What a black belt really is

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

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  1. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    It's that backward thinking old school nonsense where people still believe nonsense like you can't look an instructor in the eye or you have to shine his shoes before class or clean his toilet or whatever stupid myth instructors brainwash into their students.

    It's not disrespectful in the slightest it's enquiring for your own knowledge of what's happening. I've done it plenty of times

    I hear a gradings coming up. End of class I go up to instructor and the conversation goes one of 2 ways

    1) me: hey am I good to go for the grading at the next test?

    Instructor: yes you are

    Me: cool cheers


    2) me: hey am I good to go for the grading at the next test?

    Instructor: no not this time

    Me: cool cheers


    Sometimes I wouldn't need to ask because I already knew but when I didn't I asked because......well it's common sense to ask if you don't know something
     
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  2. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    You make some good points but Im waiting to hear from MJS, I wonder of he still posts here.
     
  3. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I haven’t seen him here in a good while. He may pop in once in a while.

    @MJS how are you doing? What’s happening?
     
  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Nobody can define what a black belt is that would hold for every system or every school out there.

    I think the problem is that for a lot of people, rank has become the goal, the prize, the destination.

    Instead, it should simply be a mile marker, an evaluation of skill and knowledge along the journey.

    As such, I think there is an argument against tests, and against the student being able to decide if they want the rank or not. Instead, when the teacher decides the student’s skill and knowledge reaches a level of a particular rank, then the instructor simply recognizes that fact and gives the rank. No need to test for it, as that skill and knowledge is evident in their regular training sessions. And a student does not get to say “oh I’m happy with the rank I already had, I don’t want a higher one”. Well no, your actual skill and knowledge is higher than that, so we don’t pretend otherwise. You are now at the next rank. End of story.

    Of course this scenario assumes that class sizes are small enough that the instructor has a meaningful relationship with each student and knows where he/she is in their development. It also eliminates the huge cash cow of testing fees and all the seminars and bringing in guests to oversee the test and all the extra fees and income that goes along with that. And for a lot of schools, that won’t fly because their business model depends on it.
     
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  5. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    He hasn't posted in about 3 years...don't think it's likely that you'll get a response from him. Unless maybe he got an email alert from flying crane.
     
  6. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Well there is no clear cut definition of what a black belt is, the standards vary from dojo to dojo as to what a student has to do to be a black belt at whatever dojo they train at.

    Well for some students reaching the rank of black belt is definitely a goal, that doesn't mean its the goal as in the one and only final goal in the martial arts, no matter what your rank you can always get better, you can always learn more. But for some students it is a goal. Not all students might have that goal but some do and there is nothing wrong with that.

    And I've said this before but I would like to point it out again that black is not always the highest belt color depending on the style you train in and the instructor you train under.

    Yes, although I believe it is a crucial mile marker to reach if you want to go far in the martial arts, provided that the main style you train in has a black belt. Just my opinion.

    That depends on your instructor and whatever system they use for rank advancement. Every school and every instructor has their own system for rank advancement and they vary quite a bit. If you've trained at multiple schools as I have you would know this.

    If you run your own school you can use whatever system you want.

    Well your idea would be harder with a large school and yes schools are businesses because, after all, instructors have to make livings too.
     
  7. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes there is, a black belt is a strip of some material worn around the waist, that is black in color.

    A black belt martial artist has a definition as well-it is a martial artist who has earned a rank signified by a strip of cloth worn around the waist, that is black in color.
     
  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Are you educating me?
     
  9. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    The issue with this idea comes when a large style or organization comes into play.

    I could have 10 students, and meaningful relationships with all of them. 3 of them go on to teach and have 10 students and meaningful relationships again. But student 1 requires a higher level of expertise before a certain rank (let's go with BB) than student 2, because he feels that's where he was at when he earned BB. Student 3 thinks he was at a lower ability level than both, so he gives BB at a lower expertise level than all of them. Now a student of Student 3 goes to train at Student 1's school, and is being expected to keep up with a pace that he is not at, and given less instruction, because the people at the school see his rank and assume his level. Then either don't realize it, which is a disservice to the student, or they figure it out, and everyone is just scratching their heads trying to figure out what's going on.

    If instead I had set up a test for all my students to take, when student's 1 2 and 3 branch off, they have concrete criteria for someone earning black belt-they have to be able to perform x, y and z, do 30 of a punch in b time, and understand concept's c and d. Possibly also be able to teach up to green belt and have positive feedback from their students. Now if someone from student 3 goes to student 1's classes, there's no wasting time trying to figure out his skill level, and he can jump right in.
     
