Are belts the way to go (from a brown belt)?

APL76

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I think your guys are right about wrestling and boxing being problematic to add a belt system to... and that there really would appear to be no benefit.

From my (admittedly limited) Wing Chun experience, it doesn't need belts... but they in no way seem incompatible.

The WT school I went to had no ranks... but students were divided along which form they were learning.

- Twice a year, they would accept a new group to begin learning 1st form (Siu Lim Tao). This seems like an obvious 'White Belt'.

- Should you stick it out for a year or so (I moved away and couldn't keep going) they'd start teaching 2nd Form (call that Blue belt).

Then there was 3rd Form and the dummy form. (Purple and Brown belts?)

After learning them all and being judged proficient, that's an easy parallel to black belt... and like BJJ, there (to my knowledge) isn't any formalized curriculum after that. Lineage and time in rank form the basis of higher Dan ranks.

Again. No arts really Need belts; but all in all, the WT curriculum doesn't seem so incompatible to me.
That actually seems similar to how we do it. 4 levels represented by a coloured sash, 3 of those 4 levels divided into 4 sub levels. Each of the 3 levels corresponds roughly to 2 of the 6 forms. 1= Sui Lum Tao and Chum Kue, 2= Bui Ji and Wooden Dummy, 3= Pole and Knives 4= You have learned the forms and are now making the system your own.

When I teach people the material only conforms loosely to that though and follows more when I figure when they are ready for new stuff. The grading system is really just for everyone to keep general track of what we are doing.

Laughing at wing chun done with a grading system and sashes/belts I think is just a bit of martial arts hipsterism. After all, go back before the 50s/60s and wing chun was never taught in schools open to the public, then Yip Man started teaching it like that. But the idea of a wing chun school never seems to bother these people, just a piece of cloth hanging around someone's waist. If people are too "real" for that, so be it.
 

Callen

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This is kind of what I was thinking. The very little I know of WC is that there are multiple forms. Ranks could simply align with those - every new form = new rank. I don't know that it'd add anything useful, nor that it'd detract in any meaningful way.

Laughing at wing chun done with a grading system and sashes/belts I think is just a bit of martial arts hipsterism. After all, go back before the 50s/60s and wing chun was never taught in schools open to the public, then Yip Man started teaching it like that. But the idea of a wing chun school never seems to bother these people, just a piece of cloth hanging around someone's waist. If people are too "real" for that, so be it.

Good points all around.

In my opinion, this is much more than a flippant political or social debate. There are a lot of factors that can help shape the direction of how we understand why some peeps dont include the belt system in Wing Chun.

Thinking that refusing the belt system in Wing Chun is a hipsterism way of passing judgment, is a very limited way of looking at the issue. There are much larger aspects to take into consideration, such as the more practical and obvious reasons why certain lineages do not use the belt system.

Wing Chun is one of the most popular Chinese Martial Arts in the world, and contrary to how it feels to us individually, the USA is not the epicenter of Wing Chun. Given that, we must accept the simple fact that there are a lot of lineages that teach differently, using very different curricula (curriculums).

Applying a belt rank to align with the forms is a good solution for some, but not all lineages teach that way. Hong Kong and mainland China have a TON of variations in curriculum (Yip Man lineage included), many of which are taught in the USA and other countries. Wing Chun practitioners and Martial Artists that are unassociated with those lineages may not even be aware of how those particular curriculum(s) function, and that can change the narrative.

Some lineages teach all of the forms first, before any drills. Using this method, a practitioner must first understand the overall goals of the system, the purpose of each of the shapes, and how they translate back to the concepts and principles of the system as a constant whole. They then move forward onto developing those concepts and revolving attributes into skills with training partners. In this curriculum, forms are not the focus of progression and belt ranking in accordance to the forms would be counterproductive. This is just one example of a curriculum variation, there are many more... Simply put, the Wing Chun curriculum is not standardized.

Typically, a Wing Chun curriculum that supports the belt/ranking system will be different than the curriculum used by lineages with no belt system. Whether the belt system is good or bad in Wing Chun, depends on the overall experience, and the practitioners ability to implement the concepts and principles of the system effectively.

The belt system might work for some Wing Chun lineages but not all.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I think the problem is where did the WC ranking system come from.

I can give my students a black belt in Chinese wrestling because it has ranking system and I had earned my black belt step by step. I can't give my long fist students a black belt because I don't even have black belt in long fist system myself.

If you are a WC teacher, you tell your students that you gave yourself a black belt, how much value does your black belt have?

If your WC teacher doesn't have black belt, how can he give you a black belt?
 
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MadMartigan

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If your WC teacher doesn't have black belt, how can he give you a black belt?
A bit of a side topic, but still related I think.

