Blackbelt issuing organizations

bluepanther

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I know black belts can be issued from large organizations down to a small school. I also realize belts don't always translate to martial arts skills. I am thinking a black belt in Judo is grest since they invented the belt system. Also the Kukkiwon issues black belts which are legit, meaning you need one to compete in Olympic Taekwondo. Since Judo and Taekwondo are Olympic sports their black belts seem more legit? Meaning if you have one of these you can go to any judo club or taekwondo place and hold rank. Are there any other black belt issuing bodies that carry that much weight in their respective arts?
 

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Last I checked, the KKW policy for Olympic or WT competition is to award equivalent rank to Dan holders from other styles so they can compete. But even without that policy, it's pretty simple. Our school offers KKW rank to those who want it (most do not). It took me a few weeks to learn the taegeuk poomsae for KKW rank.

A non-KKW TKD school is under no obligation to recognize KKW rank. Understandably so, in some cases.
A KKW 1st Dan is considered a beginner. It's common to achieve that rank in as little as one year.
In our MDK branch, 1st Dan is a teaching rank (the lowest KKW teaching rank is 4th Dan) and typically takes 6-8 years to achieve.

I've had quite a few KKW black belts come to our school. Personally, I couldn't care less what belt they wear. All I care about is whether or not they're learning what we have to teach. In my experience, the ones who wore their prior rank didn't stick around long.

I'd rather wear a white belt and have people wonder why than wear a black belt and have people wonder why.
 
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Gyakuto

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I know black belts can be issued from large organizations down to a small school. I also realize belts don't always translate to martial arts skills. I am thinking a black belt in Judo is grest since they invented the belt system. Also the Kukkiwon issues black belts which are legit, meaning you need one to compete in Olympic Taekwondo. Since Judo and Taekwondo are Olympic sports their black belts seem more legit? Meaning if you have one of these you can go to any judo club or taekwondo place and hold rank. Are there any other black belt issuing bodies that carry that much weight in their respective arts?
The answer to this is probably a bit subjective but these are definites -

Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei (All Japan Kendo Federation), the governing body for Kendo, (Seitei) Iaido and Jodo.
Japan Karate Association, the original governing body for Shotokan Karate.
 
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bluepanther

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Last I checked, the KKW for Olympic or WT competition is to award equivalent rank to Dan holders from other styles so they can compete. But even without that policy, it's pretty simple. Our school offers KKW rank to those who want it (most do not). It took me a few weeks to learn the taegeuk poomsae for KKW rank.

A non-KKW TKD school is under no obligation to recognize KKW rank. Understandably so, in some cases.
A KKW 1st Dan is considered a beginner. It's common to achieve that rank in as little as one year.
In our MDK branch, 1st Dan is a teaching rank (the lowest KKW teaching rank is 4th Dan) and typically takes 6-8 years to achieve.

I've had quite a few KKW black belts come to our school. Personally, I couldn't care less what belt they wear. All I care about is whether or not they're learning what we have to teach. In my experience, the ones who wore their prior rank didn't stick around long.

I'd rather wear a white belt and have people wonder why than wear a black belt and have people wonder why.
I thought the Korean Moo Duk Kwan will automatically transfer Dan rank if a practitioner has Kukkiwon rank?
 
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bluepanther

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The reason I ask is because I have a 4th Dan from a small independent Tang Soo Do school that is not affiliated with a larger organization. When I was trying to transfer rank to a Soo Bahk Do school, an International Tang Soo Do school, or a World Tang Soo Do Association school, they all would not transfer Dan rank since my school was independent. Starting at a white belt again to repeat all the time in grades to 4th would be insane as I am not a young man. I just thought it would be nice to align myself with a larger organization in case my small independent school goes out of business. I am also a 1st Dan Kukkiwon and it seems every TaeKwonDo school I checked into would transfer my rank. Even an I.T.F. school was willing to honor the Kukkiwon rank as long as I learned their Tul. The Korean Moo Duk Kwan would transfer my rank if I paid $50, that's all they require. So, it seems in the world of TaeKwonDo that the Kukkiwon carries a lot of weight. But my small independent school means basically nothing outside of that particular school.
 

