American Martial Arts: Issue of rank

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James Kovacich

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Kasho said:
Sorry I have been so long but I’m having trouble with the home computer.

As to my rank Yes 4th Dan is correct but that is not so in the art I help found, in that system I hold no rank I hold a title. By Asian standards a green belt or a 1st Dan that wishes to start his own style can go straight to a 5th or a 10th Dan. That’s just the way it is!!! The rank structure is re-instituted with the greater higher rank being for the founder for administrative reasons and many times ego. Jigoro Kano did give himself rank but not the top rank with in his structure. We did not elevate our own ranks, as we did not see this as acceptable. In America abuse is extremely bad, but many wish to hold other Americans to a higher standard than to our Asian counter parts.

Again I hold no rank in our art, I will be reducing my rank in the future, I am saving our students on testing fees (my test fees now 10.00 and the highest is 50.00). Black belts do not pay for higher Dan tests and they train for free. And we are putting our attention on training and not rank.

Question my motives as you have and to a point that is understandable but it starting to look as if the are a lot of paranoid people out there.

The old rank systems allowed people to promote up to two ranks under them. That has now changed in may schools and arts. Today a person can promote someone up to one rank under them. So way is this now acceptable??? This is change! I also see that with a lower rank system a person should be able to promote up to their own rank if that person that is doing the testing has a minimal of two years at that rank.

Now again people are talking here about changing rank around the world, I have been talking about arts in general as this tread has progressed, but the topic was about American martial arts dealing mostly with non-traditional arts or those seen as solely American. Again other may do as they wish but this topic needs to be considered.

Thanks,
Brad
Brad, I have no problem with you and your system but 2 things.

1)American would be riduculed and have been for jumping rank.

2) Who are these people you referance about changing the rank structure? cause you make it sound like they are large numbers.
 
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Kasho

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You stated that in the Asian systems, that a person could promote themself to ju-dan or higher even though they were no more than go-kyu. Could you give an example of some of these systems as I am not familiar with this practice.
Jigoro Kano went from no rank to a 10th Dan. Hwang Kee had less than two years of formal training before founding TSD. But instead of me giving you all the names, maybe a little research would be good on your part as you may find out much you didn’t already know.

1)American would be riduculed and have been for jumping rank.


True! That’s why I say reduce it.

2) Who are these people you referance about changing the rank structure? cause you make it sound like they are large numbers.

Again I gave a list of treads to Terry and he may wish to share them with you but I will not post them here as I do not wish to be seen as trying to promote another board.

I also said Association and the like would fight this reduction or removal. I think I said there are people in many states starting to look at or doing this. People on this board have said things like “It will not change things around the world” I never said it would! Have not made that grandiose a statement.

Again what gets me is how threatened people get by this. It will not affect the quality of your art…. unless it improves it.

Take care,
Brad
 

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Kasho said:
But instead of me giving you all the names, maybe a little research would be good on your part as you may find out much you didn’t already know.

Thank you for the answers that you gave. I appologize for not researching... It was my understanding that this was a discussion thread and I was trying to promote discussion (as well as learn something). As it appears that no more discussion is warranted for this, I will keep my questions to myself and do my own looking around.

Regards,
Walt
 
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Kasho

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kroh said:
Thank you for the answers that you gave. I appologize for not researching... It was my understanding that this was a discussion thread and I was trying to promote discussion (as well as learn something). As it appears that no more discussion is warranted for this, I will keep my questions to myself and do my own looking around.

Regards,
Walt

Walt,

Sorry sir!!

That was not my intention. You may just find more than I can supply you with.

Take care,
Brad
 

James Kovacich

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Kasho said:
Jigoro Kano went from no rank to a 10th Dan. Hwang Kee had less than two years of formal training before founding TSD. But instead of me giving you all the names, maybe a little research would be good on your part as you may find out much you didn’t already know.




True! That’s why I say reduce it.



Again I gave a list of treads to Terry and he may wish to share them with you but I will not post them here as I do not wish to be seen as trying to promote another board.

I also said Association and the like would fight this reduction or removal. I think I said there are people in many states starting to look at or doing this. People on this board have said things like “It will not change things around the world” I never said it would! Have not made that grandiose a statement.

Again what gets me is how threatened people get by this. It will not affect the quality of your art…. unless it improves it.

Take care,
Brad

I know the "ranking history" of Judo, Shotokan anf TKD. I'm trying to be nice. You want dirt, it's readily available. I don't know why you feel we are threatened when we are just trying to see 'what you preach" in a realistic light.
 

