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Addison

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My son has been in Karate for 6 years...he went for his brown belt test tonight and failed. I am ok with him failing I understand this and it is most likely the best thing that could happen to him. He is wonderful when it comes to Karate and he is now so upset. His instructor gave him his brown belt he said his staff attacks were not done right so he does not get his certificate for his brown belt. My son said he will not wear his belt until he gets his certificate. He will re-test in October. I have a few questions.

1. What do I say to my son

2. Is it disrespectful for my son to not wear the belt

3. He wants his instructor to hold his belt would this be disrespectful for him to ask his instructor to hold it until he earns it
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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Try focusing on the good things he did and be supportive on it.
You can recite something you may have had trouble with but with a can do attitude you accomplish your goal.
Have him see that the mistakes are there to teach us lessons and help us be better than before.

I do not think it is disrepectful if your son does not wish to wear his belt.
For the belt is nothing but a symbolic gesture of his skill.
If he feels he did not earn it talk to the teacher and address the concern with him. Noone show have to wear a belt that makes them feel bad.

I think your son does not want a "hand out" though that may not be the teacher's intent but maybe your son feels that way and I think his attitude shows someone who is determine and honest.
That is my opnion I am sure other's will have theres take what you can from it.
 

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My son has been in Karate for 6 years...he went for his brown belt test tonight and failed. I am ok with him failing I understand this and it is most likely the best thing that could happen to him. He is wonderful when it comes to Karate and he is now so upset. His instructor gave him his brown belt he said his staff attacks were not done right so he does not get his certificate for his brown belt. My son said he will not wear his belt until he gets his certificate. He will re-test in October. I have a few questions.

1. What do I say to my son

2. Is it disrespectful for my son to not wear the belt

3. He wants his instructor to hold his belt would this be disrespectful for him to ask his instructor to hold it until he earns it

Hi Addison, welcome to MT; I hope (and believe) you'll enjoy posting here. I'm a little uncertain how to respond to your queries, because there's certain information missing that seems importante.g., how old is your son? And while you say that he's wonderful at karate, you also say that not getting his certificate is likely the best thing that could have happened to himwhy the seeming contradiction?

Off the top of my head, it sounds as though your son's instructor has awarded him a provisional brown; your son, in his view, has done the major portion of what he needs to do, but there's one last bit that can't be overlooked which he needs to bring up to speed for `full' brown status. Presumably, his instructor felt he did too well overall to be denied the brown outright, but it's not a done deal until he completes the last requirement involving the staff techs? Kind of like `In contract' status when a house is up for sale, or `conditional acceptance' of a journal article in an academic discipline (yes, they'll publish it, but only if you implement the referees' requirements and recommendations in a satisfactory way)... that sort of thing?

If that's the case, then you might mention these kinds of analogies to your son and point out to him that his instructor really does now regard him as a brown belt, but one who needs to come up to standard on one particular skill set in order to seal the deal. I wouldn't dwell to much on issues of respect and deference and so on. I would try to take a more logical approachI think kids respond better to thatpointing out that not wearing the belt implies that he actually didn't cross the promotion line at all, which is clearly not the case; rather, he has crossed it, subject to one last necessary bit of technique upgrading. After all, there's a significant different between a `For sale' sign in front of a house and a `Sale pending'/`In contract' sign, even if what everyone really wants is a `Sold' sign there, eh?
 
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Addison

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I say that he is wonderful because he is very dedicated to Karate. He is there 3 hours each night and very good. I say it is good that this happened to knock him down a little. Sometimes boys get too big for their own britches. He has never lost a sparring match in a tournament and is always 1st place in Kata and self defense. So to me he is wonderful...but I am Mom too so I would think that no matter what.

He is 11 years old.

Here is another piece to the story the person that tested with him did not pass any part of their test and still received her belt. This took a lot away from the idea of a new belt...to my son. She put her belt on right away....he is not proud of what he did tonight hence not proud of the belt.

Just an excuse but he is just getting back from a head injury and mono so he has had a hard few months. I think he should have waited until Oct.
 

