Lineage vs Testing

mograph

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The origin of the color belt rank system is pretty well known.

Jigaro Kano introduced it originally in Judo with only two belt colors (white and black) in 1907 as a way to quickly distinguish between beginners and more advanced students when he was teaching seminars with lot of people. The intermediate colored belts between white and black began to be introduced in 1935, probably by Mikonosuke Kawaishi, who was teaching in France. From Judo, the practice spread to Karate and then to a host of other martial arts.
Hitting nonexistent "informative" button.
 

lklawson

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Ranking and also "Lineage" both have one word in common.....commercialization.
In the Western civ tradition, martial arts "ranking" goes way way back. Achievement based ranks, such as Savate Silver Gloves, boxing Golden Gloves, and various championships are, of course, par. But there are other examples which we consider more standard today. My favorite is the Company of Masters which had a Guild-like ranking structure with four ranks starting at Scholar (the equivalent of Apprentice) and ending with Master, and would require 7 years study at each rank before a skills and "fighting" based assessment test (Playing the Prize) could be taken. Past that, even today, traditional fencing schools have "ranks" which are roughly analogous to college progression and may include ranks such as Provost and Maitre or Maestro, achievement of which typically involves a time element and skills based exams, sometimes before a "board" or an individual Master. It is comparatively common for a "linage" type fencing school for the Master to train, test, then award up to Master (Maestro) in that lineage, in a way that is not entirely different from issuance of teaching certificates or a certificate of full transmission of the system to a student much like some Koyru or CMA do.

In these cases, it was less about commercialization and more about the desire to maintain a standard of skill and knowledge.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

punisher73

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In the Western civ tradition, martial arts "ranking" goes way way back. Achievement based ranks, such as Savate Silver Gloves, boxing Golden Gloves, and various championships are, of course, par. But there are other examples which we consider more standard today. My favorite is the Company of Masters which had a Guild-like ranking structure with four ranks starting at Scholar (the equivalent of Apprentice) and ending with Master, and would require 7 years study at each rank before a skills and "fighting" based assessment test (Playing the Prize) could be taken. Past that, even today, traditional fencing schools have "ranks" which are roughly analogous to college progression and may include ranks such as Provost and Maitre or Maestro, achievement of which typically involves a time element and skills based exams, sometimes before a "board" or an individual Master. It is comparatively common for a "linage" type fencing school for the Master to train, test, then award up to Master (Maestro) in that lineage, in a way that is not entirely different from issuance of teaching certificates or a certificate of full transmission of the system to a student much like some Koyru or CMA do.

In these cases, it was less about commercialization and more about the desire to maintain a standard of skill and knowledge.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
Should have been more specific that I was talking about eastern based martial arts.
 

lklawson

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Should have been more specific that I was talking about eastern based martial arts.
The thing is, "fighting is fighting." And people are people. With so many glaring examples of parallel evolution, and in this case where "commercialization" isn't the impetus, I can't help but think that maybe commercialization isn't necessarily always the impetus in Eastern systems.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

punisher73

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The thing is, "fighting is fighting." And people are people. With so many glaring examples of parallel evolution, and in this case where "commercialization" isn't the impetus, I can't help but think that maybe commercialization isn't necessarily always the impetus in Eastern systems.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
Honest question because I am not familiar enough with the western based arts. Do you see the same constant arguments in these western systems of "who had the REAL system (lineage)" or "our blackbelts can beat up/are better than your blackbelts" (insert appropriate rank here).

Because historically, I have not seen this in the japanese/okinawan karate systems either until after WW2 and the commercialization and mass spreading of the art. Even Gichin Funakoshi made comments on how many "new styles" were popping up in Japan at the time. In Okinawan karate, you WERE taught differently based on your own unique temperament/build etc. and the classes were very small. After the war, classes were much bigger and set up with the military style format we see now (lining up according to rank, doing things 'by the number', everyone doing everything the same exact manner and only ONE way to do a kata/form).
 

Kung Fu Wang

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If you teach a class by using a text book. If there are 10 chapters in that book, will you test your students after you have taught them each chapter?