By that logic, how did Kano, Jigoro get a belt... or have authority to assign belts to others? Or Funakoshi after him when introducing them to Shotokan?

It's a chicken/egg problem. At some point, it was not... until it was. We accept those versions without thought because we tend to venerate the old masters... but god forbid someone try to do what they did today.

Please remember. I actually liked that my WC school didn't use belts. As said, there are tones of reasons not to use them. I just don't like it when those who do choose to use them because it has utility for them are spoken of a second class martial arts practitioners.
 

Dirty Dog

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I think the problem is where did the WC ranking system come from.

I can give my students a black belt in Chinese wrestling because it has ranking system and I had earned my black belt step by step. I can't give my long fist students a black belt because I don't even have black belt in long fist system myself.

If you are a WC teacher, you tell your students that you gave yourself a black belt, how much value does your black belt have?

If your WC teacher doesn't have black belt, how can he give you a black belt?
You're not "giving" yourself anything. You are adopting a ranking system to be used within your school. A ranking system that reflects (presumably) the level of knowledge a given student has reached.
After all, the belt ranking system wasn't used at all, until Kano implemented it for his Judo students. And I really don't think you mean to say that Kanos black belt, and that of every belt holder in every system that adopted belt ranks are without value, simply because the belt system wasn't in place the very day the system was organized.
 

isshinryuronin

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By that logic, how did Kano, Jigoro get a belt... or have authority to assign belts to others? Or Funakoshi after him when introducing them to Shotokan?
Funakoshi gave out the first black belts in 1924, but I doubt very much it was a unilateral act on his part. Japanese custom is to do things by mutual agreement, so I suspect there was some sort of "governing" board of TMA masters (and/or the Dept. of Physical Education of the public school system) that OK'd the adoption of black belts in karate, and gave him the authority to grant them.

(There was an Okinawan MA governing organization called the Butoku Kai prior to WWII, and afterwards other organizations were formed. This was a very fluid and dynamic time in karate history and, while I have some knowledge, I am not an "expert" authority on this subject, so am open to corrections or further details.)

This is my understanding of how the various dans and teaching titles in karate were awarded for the next couple of decades, until each of the newly evolved styles took this function over. I don't know the earlier history of Judo's Kano Sensei, who devised the belt system - the process may have been similar, or not.
 
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Callen

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I think if there is a WC Association, the WC Association gives black belt to an WC instructor, everything will be easier after that.

Do you mean for each lineage?

Theres no real way to create a single Wing Chun Association or one unified curriculum. There are simply too many lineages and different training methods to do that, not to mention no real way to name a single successor to the entire Wing Chun system. I can think of at least 25 different lineages. Some of the Tang lineage and Gulao Wing Chun curriculum for example, use a completely different set of forms than Yip Man lineages.

Now if you're talking an association for each lineage, that is possible. Each lineage has the ability to organize their own hierarchy, ranking, and methods of completing the system. That's currently how it is being done.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Thinking that refusing the belt system in Wing Chun is a hipsterism way of passing judgment, is a very limited way of looking at the issue. There are much larger aspects to take into consideration, such as the more practical and obvious reasons why certain lineages do not use the belt system.
Just clarifying, I don't think he was saying it was hipsterism to refuse a belt system, but to mock it. I think using or not using a rank system is mostly just a matter of preference.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I think the problem is where did the WC ranking system come from.

I can give my students a black belt in Chinese wrestling because it has ranking system and I had earned my black belt step by step. I can't give my long fist students a black belt because I don't even have black belt in long fist system myself.

If you are a WC teacher, you tell your students that you gave yourself a black belt, how much value does your black belt have?

If your WC teacher doesn't have black belt, how can he give you a black belt?
Where is it written that only someone who received a BB can give one? If that were the case, there could never be any in any art, because it has to start somewhere. It's just a rank. At any point, someone can decide they find those useful and can create a ranking system. They can either place themselves at the top rank (since they are the head of that system, and they determine that is what that rank signifies), or use no rank, at all. Or whatever else they designate as appropriate within the ranking system they develop.
 
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Im iffy on having overt or proper rankings sort of neutral.

But if i ever ran anywhere i would probbly use patches (if anything), and the belt colour be free barring staff colours. Or maybe something, if you get all the patches you get this belt colour. Kind of like the license system just expressed with soemthing, say i teach you all the punching in the system, you get a patch to say you know it etc etc etc. when you get all you get a combi patch/belt colour.

If any of you mentiosn boy scouts, the army did it first. Your awards would be given to you and worn on your uniorm, i dont know that system jsut sounds better to me, and gives incentive to keep GI's more. (which i would keep as default training wear) It also has the ebenfit of, i know exactly what you are compotent in, and could sub divided it into teaching ranks for each as well.