Carol

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I actually think he did the right thing testing, even though he was still recovering from issues. You have nothing to lose by testing when you aren't ready. If you fail, you're no worse off than before. Instructors know this too, and take a student stepping up to a test, instead of backing out of a test, as a sign of strength. Plus now he goes forward knowing what the next test will be like, and that takes a lot of pressure off the student. I wouldn't get too distracted on the other student's conditional brown...that was the teacher's decision, the decision should be respected. If there are doubts about the teacher, that's a different story...but it isn't unusual for an instructor to make certain judgement calls.

Warriors have to face unexpected battles. If anything, just remind your son that he is no less of a martial artist because he keeps showing the warriors traits of resiliency and perseverance on his way to his next battle. :)
 

agemechanic03

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I do not think it is disrepectful if your son does not wish to wear his belt.
For the belt is nothing but a symbolic gesture of his skill.
If he feels he did not earn it talk to the teacher and address the concern with him. Noone show have to wear a belt that makes them feel bad.

I really hate to hear that he failed for that. To me it sounds like he is very dedicated to the art. I agree with Jadecloud...I also do not see it as a disrespect to his instructor. That tells me that he wants to earn what is rightfully his doing everything correctly. I know that I am only 22, but you will have a gentleman when he grows up. You're a good teacher to your child also in that respect. Just support him and understand his response to the test. Just b/c his instructor wants hime to test, doesn't mean he has to test if he doesn't want to. I commend him on his efforts and I know he will get it the next time with no problem. Tell him to continue training hard and not to let this little short fall affect him at all. Tell him to learn from it and think about what he needs to do to fix what he messed up on to make it that much better.
 

exile

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Here is another piece to the story the person that tested with him did not pass any part of their test and still received her belt. This took a lot away from the idea of a new belt...to my son. She put her belt on right away....he is not proud of what he did tonight hence not proud of the belt.

To me, this sounds like the crucial part of the story (I would assume that she also did not receive a certificate? Otherwise, it sounds crazy...) Your son is a perfectionist, an intense achiever and is not happy with either his performance or with the standard that seems to be in force at his school. Kids that age are often purists; they don't accept what looks like equivocationthings tend to be black and white, and they can be quite hard on themselves and others in their judgments (my son is a bit past 10, and I know the symptoms).

In your place, I would tell him to forget about the other studentevery story is different and he doesn't necessarily know everything involvedand just focus on the facts of his own case. He clearly performed well in a number of areas (I'd assume sparring, SD techs and kata, at the very least?); there was one problem, and he will fix it. The belt itself is a measure of his achievement. The certificate, which completes the deal, is the last bit that needs the last extra piece of the achievement to go through. Clearly, his instructor has worked it out so a belt is a sign of a certain level of proficiency, while the belt-plus-certificate is a higher level. In his case (as vs. his classmate's, I'd guess) he only has one last piece to go. He needs to hear that he did very well on the empty-hand part (the core of karate, it could be argued) and should be proud of and happy with his accomplishment; the bare belt symbolizes that. The certificate symbolizes the last little bit he's still got to go. He needs to be shown that he really did something of great worth in passing the empty-hand part of the test, and that the rest will come if he works on it.
 

Doc_Jude

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I agree with the rest of the folks here. Share with him how this kind of thing works in other arenas of life.

Also, one thing that I was thinking about is that it may be seen as disrespectful if he didn't wear the brown, especially if he was awarded it in front of the class or observers. He may be expected to fulfill more duties in the dojo, helping to instruct younger students, etc. The brown will be the symbol for his achievements and new status and authority in the dojo family. With this in mind, I would advise him to trust his sensei, where the brown, and train those bo forms extra hard!

One more thing, remind him that if his sensei was simply handing out ranks, then he wouldn't be such a hard nose about something as little as bo requirements. Sounds like the instructor has more than a little integrity and takes his instruction seriously.
 

grydth

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I say that he is wonderful because he is very dedicated to Karate. He is there 3 hours each night and very good. I say it is good that this happened to knock him down a little. Sometimes boys get too big for their own britches. He has never lost a sparring match in a tournament and is always 1st place in Kata and self defense. So to me he is wonderful...but I am Mom too so I would think that no matter what.

He is 11 years old.

Here is another piece to the story the person that tested with him did not pass any part of their test and still received her belt. This took a lot away from the idea of a new belt...to my son. She put her belt on right away....he is not proud of what he did tonight hence not proud of the belt.

Just an excuse but he is just getting back from a head injury and mono so he has had a hard few months. I think he should have waited until Oct.

