Low or High Ranking Teachers

ATC

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,664
Reaction score
70
Location
San Jose
Some people are rank chasers. He may be an excellent teacher, particularly for beginning students.
Yes but when you open a school you better be able to teach all levels. Or be prepared to turn away the students that are not beginners.

My big question would be what he did about the material in those last three geub grades. If he learned the full curriculum and is a competent instructor, then I am not sure how much of a difference his being a rank chaser is.
Well, while he was still with our master (1st master) he would still attend separate classes with the master instructor. That all stopped once he left of course. I know that he and his new master had a falling out due to differences in styles. He still considers his first master his master and teaches in that style. Now how is he to advances his own knowledge? He can't. Because he stepped on two masters, and one well known in the circles that be, he is pretty much black listed. There is no support and he is banned by most.

Also his first master was a BB in a few arts. Judo, Hapkido, TKD. He only learned one art from this master. We only begin to learn these other arts once we become BB in the base of TKD. Only then do you get to study the other arts and those arts only enhance the TKD. There was just so much more to learn in both his TKD and the other stuff. I am still learning something new everyday and stuff that I though I knew I realize that I only know the surface of. Simple stuff am and finding out only now really how to apply it. Even something as simple as a punch teaches me something new each day. And SD is a whole other amimal. He knows his basics but that is about it.

Now, knowing what you just said, I would not go into business with him. But that is a separate issue from his ability as an instructor.

Daniel
All I can tell you is that he is hurting for his action. Yes he can teach beginners like you said but that is really about it.
 

Xinglu

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 5, 2009
Messages
647
Reaction score
20
Location
California
A good teacher is a good teacher regardless of rank.

If I have a good teacher and they have 5-10 years in an art, they will always have that time on me. That time brings more experience and understanding. This is one reason why I switched over to TCMAs First, it is unlikely that you'll find any teacher with less then 10 years in the art (unless they are assistant teachers). And if you think that after 10 years, your 10 years of learning will out do their 20 years... well, enjoy the pain it causes ;)

Rank only has meaning in the organization granting it. I am more interested in the teacher then I am their rank. Personally, I wouldn't shed a tear if rank fell out of fashion and went away altogether. I have seen more problems and politics over rank then anything else.
 

Daniel Sullivan

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
269
Location
Olney, Maryland
Yes but when you open a school you better be able to teach all levels. Or be prepared to turn away the students that are not beginners.


Well, while he was still with our master (1st master) he would still attend separate classes with the master instructor. That all stopped once he left of course. I know that he and his new master had a falling out due to differences in styles. He still considers his first master his master and teaches in that style. Now how is he to advances his own knowledge? He can't. Because he stepped on two masters, and one well known in the circles that be, he is pretty much black listed. There is no support and he is banned by most.

Also his first master was a BB in a few arts. Judo, Hapkido, TKD. He only learned one art from this master. We only begin to learn these other arts once we become BB in the base of TKD. Only then do you get to study the other arts and those arts only enhance the TKD. There was just so much more to learn in both his TKD and the other stuff. I am still learning something new everyday and stuff that I though I knew I realize that I only know the surface of. Simple stuff am and finding out only now really how to apply it. Even something as simple as a punch teaches me something new each day. And SD is a whole other amimal. He knows his basics but that is about it.


All I can tell you is that he is hurting for his action. Yes he can teach beginners like you said but that is really about it.
The stupid things that people do all for another stripe on their belt.

Daniel
 

seasoned

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
11,167
Reaction score
1,147
Location
Lives in Texas
Personally I have had better experience training with higher ranked teachers, although I honestly think my preference is not so much a high ranked teacher but a more experienced teacher. Morph4me is a shodan in Aikido...I'm not even an aikidoka and I would rather train under him than a lot of people wearing a lot more red in other arts.

