How the Japanese view of the black belt

wingchun100

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From what I've heard and read about from multiple sources, is that in Japan they don't make a big deal of the black belt. That the Japanese see the black belt as simply the belt after brown, if the system has it so that brown comes right before black as lots of belt systems do. For them the jump from brown to black is not a big jump and they don't put the black belt on a pedestal the way Americans often do.

A lot of Americans I know no longer put the black belt on a pedestal like they did back when KARATE KID came out. That comes from seeing too many people who brag about being a black belt getting their butts kicked. LOL
 

donnaTKD

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the McGym i went to a couple of months back handed out black belts in MT to anyone really that paid the money --- the belt itself doesnt mean anything at all since in MT you're either ready to fight or you're not, sounds a bit like what happens with your black belt system -- you're either ready to move up the food chain or you're not and only your coach/sensei can determine what stage you're at and whether you're ready to go up a level

just my take on things.
 

Dirty Dog

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It strikes me as interesting that nobody has yet mentioned that the "sho" or "cho" from shodan or chodan translates to "beginner" - and that is the reason why in Japanese or Korean styles a 1st dan is considered a beginner, reborn.

And that might also explain why in Japan or Korea, a 1st dan dosen't have a lot of value. Now second dan starts meaning something - that somebody has stuck around to earn their stripes!

Um... no... that isn't what chodan means at all. Chodan (초단) or Ildan (일단) means "1st Degree" and has nothing whatsoever to do with being a beginner or "reborn" (whatever that is supposed to mean). "Beginner" in Korean is choboja (초보자). Although choboja and chodan do share the hangul "초" remember that hangul is an alphabet, not picture writing. In English, Tooth and Tail both share the character "T", after all.

Some Korean tangsodo and taekwondo schools (including ours) also have the rank of "chodanbo" which is translated as "1st Dan Candidate". The literal meaning would be "half a 1st Dan" or, by your translation "half a beginner" (which seems pretty silly) or "half reborn" (which seems pretty icky).
 

donald1

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I'm not sure where your going with this? Whether one is more or less I'm sure if it is a good school then it is earned. Some schools are more strict some are not as much but either way they are found anywhere. I'm not quite sure if that is a question that can truly be answered. Whether or not a black belt means more or less is dependant on who is making the assumptions. If black belt is considered just a rank higher than brown belt that could mean they think less of black belt but maybe even more of brown belt. Black belt is a certain milestone where a student has shown endurance, patience strength and respect for ones self and others. A black belt is important but so is a brown belt.
 

drop bear

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I Have a mate who I am pretty sure goes to Japan for his black belt gradings.

Which seems like a big deal.
 

OldKarateGuy

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I think, at least in JKA, the dan rank is a very big deal in Japan. Otherwise, why would so many fail the shodan test first time through? I think that perhaps something like 60% - possibly more - will fail a 1st dan test at the JKA honbu dojo in Tokyo. The results are not called "fail" but termed "retest." In the U.S., this number may be the inverse, that is, 30% might fail the first time around. However, compare this pass/fail rate to those testing for any level of kyu (colored) belt, and I think you will see the relative importance of each. Passing a kyu test should be pretty automatic. Passing a dan test is not.

Aside from the obvious that the rank of 1st dan is recognized by certain specific criteria along with a list of kata requirements, it is perhaps generalized as the ability to react via instinct and not having to think first in performing some level of technique. Again, generalizing, I think the Japanese would classify 1st dan as a possessing the dedication and sufficient technique for advanced study. So, in the sense of, say, graduating or finality, no, shodan is not important. Its importance is that it signifies one is serious about the art and ready to continue in advanced study.
 

Transk53

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Across disciplines achieving a black belt must be quite satisfying and contented. In yours guys and girls experience, was getting a yellow belt for example, just as satisfying?
 
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PhotonGuy

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The way I see it is like this, and I could be wrong, but in the USA they make it really hard to get from Ikkyu to Shodan in proportion to how hard it is to get other ranks. Often in the USA it will be much harder and take much longer to get from Ikkyu to Shodan than it does to get from Nikyu to Ikkyu. However that is very much an American thing and not how they do it in Japan.

In Japan, while they certainly won't just hand you the rank of Shodan they're not going to put it out of proportion in terms of the time and difficulty it takes to get it compared to other, lower belts and ranks. In other words, going from Ikkyu to Shodan won't be much harder or take much longer than it does to go from Nikyu to Ikkyu, in Japan. That's the difference on how its done in the USA vs how it's done in Japan.
 

