How does training change at Blackbelt?

Kframe

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Hi guys. Its been awhile since I hanged out in this forum. During my search for a martial art, I talked to many instructors. Since I talked to the KKW instructor first ill ask this here. He said that it takes 3-4 years to get to black belt and that is when you start learning the real art. I remember being very frustrated at that because, why waste 4 years of time not learning the real art.

I get it now, that he was referring to learning the basics before black belt.. So ill ask this here. What changes after you get that 1st degree? What things change in the training? Specifically talking about someone it little interest in the sport side but the TMA side of it. How does the training change? Do you change the way certain techniques are done? Say multi part movement techniques become smaller and more efficient? Just a example I was using.


So guys, fill me in. Assuming a legit instructor, how did your training or the training at the school you teach at or run change once your average student hits that first black belt.

Thanks for the discussion guys.
 

Earl Weiss

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As a color belt there is so much information to absorb, that there is little time to analyze and extrapolate. It is like learning the alphabet albeit a very complicated one. You learn applications for motions which help you understand the concept behind the motion. The applications are examples of how the motion Angle, distance and direction are used as well as transitions. The applications are learning tools helping to understand the mechanics involved.

Once you understand the concept you maay be able to discern many applications relating to the same concept. Or, as someone said: Learn 100 applicaions and you may understand a single concept. But, if you learn a single concept you may understand 100 applications.

However, if you tried to learn 100 applications for every concept it would be like asking a thirsty man to drink from a firehose. (Info overload).
 

Dirty Dog

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Simply put: geup ranks focus on HOW. Dan ranks focus on WHY.


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Kung Fu Wang

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In the

- beginner level training, you train how to "apply" your technique A. You may grow many trees but you concentrate only on your main tree trunk.
- intermediate/advance level training, you train how to use your technique A to set up your technique B. Each of your main tree trunk start to branch out and grow into a full growing tree.
 

K-man

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To be honest I don't believe much changes at all at that time in terms of training. Sure you have a feeling of accomplishment but in reality the training continues as before. What does change at that time is that you start teaching. Lower ranks look at you as being someone who has been there done that. They start to ask questions and many of these questions you may not be able to answer. Things that you did without question as you progressed through the ranks suddenly become things that you need to research to provide a credible answer. To me that is what changes and your development progresses exponentially. When you are the 'go to' man you have to lift your game or lose your credibility. As DD said, you know the how, now you have to know the why.
:asian:
 

SJON

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In my experience of Kukki TKD, not much changes at black belt. Basically you can now do everything the coloured belts can do, but you can do it better, and there isn't much else.

I think this is one of the big failings of Kukki TKD, the lack of any substantial BB syllabus. Sure, you learn some new patterns, you do some more difficult jumps, but in my experience there is no new depth of knowledge taught, no advanced material other than the new forms that are trickier as a performance art.

As a coloured belt I was under the impression that after 1st Dan there would be a lot more practical application, a lot more self-defence material, some kind of credible use for all the hand technique, perhaps even some vital point work, but this was not the case. What there is of that kind of thing is generally imported from other arts.

I say all this from a position of experience, having trained and discussed with many TKD masters in many places. Some instructors have nothing of substance to teach beyond 1st Dan (apart from the higher forms and doing the basic stuff harder and faster), and the masters that do have something to offer find themselves stifled by the sport/PE/exhibition emphasis of their NGBs and by lack of demand.

This is why so many Kukki TKD BBs end up leaving TKD and taking up HKD or other arts, or going independent and teaching a more self-defence-oriented TKD to those who are interested.

It's all very well saying that there are Kukki TKD masters out there who can offer the kind of stuff I'm talking about. I know there are. But I really think the Kukkiwon needs to start thinking about designing and implementing an actual syllabus for BBs before Kukki TKD is definitively dismissed by public and practitioners alike as an art for kids and competing athletes only.

Cheers,

Simon
 

Touch Of Death

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Getting a Blackbelt is like passing Biology 101, it doesn't make you a doctor but there is nothing more to learn, really. You just go more in depth.
 

Earl Weiss

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In the

- beginner level training, you train how to "apply" your technique A. You may grow many trees but you concentrate only on your main tree trunk.
- intermediate/advance level training, you train how to use your technique A to set up your technique B. Each of your main tree trunk start to branch out and grow into a full growing tree.

