Avoiding the overzealous student...

Scotty

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I am very new in Kenpo. I have been attending a weekly class for the past 5 months. I have been practicing nearly everyday for the past few months. I am ready to advance in my training and I feel myself becoming more and more anxious to move forward. While I realize its up to my instructor to know when I am ready to advance ranks would it be entirely out of the question to ask him about advancing belt ranks? How does one know when they are ready to advance?

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks!
 

Brother John

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I understand how you feel, Scotty. It's good that you're excited to grow and working to make progress to the best of your ability!!
BUT: Don't "ASK" to be tested for rank.
MOST martial arts schools I've ever been too consider it wrong / bad manners....etc. to 'ask' if you can be tested.

Something you MAY consider, however: you may approach your instructor and ask them what they'd recomend you work on / focus on in order to be ready....in the future....to advance to the next rank. THIS way you're not asking to be promoted, but you ARE demonstrating your desire to make progress and to seek their advice on what to do.
Who knows, you may just get an answer of "Oh..well...you're doing well. Lets test you."
OR
"Here's where I want to see you make progress." THEN you'll have a realistic idea on what you need to do and you can focus on that. After all, your desire is to make progress, not just 'get' a belt....right?

Your Brother
John
 

MJS

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I am very new in Kenpo. I have been attending a weekly class for the past 5 months. I have been practicing nearly everyday for the past few months. I am ready to advance in my training and I feel myself becoming more and more anxious to move forward. While I realize its up to my instructor to know when I am ready to advance ranks would it be entirely out of the question to ask him about advancing belt ranks? How does one know when they are ready to advance?

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks!

Most schools have a written set of items, ie: katas, kicks, punches, techs., stances, etc. that are required for each belt. Some even have estimated timeframes. However, if someone says it will take 6mos. to go from white to yellow and it doesnt happen, the student should not get upset. Its something that IMO, really should not be used to guage much, because everyone is different. So using that logic, someone who trains 5 days a week, 1 1/2hrs each class and someone who trains 1 time a week should advance at the same time?

There needs to be some standard, but it should really be up to the teacher. The student should not only know the material but should be able to have a solid understanding of it, make it work, know why things are done a certain way, etc.

I view rank like this....when it happens, it happens. IMHO, its not the belt that matters, its what I said above. :)
 

terryl965

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Most schools have a written set of items, ie: katas, kicks, punches, techs., stances, etc. that are required for each belt. Some even have estimated timeframes. However, if someone says it will take 6mos. to go from white to yellow and it doesnt happen, the student should not get upset. Its something that IMO, really should not be used to guage much, because everyone is different. So using that logic, someone who trains 5 days a week, 1 1/2hrs each class and someone who trains 1 time a week should advance at the same time?

There needs to be some standard, but it should really be up to the teacher. The student should not only know the material but should be able to have a solid understanding of it, make it work, know why things are done a certain way, etc.

I view rank like this....when it happens, it happens. IMHO, its not the belt that matters, its what I said above. :)


Mike has made some great points here and John as well so I will just agree with them.
 

Matt

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I am very new in Kenpo. I have been attending a weekly class for the past 5 months. I have been practicing nearly everyday for the past few months. I am ready to advance in my training and I feel myself becoming more and more anxious to move forward. While I realize its up to my instructor to know when I am ready to advance ranks would it be entirely out of the question to ask him about advancing belt ranks? How does one know when they are ready to advance?

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks!

I can't really answer your question, because I'm not totally clear on your problem. You've been at this for five months, and practice nearly every day. So far so good.

You go to class once a week, so that means you've been to approximately 20 classes. How long are the classes? If they are one to two hours of training time each, you have 20 to 40 hours of class time. That's good. If you went three days per week, that would be about a month and a week's worth of lessons. In some cases, you can get that many hours of instructional time in a weekend.

Don't mind me, just thinking out loud.

So, is the problem that you aren't learning and progressing in class (you've his a plateau, no new concepts / material are available, or that you've perfected the basics), or that you think you should be a (insert color here) belt by now?

Are you missing out on knowledge or recognition?
 

Matt

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I understand how you feel, Scotty. It's good that you're excited to grow and working to make progress to the best of your ability!!
BUT: Don't "ASK" to be tested for rank.
MOST martial arts schools I've ever been too consider it wrong / bad manners....etc. to 'ask' if you can be tested.

Something you MAY consider, however: you may approach your instructor and ask them what they'd recomend you work on / focus on in order to be ready....in the future....to advance to the next rank. THIS way you're not asking to be promoted, but you ARE demonstrating your desire to make progress and to seek their advice on what to do.
Who knows, you may just get an answer of "Oh..well...you're doing well. Lets test you."
OR
"Here's where I want to see you make progress." THEN you'll have a realistic idea on what you need to do and you can focus on that. After all, your desire is to make progress, not just 'get' a belt....right?