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I thought the Korean Moo Duk Kwan will automatically transfer Dan rank if a practitioner has Kukkiwon rank?
You're mistaken to think the Kwan is uniform. There are at least two branches of the various Kwan. The branch that stayed with the KKW and is now nothing more than a dinner club, and the branch(es) that did not. My own branch has not been affiliated with the KKW (or the KTA, to give it the proper name at that time) since 1969. We offer KKW rank, but it (and the KKW curriculum) are an option, not our core. We would not transfer your rank.
The reason I ask is because I have a 4th Dan from a small independent Tang Soo Do school that is not affiliated with a larger organization. When I was trying to transfer rank to a Soo Bahk Do school, an International Tang Soo Do school, or a World Tang Soo Do Association school, they all would not transfer Dan rank since my school was independent. Starting at a white belt again to repeat all the time in grades to 4th would be insane as I am not a young man. I just thought it would be nice to align myself with a larger organization in case my small independent school goes out of business. I am also a 1st Dan Kukkiwon and it seems every TaeKwonDo school I checked into would transfer my rank. Even an I.T.F. school was willing to honor the Kukkiwon rank as long as I learned their Tul. The Korean Moo Duk Kwan would transfer my rank if I paid $50, that's all they require. So, it seems in the world of TaeKwonDo that the Kukkiwon carries a lot of weight. But my small independent school means basically nothing outside of that particular school.
Are you there to learn, or to show off your belt?
 

Gyakuto

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The reason I ask is because I have a 4th Dan from a small independent Tang Soo Do school that is not affiliated with a larger organization. When I was trying to transfer rank to a Soo Bahk Do school, an International Tang Soo Do school, or a World Tang Soo Do Association school, they all would not transfer Dan rank since my school was independent.
I suspect this is to prevent people from achieving a black belt grade in small association with possible low standards or even buying the grades and then trying to legitimise that rank by transferring to a large, international, well-established, high-standard organisation.
Starting at a white belt again to repeat all the time in grades to 4th would be insane as I am not a young man. I just thought it would be nice to align myself with a larger organization in case my small independent school goes out of business.
Thats the risk you take by affiliating with independent groups. Im not a fan of small, self-purposed organisations, handing out their own grades etc, as you can probably tell!
But my small independent school means basically nothing outside of that particular school.
I dont know what to say 仄
 
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bluepanther

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If I ever decided to teach I would like to be affiliated with a reputable organization. I do not want to join another TSD school but rather be affiliated with them. And if I did start at another organizations school as a white belt I think it would be pretty odd that while they are trying to teach me Pyong Ahn Chodan, I would be practicing Oh Sip Sa Bo. I agree belts don't matter so why not just abolish the belt system altogether? I was only aware of the Korean Moo Duk Kwan and the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, I will have to do further research into the proliferation of MDKs. Does your MDK use the Kukkiwon Yudanja poomsae or the Tang Soo Do hyung?
 
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bluepanther

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I suspect this is to prevent people from achieving a black belt grade in small association with possible low standards or even buying the grades and then trying to legitimise that rank by transferring to a large, international, well-established, high-standard organisation.

Thats the risk you take by affiliating with independent groups. Im not a fan of small, self-purposed organisations, handing out their own grades etc, as you can probably tell!

I dont know what to say 仄
Yes, when I was younger unfortunately I, nor my parents, did not think to check what organization they were affiliated with. At least now, thanks to the internet, people are much better informed.
 

Gyakuto

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If I ever decided to teach I would like to be affiliated with a reputable organization.
There尖ou said it色reputable! Youre suggesting you independent might not be reputable!
Dont bother teaching, it pulls you away from your own training.
I do not want to join another TSD school but rather be affiliated with them. And if I did start at another organizations school as a white belt I think it would be pretty odd that while they are trying to teach me Pyong Ahn Chodan, I would be practicing Oh Sip Sa Bo.
But it looks like you have little choice.
I agree belts don't matter so why not just abolish the belt system altogether?
Theres a whole long thread dedicated to that very discussion.
 
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bluepanther

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Yeah, I believe you are speaking the hard truth. Not what I wanted to hear but a good lesson in humility for me.
 

