Thoughts on time variance to earn black belt

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

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I like that progression of "lures", if you will. Within the association I came up in, it lacked that. It took long work to get to BB, and 2nd degree was only achievable by active instructors with their own students, so 1st was a "terminal degree" for most.
     
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  2. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    That is decent of you to take people at their word when you have nothing else to go. I feel that can be very dangerous and it is just not in my nature.

    A good example; if I can see a persons alleged rank and alleged age, that alone may quickly tell they are lying. Trying to navigate just theses two variables with the difficulties of communication on a worldwide site can at times be impossible.
    So I look for proof from more than one source.

    When I started as a LEO, every officer had to take a rather grueling psychological profile test. Each person 'learned' what their personality supposedly was. Mine was skeptic an investigator. That was a surprisingly accurate description of me. I am always not only looking for the answer but for proof that supports the answer.

    I/we have been able to tell for some time you are very confirmation driven. Rank is important to you. However, I have never seen anything I can use as proof. Like your schools website. Your business particulars, Life story, etc...
    Yes, these are ancillary but certainly help.
    It is awesome to hear/read about young, excited, motivated people who have goal to continue their art.
    I know it is frustrating for you to hear people tell you your training has been a narrow path so far but it would be a dis-service not to tell you the truth. Frankly, I 'hear' gaps in you training indicative of many schools I have been to that have bad gaps in the curriculum. Usually caused by the teachers lack of knowledge/experience or poorly formatted program. Since I cannot see/hear/feel anything you do all I have to go on is what I read. So it is very hard to disseminate.
    Last Wednesday I traveled about 150 miles to inspect and eventually purchase a 15' flexwing mower. I met the company owner's son and we spend about an 1hour in a "snow storm" (a funny TN weather story)checking out the machine. The owner of the company, Mr. Jim Rice was not there but his son called him and in about 15 minutes of conversation and haggling we made a deal. It was truly a virtual handshake. I wrote a personal check, which he folded up and put in money bag and loaded up a $16,000 piece of equipment.

    My point to that story is that there a things you can immediately learn in an oral conversation that are hard to impossible pick up on when on a forum. Most of it was just my normal personality but I made sure I created a confidence where Mr. Rice believed/knew he could trust me. Side note: he had just been stiffed on a similar sale where the person wrote a personal check to the tune of $7.000.

    I hope this sheds insight. It got a little rambly.
     
  3. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    By in large, it feels to me that the Belt scale is shifting. Somewhat akin to the way certain 'social norms' have over the last two decades.
    I see a small amount of good in this but mostly bad. I worry that we are nearing the point where 'achieving 1st Dan' will not have very much meaning and loose it's strength as a good and usable goal. I worry that Way too much of the changes I have seen in progression is overly effected by the imbalance of child (<16) to adult practitioners in a effort to boost retention.
    I realize not all styles are following this curve but it does seem to be the predominant model.

    Conversely, you said 1st BB is a terminal degree. I take that to say for the majority of people 1st is their last or only rank. What I think I 'hear' in this is that the culture built in to practicing NGA (and your derivatives) is such that there is no issue with this type of belt progression.
    That is a very good thing. The 'speed' which todays society in learning and achieving makes it very tough to hold on to many of the traditional values. IMHO
     
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  4. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    The only way to progress from 1st to 2nd is to teach - from these and other posts that doesn't just mean helping out in class, it means having your own set of students.

    No students, no 2nd degree, ever.

    This means that someone may be excellent in the art, and very capable of much more progression - but if they have no interest in teaching (membership expansion?) then any road to further progression is barred.


    With the above, is it still a good thing?



    Not forcing an ever faster timeline through belts, yes great - go at a sensible speed that actually allows proper progression.


    Restricting progression based on willingness to be a recruiter?

    If there's no further real progression and 2nd+ are purely "service to the art" awards then meh, but if not it's an intentional exclusion of anyone who doesn't want to teach.
     
  5. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    My Master has his credentials listed on his site, and his certificates posted on the wall. Our black belts wear belts with stripes to signify the number of degrees we have. My Master posts test results after testing, which include tests after black belt. And whenever he introduces judges during testing, he'll introduce them by rank (most of the judges are 2nd and 3rd degree).

