How Important is Rank to You??

chinto01

Black Belt
Joined
Sep 18, 2004
Messages
611
Reaction score
17
Was doing some thinking last evening and this thought came to my head. What happens when my Sensei passes? The usual thoughts came and then the thought of future promotions came to mind. Would I ever accept a promotion from anyone again? I came to the conclusion that I would not. The reason being is that it is not the paper but your knowledge and in some way i would feel I am betraying him. Thought this would be an interesting topic.

In the spirit of bushido!

Rob
 

mrhnau

Senior Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
2,269
Reaction score
34
Location
NC
I've spent some time contemplating this... as an individual, I honestly don't care what color my belt is. If I have the knowledge and ability to use it, then that is enough for me.

that being said, there are a few reasons (at least IMO) that one might need rank...

1) if you can only learn certain concepts at higher levels in your school, I suppose you need to work your way through the ranks. Perhaps sparring only occurs at higher levels?

2) if you ever want to teach or open your own school, people use rank as a metric to gauge your skill level. I don't know many people who are 10th kyu opening up excellent schools, and honestly wouldn't most MAist laugh at them if they did?

3) It's a metric for skill level. If you are a Shodan in one art, you can communicate with another Shodan w/out having to discuss certain basic concepts that are obvious to a Shodan but not someone who is 10th kyu. If you transfer schools having a rank gives the instructor an idea of where you are skill wise. This is assuming criteria for rank is universal.

Does a rank make you better? Not really, but I guess its kind of a necessary evil these days :) One day I'd enjoy teaching, so I suppose some kind of rank is needed...
 

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
430
Location
Cromwell,CT
Was doing some thinking last evening and this thought came to my head. What happens when my Sensei passes? The usual thoughts came and then the thought of future promotions came to mind. Would I ever accept a promotion from anyone again? I came to the conclusion that I would not. The reason being is that it is not the paper but your knowledge and in some way i would feel I am betraying him. Thought this would be an interesting topic.

In the spirit of bushido!

Rob

I've never been a rank chaser. My theory is, when it happens, it happens. This is not to say that I'm not greatful for the rank that I have and all of the instructors that I've spent time with, but I'm more interested in learning, bettering myself and having an understanding of the material.

I hope that my current instructor has many, many more years to come. :) When that time comes, I'll worry about it then. :)

Mike
 

Drac

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jul 16, 2004
Messages
22,738
Reaction score
143
Location
Ohio
I am an Instructor..That's good enough for me...
 

Dave Leverich

Black Belt
Joined
Dec 8, 2006
Messages
672
Reaction score
4
Location
Albany, OR
The only thing I find rank to be is a good way to determine 'order', it lets us see skill levels and well... rank. I'm not a chaser by any means, but I will continue down that path regardless.

On a side note, I think you would do disservice by NOT continuing on after your Sensei has passed. I know that for myself, the greatest accomplishment would be for one of my juniors to go beyond where I have in their journey.
 

IWishToLearn

3rd Black Belt
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
969
Reaction score
5
Location
Salinas, CA
Except for special occasions I've taken to wearing a plain black belt with nothing whatsoever showing, even though I've got several belts from several systems.

I teach because my students asked me to, and my school is very small, but growing via word of mouth.

Now, to answer the question asked. Is rank important?

It depends.

It depends on your skill level and your self-confidence. I don't consider myself particularly good, but my students have all been encouraged to visit other schools and have chosen me to teach them. I'm confident in what I do - yes, I have three black belts, and a 1st gup in tkd to boot. I normally only wear the stripes or the fancy uniform for promotions when the parents and friends and relatives and whatnot show up, it's a big pomp & circumstance day, so we wear the pomp & circumstance. My rank is deemed such by the people who have assigned said rank to me. It's important because it has allowed me the extended knowledge to be a better teacher.

It depends on the value the system in which you train places on rank. The base for my system is IKCA Kenpo. One blue belt is expected to be on the same skill level as another IKCA blue belt. Does it happen consistantly EVERY time? Hell no. I've never seen a school where every student of x rank is the same. Because every human being is different. Do all of our blue belts know the same basic material? Yes. Are they all equally adept at the execution of that material? No. For reasons above. I judge my own students on a separate bar than the rest of the blue belts. (I'm using blue belt as an example cause blue is my fav color :p.) I have EXTREMELY high standards - and this leads me to my next point.

It depends on the value of the material required for that rank. My own students are required to OWN their material and be able to demonstrate it physically, discuss it intelligently orally, and prepare an assigned topic paper on a subject relevant to their current training. Now, the material required of them is presented and refined until they are highly competent with the material before they are allowed to be even considered for testing. And their tests have a three tiered scoring system. Under 80% and they fail. Under 88% and they Pass on Condition - which means they get the diploma and new belt, but they must retest for that same belt (no charge, just have to refine & tighten up the loose ends for at least 30 days) with 95%+ before they get to move on to new material. So then - rank in my school is important only in the fact that if you see a student wearing rank X, you know he/she EARNED that rank and is therefore a good person to ask for assistance if you want help learning something. Since they are required to be able to discuss it orally and have written and performed it themselves, they own the material, and can help others learn their material.