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  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well, this gets into another tangent that I have talked about in the past. There are kind of two parts to my point.

    First, why do we need big organizations to oversee people? Why do (the proverbial) you believe that you are so much wiser to dictate how others teach, or to insist that other teachers maintain a sameness? In my opinion, there is a lot of needless “empire building” going on and I believe that a lot of the time it is connected to ego. If you don’t feel you can trust your student to teach to standards that make sense, then don’t give him authority to teach. If you have given him authority to teach, then you need to be willing to let go of the control, and let him teach as he sees fit. If there are discrepancies between the standards that your students uphold, well so what? You can’t control everything in life. Sometimes ya gotta be able to let go.

    The second point I make is that all the higher dan rankings that establish teacher levels are nonsense. I honestly believe that there ought to be two levels of black belt, and that is it. The first is black belt, non-teacher. This is based purely on skill. The second is black belt, with teaching authority. This person can teach and promote, all the way up to teacher rank. These two designations could be given simultaneously, or one might feel that a person merits the rank based on skill, but needs some further guidance to become an effective teacher. Ok, then the ranks are done, no more chasing rank. If someone at that level craves more rank, then he doesn’t deserve the rank he has. And it’s time to let go of control, and let that new teacher make his own choices in teaching.

    This does not mean that there isn’t room to acknowledge those who are more experienced and have more to teach. A teacher can still learn and develop, and ought to respect and acknowledge his lineage and those who taught him. But new rankings are done, no more carrots to chase, and no micro-managing and empire building. And none of this nonsense of, well I’m 5th dan and I can only promote to two dan grades below me, nonsense, except for the egomaniac who promoted himself to 10th dan and does whatever he wants.

    But, I digress.
     
  11. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Im talking about the rank of first degree black belt, not the physical belt that serves as a symbol of the rank, that should be obvious enough.
     
  12. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Apparently so.
     
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  13. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Organizations do make certain things easier. In my above example, with my students branching out, it's not necessarily even a direct organization. But they learn the same style, so it's easier if someone moves and wants to continue training in that style to pick up where they left off by having an actual curriculum. Not necessary, but can definitely help.

    This is something I've thought a bit about, and essentially my response is that black belt is pretty arbitrary (aka the initial point of this thread lol). So you comparing ranks up to black belt might be the same as my ranks after black belt. So what you consider a brown belt might be my 3rd degree black, and as their still learning and improving their abilities there's still a differentiation there. If you view black belt as mastery, then I agree with you, but not everyone does.
     
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  14. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I was making a joke, with the first part. The second part was my actual reply.
     
  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Reality checking at the very least. We all need it to stay relative.
     
  16. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Happiness vs fulfillment.

    The idea of a belt system is that it is more important than your current desire for happiness.

    Want to be happy? Then sleep in eat the pizza.

    Want that black belt? Then go drag your *** out of bed and train.

    If the second option makes you a better person as well as a black belt then the system works. Wear that belt with pride because you have earned it.

    If there is a massive organization that also recognizes your achievement so much the better.
     
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  17. PhotonGuy

    PhotonGuy Senior Master

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    Alright well in regards to your second part, even then the definition varies tremendously as the skill level and any other requirements needed to earn the rank varies tremendously from school to school.
     
  18. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

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    I agree with your entire post, except for your "old school nonsense" reference. It is nonsense, but it is not old school. What you describe is an idiotic egomaniac taking advantage of his students. Old school sensei are humble and respect their students. Asking students to help clean their own school is not out of line. They should have a sense of ownership and belonging in regards to their dojo - an esprit di corps. Done properly, the students learn humility, respect and responsibility, not only to the dojo, but each other as well. It was once the purview and initiative of the senior students to organize such an activity, much as an army company sergeant would take it upon himself to have the recruits police the barrack area. Of course, there were sad exceptions to the rule, but by and large, "old school" ways and sensei were a positive force for the student.
     
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  19. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    This is pretty close to what I set up in my curriculum. BB is just a terminal rank. Teaching certification is another thing (indicated by a stripe on the belt). The only difference is I added another level for those who have shown they can train teachers (so are able to promote to teacher), since this is a different skill from teaching the MA (just as teaching MA is a different skill from the MA itself).

    Mind you, that's all theoretical. At the rate I'm going, it's unlikely anyone will ever get any of those (including the BB) from me.
     
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  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Keep swinging brother.
    It is surely strange times right now but I believe we are coming out of it. It will require some modified thinking in the way(s) we train for a while. Within this we may even find some better ways to train and/or reinforce that the old ways are the best ways.123
     
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