What a black belt really is

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by PhotonGuy, Dec 18, 2013.

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  1. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I am guessing you have not been in a large(r) school.
     
  2. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    Well what does traditional mean then if not about sifu-student. Maybere there is something else. :jimlad::poto:
     
  3. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Okay, cool, thanks for that. Small history lesson for you... as well as an overview of what ranking was actually designed to be, largely from a Japanese point of view (considering that's where "belt ranks", "black belt" etc all come from... Chinese systems that you're referencing will be included, but to a far lesser degree... hopefully you'll see why).

    Let's start by looking at the various forms of rank, and how they have been developed, what they represent, and why they are applied. In essence, there are three approaches that can be considered "rank" (although technically only two are... they other is more akin to a title, which is linked to, but not actually, rank itself). These are Menkyo (licensing), Dan-i (level-development), and Shogo (title).

    The first (oldest) of these forms is Menkyo. This form of ranking is common in classical arts (Koryu), and in it's simplest sense, a method of licensing students at various stages in their progress in a school, to ensure that there is consistency in the transmission of the information and methods. While this concept varied in execution from system to system, with more or less licences gained, and differing levels of authority allotted at various levels (for example, some systems would give teaching authority at a mid-licence point, others earlier, and others only when achieving the full licence level), the basic idea was the same; a student entered a school, and over time would be awarded a junior, then middle, then high level licence, eventually a full licence, indicating that the student has learnt all the lessons of the school.

    So what does this ranking mean? A Menkyo licence indicates the level to which a student has progressed through an education... it can be seen as similar to graduating from various levels of schooling; kindergarten, primary school, high school, university, post-graduate, PhD doctorate. The advantage is that one can get a sense of the level of education (in a school) that a person has attained... but their application of that knowledge is not guaranteed. To put it another way, two people who have graduated from the same university aren't necessarily going to have the same ability to put their education into effect... which takes us to the second major approach to rank...

    Our second form of ranking is the most commonly thought of when discussing this topic, and is known as Dan-i ranking. This is a modern form of rank, originating in the Kodokan (Judo) in the late 19th Century, and is represented by a number of coloured belts in most cases. This approach to rank divides itself into two major groupings, kyu (student) grades, and Dan (senior - literally: levels) grades, each then further subdivided into a number of degrees, counting down for kyu grades, and back up for Dan. While it's not uncommon to have 10 subdivisions each, there really is no standard, and is dependent on the organisational body in question. Unlike a Menkyo system, though, the progress through the ranks here are less about knowing the systems syllabus, and is instead about applicable skills. It's original application in Judo is based on the performance of the individual in competitive bouts, and once you have reached the first of the Dan ranks, you have often learnt the vast majority of the curriculum and methods of the school in question... in fact, by Sandan (third dan), you've reached the virtual pinnacle of technical knowledge, and from that point onwards, most rank is tied to the practitioners contribution to Judo itself.

    Over the course of the beginning to middle of the twentieth century, this became almost the "standard" of having standards... being widely adopted by pretty much all modern martial arts, whether Japanese or not. Karate (Okinawan), Tae Kwon-do (Korean), and more have all adopted the idea of coloured belts divided up into kyu and dan ranks (gup and dan in Korean arts), and even many Chinese and Indo-chinese arts have adopted similar ideas, often incorporating various colour "sashes" into their systems to indicate rank and development... even giving them the image of being "traditional"... but the reality is that they are a modern adaptation, or even a modern alteration to some older systems. Even the approach used by Judo, where the concept originated, has developed much further from it's foundation, and further from the way it was first implemented by Kano-sensei.

    So what does this ranking mean? Ideally, a Dan grade is about how well a student can apply the lessons of their art (with the kyu grades showing how much of the system the student has attained skills in), although the ways of measuring that can obviously vary greatly from one art to another... and has a more realistic application in modern sports-based arts. In this sense, the higher ranked a practitioner, the "better" they should be in applying said skill... but it doesn't mean they know much... only that they can apply it. Of course, this is only up to a point, as with age and injury, physical skills can begin to diminish (which is why Judo tends to "rank out" at Sandan on a physical level). Beyond that, it can be more political than anything else... which is also where the third form comes into it.

    The third form of ranking is typically applied in conjunction with Dan-i ranking, specifically at the higher Dan levels, and are known as Shogo titles. These titles are a synthesis of the two previous forms, being able to be attained only with the appropriate Dan grade, while also granting certain authorities and responsibilities, similar to the licensing of the Menkyo system, affording teaching authority, up to governing authority in some cases. This form of ranking was initially designed to be applied after exhausting the Dan grades, when the highest rank in the then Dai Nippon Butokukai (which would become the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei) governing early Kendo (still referred to as Kenjutsu, or Gekiken) was 5th Dan. The titles are Renshi, Kyoshi, and Hanshi, with some organisations also adopting Shihan as an entry title (although not officially a Shogo title), with each conferring teaching authority and hierarchal seniority.

    So what does this ranking mean? Shogo titles are used to grant seniority at high Dan rankings... although they exist separately to the Dan system, meaning that a practitioner can be a relevant Dan grade, but not hold the Shogo title, it is not a situation where one can hold the Shogo title without also holding the relevant Dan grade. At this level of Dan, however, a practitioner is, by definition, much older, with age requirements also coming into play with Shogo, so they might not be able to consistently perform as they did when younger in competition... so the Shogo titles are ways of rewarding and acknowledging other skill development, such as teaching, mentoring, organisational skills, and contributions to the art.

    As you can see here, "traditional" rankings are not dan grades, belts, or anything similar... and the idea of a belt being "traditional" is a common, but not accurate one... especially when applied to non-Japanese systems who have simply adopted their approach, or at least adopted a facsimile of it.
     
