What a black belt really is

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

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  1. Cirdan

    Cirdan Senior Master

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    Indeed, I can see you are not the whining type at all.
     
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  2. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    Well, good luck. I realize that this all took place years ago and you've moved on in some respects even if you still study at the same school. My final thought is that if you've haven't managed to build a close relationship yet with your teacher, it might be a good idea to cultivate one. A lot of martial arts instruction and learning doesn't necessarily occur on the dojo floor. Sometimes, a quick comment that comes at the dinner table can have a lot of mileage if only because its something that doesn't occur to Sensei to say in the heat of training. A sensei is supposed to give you what you (figuratively - not necessarily aimed at you personally) need, even if the lesson isn't one you want at the moment. Better students will understand whether their needs mesh with what the teacher can or is willing to provide and look accordingly.
     
  3. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    So why is asking when you could test disrespectful?
     
  4. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

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    This is the bottom line, in practical terms. Unfortunately, those "in charge" may have no respect for what a black belt is supposed to mean, or have a false sense of what proficiency in TMA (in my case, karate) should mean. This is most likely due to how they were taught. Their teacher probably had low expectations, and so a downward spiral of quality is passed on. Or, the guy in charge might just put greed ahead of quality.

    In ideal terms, a black belt should mean that, whatever the style, the student should have 90% of the techniques down pat so they can be used effectively in a real life situation. This means good control, form, speed, power, balance, flow, timing, tactics and other elements that make the art actually work at a high level.
    The best way to judge this is to measure yourself against your peers, by observing other schools, or by competition, or ask other teachers to evaluate you. Walk into another school with a white belt, and the fact that you are a black belt should be quickly recognized by your peers. If not, you may need to re-evaluate the meaning of your black belt and apply yourself to improve.

    Then there are the non-physical elements that IMO should be an integral part of getting a black belt: Perseverance in overcoming weaknesses, injuries or failures, dedication, some philosophical and historical understanding of the origins of the art, a moral imperative to use the art to aid others, and so on. These are just a few random thoughts on the subject, hopefully nothing new for most of you.

    A first degree black belt is, indeed, the beginning of the road to mastering one's self and finding the art is richer than one's ego. Few new black belts are at this stage. Patience and humility are also things that usually come after that first exhilarating promotion to black as you progress in degrees. But that's where the real payoff is.
     
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  5. KenpoMaster805

    KenpoMaster805 Black Belt

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    Yes that is true
     
  6. KenpoMaster805

    KenpoMaster805 Black Belt

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    True dat
     
  7. KenpoMaster805

    KenpoMaster805 Black Belt

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    What a black belt really is

    Black Belt Means your a white Belt that didnt quit

    Also a black belt is given by the head instructor who deserve it and they have meet their requirements to earn their black belt

    It will take 5 years or so to earn a black belt if your a quick learner

    Yes its true some dont make it to their black belt they either quit or got busy

    As for me im a 3rd brown soon to be 2nd brown on thursday it took me 3 years for my 2nd Brown so i have to up it up a bit to get my 1st brown by december then next year for my black Belt earning a black belt is a must for us that's our goal to be a black belt
     
  8. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    That's such a broad claim that you just KNOW it's going to be wrong. And in fact, it IS wrong.
    Kukkiwon schools in South Korea routinely award black belts after about a year. In our Moo Duk Kwan school, average was about 8 years. My understanding is that BJJ schools average around 8-10 years.
    It's always important to remember that something may be true of your particular school without being true in the hundreds of thousands of other schools.
     
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  9. Aegis

    Aegis Purple Belt

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    Ultimately a black belt is meaningless outside your own system. there are no fixed standards for black belt, there are no standard timescales for black belts to be earned, and earning a black belt in system A doesn't necessarily mean you're at the same level as someone with a black belt in system B.

    Basically it's just a step on the overall measurement scale for the art or school in question. If the instructor has high standards for black belt, it might be that a black belt represents close to a decade of solid training and the trust of the instructor to teach the system to the next generation, while an instructor who sees black belt as nothing particularly special could hand them out after a year as recognition that their student has learned enough of the basics to now study properly.

    My view is that standards should be relatively high for black belt, largely because of how the general public has been conditioned to think that black belt = expert. As such, that means that to me a black belt should be more than capable of demonstrating and teaching pretty much any technique in the system in question, and ideally they should have a proven track record of teaching others (either as main instructor or as an assistant to the school's main instructor(s)) before testing for black belt.
     
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  10. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Horsefeathers. Neither you nor I get to tell some other system what a black belt is "supposed" to mean. It is supposed to mean whatever they say it means in the context of their system.

    There is no universal meaning to either what a black belt is or is supposed to be.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  11. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

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    I don't understand your comment. The first line of my post (that you quoted) agrees with your comment. I was clearly agreeing with your post that a black belt is whatever the system says it is. In fact, I said that was the bottom line. But I don't have to like that bottom line. I did point out some pitfalls with that reality, and I think most would agree that those pitfalls are real.

