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

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

  1. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    The "what if the kid wants to be a teacher" was not an arbitrary question, but very specific to this thread. Most advanced black belt ranks qualify you as a teacher of the art.

    There are many reasons to promote a kid to the next grade in school, even if he's behind in reading. He might be good in every other area, or it might be social (i.e. you don't want an 11 year-old 2nd grader to hang out with all the 7 year-olds).

    The point at which that student will hit a wall is probably college. At that point, there are stricfer entry requirements. It's a lot harder for a C student to get into college than an A student. However, this is a little bit different than martial arts, where you typically stay at the same school. I went to 2 different elementary schools, and then a new middle school, new high school, a college, and a university. Yet, my TKD career from white belt to 3rd dan has all been the same school. I didn't have to apply to a new school after getting my black belt, 2nd dan, 3rd dan, etc. There is no barrier for entry of the application process, other than internal validation in the form of testing.

    That application process tends to reset progress based rank, and focus instead on your skills and qualifications. And if a school wants their advanced ranks to meet those standards, then at some point they need to simulate that application process.
     
  2. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    This quality control process is met to an extent with examinations being conducted by a governing body, association, or affiliated group of master level instructors. I've been in multiple martial arts for decades at this point. I really don't recall ever seeing anyone make it to 3rd dan that didn't possess considerable skill or demonstrate his fitness for the rank. This is in karate, aikido, and taekwondo.
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    I think you've done a nice job of articulating the issues with your analogy. How strong of a reader does someone need to be? It depends on what he or she is trying to do. Graduate from high school? Get into college? Get a BA in philosophy? Get an advanced degree in biochemistry?

    If the question is, what does someone need to know in order to teach TKD, the answer is,"it depends." Whatever standards the school owner chooses is one answer. Who is he or she teaching? What is he or she trying to do?

    Look, I'll try to bring this back to my main points I shared earlier. All of the standards are subjective. The evaluation of progress against those standards can/should be objective. And if you objectively meet a standard for promotion and are promoted, you earned that promotion based on merit.

    What are your standards? I generally don't care. If you want to promote someone to black belt for being over 6ft tall, go for it. Provided you don't promote any short people to black belt, your system has integrity. If you want to promote people based on their ability to defend themselves, and they can actually do that in a measurable and observable way, great. I don't think that's the case in most self defense schools, but if people meet that standard, awesome.
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Quick aside... in TKD, my impression is that colored belts will often teach classes. Is that true?
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Also, as I have said several times, I have no opinion about what the standards are. So far, I have two real opinions about this thread. First, that there is no meaningful distinction between promoting based on progress toward a standard and promoting based on merit. They are functionally the same. In my opinion, if the standards are clear and measurable, you are either promoting people who meet the standards or you're compromising your standards by promoting people who do not meet them, or not promoting people who do.

    Second, perfection is an unreasonable standard. In my opinion, it is better to focus on the non-negotiable standards that reflect the goals of the organization than to get caught up in the minutiae that will disqualify people who would be terrific for the role. For example, I think it would be a shame (and counterproductive) to have someone who is an excellent teacher, a great role model, a sound technician, and a real asset to the school.. but you won't promote him or her to black belt because he has had a hip replacement and can't execute some techniques exactly right. This is an opinion, to be clear. While I think that it's unnecessarily exclusive and counterproductive, if that's your standard, and you apply it consistently, no one else's opinion really matters.
     
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  6. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Not in my experience. In small schools you might have a senior color belt assisting in children's classes or you might see a senior color belt paired with a relative beginner in pair exercises. Or some schools have a teaching program and you might see some student instructors who are enrolled in such things.

    It's very possible to promote to first degree BB in TKD in 3 years. A school would have to be very small or very new to be in a position to need to use colored belts extensively for regular instruction.
     
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  7. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Not at all in my experience. I started teaching at blue belt, but I was definitely an exception. I had 4 years experience before starting over at white belt at my school, and I had previous tutoring experience.

    Black belt is usually 2-3 years. There's no shortage of black belts. Even 1st Dan isn't enough to do much teaching.

    You may help a partner out, but that's different from leading a class. Colored belts may lead stretching, or help keep kids focused, but not actually teach a class.
     
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  8. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Thanks, @skribs and @dancingalone . Two other relevant questions. At what belt level is someone required to have perfect technique? Does anyone lower than that belt level teach?
     
  9. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the impression I get from this and some points in your other posts is that you think there comes a point of technical development where some students will just not be able to progress beyond based on natural ability and talent.

    I'm not sure that this is correct, except in the specific cases of certain techniques requiring a high degree of athleticism or students dealing with a major disability.

    Looking at my own experience, my natural athleticism/coordination/mental toughness started out somewhere around the bottom 5% of the general population. The only people I've seen starting out significantly worse are those with a serious disability like muscular dystrophy or Down's syndrome. I earned my BJJ black belt at age 50 after about 15 years of training in that art (and 33 years of martial arts training in general). That rank represents the demonstrated ability to effectively use a large number of techniques with precise skill in sparring against a wide variety of tough, skilled opponents and also the ability to teach in a detailed technical manner. If I can get to that point, then probably 95+% of the general population can do the same with sufficient time and motivation.