    And yet we have students who have no idea there's class after black belt. We have parents who are like "they get their black belt, and that's it, right?" Parents who are picking up their kids while black belt class is going on right in front of them.

    I explain to them that there is more after black belt. But society has put "black belt" on a pedestal, and for some reason thinks that it's the highest rank you can achieve. I don't really know what else we can do in our school for people to understand that black belt isn't the end of the journey.
     
  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    There's no inherent problem with 1st dan being the pinnacle for most, exept that it does leave off any achievements for those who like the achievement of rank (whether as a matter of approval, or simply as a thing to strive for). I see a lot of schools with a small handful of BB, all 1st dan. It seems only a handful of instructors have managed to build a program that keeps those folks interested enough to stick around long-term.
     
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  7. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    I agree. When I practiced Tang Soo Do back in the early 80s, there were relatively few 1st Dans, and no child 1st Dans. Often as a red belt or Cho Dan Bo, I was the highest ranking student in class. FWIW, and IMO at my school, 1st Dan is not as high of a rank as it was back in the early 80s at my former school, and in fact my current school's 2nd Dans are more like what 1st Dan was at my former school.

    But it is what it is. All those child students are what keeps the doors open, as there are not enough adults to support a full time commercial school.
     
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  8. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Could you clarify regarding the comment quoted above? Are you referring to your school or system, most MA schools, or are you describing what you feel to be the situation in general with martial arts schools today?

    I ask because the system I train has been largely focused on teaching adults. That was also my personal focus running a very small school, ...and I recently closed my doors. Even our association HQ has diminished in size and the chief instructor now works a second job. On the other hand, it seems that some MMA and jujitsu schools seem to do just fine focussing on mature teens and adults.
     
  9. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    MMA, BJJ, and similar arts (boxing, muay thai, etc) keep the doors open with adults because they're training for competitions. Most people who train a TMA are either self-defense enthusiasts, nerds who want to learn another culture, or kids. The vast majority of those are going to be kids.
     
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  10. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    I was referring to most of the traditional martial arts schools in my area, including my own school. There just aren't enough adult students to keep the doors open. FWIW, I don't think it is all that different for BJJ schools, but frankly I don't know for sure.

    IMO, there are a couple of reasons for this. Adult students have many demands on their time including work, school, children, and spouses, not to mention lots of options for both social and athletic activities. Unlike other recreational activities, martial arts demands a high level of commitment, mental energy, and most of all, consistency. You can enjoy, say, golf, tennis, or skiing, and stop for long periods of time, then take it up months or even years later. Alternately, if all you need is to get some exercise, you can find activities you can do whenever, such as jogging on a treadmill, stationary cycling, or weight lifting that you can do whenever. Martial arts means getting to a Dojo/Dojang on a certain time on a certain day, which isn't always possible for some people.

    Here are some real world examples of adults/older teens I knew from my school who quit this year.
    1. A guy who made probationary black belt. In some ways, he was one of my role models coming back as an adult as he was already a high level intermediate when I was a white belt. And like me, he was a bigger guy and also middle aged. And he made probationary black belt, then had to take some time off because of a back injury. Then he just never came back. Apparently, his son, who also made probationary black belt decided to do football in the fall and so dropped Tae Kwon Do. So this guy felt that while he might have the time to do TKD with his son, decided he , didn't have the time train TKD and help with his son's football practices and other activities.

    2. A guy who, like me was middle aged, and was a few belt ranks ahead of me at the beginning, but was lagging behind because his work schedule didn't give him enough time to train. He told me he intended to make more time for TKD, but then a month or so later, he abruptly quit because he said he just couldn't spare the time. I recently saw him and he is thinking about coming back, which I hope he does.

    3. A woman who made 1st Dan, who used to train with her teenage son who also made 1st Dan. Her son quit, and so after a time she decided to quit, though she told me she may come back next year.

    4. An older teen who had all the tools to make black belt, but who just became more interested in acting, and so didn't have the time to continue.

    5. A woman who also has all the tools to advance in TKD. She is tall, athletic and smart. But she told me her work schedule was getting hectic and her kids had a lot of activities she needed to help out with, so she is technically on a "break".
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
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  11. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    It has become the norm for most commercial schools; more kids than adults and the kids keeping the doors open. This is not to say the quality of instruction has diminished in all cases.

