Rank based on progress vs. merit, and/or when to switch

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. wab25

    wab25 2nd Black Belt

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    So, this type of conversation comes up a lot. We always participate in these discussions about who did what to earn what rank... but we always participate "knowing" that the way we did it was the "right" way and everyone doing it different is either "wrong" or just "no so much right." Have you ever turned the question around and asked: Why do I have the rank I have?

    Did I get this rank because I can go out into a street brawl and start kicking butt and taking names?
    Did I get this rank because I did well in full contact sport fighting?
    Did I get this rank because I did well in "adult tag" competition?
    Did I get this rank because I memorized an exact pattern and can repeat it, even if I may not understand it?
    Did I get this rank because I showed up every week and put in the time, and eventually got it for my effort?
    Did I get this rank because I understand what I am doing?

    Another fun question is: Okay, I have this certain rank... what are realistic expectations of my actual abilities in a home invasion? street fight? sporting competition? performance event? or teaching situation?

    After being honest with yourself about these questions... Do you make any changes? And what would those changes be?

    After making black belt, I looked at what I really did, what I was really capable of and found that what I thought I was... I wasn't. Now what? Do I abandon what I studied? How do I fix it? What exactly was wrong with my training? What are my expectations?

    Personally, I started training at a boxing gym, to learn how to punch and what is was like to be punched. I spent a couple years training BJJ and MMA to see where I stood and to get more experience. During all that... I continued training my first art. Through all this training and butt whooping (that would be my butt being whooped) I learned a lot. First I learned where my real martial abilities stood, and where my fitness was. After some time, I could see where my first art actually did have a lot of worth and did teach and prepare me better than I had originally thought, in many ways. I started adding things to my art... and sharing with my sensei... who was very patient, about showing me where those things were in my own art, and where I had over looked them. After all that... the most important thing I have is a realistic picture of my abilities in those different types of situations... as well as a decent idea of what it would take to improve in the areas I lack. I think you learn a lot of things, taking your first art and testing it out... with folks who have no problem whooping your butt. It doesn't mean your first art is bad.... it means you made erroneous assumptions about what your art was giving you and teaching you. To truly see how well a martial art does in a martial situation, you need to make sure you are testing the martial art and not your erroneous assumptions about what the art is.
     
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  2. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Agree. I feel this is the individual component I have mentioned. I think even in Skribs breakdown of a technique and the individual components he mentions they can and will look different from person to person. AND some people simply find a way that works better for them. As long as all the bases are covered I do not sweat this too much. If I can prove to them that their way has deficiencies (rest assured we try) then we force a change. But to use Steve's phrasing, it is not draconian in nature.
     
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  3. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    After black belt.

    Ah, but what if the parachute and bridge makers followed the instructions and every rule by the book? At the end of the day that really did not matter did it?
     
  4. AceVentura

    AceVentura Green Belt

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    Please explain to everyone what Goju-Ryu is.
     
  5. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Sure. I'm pretty comfortable saying I'd bet a reasonable amount of money that every school has objective standards. But I'd also qualify that by adding "sort of."
    Saying 'you need to learn X,Y & Z techniques and form W for belt A' is, I think we can agree, an objective standard. But it's subjective at the same time. When the student performs that form, how close to the theoretical ideal is it? I'd guess that purely objective standards are fairly uncommon.
     
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  6. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    In Taekwondo, we kind of have 4 different groups of techniques we train:
    • Traditional Techniques
    • Forms
    • Sparring Techniques
    • Self-Defense Techniques
    Traditional techniques are things like punches, kicks, blocks, and combinations. At my school, these are typically trained in rote combinations that are tested. These may vary some from person to person, where some do a more applicable version of the techniques, while others do a form that more resembles the aesthetic style of the forms.

    The forms are very specific. They should be done as exactly as possible. They have the most details that should match the instructor when done correctly.

    Sparring techniques are the kicks and footwork we use in WT sparring. These are not really tested (except that we spar during the test). While there are right and wrong ways to do the techniques (i.e. a roundhouse kick with the ridge of your foot instead of your instep is wrong 100% of the time), there is also a lot of adapting to your partner.

    Self-defense techniques are the one-steps (probably the most similar to your classical forms). You may have to adjust a little bit for your opponent's body, but as far as the test goes, you're expected to perform these rote. In our Hapkido class, you're expected to show more understanding of the application. (And for what it's worth, that's more how I'd like to approach self-defense when I run my own school).

    The different categories have varying levels of exactness, ranging from sparring at the adaptable end, to forms at the exactness end.
     
  7. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I am constantly working to improve my techniques. I'd spend more time at the gym (if they weren't closed because of COVID). I don't have much time to train outside of my dojang. That's something I might change after 4th dan.

    And, how close is it to theoretical ideal of what the student is capable of? There's a big difference between a student being sloppy because they're uncoordinated, and a student being sloppy because they just aren't paying attention.
     
  8. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Two quick things. First, it's still an objective standard provided you're applying the same standard to everyone. So, if you don't hold some students to a higher standard, or allow other students to promote even when they don't meet the standards it's fine. If you're winging it, that's different.

    Second, and this happens a lot around here, when someone takes the time to write like five paragraphs and you cherry pick one sentence, that seems super shifty to me.
     
  9. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Let's say you have 2 kids. Their assignment is to read a book. One of them is reading at a 2nd grade reading level, and reads a kids book that is 30 pages long. Another is reading at a 7th grade reading level, and reads a chapter book that is 100 pages long. This would be appropriate for both of them. They both "read a book", but the book that one read is different.