Very true. For example. In Ho Sin Sul I often provide a "Plan A" response to an attack as well as a "Plan B". If one doesn't work you need to move on to the other. You need to adjust faster than te attacker. As you progress the alternate solutions can include C,D,E.... The more advanced student has more alternatives and can move between them with more alacrity.
 

Jaeimseu

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I think after black belt students can focus more deeply on how and why things work and how things fit together.

For many people, especially young athletic types (at least here in Korea), it's also a chance for them to choose a specialty or major area to pursue, be it poomsae, sparring, or demonstration.

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msmitht

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At my GMs school we trained 4-6 years to Bb. At Bb we learned the application of poomsae and advanced breaking. Each Dan level presented new challenges and techniques. At 3rd he made us learn judo falls and throws. Was all of it TKD? No but it helped me to become a better martial artist.
As a bjj black belt I can tell you that there is a huge difference for Bb training. Like tkd there are basics and they don't change but as you train more you get a better understanding of how and why they work and more importantly, how they don't work. Most time is spent free training and learning new variations of positions/submissions/transitions....etc. plus we get to start learning the techniques that are not allowed until Bb.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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In my Chinese wrestling system, after you have obtained your 1st degree black belt, you will need to compete in tournaments to build good tournament record to qualified for your 2nd degree black belt. There is no other ways around. So after your 1st degree black belt, it will be your "tournament time".

In Chinese wrestling system, if you don't compete in tournament, the 1st degree black belt will be as far as you can go for the rest of your life.
 

Kong Soo Do

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In my experience of Kukki TKD, not much changes at black belt. Basically you can now do everything the coloured belts can do, but you can do it better, and there isn't much else.

This is precisely correct. I've had many discussions with those in Kukki-TKD, particularly those of advanced Dan (5-7). One 7th Dan stated bluntly that he'd trained in Kukki-TKD for 30 years, but really learned nothing new after the 3rd year when he got his BB. And that's a shame because it doesn't have to be that way. Figure it this way, as stated above, the Kukki-TKD BB takes 3-4 years outside of Korea. Why? It takes one year or less in Korea and is the same curriculum. Are they so much faster learners in Korea? Apparently not as the retention rate after BB is pretty dismal. Or could it perhaps be that making it 3-4 years outside of Korea brings in more cash to both the instructor and the organization?

That fortunately doesn't speak for all of TKD. There are many TKD schools and organizations that put 'meat and potatoes' into the training, both before and after BB. And to be clear, learning yet another block/punch/kick form isn't what I'm referring to as meat and potatoes education. Anything more than five total forms for an entire system is simply creating a class-filler in a cookie cutter school. And I'd argue that really only 1-3 forms/kata are needed for a lifetime of training and continuing education.
 

andyjeffries

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This is precisely correct. I've had many discussions with those in Kukki-TKD, particularly those of advanced Dan (5-7). One 7th Dan stated bluntly that he'd trained in Kukki-TKD for 30 years, but really learned nothing new after the 3rd year when he got his BB. And that's a shame because it doesn't have to be that way.

I'm a 5th Dan Kukkiwon and 6th Dan Changmookwan, so I guess I fall in to your advanced Dan category. I would say that the 7th Dan you spoke to has had a very unfortunate experience and it certainly wouldn't match mine. I started Taekwondo in 1986, so nearly 30 years and learnt LOADS of detail when I went to Korea in the summer. Admittedly most of them were little tweaks in movements, but there were also some larger concepts such as power generation that I wasn't getting right. I feel if you aren't learning new stuff, then you're likely stuck in your own dojang, doing the same thing day in/day out. People need to get out there, to learn from other seniors.

Figure it this way, as stated above, the Kukki-TKD BB takes 3-4 years outside of Korea. Why? It takes one year or less in Korea and is the same curriculum. Are they so much faster learners in Korea? Apparently not as the retention rate after BB is pretty dismal. Or could it perhaps be that making it 3-4 years outside of Korea brings in more cash to both the instructor and the organization?

The simple answer is that in Korea people (often children) train 5 times per week. This works out to about 250 hours of training for 1st Poom (or Dan). People outside Korea training 1-2x per week should take 3-4 years. It's simple maths.
 