    As far as MMA; it is the 'hot new thing' right now just like TKD was in the 80's. I suspect the popularity will mellow at some point and change much of the perception. Also, most MMA is in or a component of a commercial gym. That also changes the financial dynamic. The MMA model is totally different from a TMA school.
     
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  12. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Are you speaking for NGA or another school/style?
     
  13. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    That's how I've interpreted NGA from what @gpseymour has said.

    I'm not speaking for them though...
     
  14. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    If by "progression" you mean moving further in the curriculum, there isn't any. The formal curriculum ends at 2nd dan (meaning all the curriculum is delivered prior to testing for 2nd dan). And what exists between 1st and 2nd is of questionable value, IMO, because it is so rarely visited. The rank ends (for most folks) where the curriculum ends. For those who don't wish to progress to 2nd dan (don't want to teach on their own), they really don't miss much curriculum.
     
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  15. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Many parents in many activities are this 'blind' sadly, I sent out an information form last week about a learning First Aid Day for our local Guides, got home straight after meeting to an email asking what the day was all about, what would the girls be doing.... love the kids in martial arts, Guiding and other groups but parents? Blah.
     
  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    No instructor I've ever talked with had time constraints that would help make money in any measurable way. Mostly, the time guidelines existed to set student expectations, slow down the fast learners (life lessons, not fighting lessons, in that one), and give some guidance to new instructors. In quite a few cases, the guidelines were simply estimates of how long it should take an athletic person with no direct prior experience to complete that part of the curriculum.
     
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  17. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

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    Surely, if someone has the required technical ability, their belt should reflect it - for lower belts, as that is the main requirement. For intermediates, experience in sparring, developing strategy and tactics, muscle memory, and showing some staying power come into play, so some time element is required, as well to allow "seasoning" of the student. This has nothing to do with fees or dues, it's part of the curriculum.

    Now for black belts, the landscape is different and the obstacles do require time. In addition to the above factors, polishing the techniques, understanding the applications and variations of techniques, understanding the opponent, overcoming one's ego (this alone may take many years), proving your dedication to the art and school, educating one's self on the history and philosophy of the art, learning about other styles, mastering patience and self-discipline and progressing further on the quest to perfect the techniques - these take years to accomplish.

    And after black, especially after 4th degree or so, many of the above abstract elements are the sole determiners of rank. Time spent in a rank is its own justification for the next one. Being able to wait for it (progressing beyond the desire for rank) should indeed be a requirement for not only higher belts, but to a lesser extent, intermediates as well.

    So, mandatory time is certainly in order in varying degrees from novice to post-advanced. This allows the full progression from "jutsu" to "do" - developing the art from technical science to a way of life. If most of the above seems unnecessary to you, you have a gym, not a dojo.
     
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  18. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I disagree with this. It is just the reality of sustaining a school financially.

    I cannot disagree with this more. Too often I have seen people show up after a year or two absence (because it was close to their required time) and want to test. How can this be allowed or OK?
     
  19. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Time-in-grade usually means so many hours or years of active training. Someone who gets 2nd dan and takes 2 years off shouldn't be eligible for 3rd dan until they've trained for 2 years as 2nd dan.

    Although some people are just delusional about how much time they've put in. I remember one guy at my dojang who was there maybe 3 classes a month (not even once a week). The belt he was at has 7 punch defense (among other things). He couldn't even get a handle on 1-3, and was complaining about never being taught 4-7. Well, after we moved into the advanced class, I didn't see him in class for several months. Every time I saw him bring in his kid, I'd ask when he's coming back to class. "What do you mean? I never left. I'm still here."

    Then he'd come back for a night, take the wrong class (the beginner class), stay for the advanced class, end up overdoing it and be gone for several months again. Next time I saw him, same thing. "Good to see you back!" "What do you mean? I've always been here."
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    In the NGAA, there was an "active" requirement. And they defined what broke that status, and what absence would actually lead to potential re-testing for existing rank. Being absent a year would mean they were not eligible for the next rank, and would be subject to reassessment for existing rank. At colored-belt ranks, the instructor has the option of just starting them back at white (though I've never seen that done).123
     
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