An attempt a uniformity

Twin Fist

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aint no kid, Bruce lee jr or not getting a black belt from me before he/she is 16.

ever

not gonna happen

if it costs me students, i dont care. I dont do this for a living anyway.

Now, my own instructor disagrees with me on this, but then she has to pay rent on a 6000 sq ft dojo.

Now at the end of this month, she is gonna be testing one of her students for 5th Dan

he is 24 yrs old.

And he is Bruce Lee jr. He is AMAZINGLY good. he is at the dojo EVERY DAY

I still dont feel good about it. But thats on her.
 
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MJS

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Now we seem more on the same page. What you have said is largely in line with what I was thinking, with a few minor clarifications.

At least we're now moving in a positive direction. :)

As I said in one post when deciding the requirements for each belt there can be a whole range of criteria that a teacher could add to a system if they so chose. These things go beyond just physical skill and knowledge. For instance if the designer of a system was to decide black belts should be able to teach, then the instructor would only pass a student able to teach. Or an instructor could decide that a black belt is mature, and would only grade someone to black belt when they are mature (that is, rather than when they're supposed to be mature, e.g 16/18/21 etc.).

In many schools, assisting with classes, is a pre-req. for getting your BB. I started helping when I was a brown belt, and I will freely admit, I was nervous. The assistance went from doing just the warmups, to that as well as the basics, ie: punching, kicking, bag work, etc., to taking a group of lower ranked students and working on their material, to one day, when my inst. told me I was doing it all. Of course, he was on the sidelines to offer aid if needed, but things went smooth. My point of saying all of this, is that taking command of a class, being able to teach in an effective manner, and at the same time, keep things moving, so as to not lose the interest of the students, is IMO, not an easy task. If the person heading the class isn't mature enough, chances are, they will fail at the above mentioned things. This is why I was looking at it from an age point of view. Can a 14yo be mature? There are some that are, and some that are not. As I said in my other post, if it could be a feat to expect a 10, 12, 14, etc yo old to be mature, either way we look at it, theres a good chance they may have to wait until they're older anyways, to reach that maturity level. :)



Further holding a child back from grading too early, and a big part of the reason I would not start teaching younger children the main syllabus, is the inability for their body to practice certain techniques safely, thus limiting what syllabus could be taught to them, but I also take into account that people develop at different ages and thus it is easier to look at each child's physical and emotional development rather than going "10. 10 is the minimum age, no exceptions."

From what I've seen, many schools do limit what is taught. Example...if your typical 4-5yr old class, the required material is cut in half. So at some point, prior to the child reaching BB level, the other half is going to have to be learned. This, I assume, is where the Jr. BB comes in. They get something they can call a BB, even though its not an 'official' BB, they continue to grow and mature, help with classes, and learn the other stuff that will be required for the full BB.

On the other hand, if we look at some highschool and college courses, there are pre-reqs to certain classes. Ex: Completing Spanish 1 before moving onto Spanish 2, even if the student is breezing thru S1 material. They need to meet certain requirements before moving on, so if we apply that to the arts, its really the same thing.

Finally, I am not against holding people back from their grading, but when the only reason is their age, I think that's just silly.

I think this is where I still may be a bit confused. I think we both agreed that it would be a superhuman feat for some kids, to be a certain degree, one reason due to maturity. So, if thats the case, then in essance, they're still going to have to wait until they're older, so if they have to wait, I'm looking at it, as if there is no difference than if we said the child would have to wait. Sure, I will agree that there will be a handfull that will be the exception.

As I said in the beginning when I spoke of teaching and how it takes alot to be able to command a class for a full hour or longer. There has been more than one time, when I've had to 'prove' myself during a teaching session. Now, this isn't necessarily meaning that it was physically, althoug there were times when people insisted that something would not work, and the only way to get that point home, was to have them come up, really take a swing at me, and have me show them. Now, I didn't send them home with a black eye or busted lip, but the message was clear. ;) Is the 13yo 3rd degre BB going to be able to do that? Physically being able to apply the tech. is just 1 part, the other is to also be able to verbally explain the fine points. Again, some may, but some may not, and this was the reason, for me, why I felt that some may look at that young age and high rank, as laughable.
 