K-man

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The simple answer is that in Korea people (often children) train 5 times per week. This works out to about 250 hours of training for 1st Poom (or Dan). People outside Korea training 1-2x per week should take 3-4 years. It's simple maths.
Interesting. We train more than 250 hours a year and it takes about 6 years to 1st Dan.
:asian:
 

Kong Soo Do

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I'm a 5th Dan Kukkiwon and 6th Dan Changmookwan, so I guess I fall in to your advanced Dan category. I would say that the 7th Dan you spoke to has had a very unfortunate experience and it certainly wouldn't match mine.

If it were an isolated situation I'd be inclined to agree with you. However, unfortunately, it isn't. I know an 7th Dan in G.B. as well and have talked with him many times over the years. His experience was the same. My own instructor who is a KKW master (now retired) has related the same feelings.

I started Taekwondo in 1986, so nearly 30 years and learnt LOADS of detail when I went to Korea in the summer. Admittedly most of them were little tweaks in movements, but there were also some larger concepts such as power generation that I wasn't getting right.

Okay, I'm glad your getting some continuing education. And don't take this the wrong way as it isn't meant that way, but after 30 years of training it took a trip to Korea to learn little tweaks? And after 30 years of training, you weren't getting power generation correct? It shouldn't have taken a trip to Korea to learn/correct these things. And too be honest, that is colored belt material, at least in the schools I've trained. I'm not suggesting that a 5th Dan with 30 years should 'know' everything or that there isn't stuff we can always improve on here and there. But by 30 years in and 5th Dan one should not need a trip to Korea to tweak anything.

The following 'you' is a generic 'you'.

As a 5th Dan (or anyone that has a BB in Kukki-TKD), what NEW material have you learned that wasn't already known at a lower colored belt? I don't mean gaining expertise at something. I don't mean a tweak here and there. And I certainly don't mean learning yet another form with b/p/k movements that were learned at yellow belt (i.e. the form is only increased in length and subjectively speaking, increased technical difficulty but still has the same punches and blocks and kicks that were learned early on in training). Did you learn new ways to strike as a BB? New blocks after BB? Did you learn a new throw or lock or something? What was the new concept that you didn't know existed as a yellow or green or brown belt?

I feel if you aren't learning new stuff, then you're likely stuck in your own dojang, doing the same thing day in/day out. People need to get out there, to learn from other seniors.

I agree with you 100% on this point.

The simple answer is that in Korea people (often children) train 5 times per week. This works out to about 250 hours of training for 1st Poom (or Dan). People outside Korea training 1-2x per week should take 3-4 years. It's simple maths.

Yes, I've heard this before. However, talking with many people that have trained in Korea, TKD training for children is more of a P.E. activity and often isn't more than an hour (and sometimes less). Exceptions of course, but time has to be taken for school and other things. And outside of Korea I've experienced more along the lines of 2-4 times a week for students. Depending on the age level the classes were at least one hour if not an hour and a half. So let's say the Korean child is training 2 hours a day for five days a week just to have an even 10 hours of training time per week. I don't think that is the norm according to those I've talked with as well as videos of the performance of these children (not meant to be unkind but simply factual). Now let's take the American or Canadian or British child (or teen) that is training 3 times a week for an hour and a half for 4 1/2 hours per week. That isn't counting personal training time. So let's just assume for the sake of an example that the Korean child is actually training twice as much as the non-Korean child (or teen or adult). So that should be two years for the non-Korean to reach BB and not three or four years. So we have some choices:

  • Korean children really train really long hours each and every day (typical performance does not bear this out nor does commentary from many of those that have visited Korea and viewed their training).
  • Korean children are just better at TKD than non-Korean children (see above, not to mention that would be a blatant racial stereo-type).
  • Non-Korean's training time is lengthened to make more money.

I've asked this before but never gotten an answer from anyone; The cost of a first Dan cert here in America is (I believe) $85? Is it the same equivalent for the Korean child's first Dan?
 

Tony Dismukes

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I'm not a TKD practitioner, but I think talk about the presence or absence of new techniques in the curriculum past a certain level is missing the point. In western boxing or Muay Thai you can learn pretty much all the techniques in the system within the first 6 months. After that you can spend many years and thousands of hours of training learning to get better at actually applying the techniques against an opponent who is determined to defeat you. Even if you have been training for years, a good coach will be able to help you improve something - distancing, timing, setups, tactical application, body mechanics, strategy. I would hope that the same would apply in TKD.
 