Gyakuto

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Yeah, I believe you are speaking the hard truth. Not what I wanted to hear but a good lesson in humility for me.
Ah not at all! Youll find a good solution. In the meantime, just keep practising and enjoying it!
 

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If I ever decided to teach I would like to be affiliated with a reputable organization.
You as an individual, and the standards of your school, are what makes you reputable. The KKW has absolutely zero enforcement of standards. I've got a box of Dan certificates signed by the heads of big organizations, like the KKW, who have never met me and are totally and completely ignorant of my skill level. The certificates on my wall are signed by people who actually know me, my skills, and the standards to which I hold my students.
To put it another way, I have a KKW 2nd Dan, I have an ITF 3rd Dan, but I am a MDK 7th Dan.
I do not want to join another TSD school but rather be affiliated with them. And if I did start at another organizations school as a white belt I think it would be pretty odd that while they are trying to teach me Pyong Ahn Chodan, I would be practicing Oh Sip Sa Bo.
Would it? When I joined the MDK, I strapped on a white belt and learned the curriculum. Didn't stop me from continuing to practice the Chang Hon forms. Always seemed to me that it would have been weird if I'd worn an ITF 3rd Dan belt when I didn't know the MDK white belt material.
I agree belts don't matter so why not just abolish the belt system altogether?
Be fine with me. I think belts are good with kids, because it's gives them goals and motivates them. Adults shouldn't be motivated by belts. The only real use I see with adults is that, in a really large class, it helps the instructor(s) know where each student is in the curriculum.
I was only aware of the Korean Moo Duk Kwan and the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, I will have to do further research into the proliferation of MDKs. Does your MDK use the Kukkiwon Yudanja poomsae or the Tang Soo Do hyung?
Our core curriculum is the 6 Kicho (basic) forms and the 8 Palgwae forms. Optionally, we teach the Taegeuk and Chang Hon forms to those interested. We use the KKW Yudanja forms, but offset by one rank, e.g. a KKW student learns Koryo after they reach 1st Dan. Our students learn it in order to reach Chodanbo (Black Belt Candidate).
 
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bluepanther

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You as an individual, and the standards of your school, are what makes you reputable. The KKW has absolutely zero enforcement of standards. I've got a box of Dan certificates signed by the heads of big organizations, like the KKW, who have never met me and are totally and completely ignorant of my skill level. The certificates on my wall are signed by people who actually know me, my skills, and the standards to which I hold my students.
To put it another way, I have a KKW 2nd Dan, I have an ITF 3rd Dan, but I am a MDK 7th Dan.

Would it? When I joined the MDK, I strapped on a white belt and learned the curriculum. Didn't stop me from continuing to practice the Chang Hon forms. Always seemed to me that it would have been weird if I'd worn an ITF 3rd Dan belt when I didn't know the MDK white belt material.

Be fine with me. I think belts are good with kids, because it's gives them goals and motivates them. Adults shouldn't be motivated by belts. The only real use I see with adults is that, in a really large class, it helps the instructor(s) know where each student is in the curriculum.

Our core curriculum is the 6 Kicho (basic) forms and the 8 Palgwae forms. Optionally, we teach the Taegeuk and Chang Hon forms to those interested. We use the KKW Yudanja forms, but offset by one rank, e.g. a KKW student learns Koryo after they reach 1st Dan. Our students learn it in order to reach Chodanbo (Black Belt Candidate).
Thank you, a lot of these answers help clear some things up for me.
 

J. Pickard

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Meaning if you have one of these you can go to any judo club or taekwondo place and hold rank. Are there any other black belt issuing bodies that carry that much weight in their respective arts?
That's not entirely true. For example, in my dojang, I don't care what a piece of paper says. Get out on the floor and prove to me you know what you are doing. I have met more low quality black belts that are KKW certified than I have met black belts from independent schools so KKW certification doesn't mean much to me outside of telling me what I should expect from you. Just because you have the paper doesn't mean you actually meet these expectations.
 

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Since Judo and Taekwondo are Olympic sports their black belts seem more legit?
I think the Olympic sport aspect matters very little for belt rankings. You do need to be a black belt to compete at the Olympic level, but the real vetting process is through state and national championships. You don't get on the Olympic team just for being a black belt. Other Olympic martial arts (boxing, wrestling, fencing) don't have a belt system, and the vetting process for making the Olympic team is similar in those arts - based on performance, not an arbitrary rank.