ACJ

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I think this is where I still may be a bit confused. I think we both agreed that it would be a superhuman feat for some kids, to be a certain degree, one reason due to maturity. So, if thats the case, then in essance, they're still going to have to wait until they're older, so if they have to wait, I'm looking at it, as if there is no difference than if we said the child would have to wait. Sure, I will agree that there will be a handfull that will be the exception.

What I'm saying is that they will wait until they are mature enough, but that may come at any age, and we shouldn't try and predetermine what age that may be. And as a result, if I had a very immature 30 year old even, they would still be held back, regardless of their age.
 

MJS

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Yes, my school uses junior bbs for just that reason, the kids do not learn as much material as the adults do, and they have to "catch up" before they can test for shodan. However, depending on the age of the kid when they get their junior black, they might be caught up with the material requirements for adult shodan before they're 18. And if they know the material and are ready and have their time-in-grade, they can test.
What are your feelings about that? I agree with you that children shouldn't go directly to shodan, due to the different requirements for children and teenagers/adults. But say they get their junior at 12, and are ready for their shodan when they're 15. Would you allow them to test? Or would they still be too young in your view?

I've seen some kids that were huge for their age, so while they were technically too young for the next class up, they were too big for the class they should be in, so yes, there were times when you'd have a younger, bigger person, move into the next age group, and they did well. :) As for age for adult BB, I had said 16, not 18. Chances are, if they're that good, then they were probably being taught the material needed to catch up.

As for your question on whether or not I'd let the 15yo test...exceptions can always be made. However, in addition to maturity, they're going to have to demonstrate a solid understanding of the material. As others have said, and I have re-enforced, its more than just knowing and being able to do the material. IMHO, black belt level is where the real learning begins. But as you're reaching that level, you should be sharp enough so that the basic things do not need to constantly be harped on, ie: poor stances, sloppy execution of material, etc. I'll use the language classes as an example. Its pretty much expected that when you enter Spanish 2, that you have a solid background of the basics. When you get into S2, you're probably going to get into a deeper level of the speaking, listening and move into writing. If you can't understand the basics, how are you going to learn to write something that you can't even understand by listening?

In closing, I'll say this....I've been training for 20+ yrs. To this day, I'll never understand what the fascination with moving quick thru the material and ranks is. I mean, it almost seems like a competition. I'm at the point now, where I really don't care about rank. When it happens, it happens. Every time I've tested, it was I that was approached. I didn't go up to my teachers and ask when my next rank test was. More importantly, there comes a time, especially once you reach the higher levels, that its not so much a physical test, but what you give back to the art. Teaching, taking the time to work with people before and after class, hosting and giving seminars and overall time in grade. Learning a new tech. or kata, IMO, is a moot point at that level.
 
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artFling

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Near as I can tell, ya'll seem to be on the same page. Sometimes on this forum we are comparing apples to oranges. For instance, some arts require a great deal more material to be learned for a grading. Other styles may be more interested in competition than SD and vise-versa. Even within Tae Kwon Do for instance there are many different goals a school may have. But here's the deal that concerns me: a black belt needs to mean something. And of course upper dan belts need to mean more. I think most would agree that 16 years old is a decent age limitation even if you don't stipulate it in your policy. Because if your MA is worth learning, you're going to need to be 16 to have the experience and maturity to handle yourself as a BB. Sure sometimes there is going to me some Martial Genius out there who by the age of 14 1/2 is fully capable and mature to be able to be a Shodan. So fine, make some sort of exception. If he or she is that good then the other students need to be learning from him or her. And their rank should in some way show that. It's all in the way the instructor handles it. Jr BB, probationary BB, learners permit, a special gi, or a funky color of electrical tape on the end of a well earned brown belt. Recognize the student. But in 99 times out of 100, the student is going to be at least 16 years old.