Many ikkyus or shodans are taking on teaching responsibilities and are excited about growing in to an instructor or assistant. Its great energy but at least for me, it can be frustrating. I'm way too much of an engineer. I like instruction to be consistent, precise, and clear....and I get rather impatient when that is not the case.
You make a very good point. If I may add, (experience) produces age, (age) produces rank. I am not hung up on the rank part, that is why it is last on my equation. I do feel that someone that has been in the arts 20 or more years will have the maturity and wisdom to pass their art down. I don't feel that they need to teach ever class, but should oversee everyone with personalized input. Remember in the scheme of life you have, young dad, older dad, and grandpa. Young dad is out there throwing the ball around and roughing it up with you. Older dad is hanging in, and doing his best, and has much to offer. But grandpa, because he is old, loves to talk, and has much to say about life because he has lived it. been there and done that, so to speck. If you are dedicated enough and fortunate, you will have the best of all worlds, and you will grow through all of this with your Sensei in all stages of his maturity. So I guess the end result is, it's all good. :asian:
 

ATC

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,664
Reaction score
70
Location
San Jose
The stupid things that people do all for another stripe on their belt.

Daniel
That is so true. Oh well he is learning a life lesson now.
icon7.gif
 

Xinglu

Black Belt
Joined
Aug 5, 2009
Messages
647
Reaction score
20
Location
California
You make a very good point. If I may add, (experience) produces age, (age) produces rank.

I don't know, I know some people in there 70s that have been doing it for most of their lives. They don't have high level dan rankings for several reasons, in all cases they never cared to pursue it. in two cases, it was because they were not Korean, they didn't care, they love their art and still teach more effectively then those half their age with higher rank.
 

grydth

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 13, 2007
Messages
2,464
Reaction score
150
Location
Upstate New York.
One of the best teachers I ever had for anything had the rank of shodan... he was ranked by the head of the system. I know a grand master who is one of the few genuine "renaissance men" I have encountered in life.

Then again, I have seen black belts who should have stuck with white, and "grand masters" who were neither.

It is the person and the lineage which matter.
 

seasoned

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
Messages
11,167
Reaction score
1,147
Location
Lives in Texas
I don't know, I know some people in there 70s that have been doing it for most of their lives. They don't have high level dan rankings for several reasons, in all cases they never cared to pursue it. in two cases, it was because they were not Korean, they didn't care, they love their art and still teach more effectively then those half their age with higher rank.
Love of their art. This is the key motivator in many things in life. If you truly love what you do, it shows in your attitude.
icon7.gif
 

dbell

Blue Belt
Joined
Jun 17, 2009
Messages
294
Reaction score
6
Location
Ashland, KY
I would hope, but know it is not the case, that anyone beyond 2nd Dan in any art, is there because their Sensei/Soke/Head of Family/Style/etc, has made sure that they can teach, AND that they know the art's technicques, philosophy, etc.

Let's go back to the Menkyo system, pre-dating the belt system. A "Master Instructor" (for lack of better word for now) taught their art to his (or in rare cases her) students, and when the Master felt that the student knew the content of the art, the philosophy (and I use that term to represent the reasons behind the moves, why they are done that way, why those moves and not others, etc) behind the art, he gave the student a paper authorizing him to help teach the art under his tutelage. When the student got better at teaching and was considered to FULLY know the art and was FULLY able to teach the art, (s)he was given a "full transition of the art" paper which allowed him/her to teach it to whomever they wanted. (Semi gross review of the process, bit more to it, but covers the basics.)

Now, let's transition that to the belt system, as originally intended by Kano (per his writings) and initially used by early adapters, and some still: (And I posted this before, but too lazy to go dig up the link.)

1st Dan: Has the basics of the art in hand, a bit more learning, starting to teach (now many schools start the teaching at brown or before, I'm not for that though, they should be dedicating their time to learning and improving, and watching teaching by others) under supervision.

2nd Dan: The training of new things is done, and the person is given permission to teach, still under the tutelage of their Sensei, but does not require 100% supervision.

