I'm not sure what to make of this.

RTKDCMB

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Watch the video and tell me what you think about it.



Does it seem an exploitative sensationalized spectacle for its own sake or something else?
 
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clfsean

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No... IMHO you pretty much nailed it.

Don't get me wrong... I enjoy the determination of spirit & heart as much as anybody. But there's a point in time where it's just "no".
 

StudentCarl

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I think you're right not to know what to make of it: there's not enough information. It's clear that the young man has significant challenges, but we don't know what progress he has made. If the man helping him is his father, it is possible that they share this activity. Seeing this as exploitive is projecting, I think. If you haven't walked in those shoes as a parent, it's difficult to see. My day job is as a special education teacher.


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Gwai Lo Dan

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I don't think it is exploitive. I am a believer in physical activity for everyone, of all abilities or disabilities. If I were a school owner, I'd accept him and work with him according to his abilities.

The question I suppose is how far can a person progress in terms of ranking. It appears he had a black belt in the video.

It is a question I asked myself recently as I was at a school with the worst black belt I had ever seen. I would say he was similar to an average yellow belt, with difficulty doing most kicks, particularly spinning kicks such as back kick or tornado kick. He seemed to have some physical issue leading to poor coordination and for instance would not hold targets for other students.

Most people here say that they award black belt to pretty much anyone who tries their best, but is there a limit? I ask that without judgement.
 

msmitht

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Good heart. I've worked with sight, hearing and physically challenged kids. They want to keep going regardless of what their limits are. Don't know about the demo though. Gotta cheer!
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Watch the video and tell me what you think about it.



Does it seem an exploitative sensationalized spectacle for its own sake or something else?
Not to me. If an ATA video has a healthy seventeen year old tournament champion, they still get slammed for basically being the ATA. They can't win for losing, so to speak.

The video was titled, "ATA Texas Classic - jacobs 1st degree sahn joel bahn form" It was probably posted for the benefit of the child and his family. It certainly isn't benefiting the ATA's image of handing out belts/degrees, but it does show a room full of people with good will and kindness towards a handicapped child.

While there was nothing that was remotely recognizable as a form, even a partial form (the video description mentions that due to time constraints, he couldn't learn the entire form), which is presumably the reason the video was shared, I think people miss the reason for such a performance.

It is clearly beneficial to the child. He is smiling. He gets to do something he enjoys. People are around him cheering and clapping for him. People there know that he's a kid with a pretty major disability and aren't pretending he's doing the form as a physically able youth of the same age could.

When the question of what constitutes a "true martial artist" comes up, we often like to talk about the responsibility that "martial artists" have to contribute positively to the world around them, and how a "martial artist" is about more than just fighting. If we truly believe that talk, then we have to look at the child's sabeom and appreciate that he took his time to contribute to the well being of another human being who is physically disadvantaged. Working with handicapped children can be very challenging, especially when the activity is both mentally and physiclly engaging. It is also challenging for the child. I have no idea if the child is mentally handicapped (he could be a little Stephen Hawking), but he is certainly physically handicapped.

And he is benefiting more people than just the child. If the child is not his own, then he is benefiting the family. If it is his own child, he is benefiting his own family and being a wonderful father to his son. The time spent trying to train a child with this level of handicap could have been spent on a hot shot teenager who could have brought a bunch of trophies back to the school and performed the form flawlessly, making the instructor look even better. Instead, he spent that time on a child who will never be able to perform that form recognizably because it meant something to the child. He invested in that child.

Is this not what makes a "true martial artist?" One who uses his or her skill and knowledge in the art to benefit others?

As Manny said, "God the kid and his instructor." :)
 
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K-man

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I think the world is going mad. When I was in primary school we didn't have 'special needs' teachers. When you were to a particular level you went up to the next grade. I'm not for one minute suggesting that this is a good thing but in grade six where we were about 11 years old we had 14 year old twins and they didn't go on to high school with the rest of us. Most likely they would have stayed an extra year at that level then moved on to the work force where schooling wasn't a prerequisite.

In this instance you have a tragic family situation with a handicapped child. Not everyone can be a martial artist just like we can't all be brain surgeons or astronauts. I think it is fantastic that this child's father has involved him in his martial art training but to rank him to black belt is simply ridiculous. I have enough problems with little tackers running round with black belts as it is but this take it to a whole new level.

