Kids with blackbelts?

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Shane Smith

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It struck me recently that there are far too many folks out there selling blackbelts to kids. Why does this bother me? First, most young blackbelts I have seen exhibit a total lack of maturity and fortitude of character. That is understandable perhaps.They ARE kids after all. Indeed, anytime I see 13-ish or under kid with a blackbelt, I can't help but wonder if his Master is selling him a false sense of security in order to keep the doors to the school open? Also, many of the kids I have seen tested to black have no true martial capabilities in the real-world sense(Some adults don't either but that is another troublesome issue for another discussion). They are often being advanced because"It is making him more confident"; "He's getting good grades in school"; "He shows up regularly" and "Kids enrollment is what pays the bills". How can a 9 year old kid possibly be expected to live up to the high martial standard that a blackbelt used to signify?

All blackbelts that have earned their ranks through hard knocks and lessons learned during training with other skilled martial artists with true martial intent are having their own accomplishments cheapened by these kinds of promotions becoming ever more common and visible to the public. When any ten year old kid on a given city block can earn Dan by simply showing up, what good is it? I am ashamed to mention my own Certification on occasion to others outside of the MA because the respect that once was afforded to the blackbelt is rapidly being devalued in my opinion. I hate to sound bitter, but this one has been on my mind for years and a recent chance meeting brought this to the surface. Sorry if this ruffles feathers.No personal offense to anyone is intended.Just venting my frustration.
 

jfarnsworth

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Shane Smith said:
It struck me recently that there are far too many folks out there selling blackbelts to kids. Why does this bother me? First, most young blackbelts I have seen exhibit a total lack of maturity and fortitude of character. That is understandable perhaps.They ARE kids after all. Indeed, anytime I see 13-ish or under kid with a blackbelt, I can't help but wonder if his Master is selling him a false sense of security in order to keep the doors to the school open? Also, many of the kids I have seen tested to black have no true martial capabilities in the real-world sense. They are being advanced because"It is making him more confident"; "He's getting good grades in school"; "He shows up regularly" and "Kids enrollment is what pays the bills". How can a 9 year old kid possibly be expected to live up to the high martial standard that a blackbelt used to signify? .
Welcome to the good 'ole boys club! I agree with most of what you have said. :asian:
 

MJS

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I think that the majority of it is due to kids starting at such a young age. You have someone that enrolls their child at 4 yo, so what happens by the time that kid is 12? Chances are, they're wearing a BB or 2nd degree Black. A child that young has no idea what the arts are about. This is one of the reasons I think that 4 years of age is way too young. Another problem that the instructor faces, is the parents of the child. They have spent "X" amount of money, so when the child is at the BB level, but technically not old enough yet, what is the instructor to do? Not promote the kid and risk upsetting the parents...God forbid...or promote the kid? 9 times out of 10, the kid gets promoted, everyone is happy, and you have a 10yo BB or higher. Many times, to avoid situations like this, schools offer a Jr. BB...something for the child to wear until they're old enough to test for the adult BB.

Mike
 

arnisador

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I was at a TKD tournament recently (just watching). As I was leaving, they called for the following group for forms competetion: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree black belts, 8-10 years old.

It's all about marketing.
 
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KenpoNoChikara

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Shane Smith said:
It struck me recently that there are far too many folks out there selling blackbelts to kids. Why does this bother me? First, most young blackbelts I have seen exhibit a total lack of maturity and fortitude of character. That is understandable perhaps.They ARE kids after all. Indeed, anytime I see 13-ish or under kid with a blackbelt, I can't help but wonder if his Master is selling him a false sense of security in order to keep the doors to the school open? Also, many of the kids I have seen tested to black have no true martial capabilities in the real-world sense.
Too true. I have maybe seen one child black belt with (what I would consider) skill that would be applicable to the street or in a real self-defense situation. Generally, I have to agree that factors such as upset parents, losing a customer, etc, have alot to do with promoting children to BB at many schools.
I even went to a karate school's website a while back that claimed to have two 3 year old "black belts' . Not a junior rank or little dragon BB, but a regular BB.
 

