How the Japanese view of the black belt

Gerry Seymour

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The school makes the difference I think. I do think it should be a big deal it is a benchmark. When you are a kyu and people say it's not a big deal it still is, then when you have dan rank you can easily say it but you are there. Depending on the system they will hand out the dans like candy. 15 levels of it from where I started out and left.
Kyu rank 1st half is elementary school higher ranked kyu high school dan rank is college and university. Bad analogy but that is how I see it
That might be accurate for some styles. It's not accurate for other styles, and that's the point. I rather prefer the BB/dan rank being held for high proficiency. But if I trained somewhere that it just meant basic competency/completion of basic curriculum, then I'd be okay with that. It's just an indicator of progress within a system, and shouldn't be judged between systems.

The only place I'd disagree with how it's used is where there's an open claim that it represents "mastery" or such, but is given at a level that doesn't correllate.
 

Hot Lunch

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That might be accurate for some styles. It's not accurate for other styles, and that's the point. I rather prefer the BB/dan rank being held for high proficiency. But if I trained somewhere that it just meant basic competency/completion of basic curriculum, then I'd be okay with that. It's just an indicator of progress within a system, and shouldn't be judged between systems.

The only place I'd disagree with how it's used is where there's an open claim that it represents "mastery" or such, but is given at a level that doesn't correllate.
I'm still trying to understand shodan's significance in Shotokan. All of Funokoshi's Core 15 doesn't become testable until you're up for nidan, and yondan is the highest technical.

I remember as a preteen in the late 80's and 90's, "I'm a black belt" was used on the block either as a threat or a warning to be left alone. You could safely bet your dad's next paycheck that these kids were lying, but the message was clear - holding a black belt meant that you weren't to messed with by anyone who was untrained. If I was to pick a standard that would apply to all belt-ranked martial arts, that would be it. But only because that's what I understood it to mean when I first learned of Asian martial arts.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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I'm still trying to understand shodan's significance in Shotokan. All of Funokoshi's Core 15 doesn't become testable until you're up for nidan, and yondan is the highest technical.

I remember as a preteen in the late 80's and 90's, "I'm a black belt" was used on the block either as a threat or a warning to be left alone. You could safely bet your dad's next paycheck that these kids were lying, but the message was clear - holding a black belt meant that you weren't to messed with by anyone who was untrained. If I was to pick a standard that would apply to all belt-ranked martial arts, that would be it. But only because that's what I understood it to mean when I first learned of Asian martial arts.
Yeah, the use of BB in Shotokan isn't clear to me, either. I had a long-time student who'd been in Shotokan for about 8 years, and had his brown belt. Yet there's significant material left for post-shodan.

I assume it's clearer to the folks actually practicing the art. I certainly don't get it, but it doesn't have much impact on me, so....
 

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Yeah, the use of BB in Shotokan isn't clear to me, either. I had a long-time student who'd been in Shotokan for about 8 years, and had his brown belt. Yet there's significant material left for post-shodan.

I assume it's clearer to the folks actually practicing the art. I certainly don't get it, but it doesn't have much impact on me, so....
Shotokan 1st Dan here (a Long time ago). Yes, Shotokan does seem to leave more curriculum for post black belt that the other styles I have dabbled in.
 

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When all's said and done regardless of what rank you are (avoiding the word belt) and those that don't wear belt but are skill ranked: You are as good as you are when you bow into dojo and show what you can do. I particularly like arts that don't wear belts. Those that show their expertise and you can actually see their rank/level without looking at what they wear around the waist/gut.
 

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When all's said and done regardless of what rank you are (avoiding the word belt) and those that don't wear belt but are skill ranked: You are as good as you are when you bow into dojo and show what you can do. I particularly like arts that don't wear belts. Those that show their expertise and you can actually see their rank/level without looking at what they wear around the waist/gut.
belts mean nothing to me as i織ve seen too many crap black belts.
 
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PhotonGuy

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I will say that I don't know about the below.

If he's talking about dan bars, I guess, but I hope the lack of dan bars is what he means by "plain." Because if we're talking about embroidered calligraphy, then...

The head of JKA himself - Masaaki Ueki - not wearing a plain belt.
View attachment 30224

Nobuaki Kanazawa, son of Hirokazu and current head of SKIF - not wearing a plain belt.
View attachment 30225

Morio Higaonna - head of IOGKF - not wearing a plain belt.
View attachment 30226

Angi Uezu - his own dude - not wearing a plain belt
View attachment 30227

Who are the Japanese and Okinawan masters that are wearing belts with nothing on them?

My understanding was always the opposite - that having your name on your belt AND gi in Japan was the sign of humility. It's supposed to show that you have no expectation of the instructor remembering you or your name. It's fashionable to us in the West, because it's "foreign" and "exotic." It's just writing to them.
Im just waiting for feedback from isshinryuronin on my position that if the black belt test is going to be hard that the ikkyu brown belt test (the rank right before black belt) should be almost as hard. If he agrees or disagrees and why. But it looks like he's left the building.
 
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PhotonGuy

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This is why I find it weird to see people brag about how long it takes to get black belt at their school.