If a black belt has any meaning at all in this sad situation, I would love you to tell me what it is. :asian:
 

Manny

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A few years back two brothers came to dojang, they were advanced belts in TKD from Chiapas (another Mexican state) if I recall, of of them the younger (maybe around 16 y.o.) has good moves and was a little reckless the other (the older maybe around 18-19) had cerebral palsy too, he was if my english is not too bad criplple from one leg and one arm, I eman he could walk but with problems and one of his arms was cripple too, however this little guy has a fantastic mind and put all his efforts in the TKD class, this guys was so nice that even helped the little kids to srudy for kup test. Anyhow Jules (his name) put all his efort and even with disconfort and some times pain kicked and evenb did full sparring, one night Sambonim was talking to him and I herd saying to him: Jules.. are you going to be black belt? well all depends on you, I am not the one ask this, ask for your self you only know the answer, you can be what ever you want.

Well... Jules made his black belt test and pass it very well, he and his family had to move back to Chiapas and the last thing I heard about him is that his former sambonim in Chiapas was very happy for him and he colud not beliebe the great improvement Jules had in my masters dojang, right now Jules is teaching TKD class to children with sucess.

Manny
 

Daniel Sullivan

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If a black belt has any meaning at all in this sad situation, I would love you to tell me what it is. :asian:

Given that belt rankings were designed by Kano so that he could tell who was at what level at a glance and to provide incentive to students to progress, I don't see any deep meaning. It's a piece of cloth employed to gather the dobok. Korean arts began using the belt system after WWII. It is not a Korean invention.

For those who place deep meaning in the black belt, I understand your feelings and respect your reasoning. But don't forget that when the system was introduced, it was likely frowned upon by Kano's peers.
 

Carol

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Dick and Rick Hoyt are in the Ironman hall of fame. They won an ESPY award this year.

Not Dick. Dick AND Rick. Team Hoyt.

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Gwai Lo Dan

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Dick and Rick Hoyt are in the Ironman hall of fame. They won an ESPY award this year.

Not Dick. Dick AND Rick. Team Hoyt.

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Uh, is this posted in the wrong thread? I don't see the relation.
 

Carol

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Uh, is this posted in the wrong thread? I don't see the relation.

Ahhh sorry. Some things just make sense in my own mind, sometimes.

Dick and Rick Hoyt:
Team-Hoyt1.jpg


http://www.teamhoyt.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Hoyt

When Rick was little, Dick was told that young Rick was "a vegetable" and should be institutionalized.

Like the boy in the TKD video, Rick Hoyt has CP. Presumably like the boy in the TKD video, Rick also has a very supportive father, Dick Hoyt, who discovered that running was one thing they could share together...even though Dick was not a runner, and Rick was wheelchair bound. After they ran their first race, Dick came in last place but his son said "Dad, when we run, I feel like I'm not handicapped." So, Dick kept running with his son, and eventually they reached a point where they competed in the Boston Marathon, and then on to the Ironman triathlon -- which is running a full marathon, plus a 2.4 mile swim, plus a 112 mile bike ride. If you've ever seen "140.6" stickers, that's a reference to how long a full triathlon is -- one of the fiercest tests of human endurance.

Dick competed in all of these with his son. Rick cannot run the marathon, he sits in the wheelchair while dad pushes. Rick cannot pedal a bicycle, he sits in a special seat at the front of the bike while dad pedals.
team_hoyt_3.jpg


Rick cannot swim on his own, he sits in a boat while his father swims and tows the boat with a rope attached to his body.
img_tri_3.jpg


Their induction to the Ironman Hall of Fame, with Rick joking that he believed he was the only vegetable that completed the Ironman Triathalon:
Dick+and+Ricky+hoyt.JPG




Yet, even having lived in the Boston area for nearly as long as the Team Hoyt has been running the Boston Marathon (sadly, they just ran their last this year), I have never heard anyone say that Rick is being exploited, nor have I heard it said that Dick is the marathoner and Rick is not, or that Dick is the triathlete and Rick is not.

Their bronze statue erected this year at the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton shows them working as a team:

609hoyt__1365457596_8414.jpg


The ESPY award, given to both, not just Dick:
c0150473b4b94f218ab6cb7a6c721bf8-021d4d55a43b4692a3c891f3298040a6-0-7655.r.jpg


I'm not seeing a global issue with heavily adapted standards for significantly disadvantaged folks, such as the young boy in the TKD video. If it works for stellar feats such as the Boston Marathon or the Ironman, I don't see why it cannot apply to martial arts.

