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

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    I'll go ahead and state my underlying question here:

    In the Kenpo thread, I questioned a how a particular martial art, as opposed to others, can be specifically designed for "modern day street fighting," when cutting and stabbing weapons, melee weapons, and guns existed in the days Gichin Funakoshi and Kano Jigoro just as they do now; and that if you remove the guns, every possible armed and unarmed scenario you can think of was experienced by homo erectus.

    One particular argument that @isshinryuronin mentioned, among others, is that your common street thug is more likely have a martial arts background today than he was back then.

    Now, I'm not going to get into whether or not it's true, or if it even matters - as that's being discussed on that thread. What I'm trying to get to is the likelihood that you'll even run into someone on the streets with a "meaningful amount" of martial arts training.

    For example, someone who did a 30-day trial when they were 12 years old obviously isn't going to count; so I'm setting it at shodan. And I'll include, like @skribs mentioned, BJJ purple belts and ranks in other martial arts that denote a similar level of mastery.
     
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  2. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Then your question definitely won't get to it, since we don't know what you consider a base level of mastery. Or, more importantly, what is considered a "meaningful amount" of training, in ability, time spent training, intensity during training, and practicality of training. Or what a shodan would be considered. There are some who get shodan at 12, after training for about 5 years (starting at 7). Is that an appropriate level of mastery? What if they started at 20 and got it at 25?
    What if they trained for 10 years, but only once a month, and are 3rd degree black belts?
    What if they're 5th degree, with no sparring done at the dojo? Or they've only done a 12 week fight camp, but it was 4 hour days, and culminates in an amateur mma fight?

    Your underlying question is a good one, but your actual question barely scratches the surface. Still a good starting question to figure out the right question, but there's a lot more that goes into it.
     
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  3. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    Those seem to be some extreme examples meant to detract from what you know the point to be.

    What @isshinryuronin appears to be suggesting is that martial arts that are not "updated" for "modern day street fighting" only works against untrained fighters, and that the common thug is more likely to be a trained fighter than he or she was a century ago.

    Without getting into whether or not any of that is true, how likely are you to run into someone on the streets that has the training for what @isshinryuronin is saying to be a concern (assuming that it should even be a concern in the first place)?
     
  4. wab25

    wab25 2nd Black Belt

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    You will have to define what you mean by the phrase "meaningful amount of martial arts training." I had thought you meant that their training would be helpful in an actual street fight. Which is why I was pointing out that many people can reach shodan or black belt, and still have no idea how to fight... some don't even know why they are waving their hands. Now, you could consider that a "meaningful amount" of training... as they could have put years into it and a lot of work and won trophies... but if you don't understand what you are doing, or have never tried it out beyond the prearranged cooperative drills... it will help you in a real street fight about as much as learning how to twirl a baton with the cheerleaders. But then you responded with:

    So, are you looking for just the number of people that trained long enough in anything to be called a black belt? What is your definition of "meaningful amount of martial arts training?" Enough to win a neat belt? Enough to win a dance contest in pajamas? Enough to compete in fully resistant sport competition within your art? Enough to compete in fully resistant sport competition with other arts?
     
  5. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    But a black belt not being able to fight, or someone being able to fight with no martial arts training wouldn't be relevant to @isshinryuronin 's claim. That's why it's not relevant to what I'm asking.

    We have to set a benchmark somewhere, and shodan is probably the least arbitrary you can get. After all, it's something that exists on paper, and could potentially tracked with statistical data if any particular agency was inclined to do so (none are now). Afterall, college degrees are tracked (because there are agencies that are inclined to track them).

    That's why I tried to be careful to say "shodan" instead of "black belt," because I know how people can get around here. Apparently, that doesn't work.
     
  6. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    They're actually incredibly common examples that I'm using to illustrate why your question doesn't hit the point. To some, 12 year olds having black belts is entirely normal. There's 2 fight camps I know of that do that in my area. I can list multiple places near me (and I'm pretty sure most can) of TMA's that don't do sparring, and then even more that either have really confined rules for their sparring and/or no sparring outside of their system/style. Anyone who makes a style is basically making up their ranks. An old instructor of mine went through some MA HoF stuff in NJ, found hundreds of 10th Dans in NJ, who had all created their own style. There are also tons of hobbyist who reach high ranks after decades of training, but only train once a month, and tons of MAists that reach the same ranks but train multiple times a week. None of those were extreme examples. And all of this is ignoring styles like boxing/kickboxing/muay thai which don't have rank at all, or the CMAs/FMAs that don't have belts or dan rankings.

    My point is that shodan is incredibly arbitrary. So if you want to get at your underlying question, you first have to figure out what you consider (or what isshinryu considers) meaningful MA training. And rank shouldn't be part of that discussion.
     
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  7. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    All this means is that it's not arbitrary who has the rank, not what it means.



    By specifying shodan, you're limiting yourself to JMA/JMA-rooted styles.
     
  8. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    But who can whose butt is not something that exists on paper. Your dojo or dojo's association isn't documenting that. What they ARE documenting is rank.