Taiji Rebel

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The way I see it is like this, and I could be wrong, but in the USA they make it really hard to get from Ikkyu to Shodan in proportion to how hard it is to get other ranks. Often in the USA it will be much harder and take much longer to get from Ikkyu to Shodan than it does to get from Nikyu to Ikkyu. However that is very much an American thing and not how they do it in Japan.

In Japan, while they certainly won't just hand you the rank of Shodan they're not going to put it out of proportion in terms of the time and difficulty it takes to get it compared to other, lower belts and ranks. In other words, going from Ikkyu to Shodan won't be much harder or take much longer than it does to go from Nikyu to Ikkyu, in Japan. That's the difference on how its done in the USA vs how it's done in Japan.
How did you become so obsessed with discussing the black belt?
 

Hot Lunch

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The way I see it is like this, and I could be wrong, but in the USA they make it really hard to get from Ikkyu to Shodan in proportion to how hard it is to get other ranks. Often in the USA it will be much harder and take much longer to get from Ikkyu to Shodan than it does to get from Nikyu to Ikkyu. However that is very much an American thing and not how they do it in Japan.
I think this is true in some schools, and not in others.

At my last dojo (Shorin-ryu), this is definitely true. If you cram in as many hours as you could there, you test every three months. From ikkyu to shodan, the hours required takes six months to cram, unless you're willing to shell out some cash for private lessons. And on top of the brutal eight hour test, it's 500 pushups, 500 situps, and 1000 kicks (and that's in addition to the pushups, situps, and kicks you're already doing throughout the test). Nidan and above don't have the 500/500/1000, but whenever a lower ranking person than them has to do pushups for messing up a kata or technique, they have to get down and do pushups with them. As I mentioned in another thread, this apparently has to do with being under the Frank Hargrove lineage. Also, apparently, this wasn't the way that Shugoro Nazakato trained his students in Okinawa from what I hear.

At the Shotokan dojo where I am now, I have not yet seen anyone test for shodan. We only have one ikkyu, and he's not testing for another nine months (there's a one year wait). I'm not really betting money that what happens during the test is much different than the test from nikyu to ikkyu, least of all as different as it was at my last dojo.

In Japan, while they certainly won't just hand you the rank of Shodan they're not going to put it out of proportion in terms of the time and difficulty it takes to get it compared to other, lower belts and ranks. In other words, going from Ikkyu to Shodan won't be much harder or take much longer than it does to go from Nikyu to Ikkyu, in Japan. That's the difference on how its done in the USA vs how it's done in Japan.

I will say that I'm not buying that black belt is seen as "just another belt" that merely comes after brown. Your rank goes from kyu to dan. That's a much clearer distinction between ikkyu and shodan than between any other two ranks. Think about this:

Hirokazu Kanazawa even has a book called "Black Belt Karate."

Theodore Roosevelt was a brown belt in judo. Why did he never make black belt? Because, at the time, non-Japanese could not be promoted to black belt.

So there's clearly a significance to the black belt among the Japanese.
 
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Dirty Dog

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Because it's one of those highly controversial things in the martial arts.
That's mostly in your mind. One way you can tell is because you're the only one around here with this obsession. Other posters make it clear they do not understand your weird obsession. Because it's not shared. It's not controversial.
 
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PhotonGuy

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That's mostly in your mind. One way you can tell is because you're the only one around here with this obsession. Other posters make it clear they do not understand your weird obsession. Because it's not shared. It's not controversial.
I would say Im not the only one obsessed with the black belt, there are many other people obsessed, particularly those instructors that make it really hard to get, that have really high standards for getting a black belt under them, I would say that's obsession.
 

Taiji Rebel

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I would say Im not the only one obsessed with the black belt, there are many other people obsessed, particularly those instructors that make it really hard to get, that have really high standards for getting a black belt under them, I would say that's obsession.
You deserve a black belt for your dedicated obsession to discussions about the black belt - you have worked long and hard creating posts and threads relating to talk about the black belt, but I am really curious to know how far away you are from actually achieving a black belt for your martial studies? When are you likely to be awarded your black belt in real life?
 
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PhotonGuy

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I think this is true in some schools, and not in others.

