Another ATA 5 year old black belt

Daniel Sullivan

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Thank you.
You're welcome!

To elaborate, repetition of a small selection of techniques for a period of weeks internalizes those techniques. Generally, the issue that I see with schools that have rapid belt advancement (as in two years or less) is not the rapidity of the advancement but that the students are only in the class maybe once or twice a week and are often not practicing outside of class consistently. There is no way with a 'ten geubs in two years or less' schedule for students to get the depth in the technique that one needs to have with foundational material before moving on to more advanced material.

My kendo students spend a solid three or four months on essentially three basic strikes and four variations of two of those strikes, four basic parries, basic footwork, one basic posture, distance, and zanshin after striking. That is it. I do not introduce kata until later in the curriculum.

I have seven grades prior to first dan: beginner, then 6th to 1st kyu. Beginner is a three month session. 6th kyu introduces no new techniques, but introduces suburi (repetitive cutting exercises), nidan waza (two strike/step combinations) and oji waza (defensive techniques coupled with counter attacks from the strikes the students learned in the beginner session). The beginner session is long enough for newbies to get a good idea of what class is like and what kendo is about and to decide if they want to commit to more.

I do not allow students to put on bogu until about fouth kyu as a rule of thumb (there are exceptions). Essentially, students are looking at roughly eight to ten months of technical training and conditioning before doing any kind of sparring.

When I was asked to take the taekwondo classes at times when the instructor was unable to make class, my teaching methodology was pretty much the same; lots of line drills and repetitive kicking and punching drills.
 

puunui

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Generally, the issue that I see with schools that have rapid belt advancement (as in two years or less) is not the rapidity of the advancement but that the students are only in the class maybe once or twice a week and are often not practicing outside of class consistently. There is no way with a 'ten geubs in two years or less' schedule for students to get the depth in the technique that one needs to have with foundational material before moving on to more advanced material.


FUNAKOSHI Gichin Sensei promoted his first group of 1st Dan after 18 months of training. Do you disagree with what he did?
 

dancingalone

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FUNAKOSHI Gichin Sensei promoted his first group of 1st Dan after 18 months of training. Do you disagree with what he did?

It may have been the right thing to do in his time, in his setting. On the other hand, Miyagi Sensei, generally considered Funakoshi Sensei's senior in karate circles on Okinawa, never awarded dan ranks himself - probably something he considered right for his own circumstances.

Arguably, we have veered too far in the direction of it being 'easy' to earn a BB, child or not. It's OK IMO to adjust with the times in a dynamic fashion and require a higher bar of knowledge and performance for the rank.
 

Tez3

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FUNAKOSHI Gichin Sensei promoted his first group of 1st Dan after 18 months of training. Do you disagree with what he did?

Surely that depends on how often they trained? it could be 18 months of 8 hours a day or 18 months of two hours a week. The 18 months doesn't mean anything to us as a time for training unless we know how often they trained.
 

dancingalone

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I think that a lot of it has to do with what a black belt has come to mean in the states how that meaning was communicated by people, such as US servicemen, who brought arts back to the states. Since they weren't training kids, the image of a black belt was a big, tough, ex marine who had trained hard in the art's country of origin and was attracting students similar to himself.

The idea that the belt was for competition bracketing was lost and now it almost seems foreign to many people.

It's a foreign idea precisely because the meaning and purpose of a belt rank has grown way past what it originally meant in Judo. You have a BB in hapkido, correct? What does it mean to you there? Do you have hapkido tournaments where it is necessary to group competitors into brackets?

I'm privileged to hold a BB in Aikikai aikido - we don't have tournaments. What my belt means is that I have a level of proficiency within the curriculum associated with my rank. Luckily, it's a real measure of competence since standards in aikido are generally high. There's not a lot of different belt colors and rank advancement isn't necessarily stressed - instead skill and execution is. It's rare that I see an aikido dan that I think isn't up to snuff - the opposite is true in TKD and karate, the other arts I hold BBs in.

I'd like to see a bit more of this rigor within TKD in general. (I am sure most of us here are associated with great schools with high standards by the way.)
 

puunui

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I'm privileged to hold a BB in Aikikai aikido - we don't have tournaments. What my belt means is that I have a level of proficiency within the curriculum associated with my rank. Luckily, it's a real measure of competence since standards in aikido are generally high. There's not a lot of different belt colors and rank advancement isn't necessarily stressed - instead skill and execution is. It's rare that I see an aikido dan that I think isn't up to snuff - the opposite is true in TKD and karate, the other arts I hold BBs in. I'd like to see a bit more of this rigor within TKD in general. (I am sure most of us here are associated with great schools with high standards by the way.)

