When is a Beginner no longer a Beginner?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by JowGaWolf, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Just curious to see how others view beginners and intermediate students. What does a beginner mean? What does intermediate mean?

    My own experience with this, is that I called myself a Beginner for a very long time. My perspective was based on my own abilities. It wasn't until I compared my skill set to other's that I could understand why people thought I'm at an advance skill level.

    For me personally, I'm always going to see myself less of what I expect of an Intermediate Skill Level martial arts and it could be that I have a unrealistic perception of what an intermediate skill level fighter is. Now I'm curious of trying to see what types of qualities and expectations others expect of Beginner and Intermediate Martial Artists.
     
  2. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    IMO, a beginner may know how to

    - punch when his back foot are on the ground (static punch). An intermediate will know how to punch when his back foot is moving (running punch).
    - kick when his rooting foot is on the ground (static kick). An intermediate will know how to kick when his rooting foot is in the air (jumping kick).
    - use single technique. An intermediate will know how to use combo (use move 1 to set up move 2). An intermediate always thinks 1 step ahead.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
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  3. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    Interesting question..
    I would view a beginner as someone moving from zero skills to a basic skill set with little understanding.
    Intermediate is a much longer process. To even start to get out of the intermediate you would need 10 years of practice.
    I really think most people hang in the intermediate stage for the entirety of their MA life regardless of time in. To me advanced is about dissection and gaining a high resolution understanding of certain aspects of MA. To get this high resolution view a person has to grow and have an understanding beyond their chosen style. Basically out grow the style and see beyond the limits. Your art illuminates the darkness of the unknown but it can only cast light so far. You need to go beyond that and venture out and view your art from the out side. Like looking at the earth while on the moon. When that happens you can see how your art applies to the bigger picture. You can now say you know your art "inside and out"
     
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  4. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    Surely a beginner is someone who has just begun, ? So about 5 weeks and you not a beginner any more.
     
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  5. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    In my opinion, the difference between a beginner and an advanced student is that a beginner knows how to perform a technique, but an advanced student knows how to use a technique. For example, it doesn't take a lot of skill to do a back-spinning kick into the air or against a bag, but it takes a lot of skill to be able to use that skill in combat. An advanced student knows not only how to do the technique, but knows when to use it in a fight.
     
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  6. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Great question.
    I will try to leave my personals experiences out of the answer. I often tell students after testing that they are starting over again. Not to reduce their accomplishments, but to encourage and remind them that there is always a lot more to learn. One of the hardest students to teach is the one who believes they have nothing else to learn (ever or at a given rank). The second hardest is the person who feels they cannot learn anything. Putting a "skill level" rating on a person is very subjective. A white belt who is well into understanding how/when, maybe not fully why to do a down block, I would consider intermediate for their level. If I step back and look at the question from above, I would say most 2nd-3rd degree BB's in the traditional styles I am familiar are intermediate in this day and age. In the genre who do not subscribe to belts or ranks it is even more difficult to categorize. Where pure physical and fighting ability are the defining makers the advantage goes to the young. So would intermediate be relative to age?
     
  7. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    Interesting topic. I certainly consider myself still a beginner, but probably not for much longer. Here is my perspective. Beginner is someone who comes in knowing nothing. And for that person, the learning curve can be pretty steep. Think about it. Here is all the stuff you need to learn from white belt to high white, to yellow. How to stand at attention, how to do ready stance, front stance, fighting stance, basic footwork. Then you learn the basic blocks, starting from a front stance. Then you learn how to do the blocks moving forward. Then backward. Then learn to throw a punch from a front stance. Then how to do all that from a fighting stance. Then how to do a basic block punch combination. Then the 4 or 5 basic kicks. Then how to do a basic combination of punches and kicks. Then some kick combinations. Then how to do the basic form, or two.

    Arguably, you learn more in the first 2 to 3 months of training than you ever will again.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
  8. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    In my school an intermediate is when they test for their purple belt.

    For me, and this is mostly with young kids, the white belt is where they learn the etiquette more than anything. I tell people their first class they only thing they need to memorize is the words "charyot", "kyungnae," and "joonbi," (attention, bow, ready position), when to bow, and when to say "yes, sir" or "yes, ma'am." They don't actually need to know martial arts. As long as they know those basic words and ettiquette. For the 4-5 year olds, their first test (for yellow belt) is less about their martial arts skills and more about their ability to listen and follow the directions.

    For example, when we're moving forward and practicing a basic block, in theory the lines should all move as one. But when you have a bunch of 4 year olds with attention problems - even worse than a normal 4 year old - then you have one person who doesn't step at all, and the person behind him jumps forward and punches. Or you have a kid who takes 3 steps, then punches, then steps and punches two more times, and then takes 5 more steps and then punches the kid in front of him. Once we can break these habits is usually when kids are ready for their yellow belt.

    Now, for yellow belts, and for the older students (in this meaning 8+), a beginner should learn:
    • The basic kicks, punches, and blocks
    • Understand that you need to chamber each technique
    • Be able to intercept an attack properly with your blocks
    • Make a proper fist or knife-hand
    • Keep control of your hands and feet - that means to know your stance and your guard or chamber
    • Follow the basic form verbatim
    Intermediate students will then learn how to use their feet when punching, more complicated kicking footwork, more complicated forms, more technical defense skills, and more details for everything they already know.
     