3rd Dan: The person is now given the ability to teach on their own, and can advance students on their own.

4th and 5th Dan: Achieved with time, dedication to the arts, and teaching students and advancing students to Dan rank.

A black belt, to me, implies that the person knows the content of the art (or most of it in the case of 1st Dan), has been "tested" in the teaching of the art and can demonstrate the art to students in such a way that it works for the student to learn the art.

If a person is not able to teach the art, doesn't fully know the art, why do they even want a "Dan" level rank in the art?

---

So, to answer your question, I, assuming I find a school that has these standards, would want to be learning under someone that is at least 2nd Dan, and would prefer not studying under a "Kyu' level student. In the 40, almost 41, years I have been training and studying the arts I have been in, I have noticed MANY Kyu level "instructors" and in a vast majority of those times have noticed that "instructor" teaching the concept behind the move or the move wrong. This is bad for the student, the instructor, the school, the head "Sensei", and the art. For that manner, because of the lack of structure to the belting system these days within an art or style, I have notice many 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dans teach their art (and I'm only limiting myself here to arts I have trained in, and am only guessing from what I have learned in other arts from reading, talking to "Masters", etc...) incorrectly or without knowing what they are saying.... Not good.

**** Disclaimer: In many of the systems out there now, these standards are not met, and belts mean less than they should mean. Now to know if you should train under a person takes you watching what they are doing, listening to what they are saying, and asking about their training, what they were taught, etc. Knowing more about their Sensei and the style requirements is important too. Unfortunately many new students coming to a school don't have the knowledge to know if what they are getting into is the way to go. (And us on this board telling people to go check out the school and see if it works for them is kinda counter productive in this scenario. How are they going to know if it is good or bad if they have no clue about the arts, that style, etc?)*** (/Rant too...)
 

jks9199

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
22,626
Reaction score
2,862
Location
Northern VA
As a newbie its always better to learn from a lower rank. The lower ranks know perhaps a couple of ways to do something, and are closer to where the newbies are. The higher ranks knows 20 ways of doing something, and are decades away from having learned the basics. Training with a higher rank early on can hinder your growth in a MA.

My sensei is a 7th dan and I am now a 4th, right now I need to be taught by someone with his experience. Years ago when I started he was a 5th almost a 6th, and I was pond scum, I didnt need to be taught by him, learning from a 2nd or 3rd would have been more than enough for me to start.
I disagree; an advanced instructor should be able to teach basics. In fact, they should be able to teach basics better than a less advanced instructor -- if they avoid the temptation to try to teach too much too soon.

That's a lesson I've had to learn over the last few years; I began trying to teach new students to the same level of detail that I'm at -- and would either bore them silly because it took so long to move through things, or overwhelm them with details. There's an effective balance where you can teach the pieces that the student is ready for -- and still show them that there's more.

What often happens, though, is that rather than have an advanced instructor spend their time teaching basic techniques, less advanced teachers cover that material so that the "master" may focus on teaching at that level. Since MJS brought up Hatsumi, I'll use him as an example. My understanding is that when he teaches today, he's teaching for the advanced students, to share the material that they can only get from him and only he can teach. Meanwhile, he's all but sending people to work with various of his most advanced students to learn the fundamentals and core techniques that will allow them to learn from him.

I was incredibly fortunate that my instructors were some of the highest ranked in our system; I value that he took the time to teach white belts and beginners. In respect of that, I still, after something like 25 years, teach white belts and beginners. In fact, to be honest, I LIKE teaching beginners. It forces me to keep my basics sharp, and without sharp basics, the advanced material isn't effective, either. And -- even more importantly! -- I've learned that, in the real deal, basics are what works best and most reliably.
 