Thoughts?
 

Kframe

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That video made me cry. Tears of joy and happiness but I cried. I am the father of a 6 year old Autistic son. EVERY day is a massive struggle and each and every little improvement has to be celebrated. It is very clear that boy is enjoying him self. Sure they gave him a black piece of cloth to hang on his belt, but, for that boy, each belt color was incentive to keep trying. Every time he steps into the Dojang, he helps work out his core muscles just a little bit. He is making him self better. Sure he probably will never be able to fight or spar or even move normally, but he is improving his body and mind.

If doing ATA TKD is the form of physical activity he enjoys, and it helps him work his atrophied muscle groups out then great for him. If getting colored pieces of cloth are what his teachers used for encouragement and it worked for him, then GOOD FOR HIM. I wonder how many people in that Dojang, and surrounding community were inspired by that little CP boy working his tail off just to keep him self up right, move his arms and what would be heavy to him nun chuck things.

Devotion and hard work earned that boy his BB, and he should be proud of it.

My son is showing the seeds of desire to do martial arts. It will be years of work before we even get him to learn more then a few basic punch's. Each small incremental improvement is a MASSIVE victory to us, because it was hard fought.

Besides, I know plenty of people with out colorfull belts that can handily defeat any black belt they come across.. Don't place so much emphasis on belt colors.
 

K-man

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All of us have our limitations. Despite my genuine attempts and a mathematical and scientific background, I could never get my mind around pure maths. Nobody ever said to me, oh well done, you've tried hard, here's your degree. These days I love flying and would dearly love to fly aerobatics. I get vertigo and severe sickness if I venture too far. Not only will the authorities not licence me for that, but my limitations prevent me from doing it. I have to accept that as a physical fact of life.

To suggest that black belts weren't around before Kano is like saying University degrees are just bits of paper which weren't around before someone decided they would be a good idea. They are awarded as evidence that the bearer, either degree or black belt, has fulfilled the requirements of the course or training syllabus. That generally means proficiency and in all cases the proficiency is demonstrated by testing.

In this case we have a young lad who despite massive physical difficulties is training something he obviously enjoys but it is like the Emperor's new clothes. We can pretend as much as we like but he is not able to fulfil the the requirements to be awarded a black belt in a martial art, unless, of cause, what he is training is not a martial art. I have no problem with him being awarded an honorary black belt. That is pretty much what has happened in the example of Team Hoyt. But to promote the notion that this guy is a black belt is demeaning to everyone who has trained for years to get to that level. I see it all the time in kids training. I was present when a high ranking school head forced his 13 year old son through an adult black belt grading. The kid was in tears and physically could not match the adults. I don't believe in kids black belts even for those with good physical ability.

I'm sorry folk. I take my hat off to the kid for his efforts but there is no way he would be wearing one of my black belts. :asian:
 

Kframe

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Your belts mean nothing anyways.. Why are you putting so much value into bits of cloth.. Those bits of cloth prove NOTHING about your abilities as a martial artist.
I think your missing out on the fact that, the kids black belt is more then likely honorary. Everyone in that org knows he is not a martial artist. It was just physical therapy for him. They used the cloth as incentive to keep going. Either way, it was earned...

There is a reason, why in the ata, they have separate class's and separate tests and what not for the special kids. EVERYONE there and in that Org knows that those belts are honorary at best. What matters more then your opinion is the fact that kid got out and got moving, improved him self, and is continuing to improve.. They are using what ever means nessecary to encourage and incentivize these kids. If they look up to the older Neurotypical black belts, and "earning" his own(how ever honorary it may be) is what drives him to keep him working out, and improving to the best of his abilities, then that's what it takes.
 
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Gorilla

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My respect for ATA increased!!!! They are doing good work in this area!!!! Anything we can do to help specials needs kids is great!!!!


Giving that kid a BB is something that I admire!!!! Everyone has an opinion this is mine!!!!
 

