students declining rank

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by jarrod, May 16, 2009.

  1. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    i was wondering if anyone else runs into this. i teach gi & no-gi grappling under the shingitai jujitsu umbrella. some of my students mostly attend one class or the other, but i promote the no-gi guys the same even though they don't wear actual belts.

    a few of them have declined promotions that i gave them. not like "no sensei, i'm not worthy!" or anything like that. in most cases, they simply tell me that money is tight (our promotion fees are very low but we do have them) &/or they're just not concerned with rank advancement.

    the recent MT Magazine article about abolishing belts got me thinking about this topic. i wonder if we're seeing a natural evolution of students being more concerned with performance rather than with external rank. i think many folks at this point have seen enough black belts of one sort or another get smashed by unranked individuals that it has made an impression on them.

    as an aside, tonight one of my students who declined his green belt took my back & stayed there for about a full minute, then nearly locked my arm with a juji gatame. he also tapped my brown belt, who is no joke. i was so proud!

    jf
     
  2. Cirdan

    Cirdan Senior Master

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    I think declining rank from your instructor is disrespectful. I mean, do people really think they know better?
     
  3. myusername

    myusername Brown Belt

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    Reading the original post I would have to disagree with you in this specific case. Firstly, if a student is declining because money is tight and they can not afford the promotion fees then there is no disrespect intended there, the student is just being honest and it is a sign of respect that despite their financial situation they are still budgeting to attend regular training.

    Secondly, I can understand the refusal if they are attending a class that does not require a student to have attained a particular grade in order to learn the next technique. If there is a flattened syllabus and grading is an optional extra then there is no disrespect in not wishing to partake in grading.

    Also, on a seperate issue there is a student in my TKD class that has remained at Blue Belt for nearly two years despite encouragement from our instructor for her to go for gradings. She has very low self esteem and confidence, her declining the next grade is not due to any disrespect towards her instructor but more of an irrational fear that she is going to embarrass herself. She has faith in her instructor but no faith in herself.

    There may be many personal reasons why someone does not grade and I think it would be unfair to be overly judgemental.

    I personally love to grade! It is very satisfying for me to put on the next colour!
     
  4. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    i'm of two minds about it. yeah, it would be great if they were as proud to receive rank from me as i am to receive it from my coach. on the other hand, i'm glad to see them focused solely on development without fixating on my approval.

    another factor i just thought of is that we originated as a freestyle submission grappling club before i received my coaching credentials from the shingitai jujitsu association. some of that lack of formality certainly stayed with us as we became a jujitsu school.

    jf
     
  5. Thems Fighting Words

    Thems Fighting Words Green Belt

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    After reading a different thread, I'd say that declining a rank in competitive arts such as BJJ can be viewed badly by other competitors. If your students want to remain and compete at a lower rank than their skills entail other competitors may view it as some kind of unfair loading. Look at it this way, if an instructor level wu shu (or other acrobatic demo style) practitioner decided to compete at much lower grade level contests, would you consider it unfair on their opposition who are actually at the skill level they were competing in? If it's financial however, then there really isn't much anyone can do.
     
  6. myusername

    myusername Brown Belt

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    Good point, I hadn't thought about it from the competition angle. If a students motivation to refuse to grade is to attempt to get an unfair advantage in tournaments then that is unethical and should be discouraged.

    In Jarrod's case it seems that he runs an informal school where gradings are optional. When I looked into kickboxing a while back I visited a school such as this where gradings were offered but hardly anyone took them up. You were measured by your performance in the ring not by the belt around your waist.
     
  7. jarrod

    jarrod Senior Master

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    that's a good point & i have the same opinions about sandbagging. to clear the air though, one decliner is non-competitive, the other only competes in MMA. but i agree, sandbagging is BS.

    jf
     
  8. searcher

    searcher Senior Master

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    It really does depend on what their underlying reasons are for declining the rank. If it is money, then so be it. If it is a lack of concern for attaining actual rank, then so be it. Everyone has their own reasons for training and we should not try to change them.


    It is not desrespectful, it is just how some want to live.

    And on the second part of your post, I hope you are being sarcastic? I have had parents and adults that think they know what is best for my class and some have even tried to tell me how to run it. I ask them why they brought their kids or themselves to my school if they know better. They have no reply.
     
  9. Big Don

    Big Don Sr. Grandmaster

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    The thought that comes to my mind:
    Don't be humble, you aren't that great.
    You could tell them that...
     
  10. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    I've seen BJJ guys who were "sandbagging" at a lower belt rank to rack up more wins at that division.
     