At my last dojo (Shorin-ryu), this is definitely true. If you cram in as many hours as you could there, you test every three months. From ikkyu to shodan, the hours required takes six months to cram, unless you're willing to shell out some cash for private lessons. And on top of the brutal eight hour test, it's 500 pushups, 500 situps, and 1000 kicks (and that's in addition to the pushups, situps, and kicks you're already doing throughout the test). Nidan and above don't have the 500/500/1000, but whenever a lower ranking person than them has to do pushups for messing up a kata or technique, they have to get down and do pushups with them.
Well the way I see it is that if you're going to have those requirements to get from ikkyu to shodan then to get from nikyu to ikkyu it should be a seven hour test where you have to do 400 pushups, 400 situps, and 900 kicks (in addition to the pushups, situps, and kicks you're already doing throughout the test,). That is just my take on it and just my opinion but it makes sense not to have the shodan test to be out of proportion in terms of difficulty when compared to the ikkyu test. If you're going to have a hard shodan test then the ikkyu test should also be hard, hard enough that the shodan test isn't harder to an extent where it's out of proportion with the difficulty and with the time it takes to get from ikkyu to shodan vs the time it takes to get from nikyu to ikkyu.

Im also of the position the nidan test would be harder than the shodan test where you're required to do more pushups, situps, kicks, ect. then what is required for the shodan test simply because nidan is a higher rank thus it would make sense that it would have harder requirements.
As I mentioned in another thread, this apparently has to do with being under the Frank Hargrove lineage. Also, apparently, this wasn't the way that Shugoro Nazakato trained his students in Okinawa from what I hear.
Frank Hargrove I believe was born in the USA so as I said, I believe they do things differently in terms of rank advancement to shodan than what they do in Japan.
At the Shotokan dojo where I am now, I have not yet seen anyone test for shodan. We only have one ikkyu, and he's not testing for another nine months (there's a one year wait). I'm not really betting money that what happens during the test is much different than the test from nikyu to ikkyu, least of all as different as it was at my last dojo.
So there is a one year time requirement in which you have to be at ikkyu before you're eligible for shodan, I can understand minimum time requirements within reason but what Im against is having a student wait indefinitely just because an instructor wants a student to be patient.
I will say that I'm not buying that black belt is seen as "just another belt" that merely comes after brown. Your rank goes from kyu to dan. That's a much clearer distinction between ikkyu and shodan than between any other two ranks. Think about this:

Hirokazu Kanazawa even has a book called "Black Belt Karate."

Theodore Roosevelt was a brown belt in judo. Why did he never make black belt? Because, at the time, non-Japanese could not be promoted to black belt.

So there's clearly a significance to the black belt among the Japanese.
Well Im talking about contemporary Japan. If we're talking about Theodore Roosevelt having a brown belt in judo that was over a hundred years ago so there's been some changes since then, not the least being that you can now get a black belt in judo without being Japanese. I've seen other changes too, I know a case of a girl from Japan who got a black belt at the age of seven and from the videos I've seen, she's got really good katas but she would not be a black belt at my dojo, the first dojo I started seriously training at, because to be eligible for a black belt there you had to be able to take a hit like a full grown adult. And no you would not just stand there while somebody hit you full force, you would hold a pad that somebody would hit.
I would also like to point out, and you no doubt already know this, that just because you're wearing a black belt doesn't mean you're of the highest rank as there's 2nd degree, 3rd degree, 4th degree, ect. and that black isn't even the highest color. There are styles with higher colors such as in Gracie Jiu Jitsu the very highest belt is the red belt although you have to be a pioneer of the system to be eligible for it.
 
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PhotonGuy

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You deserve a black belt for your dedicated obsession to discussions about the black belt - you have worked long and hard creating posts and threads relating to talk about the black belt, but I am really curious to know how far away you are from actually achieving a black belt for your martial studies? When are you likely to be awarded your black belt in real life?
My first black belt, I got a long time ago. As for the black belt Im working on right now, I will be testing for it in September or October this year.
 

Dirty Dog

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I would say Im not the only one obsessed with the black belt, there are many other people obsessed, particularly those instructors that make it really hard to get, that have really high standards for getting a black belt under them, I would say that's obsession.
Thank you for proving my point.
 

Hot Lunch

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My first black belt, I got a long time ago. As for the black belt Im working on right now, I will be testing for it in September or October this year.
Then it should be out of your system already.
 

Hyoho

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From what I've heard and read about from multiple sources, is that in Japan they don't make a big deal of the black belt. That the Japanese see the black belt as simply the belt after brown, if the system has it so that brown comes right before black as lots of belt systems do. For them the jump from brown to black is not a big jump and they don't put the black belt on a pedestal the way Americans often do.
I have already wrote countless times on other posts: Shodan First black belt (that is if they wear one) is a "qualified" beginner in Japan. My students leave high school with Sandan. What should be mentioned is that they practice twice a day and all day Saturday and Sunday. So not only do they have the grade but compared with the West of perhaps practicing twice week it's a double standard. Its also a local level . National level is Rokudan.
 
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