Thoughts on time variance to earn black belt

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    3,210
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Belts are a Japanese invention, not western. Judo founder Jigoro Kano “invented” them.

    People didn’t wear white belts for thousands of years. The white belt is also credited to Kano, along with the gi (uniform), around the early 1900s. Before that, they wore regular clothes.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  2. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    5,365
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Southeast U.S.
    JR, is there any truth to the old lore that a person gained their 'black belt' by literally working out hard and long enough for their white belt to turn black from use?
     
  3. Parzival

    Parzival Green Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2020
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Your mom
    Damn okay, I wasn't expecting to get schooled lol
     
    • Funny Funny x 3
  4. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,478
    Likes Received:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    263
    The most believable lore I heard is that dan ranks are based on the ranks for the game Go.
     
  5. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    3,210
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Not that I’m aware of. What I’ve read, and it makes perfect sense...

    Jigoro Kano brought a group of students to train with another judo school (that school was headed by one of Kano’s top students). The head of that school asked Kano which ones were the top students so he can group his top guys with Kano’s. Kano decided to tie black fabric around their waists.

    Shortly thereafter, Kano devised the dan and kyu system. The same system (relatively) was also used in swimming and the game Go. Kyu ranks all wore white belts initially. One of Kano’s students teaching abroad (Spain or France?) introduced the various colors for kyu ranks. Kano liked it, so he implemented it across judo.

    Kano was a big influence and helper in Funakoshi bringing karate to Japan. Funakoshi adopted Kano’s kyu dan system.

    Stuff I’ve gathered from various sources. Those sources seem quite credible, as does the story itself.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    3,210
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    In the dojo
    I’ve been schooled way too many times :)
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  7. marques

    marques Master Black Belt

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,187
    Likes Received:
    380
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Essex, UK
    If belts are really meaningless, don’t worry. But if you get different training opportunities, I know very well the issue. I was able to spar competitively with high ranks (karate, Thai boxing...) but rarely given the opportunity as ‘white belt’. (Without the best part, I was dropping out soon.)

    I think everyone should be reevaluated when moving between organisations and belts within organisations should be levelled (as much as feasible).
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2018
    Messages:
    397
    Likes Received:
    219
    Trophy Points:
    198
    A lot has already been said, and I will try not to repeat points already made. This is my perspective and observations as someone with 2 years TKD experience, and previously, 3 years of Tang Soo Do.

    Despite the fact that I was a black belt candidate in Tang Soo Do with 3 years experience, because of the 3 decades plus of not training and the fact that the forms in Tang Soo Do are different from Tae Kwon Do forms, my instructor made me start over as a white belt. And that was probably for the best. I was certainly not ready to line up as a brown, high brown or probationary black belt two years ago, and may have been overwhelmed and exhausted trying to hang with higher belts in class.

    In two years, I have caught up and gone past people who were intermediate, and in some cases advanced students. Why? Well a couple of reasons. Once I shook the rust off and started to get in better shape, the muscle memory came back and I was able to absorb the curriculum faster than some other people. And, I have maintained consistency over 2 years of 3 to 4 classes per week, every week, without taking "breaks." I put that in quotes because it seems to be the favorite excuse/explanation for a whole bunch of students at my school who don't train consistently. And whether the break is short, like 3 or 4 weeks or long, like 6 months or more, these breaks tend to slow progress. Some people, like one woman I know, stay in shape through the breaks so the only obstacle to her progress is mental. Others come back noticeably out of shape, so not only do they need to catch up with the curriculum,, but they also need about 6 to 12 weeks to get back into shape before they can start to get better at MA.

    To apply these lessons to the points made by OP, if a person comes in as a black belt from another school, there are many variables to consider when they come in, such as the quality of the instruction at the old school, a difference in curriculum such that the new student has to learn new stuff such as forms or do the curriculum a different way, whether the student has kept up with his or her training, and if he or she has not, how long has the student been away. With younger people, I have noticed some pick up new things quickly while others struggle to absorb each new technique. I have seen a few children come over from other schools wearing high belts, and seen many struggle. I cannot say if it is because the old school was a McDojo, or if the student has been away from training long enough for his or her skills to erode. either way, I think it is prudent for the instructor at the new school after a week or so of evaluation to sit down with the student and have an honest discussion about where that student is compared to the students at the new school. Because while it is hard on the ego to be told that your black belt at the old school is really closer to a high green or purple belt at a new school, it is even worse to wear that black belt and struggle for months getting your butt kicked by an unfamiliar or challenging curriculum or regularly by lower belts in sparring.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
    • Like Like x 2
  9. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    5,365
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Southeast U.S.
    Very well said and BIG Kudos to you for doing this.

