not sell other inst. short, due to lack of high rank.

    This, IMO, shows a lack of maturity in the arts, because its being assumed that just because someone has high rank, that automatically makes them a better teacher. Of course, its natural to think that someone who is wearing a 5th or 6th degree is more skilled/knowledgeable, than a lesser ranked teacher, but thats not always the case.

    I've read posts in the Ninjutsu sections on various forums, with people asking questions about training with Hatsumi. Others usually chime in, stating that while its great to train with the man, many times, he's not teaching at a beginners level, therefore, get a base with other teachers first, then worry about making that trip to Japan. I've seen this first hand at seminars as well. You'll have someone who is brand new or who has little exposure to the art, and the look on their face is of confusion, because whats being taught, is usually over tha persons head. Now, this isn't to say that you can't learn from seminars, and thats not where I'm looking to take this thread, as I was just using that as an example. I used it simply to illustrate a point. (For clarification, I'm talking about Kenpo and Arnis seminars that I've attended, not any of the X-Kans)

    For me, its not the belt or rank that I'm looking at, but what the person can teach me. A good friend of mine is a purple belt in BJJ under Roy Harris. Would it be great to train under Roy? Hell yeah! But fact is, unless I want to pack up and move to his location, I train under my friend.

    So, what do you all think? When it comes time to train, are you looking at the teachers rank, or what he can show you?
     
  2. OnlyAnEgg

    OnlyAnEgg Senior Master

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    I'm willing to trust whomever the school owner puts in charge of the class. And, fact is, if the person I'm sparring with has even one more day in than I do, I stand the chance to learn from them.

    That being said, I think, as you say, it's natural to presume that a higher rank has a higher level of knowledge. Higher rank, however, does not mean they can actually teach it clearly. It's more about the teacher student interactions.

    Years ago, in TKD, there were two BBs that taught the class. I'll call them Tom and Bill. Tom would give us our drills, guide us through them and explain their uses. Bill would give us our drills and have us repeat them till he was satisfied. In sparring, Tom would point out your weak spots and advise us how to correct them. Bill would attack the weak spots. Repeatedly.

    I learned from both; but, I feel I learned more from Tom as his teachings were geared more to getting me to understand, rather than react.
     
  3. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    Great points! There is another 3rd degree Kenpo BB at the school I train at, who has spent quite a bit of time studying TaiChi. I love working with him on techniques, because he applies the TaiChi principles to Kenpo and the results are amazing. :)

    My teachers are always encouraging me to train with others, as everyone will always have something different to show. IMO, if we always stick with the same person, and never empty our cup, our learning will never grow.
     
  4. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    As a newbie it’s always better to learn from a lower rank. The lower ranks know perhaps a couple of ways to do something, and are closer to where the newbie’s are. The higher ranks knows 20 ways of doing something, and are decades away from having learned the “basics”. Training with a higher rank early on can hinder your growth in a MA.

    My sensei is a 7th dan and I am now a 4th, right now I need to be taught by someone with his experience. Years ago when I started he was a 5th almost a 6th, and I was pond scum, I didn’t need to be taught by him, learning from a 2nd or 3rd would have been more than enough for me to start.
     
  5. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    Great points Ken! :) I do see what you're saying. Likewise I train with my Kenpo inst., a 6th degree, for the same reasons as you. But yes, we're on the same page regarding a newbie to the arts. For clarification, the main point of this thread was discussing someone with no exp. in an art, who wanted to train with a high ranking person, vs. someone who is a 1st, 2nd, etc. degree.

    Then again, I've picked up ideas from people who're lesser ranked than I. I've done techs. with a 1st degree, and something that they did, caught my eye, so I asked them to show me what they did. So in that case, they weren't showing me a new tech. per se, but a new idea, add on, etc., to something I already knew. :)
     
  6. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    The question then is what defines 'high rank' versus low rank. In at least one Shotokan organization, fifth dan is the highest rank, so a third dan is not so far down numerically.

    Ultimately, the GM/Dojocho/Soke/owner/insert-other-title put the instructor into their position for a reason. If I am a new student, whether or not the instructor is a high dan, he or she is certainly far more knowledgeable than myself.

    I think that some students simply want to be able to say, 'my instructor is a 7th dan' because it sounds impressive. Also, the new student may assume that only a high dan is truly capable of teaching. To be fair, some organizations actually promote this mentality.