Brother John

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Brian R. VanCise said:
Really it all comes back down to someones skill. No matter your rank, you need to have skill in order for someone to respect you.
Brian R. VanCise
Mr. VanCise put it pretty well.
If a person is discerning, they'll be able to tell who KNOWS what their talking about and who doesn't....even if there were NO visible/tangible symbols of people's rank or even a patch saying "instructor". It's the people who get turned too for help or hints or tips....etc.

Your Brother
John
 

Don Roley

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Kasho said:
Jigoro Kano went from no rank to a 10th Dan.

Maybe you better get some sources for this type of posting.

Because AFAIK, Kano never gave himself rank. Period. The arts he studied in before he founded judo did not deal with dan ranking, but rather went with the Menkyo system. All through his life he seemed content with the fact that he was the founder of judo and never needed to give himself a rank to compare himself to others. His rank was given to him after he died. First he was a tenth dan. Then he was bumped to eleventh so that living people could be tenth dan when they were still alive and not be at his level. Then he was bumped to 12th so that people could be given a posthumous jump in rank in honor of their accomplishments and still not be at his level.

Personally, I think all this talk about reducing ranks and such is an exercise in egotism. People run around pointing to their inflated ranks and say, "Admire me because I am so high ranked!" The problem is that they are trying to impress us. What I hear here is people running around saying, "Respect me because I do not have as high a rank as I could." And in the same way they are trying to impress us and gain our respect by tricks like this.

People that try to impress me, don't. Only a few people on this board know my rank because I honestly do not think that rank means anything. It has no part of the conversations we have, nor in the training that we do. So I look at people that make a big stink about rank, either way, as people trying to call attention to themselves to try to impress me. And I am impressed, I am just not favorably impressed.
 

EmperorOfKentukki

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Ah So. But isn't that the rub?! When someone takes issue with the inflation of rank, the usual first question is what rank is the person who taking issue. Usually followed with inquiries into the personal resume of the individual. WHen those answers are not fortcoming, particularly in a timely fashion, they are often criticized with suspicion. When the personal histories are given, these are often used to attack credibility. Now it seems you would have them also be criticized for taking a stand on the issue as well. It would seem...that no matter the position taken...one will have to suffer the slings and arrows of popular (or should I say, 'unpopular') opinion. There does seem to be a great preference for quid pro quo in re this matter. That in and of itself may be the root of the problem. The burden of our sin issues out of the sin we burden ourselves with. On the one hand, there is a viable and justifiable reason for an expanded gup/dan system. On the other hand, such affectations take us further from the spiritual essence we espouse to be on the path of. Passions rise as the um/yang coalesces giving birth to tension. Alas, it is only through such creative pains that we evolve...and a new and greater path is born.

So....perhaps we should criticise less the rejection of quid pro quo...and embrace the inquiries if they lead us to new and surprizing serendipity.

The Emperor
 

Monadnock

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Don Roley said:
Personally, I think all this talk about reducing ranks and such is an exercise in egotism. People run around pointing to their inflated ranks and say, "Admire me because I am so high ranked!" The problem is that they are trying to impress us. What I hear here is people running around saying, "Respect me because I do not have as high a rank as I could." And in the same way they are trying to impress us and gain our respect by tricks like this.

That's about how I felt reading most of this. Rather than try and change the world, if you feel someone doesn't deserve their rank, go ahead and call them on it. They will eaither be able to stand up to it, or face the humility.

"How do you eat an elephant???"
 

SFC JeffJ

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Even if everyone changed their ranking system, which of course won't happen, unless there was some uber organization (now that would be awful), it would still be abused. Heck, it'd be abused even with some super org. So don't worry about it. We know what we know, and be content with that. And the ability to chuckle at the fake "Sokes" out there.

Jeff
 

Brother John

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JeffJ said:
Even if everyone changed their ranking system, which of course won't happen, unless there was some uber organization (now that would be awful), it would still be abused. Heck, it'd be abused even with some super org. So don't worry about it. We know what we know, and be content with that. And the ability to chuckle at the fake "Sokes" out there.

Jeff

GOOD point Jeff!
(I really do mean that ;) )

Like I've said before:
The Greatest thing that the martial arts has going for it are the passionate people in it.
The WORST liability the martial arts world has.....are the passionate people in it.

You are right Jeff, even if there were only three belts.......we'd squable over that third one and vaunt it around.
Even if there were NO rank at all...
There'd be those who look down their nose at us and remind us of the time difference between when THEY joined the school.....and when we did.

Just enjoy the art(s) you are in, work hard and give of yourself to your students, teachers and classmates......think about what you are doing..
and then ENJOY it some more. Let idiots worry about belts and titles and plaques and "Halls of Fame" (99.99 1/2 % a JOKE)....
ME?
I brag that my children still want to spend time with me.