    I went on to discuss my ideals of what a black belt should be, and by reading other posts on this thread, there seems to be general agreement that a black belt should have a strong skill level in his art to maintain the integrity of the belt. All I'm really saying is that there should be high standards for a black belt, as Aegis just posted, and that you liked. So, again, I don't understand the contradiction.

    For example, if a BJJ, Karate, or Judo black belt goes into 5 other schools of the same art to work out, and all the black belts from those other schools watch him and say "WTF? Where did this guy train? Our green belts look better than that", that guy's black belt cannot have much worth among his peers in the MA world.

    Or if he enters 10 tournaments and comes in dead last each time, he should start to question his delusional skill level (instilled in him by his teacher by giving him a black belt). If that black belt is serious about his art and self respect, that realization should motivate him to seek further training somewhere and work diligently on self improvement.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
  12. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    that's part of your mistake. There aren't any pitfalls. It's just different things. Might as well discuss the pitfalls between parchment and papyrus. At least that would have some basis.

    Your opinions are another part of the problem. your opinions don't matter about the standards of someone else's system. It's their system. You don't get to say what is good or bad standards in their system. You can talk about your system. That's fine. But you can't apply your standards to someone else's system. There's no "supposed" to be. That's the point.

    Peace favor your sword ( mobile)
     
  13. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    First the instructor would have to know that the student wants to earn a black belt. I couldn't imagine an instructor, at least not a good instructor, leaving a student in the dark on purpose but before an instructor tells a student why they're not testing or promoting they would first have to know that the student wants to test or promote in the first place.
     
  14. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    To everyone in general and nobody in particular........

    Once upon a time people walked into dojos to learn how to fight, to learn how defend themselves, to learn how to get into shape, to just plain learn.

    Somehow, somewhere, people running some dojos allowed the people to focus on cloth belts of varying colors that were part of the particular costume worn. And that's exactly what a gi is, it is a costume by the very definition of the word.

    When can I test for vermilion belt, I want a new color, WAH, I want a different belt!

    For Christ sakes work harder, stop with the focus on when the next belt comes and don't be pussy whipped by the color of what you tie around your waist to keep your gi closed.
     
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  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yes. There are better and worse systems and they will have better and worse black belts.

    It is not the individual. It is the system.
     
  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    It's supposed to mean what I want it to mean. :stomps foot petulantly:
     
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  17. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    They still do.

    Well if you do have belts of different colors in your art and color represents rank at least some students are going to do some focusing on the color of their belt to some extent.

    Some people are satisfied with the color they've got, for instance an old friend of mine in a martial arts school I used to go to got to brown belt and didn't care to advance any further, he was content with a brown belt. As for me, I don't really care much for progression beyond a black belt, if I get a black belt Im content with that and I don't really care for a different belt of another color. BTW black is not always the highest color depending on the style you train in.

    I always strive to work harder and I've been that way since day 1 in the martial arts. Also at this point Im not so obsessed with the color of my belt, not with the styles Im training in now. I was going to test for my purple belt in Goju Ryu before the Coronavirus pandemic but now that the pandemic has hit my testing has been suspended indefinitely. Its not a big deal for me, I'll just resume my training at the Goju Ryu school once it opens back up and test for my purple belt when we get around to it.
     
  18. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Well there is no clear cut definition of what a black belt is. The requirements for black belt vary from instructor to instructor. Every school has its own requirements and its own levels of proficiency you need to reach for each belt, including the black belt. There is much variance.

    You're right about competition. The first martial arts school that I started to seriously train at produced students who did really well in tournaments and won lots of medals, so I knew it was a good school, not a "MacDojo" as some people on this forum like to call what they consider junk martial arts schools, and what they've sometimes called my school.

    That would depend on the style you got your black belt in and the style that the other school you walk into teaches. If you went to a school that taught a radically different style it wouldn't be so apparent that you're a black belt in your first style. For instance you said you train in a Karate style of some sort, if you were to go to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school I don't think it would be apparent there that you're a black belt in your Karate style even if you are.

    Well yes, there is the mental aspect as well. That is what part of testing is about, testing is about performance under pressure, which takes a certain amount of mental toughness and fortitude.

    You're right that the black belt is just the beginning. Although as I explained above, that the definition of a black belt student varies tremendously, there is always more to learn.
     
  19. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    So then the difference between a black belt and a white belt is that the black belt didn't quit.

    And the requirements vary from school to school. Also its not always the head instructor who gives it, every school has its own system of how students are promoted.

    That depends on the school and the standards they set. Some schools have students who earn black belts in as little as 2 years. Then there are those schools where getting a black belt can take 10 years or more.

    At least with the schools I've been to I would say most perhaps don't. Martial arts has a high turnover rate.

    Keep up the good work.
     
  20. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    In your school, yes.123
     
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