Pre-black-belt progression

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by skribs, May 18, 2020.

  1. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Just curious how your schools organize new techniques and belts before black belt. Do you have a lot of tests? Just a few?

    Are new techniques typically learned in bunches, or sprinkled throughout the belts? Are there belts where there's not a whole lot new, or do you try to include something every belt?
     
  2. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    In ACSCA, there is only blue belt (one test) before black belt. I assume the ACSCA blue belt is similar to the Karate brown belt.
     
  3. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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    Our national org has core requirements. 9 gup level sets before BB. To this we add some stuff. Since we test every 3 months, I found that kids cannot learn the entire Gup level in that time so I split each of those in 2. Only those who are ready are allowed to test. Students get a rank requirement sheet when they sign up and after each test they pass. They are then reminded a month or so before each test - each class- to review the sheets and ask for extra help on anything they don't know or need more work on. If you want a set for ideas pm me your e-mail address.
     
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  4. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    We are very similar. We have 9 gup levels. We do not have any gup splits or use the buttons, stars, or stripes that many schools use.

    Schedule and testing dates are 'loudly' expressed and we are fortunate to have plenty of upper & black belts to help as needed. Often the time between 1st Gup and Dan testing is a good bit longer to give a person time to develop.

    It can be challenging in larger groups but one of the things I feel some schools do not do enough of is isolating a student and pressure testing them pre-test. Usually this is as simple as setting everyone down, and having a single student perform. Never in a condemning way but being very critical and expressive in the good/bad of the performance. It should help the individual student and the class as a whole. It can even help an inexperienced instructor.

    This is also a good way to validate what is being done throughout regular classes. It should mirror what is being taught as it is intended. Especially with kids. They have some bizarre mental abilities. The ability to perform at an acceptable level without fully 'getting it' is astounding. We have all probably had kids who have learned forms well above their rank just by watching yet struggle with the forms at their level. Knowing a kid is really, really dialed in can be a tough thing. To me, it is a trait only learned through experience.
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    The reason I ask is because I've gone through a rough draft of what I'd like to teach at every level. I have it broken up into the same number of belts as we have at my current school (although a slightly different arrangement of solid colors and stripes). I also have less focus on rote memorized combinations than my Master does; I'd rather focus on understanding the techniques and concepts.

    My rough draft has 12 belt levels, which fits for the 12 forms I'd like to do (4 basic forms, 8 Taegeuks). I have concepts or techniques added at every belt level for every category (punches, blocks, kicks, striking defense, grab defense, take-downs).

    What I'm trying to figure now is whether I should take the Blue and Blue+Stripe belts and lump the curriculum together, or if I should have each belt learn the pieces I want. In some cases it feels like I'm not adding much on the stripe, where in other cases it feels like I'm adding a lot. I'm also trying to weigh how I'd balance the lesson plan in class, where I have a couple techniques that some students may not have learned yet. I guess part of it depends on how I run class, and how many belts are in a class.
     
  6. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    I have faith you'll figure out what's best for your students.

    Everybody does things a different way, a different order, using different sets of tools. Yet....it all seems to work. Just look at all the good Martial Artists there are out there.

    For me, I always gave them as much as they could handle at any given time, and taught them how to work hard in and out of the dojo.
    Seems to work well. So far, anyway.
     
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  7. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    So, maybe take some time and think about this in another way. It may help when you come back to this question again. Think of it as a thought exercise.

    When teaching someone to write a novel... you don't just teach them the dictionary. Adding a thesaurus doesn't help much either. You need to teach them how to make sentences, then how to make paragraphs, then essays, short stories... You need to talk about tense and voice and .... You need to teach them the higher concepts. Now, to mix metaphors... you can't jump in and teach them advanced calculus, without having gone through basic math, algebra, geometry and trig. The idea is that the concepts build on each other and leaves the students in a place where he can continue learning and exploring and even coming up with new things based on a solid understanding.

