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Gyakuto

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I could lie on my front for day afterwards.
 
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_Simon_

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During a summer hiatus in my campanology sessions I decided to give Goju Ryu karate a try at a local club. A large part at the beginning of the class consisted of press ups and carrying fellow students on ones shoulder (thank goodness I go to the gym!). Then began the tanren where a partner punches you in the abdomen and chest three times repeatedly This went on for a while and although they took it easy on me, it was brutal and I had painful knuckle bruises on my pecs for days afterwards (and we all know koroddy men bruise on the inside). It was then that I realised that Im a soft wuss and too old for that kind of malarkey! Despite the dojo members being really nice and welcoming, I was glad to get back to pulling a rope with a bell on the end!
Haha ahh good fun 不. Yeah we don't do that sort of training, only fairly mild conditioning. You will find it varies quite a bit between Goju lineages and individual clubs. I do miss that stuff though!
 

Gyakuto

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_Simon_

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Its horrid, _Simon_

<pfft> Soft, (like me)

Its masochism and totally out of place in the 21st century
Hehe yeah understandable. I don't mind doing that sort of training every now and then, but not every single session
 

isshinryuronin

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probationary black belt, but I did some reading through threads on here and it makes sense. I like the idea, and I see it as an interim stage of maturing into the full black belt.
Isn't this stage called brown belt? To my point of view, a probationary belt is not necessary. The time spent in the previous belt should fully prepare you for the next. The only exception is perhaps if you failed the belt test by just a point or two, and need to perfect just one or two techniques, I can see getting the higher (probationary) belt with the understanding that you will spend the next month getting up to par. Other than this, IMO a probationary belt is self-contradictory, kind of like a "participation" medal often given to kids these days for various sports so as not to hurt their feelings. Call me old school, but I don't like the idea at all.
 

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Isn't this stage called brown belt? To my point of view, a probationary belt is not necessary. The time spent in the previous belt should fully prepare you for the next. The only exception is perhaps if you failed the belt test by just a point or two, and need to perfect just one or two techniques, I can see getting the higher (probationary) belt with the understanding that you will spend the next month getting up to par. Other than this, IMO a probationary belt is self-contradictory, kind of like a "participation" medal often given to kids these days for various sports so as not to hurt their feelings. Call me old school, but I don't like the idea at all.
Again, it sounds like your concern centers around the term probationary. Take that away, and its just a rank before the key rank.
 

isshinryuronin

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Again, it sounds like your concern centers around the term probationary. Take that away, and its just a rank before the key rank.
Maybe call it "black belt candidate" for advanced browns (1st kyu). I am of the same mind as Gyakuto on this per his post quoted below."
I personally dont see the point (and neither does my association). Its accepted that a newly qualified shodan may not be as accomplished as say, a shodan of a couple of years further instructions and practise, but this maturation occurs within the label of the grade. Thus to pass the grade you must have demonstrated the grading criteria as laid out (by the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei in our case).

Its often useful to look at other qualification awarding boards to get a better handle on the concept. Thus, are candidates awarded a probationary degree/PhD or probationary fellowship of the Royal Collage of Surgeons? No: when you pass you are that grade. One is either a flight qualified astronaut or an astronaut candidate.
 
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_Simon_

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Isn't this stage called brown belt? To my point of view, a probationary belt is not necessary. The time spent in the previous belt should fully prepare you for the next. The only exception is perhaps if you failed the belt test by just a point or two, and need to perfect just one or two techniques, I can see getting the higher (probationary) belt with the understanding that you will spend the next month getting up to par. Other than this, IMO a probationary belt is self-contradictory, kind of like a "participation" medal often given to kids these days for various sports so as not to hurt their feelings. Call me old school, but I don't like the idea at all.
That's fair enough. It most definitely and unequivocally is not like a participation medal (unless you mean moreso that it's self-contradictory like that seems to be) as I have to earn this and will be put through my paces. It's just another rank and it does help to spread out the syllabus a bit more into easier to manage chunks. I think it emphasises quality rather than quantity, and I like that it gives me more time to work on stuff.
 

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Decimalise the belt system. Brown belt point 1 (BB0.1), brown belt point 2 (BB0.2), brown belt point 3 (BB0.3)圯tc each denoted by an infinitely narrow black stripe (you can see what will happen eventually).

