Ranks, moving, and life getting in the way?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by spidersam, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. spidersam

    spidersam Yellow Belt

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    Curious if any of you have struggled to earn a black belt/sash because life keeps getting in the way and you can’t stick to one school. My school is 7-10 years to earn your black on average. Black doesn’t mean that much to me because I just love the challenges of MA, but if I were to teach some day on the side it’s a “resume”. I have a feeling by the time I’m ready for black life will probably have me moved to another area and diff school. Thoughts and experiences?
     
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  2. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Yup. That happens. It sucks.

    The only thing to do about it is join a school with ties to a national system with schools in lots of places or who recognizes other, related, ranks.

    Judo is good at this. Most of the major Judo organizations recognize each other's ranks. Tae Kwon Do is OK at this. The 3 or 4 major orgs are pretty big and most TKD schools will recognize certain of the other orgs ranks or have options for quick advancement or skills recognition. Brazilian Ju Jitsu is pretty good at this. Most BJJ schools are Gracie lineage so rank travels pretty well. Not sure how they play with the Machado ranks. But even then, rank in BJJ is very heavily skills based and if you have the skills, rank awards come very quickly even if you come from a non-recognized lineage.

    That's one of the reasons why popular styles are popular. If you are drawn to some niche martial art, like Irish Stick fighting, Bartitsu, or Bowie Knife, then finding an affiliated school is somewhere between next-to-impossible and "you want what?"

    If moving is in your future, and you're worried about transferring rank, then choose a popular art. If you know where you might be moving check around and see what schools and orgs are in both places.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  3. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

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    just buy a black belt and present it to yourself, that will solve the issue
     
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  4. Michele123

    Michele123 Green Belt

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    Yeah that can be tough. I had just barely earned my 1st Dan in a school where it took a minimum of five years when I had to move away. At that point I was in school then graduate school, internships, etc. I was never in one place long enough to get anywhere in another style. Like you said, it’s not about getting the rank as much as actually learning and perfecting your art. It is hard to do this when you are moving around a lot and your chosen art isn’t in your new location.

    If you have an idea of where you will be moving to next, maybe check to see what styles are available both there and where you are currently? Even if they had you start over with rank, at least you’d continue working on the same style and be able to keep improving it. Otherwise, maybe try a style that is more ubiquitous so the chances of a branch being near your next location are higher?


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  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I think rank is important. It's not the most important thing, but it's not as unimportant as some people believe or pretend. I don't think it's wrong to seek rank.

    Like @lklawson said, part of the draw of major organizations (like BJJ, ATA or KKW TKD) is that there is a lot of understanding between them. Sometimes even between similar styles, i.e. we've had Shotokan Karate students come to my KKW TKD school and retain their belt, because there are a lot of similarities between the arts.

    With that said, when you go to a new school, you can talk to the master. You can ask if he can make considerations for you due to previous experience, such as:
    • Testing in at a higher belt instead of white belt
    • Allowing you to test faster than normal (i.e. if there are tests every 6 months, maybe you could do private tests every 2 months to catch up)
    • Allowing you to do skip tests (i.e. start off at white belt, but learn the curriculum for the first 3 or 4 belts and test all at once)
    • Allowing you to carry over your rank from your previous school
    Even if you don't do this, you will generally still be accelerated due to your previous knowledge. My school is a minimum of 2.5 years for black belt. Most students take 4-6 years. But those with previous experience are almost all under 3 years to black belt. My Master also gives people the choice between starting over at white belt (typically chosen by people like me who are coming off a 10-15 year haitus) or starting at their current rank (typical for people who are transferring schools).

    With all that said, if the art is completely different, then you will need to start over. For example, if you train Taekwondo for 6 years and want to transition to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you should start as a white belt.
     
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  6. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Machado lineage is Gracie lineage. The only non-Gracie BJJ lineage out there is the Oswaldo Fadda line, but those schools are rare. Even so, I think most Gracie lineage schools would accept Fadda lineage ranks.

    In general, BJJ ranks are accepted pretty universally. I've heard of a small handful of schools which won't immediately accept rank from another legitimate instructor. I think Rickson Gracie's school is one of them, but even there I think transferring students get to wear a provisional belt until they've proven themselves.

    That said, different schools do have different expectations for each rank. If you come into a new school wearing a blue belt but don't meet the local standards, you'll sit at that rank for a while getting caught up before being considered for promotion to purple. I've heard of students demoting themselves when moving to a new school with higher standards, because they want to know when they've earned the rank in the eyes of their new instructor. Some instructors will allow or encourage this, others will not.
     
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  7. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    If you told people that some 100 years old master came down from the mountain, taught you MA, and gave you a black belt. That old man then passed away. You then wear your black belt for the rest of your life. Who is going to find out whether your story is true or not?
     