Your Brother
John
 

Don Roley

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EmperorOfKentukki said:
Ah So. But isn't that the rub?! When someone takes issue with the inflation of rank, the usual first question is what rank is the person who taking issue.

Well, isn't that stupid.

When you discuss things like martial arts, there are so many other, more relevant things you can discuss to establish just how qualified the person is to speak.

If someone comes up with their new system that includes knife defense techniques, then the question should be how many times has someone tried to kill them with a knife. And in that case police reports should be required. Anyone trying to say they were attacked with a knife but never reported it to the police is what we call in the Bujinkan a "Paper Mountain."

If someone is just passing along a knife technique they learned, then the amount of time they spent as a student should be the question. Not time in the art- I have run across quite a few people that claim to have 20 years in the martial arts of which 6 months were as a student and the remaining 19.5 years were spent teaching. The opinion of their teachers, fellow students and everything else should have a much greater importance than a rank.

Rank differs from art to art. And one system experience does not transfer over into another. I have seen a few people with a dan ranking in Karate trying to say they were good enough to make up their own system of ninjutsu. To my eyes, they are complete morons. Of course, those soke boards that will give "evaluate" you and give you a rank are jokes unless they have real experience in the art you are supposed to get ranked in. They never do IMO.

The whole idea of trying to impress people with rank instead of other things is just plain wrong. I can read and speak Japanese and have a good deal of study time with ninjutsu history. Unless someone has the same experience I really do not see how they can debate me even if they have a gawd awful rank around their waist. But I have seen people try to shut me up with their rank. And I find them very rank indeed.
 

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A quick analogy:

Imagine a person setting out to climb a mountain that was 10,000 feet tall. They divide their journey into five stages. On the first day, they climb 2,000 feet, and camp for the night on a ridge. Each day they advance another 2,000 feet until they reach the top. Others have attempted to climb this mountain, but quit at the first plateau, or the 2nd, or 3rd.

Sitting at the top, he considers himself to be a 5th level mountain climber, because he completed all five levels and reached the top. As others join him, and claim the title of 5th level climbers, he says, "I've been here longer, so I am now a 6th level climber. As time passes, and others reach the top, he takes the title of 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th level climber.

If this is how one is "ranked" passed the 5th level climber, then it might be viewed as honorary, or of no particular meaning. 5th level is the true top level of advancement. However, what if the first person to the top, climbs down, and leads an expedition of new climbers to the top, then again, and again. He has climbed the North side of the mountain, the South side, the East, and the West. He as climbed in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Upon reaching the top for the 10th time, he sits down next to someone who has just climbed the mountain once. The new comer says, "I am a 5th level climber, same as you, because we have both reached the top."

I don't believe so! To say that the 5th Dan rank in the Martial Art is the top, is to say that your learning has stopped there. There is more to gain from helping others to the top than just the one journey you took to get there yourself. You would be saying that nothing can be learned, evaluated by your seniors (for that matter, you wouldn't have any seniors) graded, or legitimately acknowledged as a rank of advancement past 5th Degree. Not in my experience.

Another perspective is to divide the mountain into 10 levels instead of five. Each day, you climb 1,000 feet instead of 2,000 feet. Either way, when you reach the top, you have climbed 10,000 feet. It is not the number of increments that indicate the accomplishment, it is where you are along the journey. If someone climbs the top in five stages, and calls himself a 5th level climber, and another person climbs in 10 stages, and calls himself a 10th level climber, then it is right that they should be viewed as being at the same level because they accomplished the same thing, but simply used different measuring sticks along the way.

However, the problem comes when someone climbs using a 10 level system, and reaches the 5th level (half way up the mountain) and suddenly says "hey, there used to be only 5 levels, and that is equal to a 10th level climber, so.... if I go back to a 5 level system, I'm equal to a 10th level climber!" Not unless you have done what a 10th level climber would have accomplished in all 10 levels - and reached the top. If someone completes all ten levels, then, while legitimately holding a 10th level status says, I'm reducing the levels to 5, and I am now at a 5th level, then that stands to reason.

Someone could say, I climbed the mountain as a single level of accomplishment, from ground to peak, so I am a 1st level climber which is equal to your 5th level, which is equal to your 10th level. So we have 1st Degree Black Belts who are equal to 10th Degree Black Belts because they measure their entire 50 years of training in one increment!

