Grading systems in muay thai?!?!?

Odin

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What is everyone stance on the grading system that is implanting in western Muay thai?

This Sort of grading system from what I understand does not exist in Thailand.

My question is ( or questions )

Does Muay thai need a dinfinative grading system?

Does Muay thai need a grading system at all after all ring experience and your performance in the ring would tell you more about the level you are on then being able to porform a set move set..no?

Or if you believe it does need one, what should determine how one would move up a rank?
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early

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From a cynic's point of view , grading is extra income for gym owners .
 

meth18au

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1. What is everyone stance on the grading system that is implanting in western Muay thai?
This Sort of grading system from what I understand does not exist in Thailand.

My question is ( or questions )
2. Does Muay thai need a dinfinative grading system?
3. Does Muay thai need a grading system at all after all ring experience and your performance in the ring would tell you more about the level you are on then being able to porform a set move set..no?
4. Or if you believe it does need one, what should determine how one would move up a rank?



My answers:

1. I have not come across this in my gym, or other gyms I have had associations with? What is it? Is it becoming commonplace?

2. No it doesn't need a grading system. You train, you may choose to fight. There is no rank. In my experiences (ex kung fu practitioner)- the belt levels created an atmosphere of 'ego'. Yet they would never admit it at the school, and I just accepted it at the time. People were so stuck up on rank, skills rarely mattered- and a culture prevailed where higher belt levels displayed a certain 'arrogance'. I don't aim to speak on behalf of arts or schools whom adopt a grading system. I am merely speaking from my experience at my old school- please don't misunderstand me!

My exposure to Muay Thai has been filled with people who focus on their own training, and hard training at that. We don't need to 'purchase' skills by having belt levels. Here is a point from my perspective- an Englishman is training at our gym for 2 months, he just started 2 weeks ago. I was partnered with him for padwork (only a few days ago). And I had a good session, really fast, powerful, explosive, with really good flow. He presumed I had been training a long time, 12 years traveling and training (including in Thailand). Try 10 years less buddy- which took him by surprise- and I'm sure earned respect. In my old school- I may have had a blue belt on (between 1-2 years to acquire). He would have had a red (6-8 years to acquire). First of all I wouldn't have been partnered with him, second of all I would not have known all the moves he knew, third my moves would not have been pressure tested to the level his had, and lastly the colour of the belt would have caused automatic presumption of 'lesser skill', rather than allowing me to prove myself. I love Muay Thai, because I am constantly training hard, challenged, tested under pressure and am able to gain respect through hard work.

3. See above answer. And also, I personally will step in the ring one day soon. When I can fully commit to it. And I do think it is a wonderful test of your Muay Thai skills against another's. But some people may never step in the ring, it shouldn't be held against them, or the skills they possess.

4. VERY passionate about there NOT being a grading system!!! :)



Wonderful thread Odin. It hopefully should provide some interesting conversations!!!

:)
 

bushidomartialarts

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A school I trained at ten years ago instituted a grading system for the Muay Thai program.

If you look at all grading systems as ways of setting goals and tracking progress, then it's a good thing regardless of art.

If you look at it as a simple way to get an extra $50 out of your students every few months, then it's a bad thing regardless of art.

It all depends on why your instructor instituted the system and how he goes about guiding you through it.
 

thaistyle

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In the Thai Martial Arts, Krabi krabong has a grading system called khan. Some muay thai gyms use this as a means to distinguish the level of students/fighters. Most muay thai gyms don't however use any grading system at all. There is a muay thai school in Beijing, China that utilizes the khan ranking and the gym is recognized by the Muay Chaiya Foundation in Thailand.
 

