What Percentage of People Have Achieved the Rank of Shodan or Equivalent?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Rusty B, Nov 23, 2020.

  1. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    I was inspired to come up with this, in light of a discussion on another thread in the Kenpo section about the likelihood of running into a common thug with a martial arts background.

    And I do apologize if a thread like this already exists.

    I'm almost positive that no country in the world has a martial arts equivalent to the Department of Education or Bureau of Labor & Statistics that tracks this.

    We know that, in the US for example, that 30% of adults over 25 have at least a bachelor's degree, 10% have at least a master's degree, and about 2% have a PhD or other research-based doctorate (these are rough numbers, as I haven't looked at the statistics in a while).

    But what about people who've earned a black belt, or other equivalent rank in martial arts?

    I've attempted to Google this, and the best I can come up with is martial arts club owners stating that only 1 or 2 percent of students who log their first hour as a white belt will stick around to earn a black belt.

    But that's just the people who've started in the first place. We need to look at the population at large.

    Does anyone here have any more in-depth knowledge on this?
     
  2. wab25

    wab25 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    632
    Trophy Points:
    273
    Thats not the right question to ask. People get a black belt, or shodan for all kinds of reasons. It does not mean that they can all fight. (I would bet on a wet paper bag over quite a number of Black Belts I have seen...) Too many 6-7 year olds getting black belts, too many people getting black belts because they can wave their hands in the air without having any idea of what they are doing, too many people getting black belts without ever having tried to apply what they have "learned" against someone who does not want them to succeed.
     
    • Dislike Dislike x 3
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Whether or not you feel it's the right question to ask, it IS the question that I'm asking. I'm fairly certain that there are black belts who can't fight, and I'm sure that are people who can beat 90% of anyone they even look at, and without ever having stepped foot into a dojo.

    But that's not the question I'm asking. I'm asking the percentage of people who've attained a black belt or equivalent.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    5,829
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Southeast U.S.
    It is still pretty low. I have read and tracked it to be about 5% of the people globally. Of course estimates vary country by country. Surprisingly the US is closer to 2%.
     
  5. wab25

    wab25 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    632
    Trophy Points:
    273
    Why would one care if he ran into a common thug, who had a black belt... that he earned at age 8, and who had never actually tried to to apply his art against resistance? He wouldn't do any better than someone who had not earned a black belt at age 8.

    What is the equivalent to a black belt? One black belt is not even equivalent to another... so how are you defining something to be equivalent to a black belt?
     
  6. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    If I cared about the point that you're trying to make with this question, I'd answer it. But I don't.

    One could argue that a bachelor's degree in psychology is not equal to a bachelor's degree in physics, but in the bigger picture, those are nuances that the DOE and BLS are not concerned with.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,608
    Likes Received:
    1,336
    Trophy Points:
    263
    It would be a very difficult question to answer. There are a number of factors as to why:
    • Defining the data. What is your definition of "shodan"? If it's just a 1st degree black belt, there will be a lot more in arts like Taekwondo (probably an average of 2-3 years) than in arts like BJJ (7-12 years). Or are you going to come up with some sort of equivalent system (for example, a BJJ purple belt is roughly equal to a TKD 1st degree black belt)? What about arts that don't have a belt system? Boxing, muay thai, wrestling, etc. don't have belt systems. Is there some sort of equivalent amount of training you'd ask for?
    • Gathering the data. Some organizations publish their numbers, some don't. Even if the organization does, there may be schools that are off shoots that don't report to the organization. Some don't even have an organization, and just Student B leaves School A to become Teacher B. So you would need to do a survey.
    I believe most quotes about how many people get a certain rank are just using made up numbers. For example, one girl used a quote in her essay for 3rd Dan, which stated:
    • 1 in 10 people who try martial arts stay past the trial period
    • 1 in 100 get their black belt
    • 1 in 1,000 get their 2nd degree
    • 1 in 10,000 get their 3rd degree
    Based on the nice round numbers, I'm pretty sure this quote doesn't have any actual statistics to back it up.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,608
    Likes Received:
    1,336
    Trophy Points:
    263
    There's a lot of people on this forum that like to take a question, use it as a rabbit trail to talk about something else, and then accuse you of asking a bad question or not listening when you don't find their advice helpful.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Exactly. I'm well aware of the tactic of people trying to move the conversation to a place where they feel they have home field advantage; and how to skirt that.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. wab25

    wab25 2nd Black Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2017
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    632
    Trophy Points:
    273
    Wasn't trying to do that at all.

    Wasn't trying to do this either.