    I do exactly what you describe. I meet with every new/old student and tell them up front what I think they need to expect. I will never take a someone's black belt (or any belt) unless they choose to start back at a lower level After a week or so I circle back and see if their viewpoint has changed. Typically three things happen; they give up and stop working out (maybe because ego got in the way), they keep their belt and suck it up for a while, or they start back at lower belt and sometimes jump test if they are deserving.
    There is value in the latter two from different perspectives.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2019
    Messages:
    496
    Likes Received:
    381
    Trophy Points:
    218
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    QUOTE="JR 137, post: 1989256, member: 33527"]adopted Kano’s kyu dan syste[/QUOTE]

    Okinawans wore hardly any clothes until 1930 or so. The old photos I've seen have them in just shorts and maybe a tank top (it is hot and humid over there.) As with the gi, the Okinawans didn't adopt the kyu/dan system till sometime later than the Japanese. The styles were not unified like the Japanese, but to help blend into their society and facilitate karate's acceptance there, they went along with the program. This was about the same time the kanji for "karate" was changed to mean empty hands instead of Chinese hands. Funakoshi may not have been particularly fond of all this Japanization, but was wise enough to go with the flow.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    3,210
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    In the dojo
    I’m pretty sure attempts were made by various Okinawan teachers to unify, or better yet have a panel to loosely govern standards. Problem was no one could agree to much, and they asked themselves why they really needed all of that anyway.

    I can’t remember where I read about that. It was 2 or 3 different previous generation guys. Gushi of Pangai Noon/Uechi Ryu I believe was one of them who spoke about it. Possibly Juhatsu Kyodo of Toon Ryu as well.
     
  12. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    3,210
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Previous post was directed to @isshinryuronin post. I tried to quote but stuff got messed up.
     
  13. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    5,365
    Likes Received:
    1,552
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Southeast U.S.
    That is one thing I can agree that Korean's have done a pretty good job of. The Kukkiwon/WT unification has been a very good thing in terms of identity and popularity. It has gotten a bit sideways over time with some of the rules changes but they are doing a good job of staying 'cutting edge' with the scoring systems/tools they use.
    I do think schools that have gone totally sport oriented have lost their 'way' (Do).
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2019
    Messages:
    496
    Likes Received:
    381
    Trophy Points:
    218
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    I'm not surprised they did not unify. The Okinawans were a feisty bunch and not as conformist as the Japanese. There is a saying in Japan: "The protruding nail gets hammered down," so not as much individuality perhaps as in the Ryukyu islands.

    The Koreans have done a great job in spreading their art in the USA. This may have been part of a grand design. I remember that in about 1973/74 there was gossip in some karate circles of a planned, organized Korean penetration into the USA commercialized school market. There was indeed a seemingly large influx of Korean "masters" opening dojangs. Not sure whether it was centrally directed, or it just happened that a bunch of TDK guys decided on their own to start schools here to make a buck.

    Your last sentence re: sport oriented schools have lost the "Do" is not a new sentiment. A couple famous karate masters expressed the same feeling in their books................in the 1930's.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    24,620
    Likes Received:
    7,233
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    A thought on this side-thread: if I was the instructor (I don't know what yours did, so this is nothing to impugn their choices), I'd have offered her to drop down in rank to not have that feeling, to train in lower classes while retaining her rank, or some other option to get up to speed and feel like her rank matches others'. Feeling like you don't deserve the rank you're wearing in class is no fun.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    24,620
    Likes Received:
    7,233
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I have to disagree with the premise in this, DV. She probably gained a lot of confidence in the long run, but suffered quite a bit of humiliation (early on) and lack of confidence over time. It's good that she stuck it out, but that doesn't mean she didn't deal with some **** in her head for quite a while. I've seen similar when folks joined our dojo from other schools. One of them, my instructor had me give him weekly private lessons for a couple of months to get him up to speed to retain his rank.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    3,210
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Going by memory a of few brief things that were said on the topic...

    I think the unification was more of a common curriculum to teach kids in school than anything else. That and I believe a panel for dan ranking and recognition of ryuha/schools. Miyagi in his very few written texts wrote about this too.

    Evidence of the attempt of a common curriculum is the Gekisai/Fukyu kata co-developed by Miyagi and the other high profile person who constantly escapes my memory in this discussion.

    I think the common school PE curriculum was the biggest driver and what held it together for the time it did, but ultimately it just went away. Maybe WW2 had something to do with it? I don’t have a timeline, so I could be way off. Probably not because I think Gekisai/Fukyu was close to Miyagi’s death, which was after WW2.
     
  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    24,620
    Likes Received:
    7,233
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Man, I'm 12 years old sometimes.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  19. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,162
    Likes Received:
    3,210
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    In the dojo
    It never gets old. :)

    And guys don’t grow up; we just get older.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  20. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,478
    Likes Received:
    1,303
    Trophy Points:
    263
    "Men don't grow up, we just learn how to act in public." That's the way I always heard it.

    I remember a while back, when I worked as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store. I was helping a lady to her car, and she was telling me about her three young boys and how all they care about is burps and farts. I said "in about ten years they'll add girls to the list, and then that's all the growing up they'll ever do."123
     
    • Funny Funny x 1

Share This Page