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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    You've learned everything. But you still have to wait, because you haven't been your rank for long enough. It's a barrier in your way.

    And no, your reply doesn't stand. Because let's say that it takes me three months to learn the material, it takes you six months, and it takes Gerry 18 months to learn the material (sorry, Gerry, target of opportunity). If there is a 1-year time-in-grade, then you and I can both test after a year. Even though we've known the material and honed it. Gerry wouldn't be able to test. He's not pushed through after a year. That gate is at least open for him, but he's not yet ready to walk through. So he tests at 18 months, instead of 1 year.

    This is as opposed to having no time-in-grade requirement, where I would test at 3 months, you would test at 6 months. The time-in-grade requirement means that we are held back from promotion for an additional 6-9 months (in this scenario). That's the gate, the barrier in our way to promotion.

    What you seem to be talking about is "okay, it's been a year since all three of you got your belt. You are all now promoted."
     
  2. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I'm borrowing this term from the World of Warcraft community. For the first couple years of the game, when a raid was released (basically a large dungeon it would take up to 40 people to collaborate to defeat), you could do as much as you liked. There were some groups that would spend hours and hours every day trying to accomplish this.

    After a couple of years, Blizzard (the company that makes WoW), determined this was unhealthy behavior, and sought to remedy that with gates. They release a new raid, and you can only do half of it for the first week, and then you can do a little bit more each week. This way, the players wouldn't spend an unhealthy amount of time playing the game.

    It backfired completely, and every time they attempted that, it actually resulted in people spending more time trying to find workarounds so they could get in some extra practice.

    But anyway, that's where the term comes from. People were capable of going further, but there was a "gate" in their way, that prevented them from doing so, simply based on time.
     
  3. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    We have a 3 step requirement for grading.

    There's calendar time, 3 months for lower grades, then 6 months for the intermediates, a year for 1st kup -> 1st Dan, and then increasing times following that.

    There's also number of attendances - works out to be roughly a minimum of twice a week per grade (so you can't grade if you're not turning up).

    And overriding those is capability - if you've been 8th kup for 3 years and still haven't got it down, you don't test...


    All that works out to be a minimum of 4 years to get to 1st Dan from walking in off the street.

    And there's still people willing to argue that's too quick.
     
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  4. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    My apologies, I shouldn't have even responded to the thread as we do not have anything remotely like this in my chosen Art.

    We do not have any new material after Black Belt, heck, we don't even have any new material after green belt. (I'll let that sink in for a bit. :))It's how hard and how dedicated you train and how well you apply the material against resistance.

    My Black Belts were raised to be independent of our style and of me. Those that teach and run schools do so completely differently than I do. Some even have Katas as part of their curriculum. The only apparent thing they do have in common is that there is no time in grade thing going on for any rank, underbelts or Dan rankings.
     
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  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Everywhere I've seen TIG used that I can think of (and that's not a bunch of places, to for what it's worth), it was a recommended minimum, not a set amount of time then promotion. And at the early ranks it was intended to be for that person who is moving really fast, and wouldn't really apply to the average student (who would typically take longer than the TIG guideline, anyway). At higher ranks (in NGAA, anything past shodan) it was simply part of the requirement (since beyond nidan, there were no technical requirements, at all).
     
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  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    No offense taken. That's actually a pretty good example, since the TIG guidelines in the NGAA literally never once got in my way. I was always WAY past them by the time I got ready to test.
     
  7. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    Philosophically I'm not a fan of time in grade requirements, at least for adults. To the best of my knowledge I've only trained in one school that had any and to be fair the requirements didn't impact me. Now it didn't bother me in that instance partly because they allowed testing at a fast enough pace that I never felt like I was waiting to test and largely because I don't care a lot about rank in and of itself. I would have cared if I was prevented from learning new material simply because X number of months hadn't passed since my last test. I would have cared if I couldn't spar until I reached Y rank and it was (what I considered to be) an unreasonable length of time. I would have cared if the level of instruction and number of available classes was notably inferior for those without a black belt (or whatever). I would have cared if it felt like they were just arbitrarily dragging things out so that I had to pay for a certain number of years before I reached black belt.

    Now practically speaking, I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to most of these concerns. I'm rarely in a hurry to get to new material and am really happy to just refine a small tool set until I've really got it mastered as long as they're fully functional tools and not training wheels. Of the arts I've spent the most time in one is fencing where you can learn all the techniques there are to learn in a quarter length class in college (and then spend a lifetime trying to perfect them) and the other was a Hapkido lineage that had eliminated a large part of the original curriculum because the instructor didn't want to waste our time on teaching techniques that he'd determined couldn't be reliably applied against a large, fully resisting opponent. While I tend to believe that sparring should start as soon as possible I don't have a terrible time with waiting maybe 6 months or so to make sure that new students have a little bit to work with and that they're not crazy. I don't care if there are black belt classes that I can't attend as long as that doesn't relegate me to classes that are too large for the instructor to really manage or stick me with a sub par assistant "instructor". Still, I admit I'd find it grating if I trained 20 hours a week in and out of class that I'd still have to wait just as long to test as the guy who only trains 3 hours a week in class.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
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  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    If I kept better track of actual attendance, I'd suggest replacing calendar-time-in-grade with class-time-in-grade. In fact, now that I think of it, I think the NGAA guidelines may have been written in both (calendar time assumed 2 classes per week at 90 minutes each, IIRC), or that might have been a translation one of the instructors did.
     
  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    It has long been my opinion that TIG is more about keeping instructors consistent than really anything much to do with students. If 3 different schools are trying to keep promotions similar, using some technical testing, the TIG can help newer instructors (who tend to be less consistent in their judging of tests) keep from promoting too soon.