I, too, am the parent of an 11 year old karate powerhouse. She recently had a shock after several "double tips" on belt pretesting - after a pretty fine performance Renshi wordlessly placed a only single tip on her belt... meaning she did not even qualify to get into the test. For what its worth, here's what I told my child:

This is a challenge from Renshi. She wants to see how you will react to this disappointment. Will you quit? Will you act like a spoiled princess who didn't get all sorts of awards for simply showing up? Or.... will you train harder... show her that you can do that form twice as well... make more classes... increase your fitness? No teacher would do this to hurt you. She is training you to be a champion and feels you can be even better. Real champions can get up off the floor and come back even stronger.

You know, whatever we tell children has to be both true and supportive... but then, you already knew that. It isn't hard to pick out the devoted parents from those going through the motions. You and your son will be okay. My daughter is training relentlessly - and happily.
 

Seabrook

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My son has been in Karate for 6 years...he went for his brown belt test tonight and failed. I am ok with him failing I understand this and it is most likely the best thing that could happen to him. He is wonderful when it comes to Karate and he is now so upset. His instructor gave him his brown belt he said his staff attacks were not done right so he does not get his certificate for his brown belt. My son said he will not wear his belt until he gets his certificate. He will re-test in October. I have a few questions.

1. What do I say to my son

2. Is it disrespectful for my son to not wear the belt

3. He wants his instructor to hold his belt would this be disrespectful for him to ask his instructor to hold it until he earns it

Here is my honest opinion.

I think it is the instructor's fault. The instructor should know his students inside and out and should never allow someone to test for such a high rank as brown if he is not 100% confident in his abilities. The true belt test is every day a student shows up, not just a day when the instructor gets paid, and the student is allowed to wear a new rank.

I think that is AWESOME of your son to not wear his rank until he passes. Your son is awesome.
 

exile

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...after a pretty fine performance Renshi wordlessly placed a only single tip on her belt... meaning she did not even qualify to get into the test....This is a challenge from Renshi. She wants to see how you will react to this disappointment. Will you quit? Will you act like a spoiled princess who didn't get all sorts of awards for simply showing up?

I understand what you're saying, grydth, but I'm uncomfortable with this general approach to teaching. I've taught university on a full-time basis for close to twenty-five years, and in the course of that time we've had graduate students whom we felt we just couldn't admit to candidacy in our doctoral program, because their performance to that point didn't warrant confidence that they could complete a Ph.D. dissertation that would be up to standard. In such cases, we have to provide meticulous justification to the student explaininng our decision. Conversely, when a student, grad or undergrad performs well, it would be unconscionable on our part to give them a low grade simply to motivate them to retake a class to do even better. There is no way that we could justify a failing grade for a `pretty fine' performance. You don't give a student who's earned a B+ a failing grade just because you're pretty sure they're capable of an A, much as you'd like to take them by the shoulders and shake them in frustration. And as I say, if the grading standard were either A or F, nothing else, we would take it for granted that we would explain to the student in explicit detail just where they fell short if they hadn't done A-level work. We are trying to teach our students a difficult and complex subject matter; turning it into `read my mind!' would be totally unacceptable to us and destructive to our task.

My feeling is, if there's a particular place you fell short, your instructor should explain exactly what that is. In the case of Addison's daughter, it seems fairly straightforward: the staff techs weren't up to par. OK, that's fair, and the instructor did make it clear what the problem was. But if a student's good performance treated were as a subpar performance with no explanation given, or an instance of `let's see just how much disappointment you can swallow silently', then I would have a problem with that, and it would convey a statement to my child that I would not want him to accept and internalizee.g., I wouldn't want him to grow up to be the sort of person who would do that same thing to a subordinate in a job evaluation in the office they both worked in, for example...
 

terryl965

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My son has been in Karate for 6 years...he went for his brown belt test tonight and failed. I am ok with him failing I understand this and it is most likely the best thing that could happen to him. He is wonderful when it comes to Karate and he is now so upset. His instructor gave him his brown belt he said his staff attacks were not done right so he does not get his certificate for his brown belt. My son said he will not wear his belt until he gets his certificate. He will re-test in October. I have a few questions.

