What are the reasons for time-in-grade?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Point of clarification: I'm not arguing against time-in-grade. I'm just doing a sort of reverse devil's advocate. I'm asking the question to see how others will answer.

    What is the reason for time-in-grade requirements prior to a belt promotion? If you have proven competent enough to move up, but you have not yet been at your current rank for long enough, what is to be gained by staying at this rank for an extended period of time?

    For example, if there is a 2 year minimum from 1st degree to 2nd degree, and I can manage all of the following in 6 months, what is to be gained for staying 1st degree for the next 18 months?
    • Memorize the forms and any other curriculum material
    • Demonstrate techniques better than anyone at 1st degree and comparable to those at 2nd degree
    • Win more matches than I lose against 1st degree black belts and hold my own against 2nd degree
    If I can show my understanding of the curriculum, my knowledge of the techniques, and my ability to apply them competently, what do I gain by not gaining rank?
     
  2. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm a supporter of spending as much time at each rank as you can. The longer you spend at a rank, the more time you spend studying the material, and improving your understanding and ability to do that material.
     
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  3. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Now give me that answer as if I'm a teenager.
     
  4. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    You mean an answer a teenager will accept? If so, same answer. If he doesn't accept it, sucks for him.
     
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  5. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    For one thing, at higher ranks there's more to it than memorizing a form. There's a level of understanding that just plain takes more time.

    It also teaches patience, kid.
     
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  6. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    You get time to live in the present a bit.
     
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  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    My view of time-in-grade guidelines is that they serve two functions:
    1. It keeps instructors more consistent than just the technical requirements (this is linked to the second function).
    2. It forces students to do more than memorize. I have informal time-in-grade requirements (informal because I'm the only instructor, so publishing them isn't necessary). Once a student has all the material for their next rank, I put them in a holding pattern to give them time to actually develop skill in that material. I want them to experience generous portions of time where they don't have a lot of new stuff, and can focus on the basics.
    #2 is by far the more important, IMO. There is a third function, but it's something that could easily be handled by the instructor: dealing with the fast learner who needs the lesson of patience. Some folks come in and are used to learning fast and progressing faster than others. They expect it, and it bothers them when they have to slow down. They often benefit from learning not to be bothered by slowing down. These students can be absolute rock stars at each rank if they use their faster learning to progress within the rank, rather than moving to the next rank.
     
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  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll add, too, that the advantages of time-in-grade depend upon what you use rank for. If rank is used solely to identify relative skill level, then I'm not sure there's as much benefit to holding someone at a given rank. It would actually distort the indicator.
     
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  9. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    I'm not in favor of arbitrary "time in grade" requirements. EVERYTHING that has been stated in support of that has nothing to do with a time in grade requirement. As an instructor, be open that the technical requirements are only a part of the grading process and you are looking for other things as well, such as an internalization of the material. A student either has it or they don't have it. I can spend more than the time requirement and still not have what an instructor is looking for and I can have a student that works very hard and does have it that hasn't met the time requirement. Now, if you want to propose that the arbitrary time in grade helps to teach patience by making them wait, I've got nothing for that.

    So, my position is that if you have those time in grade requirements for "mastery of the material" it means nothing. An instructor should be evaluating their students all the time and know if they have what you are looking for or not regardless of a pre-established time frame.
     
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  10. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    All depends on what your definitions are for "understanding of the curriculum," "knowledge of the techniques" and "ability to apply them competently." If your definition of those terms is "I can copy the movements exactly and nothing more," then you gain nothing by not gaining rank. Then again, you also gain nothing by gaining rank or even by learning the silly patterns, if this is your definition for those phrases.

    If your definition of those phrases includes things like learning the underlying principles, ideas and concepts, then learning how to apply those things in other ways and then learning how you can practice and improve those things by working on the underlying principles, ideas and concepts through your form or kata... then spending a little time figuring it out will be necessary.

    However, I do agree with punisher73, the formal time in grade requirements are not the best way to do that. Its a way to try to force instructors to have their students reach a little further... but I don't believe its the best way.
     
  11. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    If you don't like it then hit the road
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's at least an overstatement. Folks are giving their reasons for TIG requirements/guidelines. If you don't agree with them, that's not the same as their reasons having "nothing to do with a time in grade requirement".
     