If it takes you ten years to learn the basics of your art, either switch schools or get yourself checked out for something.

Either way, not impressive to anyone who actually gets to have an opinion. Students under Motobu Choki usually got the basics of his system down in about 6 months, everything afterwards was practical application.
By "learning the basics" exactly what do you mean? It can be said that you're always learning the basics no matter how advanced you get because you can always discover something new and find a better way to do them.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Ten years is a long time, assuming twice+ weekly classes, several hours extra training, general fitness training and thinking about your art day and night (菊) but 3-5 years to shodan appears reasonable to me.
That depends, getting a black belt in BJJ takes an average time of 8-10 years.
 
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PhotonGuy

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who cares about a Black belt ... some can織t fight to save their lives :D
in the USA Black belts are ten-a-penny
That's why what it means to have a black belt depends, it depends on how you got it, what you did to get it.
 
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PhotonGuy

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You're assuming the BB means the same thing everywhere. It doesn't. The entire tone of your post is condescending - including the inappropriate snipe about learning disabilities, which I find very middle-school-ish.

It took me more than 12 years to get my BB. That's not a brag. I went slowly for a number of reasons, but it does usually take about 7 years to BB, even for folks who move fast. Our BB includes instructor training (at minimum a year), and is presumed to be an instructor rank. So it should take longer to get ours than it does to get a BB where it signifies the completion of the basic material.
Yes in some dojos once you're a black belt you're expected to teach, although I've known of dojos where you might be expected to help teach when you're a brown belt.
 
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PhotonGuy

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When all's said and done regardless of what rank you are (avoiding the word belt) and those that don't wear belt but are skill ranked: You are as good as you are when you bow into dojo and show what you can do. I particularly like arts that don't wear belts. Those that show their expertise and you can actually see their rank/level without looking at what they wear around the waist/gut.
Well some styles use patches instead of belts to denote rank, such as JKD.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Whatever the individual art considers being proficient at their fundamentals.

I train an art where your rank is actually determined by your skill and knowledge as opposed to a color around your waist so I don't really know either.
Well then I suppose it's all subjective.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Im just waiting for feedback from isshinryuronin on my position that if the black belt test is going to be hard that the ikkyu brown belt test (the rank right before black belt) should be almost as hard. If he agrees or disagrees and why. But it looks like he's left the building.
Ill give some input.

Not necessarily. Theres a huge difference between the purple and brown tests I went through. Its just how it was structured. Theres no reason all tests have to be on a gradual slope of difficulty - a test may be made harder for a bunch of reasons: gatekeeping content, just a special challenge to anyone who lasts that long, to prepare for something next, etc.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Whatever the individual art considers being proficient at their fundamentals.

I train an art where your rank is actually determined by your skill and knowledge as opposed to a color around your waist so I don't really know either.
Your post doesnt make sense. I dont know anywhere rank is determined by belt color - the belt is used to indicate the rank. Which, in many places, is based on your skill and knowledge.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Yes in some dojos once you're a black belt you're expected to teach, although I've known of dojos where you might be expected to help teach when you're a brown belt.
Teaching at brown was required (student teaching under the supervision of a BB) to prepare for that instructor certification that was part of the Shodan rank.

It was pretty common to have lower ranks (how low depended upon the students ability) assist in teaching, but they couldnt run a class prior to brown.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Then why are people always so desperate to get to the next color as opposed to just shutting up and learning?
"Always" is a pretty strong word. I've seen people both ways. And sometime pushing for the next color is important to a student because it gets them access to the next material - several systems are set up that way. And some use the rank (the recognition) as a motivator, which works well for them.

I don't care whether they are pushing for the next color or not. I just care whether they are getting what they need from the training. In most cases, that translates to "are they learning well". If they are, then rank comes when it comes.
 
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PhotonGuy

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Ill give some input.

Not necessarily. Theres a huge difference between the purple and brown tests I went through. Its just how it was structured. Theres no reason all tests have to be on a gradual slope of difficulty - a test may be made harder for a bunch of reasons: gatekeeping content, just a special challenge to anyone who lasts that long, to prepare for something next, etc.
Well naturally a test for a higher rank should be harder than a test for a lower rank but my point is that it shouldn't be much harder. For instance, to make the test and requirements to go from Ikkyu to Shodan much harder than the test and requirements to go from Nikkyu to Ikkyu just seems unbalanced to me and one of the things that the martial arts is all about, at least from my own experience, is balance.

Take for instance grades in school (A,B,C,D,F) a 90 and above is an A, 80-89 is a B, 70-79 is a C and so forth. Now, imagine if you had to get an 100 to get an A and 80-99 is a B, would that seem proper to you? You're not going to start learning Calculus right after you learn basic addition, to try to do so would be way too big of a jump. So if you ask me, the time it takes and the difficulty of getting from Ikkyu to Shodan shouldn't be much longer or harder than the time and difficulty of getting from Nikkyu to Ikkyu. If getting from Ikkyu to Shodan does take much longer and is much harder than getting from Nikkyu to Ikkyu than it stands to reason that there should be ranks in between Ikkyu and Shodan. Otherwise, as I said before, it just seems unbalanced.
 

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