The only course that I have taken without homework and exam is the "Category Theory" (the highest level math course in UT Austin). At the end of that semester, the professor said, "Good by and see you next semester." One student asked, "Without final exam, how are you going to grade us?" The professor said, "If you have the courage to take my course, you deserve an A".

Today, the only thing that I can remember from that course is "The algebra is like a tree. The modern algebra is like a forest. Today, let's talk about a set of forest."

IMO, without testing, you won't know whether or not your students have learned the material that you have taught them.
 

Tony Dismukes

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If you teach a class by using a text book. If there are 10 chapters in that book, will you test your students after you have taught them each chapter?

The only course that I have taken without homework and exam is the "Category Theory" (the highest level math course in UT Austin). At the end of that semester, the professor said, "Good by and see you next semester." One student asked, "Without final exam, how are you going to grade us?" The professor said, "If you have the courage to take my course, you deserve an A".

Today, the only thing that I can remember from that course is "The algebra is like a tree. The modern algebra is like a forest. Today, let's talk about a set of forest."

IMO, without testing, you won't know whether or not your students have learned the material that you have taught them.
My students are tested every day on the mat. I teach them techniques and concepts and then I give them opportunities to try them out. Over time I get to see how well they perform takedowns, defend takedowns, escape mount, execute arm bars, avoid chokes, etc, etc, etc.
 

Oily Dragon

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This one is easy.

pushups, and power slides.
 
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lklawson

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Honest question because I am not familiar enough with the western based arts. Do you see the same constant arguments in these western systems of "who had the REAL system (lineage)" or "our blackbelts can beat up/are better than your blackbelts" (insert appropriate rank here).
Sort of, yes. Much of HEMA is reconstruction from old manuals. There are most definitely long running <ahem> "differences of opinion" on what a given author means or is teaching, complete with lines being drawn and "camps" surrounding certain more-or-less "famous" people espousing one or another particular interpretation. Two good examples are are the 3 or 4 major interpretations of George Silver's material and the two or 3 interpretations of the I.33 arming sword material. But it exists for lots of things. Try looking up the various interpretations of The Turkish Disarm in the Highland Broadsword tradition.

It's not about commercialization. There's not much money to be had in martial arts instruction in general and even less in HEMA. I think it's about ego; about "being right" and the other guy being "wrong."

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Yanli

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Is one of the main purposes of the belt testing system through an organization to circumvent issues inherent within the lineage system?

Many arts (wing chun for instance) place a great deal of value on lineage while almost never using a belt system. Others (like Karate and Taekwondo) are often generalized by large organizations with little attention paid to lineage. Then there are arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where the belt system still seems very closely tied to lineage (especially after black belt).

I'm sure everyone has their preference of which system works best for them. Having been bitten by the shortcomings of each version, I am interested in looking at these styles academically.

If you subscribe to (or see large issues with) one of these methods, what is it that makes it work/not work for you?
Is lineage better for quality control?
If so, what happens if your instructor leaves, dies, or has a falling out with you?
Does testing through an organization correct this, or do the downsides (lack of connection, administrative bloat, etc) outweigh the benefits?
As far as Wing Chun, I am not sure how other Sifu would rank you if you came from another WC school, but I would imagine they would just test them as I would. I personally feel that too much emphasis is placed on the belt system, the teacher and the student should look more at the progress in itself then the belt. People look too much at the belt as a self reward then the achievements, recognizing your achievements threw your own recognition is much more gratifyingly meaningful then a belt.
 

Dirty Dog

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As far as Wing Chun, I am not sure how other Sifu would rank you if you came from another WC school, but I would imagine they would just test them as I would. I personally feel that too much emphasis is placed on the belt system, the teacher and the student should look more at the progress in itself then the belt. People look too much at the belt as a self reward then the achievements, recognizing your achievements threw your own recognition is much more gratifyingly meaningful then a belt.
If the belt system does not directly reflect progress, then I would suggest that perhaps you're using the belt system incorrectly.
 

Yanli

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As others have said, the belt system we currently use started with Judo as a way to rank people. Kano got the idea from the game of "go" as I understand it. In Karate, is used to be white/brown/black and then other colors were added. In SOME CMA's, they have gone to a "colored sash" system to help students with their progress.