BTW, I think 18 is too old an age limit. Our young people can handle a lot more responsibility than we give them credit for. In fact I think young people crave it and want to be able to handle it. In our society they get the message too often that being young is all about fun. In reality it needs to be about learning to take responsibility.
 

MJS

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What I'm saying is that they will wait until they are mature enough, but that may come at any age, and we shouldn't try and predetermine what age that may be. And as a result, if I had a very immature 30 year old even, they would still be held back, regardless of their age.

Points taken. I still can't help but think, that despite the maturity, that it won't look a bit odd, to see a young child with that kind of rank. Thats just me though.

What are your thoughts on time in grade?
 

MJS

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Near as I can tell, ya'll seem to be on the same page. Sometimes on this forum we are comparing apples to oranges. For instance, some arts require a great deal more material to be learned for a grading. Other styles may be more interested in competition than SD and vise-versa. Even within Tae Kwon Do for instance there are many different goals a school may have. But here's the deal that concerns me: a black belt needs to mean something. And of course upper dan belts need to mean more. I think most would agree that 16 years old is a decent age limitation even if you don't stipulate it in your policy. Because if your MA is worth learning, you're going to need to be 16 to have the experience and maturity to handle yourself as a BB. Sure sometimes there is going to me some Martial Genius out there who by the age of 14 1/2 is fully capable and mature to be able to be a Shodan. So fine, make some sort of exception. If he or she is that good then the other students need to be learning from him or her. And their rank should in some way show that. It's all in the way the instructor handles it. Jr BB, probationary BB, learners permit, a special gi, or a funky color of electrical tape on the end of a well earned brown belt. Recognize the student. But in 99 times out of 100, the student is going to be at least 16 years old.

BTW, I think 18 is too old an age limit. Our young people can handle a lot more responsibility than we give them credit for. In fact I think young people crave it and want to be able to handle it. In our society they get the message too often that being young is all about fun. In reality it needs to be about learning to take responsibility.

Bold part mine. This is the point that I've been trying to make in my posts. If, in the greater majority of cases, the student will not be mature enough, why not put in the age requirement? If there is a good chance the kid won't be mature enough, then they're going to end up waiting anyways, so.....

Again, in these cases, I'd rather see a JRBB or a probationary BB in place. Its a step below the full BB.
 

ACJ

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Points taken. I still can't help but think, that despite the maturity, that it won't look a bit odd, to see a young child with that kind of rank. Thats just me though.

What are your thoughts on time in grade?

Yeah it would seem odd, but people should get over, a small thing like something looking odd.

Time in grade should take as long as it requires as for them to become the next belt. Sure they might know all the stuff for red belt, but if they don't act and look like one, they wait. As for higher grades i.e black belt promotions, I believe a set time frame is required, because it is too easy for the black belts to forget what progression at that level means. A lot of the time it is less about learning new techniques or your new form, it is more about learning more about your art, contributing to your art and developing new ideas. IMO.
 

ACJ

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Near as I can tell, ya'll seem to be on the same page. Sometimes on this forum we are comparing apples to oranges. For instance, some arts require a great deal more material to be learned for a grading. Other styles may be more interested in competition than SD and vise-versa. Even within Tae Kwon Do for instance there are many different goals a school may have. But here's the deal that concerns me: a black belt needs to mean something. And of course upper dan belts need to mean more. I think most would agree that 16 years old is a decent age limitation even if you don't stipulate it in your policy. Because if your MA is worth learning, you're going to need to be 16 to have the experience and maturity to handle yourself as a BB. Sure sometimes there is going to me some Martial Genius out there who by the age of 14 1/2 is fully capable and mature to be able to be a Shodan. So fine, make some sort of exception. If he or she is that good then the other students need to be learning from him or her. And their rank should in some way show that. It's all in the way the instructor handles it. Jr BB, probationary BB, learners permit, a special gi, or a funky color of electrical tape on the end of a well earned brown belt. Recognize the student. But in 99 times out of 100, the student is going to be at least 16 years old.

