When is a Beginner no longer a Beginner?

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

  1. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    Beginner has an arbitrary meaning and for us here it depends on how the curriculum is set up. One can be a beginner meaning having just started and is working learning the fundamentals do the art. Many programs have their curriculum broken into beginner, intermediate, & advance blocks for learn. However one who has learned the fundamental of the Beginner material and is working on bettering that material is no longer a beginner they are an intermediate working to better the aspects of that part of the curriculum. If beginner is attributed to one's skill then I have returned to being a beginner on several things. Due to age, injuries I no longer have the same skill in somethings. I have beginners who can do things I can. No being a beginner has more to do with the amount of time and understanding one has on a subject than just the ability to do.
     
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  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not sure what BB or McDojo has to do with my comment.

    And a student having cycles of learning with a technique doesn't necessarily have anything to do with attention deficit - it's a lack of engraining. There are things we learn and can do while we're still doing them, but aren't yet committed to unconscious procedural memory, so we can't come back 2 weeks later and do them again easily. That's nothing new - it's how the brain works.
     
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  3. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    A few folks have touched on the "always a beginner" concept, so I thought I'd riff on that a bit. To me, the idea is that there's always something to begin - something we (no matter how advanced in other areas) are still a beginner at. If we truly explore from the base of our expertise, we should find plenty of this easily. Whether that's @Tony Dismukes taking up Capoeira in his 50's or me starting to work on turning kicks (something I never ran into in any of my training) to add them to my curriculum. So, the idea - to me - isn't that we're always a beginner on everything, but that we should look for things to be a beginner at, rather than just tinkering around with what we already know. (And don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of tinkering.)
     
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  4. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    This goes back to a discussion we had a few weeks back on how much training is optimal. In the old days (in my case, I mean the early 80s), my old teachers used to say as a rule of thumb, twice a week to maintain your technique, 3 days or more per week to get better. And that was back in the day when classes were 2 hours long.

    These days, the classes are shorter, and the curriculum is bigger. In a nutshell, there isn't enough time to practice the entire curriculum every class. So for the once a week person, they might go 2, or even 3 weeks without practicing parts of the curriculum. In this era of commercial MA schools, nobody is going to kick you out for not coming to class as often as you should, but by the same token, you shouldn't be surprised if your progress is slow, or even static for periods of time.
     
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, and that doesn't have much to do with attention span. As lives have gotten busier, instructors/school owners seem to have mostly decided it's easier to get folks in for 60 minutes than for 90+. I still run 90-minute classes, which is what every MA class I attended until around 2000 was. It helps, but there are still parts of the curriculum I don't get back to very often. And every time I circle back, I can tell who hasn't touched that in a long time.

    Mind you, none of the curricula I've ever trained had anything like enough time in a single class to train anything close to the entire curriculum. Even if I just went through the 50 classical techniques in the core NGA curriculum, I'm not sure there's enough time for two partners to do all 50 on both sides. That's 200 total, most of them throws, with an average of under 30 seconds per completion, with no breaks and no discussion or correction. Usually, a pair of students can get through only one or two sets (10 techniques per set) in 45-60 minutes, and that takes focus. If we look at my entire curriculum, I could carve out at least 20 separate class-long chunks.
     
  6. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I answered before with specifics to my school, but here's another way of thinking of it:

    • A beginner learns the basic motions. If you're doing a punch, the basics of how the arm moves. If you're doing a kick, the basic movement while standing still. If you're doing a form, memorizing the techniques and the steps.
    • An intermediate learns the details of the motions. How to turn the body in a punch, how to kick while moving and how to kick without breaking your toes. The proper stances and posture when doing forms. This is also when we start applying our techniques in contact sparring, as someone without control over their techniques might kick someone in the knee or groin.
    • An advanced starts to learn different applications of the same technique.
     
  7. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    When you push a

    - beginner, he will "resist and push" you back.
    - intermediate, he will "yield and pull" you.
     