Probationary black belt could be brown belt point 9 recurring (BB0.9999999999999999999999999999999999.). Of course Zenos paradox becomes an issue, but think of the potential earning potential from an infinite number set of gradings!
 
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isshinryuronin

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After being involved in TMA for over a half century my views and understanding of it has changed, not just regarding technique, but the philosophical concept of it as well. We view TMA as something to do and achieve. Often, we set goals whose path to achievement is measurable like yardage markers on the football field, or grades in school. Thus, the belt grading system.

At one time there were no belts, then two, four, ten, and more; a plethoric rainbow of colors and stripes - each a discreet packet of rank, knowledge and achievement. A digital view. But going back in time, the idea of TMA was not that it was something to do, an activity, but rather was a way to live, a lifestyle. More like analog. With this viewpoint there is no reason for rank. Progression is continuous and not so self-aware.

Perhaps the need to measure, set specific goals, and reinforce our sense of achievement is innate for us, giving us a sense of motivation. It certainly helps commercially - each packet of achievement becoming a product to sell. But this is an artificial construct and though convenient for us for a number of reasons, not necessary for us to learn and be a martial artist.

Don't get me wrong. I'm an advocate of rank and belts - in moderation. It does a service for us who need specific short-term goals and motivation to succeed. Let's just keep things in perspective and not get overly caught up in it. The longer view one takes, the fewer belt ranks are needed.
 
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Gyakuto

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This book has a chapter entitled Shihan about teaching and learning attitudes in Japan. It is a brilliant book and that chapter alone is worth the purchase price.
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Westerners (in fact most of the modern world) are a product of our goal orientated-education. It works really when there is a short, finite time in which to achieve proficiency in an activity and that proficiency can be easily tested with exams/gradings. It is hardly surprising then, that many MA are obsessed with grades/belts/certificates/titles. Its been programmed into us. If I had 100 years to become proficient in swordsmanship then perhaps Id consider the old methods. I probably have 10 useful years left and one more grading left before I give up the sword, preserve my knees and take up the secateurs in earnest and perfect the art of pruning my bonsai and garden!
 

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Maybe call it "black belt candidate" for advanced browns (1st kyu). I am of the same mind as Gyakuto on this per his post quoted below."
That would be much the same as preliminary black belt, which could also work. Its still about the semantics. Whatever its called, its still the rank before the key rank.
 
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_Simon_

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After being involved in TMA for over a half century my views and understanding of it has changed, not just regarding technique, but the philosophical concept of it as well. We view TMA as something to do and achieve. Often, we set goals whose path to achievement is measurable like yardage markers on the football field, or grades in school. Thus, the belt grading system.

At one time there were no belts, then two, four, ten, and more; a plethoric rainbow of colors and stripes - each a discreet packet of rank, knowledge and achievement. A digital view. But going back in time, the idea of TMA was not that it was something to do, an activity, but rather was a way to live, a lifestyle. More like analog. With this viewpoint there is no reason for rank. Progression is continuous and not so self-aware.

Perhaps the need to measure, set specific goals, and reinforce our sense of achievement is innate for us, giving us a sense of motivation. It certainly helps commercially - each packet of achievement becoming a product to sell. But this is an artificial construct and though convenient for us for a number of reasons, not necessary for us to learn and be a martial artist.

Don't get me wrong. I'm an advocate of rank and belts - in moderation. It does a service for us who need specific short-term goals and motivation to succeed. Let's just keep things in perspective and not get overly caught up in it. The longer view one takes, the fewer belt ranks are needed.
I fully agree, on all those points. I've never been attached to rank and enjoyed more the self aware and introspective journey, feeling one's progress intuitively rather than because I have some belt. Ranks are handy tools, and that's how I see them. A semi-objective way to mark a semblance of progress and know what to teach a student, and also an opportunity to test under pressure. I see their value and I don't discount them, but I'm careful to keep them in proper perspective.

Different styles will have different progressions, emphases, ways to chart progress and standardisations. To me whilst important in one regard, it's surface level stuff, and the real treasure is in the internal journey and what you become in the process.

That's how I'm holding the next rank within my own psyche, as more of a commitment to myself, learning, evolving and the journey as a whole. Each rank actually then is important to me, not only in learning more in depth and furthering my knowledge of the art, and not in a surface level way as I described, but an opportunity to put what I know under pressure to help me fully understand it even better (ie the grading itself). The intensive process of working towards my grading also brings out something fresh in me, and helps refine my focus and even perspective. I'm excited about it anyway.