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  4. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    Wow what a long response, thanks for explaining and taking 2 hours to type up something we all know already, and exactly what I was referring to. Who are you trying to confuse? :p
     
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  5. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    And why are you so offended by me saying traditional means something that is passed down from authentic sifu to student. Are you nuts? :dummy::dummy::dummy:


    Anything more to Share? :kiss::mask::walkingdead::watching:
     
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  6. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Son, a word of caution... you're new here (welcome aboard, by the way), but from reading your posts, you're really out of your depth in this conversation... and I'm not offended, your take on the idea of "traditional" isn't an uncommon one... so I figured I'd provide more context and understanding to the conversation.

    Let me be clear. There is nothing "traditional" about a sifu (Chinese martial arts) awarding a black belt (Japanese martial rank), and it is not something "passed down"... you're describing a modern affectation applied across culturally disparate approaches. And frankly, I genuinely doubt you "already knew" what I posted... as it showed your understanding to be incorrect.
     
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  7. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    Mate, your a dribbler calling people "Son" on the Internet. Like anyone knows you lol.

    Chinese and Japanese both follow traditional values. So you were incorrect from the start. Where is your common sense?

    "There is nothing "traditional" about a sifu (Chinese martial arts) awarding a black belt (Japanese martial rank), and it is not something "passed down"."
    What kind of comment is this? It seems your knowledge only limited to the internet, since you are good at copying and pasting.

    BTW you have unintentionally mixed chinese sifu to japanese which is one big LOL. your as dumb as bricks my friend, or is it, "!SON!??1"" , so funny
     
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  8. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    More fake instructors, quasi . not Proven, not tested, and addicted to copy and paste antics. :oldman:
     
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  9. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah... you're not long for this place, are you? You may note I was part of this thread when it started 7 years ago... you've been here for a couple of weeks (and apparently lied about your profile? Cool......)... but "no one knows me"... right.

    Let's be clear. You are the unknown property here, and you've so far spent your time antagonising members, and now staff (nice move)... now moving onto directly insulting them. Yes, I called you "son". Your profile states your'e 28... so I've been training longer than you claim to have been on this earth... and it was used to highlight that (of course, you've stated that that's a false age... which might be against the terms of service you agreed to, by the way... might want to check into that...)... in addition, you have not actually said anything of value in this thread (not a huge problem, except for your attitude in receiving a response), now saying such bizarre things as "Chinese and Jamaese both follow traditional values", which is about as much a non-statement as you can come up with...

    Check the arts I train in (in my profile). Then talk to me about traditional.

    Oh, and for the record, that text was largely "copy-pasted", yes... from an email I sent my students. I think copy-pasting myself is fine, yeah?

    Oh, and if you would be so kind as to point out where I "unintentionally mixed Chinese sifu to Japanese", it'd be appreciated... as I think perhaps you're a bit off base in your reading... to put it mildly...
     
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  10. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    It's not the age I am for the reason to avoid running into copycats-fraudalents-and charlatons, I feel sorry you mate. Which apparently I have all but ran into (See it worked ;)).!

    Why do you feel the need to copy and paste a message anyway, when I am not your student? And suprised why would anyone want to be seeing your behaviour after that. Do you even have Any "students"? You are atagonized over a Forum? U show zero degree in any knowledge of fighting just by how upset you are over a forum post. Truth hurts.
     
  11. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    Chris Parker the big shot, I will ask about you to my friends in Hong Kong circle. If nothing comes back, word of caution, good luck. Give them a call now
     
  12. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    So... you decide that I'm a "fraud and charlatan", based on..... what? And your friends in Hong Kong are exactly no connection to anything I do, so... what?

    Let's be absolutely clear.

    You have no idea who you're talking to, and apparently feel you're important for some reason. These are not good things. And frankly, you have not shown anything to even justify your claims or attitude.

    I wish you the best of luck, as I don't feel you're going to be here much longer...
     
  13. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    @FinalStreet , so what is your point to this current line of thinking? What are you trying to get across?
     
  14. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    See now you want to remove me because you accidentally expose yourself.

    We call that "removing the threat". You are the biggest loser I've seen. As soon I check into you you panic and want "me" removed, wonder why ;););). Is that self defense?
     
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  15. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah... you seem to have some issues with reading... I'm not threatening your status here, I'm warning that you're headed to a ban... consider it a friendly warning if you want... but this is not doing you any favours. Oh, and look all you want... hell, I invited you to look into my arts using the links in my signature... trust me, I have no problems with people checking that out. There is no "exposure" here, other than your attitude... which, if I was to make some comment on, would indicate more projection on your side than anything else......
     
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  16. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    When do you invite me? Everybody
     
  17. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    There you go.
     
  18. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    Everybody can you constantly edit posts like a baffoon, contradict yourself in each post and practically every sentence, and kind of in a strange way you don't want to be clear in what your saying and playing some lame faggy blame-game on the internet. haha
     
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  19. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Dude. You're barking up the wrong tree here. There are a lot of people who use this forum who are exceptionally knowledgeable and Chris is definitely one of them. Choosing to argue with Chris about Japanese martial history is akin to arguing with Oppenheimer about the development of the A-Bomb. It's possible to lose money betting on Chris' information; but not likely.

    Beyond that, you should know that Asian cultures aren't the only ones to develop sophisticated martial systems, nor are they the only ones to apply sundry "ranking" systems based on abilities or related skills.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  20. FinalStreet

    FinalStreet Orange Belt

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    YOU CANT CHECK TRADITIONAL FROM THE PERSON CLAIMING IT'S TRADITIONAL. IT HAS TO BE GIVEN. You are an Idiot.!!.

    Amateur123
     
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