No1 dress Gi when? :p

Edit: I dont know why i defualted to calling it "the [koryu] license system", its not strange or foreign, concept to westerners. I dont think there is a word word explination for it in english though, thats odd. Just think you do a test, if you pass you get a patch to shove on your uniform with or without grades.
 

wckf92

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My biggest concern is that I'm not sure I'm progressing.
If your ability to hit while not being hit is increasing...then I'd say you are progressing.
but I don't think I necessarily understand what I'm doing
This is concerning. After all your years of training...you should AT LEAST be able to deconstruct what you are doing, explain it logically, be able to trace things back to principles, combat theories, forms, kuen kuit, etc etc.
and doubt I could use it in a real confrontation.
Ouch. Not good. Sounds like you need some serious high pressure testing to gain some confidence (or lose it) in the things your Sifu has you doing...
We do very little contact training
Again, this is NOT normal. I'd say look for a new school...or at least find some training partners who want to bang out some tough training sessions.


My comments above are based on my upbringing in WC. There were no belts. IME, some of the best, most hardcore and applicable wing chun is passed down in backyards, basements, garages.

Good luck on your journey! Keep us posted on what you decide!
 

APL76

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Just clarifying, I don't think he was saying it was hipsterism to refuse a belt system, but to mock it. I think using or not using a rank system is mostly just a matter of preference.
Yeah exactly. I wasn't saying its hipserism to not want to use a belt system. After all, when I learn Yuen Kay San wing chun privately from my Sifu we don't have a belt system, or grading system for that matter, we just learn it as he teaches it. But in his class when he had it, and in mine, we use sashes and grades.

What I was getting at is this attitude that some people have when they see a system that uses belts they feel the need to act condescendingly and insinuate that somehow the school must be a mcdojo teaching some fake or half baked wing chun, while then noting that they don't use belts and that they are somehow more authentic for that.

Its funny but belts seem to mean the most to the people who insist that they don't use them.
 

Callen

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Just clarifying, I don't think he was saying it was hipsterism to refuse a belt system, but to mock it. I think using or not using a rank system is mostly just a matter of preference.
Thank you, @gpseymour! I read that completely wrong. Forgive my unnecessarily long-winded dissertation/rant on the belt system and the various curricula in Wing Chun :p
 

Kung Fu Wang

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They can either place themselves at the top rank (since they are the head of that system, and they determine that is what that rank signifies),
Many years ago I sparred with a guy who said that he had 9th degree golden belt. That guy was 26 years old. One day someone called me on the phone and told me that he has 4 different black belt from 4 different systems. Next day I met him. He was only 16 years old.

IMO, the term "personal freedom" can be over used sometime.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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Many years ago I sparred with a guy who said that he had 9th degree golden belt. That guy was 26 years old. One day someone called me on the phone and told me that he has 4 different black belt from 4 different systems. Next day I met him. He was only 16 years old.

IMO, the term "personal freedom" can be over used sometime.
Neither of those ranks means anything to me until I know what they mean. What I take from that pair is that one guy has a rank I've never heard of, and which seems to be late in a system that gives ranks very quickly. And the other probably trained as a child, in groups that give kids' BB.

If you changed the ages by a couple of decades, I still wouldn't know much about them. Rank really doesn't tell much unless you have the context.

So, if the first guy had a 1st degree BB, what would change?

And I still don't know if either of those were self-assigned ranks. If not, I'm not sure how they pertain to this part of the thread.
 

MadMartigan

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Many years ago I sparred with a guy who said that he had 9th degree golden belt. That guy was 26 years old.

Did he look like a younger version of this guy?

20210726_135814.jpg
 

Steve

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Neither of those ranks means anything to me until I know what they mean. What I take from that pair is that one guy has a rank I've never heard of, and which seems to be late in a system that gives ranks very quickly. And the other probably trained as a child, in groups that give kids' BB.

If you changed the ages by a couple of decades, I still wouldn't know much about them. Rank really doesn't tell much unless you have the context.

So, if the first guy had a 1st degree BB, what would change?

And I still don't know if either of those were self-assigned ranks. If not, I'm not sure how they pertain to this part of the thread.
I have a 2nd degree black belt in bavarian jiu jitsu.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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And I still don't know if either of those were self-assigned ranks. If not, I'm not sure how they pertain to this part of the thread.
If I tell you that I have black belt in 10 different CMA systems, but none of those CMA systems use ranking system. What kind of confidence will you have on me?

One of my students wanted me to give him a black belt in my long fist system. I told him that I can only give him a "long fist teacher certification".
 
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