  11. astrobiologist

    astrobiologist Brown Belt

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    Rank is really only important for the instructor and student. If the student wishes to remain at whatever rank they are, then so be it. It's really not that important that they advance. I understand the competitive aspect you are all talking about, so in that case it may seem unfair for a student to remain at a lower rank, but if it is about personal finances or a student's wish to be the best at a certain level that they can be then I say let them stay where they are. We can offer advancement, they don't have to accept it.
     
  12. rocksham

    rocksham Orange Belt

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    rank is an artificial measure and not accurate
     
  13. still learning

    still learning Senior Master

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    Hello, The purpose of ranking is just a measure of skills learn. Rank is for the teacher and student to see progress.

    A student declining rank...his choice....the teacher can still post it on his records for measurement purpose. and the student does not need to wear a rank.

    Today a ranking in martial arts has lost some respect because so much is just giving away. ....just for showing up and money paid!

    For teachers that do promote ranking? in there system...declining can be consider disrespectful too! to the teacher and system itself.

    Declining is a self-fish decisions on the student...should look at it as an honor to those who believe in his achievments

    Aloha
     
  14. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Not accurate for what purpose?

    If the teacher's standards are reasonably consistent, it's a valid assessment within that school. In some associations, the rules and requirements are consistent enough that you can reliably state that a fuchsia belt in one school is similarly skilled to one in another school within that association.

    In some styles, a given belt means that you reliably defeat people of lower ranks, and give equal ranks some challenge and hold your own.

    Yes, rank is artificial. But you're going out on a pretty deep limb by saying it's inaccurate without saying what it's inaccurate for.
     
  15. Josh Oakley

    Josh Oakley Senior Master

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    Personally I think it's disrespectful, generally to refuse rank. It's one thing to say you can't afford it, But another thing to refuse rank. I'll be honest, I've never cared even one iota about rank. But when my instructor says to go test and I do my damnedest to represent him well. When we test, we don't test under our instructor, but instead we test under our instructor's instructor. The respectful thing for me to do is give a good showing for him, whether I care about the belt itself or not.
     
  16. Korppi76

    Korppi76 Green Belt

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    I have declined ranks for few times. They all have been things where I have trained with some arts senior teacher and for some reason (timetable, moving etc) I have had to stop training with him and he has told me that I can have some rank if I like. (usually some green or blue belt.)

    My friend was offered 2.Dan if he would start another art.

    And for my "sidearts" which I don't focus fully I usually dont grade ranks. (expect one or two you get from "basic course")

    All these have been martial arts which I haven't compete.

    I also have seen few people who wont grade unless they think they can do test "perfectly".
     
  17. Cirdan

    Cirdan Senior Master

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    A bit sarcastic perhaps. I see second guessing your Sensei`s evaluation of skill just as disrespectful as questioning the training methods.
     
  18. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    The only real problem I see is for competition purposes.

    Regarding MMA, at our school, you have to be at least a blue belt in BJJ to fight MMA... so at least that one rank is important to the fighters.
     
  19. dnovice

    dnovice Blue Belt

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    sheesh.... If you have to pay to advance in rank I wouldn't rank too. I feel it takes away from the value of the rank; it cheapens it.
     
  20. Grenadier

    Grenadier Administrator Staff Member

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    Why are they declining the promotion? If they're doing it for a financial reason, then work something out with them. Maybe tack on a few extra bucks each month, so they can gradually pay for it, or offer them an exam in return for some dojo work, etc.

    If your fees are reasonable, then the "money is tight" excuse can be countered if they're willing to work it out.

    Are they declining rank for "honor" purposes? If so, then maybe it's time to remind them that as they gain more experience and seniority, that the others are going to look up to them as sempai, and that they should take the advancement for the good of the group as a whole. The way I see it, if someone has demonstrated that they can perform all of the techniques and requirements for a particular rank, and if they've fulfilled the required number of hours, then they should test, so that they can start learning new material. There's nothing to be gained from holding them back, regardless of whether they requested it or not.

    Are they declining for competition purposes? If so, then that's simply sandbagging. I saw some of this at various tournaments throughout my lifetime, where you had novices doing kata from the Shitei or Tokui lists, instead of doing what they were supposed to do. Thankfully, the USA-NKF has a new rule forbidding such practices now, but to me, that's sandbagging.

    If someone's technique is that good, and if they can perform such good techniques when doing Shitei or Tokui kata, then they should have been promoted to at least intermediate (brown belt) before such an event.123
     

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