Kwan Jang

Purple Belt
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
345
Reaction score
27
Location
Gallatin, TN. (suburb of Nashville)
ATC, I don't want to offend you, but it would seem to me that the master instructors who fast tracked your guy for dubious reasons are as guilty as he is. I know there are many who offer rank for convenience or for "jumping ship", but that has never sat well with me. To me, if rank is not something you must grow into and something earned on merit, then it's useless. I'm not even that handy with computers, but even I could print up a certificate for tenth dan pretty easily. I wouldn't even need the fees for a diploma mill.

My sixth dan means something to me because I had to grow into it and work hard for a long time for it (18 months of dedicated, intensive training, nutrition and pushing the envelope). I will test in two years for seventh and I begin the training process this summer. Of course, I'm still training hard right now as I am finishing up my prep for competing in the NAGA World Championships in Submission Grappling. My 7th degree test will simply be the next milestone that will keep me pushing the envelope. Also for my testing the training will be much more diverse.
 

Blade96

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 17, 2010
Messages
2,042
Reaction score
38
Location
Newfoundland, Canada
Pfffft, rank matters to a point. but only to a point.

I've learned things from one of my Shodans that I didnt learn from my yondan.

And vise versa at times.
 

Aikicomp

Purple Belt
Joined
Feb 10, 2009
Messages
308
Reaction score
10
Location
NW NJ
Rank does not matter, it's the ability of the instructor(whatever the rank) to convey the principles and techniques to the student in question.

I recieved my instructors certificate at 4th kyu (High green belt) due to my teacher, the founder of the system, saw my dedication to the art and to the students I was helping before I became an instructor.

He also saw that I had a speech impediment and because of that he took me aside and told me he wanted me to begin on the path to becoming an instructor, to which I replied "I can't because I stutter and I haven't any confidence when speaking".

He then told me "If I hear you say can't ever again I will throw you out of my school" and then said " You may stutter now, but, you won't when I get done with you".

Guess what.......I do not stutter anymore.

After all the speech classes, therapist, ect. who didn't do a thing to help me, this man solved my speech problem by making me do something that scared the hell out of me. He gave me a way to conquer, adapt and overcome my problem and fear. He changed my life for ever and in turn I try to follow his example and do my best to be a good teacher.

High rank? Low rank? Blah, blah, blah.....who cares.......the MOST important thing for a teacher is being able to adjust the instruction and be able to convey the instruction to EVERY student under their care no matter what the students rank or situation, and furthermore, they must be able to see what may be hindering a student whether physically, mentally or emotionally and have the ability to give the student the right guidance to overcome those obstacles so they can have the tools they need to get through life.

If a teacher can not do that.......they have NO business being a teacher.

Sorry for the long (hopefully not too boring) story, but, I see being an Instructor as a great responsibility and I see so many individuals who call themselves a "Master", "Sifu", "Sensei", "Shihan" or whatever name they choose to annoint themselves with, who have no idea what it means or takes to have the competence, honor, responsibility, and obligation to BE a teacher.

Bottom line....Find a person who I have descibed above and you will be fine.

Michael
 

ATC

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,664
Reaction score
70
Location
San Jose
ATC, I don't want to offend you, but it would seem to me that the master instructors who fast tracked your guy for dubious reasons are as guilty as he is. I know there are many who offer rank for convenience or for "jumping ship", but that has never sat well with me. To me, if rank is not something you must grow into and something earned on merit, then it's useless. I'm not even that handy with computers, but even I could print up a certificate for tenth dan pretty easily. I wouldn't even need the fees for a diploma mill.

My sixth dan means something to me because I had to grow into it and work hard for a long time for it (18 months of dedicated, intensive training, nutrition and pushing the envelope). I will test in two years for seventh and I begin the training process this summer. Of course, I'm still training hard right now as I am finishing up my prep for competing in the NAGA World Championships in Submission Grappling. My 7th degree test will simply be the next milestone that will keep me pushing the envelope. Also for my testing the training will be much more diverse.
No offence taken.