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KenpoNoChikara said:
I even went to a karate school's website a while back that claimed to have two 3 year old "black belts' . Not a junior rank or little dragon BB, but a regular BB.
Doesn't that just scream MCDOJO, who the hell could take that instructor seriously.
 

terryl965

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Well here goes I have been training for over 40 yrs. and of that time 24 in TKD, I own my own school and no Mc Dojo either as some of you know. My point is my oldest Zachary is 11 and he has been training 6 days a week 2-4 hrs a day he put more time in the Dojaang then some of my instructors he hold a Kukkiwn 1st Poom which is basically a JR BB, I know for my self he can protect himself if push comes to sholve of course he has always walk away for that is always first choice. My point is after 7 years of training and the last 4 harder then that of my adults he has earned that right to be a 1st poom. I would put him up against anybody in Poomse and the history of his Art, his self defense skills he has learned for his age and he relizes that is journey is just beginning the next 10-15 years will shape his life, hopefully he will be as wise as his decease Grandfather was and as confident about his skill as I become over the years. Yes I have seen McDojo's over the year when a child cannot do the form or even know the meaning of the poomse or why the application is this way, he is a student of the Art just not the sport, In sports like baseball if you can throw the fastball around 90-95 mph the same age they are gifted amd lokked upon as world class, if they are gifted in MA they are consider a joke or not a real BB and for the rcords I did not test him a panel of my peers put him through a 3 day test. He knows all the Taegueks, chonji and the Dai forms all total about 35 and he knows the application for the movements. Sorry I just get sick and tired that if thet are a Jr BB than it's Mc dojo. Alot of you know I'm not Mickey dee's at all.

Terry Lee Stoker
 

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I'd say 11 years old is too young. He can't have the muscle strength, for starters, or the deeper understanding. It's got to be after puberty at least.

In fairness, though, the world's best gymnasts are usually, what, around 15 years old? I think one studies the arts rather than merely practicing them, so 11 years is too young for me. But if one thinks of it as principally a physical thing--maybe not so.

How old are champion Wushu performers?
 

silatman

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terryl965 said:
Well here goes I have been training for over 40 yrs. and of that time 24 in TKD, I own my own school and no Mc Dojo either as some of you know. My point is my oldest Zachary is 11 and he has been training 6 days a week 2-4 hrs a day he put more time in the Dojaang then some of my instructors he hold a Kukkiwn 1st Poom which is basically a JR BB, I know for my self he can protect himself if push comes to sholve of course he has always walk away for that is always first choice. My point is after 7 years of training and the last 4 harder then that of my adults he has earned that right to be a 1st poom. I would put him up against anybody in Poomse and the history of his Art, his self defense skills he has learned for his age and he relizes that is journey is just beginning the next 10-15 years will shape his life, hopefully he will be as wise as his decease Grandfather was and as confident about his skill as I become over the years. Yes I have seen McDojo's over the year when a child cannot do the form or even know the meaning of the poomse or why the application is this way, he is a student of the Art just not the sport, In sports like baseball if you can throw the fastball around 90-95 mph the same age they are gifted amd lokked upon as world class, if they are gifted in MA they are consider a joke or not a real BB and for the rcords I did not test him a panel of my peers put him through a 3 day test. He knows all the Taegueks, chonji and the Dai forms all total about 35 and he knows the application for the movements. Sorry I just get sick and tired that if thet are a Jr BB than it's Mc dojo. Alot of you know I'm not Mickey dee's at all.

Terry Lee Stoker
At 11 years old do you seriously think that he could go toe to to with a 25 yo in the street and win. Yeah he might know all the moves but the power is just not there to back it up. Failing a lucky punch or groin strike I dont believe he has a chance.
The bones and whole body as well as the mind are still developing and just wouldn't have the strenght to consistantly come out of any contest on top.
IMO any blackbelt should be able to confidantly walk into any battle, street, dojo, tourament and consistantly beat the average guy and I dont think that any kids no matter there skill level would have the ability to do this, purely because they are kids.
By all means his dedication and skill should be recognized but not at an adult blackbelt level and a clear destinction should be made.
 
