Low or High Ranking Teachers

terryl965

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Over the years I have train with just about all ranks but one thing will always hold true, it is the higher rank seniors that can really see what it is you are missing. Something about time true tested applys here and you just cannot have that without some type of higher rank.
 

dancingalone

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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

I missed your post before I posted my view, but I am in complete agreement. The sempai/kohai relationship is used a lot in many traditional dojos, and it works to an extent. That said, a professional instructor is obviously far more effective in transmitting knowledge than a sempai who is really still working on learning mechanics himself.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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I missed your post before I posted my view, but I am in complete agreement. The sempai/kohai relationship is used a lot in many traditional dojos, and it works to an extent. That said, a professional instructor is obviously far more effective in transmitting knowledge than a sempai who is really still working on learning mechanics himself.
Definitely agree, though I am assuming that by "professional" that you mean a qualified and experienced instructor, not just a paid instructor.

Daniel
 

dancingalone

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Definitely agree, though I am assuming that by "professional" that you mean a qualified and experienced instructor, not just a paid instructor.

Daniel

Of course. To me a professional instructor has taken steps to make sure he can teach and impart knowledge effectively. This can mean non-martial activity too like participating in Toastmasters or taking a communications class at the local university.

My own teacher had at least one better student than myself. He was senior to me and he could kick my rear up and down the dojo floor. Monster. I hated banging forearms with him, since he could give me a bruise within seconds with the clubs he had. But guess what? I think I am a better teacher than he is precisely because I have worked out over the years how to communicate and instruct through a variety of ways. His approach is stuck in the "I show, you copy" phase. He is a great martial artist, even a good teacher. But a professional one? Maybe not, even if he does accept fees to partially compensate him for his time.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Thanks for the clarification. Keep in mind that professional ultimately means paid and little else. Olympic athletes are, by and large, amateurs.

With the exception of big league sports, being a professional does not confer any greater level of skill or teaching ability. The entire faculty at the elementary school that I attended was proof of that, lol.

Daniel
 

dancingalone

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Thanks for the clarification. Keep in mind that professional ultimately means paid and little else. Olympic athletes are, by and large, amateurs.

With the exception of big league sports, being a professional does not confer any greater level of skill or teaching ability. The entire faculty at the elementary school that I attended was proof of that, lol.

Daniel

Main Entry: 1pro繚fes繚sion繚al
Pronunciation: \pr&#601;-&#712;fesh-n&#601;l, -&#712;fe-sh&#601;-n&#601;l\
Function: adjective
Date: 1606
1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer> b : having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier> c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return <professional football>
3 : following a line of conduct as though it were a profession <a professional patriot>
pro繚fes繚sion繚al繚ly adverb



You're following definition #2. I'm using it more in the sense of #1a or #1b where can describe the distinctions between craftsman or artisan levels. We can often get paid for doing something...being a professional can refer to a high level of the same type work, such as digger vs. master landscaper, or teacher vs. professor (no offense to our teachers out there).
 

Blade96

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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...

Sure, rank should matter. In no way have I said it doesnt. all i said is it only matters to a point.

I am not sure if my founder or my senseis or w/e even noticed.

For example...a Sandan.... (not my friend but another one) told me to 'hang a picture' when executing the first few movements of Heian Nidan. Ok, but I never had my arms in exactly the right position when I raised them. and I never knew why.

Then - one day I was being taught by a Nidan. and we were working on the same Kata. This lower ranking BB was much more specific. He said not only hang a picture, but have my top arm 90 degrees parallel to the ground and the lower arm directly vertical from the ground. Eureka! He was much more specific in how we should stand and hold ourselves in kokutsu dachi. It was this from the lower ranking BB that made me better.

Often times I like specifics when I am learning. and many times, its the ones who nitpick, who pick us apart and are very specific and particular about how we should look, and why we are doing what we do, who make me better. And that could be (and sometimes has been) a Shodan, and not a Yondan. It was a Shodan who was so particular about my Heian Shodan last year, who helped me beat the guy in white belt kata competition.

I still stand by my belief rank only matters to a degree.
 

Flying Crane

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Personally, I think the Dan grades should be completely re-structured into two distinct rankings: Shodan as Non-Instructor, and Shodan as Instructor.

Once the Instructor ranking has been bestowed, that should be the end of the chasing of rank. The holder of this Instructor rank has authority to bring people all the way up to Instructor ranking as well.

There is always more to learn and improvement to be made. But I think one can reach a certain level and be responsible as an instructor, and to hell with all the Dan gradings above that. It's often driven by greed and ego anyways. If someone still needs that carrot dangled in front of him, then he doesn't deserve the rank in the first place.
 

Carol

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Hey it works for a lot of FMA systems.

Two ranks: Instructor, and student

Hint: If someone else is leading the class, you're the student. ;)
 

seasoned

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I do think rank is sometimes inflated, and in some cases overrated. With that said, most rank over 5th dan is given on merit, plus time in grade, plus as a testament of sacrifice to the art. In this day it is given out too freely by people that are not your Sensei. This I feel is wrong. When I came up through the ranks, you were tested on the sparring floor. Most people that brag of their own accomplishments can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. Just my observations. :asian:
 
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Tames D

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How about coming into a school and effectively being taught by those one or two ranks ahead - not even an instructor. I mean, in practicality, that is what really happens. You only get a few minutes of time from the actual instructor, your peers help you out a lot of the way. I have no problem with taht, unless it is the codified PROCESS and there is no time or consideration for the true instructor to spend individual time with students.

I believe if the instructor has no time to teach his students he shouldn't have his own school. An orange belt teaching a white belt is unacceptable to me. Imagine your kid in the 7th grade being taught math by a 9th grader because the teacher just doesn't have the time to spend on every student.
 