Your Brother
John

This is probably the best advice you will get on this thread. Ask for areas of focus. Then work on them. Don't mistake memorization for knowledge. I'd only edit Brother John's answer if I were giving the advice to skip mentioning rank. Just find out what you need to work on to improve most. Teachers love when students want to learn and take responsibility for it. Your instructor will probably go out of his / her way to give you really great advice. You will not likely get the same response if your instructor thinks your question is 'why haven't I tested for _____ belt yet?' or some variation of that.
 
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Scotty

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I spoke with my instructor and we are going to evaluate my techniques this week to see if I might qualify to test. I will keep in mind not to get too anxious to advance too quickly.

Thanks everyone.
 

Brother John

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I spoke with my instructor and we are going to evaluate my techniques this week to see if I might qualify to test. I will keep in mind not to get too anxious to advance too quickly.

Thanks everyone.

That's great bro!
Please let us know how it goes for you!

Your Brother
John
 

Matt

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I spoke with my instructor and we are going to evaluate my techniques this week to see if I might qualify to test. I will keep in mind not to get too anxious to advance too quickly.

Thanks everyone.

Great - sounds like you are on your way.

Good luck!
 

just2kicku

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I know in our school, if you ask, you go to the bottom of the list.

When I started, I was a white belt for a year. I did not mind this, I figured my instructor will let me know when I'm ready. My next belt I was at for another year, by then my instructor had given me a key to the dojo so I was working out 7 days a week. I would open on Sundays and one of the BB's would volunteer to come in with me and work on stuff. It still took 9 years to get my bb.

The point is, that no matter what color belt I was, I was always learning and fighting with the higher ranks, so to me the belt color didn't mean a whole lot to me. It's the knowledge you are getting from your instructor.

I would honestly be a little leery of a school that said, "In 6 mos. you'll get your next belt". I have seen him tell students and parents of students that they are not ready to test, that they look like crap and they don't practice.

So, unless your pants are falling down and you need a new belt to hold them up, I wouldn't worry too much about it. As long as your getting the knowledge, isn't that what really counts?
 

Ronin74

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So, unless your pants are falling down and you need a new belt to hold them up, I wouldn't worry too much about it. As long as your getting the knowledge, isn't that what really counts?
That says it all right there.

It's better to be lower in rank with great knowledge and great quality in technique, rather than a higher rank with lower quality and less knowledge.

I never got past my green belt in Kenpo, but I did make sure to try and absorb everything that was taught in the class. However, in testing for my previous belts, I was always prepared, because I'd meet the qualifications way ahead of schedule.
 

TigerCraneGuy

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Totally agree with just2kicku.

More and more, in my long, and not always consistent MA journey, I'm realising that the skill is what matters, and that the belt without the skill is worthless; you may be able to fool others, but deep in your heart, you know if what you have is of any value whatsoever.

Take Kenpo for instance. Its origins can be found in the very old, refined, and sophisticated Chinese Systems; as such, there is a huge amount of material to learn and master. I'm not talking about technique sequences per se, but also the execution of the oh-so-important basics.

Flowing seamlessly between the neutral bow, forward bow, cat stance etc while parrying, blocking, and striking... that kind of skill takes massive amounts of practice to develop. Again I bring up Delayed Sword. Looks simple, but I can only say that I'm competent at its execution, and that mastery will not come for a while yet, though I have drilled this sequence hundreds if not thousands of times already!

I'd say that the main problem is not slow belt promotions, but an over-emphasis on speedy promotions to the detriment of everything else. So my advice FWIW: Focus on the attainment of skill, knowing that if so required, you can apply what you already possess to end the fight expediently. Strive for mastery of the art. When it comes to what we do, I believe that all else is secondary.:)

Best regards,
TCG
 
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Scotty

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My reason for wanting to increase rank is more or less to feel like I am continuing to learn. After going over the techniques over and over again for months I was ready to learn new material.

At the end of class we usually break into groups of students who are in the same belt class to work on our techniques together. While this is a good idea I was becoming more and more frustrated to work with others who clearly are not practicing. These are students who have been going as long as me or perhaps longer. And when I am working with them I have to constantly remind them and review techniques. This is not necessarily bad, but I was beginning to feel like I am being grouped together with this group of students who do not practice and have little enthusiasm to advance. Thats where my frustration comes from.

But thats why I spoke to my instructor and will have him critique my techniques to see if I might qualify to learn a new set of them. I am usually a fast learner and when I set my mind to something I really strive to reach my goals. I am not saying I expect to be a BB in xxx amount of years. I just want to always feel like I am learning and advancing my techniques and knowledge in kenpo. Hope this explains things better.
 

MJS

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My reason for wanting to increase rank is more or less to feel like I am continuing to learn. After going over the techniques over and over again for months I was ready to learn new material.

At the end of class we usually break into groups of students who are in the same belt class to work on our techniques together. While this is a good idea I was becoming more and more frustrated to work with others who clearly are not practicing. These are students who have been going as long as me or perhaps longer. And when I am working with them I have to constantly remind them and review techniques. This is not necessarily bad, but I was beginning to feel like I am being grouped together with this group of students who do not practice and have little enthusiasm to advance. Thats where my frustration comes from.