Yes the first master does admit that maybe he made a mistake but, the 1st Dan was not out of the norm even if a bit fast. That belt you could say was earned. It was not the 1st Master that gave him his 2nd, 3rd, or 4th Dan. That was done all by the means of the persons own manipulation savvy.

The 1st master only wanted said student that showed promise to teach in his new school that he was opening and would not expect a falling out between the two. Neither could he predict what the student would do to get to where he is now.

If all went as planned that student should maybe be a 2nd Dan by now teaching at a school while still learning studying under said 1st master and working towards his 3rd Dan. Not a 4th Dan in his own school struggling because of the bad name he created for himself.

You really can't fault either master for the students actions if you really think about it. The student fast tracked himself.
 

dbell

Blue Belt
Joined
Jun 17, 2009
Messages
294
Reaction score
6
Location
Ashland, KY
A good teacher is a good teacher regardless of rank.

Provided they have 100% of the knowledge of content of the art, and the "whys and what fores" of the art.

Personally, I wouldn't shed a tear if rank fell out of fashion and went away altogether. I have seen more problems and politics over rank then anything else.

I would agree with this, however, when I thought to go that way with my school, students were hard to attract, and while it means little to me, other schools of similar style looked down on the practice.
 

dbell

Blue Belt
Joined
Jun 17, 2009
Messages
294
Reaction score
6
Location
Ashland, KY
As a newbie its always better to learn from a lower rank. The lower ranks know perhaps a couple of ways to do something, and are closer to where the newbies are. The higher ranks knows 20 ways of doing something, and are decades away from having learned the basics. Training with a higher rank early on can hinder your growth in a MA.

My sensei is a 7th dan and I am now a 4th, right now I need to be taught by someone with his experience. Years ago when I started he was a 5th almost a 6th, and I was pond scum, I didnt need to be taught by him, learning from a 2nd or 3rd would have been more than enough for me to start.

I would very much have to disagree with your opening statement here. If training with a higher rank hinders a new student, that higher rank should not be teaching and was naught trained correctly on how to pass the art on.

Everyone should be trained with someone with as much experience in the art as well as in teaching the art as they can get.

I do agree that you should be able to learn well from a 2nd or 3rd Dan, but I do not think you would learn as much as you would from a 7th Dan (in the smaller particulars of the art, basics yes) should (s)he have been teaching from the word go.

Beginning students are far from pond scum, they are the growing foundation of an art to me, and deserve the best qualified person available to teach them!
 

dbell

Blue Belt
Joined
Jun 17, 2009
Messages
294
Reaction score
6
Location
Ashland, KY
Pfffft, rank matters to a point. but only to a point.

I've learned things from one of my Shodans that I didnt learn from my yondan.

And vise versa at times.

Unfortunately in today's arts, your statement becomes true by the breath it seems. That said, rank should matter, and the higher the rank is SHOULD be an indication on how the person teaches as well as the grasp of the content of the art...

I do have to ask if the "Soke/Founder/Head of Family/etc" of your art would agree that you learned more from your Shodans than your Yondan though... And if (s)he did, what he did to "help" the Yondan do better...
 

dbell

Blue Belt
Joined
Jun 17, 2009
Messages
294
Reaction score
6
Location
Ashland, KY
Rank does not matter, it's the ability of the instructor(whatever the rank) to convey the principles and techniques to the student in question.

I recieved my instructors certificate at 4th kyu (High green belt) due to my teacher, the founder of the system, saw my dedication to the art and to the students I was helping before I became an instructor.

He also saw that I had a speech impediment and because of that he took me aside and told me he wanted me to begin on the path to becoming an instructor, to which I replied "I can't because I stutter and I haven't any confidence when speaking".

He then told me "If I hear you say can't ever again I will throw you out of my school" and then said " You may stutter now, but, you won't when I get done with you".

Guess what.......I do not stutter anymore.