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TKDKid

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At the last tournament I competed in I recall a young man of about 15 walking up to a referee and asking why the Black Belt Division wasn't broken up into age divisons like the rest of the ranks, and the judge told him that if he was good enough to wear a Black Belt then he was good enough to compete against anyone of any age. He subsequently dropped out of the sparring competition.
 

Han-Mi

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I saw a kid that was at max, 10 years old, and had a second dan black belt on. This was at a tournament in vegas, and I said to a fellow judge, how does a kid that young get a 2nd dan blackbelt, or a black belt at all? and he saoid, well he is in class every day for 2 hours at a time. He is very advanced for his age. If you haven't gotten it yet, this was his instructor, Though I fealt a bit embarrassed I continued the conversation and respectfully and subtly let him know my oppinion of it.

Another judge overheard us and he asked me something, don't remember what. Anyway, I asked him what he though about it, he was still a first dan and he said, "I dunno, I guess he must be able to kick my butt, or he wouldn't outrank me." We chuckled after that and went on about our business.

Thought that was an apporpriate story.
 

Pale Rider

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That is one thing that I let all of my students know and they are quite aware of:
1) NO one under the age of 16 will be promoted to Dan Status
2) Anyone under that age will only advance to Cho Dan Bo...

I agree with the majority of posts, and believe that kids with Black Belts shows me that the school is all about money, and alot of the time the teacher can't teach worth a lick and just promotes to stay in business.
 

Han-Mi

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terryl965 said:
Well here goes I have been training for over 40 yrs. and of that time 24 in TKD, I own my own school and no Mc Dojo either as some of you know. My point is my oldest Zachary is 11 and he has been training 6 days a week 2-4 hrs a day he put more time in the Dojaang then some of my instructors he hold a Kukkiwn 1st Poom which is basically a JR BB


Junior blackbelt and black belt or 2nd dan black belt are entirely differnet things. I personally don't like the idea of junior blackbelt, but I can understand it and I don't look down upon it. But when someone promotes a kid that is not able to hold the rank up to a full fledged first dan or second dan, that's just rediculous.
 
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jkdhit

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i have to say.. i also have problems with young children having black belts. i remember several years ago i was walking by a tkd school and saw a childrens class being taught.. there were children who weren't even 9 yet who had black belts.

my brother is an assistant instructor at a tkd school and always constantly complains about the childrens class, even the adult class. he's basically mad that the children are very childish and misbehave during class or mouth off to him or even refuse to do certain excercises - this of course is breaking one of the class rules which can result in the demotion of their rank however i think the master is afraid of a lawsuit or angry parents complaining and withdrawing their children so he goes along with it.

there's also a lot of complaining about adult black belts who cannot execute a roundhouse kick or side kick properly but still manage to obtain a black belt.

i think that instructors should not be afraid to fail children or even adults at a belt test. they should all be told that there's no guarantee to belt promotions at a test.

i think that higher tuitions is the only way to filter out those serious about it and those who just want a black belt. however this is a problem for people who don't make a high enough income to be able to enjoy going to a martial arts school. belt promotion and especially belt demotion should definitely be very strict

i remember once i was at a tournament and i was talking to some girl from austrailia who said her and her friends were all black belts in tkd. when i asked her what was her and her friends reasons all for joining tkd? she replied.. well, back in austrailia, getting your black belt was like a fad so we all decided to go get one

so of course this annoyed me.. i can go on but i'll stop :p
 

MJS

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terryl965 said:
Sorry I just get sick and tired that if thet are a Jr BB than it's Mc dojo. Alot of you know I'm not Mickey dee's at all.

IMO, I'd rather see the Jr. BB than someone that young with an adult BB. The adult BB on a child that young to me screams McDojo more than the JR.

Many schools have a condenced phase of material to learn for kids that are young. By giving the JR BB it'll give them the chance to get caught up to what is required of an adult BB.