1. What do I say to my son

2. Is it disrespectful for my son to not wear the belt

3. He wants his instructor to hold his belt would this be disrespectful for him to ask his instructor to hold it until he earns it


Addison the first thing you say is son failing a test is just like life sometimes we must go backward to go forward. Every adversity in life comes with greater appreciation when we come back stringer and better than before and lastly tell him you still and always will love him

If the head instructor wants him to wear his belt explain to him it would be dis-respectful for him to decline, the head instructor wishes must always be carried out.

I tis not dis-respectful for him to ask about it, but it would be dis-respectful if he goes and tells him to.

Remember he is only 11 and emotion goes rather high and low at that age, support is needed when the times get rough, explain and give great example of other that have triumph in there time of disappointment.

I hope this helps.
 

Nomad

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All martial arts tests are, to some extent at least, subjective. It is not usually necessary for a 60 year old grandma to kick as high as an 18 year old stud (if this is a requirement at all), for example. The instructor may be measuring each performance to some degree based on what he knows the individual is capable of... his job is to pull out the best in each person, but that may change from one individual to the next.

My black belt is not the same as anyone else's; my journey has had different struggles and hardships along the way, and I have different strengths as well.

Use this setback as an opportunity for growth... train harder, work on the weaker aspects, and improve.
 

Sapper6

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Here is my honest opinion.

I think it is the instructor's fault. The instructor should know his students inside and out and should never allow someone to test for such a high rank as brown if he is not 100% confident in his abilities. The true belt test is every day a student shows up, not just a day when the instructor gets paid, and the student is allowed to wear a new rank.

I think that is AWESOME of your son to not wear his rank until he passes. Your son is awesome.

i agree. great post.
 

Kacey

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Here is my honest opinion.

I think it is the instructor's fault. The instructor should know his students inside and out and should never allow someone to test for such a high rank as brown if he is not 100% confident in his abilities. The true belt test is every day a student shows up, not just a day when the instructor gets paid, and the student is allowed to wear a new rank.

I think that is AWESOME of your son to not wear his rank until he passes. Your son is awesome.

i agree. great post.

I agree as well. There is an often-ignored moral component to martial arts, and, IMHO, to performance in any sport - in this case, how to do your best, and find out it wasn't good enough. Instructors should know who is able to pass the test and who isn't - but being able to pass is no guarantee. As an instructor, I won't allow my students to test if they can't pass - but students have failed, and will fail in the future.

It sounds like your son has the right attitude - he wants to earn his rank, not have it given to him. The other person is not relevant here. If your son wants to go to his instructor and say something like "Sir, I appreciate your faith in my abilities, that you were willing to give me a brown belt to wear even though I have not met the requirements, but I would like to earn it completely. Would you please hold it for me?" - more power to him, as long as it's his decision. Making that request is going to be hard - perhaps harder than the decision not to wear the belt in the first place - but it speaks well of your son that he did so. I cannot imagine a good instructor not understanding the decision or the request... and if the instructor does disagree with either, especially without providing an explanation, that will tell you something about the instructor that will be valuable for you to know.
 
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Addison

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My son talked to his instructor and yes he gave the belt back. His instructor said he just had a bad night the skills are there. I think my sons brain got in the way he was over thinking everything and making silly mistakes. He is still upset but knows how to fix the things that he made mistakes on.

I am very proud of him probably more proud than if he would have received his brown belt.

Thank you all!!!

You site is wonderful and I will be spending tons of time here with my kids. They are all three in karate. Thank you again for all your knowledge!!!:)
 
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Addison

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BTW His instructor was very happy with him giving the belt back. He said that he respects my sons decision and is very proud of him wanting to earn his belt!
 

Kacey

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I'm glad things are working out well - it sounds like you have a good son, and he has a good instructor.
 

grydth

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I understand what you're saying, grydth, but I'm uncomfortable with this general approach to teaching. I've taught university on a full-time basis for close to twenty-five years, and in the course of that time we've had graduate students whom we felt we just couldn't admit to candidacy in our doctoral program, because their performance to that point didn't warrant confidence that they could complete a Ph.D. dissertation that would be up to standard. In such cases, we have to provide meticulous justification to the student explaininng our decision. Conversely, when a student, grad or undergrad performs well, it would be unconscionable on our part to give them a low grade simply to motivate them to retake a class to do even better. There is no way that we could justify a failing grade for a `pretty fine' performance. You don't give a student who's earned a B+ a failing grade just because you're pretty sure they're capable of an A, much as you'd like to take them by the shoulders and shake them in frustration. And as I say, if the grading standard were either A or F, nothing else, we would take it for granted that we would explain to the student in explicit detail just where they fell short if they hadn't done A-level work. We are trying to teach our students a difficult and complex subject matter; turning it into `read my mind!' would be totally unacceptable to us and destructive to our task.