Drag'n

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In Thailand there is no need for a grading system because its all about professional fighting. Either you make money as a good fighter or you don't.
Grades are pointless.
But in the rest of the world MT is becomming popular as a means to get fit and learn how to fight. Its a different situation to Thailand with different motives for different individuals.
Grades can be good short term goals to motivate you to work towards a certain level within a timeframe. For people who don't fight, I guess that can be important.
Those of us who do fight, don't really need grades, 'cause we know it all comes down to what you can do in the ring, and grades dont mean a thing.
So I guess I don't really care. Either way. But I can understand why some instructors might choose to use them.
 

tellner

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A school I trained at ten years ago instituted a grading system for the Muay Thai program.

If you look at all grading systems as ways of setting goals and tracking progress, then it's a good thing regardless of art.

If you look at it as a simple way to get an extra $50 out of your students every few months, then it's a bad thing regardless of art.

It all depends on why your instructor instituted the system and how he goes about guiding you through it.

When I fenced there was no grading system. When I ran in track and field there was no grading system. There was no grading system in the boxing gym, the kayaking club, rugby, sailing or cricket. Somehow they all worked.

Honestly, it's a crock top to bottom. It's a way of making money while transferring the Confucian obsession with hierarchy to places where it never was before. It made some sense back when Kano-sensei invented the whole thing. But even then that purpose has mutated beyond recognition. It's mostly status-related and frankly doesn't turn out better fighters. In fact, it turns out worse ones most of the time. "I can take him" turns into "I have four chartreuses stripes on my camo belt. He only has two. I must be better than him."

Setting goals? You go to the gym. You shadow box. You do drills. You kick pads. Maybe you spar. You exercise. If you have a fight coming up you do whatever extra prep the trainer thinks you need. I don't see how sticking a Japanese belt system on top of this is going to change anything. It's not like Muay Thai has a huge curriculum and you need to compartmentalize it and keep track of who has exactly what bits. If that were the case the Confucian OCD would make a little sense. But for Thai Boxing? No.

The main reason for it is that for most of a century we've gotten used to the idea that belts and intricate status-based rankings are normative. So we try to rationalize them and apply them everywhere.
 

jks9199

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When I fenced there was no grading system. When I ran in track and field there was no grading system. There was no grading system in the boxing gym, the kayaking club, rugby, sailing or cricket. Somehow they all worked.

When you ran track (I presume in school), there was a ranking system. It was just labeled varsity/junior varsity. Individuals were also competitively ranked against each other.

Similarly, there are unofficial ranking structures in many other activities. You know a beginner from an advanced boxer, or cricket player or whatever. You know whether a person can handle class 1 or class 5 rapids... and so on.

Is a ranking system needed in muay thai? I don't know; it depends on how it's being used. If it's merely classifying students for balanced training and competitions (similar to novice, senior, and open classifications in some boxing events), and to identify students with enough training and experience to coach... It's fine. But if it becomes a focus on collecting testing fees... then there's a problem.
 

tellner

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When you ran track (I presume in school), there was a ranking system. It was just labeled varsity/junior varsity. Individuals were also competitively ranked against each other.

Similarly, there are unofficial ranking structures in many other activities. You know a beginner from an advanced boxer, or cricket player or whatever. You know whether a person can handle class 1 or class 5 rapids... and so on.

Fair enough. We are classifying animals. When I did the sports in school there was actually just "The Team" and "Not the Team" except for Rugby where there were six teams graded from "First 15" to "Sixth 15".

Certifications make a lot of sense. Basic Openwater Diver, Ice Diver, Dive Instructor, Underwater Welder and so on tell you something useful about a person. They have important implications for safety and tell you that a diver has a certain well-defined set of skills. "I can handle Class 3 Rapids" tells you not to go down that particular stretch of river. The point is that they have a specific purpose that serves an external end. They aren't sui generis.

In the case of fencing and Muay Thai these were systems that did perfectly well without anything like the Kyu/Dan thing for the most part. If you are a competitive fencer there are rankings for the purpose of determining who is, well, winning the greater competition. And there are teaching certifications. Someone who has never competed at a certain level is a novice. But there's no need for the equivalent of Japanese style rankings. There's a system in Muay Thai as someone pointed out, but very few use it. The real question seems to be "Since everyone expects martial arts to come with a fruit salad of belts (or shirts or whatever) should we graft one onto Thai Boxing to satisfy the expectation?" I'd say no. There isn't any demonstrated need.