Do you think it is appropriate or even fair to judge a non-aikido art by aikido standards? Or should we simply go with what the arts themselves establish for rank and promotion and set forth by the headquarters of the art? I hear eskimos cast their elderly away when they have no value to the group. Personally, I would never do that to my parents. Should I then condemn eskimos for how they treat their elderly, assuming that is what they actually do? Personally, I have no opinion about aikido's rank structure or any other art's rank structure other than the ones that I study personally. And I don't care what they do. Frankly, I don't even care what other instructors do in the arts that I do study. The standards they use to assess their students is their business, not mine.
 

puunui

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Surely that depends on how often they trained? it could be 18 months of 8 hours a day or 18 months of two hours a week. The 18 months doesn't mean anything to us as a time for training unless we know how often they trained.


I don't think it was 8 hours per day for 18 months. His first students were educated working people if I remember correctly. But I can go check later.
 

puunui

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Arguably, we have veered too far in the direction of it being 'easy' to earn a BB, child or not. It's OK IMO to adjust with the times in a dynamic fashion and require a higher bar of knowledge and performance for the rank.

Arguably, we are just right, since the ATA or Kukkiwon allows such things. If they are ok with it, what concern is it of ours? If you wish to promote only 18 year olds and above according to your own high strict standards, I don't think the Kukkiwon or ATA would stand in judgment of you or otherwise tell you what to do.
 

dancingalone

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Do you think it is appropriate or even fair to judge a non-aikido art by aikido standards? Or should we simply go with what the arts themselves establish for rank and promotion and set forth by the headquarters of the art? I hear eskimos cast their elderly away when they have no value to the group. Personally, I would never do that to my parents. Should I then condemn eskimos for how they treat their elderly, assuming that is what they actually do? Personally, I have no opinion about aikido's rank structure or any other art's rank structure other than the ones that I study personally. And I don't care what they do. Frankly, I don't even care what other instructors do in the arts that I do study. The standards they use to assess their students is their business, not mine.

I think it's a fair comparison to make when people bring in the judo argument, saying that black belts are meant only for seeding/matching competitive pairings. Clearly many arts have adopted the judo dan system, and likewise they probably all have gathered meaning to the rank beyond competitive purposes.

And my interest in what TKD belt ranks mean come from my holding black belts in TKD myself. As do my niece and nephew. And I even am the proud new owner of a commercial TKD dojang as of last quarter. I care a lot about the subject - I hope understandably so.
 

dancingalone

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Arguably, we are just right, since the ATA or Kukkiwon allows such things. If they are ok with it, what concern is it of ours? If you wish to promote only 18 year olds and above according to your own high strict standards, I don't think the Kukkiwon or ATA would stand in judgment of you or otherwise tell you what to do.

Certainly that's true in an abstract sense. However, in practical sense, I am a commercial competitor offering martial arts instruction at my new property, including TKD. What goes on elsewhere inevitably affects me, does it not? Especially so if my own locale has some of this going on.

Granted I can adapt and turn lemons into lemonade as the saying goes, but I don't think it out of turn for me to be concerned about something that really does affect me.
 

puunui

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I think that a lot of it has to do with what a black belt has come to mean in the states how that meaning was communicated by people, such as US servicemen, who brought arts back to the states. Since they weren't training kids, the image of a black belt was a big, tough, ex marine who had trained hard in the art's country of origin and was attracting students similar to himself.

The idea that the belt was for competition bracketing was lost and now it almost seems foreign to many people.

Or not, since students still spar according to belt rank in their dojang, even if they do not go to tournaments. For me, it is what it is today, and if we are so strict and hard on the lower ranks, then people will never progress to the upper ranks, which presents its own problems in the future.
 

puunui

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Certainly that's true in an abstract sense. However, in practical sense, I am a commercial competitor offering martial arts instruction at my new property, including TKD. What goes on elsewhere inevitably affects me, does it not? Especially so if my own locale has some of this going on.