But thats why I spoke to my instructor and will have him critique my techniques to see if I might qualify to learn a new set of them. I am usually a fast learner and when I set my mind to something I really strive to reach my goals. I am not saying I expect to be a BB in xxx amount of years. I just want to always feel like I am learning and advancing my techniques and knowledge in kenpo. Hope this explains things better.

Keep in mind a few things:

1) Getting new rank doesn't necessarily mean, although that is the impression that it gives, that you're going to be learning any new, because it is very possible that the old stuff still needs work.

2) There comes a time, especially when you reach the upper black belt ranks, that there is nothing new, per se, to learn, but instead, improving on what you already know, getting a deeper understanding of it, and time in grade.

Now, when I say 'you' or 'you're;, I'm not speaking about YOU, but the overall subject. I've taught people a technique, and after 10 times, they're ready to move on, yet when I throw out various situaitons or scenarios, they're left scratching their heads. So looking at it like that, no, they're not ready to move on.

You said it yourself in your second paragraph...that you're often paired up with people, some of whom have been there longer than you, and you have to remind them of things. That should show, that they're probably a higher belt than you, but their skills are not reflective of it.

IMHO, you seem like you really enjoy the arts. You seem to really love training and want to keep getting better. I think you're on the right track. However, don't let the rank thing cloud that goal. :)

Mike
 

astrobiologist

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At the end of class we usually break into groups of students who are in the same belt class to work on our techniques together. While this is a good idea I was becoming more and more frustrated to work with others who clearly are not practicing. These are students who have been going as long as me or perhaps longer. And when I am working with them I have to constantly remind them and review techniques. This is not necessarily bad, but I was beginning to feel like I am being grouped together with this group of students who do not practice and have little enthusiasm to advance. Thats where my frustration comes from.

I believe what you are experiencing is something almost all of us can relate to. The thing is, the way you train and your reasons for training may be different than some of your fellow students. The fact that you're on top of your game when it comes to knowing your techniques is good, but if you fail at understanding your opponent, or in this case your drill partner, then you really are not ready. You have to learn to deal with the mentality of others, to rise above your own frustrations, to "sit on your hands" when necessary, and to become a leader when the opportunity presents itself.

There will be more challenges than just learning new techniques and forms and how to use them during your martial arts journey. Those of us who are instructors face these challenges daily. It is bothersome when you feel like a fellow student should be taking some of their own time outside of class to think about what they've learned so that they can progress more efficiently. The same thing happens to school teachers and professors all the time.

You are at the point where you can see this problem. I believe you just need to work on dealing with it. As far as progressing through the ranks, you sound like the type of person who will manage just fine, so don't worry.
 

TigerCraneGuy

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My reason for wanting to increase rank is more or less to feel like I am continuing to learn. After going over the techniques over and over again for months I was ready to learn new material.

At the end of class we usually break into groups of students who are in the same belt class to work on our techniques together. While this is a good idea I was becoming more and more frustrated to work with others who clearly are not practicing. These are students who have been going as long as me or perhaps longer. And when I am working with them I have to constantly remind them and review techniques. This is not necessarily bad, but I was beginning to feel like I am being grouped together with this group of students who do not practice and have little enthusiasm to advance. Thats where my frustration comes from.

But thats why I spoke to my instructor and will have him critique my techniques to see if I might qualify to learn a new set of them. I am usually a fast learner and when I set my mind to something I really strive to reach my goals. I am not saying I expect to be a BB in xxx amount of years. I just want to always feel like I am learning and advancing my techniques and knowledge in kenpo. Hope this explains things better.

Hi Scotty,

In reference to the bolded section above.

Maybe try this: when it's your turn to be the attacker, apply the attack in a realistic manner! I don't mean that you you should try to hurt your training partner, but say... if it's a step-through punch ala Attacking Mace, use an open hand and really step into their space and try to tap them in the head! This may a) shock them into sharpening their game as your hand 'touches' them and they realise the inadequacy of their defenses, and b) raise their energy levels so that when it comes to your turn to be the defender, they step up their game and come at you realistically as well, which is a good thing!

Again, it's not about trying to hurt someone, but to simulate reality as best you can, so as to finesse timing, range and other factors.

Regards,

TCG
 
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Scotty

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Update:

Tonight I went through my techniques for my instructor. He critiqued a few things, but agreed that I am ready to test for my belt next Friday. I am excited to be able to move onto a new set of techniques/skills. Thanks everyone!
 

seasoned

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Update:

Tonight I went through my techniques for my instructor. He critiqued a few things, but agreed that I am ready to test for my belt next Friday. I am excited to be able to move onto a new set of techniques/skills. Thanks everyone!
Good on ya, congratulations.
icon14.gif

 

suicide

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back when i started i felt like i was stuck in white yellow orange belt forever that was because my body wasnt used to all the postures sequences etc etc to tell you the truth i was confused about what was going on sometimes things didnt even make sense only thing that made sense was combat/sparring at the end of class...

but when i realized that i could and wanted to advance in this i set my mind to it , i started organizing like mini seminars at my pad with all the green brown and black belts you ll be surprized how much they are willing to share with you and help you if they see that your really with it !

break a leg scotty %-}
 

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