Kong Soo Do

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I'm not a TKD practitioner, but I think talk about the presence or absence of new techniques in the curriculum past a certain level is missing the point. In western boxing or Muay Thai you can learn pretty much all the techniques in the system within the first 6 months. After that you can spend many years and thousands of hours of training learning to get better at actually applying the techniques against an opponent who is determined to defeat you. Even if you have been training for years, a good coach will be able to help you improve something - distancing, timing, setups, tactical application, body mechanics, strategy. I would hope that the same would apply in TKD.

Tony, your point is valid. I would offer however that boxing and MT (and others) don't have a belt system in place. So that would bring up the question of 'what is the purpose of a belt system in the first place'? The obvious answer(s) would be to structure the curriculum/goal setting/section a class according to experience (among other reasons). So in TKD (specifically KKW-TKD since the conversation has swung towards that brand), is there really anything new beyond the first Dan? I would submit no, not really. So then what is the purpose of having all the Dan ranks? That kinda just leads to another conversation or two (and already has many times). I would submit that for some arts/schools the various ranks, including the Dan ranks, truly have new information to expand what has already been learned. For other schools/arts/organizations it is more for $ and status. That is just my personal view.
 

Thousand Kicks

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There is so much to say about this, but I'll try to condense it.

My first question would be, What type of material or techniques are you expecting to see after Black Belt?


I thought Tony's response was about as good as there could be. Martial Arts training or sport training is usually patterned in the same manner. In the beginning you are just a sponge soaking up information. By intermediate levels, you are learning some application, but you are still mostly being fed infomation from trainers or senior students. By the time you are an advanced student or athelete, your training shifts from learning new techniques to sharpening the techniques you already know.


Look at a sport like tennis. There are only so many ways to hit a ball. So what differentiates a pro player from an amatuer? What separates an amatuer from a casual player? All pretty much know the same strokes, but the attention to detail and the application are worlds apart.


Lastly, if you are enrolled in a sport centered school, you may always be disappointed at the lack of self defense training you get to do. But, a student should be aware when signing up or observing this while progressing through the lower ranks. If this is your predicament, you may have no other option than looking for a new place to train.
 

dancingalone

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Interesting. We train more than 250 hours a year and it takes about 6 years to 1st Dan.
:asian:

To be fair, you're talking about Goju-ryu. It IS a more dense system. (Obligatory no offense intended to anyone. I have a big foot in the TKD camp as well so I love and respect TKD as well.)
 

Kong Soo Do

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My first question would be, What type of material or techniques are you expecting to see after Black Belt?

Very reasonable question. Let me toss this out for consideration; would it be reasonable for an art to offer new information up to the point of becoming a master? Let's take TKD for example. Many brands of TKD have the 4th Dan as master. Would it be reasonable to expect there to be new information up to this point? So a second Dan knows material that a first Dan has never been exposed to before, in addition to having more training time with the material up to that point. And if you (generic you) don't feel that is reasonable, what do you feel the purpose of belts beyond first Dan would be?

I thought Tony's response was about as good as there could be. Martial Arts training or sport training is usually patterned in the same manner. In the beginning you are just a sponge soaking up information. By intermediate levels, you are learning some application, but you are still mostly being fed infomation from trainers or senior students. By the time you are an advanced student or athelete, your training shifts from learning new techniques to sharpening the techniques you already know.


Look at a sport like tennis. There are only so many ways to hit a ball. So what differentiates a pro player from an amatuer? What separates an amatuer from a casual player? All pretty much know the same strokes, but the attention to detail and the application are worlds apart.

Okay, but I would again add that sports such as tennis don't have a belt ranking system. True, a sport may have other types of ranking systems. So are we assuming that if the martial art in question is really a martial sport that the belt system is more for paring off equally experienced students? Would any other reason exist for the belt system in these types of arts?

Lastly, if you are enrolled in a sport centered school, you may always be disappointed at the lack of self defense training you get to do. But, a student should be aware when signing up or observing this while progressing through the lower ranks. If this is your predicament, you may have no other option than looking for a new place to train.

Agree 100%.
 

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