I don't think so. There was a funny situation here recently. There was a high quality taekwondo school which regularly produces national champions at USAT events. Right below them on the ground floor was a karate school known as the original mcdojo of hawaii. The taekwondo school was strict but not overly so with promotions, and while the karate school was very liberal, the most liberal school here. Those who wanted easy went to the karate school. Those who wanted quality went to the taekwondo school. Both prospered. Eventually the taekwondo school moved to a bigger and better location, so no more of that. But it is true that the markets are different.
 

dancingalone

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I don't think so. There was a funny situation here recently. There was a high quality taekwondo school which regularly produces national champions at USAT events. Right below them on the ground floor was a karate school known as the original mcdojo of hawaii. The taekwondo school was strict but not overly so with promotions, and while the karate school was very liberal, the most liberal school here. Those who wanted easy went to the karate school. Those who wanted quality went to the taekwondo school. Both prospered. Eventually the taekwondo school moved to a bigger and better location, so no more of that. But it is true that the markets are different.

That probably a good example of product differentiation and something I aim to do with my school. I don't think they are perfectly different markets however.

I think there's a big cross-section of people who would be happy training in either a lax or a rigorous school. Things like atmosphere or the social aspect or even the instructor are more important to them than the technical standard for school selection and retention. I think people like that can make the difference in running a profitable school or not.
 

ralphmcpherson

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That probably a good example of product differentiation and something I aim to do with my school. I don't think they are perfectly different markets however.

I think there's a big cross-section of people who would be happy training in either a lax or a rigorous school. Things like atmosphere or the social aspect or even the instructor are more important to them than the technical standard for school selection and retention. I think people like that can make the difference in running a profitable school or not.
I think the instructor makes a huge difference to the profitibility of the school. Its amazing what people will do to train under a good instructor. My new instructor has 80 students in his afternoon class and 70 students in his evening class. Some students travel well over an hour to get to class and probably drive past heaps of tkd clubs on their way and many of those classes are from our club. A really good instructor is very hard to find. Funny thing is that my instructor travels 3 hours to get to class, but he only works four hours a week so he has plenty of time on his hands :)
 

Kong Soo Do

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FUNAKOSHI Gichin Sensei promoted his first group of 1st Dan after 18 months of training. Do you disagree with what he did?

May I ask your source material? The reason that I ask is I remember reading that in that first group, several were promoted directly to 2nd Dan. I do not remember the length of training however. Presumably they had trained longer than the ones promoted to first?

In the mid-50's Uechi Kanei Sensei adopted the Dan/kyu system. In a mass promotion ceremony he promoted several to Godan (5th Dan), some to 4th Dan etc on down to 1st Dan. However, the ones that were promoted higher had many years, some training with Uechi Kanbun Sensei.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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FUNAKOSHI Gichin Sensei promoted his first group of 1st Dan after 18 months of training. Do you disagree with what he did?
I neither agree nor disagree; it is not my place to judge.

I suspect that students of his practiced more rigorously outside of class than modern American students do. All things considered, if students are practicing like the kids on the varsity football team, then eighteen months is probably plenty.

But having taught kids for several years, I know that that isn't how they are practicing by and large. Same goes for adults, who mainly take the classes for enjoyment and fitness.

Not a criticism; people are all different. Funkoshi's students in prewar Japan had a different lifestyle than ATA students in the twenty first century. I suspect that most people in Funakoshi's day (worldwide, not just in Japan) had a greater level of physicality in their lives than a modern TKD student in the US does outside of TKD.
 

ralphmcpherson

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I neither agree nor disagree; it is not my place to judge.

I suspect that students of his practiced more rigorously outside of class than modern American students do. All things considered, if students are practicing like the kids on the varsity football team, then eighteen months is probably plenty.

But having taught kids for several years, I know that that isn't how they are practicing by and large. Same goes for adults, who mainly take the classes for enjoyment and fitness.

Not a criticism; people are all different. Funkoshi's students in prewar Japan had a different lifestyle than ATA students in the twenty first century. I suspect that most people in Funakoshi's day (worldwide, not just in Japan) had a greater level of physicality in their lives than a modern TKD student in the US does outside of TKD.
Exactly. Very few kids, or adults for that matter, do anything outside the dojang other than a bit of 'cramming' the night before a test. The ones who do, its obvious they do. Doing form once or twice in class two times a week, doesnt get you real far, and you only have to watch most kids grading to see this is about the most they do. Any physical activity/sport that is new to someone takes a long time to commit to muscle memory and look fluent. For instance, I have never played baseball (I dont even know the rules), if I were to take baseball lessons for 1 hour twice a week and did no practice at all in my own time, I dont think I would progress vey quickly at all. Tkd is no different.
 
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