    Daniel
     
  7. OnlyAnEgg

    OnlyAnEgg Senior Master

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    I think that hits the topic on the head. Bragging rights. I can't, honestly, see any other reason to choose a high level over anyone else in charge.
     
  8. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Personally I have had better experience training with higher ranked teachers, although I honestly think my preference is not so much a high ranked teacher but a more experienced teacher. Morph4me is a shodan in Aikido...I'm not even an aikidoka and I would rather train under him than a lot of people wearing a lot more red in other arts.

    Many ikkyus or shodans are taking on teaching responsibilities and are excited about growing in to an instructor or assistant. Its great energy but at least for me, it can be frustrating. I'm way too much of an engineer. I like instruction to be consistent, precise, and clear....and I get rather impatient when that is not the case.
     
  9. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    For the sake of discussion, lets say the 'high rank' is 7th or 8th degree.

    Agreed. Unfortunately, many people are failing to see this.

    Agreed again.
     
  10. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    For the most part no, though I think that some people get bamboozeled into this mentality by what they hear, either on forums or by what they heard in other MA experiences that they have had.

    I know that on another group, when I said that I had an instructor's certification, I was asked what kind of certification a guy who is only third dan could possibly have. My response was that it was the kind that certifies that I took the instructor's course in the federation that I am a part of and that I have logged the requisite number of hours as an assistant instructor. That was responded to by a pompous reply of, "in my organization, you are not even considered an assistant until fourth dan and cannot even be considered an actual teacher until sixth. I cannot possibly see how a third can... blah, blah, blah..." which was followed by some purity of the art speech.

    Yeah, whatever. I have been practicing martial arts of some kind since I was like eight, and at forty three, I have a pretty good idea of what's what, so his comments did not affect me, though it did give me insight into his organization's structure.

    But there are undoubtedly people who will read what he said and say, 'you know, maybe when I look at that ______ school, I need to make sure that the instructors are all at least 6th dan and the assistants all at least fourth.'

    Daniel
     
  11. chaos1551

    chaos1551 Blue Belt

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    Of course, knowing something does not mean you are capable of teaching it.

    I am just fine with learning a technique from someone that just barely learned the technique themselves. However, I will not be satisfied if they can't answer my questions--at which point my monthly dues should enable me to ask someone who can answer my questions.

    I suppose one could say that I'm fine learning anything from anyone, but only because I know how to learn. Knowing how to learn is as important in the teacher/student relationship as knowing how to teach. An awesome teacher can teach someone who's not so good at learning, and an awesome learner can learn from someone who's not so good at teaching. But there has to be someone at the top who truly understands the material, whether it's a green belt teaching yellows, a 1st black teaching blues or a 5th black teaching 1st blacks.

    That being said, if there wasn't a single black belt at my school, I would quit. If there was only first degree black belts at my school, I would quit somewhere in the brown range to look for greener pastures (not forgetting my roots). Someone has to know what the hell is going on.
     
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  12. MBuzzy

    MBuzzy Grandmaster

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    How about coming into a school and effectively being taught by those one or two ranks ahead - not even an instructor. I mean, in practicality, that is what really happens. You only get a few minutes of time from the actual instructor, your peers help you out a lot of the way. I have no problem with taht, unless it is the codified PROCESS and there is no time or consideration for the true instructor to spend individual time with students.
     
  13. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I have had excellent learning experiences from both low and high ranked instructors. I think when choosing an instructor you need to evaluate your needs, their skill sets and their ability to convey those skill sets to you. Location and availability of the instructor are also a plus. Bottom line there is a lot to learn from someone who has been around a long time but they may or may not also be the best teacher. If you are fortunate enough to find someone who has been around a long time and is also very, very good at teaching then you are blessed.
     
  14. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Low Rank or High Rank

    Damn.... I train TCMA and they have no rank :D
     
  15. Draven

    Draven Green Belt

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    Ranking is fluff, pure & simple. It exists to offer encouragement and while it makes a great guide it also seems to become a focus. Life is a lot like Dungeons & Dragons; experience is everything.