  9. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    A friend of mine asked me the following 2 questions.

    1. If I have 3 baskets with label beginning, intermediate, and advance, can I throw my MA techniques into these 3 baskets? What techniques/strategies/principles should be considered as these 3 different levels?

    2. Can I throw the same technique into 3 different baskets? What will be the difference? When you train technique X, how do you train it when you are in beginner stage, intermediate stage, advance stage?
     
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  10. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    For preying mantis system, in the

    - beginner level, you train "speed".
    - intermediate level, you train "body push/pull limbs".

    For Baji system, in the

    - beginner level, you train "static punch".
    - intermediate level, you train "running punch".

    For Chinese wrestling system, in the

    - beginner level, you train "single throw".
    - intermediate level, you train "combo throws".

    For long fist, WC, Zimen, Taiji, XingYi, Bagua, ... the difference are not clear.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
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  11. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    When you've been doing it a while. I know there'll be a lot of all this oh you're always a beginner because your always learning. I don't agree with all that if you've been training 20 years you're not still a beginner
     
  12. oldwarrior

    oldwarrior Green Belt

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    Great question will be interesting to see the responses
     
  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a pretty subjective distinction. I've been training for more than 3 decades. I'm a beginner at some things, intermediate at others, and pretty advanced at still others.

    When I think of a "beginning student", I would most likely be thinking of someone in their first few weeks (what I call the "foundation" portion of my curriculum). However, if I'm thinking of them in relation to a bunch of students across a wide range of experience levels, I'd probably include folks still in their first year. Somewhere after that first year, they aren't "beginners" overall (though still very much beginners at some bits). I guess I'd consider that "intermediate", and that's a group I'd have them in for a long time. "Advanced" would probably be a few years down the road, except for those bits they excel at.
     
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  14. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    You touch on a good point. Is knowing based on the ability to do the mechanics of a move or the proficiency of said move? The latter makes much more sense for building a set of comparison tools.
     
  15. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    But that is not to the OP's question.
     
  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I largely agree, but when I factor in the saturation of McDojo BB's and such, I have to extend the curve and BB level. I also thought about the attention deficit prevalent in todays society. How many times have you saw a student be proficient at a skill only to struggle at the same skill 2 months later? Sad but true.
     
  17. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Yeah great question!

    And it may always simply be a relative term hey, relative to curriculum, relative to others, relative to years training, hard to say. And the transition from beginner to intermediate hmm... I guess someone is no longer a beginner once they can perform the/some basic techniques (whatever that may mean..). Are they no longer a beginner once they've passed their first grading?

    And also in regards to starting a new style. I couldn't say that I'm a beginner in martial arts, but I WILL be a beginner when I start a new style (a beginner in that style that is).

    Some good thoughts already in the other posts :)
     
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  18. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    I have thought about this issue of retention. In fact, just had this discussion with my teacher yesterday. As summer is upon us, he is getting approached by a lot of parents who are asking if their kids can take the summer off. He tells them he doesn't recommend taking the entire summer off. Frankly, I was surprised, as when I did MA as a kid, I took it as an opportunity to train more, not less, but today's kids apparently have other options. But I told my teacher I imagine after 2 months off skills atrophy. He laughed and said with kids, it is far worse, Apparently, they come back more than rusty, and it takes months to get them back to where they were before. Probably a delicate situation, as I imagine these parents who over program their kids are the same ones who will complain when their kids don't get promoted to black belt in 2 years or less.
     
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  19. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    Well, yes, but if a person has years of MA training, he or she will move more quickly from beginner to intermediate. I think the speed at which a person goes from beginner to intermediate depends a lot on past experience, aptitude, and work ethic. The person who goes to class 3 or 4 days a week will improve a lot more quickly than the person who only shows up once a week.

    In the style of TKD I currently practice, I would say you are no longer a true beginner somewhere between yellow and high yellow belt. Certainly by green belt, you should have a handle on the basics. This is more true of adults than kids, which is why, IMO, they should award different belts for children than for teens and adults, but that is a whole other kettle of fish.
     
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  20. Ryan_

    Ryan_ Green Belt

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    Having 10+ years of experience in Kong Soo Do, I wouldn't consider myself a beginner there. Also disagree with "always a beginner" quote - but I think in that style, people would stop being considered beginners around gold-orange belt.

    Being only a 9th kyu in bujinkan ninjutsu, I'm definitely still a beginner there. I can tell that I have a huge amount to learn still, and I'm not yet sure when I would consider myself to be at an intermediate level.

    I think for different arts, that it is possible for it to take a different amount of time before getting to an "intermediate" level, since many arts may have different requirements, katas, stances, etc. that one should know before advancing.

    I suppose if you want to make a generalization:
    Beginner: May need to be shown their techniques still and get lost while performing them.
    Intermediate: Knows the techniques but will still need to think for a moment before being able to perform them.
    Advanced: Can perform techniques seemlessly.123
     

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