Belt system are more for the teacher than the student.

Bujingodai

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My belt was just black until my wife thought I would like it if she got my name and rank embroidered in gold on it. I still wear it as, it's my belt with luck the gold isn't a huge font.
I have at times used a plain one to teach seminars.
 

MadMartigan

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This thread reminds me of a funny story that happened last summer.

My instructor is an 8th dan, who prefers not to wear any markings on his black belt. Most other TKD black belts in our area do wear dan markings of some kind.

Last summer we went to a small invitational tournament hosted in a neighboring town by a young TKD instructor we had not met before. Part way through the day, this well-meaning instructor eventually tried to politely let my instructor know that his belt was on backwards (the embroidery not showing). He was surprised to learn that the other side of the belt was as blank as the 1st side!

On the drive home we had a good chuckle about it. I think it was a good leason for the young instructor also, not to assume anything.
 

PhotonGuy

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For some reason my mind wandered on the purpose of the belts and I said to myself that it would be a great way for teacher to know where the student were in their instructions. A small school of 20 students is easy to keep track of everyone's skill level and how far the student is in their training. But if you had a school that had 30+ students then it may be come more difficult to know where each student is, So how could someone easily know where a student was in their training without having to ask the student directly. A belt system would make this easier, not only would it make it easier, for the instructors and teachers. It would also be of value for guest instructors who wouldn't need to ask each student about their rank or question if the student was truthful about their rank.

The larger the school the more beneficial a belt system would be to schools with one or 2 instructors.

Is there any truth to this in why martial arts belt systems were created?
Apparently instructors can know where each student is in terms of skill even if it's a large school, and by large I mean a school with over a hundred students or so. On this forum in the past people have talked about how promotion works at some dojos, that the instructor promotes the student when the instructor sees the student is ready which might or might not involve some formal testing or demonstrations and people have talked about how its even done at really large dojos like what I mentioned above.
 

Hot Lunch

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Apparently instructors can know where each student is in terms of skill even if it's a large school, and by large I mean a school with over a hundred students or so. On this forum in the past people have talked about how promotion works at some dojos, that the instructor promotes the student when the instructor sees the student is ready which might or might not involve some formal testing or demonstrations and people have talked about how its even done at really large dojos like what I mentioned above.
And I think BJJ kills the argument of it being more for the instructor. It takes 10 to 12 years to make black belt in BJJ, and those 10 to 12 years are broken down into four belt colors. And instructors have no problem being able to tell where their students are at. So why do arts where black belt is reached in a third of the time need it broken down into six or seven belt colors?
 

Gerry Seymour

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Apparently instructors can know where each student is in terms of skill even if it's a large school, and by large I mean a school with over a hundred students or so. On this forum in the past people have talked about how promotion works at some dojos, that the instructor promotes the student when the instructor sees the student is ready which might or might not involve some formal testing or demonstrations and people have talked about how its even done at really large dojos like what I mentioned above.
This is true. There's another aspect, though.

I can assess a student's overall skill pretty quickly, and if I'm teaching them, I can assess their skill in specific areas fairly quickly, too. But when looking at a full class, and setting up what folks will work on and with whom, belts were an easy shortcut to parts of that. If I wanted everyone working on something close to their most recent material, I'd pair everyone by rank. If I wanted to progress the lowest ranks, I'd either pair them with folks of the rank above (to reinforce the material they most recently passed a test on) or one of the highest-ranking students.

So I could look over a class (whether it was 20 or 40 students) and quickly tell what kinds of divisions might work. If I have a bunch of green belts (in the middle of student ranks), I might decide it's a good day for that group to focus on stuff that usually helps green belts develop, then divide the rest of the class from them. Of course, when doing this, I'd also consider what I knew about specific students - like John, a brown belt who was technically pretty good but had just awful breakfalls - not pairing him with that overly energetic 20-something guy with his shiny new yellow belt.

Add in a student who normally trains under another instructor (I usually taught Monday/Wednesday, chief instructor taught Tues/Thurs, senior BB taught Monday/Saturday), or when I'm filling in for another instructor, and those belts become the only easy way to get things going until I get a chance to familiarize myself with the student.
 

Gerry Seymour

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And I think BJJ kills the argument of it being more for the instructor. It takes 10 to 12 years to make black belt in BJJ, and those 10 to 12 years are broken down into four belt colors. And instructors have no problem being able to tell where their students are at. So why do arts where black belt is reached in a third of the time need it broken down into six or seven belt colors?
I'll argue the other side - for me, as an instructor, the rank was way more helpful than as a student. It helped as a student (paired with a partner I didn't know or hadn't seen in a while, I could quickly know what techniques and falls they knew). But as an instructor, it was one of the first things I'd look at when deciding how to tweak my class plan (or if that plan was even feasible, given the attending population).

Could I have done that without ranks? Sure. But I'd have had to start every class (after the warm-up and breakfalls) with stuff anyone can do, and visit with each group to assess the situation. If they were all my students, there's a chance I'd remember exactly where they all were, but more likey I'd need to ask each student which techniques they'd gotten recently (in case they attended someone else's class) or look it up in their paperwork.

