Mixed Gatherings determining Seniority.

Earl Weiss

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If you host a mixed gathering and need to arrange certain protocols how do you determine who is "Senior"
For instance:
A. My former instructor retired at a certain Dan level and while I was promoted to certain Dan levels beyond his before him, I will forever consider him my Senior.
B. In other instances there may be those who started training after me, and may have promoted to certain Dan Levels before me in other organizations. How would seniority apply?
C. How about those who started before me, promoted to a Dan level or two before me then "retired " and never returned to training?
D. How about if they took a decade or two off and returned but are therefore several Dan Ranks below me?
 

skribs

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I have lots of thoughts on this, and have been thinking about it recently. I know I'm not nearly as experienced as you, but maybe you find my ramblings useful. If not, maybe I find your criticisms as useful as I hoped I would be. I'll post my ramblings later, when I have a keyboard instead of a phone in front of me.

The general concept is that seniority in this case would be contextual. If you're hosting the event, and you name someone your senior, then that person is your senior.

Out of curiosity, what protocols are you referring to?
 
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Earl Weiss

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I have lots of thoughts on this, and have been thinking about it recently. I know I'm not nearly as experienced as you, but maybe you find my ramblings useful. If not, maybe I find your criticisms as useful as I hoped I would be. I'll post my ramblings later, when I have a keyboard instead of a phone in front of me.

The general concept is that seniority in this case would be contextual. If you're hosting the event, and you name someone your senior, then that person is your senior.

Out of curiosity, what protocols are you referring to?
Could be anything. If Seniors are to enter the room first with the most senior in the lead, who goes first. If you are introducing people in order of Seniority whether most Senior is first or last. Who gets served first at a meal etc.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Could be anything. If Seniors are to enter the room first with the most senior in the lead, who goes first. If you are introducing people in order of Seniority whether most Senior is first or last. Who gets served first at a meal etc.
Yeesh. That sounds like the sort of cultural baggage that I'm very glad I don't have to deal with. I hope it's not the sort of thing that comes up regularly for you.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I'm glad I don't do TKD. I don't have the patience for all that, and would have even less patience when mixing orgs. Seems like built-in politics.
 

skribs

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I would hope for this kind of thing, that the folks who are invited are all going to be cool with whatever choice you make, so long as it's done so with the intention of fairness. If there is going to be a squeaky wheel, it might be an important lesson in humility!

What I would do, in your situation, is have three groups.
  1. Those who were your instructors or seniors, but have retired.
  2. Those who are active.
  3. Those who were your juniors or peers, but have retired.
Then, out of each of those groups, go by highest rank achieved, then by age.

To your examples:
A. Put your former instructor into the first group.
B. Unless there's a big difference in what rank means in those other groups (i.e. the difference between a "4th degree black belt" in KKW TKD and "4th degree black belt" in IBJJF BJJ), just take the rank as it is.
C. Depending on how far ahead of you, then maybe Group 1, maybe Group 3. Simple example - if they got promoted to 3rd Dan when you were 2nd Dan, put them in group 3. If they got promoted to 5th Dan when you were 3rd Dan, probably Group 1.
D. I would probably treat this similar to retiring.
 

skribs

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I'm glad I don't do TKD. I don't have the patience for all that, and would have even less patience when mixing orgs. Seems like built-in politics.
Thank you for saying this, as it leads into the thoughts I've had regarding the subject.

One of the reasons I want to go unaffiliated when I open my own school, is I want to be free from such politics. My opinion of the KKW is that it's just like officers in the Army. It's all politics. I honestly feel that a lot of the stuff that goes on at the KKW level is not necessarily about making KKW or TKD better, but more about higher-ups wanting something on their resume so they can get their next promotion, or about having some sort of advantage for their school. (For example, creating a new set of "tournament forms" that their students will have much more practice with when they go live).

Officers in the Army are the same way. They come in, add a new program (even if it's redundant with old programs, or worse - worse than the current system), write down in their annual review that they added a program, so that they can get their next promotion and assignment.