After all the speech classes, therapist, ect. who didn't do a thing to help me, this man solved my speech problem by making me do something that scared the hell out of me. He gave me a way to conquer, adapt and overcome my problem and fear. He changed my life for ever and in turn I try to follow his example and do my best to be a good teacher.

High rank? Low rank? Blah, blah, blah.....who cares.......the MOST important thing for a teacher is being able to adjust the instruction and be able to convey the instruction to EVERY student under their care no matter what the students rank or situation, and furthermore, they must be able to see what may be hindering a student whether physically, mentally or emotionally and have the ability to give the student the right guidance to overcome those obstacles so they can have the tools they need to get through life.

If a teacher can not do that.......they have NO business being a teacher.

Sorry for the long (hopefully not too boring) story, but, I see being an Instructor as a great responsibility and I see so many individuals who call themselves a "Master", "Sifu", "Sensei", "Shihan" or whatever name they choose to annoint themselves with, who have no idea what it means or takes to have the competence, honor, responsibility, and obligation to BE a teacher.

Bottom line....Find a person who I have descibed above and you will be fine.

Michael

While I admire your teachers actions, I do question the final result of issuing an Instructor License (so to say) to a student that has yet to learn the entire art curriculum? (Unless by 4th Kyu you have all the knowledge of the art?) (No offense meant here by the by, you are probably a great instructor.)

To me an instructor (when it comes to martial arts) should be able to take any student at any level and train them in the next steps, and at 4th Kyu (provided full transmission has not happened till 1st, 2nd, 3rd/etc Dan) the student would stop getting valid content at 5th or 4th Kyu. Yes, the 4th Kyu teaching will go up over time as well, but what I am saying is a 3rd Kyu, who has not received their instructors cert will not be able to learn and train under the 4th Kyu...

While a non Dan student of the arts, be happy learning the arts, and strive to learn the art fully before beginning teaching others the art. There should be no hurry to get to teaching the art, but go at the pace of learning that allows you to fully grasp the art, learn its deeper meanings and reasonings of going it "that way".
 

Daniel Sullivan

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
269
Location
Olney, Maryland
As a newbie its always better to learn from a lower rank. The lower ranks know perhaps a couple of ways to do something, and are closer to where the newbies are. The higher ranks knows 20 ways of doing something, and are decades away from having learned the basics. Training with a higher rank early on can hinder your growth in a MA.

My sensei is a 7th dan and I am now a 4th, right now I need to be taught by someone with his experience. Years ago when I started he was a 5th almost a 6th, and I was pond scum, I didnt need to be taught by him, learning from a 2nd or 3rd would have been more than enough for me to start.
An interesting counterpoint to this was presented in either an interview or a book where an eighth or ninth dan school owner stated that he worked personally with his beginning students, and then had them only work with a high dan instructor in his school. The reason, he said, was that it kept him in touch with the new students and insured that beginning students were given instruction directly from the top and that he could personally keep them from developing bad habits or from learning the techniques incorrectly. He worked directly with white through green belt students and with his fourth and fifth dan students. The rest of his classes were taught by 3rd through 5th dans, with him teaching upper kyu/geub grades and lower dans a couple of days a week. But the beginners were all him and a fourth and fifth dan. I wish that I could remember where I read this, as I cannot even remember the man's name or even what art he taught.

I found this interesting and refreshing, as the general trend is to pass the low belt students off on less experienced instructors and for the "Master" to work with the advanced students only.

Daniel
 

dancingalone

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
5,321
Reaction score
278
Beginning students are far from pond scum, they are the growing foundation of an art to me, and deserve the best qualified person available to teach them!

I couldn't agree more! It's actually critical IMO that beginning students receive all the attention they can stand from their teacher. This is the time when good habits or bad technique is formed. I often offer free private lessons or additional training time at my home to new students precisely because I want them to 'get' it rather than murk around trying to copy the guy in front of them in the lineup.
 

Latest Discussions

Top