I think BJJ is a bit different, since the classes I've seen tend to cover the same techniques with everyone from white up, and the instructor just tweaks things differently when coaching folks of different ability levels. Less of a curriculum-based approach means you can more easily start a class with useful material that matters to everyone, and assess as you go.
 

MuayJitsu

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i think martial arts would be a lot simpler without belts. Belts cause to much drama. To much bickering to much posturing to much thinking theyre everything just because of their belt. from what Ive seen to many people spend more time training to get a belt than they do actually trying to get better at their martial art. Facts are belts are not needed because theres a number of styles that dont use them and they get along just fine without them so its not like theyre necessary
 

Gerry Seymour

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i think martial arts would be a lot simpler without belts. Belts cause to much drama. To much bickering to much posturing to much thinking theyre everything just because of their belt. from what Ive seen to many people spend more time training to get a belt than they do actually trying to get better at their martial art. Facts are belts are not needed because theres a number of styles that dont use them and they get along just fine without them so its not like theyre necessary
I don't think the belts are the issue. I've seen that behavior from places that don't use belt ranking. I do think it's more obvious when there's ranking, especially where ranks equal authority within an organization. But some of the worst actors I've seen, in this regard, were folks who went independent and put on a rank to match the attitude they already had.

I think most folks who train toward a belt are just using the milemarker as something to strive for. They want the recognition of the rank, sure, but what they want is to be good enough to be that rank.

You are correct that belts aren't necessary, but they are also not necessarily a hindrance. They can be useful, in a number of ways. I went back and forth for a long time, considering just not using belts or ranks, and eventually decided it wasn't worth the effort to get rid of them.
 

Hot Lunch

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i think martial arts would be a lot simpler without belts. Belts cause to much drama. To much bickering to much posturing to much thinking theyre everything just because of their belt.
I haven't seen this at any of the dojos I've trained at. Two karate dojos, two BJJ schools. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at any of them if the owners caught any of their black belts acting like that.

from what Ive seen to many people spend more time training to get a belt than they do actually trying to get better at their martial art. Facts are belts are not needed because theres a number of styles that dont use them and they get along just fine without them so its not like theyre necessary
Personally, I don't care about other people's motives. If they treat me well on the mat, that's all I care about.

From what I've observed, people may sign up with belts in mind, but that usually ends up fading over a short amount of time as the training grows on them.
 
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JowGaWolf

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Speaking as someone who got caught up in some no-belt drama. The biggest danger is Ego and Authority.

Some belive Authorithy is owed with rank. Authority is earned. But not everyone sees it thst way and as a result bad eggs appear.
 

Hot Lunch

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Speaking as someone who got caught up in some no-belt drama. The biggest danger is Ego and Authority.

Some belive Authorithy is owed with rank. Authority is earned. But not everyone sees it thst way and as a result bad eggs appear.

You're looking for a different word than "authority."


In 1959, French and Raven described five bases of power:

  1. Legitimate This comes from the belief that a person has the formal right to make demands, and to expect others to be compliant and obedient.
  2. Reward This results from one person's ability to compensate another for compliance.
  3. Expert This is based on a person's high levels of skill and knowledge.
  4. Referent This is the result of a person's perceived attractiveness, worthiness and right to others' respect.
  5. Coercive This comes from the belief that a person can punish others for noncompliance.
Six years later, Raven added an extra power base:

6. Informational This results from a person's ability to control the information that others need to accomplish something. [1]
Rank is a source of #1 - Legitimate power. Followers are obligated to obey those of higher rank due to official policy.

What you're referring to is #4 - referent power.
 
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JowGaWolf

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You're looking for a different word than "authority."
Nope. That the correct word is Authority
1. the power or right to give orders, make decisions,
2. a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.

I been through this personally but I won't go back over the story of what happened to me with my last Jow Ga school.
 
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JowGaWolf

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Rank is a source of #1 - Legitimate power. Followers are obligated to obey those of higher rank due to official policy.
I can think of a few exmples where this isn't true.
 

silent killer

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Belts are for people who want to pose in their GI. I don織t need no Black belt to be a fighter, did Bruce Lee prance around with a Black Belt?
 
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JowGaWolf

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Belts are for people who want to pose in their GI. I don織t need no Black belt to be a fighter, did Bruce Lee prance around with a Black Belt?
This is why I think belt systems are more for teacher than students. I could replace belts with certificates and it would perform the same function for student. Other people may not be able to visually see that student's rank but the student would know
 

silent killer

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This is why I think belt systems are more for teacher than students. I could replace belts with certificates and it would perform the same function for student. Other people may not be able to visually see that student's rank but the student would know
yes i get ya bro ..but why does the Sensei need a belt?
i prefer the No-GI systems..you can fight & are good or ya aint. simple.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Nope. That the correct word is Authority
1. the power or right to give orders, make decisions,
2. a person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.

I been through this personally but I won't go back over the story of what happened to me with my last Jow Ga school.
In many organizations, authority is, in fact, based on rank. Respect is earned. I don't get to decide an upper rank has no authority over me within an organization, so long as I am part of that organization.
 
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