    People with little experience are fine for teaching people with none, but even I have trouble explaining things to beginners when I often find myself stating how a simple principle relates to "more advanced" methods & in truth the beginner hasn't learned the principle to begin with. The problem is that we don't assume that rank is misleading, you can have 10th dan and 1st dan in the same room but if that 10th dan is just working with theory and the shodan has more real experience who is the better teacher? Who knows what they are doing is effective and who is theorizing it?
     
  16. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    High Ranked Instructor = H

    Low Ranked Instructor = L

    Good Instructor = G

    Bad Instructor = B

    Good Instructor only for High Ranks = R

    Good Instructor only for Beginners or very low ranks = I


    If H and G then it does not always mean R xor I. It could imply R or I or even imply R and I

    If B and any other combination then the implication is always B (Bad instruction)

    So if you have a bad instructor then instruction will always be bad.

    If you have a good instructor that is good in all ranges will lead to good instruction.


    Some instructors are good with expereinced or people with knowledge.

    Some are good only with certain learning styles or personailites and bad with everione else.

    So without lots of data it is very hard to be analytical and concise on an actual answer.

    But, in theory, I believe that beginners should learn from lower ranked instructors.

    1) The lower ranked instuctors need the expereince
    2) They are closer to the student (* As stated by others *)
    3) It frees the senior or higher ranked instructors to guide and or teach the lower ranked instructors so everyone can benefit.

    But, I personally like to teach all levels. I bring people up as partners for teaching at a seminars who have skill and those who are obvious beginners. The beginners get to feel everyone watching them and the other beginners get to see me working with this person slowly and many times starting over and working it again until they get it, with continued explanation. This can even help the isntructors in the crowd on to work or repeat the information verbally but using different terms and phrases to help the students learn or grasp the concept.

    For me I do like working with high ranking people.

    Beginners should not be worried about rank. They should be worried about teaching styles adn being able to learn from the isntructor and many times the ones that connect the best are the lower ranked instructors.

    ****

    Someone mentioned the teaching and not explaining. I really like to understand and I also like explain. But sometimes the student just does not grasp the idea. Kind of like teaching addition to kindergarten students. They learn it by memorizing how to count first and that 1 + 1 is 2. For difficult students who are trying to take up class time and only talk who just are not getting it, I ask them why is 1 + 1 = 2? There are three proofs I know of, and the easy one is what I expect and can remember myself. (* Number Line *) Most people do not know so I tell them they can use it without understanding, and even learned how to multiple and divide without knowing the proofs behind addition. So, please just do the exercise and we will try the explanation again. This is one of those times when a bad Student could derail a class. The Good instructor has to not only try but also make sure the others are not derailed. In my opinion.
     
  17. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    Huh? I'm sorry could you repeat that? :angel:
     
  18. ATC

    ATC Senior Master

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    I personally know a guy that came up with me but jumped to black 1st dan from 3rd kup/kyu because our Master opened a new school and needed someone to run that school. He then broke from our master and jumped to a new school and got his 2nd Dan right away. Then he took a masters instructors seminar and jumped from 2nd Dan to 4th Dan within the next 2 years. He then broke from his new master and started his own school. So he bacame a 4th Dan in about 6 years total training time.

    So the question is...Do you want to train under him?

    That should tell you all about rank you need to know. There are many out there like this in many schools in many arts.
     
  19. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    Some people are rank chasers. He may be an excellent teacher, particularly for beginning students.

    My big question would be what he did about the material in those last three geub grades. If he learned the full curriculum and is a competent instructor, then I am not sure how much of a difference his being a rank chaser is.

    Now, knowing what you just said, I would not go into business with him. But that is a separate issue from his ability as an instructor.

    Daniel
     
  20. KELLYG

    KELLYG 2nd Black Belt

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    >I don't want to seem snotty< If I were joining a new school I would like to know that some one is around with a higher rank. I would be afraid that I would eventually outgrow a lower ranked teacher. In my opinion a good higher ranked teacher pushes the lower ranked teacher as much as they push him to be better, this makes everyone's skill level improve. Other than that whoever is put before me to teach is OK by me.

    I am also not too proud to ask for help, regardless of rank, from anyone that has a better handle on whatever I am working on a the time. I have learned as much from lateral students than I have learned from the Masters. I think that this is because the environment in our school is such that you can feel free to ask questions of anyone and they will do there best to assist. I also think that the more people's impute the better.123
     

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