Observations....

A

A.R.K.

Guest
I apologize in advance for the length of my post.

Last week I received an anonymous email, the contents of which attempted to trash the character of a friend of mine in another martial art system who has a fraternal organization. I suppose I dont look at unsigned emails with much credibility especially if they have nothing but unkind content . I replied with who are you and why did I receive this email? I actually got a reply, to my surprise. It was a Professor so and so who is the President of such and such organizationthe ONLY organization on the planet to represent a particular government in the orient. The ONLY authorized 9th Dan in such and such system and ONLY he can authorize rank from this particular country in various disciplines. I was of course awe-struck and duly impressed. He also informed me that the previous [unsigned] email was sent to me at the request of another individual. So I contacted this individual via email and he had no knowledge of the email.

So I contacted the good Professor via email and asked him first, why he declined to take ownership of the original message? I also politely informed him that the other individual never requested that I be sent anything. I think he got a little miffed. He never answered as to why he neglected to put his name with the first email. He then stated that he simply confused the other individual with someone else. He then painted quite an unflattering picture of my friend stating he has NEVER had ANY rank in the martial arts and then he started in on me simply for being his friend.

I called the first man he named via the phone to find out the whole story and to why I was dragged into it. Come to find out, the man I was talking to was a new member of my friends organization. This gentleman found out that eight years ago my friend was arrested AND convicted of a crime. And he could not abide by being associated with a known criminal. He demanded his money back after receiving the various certificates my friends organization provides, most of which I found out was for shipping and handling. My friend could not honor the request because the money had already been used to obtain and send the certificates. The money would have come out of his pocket, and as he is on a fixed budget simply couldnt afford it anyway. Well this gentlemen got pissed and contacted the good professor who, come to find out, is in a competing organization which has been trying to put my friend out for years. Even though my friends organization is fraternal only and doesnt claim to speak for anyone, or any government.

I contacted my friend to let him know about the soap opera, he already knew. He confessed to me that the arrest and conviction part were true. He was arrested on a 2nd degree misdemeanor 8 years ago and convictedfor a $50 dollar fine. He told me what he had done to which I replied I was unaware that was even against the law.

In an attempt to clarify and perhaps reconcile this situation I emailed the professor. I indicated that while the charge of conviction was true, the facts of the matter were greatly exaggerated, and that we all have done things both willingly and unknowingly that could result in an arrest. He dropped that and proceeded to comment on my friends lack of rank and credentials in the martial arts. He stated that my friend made false claims of being associated with Oriental Masters. Well, to be honest, by this time the whole thing was getting tiresome. I told this gentleman that my friend had numerous photos of himself and men such as Mas Oyama at my friends dojo back in the 60s. Presentation certificates and plaques as well in addition to the photos. Then he backed off and said that yes my friend did have rankjust not the rank he claimed. I told him my friend had more years in the martial arts than either of us, had photos, certificates, video etc of him in this and other countries teaching with known martial artists all over the world. He has received invitations from foreign countries to come teach, which I have first hand knowledge of. How much more credibility did he need to be accepted in his eyes? Anyway, I told him that I just had no further interest in this topic and that if he had a problem it was his alone and that I was done with the correspondence. I bid him a nice day.

Now I went through all that to say this.

I have tried to stay out of the main stream martial arts world simply because of this type of politics and petty hatred. Not everyone is this way, but some are and it becomes frustrating. For example;

How many martial arts are there? Thousands? More then Im aware of. I learned of many just by browsing this site and was amazed.

Does every system have a belt rank structure? No of course not. But worldwide belts seem to have enjoyed widespread popularity and acceptance.

Are all belt rank structures equal? Again no, of course not. Colors are different, requirements are different, skills necessary are different, time for progression is different etc.

Even within the same or similar systems the requirements can be completely different. And a low ranking student of one system might easily take on or out a high-ranking master of another system because what is taught varies.

There are no universal regulations or standards within the martial arts community that encompasses every system. And of course there is no practical way there ever could be. It would seem that even within the same or similar systems it is difficult to maintain continuity.

As Ive mentioned before in other threads, what constitutes credibility or legitimacy? Who has the authority to issue rank? Where did rank come from? How did the original system/style Head founder obtain rank when he is the top? Only a few possible answers;

One way is to wave a wand a claim Foundership with the appropriate rank. Is this wrong? Well I suppose it depends on whom you talk to. If the individual is skilled and can teach well I suppose it is fine. If it is a scam then of course the answer is yes its wrong.

Another way would be for his students to promote him based on skill, knowledge, contributions etc out of respect. But then we have lower ranking people promoting a higher-ranking person. Is this wrong? If it is there are certainly several illegitimate styles out there.

A third way would be for a Grandmaster to grant permission to a high-ranking student to branch off and begin a new system. But then we have a person in style X giving rank to an individual in system Z. Is this wrong? Again, many systems are in trouble if it is.

Lastly from my research and view would be to obtain peer review from high-ranking members or founders in various systems to rate you and give you their blessing. This by the way is the method I chose. But is it right or wrong?

The answer of course is there is no right or wrong answer, it is all situational and effects and or reflects only the particular group that are involved. Ultimately we have ALL received rank from someone up the food chain who originally did NOT have rank in the system we study or teach in. That is an inescapable fact, but one that doesnt seem to effect people who wish to earn or wear rank. But this brings up the whole point of this rather lengthy dissertation. Since no one has ultimate authority in the martial arts, and since many avenues have been taken to arrive at the same placewhy do some people in the world feel it their lifes mission to put down those who choose a different path?