Where WT has the advantage is that KKW black belts are internationally recognized, and they are working towards standardization and quality control. With that said, I've been to one KKW school which was not doing the KKW curriculum but was teaching effective martial arts, and another that was doing the opposite. I've seen KKW black belts and non-KKW black belts transfer in that clearly had excellent training at their former schools, and I've seen KKW black belts that clearly have not. In general, KKW black belts are respected within the KKW community, but I personally don't put much stock in it.


The reason I ask is because I have a 4th Dan from a small independent Tang Soo Do school that is not affiliated with a larger organization. When I was trying to transfer rank to a Soo Bahk Do school, an International Tang Soo Do school, or a World Tang Soo Do Association school, they all would not transfer Dan rank since my school was independent. Starting at a white belt again to repeat all the time in grades to 4th would be insane as I am not a young man. I just thought it would be nice to align myself with a larger organization in case my small independent school goes out of business. I am also a 1st Dan Kukkiwon and it seems every TaeKwonDo school I checked into would transfer my rank.
If I do open a school, it will be independent. I will tend to respect the belt of the person coming in if it's from TKD or a TKD-like art (i.e. Karate or TSD, not Judo or BJJ). But I will also pretest someone to make sure they're not going to be completely overwhelmed with my black belt curriculum.

One of the concerns that I had was that my belts would not be recognized. But those belts wouldn't be recognized by other organizations, or smaller schools, or other martial arts. Of course, those schools may choose to recognize it regardless.

I've also seen plenty of people who have taken TKD as a kid, who start over at white belt as an adult and then blitz through the belts. I've seen plenty of people transfer in with a black belt in a non-KKW TKD or in an art like TSD, start at pre-black-belt and quickly get their KKW TKD black belt.

I recently started BJJ as a white belt. I also went to one class in a HKD school (I am a HKD black belt), and the instructor's attitude was "you didn't earn any belts from me so you don't know anything." I didn't continue that class.

Ultimately, unless you have specific reasons for wanting a specific certificate (i.e. I would need a KKW certificate to open a KKW school, which would be important for attending WT competitions), I wouldn't worry about it.
 
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bluepanther

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It seems in TSD that having a Dan Bon from the Soo Bahk Do is a gold standard for TSD and all other black belt systems in TSD are inferior as far as legacy and legitimacy are concerned. Like how many TSD break offs started issuing Dan certificates with numbers leaving off where Hwang Kee stopped rather than starting at 1. It seems that is deceptive in that a student thinks they are getting a legit Hwang Kee rank when in fact they are getting that number from a breakaway instructor.

I agree that individual ability trumps paper. But when we are old or infirm and cannot perform like we used to, are we no longer worthy of that rank? By using that logic, when shopping for a school why not ask the older instructor to demonstrate his/her ability and if it isn't up to par then move on to another school until we find one where the instructor is impressive? The belt system is designed to be more that simply an ability marker.

And again, if you had a white belt come in that learned forms on their own and had a naturally fast hand-eye coordination and could make your black belts look silly then do you automatically raise them to a black belt in your style and demote your inferior black belts?
 

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I'd rather wear a white belt and have people wonder why than wear a black belt and have people wonder why.
If you're starting over in a completely different style or art, this is a given.

If I'm going to keep a white belt around for the purpose of visiting other schools or if I'm transferring to another school of the same style but of another association, I might as well spend the extra buck and invest in a high quality one. A nice stiff 1.75" wide white belt, with my name embroidered in katakana on side. And maybe even kanji on the other side that translates to something like "I'm only wearing this here because I have to."
The reason I ask is because I have a 4th Dan from a small independent Tang Soo Do school that is not affiliated with a larger organization. When I was trying to transfer rank to a Soo Bahk Do school, an International Tang Soo Do school, or a World Tang Soo Do Association school, they all would not transfer Dan rank since my school was independent. Starting at a white belt again to repeat all the time in grades to 4th would be insane as I am not a young man. I just thought it would be nice to align myself with a larger organization in case my small independent school goes out of business. I am also a 1st Dan Kukkiwon and it seems every TaeKwonDo school I checked into would transfer my rank. Even an I.T.F. school was willing to honor the Kukkiwon rank as long as I learned their Tul. The Korean Moo Duk Kwan would transfer my rank if I paid $50, that's all they require. So, it seems in the world of TaeKwonDo that the Kukkiwon carries a lot of weight. But my small independent school means basically nothing outside of that particular school.
I engaged in a discussion in reddit over this.