BTW, I think 18 is too old an age limit. Our young people can handle a lot more responsibility than we give them credit for. In fact I think young people crave it and want to be able to handle it. In our society they get the message too often that being young is all about fun. In reality it needs to be about learning to take responsibility.

Good post, but I'd say 18 isn't too old for a black belt, it is maybe too young. If a 16 year old wants responsibility and you want to give it to them, make up a new position, make them red belt assistant instructors, whatever, but to me a black belt in most cases shouldn't be going to a 16 year old, most of the time they aren't physically capable (But like I've been saying, there are exceptions.), If I'm not a black belt in a system and they are, I want them to be able to outclass me in nearly every way.
 

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Yeah it would seem odd, but people should get over, a small thing like something looking odd.

Well, while that may be true, but depending on who the child is teaching, that may make a difference to the students. If they're teaching kids heir age, that may not be so bad. If they're teaching people old enough to be their parents, well......

Time in grade should take as long as it requires as for them to become the next belt. Sure they might know all the stuff for red belt, but if they don't act and look like one, they wait. As for higher grades i.e black belt promotions, I believe a set time frame is required, because it is too easy for the black belts to forget what progression at that level means. A lot of the time it is less about learning new techniques or your new form, it is more about learning more about your art, contributing to your art and developing new ideas. IMO.

I agree with the BB ranks. As for the lower, for myself, I could see the lower belts going fairly quick, ie: within a month or two, depending on the persons training/practice habits, due to the fact that much of the material is fairly simple. Once they reach the intermediate levels, personally, I'd rather see them wait a bit longer, due to the fact that the material is getting more complex. As I said in another post, its one thing to know the material, and do it in the air, but I want to see how they perform on someone, and have a better knowledge of what they're doing.

I suppose in the end, its the instructor that will have to live with his actions. How he chooses to run the school, test, promote, etc, will effect how he is viewed in the MA community. Additionally, it will also have an effect on his students, who may have to rely on what they're taught to defend themselves.
 

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Good post, but I'd say 18 isn't too old for a black belt, it is maybe too young. If a 16 year old wants responsibility and you want to give it to them, make up a new position, make them red belt assistant instructors, whatever, but to me a black belt in most cases shouldn't be going to a 16 year old, most of the time they aren't physically capable (But like I've been saying, there are exceptions.), If I'm not a black belt in a system and they are, I want them to be able to outclass me in nearly every way.

Ok, this may be one of those times when I'm a bit confused again, and if so, please forgive me in advance, but doesnt this contradict what you're said in earlier posts?
 

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Ok, this may be one of those times when I'm a bit confused again, and if so, please forgive me in advance, but doesnt this contradict what you're said in earlier posts?

Forgiven. What I've been saying is that there shouldn't be a set age limit but what I'm saying here is that 99.9% of 16 year olds aren't ready for BB, but if I happened across that 0.1% I would grade them to BB.
 

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Thai children represent their camps in competition at a very early age. Discuss. :)

I think I may have mentioned this somewhere in this thread already, but I'm too lazy to look, so I'll just say it again. :) IMHO, I feel that alot comes down to how in-depth each person is training. IMO, I feel that theres a huge difference between just doing the material and really knowing it.

I'd also go so far, as to say that the kids you mention, most likely put in much more training time than the average child. Like I said, you have the average people and the rare gems. The gems are just that...rare. :)
 

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I was reading a thread on another forum tonight. It started off asking if rank from one school would be accepted at others, however it drifted into a discussion very similar to this. And yes, to no surprise, there were mixed reviews, with some saying to just focus on training and not worry about rank, and others saying that it makes the art, the student and the teacher look bad.