Aikicomp

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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.)

None taken, happens a lot when I tell people that story and they assume exactly what you did.

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,

Agreed, in addition to what I stated in my first post.

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.

Not really true in our case.

In our system you do not just get an Instructors certification when you make your Dan ranks it is not automatic. It was always given by (until his death) the founder at his discretion based upon many things that he saw in a person to be able train to become an Instructor. All of our Blackbelts are not Instructors although very skilled, all people are not meant to be or have the ability to be what I descibed in my first post.

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...

Our Instructors certification is very very different than what some would consider mainstream certification, we are able to instruct 1 level below all present and future ranks.

This would take care of the problem you pointed out.

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".

I'm sorry, you misunderstand, I recieved my Instructor's certification over 25 years ago. I now hold our systems highest rank of Godan which was given to me by the founder of our system and with that he has entrusted me to teach, promote and preserve the integrity of the art he created 45 years ago.

One can not just walk off the street and assume we will let you study our system. There is a lot more to it than that.

Michael
 

James Kovacich

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For me, its not the belt or rank that I'm looking at, but what the person can teach me. A good friend of mine is a purple belt in BJJ under Roy Harris. Would it be great to train under Roy? Hell yeah! But fact is, unless I want to pack up and move to his location, I train under my friend.

So, what do you all think? When it comes time to train, are you looking at the teachers rank, or what he can show you?
I'm quite sure your in good enough hands. I've had several privates with Roy and many classes with him as well when I trained for a few years under one of Roys students in San Jose back in the '90's. He runs a solid organization and so does Joe Moreira who promoted Roy. They both trained my former BJJ instructor. Whenever they would come to town I would get in line for the privates. If you get the chance meet them!

Sorry for side-tracking your thread.
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Bruno@MT

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My sensei is a kyu level instructor. Our dojo is a satellite dojo under the supervision of a master level instructor. To me, this idea works very well.
Me and my fellow students all started at white belt when the sensei had 5th kyu. This means that from the onset, he was about 5 years worth of experience ahead of us. At the same time, he is studying hard with the head sensei to keep ahead of us.

He also has a shodan in goju ryu karate and a modern jujutsu style.
Personally, I think in our case this works very well. While he is much better than I am in our art, he is not yet so far ahead that I can't comprehend the things he is doing at his own level.

Much more important imo is whether you 'connect' well with your sensei. If both the student and the teacher have the same ideas about training and the same drive, it will be a very productive relationship. Otoh if the student and the teacher don't have that connection, it is much harder to develop a love for the art, stay motivated and keep growing.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Hello Bruno,

5 years to fifth kyu? What system is he teaching in? I have never heard of fifth kyu being five years ahead of a white belt.

Not that that is bad; I am just curious.

Daniel
 

Rich Parsons

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I believe if the instructor has no time to teach his students he shouldn't have his own school. An orange belt teaching a white belt is unacceptable to me. Imagine your kid in the 7th grade being taught math by a 9th grader because the teacher just doesn't have the time to spend on every student.


When I was in Jr High and High School, I was the one who helped the other students in my class. Sometimes the Teacher would even sit a hardcase next to me and allow me to whisper to him during class to keep the hardcase up to speed. I could translate and work with them.

In College there was a rule that you had to have a 3.5 or 4.0 to be a tutor in the class. For Math and Comp Sci, both departments let me tutor the class even while I was in the class. And for Comp Sci, I tutor some I never took, but I did have to read their book and teach myself.

So is the problem

the system?

the teachers?

the students?

or me? (* being a good instructor that I can work with people and help them *)

I agree if you are paying money for something a person should expect something in return. The problem is that if thta student holds everyone up to the point that the other 30 students are now not getting their value. Which is right? If there was an assistant or other student who could take the student having the hard time learning aside and work with them to try to get them something, is that not better than nothing?
 

searcher

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For me it is about what they can show me. I outranked my TKD instructor(R.I.P. Kirk) and currently outrank my EPAK instructor, just not in their respective styles.

I looked for someone who can pass on knowledge to me, not at their rank. I want a verifiable lineage, for them to have the knowledge I am looking for, and the ability to transmit said knowledge. The more knowledge the better.
 

Bruno@MT

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Hello Bruno,

5 years to fifth kyu? What system is he teaching in? I have never heard of fifth kyu being five years ahead of a white belt.

Not that that is bad; I am just curious.

Daniel

Genbukan ninpo.
Technically, there are minimum requirements for time in grade, but they are largely moot for people that have no prior relevant experience. There are 2 reasons for these long times between exams:

1) Much of the stuff we do needs lots of practice and time to digest. For example, the first 2 kyu levels contain (among much other stuff) about a dozen different ways to roll, and a dozen tai sabaki. It's not enough just to know the names and be able to do them. to do them properly just takes practice and repetition. Before my first exam, I sometimes rented the dojo under my own name when it was free, and spent an hour and a half just practicing rolls :)

2) Anyone who practises genbukan ninpo and is intent on getting somewhere, is expected to also practise genbukan jujutsu because the 2 styles complement each other. And then you suddenly have to learn twice as much material. The exams are usually alternating. So if you do 2 exams per year, you only advance 1 kyu level in each style per year.

Now, since he started teaching, my sensei is advancing faster than this. He did 2 kyu levels ninpo and 1 kyu level jujutsu in less than a year. The only reason he is growing more rapidly is that he is now practically practicing ninpo every single day of the week, many hours per day.

The 1 kyu per year (in each style) rule of thumb applies to people like me, who practice in class 2 times per week, and then practice on their own once or twice per week. It can go faster (like with my sensei) but that requires long term commitment and accepting that you pretty much do ninpo or jujutsu to the exclusion of anything else.
 

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