I argued in favor of association membership for this very reason, while others argued that the quality of the instruction is what matters most. The problem with this argument is that the new student coming in off the street to learn martial arts does not know crappy instruction when he sees it. Also, I've heard many people claim that the quality of the education of University of Phoenix and DeVry is pretty high too. As dubious as those claims may be, even if it's true... even if the quality of the instruction is just as good as that of Ivy League schools, what are those Phoenix and DeVry degrees doing for the people who have them?
 

Bill Mattocks

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I know black belts can be issued from large organizations down to a small school. I also realize belts don't always translate to martial arts skills. I am thinking a black belt in Judo is grest since they invented the belt system. Also the Kukkiwon issues black belts which are legit, meaning you need one to compete in Olympic Taekwondo. Since Judo and Taekwondo are Olympic sports their black belts seem more legit? Meaning if you have one of these you can go to any judo club or taekwondo place and hold rank. Are there any other black belt issuing bodies that carry that much weight in their respective arts?
Ranks in martial arts are largely subjective and local to the school in question when you're speaking of karate (I know nothing of Judo or TKD). So legitimacy is not a universal term. Of course, we all think that our own rank is legit, and appropriate. We would not train under a system that we felt was fraudulent, would we?

I hold a 3rd Dan rank in Isshinryu and I've been studying for 16 years. Is my rank 'legit'? I think that would depend upon whom you ask. It was issued by a respected 9th Dan with whom I train (therefore he knows me and my abilities or lack of same). It was recognized by an Isshinryu organization we belong to (one of multiple Isshinryu organizations). Technically my belt would be 'recognized' by any Isshinryu dojo belonging to my organization; there is no such guarantee that it would be recognized if I were to enroll as a student in other Isshinryu dojos - it might, it might not. And speaking honestly, I can tell you that in my own dojo, there are 3rd Dan students who are more qualified than I am to wear this rank. Probably all of them besides myself. My sensei says I'm a 3rd Dan, so I am. But that doesn't mean I fight as well, or do kata as well, or know more than ANY of his other black belts. It means he decided that I met HIS qualifications and he decided to promote me. That's all it means.

You could not take a bunch of 3rd Dan students of the same age and experience and put them in the ring together and expect them to be evenly matched. Some would be much, much, better, and some would be worse. Same if you asked them to do kata, weapons, or teach a class.

And that variability is within ONE STYLE of karate. Now imagine that compounded across hundreds of ryus, and schools unaffiliated with ANY ryu. As you can probably see, it's an impossible task to determine what belts are 'more legit' than others. You simply cannot compare belt to belt, school to school, organization to organization, style to style.

And that's only talking about the institutions that are doing their best to be legitimate schools and organizations. You've also got plenty of schools and organizations that are willing to give you any rank you wish if you pay them enough. I'm not going to name any of them, but many people here know a bunch of them. If a person shows up claiming an eleventy-dozenth degree black belt from one of those organizations, they're not going to get a whole heck of a lot of respect here. Non-martial artists would probably not know the difference.

And then you have the other martial arts...sigh. I understand that for example, a blue belt in BJJ is a very serious customer, not a person you'd want to get angry with you. A blue belt in my school, well...let's just say I'm not going to be worried if one takes a dislike to me. So a black belt in BJJ is serious business. Worthy of respect anywhere, I'm told (and willing to believe, I do not need a lesson). So how do I compare my rank to a BJJ student's rank? I don't think I can.

Ultimately, belts and dan ranks and advanced titles are attempts to list where a student or instructor is in their path in a single discipline, a single school, under a single instructor. Even then they are still open to interpretation and not something you can easily compare. They are recognitions and cues to those who know or care.

Otherwise, they're a bit meaningless; especially for comparison purposes.
 
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