Daniel Sullivan

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To suggest that black belts weren't around before Kano is like saying University degrees are just bits of paper which weren't around before someone decided they would be a good idea. They are awarded as evidence that the bearer, either degree or black belt, has fulfilled the requirements of the course or training syllabus. That generally means proficiency and in all cases the proficiency is demonstrated by testing.
Not a good analogy. Firstly, belts are essentially merit badges. They accompany a certificate saying that the student has completed that school's program for that level. This young man is in a special needs class. The video description is very clear about that. He received the belt for completing an MA class tailored to students with special needs. Not to mention that a black belt doesn't even mean the same thing from art to art. A Haidong Gumdo black belt is meaningless in a kendo dojo. Or a karate dojo. And a judo black belt is meaningless at a taekwondo dojang. Each school's belt represents a different program, a different curriculum, and a different level of training. A BJJ black belt represents a much greater number of study hours than a typical KKW blackbelt does.

And yes, university degrees really are just bits of paper which weren't around before someone decided they would be a good idea. Not every degree is regarded the same, just as not every black belt is regarded the same. An engineering degree from MIT means more than an engineering degree from a non accredited online school. So yes, they are just bits of paper. They certify that you trained somewhere. While a degree is a good indicator that a person has relevant training in the field of study, I have met people over the years who have a degree in something in which they are utterly incompetent. It isn't the paper that makes the person, but the quality of the instruction and of the student's efforts to learn.

I'm sorry folk. I take my hat off to the kid for his efforts but there is no way he would be wearing one of my black belts. :asian:
Of course not. Your belt is representative of your experiences and of the training you received from your school and organization. You don't have cerebral palsy. Your training reflects that.

To the general "you" (and not you, K-Man personally):
This child has cerebral palsy and trained in a program geared towards special needs kids. If you think his having a black belt somehow diminishes your own (that sentiment has been expressed thousands of times on this site), then you (again, the general you) are perhaps insecure about your own level of training and your own efforts. That isn't this kid's problem. It is yours.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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But to promote the notion that this guy is a black belt is demeaning to everyone who has trained for years to get to that level.
I'm quoting K-man, but this question is addressed to anyone who feels this way.

How does this demean everyone who's trained for years to get to first dan in their respective arts/programs?

My own opinion: I do not find it demeaning. I didn't train in that program. I don't even train in that organization. I learned Taekwondo and later Hapkido for the benefit of self defense, fitness, and personal enjoyment. My training has enabled me to defend myself on more than one occasion, stay in good condition and has provided me with enjoyment beyond the investment I have made. I have made close friends and had wonderful experiences in the martial arts. Did I not get what I have trained for? Have I not received more than what I have trained for?

I didn't begin training to receive a belt. When I got to high school and college, getting a belt was very important. After a hiatus and return to taekwondo, getting the belt was important, but for different reasons; when I was a young adult, I wanted a black belt because I viewed it as validation. Validation of honor, courage, and the ability to fight. I wanted that belt so badly because then I'd "be" a blackbelt, which would validate those things that I wanted to be true of myself. But when after having kids and returning to the art, I wanted the belt because it symbolized completing something that I had left undone, but I still also had some need for the validation that it brought.

After earning that belt and eventually becoming an instructor, my perspective has slowly changed. My need for some universal standard that everyone had to meet was no longer a need. I used to say things (on this site) that if a kid could pass the adult test, then and only then can that kid get a black belt. Some members loved it when I made those posts and sent me reputation and showed their thanks.

But I realized that it wasn't maintenance of a standard that was my real motivation, but validation of the training that I had received. I didn't want my black belt to be sullied by some child's belt. I didn't want anyone to confuse a child's rank with my rank. Those emotional needs actually stemmed from areas of my life that were unrelated to the martial arts, but which I had unconsciously used the martial arts to meet. But I'm not that person any longer. My ego doesn't need that validation and I have found healthy ways of meeting those needs.

Nobody is confusing the test that this child took with a normal adult dan grading. The child knows that he isn't physically able to perform an adult dan grading. So do his family, instructor, and everyone in the audience. That is why the program is labeled as a "Special Abilities" program. Nobody is being deceived. If mom and dad are being overcharged for gradings, that is another matter, though if the program is having a positive impact on their son's life, they probably feel that it is a bargain.

I don't need to invalidate this child's (or anyone else's) experience in order to validate my own.

There is something to be said for integrity in grading, and personally, I would construct a rewards system for childrens program or a special needs program differently than the ATA has. But at the same time, grading shouldn't overshadow the reason we're there: to train and become better human beings while helping others to train and become better human beings. Not everyone we help through our practice is our student or classmate. Because of this, we enrich the society in which we practice.

As I said, that is my perspective. :)
 
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