Previously, when you got to a certain level of expertise you were given a license to teach (basically). In Okinawan, they were a lot more informal with karate and you went to someone based on their knowledge/skill and learned from them. Okinawan karate actually took the belt idea after karate went to Japan and became popular and followed suit. After WW2, it was very profitable to get military contracts to teach military people, so there was a big struggle to win those contracts.

Ranking and also "Lineage" both have one word in common.....commercialization.

Lineage is mainly used to show why you are better than someone else. You will see many arguments about how they "got the real stuff" or taught closest to what the founder taught. Many times it has nothing to do with results.

Ranking used to be to help guide both the instructor and student with their journey and know how to pair people who were somewhat of equals together. Eventually, the "black belt" became the end of the journey/benchmark. Then you had schools sandbagging on one end and holding the blackbelt to a super high standard (BJJ for example) and schools on the other end handing them out very quickly for money (McDojos for example). I know things change, but when I first started BJJ, it took about 3 years to get a blue belt (first colored belt) and meant that you understood the basics of the art and how to apply it. When I started karate, it took about 3 years to get a black belt and it meant the same thing...you understood the basics of the art and how to apply it.
You brought up a great point that many do not seem to be aware of, or it has changed, a black belt meant you know have a understanding, and are know ready to truly start learning. In my days lol, people thought that once they have received their black belt, they are know a true MA, and would stop there. People would not realize that they truly did not know how to apply what they have learned in a real fight, and I see this with even 3rd and 4th degree black belts. I once had a student that was a 4th degree in Karate and had been teaching for a couple of years, and he wanted to expand knowledge in other forms. Well, he had been teaching for 2 years, and he stated to me not to treat him like a beginner, and he stated it with a very cocky attitude. Well, long story short, I demonstrated to him that he still had a long ways to go, he did not like seeing that from a Sifu being younger then him lol. I
 

Yanli

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If the belt system does not directly reflect progress, then I would suggest that perhaps you're using the belt system incorrectly.
Wing Chun does not use the belt system.
 

lklawson

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Wing Chun does not use the belt system.
Many of the branches now do use the belt system. For example, Sifu Benny Meng in Dayton, OH, owns the "Ving Tsun Museum" does, in fact, use the best system. And he's not exactly alone. Plenty of them now do so.

Here's a few hundred examples:

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Dirty Dog

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Wing Chun does not use the belt system.
Not really true. But irrelevant even if true. You said
I personally feel that too much emphasis is placed on the belt system, the teacher and the student should look more at the progress in itself then the belt.
. Which, if true, indicates a problem with how you're using the belt system. Not with the belt system itlself.
 

Yanli

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Many of the branches now do use the belt system. For example, Sifu Benny Meng in Dayton, OH, owns the "Ving Tsun Museum" does, in fact, use the best system. And he's not exactly alone. Plenty of them now do so.

Here's a few hundred examples:

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
I am sure that there are WC schools that now use a belt system, but I
 

Yanli

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Many of the branches now do use the belt system. For example, Sifu Benny Meng in Dayton, OH, owns the "Ving Tsun Museum" does, in fact, use the best system. And he's not exactly alone. Plenty of them now do so.

Here's a few hundred examples:

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
I am sure there are schools that use a belt system, I do not, nor will I ever.
 

lklawson

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I am sure there are schools that use a belt system, I do not, nor will I ever.
And that's fine. More power to you. But there's a distinct difference between saying, "Wing Chun does not use the belt system" and "I don't use a belt system when I teach Wing Chun."

You don't like it? Fine. You think it's a terrible idea? Fine. You want to argue that it's bad, non-traditional, or whatever? Fine. But, in no case can you reasonably claim that "Wing Chun does not use the belt system" because, honestly, 2 seconds on your favorite search engine shows otherwise.

And it's been going on for many decades now at the very least.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Yanli

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Well, I do not travel the world to other WC schools or check search engines on if it has changed, nor do I mean belt system is a terrible idea. I personally, feel that a student should desire to constantly be observant to how they are progressing, and not go by what belt they have achieved. If you want a student to continue with their practice even after they have left your school, they first need to be observant of their strength and weakness, and how to improve on that. Too many people stop practicing or cut down on their practice because they do not have the time or money to continue going to a school.
 

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