I have to wonder....back in the old days, how was the rank issue dealt with? Was it handed out like candy, like it is in some schools today, or was it on a very strict scale? I also thought that other thread was pretty interesting because one poster, started to make comparisons. For example: You have a 20-something 6th degree in say Kenpo, and a 50yo 6th degree in Kenpo. He asked if the 20something student fluffed themselves up to believe that they were equal to them? Same scenario, but the 20something student has been training for 12yrs while the other student has been training for 30. Are they equal in skill? Another comparison was a 2nd or 3rd dan of any age, compared to a BJJ Black Belt.

As I said, the thread was mixed, and people, once they saw that comparison, started to say that people should not make such comparisons, because everyone is different. While that may be the case, I can see where this poster was going.

Like I said, in the end, its the student and teacher that have to live with what they sow. I've never asked for rank, and I don't plan on doing it now. I've busted my tail on all of my tests, and thank God, there were some that I failed and had to retake. At least the inst. was honest. He thought I was ready at the time, I wasn't so I didn't pass, yet he easily could've pushed me thru anyways.

And I'll repeat again, there is so much more than just being able to perform on the surface. Its being able to dig beneath the surface that makes the real difference.
 

ap Oweyn

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I think I may have mentioned this somewhere in this thread already, but I'm too lazy to look, so I'll just say it again. :) IMHO, I feel that alot comes down to how in-depth each person is training. IMO, I feel that theres a huge difference between just doing the material and really knowing it.

I'd also go so far, as to say that the kids you mention, most likely put in much more training time than the average child. Like I said, you have the average people and the rare gems. The gems are just that...rare. :)

You may have done. I tried to read all the posts, but I may have missed something.

In any event, I come down basically the same way as you, I think. On the issue of Thai youth competing in muay thai, anyway. I'm undecided on the larger issue of youth rankings.

I think, for Thai kids, it's more of a way of life. And I don't mean that in the new agey way that it usually gets bandied around in martial arts discussions. I mean that (as you likely already know) they live it everyday all day. Add to that the fact that muay thai holds a place in the public consciousness that martial arts still don't here and you get a sense of cultural accountability that I don't think we experience. And then there's the very practical consideration that many people go into the ring (both here and in Thailand) based on the conclusion that it's their best way out of their current financial situation. So there's another strong motivator coming into play.

All that said, I think the whole child black belt issue is another illustration that we engage in too much belt idolatry. Does a 10-year-old wearing a black belt stand any chance of beating a grown adult without one? Probably not. The average grown adult knows that. And the child should be made to understand their reality as well (without scaring the ever-loving crap out of them, obviously). But, to me, that's a question of redefining what the black belt means. NOT denying them a benchmark that actually seems to be keeping them motivated and focused.

And the thing is that it's a redefinition that's just as valid for adults, to my mind. I don't assume that everyone with a black belt is an expert fighter. We could argue that they ought to be. But, realistically, you're not going to change reality with that argument. Makes more sense just to say "meh, a black belt is an indicator of perseverance." Do that and the fighters will stop being offended that Joe Blackbelt might taint their ranks, the new black belts will stop operating under the misapprehension that they've "arrived," and we can all go back to concentrating on what actually matters. The training.

We all made this mess by putting too much emphasis on the Holy Grail of training in martial arts. We endlessly talk about the "black belt" then get put off because everyone wants one.

Like my close friend said to me the day after he earned his black belt (back in the late 80s): "I went to bed thinking I'd be somehow changed. I got up this morning and I'm exactly the same." Then he went back to training.


Stuart
 

MJS

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You may have done. I tried to read all the posts, but I may have missed something.

In any event, I come down basically the same way as you, I think. On the issue of Thai youth competing in muay thai, anyway. I'm undecided on the larger issue of youth rankings.