It sort of annoys me that view that belts are just moneymaking ventures and are purely for commercial reasons (just saying in general). It seems it's one of those extreme perspectives that misses a certain value and significance. It helps foster a sense of intentionality, but it absolutely can get misguided when it becomes overly exaggerated in importance. Like you said, perspective is really important.

So in the end I reckon who cares if a school does weird ranks. How we hold them within ourselves, perceive their value within the structure of the whole, and how we embody them matters more.
 

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I fully agree, on all those points. I've never been attached to rank and enjoyed more the self aware and introspective journey, feeling one's progress intuitively rather than because I have some belt. Ranks are handy tools, and that's how I see them. A semi-objective way to mark a semblance of progress and know what to teach a student, and also an opportunity to test under pressure. I see their value and I don't discount them, but I'm careful to keep them in proper perspective.

Different styles will have different progressions, emphases, ways to chart progress and standardisations. To me whilst important in one regard, it's surface level stuff, and the real treasure is in the internal journey and what you become in the process.

That's how I'm holding the next rank within my own psyche, as more of a commitment to myself, learning, evolving and the journey as a whole. Each rank actually then is important to me, not only in learning more in depth and furthering my knowledge of the art, and not in a surface level way as I described, but an opportunity to put what I know under pressure to help me fully understand it even better (ie the grading itself). The intensive process of working towards my grading also brings out something fresh in me, and helps refine my focus and even perspective. I'm excited about it anyway.

It sort of annoys me that view that belts are just moneymaking ventures and are purely for commercial reasons (just saying in general). It seems it's one of those extreme perspectives that misses a certain value and significance. It helps foster a sense of intentionality, but it absolutely can get misguided when it becomes overly exaggerated in importance. Like you said, perspective is really important.

So in the end I reckon who cares if a school does weird ranks. How we hold them within ourselves, perceive their value within the structure of the whole, and how we embody them matters more.
I love this view, Simon. I'll give my take on ranks, which is pretty similar.

Firstly, most of the training I had was in schools/styles that used ranks. So I'm used to them, and find them comfortable. None of the places I actually tested (some places were short-term training while traveling or to pick up some new bits to work with) ever charged anything for rank, other than the cost of the belt. One place eventually started charging for some tests, but it was a very small fee, just meant to keep folks from testing when they weren't ready and eliminate the odd no-show for a scheduled test (something that happened in a transition period for the school, as average age went up and average work demands increased). At my primary school (the only place I could really observe this), time from rank to rank varied wildly between students (and not always based on aptitude - some folks just wandered more slowly). As with many places, once folks got to brown and black belt (the end of the main curriculum, for us), they were more likely to wander off.

So I've never been anyplace where rank could even remotely be seen as a money-making venture.

In my primary school, ranks were very useful for both students and instructors. For students, they told us what we could expect another student to be able to handle (types of falls, which techniques they could safely receive, etc.), even if we hadn't worked with them before (someone moving to a different class, folks gathered for a senior student's test, etc.). For instructors, it made pairing students easy - I could scan the room and get a quick idea of what my options were. Did I have enough senior students to put one with each of the white belts for the first part of class? Did I have an even number of green belts to pair up to work on 3rd-set techniques? Did my entire class have the Handshake technique, so I could make that a focus for a portion of the time? And so forth.

When I left my primary instructor's school (and he left the association we'd been in), I put together my own curriculum. I looked at ditching ranks, altogether. I looked at dropping all the colored belts and going to just a white/black division. I looked at reducing the colored belts to fewer than were used in the NGAA (and used this for the first few years I taught on my own). There were reasonable arguments for each of those, but in the end I maintained a similar rank structure as the NGAA (with the same colors, in the same order), because it was easier, more familiar, and aligned more closely (though not at all perfectly) with most of the NGA world.

Basically, had I not had a model to work from (the NGAA ranking/testing system) and a larger community to want to have some parity with (to make it easier when my students went to seminars, etc.), I likely would have changed the ranks, maybe even ditching them. But in the end, it wasn't worth the mental effort to make the change, since it wouldn't really have much effect on my students either way.