This is a big part of why I want to start my own school, with my own forms, my own curriculum, and my own systems. A big part of what I'm trying to do is allow for outsiders to come in and easily integrate as advanced students or instructors. There are a few sticking points where my way would be "the way" (those being the forms and the content/delivery in the beginner's class), but for there to be ways in which instructors can teach what they know from their experience and training, instead of just parroting what I know. Obviously I would want some form of quality control, but you get the idea.

As an example, let's say I get someone at my school who is a 1st degree black belt in both TKD and BJJ. They would defer to me in regards to the TKD training. But when I want to do some ground escapes, I would defer to them.

Let's get way ahead of myself, and say my school is successful and franchises. If I were to drop in on another school, then publicly I would defer to the owner of that school. If I were invited as the founder of the franchise, then I would hope that the owner of the school would defer to me. The context of whether I dropped in or was invited would matter.
 

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I think it depends on the situation. For example, the small organization that I belong to has very rigorous testing standards for Dan promotions. If a black belt from another organization visits for a seminar or to take a class, then they are generally treated junior to anyone with the same rank within our organization, especially if we don't know them.

On the other hand, I have a friend in the martial arts community who is extremely accomplished, is older than me, has been training and teaching longer than me, that is a more junior rank than me. The only reason he is junior to me in rank is because he does not belong to an organization that can promote him any higher. I treat him as my senior.

I would always treat my instructor as my senior, regardless of rank.

For those that once outranked me, but don't any longer due to inactivity or retirement, I would view that as me rightfully surpassing them.

For those that outrank me from a different organization, I think I would treat that on a case by case basis based on items listed above. If I don't know them or know that they come from an organization that doesn't hold the same standards as my organization, the respect given would be shown accordingly.

Ultimately rank doesn't mean much beyond your own organization as each organization holds different standards. It's like comparing apples to oranges in many cases. I think that you need to make decisions on protocol based on merit vs rank.
 

Gyakuto

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Have them walk-in to a room abreast through a very wide door, dont line them up but stand them in circle, ask them to introduce themselves in order of seniority (that might give you clue of how they think the seniority lies) and have their food presented to them by individual servers, simultaneously.

I practise a very traditional Japanese martial art known for its nationalistic leanings (in Japan) and these sorts of issues would be unlikely to surface even amongst the senior Japanese teachers!
 
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Earl Weiss

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I'm glad I don't do TKD. I don't have the patience for all that, and would have even less patience when mixing orgs. Seems like built-in politics.
Sir, not politics really since several groups were in attendance. it is simple when it is only my "native ' group since we all pretty much know who is senior to whom.
It is just an element of courtesy to give seniors their due.
 
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Earl Weiss

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I attended a recent gathering where another person in attendance was a 9th Dan. (Actually a couple gatherings ) The host wanted us to enter in order of Seniority. I was not inclined to ask the other gentleman's history (although I later found out) nor was he apparently inclined to inquire about mine so I simply deferred to him out of courtesy. However, it is somewhat simplistic to determine simply who achieved what Dan Level when since on the one hand I achieved a higher Dan Number than my former instructor since he mostly retired from the art but I still consider him my senior and we may also know some who were our Juniors but promoted in a more expedited fashion from whatever organization or for whatever reason. I have some issues considering them as a "Senior".
 

skribs

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I attended a recent gathering where another person in attendance was a 9th Dan. (Actually a couple gatherings ) The host wanted us to enter in order of Seniority. I was not inclined to ask the other gentleman's history (although I later found out) nor was he apparently inclined to inquire about mine so I simply deferred to him out of courtesy. However, it is somewhat simplistic to determine simply who achieved what Dan Level when since on the one hand I achieved a higher Dan Number than my former instructor since he mostly retired from the art but I still consider him my senior and we may also know some who were our Juniors but promoted in a more expedited fashion from whatever organization or for whatever reason. I have some issues considering them as a "Senior".
Depending on the level of relationship, this could also be an opportunity to say, "That's what you get for retiring!"