    That's why I said "or equivalent."
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    This is a tough one. I mean, first we should acknowledge that the numbers just aren't captured accurately. There's no way to know for sure, outside of perhaps stats for a well structured, competitive sport like TKD or Judo.

    But then, you have several different things going on here. You have people who can fight. You have people who are ceremonially endorsed by some style or another. And those are likely to be two different groups that overlap to some degree in the middle.

    Just taking a stab at it, I'll say that it's really contingent on what crowd you run with. I mean, if you live in an area that is more rural, like I do, your chances of running into someone who trains MMA is.. well, still not very high, but higher than if you hang out with a bunch of squints in a lab. We also offer wrestling as early as 7th grade as a school sport, and Judo as a school sport starting in the 9th grade. Both are effective martial arts. BJJ is huge around here.

    I think the way to go is, if self defense is a central concern of yours for training, just presume that if you are attacked, they will be well trained. If they turn out not to be, so much the better. So, from this consideration, the answer to your question is 100%.
     
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  10. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Again though. Your equivalent of shodan means nothing to me. I wouldn't even know which kali rank of mine would compare to shodan. And definitely wouldn't know my boxing/kickboxing rank since neither of those have ranks.
     
  11. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree, ultimately you should always assume they know how to fight or have some sort of advantage that you're not aware of (hidden weapon, friends, stronger than they look etc.).
     
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  12. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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  13. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    In a martial art that has a rank system for students, there's eventually going to be a rank in each martial art where they are considered to be minimally capable of applying what was taught in a real life self-defense scenario. For some martial arts, that could be before shodan (or equivalent). But at shodan, that should generally be the case.

    Not saying that they ARE capable on the streets, but the dojo probably considers them to be.
     
  14. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the issue is you haven't seen enough schools. One would assume that at shodan you can apply what was taught in real life, but that is very often not the case. As Wabs said "I would bet on a wet paper bag over quite a number of Black Belts I have seen"
     
  15. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    There are two things in what I said that you should have noticed: first, that I was speaking in a general sense (I did use the word "generally"). Second, that whether or not they "are" capable on the streets, the school probably considers them to be. That's what I'm going by.
     
  16. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I took both of those into account. I still think you haven't visited enough schools. More schools than not that have a ranking system don't have that as one of the shodan requirements. And there are even some people on this board who've admitted that they don't take that into consideration for black belt. Either using the "black belt is the start of learning" argument, or because the style isn't focused on self-defense, but tradition/heritage-preservation.
     
  17. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    Sounds to me like they're trying to avoid claiming something that they can be held to, but noted.
     
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  18. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    I think you just hijacked the OP's legitimate question. Granted, I agree with the statements you made... but you didn't even make an attempt to answer the question.

    I can attest from reviewing my first TKD instructor's class bookings/schedules, new student intake and testing forms (The ATA is All about tracking things, or at least was in the mid-80's) and the success rate from the first-class beginniner to first degree, confirmed black belt in the ATA at that particular school was Significantly less than 1%. Closer to 0.1%, actually. At each... I guess I'd call it major stages, about half would fall off.

    1. Just going to a first class (in my personal experience I've found that about quarter to a third of the people I've talked to have taken at least ONE class in "something.").

    2. Coming back to the second class (it's a big deal, bigger than most people consider. People are wimpy, and if they're sore afterwards it takes motivation to go back for more).

    3. Sticking with it through the first solid month (a month is a long time to be doing something new that makes you feel uncomfortable, which, if the MA class is being taught well, it certainly would be).

    4. Less of a fall off after the first month to the first rank-up (assuming TKD promotion rates).

    5. Getting into actual "sparring," where things are free-flow and you've got to start bridging from "I do this move this way" to "I use this move on that person who is trying to do something to me in this way." ATA TKD this was green belt... about a third of the way "up" to 1st D.

    6. Learning more advanced concepts/techniques, building off fundamentals... again, when things get uncomfortable, people quit as "they've got better things (i.e. less difficult) things to do."

    7. The push for the actual BB... it's been my experience that All styles hold this thing out there as "Wallah! You did it!" So, there's a lot of requirements, typically double for any previous rank, as well as (usually) comprehensive testing on all the lower rank, "included" material. According to the stats I reviewed... this level culled a higher percentage of everyone out other than Step 3, the month of classes, above.

    So, if it's in the 0.1% for people who "take" ONE class then go on togeta BB, I'd not be surprised if the actual number of people with BB in the States (yes, worthless ones included) is around 0.001%. I see the statitstical split between my stats above, and my result, but I think the conclusion is accurate because I tend to hang around people who have some of the same sorts of predispositions into activities that I do, which moved that number up a few ticks.
     
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  19. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    Do you have a site , book, magazine that lists these numbers? I am really curious and would be interested in reading anything you could provide.
     
  20. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with the beginning of learning thing, but keep in mind some arts legitimately have no place in modern self-defense. HEMA, or an ancient sword art, or one focused around using the meteor hammer, aren't realistic for self-defense because you would not ordinarily be carrying the tools. They're practiced to either preserve heritage or because the student finds them cool/entertaining. But excluding those rarities I agree (and continuing this topic would just cause the thread to be even more offtopic.123
     

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