My feeling is, if there's a particular place you fell short, your instructor should explain exactly what that is. In the case of Addison's daughter, it seems fairly straightforward: the staff techs weren't up to par. OK, that's fair, and the instructor did make it clear what the problem was. But if a student's good performance treated were as a subpar performance with no explanation given, or an instance of `let's see just how much disappointment you can swallow silently', then I would have a problem with that, and it would convey a statement to my child that I would not want him to accept and internalizee.g., I wouldn't want him to grow up to be the sort of person who would do that same thing to a subordinate in a job evaluation in the office they both worked in, for example...

The great news is that it would appear Addison and son had a meaningful resolution with the dojo, leaving all satisfied.

This leaves us free to discuss teaching methods. At the outset, I cannot debate anything you have done in your graduate program. Not only do I have no expertise there, but as you may know, my revered and beloved wife is also a Professor and Assistant Dean. You know what they say about "a 2 front war"...:wink1:

Your concerns are certainly legitimate, but I spoke with the dojo Hanshi and Renshi early on. I am actually happy with what Renshi has done in teaching my daughter. From the outset, this instructor has demanded the utmost from my daughter, even correcting her when she has just had a round of applause from the rest of the dojo. My daughter has trophies in several tournaments and is a tornado in sparring. I attribute much of this to their pushing her relentlessly to be just that little bit better. My daughter knows this, and knows that more difficult challenges will be in the future. She trusts the proprietors - as do I - and knows that anything done is for her benefit. It is constructive, never meant to demean.

On some prior occasions, she had been encouraged to "double tip".... I believe this time was meant to toughen her, to teach her not to just expect double every time.... to see how she would react - and she responded positively.

Perhaps this situation is more analogous to the treatment they gave out in my graduate school, which was law... or to the basic training my father had in the Marines before leaving for the South Pacific. You'll never get a nice word from a prof as a first year student, or from a Marine Drill Instructor ever. But given what was waiting for us in 2 very different 'jungles', we were fortunate to have had the ferocious training which we got.
 

exile

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The great news is that it would appear Addison and son had a meaningful resolution with the dojo, leaving all satisfied.

This leaves us free to discuss teaching methods. At the outset, I cannot debate anything you have done in your graduate program. Not only do I have no expertise there, but as you may know, my revered and beloved wife is also a Professor and Assistant Dean. You know what they say about "a 2 front war"...:wink1:

:lol: Wise man!! I agree, the resolution of Addison's and son's situation is very satisfying...

Your concerns are certainly legitimate, but I spoke with the dojo Hanshi and Renshi early on. I am actually happy with what Renshi has done in teaching my daughter. From the outset, this instructor has demanded the utmost from my daughter, even correcting her when she has just had a round of applause from the rest of the dojo. My daughter has trophies in several tournaments and is a tornado in sparring. I attribute much of this to their pushing her relentlessly to be just that little bit better. My daughter knows this, and knows that more difficult challenges will be in the future. She trusts the proprietors - as do I - and knows that anything done is for her benefit. It is constructive, never meant to demean.

This is the crucial part I think. It can work to do things that way... but the student, especially a child, needs to understand that they're being held to a particularly high standard precisely because they're gifted and capable of more than the average student.

On some prior occasions, she had been encouraged to "double tip".... I believe this time was meant to toughen her, to teach her not to just expect double every time.... to see how she would react - and she responded positively.

Perhaps this situation is more analogous to the treatment they gave out in my graduate school, which was law... or to the basic training my father had in the Marines before leaving for the South Pacific. You'll never get a nice word from a prof as a first year student, or from a Marine Drill Instructor ever. But given what was waiting for us in 2 very different 'jungles', we were fortunate to have had the ferocious training which we got.

It's Darwinian, yes, I see that. As long as she understands that she's not being put down... who knows, maybe it's the method of choice here. From what you say, it seems to be working well for her, and you can't argue with successespecially if she herself is happy with it...
 
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