What is the ORIGINAL purpose of the martial arts? The very name gives away the answermartial. It is to fight or perhaps more politically correct to fight to defend ones life, loved ones or property. We can add more on of course but Im talking the essence. Yes some learn for sport, health, hobby etc but the root is always there. So if a man takes classes in a dojo for many years and earns a black belt that can be deemed as acceptable. But if another man takes lessons from a book or video [or both] and tests via the internet resources and is granted a black belt many would look down on it as unacceptable. Isnt the true test if either man is able to successfully defend himself from violent assault? If our internet man can do so does that bump him up a notch on the acceptability scale? Isnt the true worth what it means to the man and the people in his or her circles? If so then why is the martial arts world so saturated with people claiming others are fake or illegitimate?

Because of my job I have been very blessed to be trained by men whose names many would immediately recognize. This does not make me special and please dont think this is my point. But does the fact that theyve been in publicized fights or magazine articles in anyway lend to how credible I am? I have received certificates from them but not rank per se. On the flip side, my Dan rank comes from several men that I would be surprised if anyone here knows their names. No magazine articles or big time fights that Im aware of. Does this lessen my credentials or the worth of the Dan certificate that bears their names?

Can you see where I trying to head with all of this? It is all relative and subjective. We all have wall candy so to speak with someone elses name that thinks we have achieved whatever it is the certificate says. Chances are the majority of us wouldnt know the person who signed off on the certificates of any of the rest of us. Many it is simply some person somewhere saying for the public he or she believes you have reached a particular point. Whos to argue with him? It all comes back to you and your sense of self-worth and how you can handle yourself in a situation. Since we all know the stories of black belts getting their clocks cleaned by Joe street fighterits all relative and in the long run simply a status symbol.

I have heard many people say, I train for the knowledge, skill and enjoyment. I dont care anything about rank. If that is the case shouldnt they simply not wear or test for it anymore? I know, I know instructor wont let me. And in many cases that is a valid explanation. Ive seen peoples characters attacked for the merest supposed infraction, real or perceived. Can anyone say someone elses rank is invalid without first hand knowledge of them and their training? For that matter, as Ive said, what constitutes valid rank?

Anyway, Im getting writers cramp and Ive imposed on your time long enough. For anyone who actually had the patience to read through my ramblings I thank you humbly. These are just some things on my mind that I wanted to share that were touched of by politics involving someone I care about. Thanks for your time.

:asian:
 
JUST KIDDING!.......

Some valid positions within your disertation. Bottom line, I think you will never apease everybody. Just human nature. To many ego's and mine's better than your's attitudes. Dojo warriors and tournament fighters are plentyfull. The only thing that really matters is if you as a trained martial artist (don't care where you get your training), can survive on the street - no rules/ref/time outs/instructor to correct you, etc. Only a criminal intervention can prove your real worth and I hope that you and all that should read this post will never have to endure such an act.:asian:
 
Originally posted by Disco
JUST KIDDING!.......

Some valid positions within your disertation. Bottom line, I think you will never apease everybody. Just human nature. To many ego's and mine's better than your's attitudes. Dojo warriors and tournament fighters are plentyfull. The only thing that really matters is if you as a trained martial artist (don't care where you get your training), can survive on the street - no rules/ref/time outs/instructor to correct you, etc. Only a criminal intervention can prove your real worth and I hope that you and all that should read this post will never have to endure such an act.:asian:



I also agree with MRJ but I feel that what really matters is how you feel about yourself and your training, also ask the honest opinions of your peers and people you train with daily.
I also run into alot of "paper champions" that have plenty of paper credentials but no skills to back it up, I actually feel sorry for them! :asian:




:goop:
 
The only thing that really matters is if you as a trained martial artist (don't care where you get your training), can survive on the street - no rules/ref/time outs/instructor to correct you, etc. Only a criminal intervention can prove your real worth

Agree. Just seems some are very quick to judge without any firsthand information. It is all subjective and relative.

:asian:
 
I think the reason for the lack of interest in this thread is because everyones to lazy to read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:asian:



:flushed:





:goop:
 
Originally posted by Mya Ryu Jitsu
Agree. Just seems some are very quick to judge without any firsthand information. It is all subjective and relative.

:asian:

Yup. It's a common thing.

There was a thread on another discussion board about one of my instructors. People were bashing him because of the rank certifications listed on his website for him and his instructors. People just automatically assumed the guy, his system, and his school were scam artists.

And, to be honest, I thought similar things (or, at least, that they were paper tigers) when I first saw the website. But I figured, what the heck, I'm going to be nearby for a week, I may as well check it out.

When I got there, I found that, not only was the guy authentic and very good, he and his group were very open and friendly. I wound up moving 1000 miles to train with him.

Can't judge a book by its cover (or, in this case, a man by his website) but it's human nature to jump to conclusion. Because of this and other similar experiences I've had, I'm always careful to reserve judgment until I have firsthand experience. I don't always succeed, of course, but I do try.

A lot of people don't even try, though. They take second and third hand hearsay as gospel and they base their judgments on shaky grounds then argue that those grounds are completely stable.

Mike
 
Originally posted by DAC..florida
I think the reason for the lack of interest in this thread is because everyones to lazy to read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:asian:



:flushed:





:goop:

Very true......But I am half way through now :D
 
Can't judge a book by its cover (or, in this case, a man by his website) but it's human nature to jump to conclusion. Because of this and other similar experiences I've had, I'm always careful to reserve judgment until I have firsthand experience. I don't always succeed, of course, but I do try.
A lot of people don't even try, though. They take second and third hand hearsay as gospel and they base their judgments on shaky grounds then argue that those grounds are completely stable.

Very true and very unfortunate.

Interesting experience that you had with this instructor. What was the system?

:asian:
 
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