If it's someone who would find it humorous, please use that. If not...please get someone to record you using that :p
 

Gwai Lo Dan

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I attended a recent gathering where another person in attendance was a 9th Dan. (Actually a couple gatherings ) The host wanted us to enter in order of Seniority. I was not inclined to ask the other gentleman's history (although I later found out)

All the talk of seniority reminds me of when a new young instructor joined our school for a few months. He had just graduated with a degree in TKD from univeristy in Seoul, and came to Canada to get some English experience before opening his own school in South Korea

Funny thing, he had no stripes on his belt. So 1 teenaged red belt asked his dan level. (The answer was 5th).

I didn't care what Dan he was...he was good and that was good enough for me!

I know it is not politically correct, but to me seniority is about who has the most experience and knowledge, regardless of dan. So age can come into it, as can dan (which brings a certain amount of knowledge you would think), as can success in competition, as can.....so many things!
 

Gerry Seymour

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Could be anything. If Seniors are to enter the room first with the most senior in the lead, who goes first. If you are introducing people in order of Seniority whether most Senior is first or last. Who gets served first at a meal etc.
Seniority is always subjective - do we go by years, rank, etc. In this context, Id say seniority is definitely not best represented by rank. Id give honored retired instructors their place of honor.
 

isshinryuronin

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A. My former instructor retired at a certain Dan level and while I was promoted to certain Dan levels beyond his before him, I will forever consider him my Senior.

On the other hand, I have a friend in the martial arts community who is extremely accomplished, is older than me, has been training and teaching longer than me, that is a more junior rank than me. The only reason he is junior to me in rank is because he does not belong to an organization that can promote him any higher. I treat him as my senior.

I would always treat my instructor as my senior, regardless of rank.
I agree with this. "Sempai" is the Japanese term referring to one who has seniority (time spent within a particular group) even if others are older or higher rank, especially if they were your instructor for any length of time.

A new Second Lieutenant outranks a Master Seargent, but there will be a big difference in the type of respect shown and the amount of influence each can exert.

I'm sure there are nuances that as a Westerner I would find confusing. Context and situation can play a part, depending on which particular group is in play (school, organization, system, social, outside MA groups...) and there may be overlapping groups.

Aside from the above, group dynamics will usually work to sort out the kind of seniority that is in play in a given situation, at least among knowledgeable and honorable people.
 

Gerry Seymour

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to me seniority is about who has the most experience and knowledge, regardless of dan.
I agree with this, though I - by habit - also observe seniority of rank. Much emphasis was put on this in the school I trained most of my time at (to the point that you'd lose seniority within your rank if you couldn't afford to pay for a month and a half and had to take a leave), so it's just kind of burned into my psyche.
 

JowGaWolf

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Just be respectful to all and of their position past and present.

Recognize them for their contributions in promoting TKD. I would also publicly mention the challenge of organizing such an event an apologize ahead of time for any misunderstandings standings. Then state your goals for the event and what you hope will be gained from it.

Set the tone for the event and the expectations for the behavior. Lead by example. Be sincere and share and display your passion for TKD. There will be things that you can't control, like other people's ego. When it comes to egos then you'll just have be the neutral party and not defend egos but to remind egos of that you are honored to have them there.
 

JowGaWolf

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This Situation is one of the things that makes me not want to be a Sifu.
 
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Earl Weiss

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I know it is not politically correct, but to me seniority is about who has the most experience and knowledge, regardless of dan.
This is difficult to impossible to quantify especially in a short period of time. Does someone have X decades of experience or the same experience repeated for X Decades? At some point each student should be able to surpass their instructor in knowledge since in succession each student should have a "better" instructor than their instructor had. Certainly this potential may not be realized. Nor may it be achievable so long as the Student's instructor continues to learn. In any event, IMO that does not mean the Student becomes the Senior to their instructor.
 
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