Is rank an important thing - it depends. :)
 

Em MacIntosh

3rd Black Belt
Joined
Apr 17, 2007
Messages
917
Reaction score
16
Location
Lynn Valley, North Vancouver, BC, CA
If I feel confident in my sensei and he promotes me, I feel he thinks I've reached a higher level of competence. This reassures me that I've improved and am prepared to learn new material, and also sets a bar for how good I have to maintain my old material. As a default, we are supposed to administer our own self-discepline but it helps so much to have guidance. I see my sensei as a beacon in a vast sea. I could choose not to trust him and be on my own, however, I do not feel confident enough to wander on my own yet. It's like growing up, take advantage of the fact that your mother mother's you. You'll miss it when it's not there.
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
33,925
Reaction score
8,913
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
Rank :confused:

What is this rank you speak of :confused:

I train traditional CMA, no rank.

My first Sifu trained me and told me one day I could teach what he taught me so I taught. My second Sifu is teaching me now and if he tells me I can teach I will teach, my 3rd Sifu same thing and I am considering a 4th and it will again be the same thing. For the most part they are different styles but still no rank.
 

mrhnau

Senior Master
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
2,269
Reaction score
34
Location
NC
Rank :confused:

What is this rank you speak of :confused:

I train traditional CMA, no rank.

My first Sifu trained me and told me one day I could teach what he taught me so I taught. My second Sifu is teaching me now and if he tells me I can teach I will teach, my 3rd Sifu same thing and I am considering a 4th and it will again be the same thing. For the most part they are different styles but still no rank.
I like that concept... just three "ranks" perhaps... student, teacher, master... what else is really needed?
 

bushidomartialarts

Senior Master
Joined
Mar 5, 2006
Messages
2,668
Reaction score
47
Location
Hillsboro, Oregon
Rank as a concept is utterly unimportant. Especially when you get up in the middle to high black ranks...it's not even a reliable indicator of skill anymore.

As a method for setting and achieving goals, though, it's tops. Any system that includes well defined, subdivided goals is ultimately a good system -- it's part of why martial arts builds confidence and power.

I still look to my next rank when setting life goals. It's a way of staying on track.
 

Chizikunbo

Purple Belt
Joined
Jun 13, 2004
Messages
306
Reaction score
2
Was doing some thinking last evening and this thought came to my head. What happens when my Sensei passes? The usual thoughts came and then the thought of future promotions came to mind. Would I ever accept a promotion from anyone again? I came to the conclusion that I would not. The reason being is that it is not the paper but your knowledge and in some way i would feel I am betraying him. Thought this would be an interesting topic.

In the spirit of bushido!

Rob

First of all...Great Topic.
Secondly, I think that rank is not very important. I train to train, because I love the arts, and I love what the arts do for me. We need to examine the history or rank, being that it was created to show a students progress, in large for the teacher originally. These days it seems to be more for the student, a milestone if you will.
If your sensei would pass, wether to accept rank or not is entirely your descision. However, the better question would be would you train again. If you studied under a new instructor to continue your knowledge, and you progressed it would not be disrespectful for you to accept another milestone marker, as it is just the next step in your journey. In the event of your teachers passing (which I hope is not any time soon) you must think, would your instructor want you to continue to enhance and expand your knowledge and understanding of this art, or would he want you to stop simply because he is gone? We all die someday, it cannot be stopped. Usually out instructors are much older than we, and thus die sooner than we, its a fact of life. But should we no longer progress simply because nature has continued its course? I think not. Like nature I know I would keep going, rank is secondary. But if I continued training with a new instructor and he/she felt the need to give me a new rank I would probably accept it, but with full knolwedge, respect, and memory that it was my first instructor who laid the foundation for that new knowledge to grow on and for the new rank to be awarded ;-)
Take care,
--Josh
 
OP
chinto01

chinto01

Black Belt
Joined
Sep 18, 2004
Messages
611
Reaction score
17
Great responses so far. A few people bring up the point of continued training after he passes. ABSOLUTLEY! It will be my responsibility to pass on what he has shared with me. I look forward to that task the day it comes.

In the spirit of bushido!