    I'll use Danzan Ryu as an example. The techniques we have are grouped into lists or boards. The first two that a beginner starts with, are rolls and falls and the Yawara list. Rolls and falls are because you are going to get thrown, a lot. Yawara looks like a collection of simple escapes from simple grabs and some standing joint locks. However, there are some concepts here. It is usually referred to a "Gentleness." Or you could say you are not going against the other guys forces, you are going around his force, finding the weakness and even adding to his force to get what you want. The next board looks like a bunch of throws. However, this list is about structure and balance. You have to learn what it take to stay on balance, with good structure while you move 200 pound weights around. You have to learn how to off balance the other guy, how to break his structure all while maintaining yours. Do that right, and the throws are easy, and can be done slowly. The student should start to see that the Yawara stuff he was doing, can lead to and set up the throws he is now doing. He can see that the off balancing he is learning for his throws, can be used to make his Yawara techniques much more effective. The next board has most of our ground work and submissions. However, the list is about teaching constriction. How to constrict your opponents movement. Again the simple lessons you learned about balance and structure apply as do the lessons about blending with and going around force, not directly against it. Now we get to the brown belt list, which has a bunch of combinations. Instead of throwing the guy, pinning the guy and then going for the submission... you throw the guy and get the submission while he is in the air, so that the result of him falling applies the submission or break. However, this list is more about your mental state, that being determination. To do these safely, you need the throw to be perfect and then the submission to be perfect. The thing is that you never get a perfect throw... which means you need to learn to do what needs to be done, to adjust. You need to be determined to make it work and make it right, otherwise your partner or you can be severely injured. You need to learn to finish what you start. The next list, again is more about the mental state. This time, the idea is that the final outcome has already been determined, by you. The other guy attacks, and you get him in a specific hold or finish. With new black belts, this looks very much pre-arranged... because it is. Then you start going harder and faster... when you screw up, you need to continue, until you get the finish you were supposed to get. This leads to all kinds of fun training... the better you get, the more people mess with you and try to stop you. Which means you need to learn to flow and go with whatever happens, while advancing towards your goal. The best way to get better at this, is to go back and study Yawara, throws, constrictions, combinations... In fact, when you then go back to the beginning.... you see a ton of things you never saw before, things you missed.

    The whole point of this training is to create a system. You can always go back and learn more, because the more you learn in one area, will help you see more in another. Thats because the system is connected, the concepts build on and support each other. Its not just a random collection of neat things I can do. At this point, the student can go collect different techniques from different styles... he has a system to plug them into. These "new" techniques from other systems actually become other ways to look at concepts. You can then apply that to all your danzan ryu techniques... which should then include new technique you just learned. Its not danzan ryu because I can find the technique on a list somewhere. Its danzan ryu because I understand how to apply it, in accordance with the concepts and principles of danzan ryu.

    So, back to your question. First think about what are the core principles and concepts that you want your students to get. Arrange them in an order, so that one helps prepare the student for the next. Now that you have your higher level concepts arranged, now you can pick out the forms and techniques and such to use to express those concepts. Now you have a set of concepts, with and arranged order... maybe some or all of the concepts are subdivided. These now become the different levels in your system. Maybe you do belts per concept and stripes per sub concept. Or belt colors fr every group... it really doesn't matter. Maybe look at the system you are learning and look at how things are grouped. The student learns these basic things, these self defense things and this form for one rank... why? What is the connection? What is the concept? How do these build on what you learned the rank before? How to they help you for the rank following? What could you investigate further in this rank, after having been promoted much higher.... how does what you learned at black belt help you understand more what you learned at green?

    Hopefully, it helps to look at it from that perspective.
     
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  8. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    @skribs, I think the best thing your students have going for them is you.

    Just go, brother.
     
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  9. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Oh no. Are they really that bad off?
     