I liked ranks when I was a student, because it made it easy to see where I was (middle student rank = midpoint of curriculum), easier to see how I compared to the closest cohort (was I doing about as well as those of similar rank), etc. When I trained without ranks, I didn't really miss them.

I kind of feel the same way about wearing a dogi, and even hakama. I personally prefer it, but when I've trained places without it, I didn't miss it. I see advantages and disadvantages both ways.
 
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_Simon_

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........ ugh, so nervous....... !

It's a week away, but far out, I am feeling it already haha. Am very confident in all I have to do, and physically I'm as fit, prepared and conditioned as I've been in a long time, but still, the anxiety gets me haha.

Have done all my intense training leading up to this week, so that's all out of the way, so I'm gonna taper it this week and focus on rest, recovery and maintenance. And much meditation.
 

Gyakuto

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........ ugh, so nervous....... !

It's a week away, but far out, I am feeling it already haha. Am very confident in all I have to do, and physically I'm as fit, prepared and conditioned as I've been in a long time, but still, the anxiety gets me haha.

Have done all my intense training leading up to this week, so that's all out of the way, so I'm gonna taper it this week and focus on rest, recovery and maintenance. And much meditation.
Youve done the work now, _Simon_ and that hard work will be reflected in your performance and obvious to the grading panel.

Nerves and anxiety are things that can make your performance appear stilted and less fluid and they often build up while youre waiting to go onto the shinsa or standing there, about to go. I use a technique from Lanny Bashams With Winning in Mind. His suggestion is to have a 10-20 second, mental visual vignette that you play in your head just before youre about to perform: the sea ebbing and flowing onto the shore three times, singing the chorus of a favourite song. I used the image of lacquered armour slats sequentially slamming tightly around my abdomen with a clanging sound, then a little Kung Fu man rapidly punching me in the abdomen with a ridiculous Bruce Lee style caterwaul (this also reminds me to tighten my hara too). After the image has played through, you start!

Over the years Ive refined my mental management system into inhaling slowly and deeply, imaging cool water vapour being sucked in through my nose, down my trachea and filling my lungs with nourishing oxygen, and then exhaling this fog. I take one and a half breaths and spring into action on the final exhalation. It really does help with a little practise, by distracting the negative part of ones psyche and allowing ones confidence to be unleashed.

Try it!
 
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_Simon_

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Youve done the work now, _Simon_ and that hard work will be reflected in your performance and obvious to the grading panel.

Nerves and anxiety are things that can make your performance appear stilted and less fluid and they often build up while youre waiting to go onto the shinsa or standing there, about to go. I use a technique from Lanny Bashams With Winning in Mind. His suggestion is to have a 10-20 second, mental visual vignette that you play in your head just before youre about to perform: the sea ebbing and flowing onto the shore three times, singing the chorus of a favourite song. I used the image of lacquered armour slats sequentially slamming tightly around my abdomen with a clanging sound, then a little Kung Fu man rapidly punching me in the abdomen with a ridiculous Bruce Lee style caterwaul (this also reminds me to tighten my hara too). After the image has played through, you start!

Over the years Ive refined my mental management system into inhaling slowly and deeply, imaging cool water vapour being sucked in through my nose, down my trachea and filling my lungs with nourishing oxygen, and then exhaling this fog. I take one and a half breaths and spring into action on the final exhalation. It really does help with a little practise, by distracting the negative part of ones psyche and allowing ones confidence to be unleashed.

Try it!
Awesome, thanks for that, very helpful :). I liked the last one; breathing has always been a staple so I'll do something along those lines for sure :)
 

Gyakuto

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Awesome, thanks for that, very helpful :). I liked the last one; breathing has always been a staple so I'll do something along those lines for sure :)
I dont if Ive mentioned this, but recently they discovered how slow, deep breathing calms an individual. Its to do with the Pre-Botzinger Complex. These slides are from a lecture I gave to a Zen group here in the U.K. I think theyre self-explanatory despite lacking the original animations! So now you know
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_Simon_

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I dont if Ive mentioned this, but recently they discovered how slow, deep breathing calms an individual. Its to do with the Pre-Botzinger Complex. These slides are from a lecture I gave to a Zen group here in the U.K. I think theyre self-explanatory despite lacking the original animations! So now you know
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Ah that is fascinating, such an amazing system, thanks I appreciate that!
 
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