Rob
 

Em MacIntosh

3rd Black Belt
Joined
Apr 17, 2007
Messages
917
Reaction score
16
Location
Lynn Valley, North Vancouver, BC, CA
Sorry to bring up a hot topic but it fits my description of why some people have religeon in their spirituality. Life is complicated, MA training is complicated. It helps to have a set of instructions, a teacher, and manageable steps to learn. I feel religeon is something that has to be adhered to by definition of the word and it represents a persons views on how life should be lived, in order to break down morality, duty and belief into manegaeble, bite-sized peices. To me, rank is simmilar. It breaks down the knowledge into steps that reinforce the next steps. It's not just a "learn to walk before you learn to fly" thing but also because the basics are the most important and have the most time spent on them. If someone adheres to his MA training religeously, I feel he could consider it a religeon, especially if he places spiritual importance or significance on it. I feel that spirituality is simmilar to MA, and rank is simmilar to religeon. Not the same mind you. Just a crazy notion.
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
33,925
Reaction score
8,913
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
Sorry to bring up a hot topic but it fits my description of why some people have religeon in their spirituality. Life is complicated, MA training is complicated. It helps to have a set of instructions, a teacher, and manageable steps to learn. I feel religeon is something that has to be adhered to by definition of the word and it represents a persons views on how life should be lived, in order to break down morality, duty and belief into manegaeble, bite-sized peices. To me, rank is simmilar. It breaks down the knowledge into steps that reinforce the next steps. It's not just a "learn to walk before you learn to fly" thing but also because the basics are the most important and have the most time spent on them. If someone adheres to his MA training religeously, I feel he could consider it a religeon, especially if he places spiritual importance or significance on it. I feel that spirituality is simmilar to MA, and rank is simmilar to religeon. Not the same mind you. Just a crazy notion.

Hey wait a minute did you just call me a heathen because I train traditional CMA and we have no rank!!! :uhyeah:
 

Em MacIntosh

3rd Black Belt
Joined
Apr 17, 2007
Messages
917
Reaction score
16
Location
Lynn Valley, North Vancouver, BC, CA
Who am I to judge another? If it works good for you, I guess you aren't wasting your time. I'm not particularly religeous (or spiritual for that matter), but I respect the concept. The same goes with rank. If it helps you good if not, bad. I don't "need either" but sometimes it helps me, sometimes it might hold me back.
 

morph4me

Goin' with the flow
MT Mentor
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 5, 2006
Messages
6,779
Reaction score
124
Location
Ossining , NY
Hey wait a minute did you just call me a heathen because I train traditional CMA and we have no rank!!! :uhyeah:

Of course not, you're training and not having rank has nothing to do with you being a heathen.:uhyeah:
 

jim777

Master Black Belt
Joined
Jan 22, 2007
Messages
1,014
Reaction score
31
Location
Blackwood, New Jersey
Was doing some thinking last evening and this thought came to my head. What happens when my Sensei passes? ....
In the spirit of bushido!

Rob

Without knowing your Sensei, but seeing how you feel about him, I could make a guess here. That guess would be that he is not training you to become him, but rather to become the best you that you can attain. He is not the path, but your guide on your path. I believe he would be disapointed if you did not continue down the path should he pass. You may never have another guide like him, but the path will remain for you to follow regardless. As for promotions, take them if they come. Neither they nor you (for taking them) will dishonor your sensei.

jim
 

Rich Parsons

A Student of Martial Arts
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Oct 13, 2001
Messages
16,779
Reaction score
1,038
Location
Michigan
Rank :confused:

What is this rank you speak of :confused:

I train traditional CMA, no rank.

My first Sifu trained me and told me one day I could teach what he taught me so I taught. My second Sifu is teaching me now and if he tells me I can teach I will teach, my 3rd Sifu same thing and I am considering a 4th and it will again be the same thing. For the most part they are different styles but still no rank.


I understand, for the system of Balintawak I study there is no rank. Only the blessing of the instructor to teach. It is up to the studnet to decide to teach for if they do and they do a poor job then their studnets will reflect upon them. If they do teach some may get upset and challenge them (* he meant physically, but in today's world it more likely to be verbal or written such as on the internet *) where one defends themselves as the see fit.

I also understand rank as in the other system I study, Modern Arnis, there is rank and titles and all that goes with it. I have rank and can use the title of Master, but I prefer just to be Rich off the matts and on the matts the simple respect given to everyone which is a simple Sir or Mame.
 

whitetiger2001

Yellow Belt
Joined
Aug 27, 2006
Messages
57
Reaction score
1
Location
Florida, land of sunshine and palm trees
This is a very good question and took me time to condiser the answer

I would not see it as disloyal to accept new rank or material from another sensei if mine passed. I think it would be more so to not to. The person that replaces him no doubt would be one that he selected and trained to do so. It's his legacy to see his art and school live on past his time and he would want you to continue.

Now as to rank. I feel it's important, not for the sake of the belt itself or the color, I can buy any I want online through any MA supply company. But as a reminder of where you've been and where you want your journey to take you, it's very valuable. Past ranks are snapshots of your past and what it took you to get where you are. Future ranks are what you aspire to. People are goal oriented, the belts serve as a gauging point if they are truely earned and only the one wearing the rank can tell if it was truely earned. Be proud of it but not obssessed by it. And use it to help others of a lower rank, that too is part of the legacy your instructor would want to leave behind.
 
Top