Mike
 

terryl965

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silatman said:
At 11 years old do you seriously think that he could go toe to to with a 25 yo in the street and win. Yeah he might know all the moves but the power is just not there to back it up. Failing a lucky punch or groin strike I dont believe he has a chance.
The bones and whole body as well as the mind are still developing and just wouldn't have the strenght to consistantly come out of any contest on top.
IMO any blackbelt should be able to confidantly walk into any battle, street, dojo, tourament and consistantly beat the average guy and I dont think that any kids no matter there skill level would have the ability to do this, purely because they are kids.
By all means his dedication and skill should be recognized but not at an adult blackbelt level and a clear destinction should be made.
Silatman I did not say with a 25 yr old I said if push came to sholve he can protect himself ( talking withen his age group), also I said JR BB not the same as a BB (Adult) my point is when he does developed over the next few years he will be ahead of his time thas all and my other point was he is here training day in and day out along side of me and I know my own abilitys, my father who was a Master drill instructor train my whole family. He has more dedication to th Art of TKD than most adults I personally know. On a side note what do we call swimmer and drivers that excell way ahead of there time great and what do we call athletes that can do there sport at the top of the heep, My sons know his limitations and relizes that he is not invinceable against grown ups and as a father I know this too. He is a fine young man never been in a fight never been in any trouble A-B honor roll, he is a well rounded young man, he is very sure of himself with the Humility one needs to excel in his Art of TKD. I agree about BB but you have to make sure the student of 7 plus years have some respect given to them as well. Believe me I know adult that does not have his discipline in life, if his path is clear then he will excel in life not just the Art, I hope I did not afind anybody, but 1st poom kukkiwon is a JR BB in the Art of TKD.
Terry Lee Stoker
 

arnisador

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MJS said:
IMO, I'd rather see the Jr. BB than someone that young with an adult BB. The adult BB on a child that young to me screams McDojo more than the JR.
I've come to agree. A "junior black belt" at least makes it clear that they're being graded on the kids' scale, and that they haven't truly reached the point where they are qualified instructors of the system.
 

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In our dojang, my master does not differentiate between pooms, jr. blackbelts and full adult black belts. Also, we are in line or teach in order of the testing date. High black belt, oldest student, teaches in absence of the master. So, on occasion, more than one actually, that a teen black belt was in charge of the class of adults. :rolleyes: We had to all coach him on what to do. Not the right thing for a kid to be in charge but it's not my school. I wouldn't have let my son be in charge let alone one a couple of years older.

My son was 12 when he tested for black. He put in a lot of hours for that belt. He wasn't allowed to do weapons until he reached black and that was one of his goals. He became really excellent with nunchuku. It would have been fine for him to be known as a jr. black belt. I think it gives them incentive to stay in until 18 and then be awarded the full belt with the dan certificate. Actually my son was small but as he hit high school he shot up. At 15, he could well defend himself to an adult but before that I don't know. But at least he was pretty well known as a black belt and no one messed with him in jr or senior high. Same for my daughter who was two years older. They both tested the same date. They both earned it and am now 18 and 21. Both can well defend themselves. TW
 
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jkdhit

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at my school, i noticed that they'll never promote a child to a bb unless they think they're physically and mentally ready. also, behavior plays a big role in it too.

i also don't agree with the whole idea of a junior black belt promotion even though some people are right that it ackowledges a child's age. at my school, my instructors keep track of who's ready to move up to the next belt by placing a colored tape on your belt. most people aren't given the stripes to move on "just because" so that's one of the greatesting things i like about my school.

from what i've seen at my school.. the highest ranking child has a blue belt and it took him about 3 years to achieve that



by the way, have any of you seen schools that use purple and brown belts? i just remember the first school i ever went to used those funky colors so i thought it was a mcdojo too so when i came to the school i'm currently at, i had them start me off at a white belt all over again :p
 

arnisador

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The number of colors in use grows constantly. I know BJJ uses the purple belt, but many other schools do too. I was a JKD purple belt recently and am now a red belt (which is below black). The camo belt that some TKD schools use--that's the one I don't get.
 

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