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  13. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    Depends on what the requirements are at a particular level. At beginner levels I tend to move people based on knowing the material and being proficient enough for that level. In intermediate levels I expect them to be able to peel back more layers of the onion with the material. There should be a greater understanding of how to use the techniques in different ways and not just regurgitate the material back to me. Not just the what or how but more of the when and why.

    A bit more time in grade allows for more reps of the material for presentation and time to gain a deeper understanding when using that material for multiple applications. For example: Everyone knows an outside block is much more than a block…correct? So show me 3 different potential applications of an ‘outside block’ other than blocking a strike.



    At the more advanced stages one is also learning how to pass on the material to different people who may well learn differently so again an even great depth of knowledge and understanding is required and therefore more time is required to gain that experience.

    It's more about maturity in the material not time.
     
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  14. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Time in grade becomes more of a thing with a larger organization, IMO. If you're teaching, you know when people not only have the physical aspects down, but understanding/internalization of the material as well. If you have a student open up a school too, you can probably be sure he is looking for those things too.

    If there are now 50 schools in your organization, and you want to keep your standards, it's tough to keep that all consistent as you can't really confirm that each school is looking for the "extra" aspect of it. So you have time in grade as a failsafe.
     
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  15. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    It is an overstatement. All of the reasons that were given can exist outside of TIG requirements, which was my point, you don't need TIG at all. The way I was taught, was based on each person and their journey and NOT on an arbitrary TIG. When a person was/is ready to be promoted than it happens. If they are not ready, it doesn't happen.

    TIG didn't start with martial arts, it started in martial arts as part of the business/commercial model based on military/business models. I think that is why I am so opposed to TIG requirements. Take away the large scale business model of it, and it really doesn't have a need to exist. For example, in BJJ it used to be your rank was based on knowledge, technical skill and ability to apply those things. Now, that it is growing the IBJJF has mandated minimum TIG requirements. For what reason? It only has to do with the business side of things.

    For the record, I should add that I am not opposed by TIG guidelines. The average student takes X years to get to this rank. But, a student may take shorter or longer depending on their ability etc. I am opposed to mandated minimum TIG guidelines just because that is what the organization does.
     
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  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    You are correct that there are other ways to address the same issues. TIG guidelines are one way to do those things - with some consistency - across multiple instructors (an organization). They have little value I can see within an independent school.

    That might be true, but I suspect at least part of the reason is they're trying to create some consistency by creating a floor to experience level. It's imperfect, but seems to help to some extent.

    IMO, they should all be guidelines, but a bit more than the way you're suggesting. If I had an association (please, NO!) and used TIG guidelines, I'd tell new instructors they had to justify (in their own paperwork, not mine) the reason for going outside the guidelines. The reason (and me knowing what it is) wouldn't matter so much as them actually having one (them knowing it). But the instructor should absolutely be able to go outside the guidelines in exceptional cases. If I didn't trust them with that decision, I wouldn't have certified them as instructors.
     
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  17. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I am of the belief that one of the two biggest downfalls of Martial Arts in general is the whole time in grade thing that is set on some predetermined scale. Both for dans and underbelts.

    Stupidest damn thing I've ever seen.
     
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  18. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    TIG gets people out of the "cramming for the next test" mentality and into the "honing the art for the sake of honing the art" mentality for a period, a mentality that people who are highly motivated to gain rank might rarely be in if they could test again and again as soon as they wanted solely on a crisp form and competent sparring.
     
  19. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 2nd Black Belt

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    That’s interesting, because I’ve found the opposite to be true more often, at least at black belt level. I’ve seen lots of Taekwondo 3rd degrees be lazy for 2.5 years and then ramp up when their time in grade is up. Then they promote and get lazy for the next 3.5 years. Rinse and repeat. That’s one reason many instructors put in “check-up” tests along the way.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  20. We have a TIG in Kwon Bup, it is about 1-2yr, but a lot of it is refocusing on the basic and understanding them in a deeper sense.

    Especially the fighting forms, from the Pinans. They deal with multiple attacks. When they are shown these series of fighting forms, they then see the reality of what Kata actually is for. Always surprises them.

    I have shown 1 or 2 of them, to black belts from other styles, that trained in these forms, and I am always suprised, when they say have never even heard of them.

    They are the meat and potatoes of Kwon Bup and that which enables you to understand the use of the form's.

    TIG for Kwon Bup, deals mostly with the actual combat side.

    I have noticed the the amount of time, varies between different organizations.
     

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