I'd like to tell my story. I trained for a year with a highly respected 7th dan. However he did not own the school that I was training at. The owner came back, a guy of questionable morals and business pratices. I should have know something was wrong when we no longer did Katas, and I got promoted to red belt anyway. One day up out of the blue he tell us to report to another school, and that he would be closing, we were all under contract to him for another year. (trying to get out of a contract is got to be the most difficult thing in MA,) However the year that I trained I did learn the importance of being fit, and working out, I was previously a serious couch patato, and I did lose 15 lbs. I am now seeking a new instructor. and mulling over the fact that I'm not really a red belt and that I only paid for one, some how the instructor never did furnish the certificate that was suppost to come with the new rank. So in closing I would like to tell everyone to be carefull, check check and double check the business practices, and the moral of the person that teaches you MA. And never sign a contract.i agree somewhat. that's just it. you cannot fault TKD for having child black belts. it's the requirements of the certain schools within the system that is at fault, however, that doesn't apply to all TKD schools. i am sure there are some out there that do not fall into that category. they are just fewer in numbers. there is a standard to everything. some are lower than others, especially with the all mighty dollar at stake.
I'm sorry to have come to this discussion so late, but I would like to offer a few observations from the perspective of a non-TKD practioner.
On the surface, to a layperson, TKD would not appear to have an image problem. It is massively popular, gives practioners the chance to win the super-kudos of an Olympic medal, and has a strong governing body. All looks pretty good to mr and ms Joe Average.
As a martial artist I can see that there are problems and they form an interesting set. Firstly, there is the fact that the governing body is favouring one aspect of the art rather than the art as a whole. Then there is the fact that there are actually a number of governing bodies with conflicting approaches. But these things can only be seen by those who have some understanding of them, that is, martial artists in general and TKD proponents in particular.
So to the question of improving TKD's image I have to ask which image? The ultimate public image is actually very good. It encourages thousands of people to take up the art each year. Or is it the practioner's image? The one that martial artists can see. I think that many people have already given good examples of how to deal with this image issue.
How should we handle children who have satisfied every item on a schools curriculum but are only 7, 8 or 10?
Frankly I find the concept of a 7 year old mastering the basics of a martial arts system humorous.
Ok - maybe using the example of a 7 year old was a bit extreme. But the real question is were do you draw the line and if a school has an established curriculum - do you hold people back from rank because of age/size? At the school were I teach we have both extremes:
- Children - many who have been there from when they are 4 years old or even younger. For example I currently have two students who started when they turned 4 and if they keep their current pace would have gone through the belt rankings and be up for BB testing as the ages of 9 and 10 respectively. Granted, when the children test we do call it a Junior BB and the belt is half white and half black. When they turn 15 and go through another test we then upgrade ther belt to an adult BB.
- Seniors - we get many "life experienced" individuals who come in to train as well. They can get through the forms and self defence curriculum pretty well - but many of them no longer have the hips and/or flexibility to do some of the different types of kicks.
Ok - maybe using the example of a 7 year old was a bit extreme. But the real question is were do you draw the line and if a school has an established curriculum - do you hold people back from rank because of age/size?
Also the whole child BB thing is a problem for any art that teaches children, not just TKD. How should we handle children who have satisfied every item on a schools curriculum but are only 7, 8 or 10? Tell them that because a 14 yr old 40 lbs heavier can still hurt them that they don't deserve their belt? If that's the case then I guess every 40+ year old red belt who passes their BB test doesn't get one either because they can't hang with the 20 year olds?
The thought that springs instantly to mind for me is, "A child of 7, 8, or even 10, should not be able to satisfy every item on a school's curriculum." There simply should be some things that are not possible for someone who is still developing physically, and there certainly should be some things they cannot understand intellectually.
Recently we heard of a very cute little girl who had achieved a 2nd degree at the age of six or seven. It makes people go "ooh" and "aah" but when they stop and think about it they might be thinking, "Is TKD so easy to learn that a child can have a 2nd degree black belt? Aren't Blacks belts supposed to represent mastery or something?" What does that do for TKD's image?
I know that most of these children's programs have a simplified syllabus and are designed to draw in new students, but it cannot be good for TKD's image even if it is good for individual schools' bank balances.