All this does (in my opinion) is add to the confusion for the public, and new students, and lends to more abuse by the frauds who don't need to prove any rank because they are a "master" of a rankless system. Mainstream Martial Arts (in America and elsewhere) have begun to conform to a multi-level system of grading knowledge, experience, and expertise. For those who understand this rank structure, it is never about the rank itself, but what it represents. Measuring in smaller increments is helpful to many, and does no harm. Attempting to go back to an earlier system of fewer levels only mixes up the standard that took so long to establish.

As others have said, people will be respected for their knowledge, and skill more than their rank, certificates, or belts they wear, but the honest individuals who display a legitimate rank equivalent to their accomplishments in their personal journey is not an automatic example of ego, or materialism. The problem people are those who never set one foot on the mountain, but claim to have reached the top, or those who go half way, and say they understand enough to restructure the whole journey for others to follow.

My suggestion is, go to the top, and back down a few hundred times. Take a few hundred people to the 10th (or 5th) level right behind you, and when you are 70 years old, tell me what your opinion of the rank structure is. :asian:

CM D.J. Eisenhart
 
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Kasho

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Wow,

I see this topic is still a lot of fun for all!!!

Look we can look at the rank issue from both sides and come up with valid reasons to keep it or reduce/remove it. The question is do you abuse it?

The topic is about the abuse of rank. If you keep it or remove it means little, but abuse is the problem. When I teach and train I never wear a belt, don’t need to, the students know who I am and so do I so there is nothing to prove. The only time I do wear a belt is for testing and tournaments if it is required.

We all agree that abuse happens, we also know people spout higher rank to impress or for financial gain (to bring in more students) we also know that people stack their school rank system with a ton of belts for the ability more test fees.

Some where do not see this as much of a problem, don’t care or feel they can do nothing about it.

Some here are defending keeping the rank structure the way it is because they passionately believe it is the right thing to do, I applaud that. But there are those here we can be sure that are part of the abuse and are fighting this subject with all they have. I can not discern whom that maybe and am not pointing fingers or asking about your rank structure but I am taking your posts with a grain of salt.

Your knowledge and ability are the only things that truly matter. Your little belts won’t win you fights or bring knowledge to the classroom.

I would put my training up against anyone and have! Not sure how many people here would or have. Impressing people here has never been a goal and no offence meant but I don’t know anyone here other than two of the posters, so why on earth would I seek to impress people that I never new was alive and whom have never made any impact on me or my MA training? (Rhetorical question folks!)

Look, reduce if you will or not will not keep others from doing so and you have that right, but if you are one that abuses the system, people will start looking closer at you!

Thanks,
Brad
 

EmperorOfKentukki

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A founder of a martial art school in America was visiting the Shaolin Temple. When he met the Abbott, he said, "Master, as a 10 Degree master of Mykindakarate-Do, I wish to recognize you as a 10th Degree Grandmaster to honor your rank amoung martial artists."

To wit the Abbot replied, "Don't give me your rank! I have enough problems with my own rank!"

The Emperor
 

Don Roley

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Kasho said:
I would put my training up against anyone and have! Not sure how many people here would or have. Impressing people here has never been a goal and no offence meant but I don’t know anyone here other than two of the posters, so why on earth would I seek to impress people that I never new was alive and whom have never made any impact on me or my MA training?

Why do you feel the need to say that you would put your training up against anyone? Are you trying to compare yourself to others and give a favorable impression? There is that word again.... impress!

Anyone who makes a point of talking about rank one way or the other seems to be trying to make an imression. Of course, things would go away if people just refered to themselves as the head instructor of a school or something like that rather than give a rank. And talking about how they want to reduce rank because they could be higher, but don't feel it is right is a play for attention. How about just dropping the whole idea instead of the drama of pointing out how you are doing such a noble deed?

People abuse others by trying to impress them and convincing them to be students. They can do this by either claiming a huge rank and making them think that they are skilled like that, or they can have a lower rank and try to impress people by saying they could have had a higher rank, but chose instead to stay with a smaller one. The latter case lets people be impressed with the rank you could have had as well as your humility.

But if you mention rank with me, it does not impress me favorably. The folks I respect I don't even really know their rank and I would study with them if they were huge ranks or lower ones. They don't mention their rank and I do not see why I should be honor anyone who does more than them.
 

EmperorOfKentukki

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There are some people you cannot please if you kicked them in the butt with a NEW pair of shoes.

The Emperor
 
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Kasho

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Mr. Roley

My rank nor my accomplishments were discussed here by me till asked. Please go back and read the tread.

I am the guy that has continued to say knowledge and ability are what matters! You seem to agree with me on this but at the same time wish to hang on to that belt that you do not wish to discuss.

Later,
Brad

 
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