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  8. spidersam

    spidersam Yellow Belt

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    This is a fair point that I’m sure many “masters” get away with, but I would feel too guilty doing that. Curse my kind soul! :angelic: :banghead:
     
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  9. spidersam

    spidersam Yellow Belt

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    Awesome responses so far thanks everyone. I study kung fu, which I don’t see myself straying from, and unfortunately it’s not quite as universal as BJJ, TKD etc
     
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  10. Rat

    Rat Purple Belt

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    Good way to avoid that is trying to find the same organization you trained with, since their belt ranks will be persistent no matter what school you go to. Mitigation would be sticking with as close of a style you can to one you have done before.

    (good look if you live in the Russian federation for that one)
     
  11. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    If you want a resume, focus on the years spent in each style, rather than the rank. If you've spent enough years training, that might sound more impressive, especially considering the styles that get black belt in 2 years.
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    And just don't go with the BB rank for yourself if it makes you feel uneasy. Choose a "non-rank" to use. I've seen folks start new styles and declare a non-rank of "head of style" that wears a red belt, for instance. I've also seen this by the heads of small but established styles who wanted to expand the range of ranks above their current rank, so they step outside the ranking (rather than promote themsleves). It's a work-around, but a reasonable one.

    Another option is to set clear standards for BB within your own style, and meet them yourself. You'd have to promote yourself that way, but at least you can feel good about knowing you didn't get it any differently than others would.

    Or ditch ranks when you start teaching.

    But, yeah, as Kirk said, it gets tough if you move around. Sometimes even if you don't. It took me nearly 13 years to get my BB, because I had intermittent periods of low activity (lots of business travel) and fairly intense training (up to 20 hours a week spent attending classes). That's compared to an average of about 7 years (and a minimum of 3.5 years, I think) within that association.
     
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  13. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Who will have more students?

    1. White belt with 24-0 tournament record.
    2. Black belt with 24-24 tournament record.

    IMO, 1 > 2.
     
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  14. spidersam

    spidersam Yellow Belt

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    This is some sound advice, thanks. I also agree with @Kung Fu Wang ’s tournament record perspective.

    I’m just curious but does anyone here teach or know anyone who teaches without a ranking system? I like the traditional simplicity of no rank, but the benefit of the ranking system is clear as for organizing students and skill levels. How do you set bars for your students without ranks? I can see having a list of forms from easy to hard and teaching each student when ready. Things like pairing up students when some are more advanced than others on throws and joint locks—I feel like it’d get tricky. Especially when some students come and go and some stay long term.
     
  15. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    In order to obtain the 2nd degree black belt from the American Combat Shuai Chiao Association (ACSCA), one has to compete in national level Shuai Chiao or Sanda tournaments and obtain at least the 1st or 2nd place. This qualification requirement will force students to compete.

    When someone joints in ACSCA, he has to commit on 2 things.

    1. He will compete in tournament.
    2. He will teach to others after he has received the 3rd degree black belt. The 3rd degree black belt is the teacher certificate.

    IMO, some nice policy can help the MA to be continued into the future generation.
     
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Yes. It's common in the Bartitsu community to not have, or award, "ranks" per se.

    A lot of the HEMA community doesn't have ranks either. When there are ranks they often mimic or loosely follow the old Company of Masters.

    I have some thoughts about ranking and whether or not you might want it.
    The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Ranking System

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  17. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I came close to ditching ranks (and also considered only having white and black). Here's what I would have done; it's theoretical, but I think it answers some of what you're contemplating. I'd have changed absolutely nothing about my curriculum, except formal testing. I'd have taught things in the same order I have them in, held onto stuff until an individual student's skill and competence made it a reasonable thing to teach, etc. The tests would still be there...just not as tests (nearly all my tests are really similar to drills I use, so I can get that information from the drills). Just no ranks.

    Of course, that removes things like earned seniority (based on rank), so I'd probably ditch some of the formalities and just have everyone bow in (same ritual) without regard to seniority. And I'd have just determined what constitutes "good enough" to be ready to learn to teach (which, incidentally, would probably be the same criteria I use now).

    My program is (and likely always will be) small, so rank doesn't serve as much of a function as it could in a large MA school. Some of this might be more complicated in that larger-school context.
     
  18. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master of Arts

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    51772162_402539360503638_2176943271064895488_n.jpg

    came down the mountain.... if untrue would be fraudulent. that has longterm negative consequences.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
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  19. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master of Arts

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    you could roll back to the Menkyo Kaiden system. teaching a technique... and award a scroll for that technique... after 15-30 years "full transmission" or kaiden scroll is issued.

    this is one way around ranking systems.
     
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  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I like it in concept, but in practice it defines an art by the techniques, rather than the principles. But a similar approach could probably be figured that is more focused on the principles.

    IMO, these scrolls are the equivalent of curriculum-based ranks, and stand in nicely for them.
     
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