    If the second kid read the kids book, then he's not meeting his subjective expectations. If you expect the first kid to read the chapter book, there's simply no way that's going to happen (for now). You have to have subjective expectations for each. But you can have an objective requirement (read a book) and then subjective requirements (the difficulty of that book).
     
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  10. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Ok. I still think there will inevitably be some degree of subjectivity, because humans. But it's splitting hairs pretty fine, and not worth arguing about.

    You write a bunch. You make multiple points, or write a lot of stuff in support of a single point. There's one small part that I disagree with or want clarification about. Why would I quote a lot of text that has nothing to do with what I'm questioning? That's sort of why the system allows editing... If you think it's "shifty" then that's fine, but I'm still not going to quote extraneous stuff.
    Now, if you can show me where I've ever changed the meaning of what I quoted by removing the fluff, that would be totally different.
     
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  11. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Ah, I think I get it. So, look at it like this. If the subjective standard for 7th graders is that they should be reading at a 7th grade level, the evaluation of progress is objective. The criteria may be subjective, but if it's based on something that is explainable and reasonable. And to be clear, this is true for literally every objective standard. The criteria is always subjective.

    Then you start getting into the arena of layering standards. Here are the standards for the specific subject... here are the standards for being promoted from one grade to another... and here are the standards that really matter: graduation. So, in this analogy, if the standard is that a 7th grader should be reading at a 7th grade level, and he/she isn't... that kid isn't meeting the standard. So, then you start to get into what is the promotion criteria from 7th to 8th grade. Can a kid who reads at the 5th grade level (for example) be promoted into the 8th grade? Maybe... maybe not, but what's the actual standard for graduation? That's the reading standard that actually matters with regards to ceremonial adequacy.
     
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  12. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Yeah, I think it's actually the opposite. The criteria is always subjective for the rank (you must know 10 techniques, 2 kata, and be able to say the alphabet backwards in under 30 seconds). But the evaluation of success or failure against that criteria can be objective or arbitrary. The latter happens when you either don't promote someone who has merited that promotion by meeting the criteria, or you promote someone who does not merit it because they do not meet the criteria.
    I was just being crabby. But, come on. I'm pretty darn sure I can find several examples where you quoted out of context and changed the meaning. I actually laughed out loud when I read that. :)
     
  13. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    And what if that kid wants to be a teacher? Should someone with a 4th grade reading level be a teacher?
     
  14. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    What's the standard?
     
  15. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    That is a spot on analogy.
     
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  16. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Just to add a little more to this. What if games are sometimes fun to play. So, let's say "what if" this kid wants to be a teacher? That kid will have two challenges ahead of them. First, they need to meet the standard. Second, they need to be competent to teach at that level. But what are we actually talking about. Comprehension? If so, do you think this kid will need to read at a level commensurate with an advanced degree? I mean, are we talking doctorate level academic papers, scientific studies, etc? What about vocabulary? Or is there an acknowledgement that, in order to teach elementary school kids, the person must meet a standard somewhere in between? Because when you outlined your standards earlier in the thread, they seemed... a little extreme.

    Would it surprise you to learn that the average literacy rate in the USA is about 7th or 8th grade? So, if you're reading above that level, you're reading at a higher level than most other Americans. More importantly, if you're writing at above that level, a lot of people won't be able to understand what you mean. Only about 2% of the US population can "Integrate information across multiple dense texts; construct syntheses, ideas or points of view; or evaluate evidence-based arguments." More than half of the US population cannot do any more than "find information that may require low-level paraphrasing and drawing low-level inferences." And that's the most. About 1 in 5 adults can't even read that well.

    So, all of that to say, if the kid wants to be a teacher, he or she will need to read well enough to meet the standards to become ceremonially adequate. And practically speaking, he or she will need to read better than the kids he or she is teaching. The standard is somewhere between doctoral level reading ability and 4th grade reading ability.

    Getting back to your points. If the idea is that to teach, one must be perfectly technical, I disagree. I think that's unrealistic. No one, not even you, can meet that standard. And if you create unrealistic standards, the standards become meaningless and lack integrity.
     
  17. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Really? Could you explain it to me, then? :D
     
  18. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I have mentioned this on several occasions; 'what if' is the working world I live in. What you are doing with a 'what if' scenario is virtually useless. You have to have enough understanding about what you are trying to accomplish to understand what/when the 'what ifs' have no value. So you have went outside the realm of usefulness.

    The rest of your post is futile and inaccurate comments about the US education system. For the life of me I do not understand why you do this with a very large percentage of your posts.
     
  19. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    It is a popular style of karate with roots as recently as the late 1800s in southern Chinese arts. There are lots of videos on YouTube if anyone is wondering about the art. Look up sanchin kata, kote kitae training, kakie drills for examples of primary activities in many traditional dojo.
     
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  20. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Futile and inaccurate? How so? Prove me wrong. Oh, that's right. You make statements, but take some kind of principled stand against supporting your statements with actual information.

    "What if" can be fun and useful. It can also be a way to muddle a point.

    So, what if a kid wants to be a teacher? Well, we see kids become teachers all the time. What's the actual question? how well does that teacher need to read? The answer to that is easily available... one need only look at the requirements for a teaching certificate.

    What I was trying to do was get to what I think the actual question is, which is how well SHOULD one be able to read? I don't honestly think you or @skribs have really thought that through. How well do you think?123
     

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