    For those who can't (due to disability, advanced age, or whatever other reason) or don't have the time and motivation, there's nothing preventing them from still enjoying the art and gaining benefits. I have friends who have practiced BJJ for 20 years and haven't made it past purple belt.

    I will concede that certain techniques exist which require athleticism beyond what many people will be able to accomplish. I practiced Capoeira for a while. I can still execute some of the flashy high kicks, but I'm no longer working on the moves which require balancing on your hands because my wrists are too arthritic and have bone spurs. If I had started 20-30 years earlier I probably would have been able to master those. If rank in your system requires mastering these kind of moves then some people will be excluded from that rank.

    I tell my students that this sort of thinking will get in the way. There are just too many details for too many techniques. I can teach hundreds of techniques and depending on how granular you want to get I could teach dozens of small details for each technique. If you try to memorize them all your brain will get overloaded quickly. Adding to the confusion, if I teach a technique and two other instructors from my gym teach the same technique we may each demonstrate those details somewhat differently. Trying to remember all those details in a fight would be impossible.

    I do teach details (although not 34 at once), but I try to drum in the idea that these details are just situational applications of a relatively small number of general principles. (This explains why I might show the technique a little differently from another instructor - we're demonstrating the technique for a different context or making different technical trade-offs as part of a larger strategy.) You learn the details as a guide to understanding the principles, then you can forget the details and just apply the underlying concepts as the context demands.
     
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  10. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Except this is precisely how TKD forms are learned.
     
  11. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    No one is perfect, right? With that said, you do have to be good and knowledgeable subjectively and objectively to advance in the dan ranks in all the arts I have studied. I haven't ran into any 3rd dan or above that didn't deserve their rank. If they aged or quit training, fine, but credible groups don't award higher dan ranks to unqualified people. Teaching by extension follows that standard. I would not hire or place someone into a instructor position if they are not technically proficient. It is not good business for starters....
     
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  12. wab25

    wab25 2nd Black Belt

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    I really like the way you put this. It applies to all arts... even those with kata / forms.

    In my experience, if you get the principles down, you will produce those details during a situation without thinking about the details. There are a ton of details that go into slipping a punch, or cutting an angle or landing a kick. There is even a time to address these details. But, if you learn the principles and understand the principles, those details should show up without having to consciously think about the details. Instead you focus on the principles and let your training provide the correct details at the correct time.
     
  13. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    At some point, you have to have learned those details. It takes time to get them all and get them all into muscle memory.
     
  14. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Agree; it seems to me the majority of this thread has been saying this very thing. You can put whatever tag you want but the qualifications will always have some exceptions and subjectivity. Even the 'hard standards' were created by an individual(s), so what came before the standard? There had to be something to start with.
     
  15. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    This a better way so describe you post rather than futile, but either works.
    I am not going to make your circular argument on proof of statements. You just quoted stats with zero source of proof.

    I can't say I have seen a kid teaching a reading class but I can roll with the analogy. Especially in that situation where age is a factor, it would be more important that the kid is a really good teacher, much more than being a really good reader. They are not synonymous. And that has nothing to do with whether the kid has a certificate and/or meets the objective requirements.

    It is worth mentioning that a person does not have to be an eloquent oral reader to fully understand what they are reading. Same can be said for MA. Again, this point has been mentioned several times in this thread.
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    this doesn’t make as much sense as you may think.
    i think reading for comprehension is way more important than being able to read out loud. Something you might consider working on.
     
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  17. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    I never said anything about exceptions, and I’ve tried to be super clear about the subjective nature of standards vs objective evaluation of those standards.

    Regarding exceptions, those can be very harmful to any ranking structure. If Harvard started giving away degrees to folks who fail to meet their standards, the value of that degree will suffer. How much is a ninjutsu black belt worth outside of the bujinkan? Better all the way around to build flexibility into the standards with an emphasis on meaningful criteria.

    The dog brothers have a pretty well established standard. So, how does one become a named dog brother? Not by demonstrations of impeccable technique in choreographed kata, two person sinawali, or light contact sparring. It’s a great example of a clear ranking system consistently applied that doesn’t get caught up in minutiae. If they started making exceptions or applying the standard subjectively, how long do you think it would take for the system to break down entirely?
     
  18. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    In general, no. It's not uncommon for, say, a 3rd geup to help a 5th geup learning a new form. It's not uncommon to have a student run the class through a drill under supervision. That's one way to help them learn to be a teacher. But I don't think it would be common practice to have a geup rank student teaching on their own.
     
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  19. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I have to agree with Tony Dismukes on teaching styles, not all TKD teaches forms the way you are describing. Semantics is the word that comes to mind.
     
  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    These are your words. This is the kind of exception I am talking about.123
     
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