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  10. Tait

    Tait White Belt

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    New member here, but wanted to chime in. I wholeheartedly agree with your statement of some kids just not "getting it". We've all seen the videos of these young kids who appear to be complete animals in their training. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. "Most" kids can go through the motions, but many do so with no emotion and/or feeling and do not "get it" whatsoever. This is why I have a problem with seeing young kids with higher ranks, especially a kid under 12 with a 2nd degree BB on. I never understood that and never will. They don't have the mental capacity to be ranked that high, no matter how long they have been training. Unfortunately, too many schools are money motivated and little Johnny's parents want some results after spending roughly $1,500 or so a year.
     
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  11. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    So should those "complete animals" not be black belts either? By your own admission, they do "get it".
     
  12. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    My opinion is that if you're going to train kids, there should be some kind of formal, competitive element. Ranks are important so that you're placing kids of roughly the same experience, size, age, and skill level together. The scale is completely arbitrary, as long as it's consistently applied from school to school. You can call them belts, sashes, bandannas, hats, jerseys or whatever you want. You can have the top be a white belt and the rank beginners be black belts. It literally doesn't matter, as long as everyone is playing from the same sheet of music.

    And I'd argue that all kids are animals. Bunch of savages. Pretty awesome, really.
     
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  13. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    The thing about rank is it means nothing but to the ranking authority and only within the particular group who is being ranked.
    I'm not big on 'rank' either however, let's look at from a different perspective.
    We 'rank or grade' kids in school all the time.
    Elementary 1-6
    Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6 Elementary Black Belt

    Then we go into the intermediate black levels of middle school
    Grade 7 Junior High White Belt
    Grade 8 Junior High Black Belt

    Then the advanced levels of high school
    Grade 9 High School White
    Grade 10
    Grade 11
    Grade 12 High School Black

    College

    Masters

    Doctorate

    Do we really expect a graduate of elementary school (an elementary school black belt) to be of the same level of understanding or abilities of a high school graduate (high school black belt)?
     
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  14. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Something that gums up a discussion is that some ranking systems are based on performance while others are more pro forma. Having a sport element to calibrate the ranking system keeps it closer to the former than the latter.
     
  15. Tait

    Tait White Belt

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    The aforementioned animals seem to get it, as I've stated. Although, I stick to what I said about age and advanced ranks. I have no issue with kids being issued "Junior Black Belts" and I understand some disciplines do this. On the contrary, issuing a 10 or 11 year old child the same black belt as an adult doesn't seem right. How can the formative belts awarded to a 7 or 8 year old carry the same "weight" as an older student? Most kids that age don't pay attention, would rather just play with their friends and generally goof off during class. Yes, they stumble their way through the test and gain that new stripe or belt, but to me, it holds no merit. Agree or disagree, it's just my opinion.
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Unless kids are competing with adults, they aren't the same even if they are the same color.
     
  17. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Well, are you talking about 7 and 8 year olds, or 10 and 11 year olds? Those are two very different ages.

    If the majority of the kids are just goofing off or not paying attention, then it sounds like a school that doesn't know how to keep kids engaged and on-task. By the higher belts, 90% of the kids at my school are able to focus 90% of the time. I agree that if the classes were like you said, they wouldn't deserve a black belt. But if the classes are like you said, there isn't a point in teaching them at all.
     
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  18. Tait

    Tait White Belt

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    I'm talking about both age groups, just as I've stated. While obtaining earlier belts at 7 or 8, considering it typically takes 3-4 years to be awarded a BB. Like I said, those are the formative years of learning their art. I don't believe kids that age get or understand much and are just going through the motions.
     
  19. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    That has more to do with the teaching methods than their age. Kids can understand quite a bit.
     
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  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Does you school segregate by age range? Do you have a class full of only 7-8 year old kid together? I believe this is a hard way to do classes that require a strong teacher(s) and a stronger program. Kids are very visual learners. If they always workout with a near mirror image of themselves, there will usually be little to no visual challenge. Mental expectations and health pressures from the social experience are almost zero. A simple way to say it is that the environment is a little Too comfortable.
    One of the most important things for any program to do is Not build up the belt progression (or stripes, stars, etc...) too much. If the next belt color is focused on more than the thrill of going to the next class there is a Lot more going on wrong in a program.123
     
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