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  8. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    From the beginner to intermediate, you want to grow tall. You don't want to grow fat. Going through the elementary school 6 times won't earn you a PhD degree.
     
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  9. Jaeimseu

    Jaeimseu 2nd Black Belt

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    I use the words differently depending on what I’m talking about. Before black belt in my school, beginner is year one, intermediate is year two, and advanced is year three. But then I’d consider a first or second dan a beginner in the grand scheme of things.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  10. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    It might be dependent on the viewer. If you've been training for a couple of years you might look at a a newly promoted black belt as an advanced guy.

    If you've been training twenty years you probably look at him as a puppy.
     
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  11. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Saying BB is in the same manner as many others who are using a length of time or belt level in describing beginner and intermediate. So, thinking in the context of time or level, I included the McDojo reference to emphasize the expansive difference between belts of any level over time if the quality of instruction is poor. Trying to look at the question through a microscope and from 10,000 feet.
    I totally agree with your engraining statement, 100%. The length of time it takes for the engraining process is different from person to person.
     
  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    My point about the BB is that in any given system, BB could be anything from the last part of the "beginner" stage to the ultimate achievement of an advanced practitioner. Without putting it in context (where it fits, and what it's meant to designate in a given system), the term doesn't really have much meaning.
     
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  13. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    I've had numerous students coming for other schools, systems, etc tell me my level of BB is 4th or even 5th degree in what they were training prior. Not saying it's better, just that is what is required with our school.
     
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  14. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    You cease to be a beginner when it stops mattering.

    There may be thresholds for a particular class, technique, or test... but as long as it matters to you, I would still say you are a beginner. And this applues whether you're asking about martial arts, flower arranging, whatever.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
     
  15. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    When what matters?

    Doing it (the activity) or whether you're a beginner or not?
     
  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    I agree but I can't speak to every systems ranking much less their designations. I am speaking in the generalities of most modern perceptions so, especially is a system where the first acquisition of a BB is the ultimate achievement, the entire question is moot. I very much admire the systems that are keeping the BB in the highest esteem. I suppose there is still a veil in some areas of the world but I feel most people are too informed or jaded to appreciate the accomplishment. Forums like this one see the negative effect of McDojo's and the such. Guilt by association is a powerful thing. One bad school/instructor has resounding effects for the surrounding schools, instructors, and students.
     
  17. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't actually think the "BB as ultimate achievement" is necessarily its original purpose. I think that is a mystique that was developed in the West (perhaps largely in the US), based upon movies and the fact that many GI's came back from Japan with BB, and that was the highest level of skill to be found. That led to what we see (especially in the US, I think) where people are convinced BB is supposed to be like that. It is in my primary art, and even more so in my curriculum. But I don't think that's the traditional usage back in Japan.
     
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  18. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    That would be an interesting conversation to have with a older GI who came back from Japan (if any are still alive?). Perception changes so much from generation to generation. I agree that in the generation where GI's were coming home from Japan, BB was considered mystic thus an incredible attainment. Do you have any information on where/when/how the belt system was started? Most of us know the old story of wearing your white belt until it turns black but I do not know about it's validity.
     
  19. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

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    From what I have read, the belt system originated in Japan somewhere between the late 19th and early 20th century.

    There is a lot of mythology that non MA practitioners believe about black belts, which, any person who trains for a short period of time knows is not true. As a practicing attorney, I would put it this way. A black belt no more makes a person an expert in MA than a law degree makes a person an expert in the law.
     
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  20. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    This ranking system was introduced by Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo. At first there was no real designation but as his system grew he realized there were students that could be thrown for have a proficiency in taking the fall and others not so well. Those who could be thrown were to wear a black belt and so began the color designations. If I remember correctly Blue and Brown were added. So there was white, blue, brown, black. When a student began teaching in France (1934) other colors were added and again shortly after Kano's death in 1938. The Kru/Dan ranks were original but had no belt colors to signify the particular ranks.
    Other martial arts began adopting the belt ranking after WWII123
     
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