It's not structure I'm opposed to, but the assumption that you need a formal graded ranking system for all these activities. Once you have it the the gradations tend to increase until the thing becomes self-perpetuating and an end in itself rather than an aid to performance or teaching.

Apprentice Falconer, Falconer and Master Falconer makes sense. Thirty different grades of falconer? Not so much. Similarly Beginning Student, More Advanced Student, Teacher, Senior Teacher and Grand Old Man seems hardwired into us. But eight or nine student grades with extra stripes in between them and instructor rankings designed to give you a bigger one than the people in the next style over? It's the whole "finger pointing at the moon" all over again. The focus becomes the sign rather than the signified.

This may seem a little odd, but while I'm skeptical of a lot of the formalized belt-type systems I'm a great believer in the tests. Putting someone in a situation where there's something riding on the outcome is very useful, not to see what she knows - the teacher already knows that - but to get her to perform under pressure with a touch of fear.
 
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Odin

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Just a thought....should a grading system be implicated for safety reasons?.....how does one determine when some one is ready to compete?
Should it be left to the opinon of the Students Kru or should thier be a list of accomplishments that the fighter should have to go through first?


I myself have been thaiboxing for the past 2 years and have not taken any form of grading just because I didnt see the point of if ( Before thiaboxing i used to box and brought the same mentality i had there over )
I am however now considering to go for gradings due to the fact that Thaiboxing is a big part of my life and does seem to be something i will take with me forever and in that respect i want to be able to past down my knowlege of the art after i myself can no longer compete...unfortunatly to do this i will have to take the gradings to achieve the Kru ranking.
 

TongPo

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In Thailand there is no need for a grading system because its all about professional fighting. Either you make money as a good fighter or you don't.
Grades are pointless.
But in the rest of the world MT is becomming popular as a means to get fit and learn how to fight. Its a different situation to Thailand with different motives for different individuals.
Grades can be good short term goals to motivate you to work towards a certain level within a timeframe. For people who don't fight, I guess that can be important.
Those of us who do fight, don't really need grades, 'cause we know it all comes down to what you can do in the ring, and grades dont mean a thing.
So I guess I don't really care. Either way. But I can understand why some instructors might choose to use them.
I couldnt have said it better myself. That is the thai way. Grading systems are for fighters with no fighting self estem.
 

cohenp

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I'm not very experienced at all with muay thai but I've always seen muay thai ranking system like this, you having amateur and proffesional fighters, and then outside of being an amateur or pro you have your fight record. Being a 10-0 proffesional fighter definately tells allot about a fighter. I see muay thai as a more practical based sport as compared to a form based art or whatever. It's the practical, the fighting, that counts in muay thai. You have to be able to get it done against someone else who is trying to get it done.
 

Thunder Foot

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Hmmm... I know the Thaiboxing Association (Ajarn Chai) has a grading system... and I have heard rumors of schools giving shorts to distinguish levels, as well as level shirts, and or gloves hehehe.

Personally, I don't see a need for a grading system in Muay. And from my personal experience, any place of modern Muay Thai that has a grading system, isn't as concerned wit application of techniques as much as they are with "trying to uphold a tradition" or start one. I mean, in Muay we don't really need a "certification" to tell us if we can perform this or that technique. In a sport where, i would guess 80% or more don't have these certifcations... what is it really good for? A false sense of confidence? I personally think it just adds to the dramatics and politics alot of the other arts suffer. I'll agree with Drag'n in saying that it all comes down to the ring. And for those who have no intention of steppin into the ring, then substitute it with sparring.

and to jks9199,
Boxing has no ranking system. You are divided by weight class and that is it. If you are judging a Beginner from an Amateur, that is your personal opinion based on your own knowledge of skill. There's no "unofficial ranking structure".
 
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