    I must have been confused by the question. When I read this:
    I thought you were asking to know how likely it would be to have to deal with a common thug who had been trained in martial arts and would thus be harder to deal with, because of that training. So, I was pointing out that many people have black belts, but wouldn't be any harder to deal with. Should we really be considering people who have trained x number of years, since becoming a certain age (15)? Should we factor in the sport component that many arts have? Should we factor in training against resistance?

    Apparently, thats not the question being asked... so I apologize.

    Still not sure why suggesting that someone who earned a black belt, should know why they were waving their hands about like that is disliked... or suggesting that they should try to apply their techniques against an uncooperative opponent would be disliked. But, whatever floats your boat...
     
  11. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    I would say whatever rank each particular martial arts considers to be their version of "shodan."

    Yes, it's commonly considered for a BJJ purple belt to be equal to black belt in some other martial arts... but does a purple belt hold the same status within BJJ that a 1st Dan holds in TKD? That's what I'm looking for.

    As for Muay Thai, I've seen it mentioned several times here that there is rank in it; it's just not symbolized by any clothing or other accoutrement. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that the equivalent to shodan in western boxing and wrestling are either professional fighters (even if they're only local prize fighters) or people who are qualified to instruct without the direct supervision of the club owner.
    Wow, those stats are pretty scary. You'd think that the average 1sr degree would reason that they've gone too far to just stop there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
  12. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2017
    Messages:
    9,279
    Likes Received:
    1,413
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Manchester UK
    i feel it may be an unanswetqble question, as no one tracks this as you said your self, all any could do is stick their fibger in the air and guess

    my guess is 0.1 %
     
  13. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    I'm thinking there may be a way to come with up a good estimate.

    Let's say we have a small town with only one martial arts club. In this town, the average age is 35.

    So we take the total number of people who've ever enrolled there over the past 35 years. We also look at the town's total population. We now have the percentage of the town's population that has ever enrolled in martial arts. Well, not exactly, but we have the best possible number that we can work with.

    If we know the number of black belts that the club has cranked out, the percentage of the town that has an enrolled there... and we repeat this other similar towns, we might be able to come up with a good number.

    That's just one possible method I can think of.
     
  14. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    5,608
    Likes Received:
    1,336
    Trophy Points:
    263
    I'd say yes. I believe they can become instructors at purple belt.

    For a lot of people, they set the goal and stop there. Some I think are ready to quit at red belt, but stick it out to finish their goal. It's also led to some issues I've had with parents, one that was unresolved and one that was resolved.

    There was one Mom who's attitude was that once they get their black belt, that's it. There's no more. Even though we have several people who help her kid's class who are 2nd and 3rd degree, and testing results for those students are posted along with everyone else.

    Another parent had an even stranger approach, which luckily I was able to talk them out of. They didn't want the kids to get their black belts too quickly, so they were having them only take class 3 months out of the year. I explained they could keep going after getting their black belt, and suddenly they started coming the whole year.
     
  15. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Come on over to the thread in the Kenpo section. That's where we're discussing what you want to discuss.
     
  16. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    8,341
    Likes Received:
    2,541
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    New York
    There is a huge difference between those two comparisons though. With both a bachelor's degree in physics and in psychology, you go to school for 4 years worth of classes, they have roughly the same average time to achieve, you take them at the same institutions, and the professors have the same level of accreditations. With black belts, they have wildly differing average times to achieve (anywhere from 1-2 years to 15 years depending on the school and style), you generally can't earn more than 1-3 different styles of black belts in the same school, there's no minimum required level for the teacher (people will give themselves black belts, without having one already), and there's no sort of accountability for it.

    Because of all that variability, even if there were accountability and a way to determine the percentage of people that reach it, the question itself would be meaningless.

    Personally, a better question would be based around how long people continue to train for on average, or what percentage of people train for (insert number of years you feel appropriate to get a black belt here) years.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Messages:
    17,805
    Likes Received:
    3,594
    Trophy Points:
    308
    Location:
    Covington, WA
    This is certainly concrete. But does this information answer the fundamental question?

    For that matter, what is the underlying question in this thread? Is this just idle curiosity, or is the goal to try and figure out how many people stick with the style long enough to know what they're doing. If the latter, I'm not sure the questions asked/answered so far get to that.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2019
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    45
    Trophy Points:
    43
    The underlying question is being discussed in the latest Kenpo thread. I just figured that this particular question would take that thread off topic if it was asked there.
     
  19. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    8,341
    Likes Received:
    2,541
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    New York
    I didn't know the underlying question. I was just pointing one out that could answer an underlying question.
     
  20. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    8,341
    Likes Received:
    2,541
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    New York
    I don't see any sort of relationship between this thread and that one.123
     

Share This Page