    There are other ways they can be helpful (which I've mentioned elsewhere), but I think this is the primary benefit, and the reason I don't really see them as useful if there's only one school involved. I'm also not sure they'd serve much purpose if testing is by a group of instructors, including some from outside the school.
     
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  10. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I always kept track of people training. Just as you were about to step onto the actual training area for class there was a mandatory sign in book. You couldn't miss it, pretty much had to walk around it to get onto the floor. If you took class, you signed in. When people lined up for class I counted them and counted the names in the book. If they didn't match I had people do pushups and said "as I call your name get up and start warming up."

    White belts were cut slack as they were white belts and I always cut them slack, I let them get up after a few minutes. Everybody else - nobody ever forgot to sign in again. Not once. And nobody ever quit over it. Everyone knew the rules going in.
     
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  11. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    The Marine Corps does it properly, in my opinion (as a Marine).

    The first two promotions can be meritorious, for those who are very good (Private to Private First Class, PFC to Lance Corporal). Beyond that, the Marine Corps considers all Marines leaders. A non-commissioned officer (Corporal and above) has to be selected due to various criteria, including cutting score (board exam, MOS, time in grade, physical fitness, practical exams) or again, meritoriously for those who deserve it. If you don't make Staff NCO (E-6 on the scale of E-1 to E-9 for enlisted Marines) in 12 years, you are not permitted to re-enlist and your career as a Marine on active duty is done.

    I would consider belts under black to be like that. Various ways to get there, including time-in-grade. Above that, you need to know the material, and meet minimum time-in-grade requirements.

    I would be one who could complain - having started late in life, I won't meet the minimum time-in-grade requirements for anything above maybe 5th degree black belt in my lifetime - I simply won't live long enough. But that's the way it is, I am content with my lot. Not everyone advances to 9th or 10th degree black belt.
     
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  12. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Feel free to respond to any thread you want! Just meter your response based on your level of understanding of the content.
     
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  13. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    So, I get this but I'd like to think there's a better way to do it. I'm not sure what that ought to be and since I'm not planning on opening a school anytime soon I haven't really burned more than a couple of clock ticks on it. It does seem to me that there might be something to be learned from arts that award rank through competition.

    While you'll hear me say that I'm not usually super excited to get involved with sport focused arts, something I do really like about them is the more objective measurement they can bring to things like rankings. Fencing ratings are awarded entirely by success in competition so if someone is a C rated fencer for instance you've got a pretty accurate idea how good they are and how much experience they've got. It can get a little skewed because someone who lives in a big city with an active fencing community can spam tournaments until they have a really hot day and be over rated and someone from a small town with a very limited fencing scene may only be able to make one tournament a year and be significantly under rated but it works pretty well.

    I haven't formally done BJJ but my understanding is that it's only recently introduced TIG type requirements. Before there were any such requirements a friend of mine earned a black belt in a very short period of time at a very reputable school. He had a really strong background in a number of other grappling arts and ate, slept, and breathed martial arts all day every day and had worked (and I think was working at the time) as a bouncer. I don't know the full story but the basics are that a number of the other local school owners questioned his instructor about how legit this promotion was and his instructor basically said, "well you should come roll with him if you're worried about it." Some of them did and then there were no more questions. I really liked this, there's a lot less ambiguity when you can directly demonstrate your competence by applying the art.

    All of this assumes that rank matters to you in the first place. To me it seems like competition focused arts are the ones with both the most need of ranking (so as to properly match people in tournaments) and the best tools for addressing this need. Outside of awarding some sort of instructor rating I'm not personally inclined to worry too much about rank in a lot of schools. I guess if it's a large school it might be important in terms of organizing classes and there may be some other similar issues I'm missing having done almost all my training in very small schools.
     
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  14. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I first started BJJ in 92. Back then it was a year or so at white belt, two years or so at blue, three years or so at purple, four years or so at brown belt. My guess is it hasn’t changed much.

    But I really don’t know, I’m still a white belt. Just an experienced one.
     
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  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I've never had enough students to bother with it. At my instructor's school, we kept meticulous records, maintained by whoever was the instructor for the class. They now use a sign-in sheet, instead. I think if I ever had a big enough group that I wouldn't just know who had been at what classes, I'd use a sign-in sheet, or maybe make a quick program to allow them to sign in with a laptop near the door. Not sure I'll ever have that many students, though, so that might be entirely academic.
     
  16. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I was just in the right place at the right time, Very fortunate circumstance.
     
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  17. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree about the leveling that seems to happen in at least some competition-oriented systems. I like it, but can't figure out a way to work it consistently with a system that has a classical approach (that uses specific techniques to teach specific principles, though those specific techniques need not be used in fighting). I like the classical approach, but it really does tie to technical competency in specific techniques, which isn't the same thing as fighting/competition ability. The two should have some correlation, but it's possible to have either one without much of the other.

    As to the utility of rank outside competition, I have two uses for it. Since my ranks are tied to the same core curriculum (the rest of the curriculum is different, as is timing) as the rest of the art, my students can go to any NGA school, and people know immediately (within a few techniques) what part of the classical curriculum they have completed, and vice-versa. The other use is to control myself, as an instructor. Basically, the issue is that I love to teach new material, and have to trick myself into not flooding students with it. I find that testing intervals (linked to portions of the curriculum) keep me in line. I don't know how many other instructors might have my same tendencies, so this might be a specialty case.
     
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  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    And I've never put in the time you put in, brother. If I did more, I might find more students. Some of it might be luck. Some of it is choices, man - you made some good choices.
     
  19. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I kind of wish I could take that credit, but it’s not really the case. Everything just fell into my lap. Seriously. I would have had to been nuts not to take advantage of it.
     
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  20. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    After five years since my first ever BJJ class, I'm a white belt, but an inexperienced one. Hopefully, one day, I can steal your claim.
     

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