I think, for Thai kids, it's more of a way of life. And I don't mean that in the new agey way that it usually gets bandied around in martial arts discussions. I mean that (as you likely already know) they live it everyday all day. Add to that the fact that muay thai holds a place in the public consciousness that martial arts still don't here and you get a sense of cultural accountability that I don't think we experience. And then there's the very practical consideration that many people go into the ring (both here and in Thailand) based on the conclusion that it's their best way out of their current financial situation. So there's another strong motivator coming into play.

All that said, I think the whole child black belt issue is another illustration that we engage in too much belt idolatry. Does a 10-year-old wearing a black belt stand any chance of beating a grown adult without one? Probably not. The average grown adult knows that. And the child should be made to understand their reality as well (without scaring the ever-loving crap out of them, obviously). But, to me, that's a question of redefining what the black belt means. NOT denying them a benchmark that actually seems to be keeping them motivated and focused.

And the thing is that it's a redefinition that's just as valid for adults, to my mind. I don't assume that everyone with a black belt is an expert fighter. We could argue that they ought to be. But, realistically, you're not going to change reality with that argument. Makes more sense just to say "meh, a black belt is an indicator of perseverance." Do that and the fighters will stop being offended that Joe Blackbelt might taint their ranks, the new black belts will stop operating under the misapprehension that they've "arrived," and we can all go back to concentrating on what actually matters. The training.

We all made this mess by putting too much emphasis on the Holy Grail of training in martial arts. We endlessly talk about the "black belt" then get put off because everyone wants one.

Like my close friend said to me the day after he earned his black belt (back in the late 80s): "I went to bed thinking I'd be somehow changed. I got up this morning and I'm exactly the same." Then he went back to training.


Stuart

Great post and I think you hit the nail on the head with the underlined part. I think that over time, when things get watered down for the masses, it changes, drastically, the way people look at time in grade, training, and what the art is really about.

As for rank...yes, its a good feeling, to get that new rank. But it doesn't change the person, as they're still the same, like you said. The guy I do BJJ with, has asked me many times, if I ever wanted to test. To date, I havent. I'm content training. Its my skill not the belt that I'm worried about. :) And this, I think is the opposite of so many others, because its not drilled into them, that getting a new belt, really means nothing, other than a momentary good feeling. Yes, you'll learn new techs. and kata, and maybe even go to another class, but if you can't perform, what good is that new belt? My goals are to continue to train until I no longer can, and continue to improve and explore what I already know. IMHO, a true instructor, is concerned with the quality of his students, not the number of black belts he has running around.

I still stand by what I always say....when it happens, it happens. In my Kenpo class, I wear a plain black belt. Arnis, while I do have my BB, its usually only worn for special occasions, ie: the group photo shot at seminars/camps, rank tests, etc. Otherwise, I'm beltless. :)
 

ap Oweyn

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We don't typically wear belts in our arnis class either, though we did in my first arnis school.

I've only done a couple of BJJ classes. And when I did, the instructor had me put on a spare belt that was lying around. White belt. Something about needing to keep my gi together. Anyway, I couldn't figure out why this guy I was rolling with was so intent on pummeling the new guy. Turns out that the belt I was wearing had a stripe or two on it. He thought I had more experience than he did. So he had a chip on his shoulders about submitting the "more experienced" man.

Instead, he just choked out a newbie. *shrug* The perils of grading systems, eh? ;)
 

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We don't typically wear belts in our arnis class either, though we did in my first arnis school.

I've only done a couple of BJJ classes. And when I did, the instructor had me put on a spare belt that was lying around. White belt. Something about needing to keep my gi together. Anyway, I couldn't figure out why this guy I was rolling with was so intent on pummeling the new guy. Turns out that the belt I was wearing had a stripe or two on it. He thought I had more experience than he did. So he had a chip on his shoulders about submitting the "more experienced" man.

Instead, he just choked out a newbie. *shrug* The perils of grading systems, eh? ;)

Yeah, I guess so. Typically, unless its a gi class, belts are not worn. And I've been there too, on the receiving end of someone who feels they need to make a point. Oh well...theres one in every bunch I suppose. LOL!
 

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