Putting the black belt on a pedestal

K-man

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Hmm all this talk of seppuku is how to put this not entirely correct or, in places, only correct in places (and times, and so forth) and I don't think entirely in keeping with this line of discussion. If I'm not mistaken, K-man initially brought it up as a tongue-in-cheek comment about Japanese losing it's quite a deep topic, and one that isn't commonly described lightly
Alas, yet another example of the lack of suitable emoticons. But hopefully the cheesy grin helped give that impression. :D
 

Zero

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Hmm all this talk of seppuku is how to put this not entirely correct or, in places, only correct in places (and times, and so forth) and I don't think entirely in keeping with this line of discussion. If I'm not mistaken, K-man initially brought it up as a tongue-in-cheek comment about Japanese losing it's quite a deep topic, and one that isn't commonly described lightly
Why don't you start it off as a deeper topic somewhere more appropriate (I thought my references to it were pretty correct, but had also raised it more as a joke initially)? I have just re-read Hagakure by Tsunetomo and all the references to Seppuku and Tsuifuku made quite an impression but I am not going to open myself up with a can-opener anytime soon.
 

Chris Parker

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Hey, Zero,

A couple of reasons for one, I'm not fond of public discussions of such ideas for another, it is really a fair bit beyond the conversation here (even in a new thread) there's a couple more, but they're the main ones.

With regards to Hagakure, it's a very interesting tome but isn't really definitive the way it's often taken and most of the stories surrounding such ideas are more about the edges rather than the spine, so to speak.
 
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PhotonGuy

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So anyway, in this other thread somebody pointed out that if they didn't use rank in the martial arts that would be like if they were to get rid of medals in the military, medals given out for acts of valor, ect. I said that it would be more like getting rid of rank but then somebody pointed out that you can't get rid of rank in the military because of how the military is based on a hierarchy that is determined by rank and that not all dojos are like that. So, I would say a better comparison would be if they were to get rid of letter grades in school, (A, B, C, D, F) that would be more like getting rid of martial arts rank whether its shown by belts or otherwise.
 

Zero

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So anyway, in this other thread somebody pointed out that if they didn't use rank in the martial arts that would be like if they were to get rid of medals in the military, medals given out for acts of valor, ect. I said that it would be more like getting rid of rank but then somebody pointed out that you can't get rid of rank in the military because of how the military is based on a hierarchy that is determined by rank and that not all dojos are like that. So, I would say a better comparison would be if they were to get rid of letter grades in school, (A, B, C, D, F) that would be more like getting rid of martial arts rank whether its shown by belts or otherwise.

I'm trying to work this out. So not giving kids exam marks is the same as taking away belt ranks?

How many dojos are you aware of that don't operate on some form of hierarchy interconnected with rank? Am yet to come across a school run by something akin to a white belt (although technically speaking, while it may not be the most successful, there is probably no hurdle in certain styles for a white-belt to own a school...)

It didn't come from you I take it but for me the idea of equating belts/ranks to that of military medals chaffs somewhat.
 

Hanzou

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There's quite a few MAs out there that don't have rank at all. Boxing and MMA immediately come to mind, and they're working out just fine.

Interestingly, one of the reasons I chose Bjj over MMA was the belt system.
 

ballen0351

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I'm trying to work this out. So not giving kids exam marks is the same as taking away belt ranks?

How many dojos are you aware of that don't operate on some form of hierarchy interconnected with rank? Am yet to come across a school run by something akin to a white belt (although technically speaking, while it may not be the most successful, there is probably no hurdle in certain styles for a white-belt to own a school...)

It didn't come from you I take it but for me the idea of equating belts/ranks to that of military medals chaffs somewhat.
The Aikido dojo I go to everyone wears a white belt
 

ballen0351

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I know that's not what you ment but it was funny when I read that because my teachers had a white belt on for like 40 years
 

Zero

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The whole belt thing is not something one should hopefully even get that wound up about. I was told when I started in goju ryu that back in the day they didn't even train at the dojo in Gis but instead turned up and rock n rolled in their work clothes and that the whole belt concept only followed on much later (...only what I was told, I haven't really looked into that historically). There must be some truth in that as I am sure I recall seeing old plate photos, or maybe it was drawings, of the old guard and they were not wearing belts of Gis.
 
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PhotonGuy

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I'm trying to work this out. So not giving kids exam marks is the same as taking away belt ranks?

How many dojos are you aware of that don't operate on some form of hierarchy interconnected with rank? Am yet to come across a school run by something akin to a white belt (although technically speaking, while it may not be the most successful, there is probably no hurdle in certain styles for a white-belt to own a school...)

It didn't come from you I take it but for me the idea of equating belts/ranks to that of military medals chaffs somewhat.

As other posters have said, some styles and some places don't use rank. Every place has a hierarchy of course but that hierarchy can be instructor/student and nothing more. The instructor leads the class, the students follow, and that's the hierarchy. It wasn't me who equated martial arts rank with military medals, it was somebody else on the forms although I don't remember who. If you ask me, medals and trophies that you might win at martial arts tournaments would be a better thing to equate to military medals. Martial arts rank would be better equated to military rank but that is not the best comparison either because the military always uses rank and has to and the martial arts doesn't always use rank and doesn't always have to. So I think that a better comparison for martial arts rank would be letter grades in school.
 
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PhotonGuy

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I know that's not what you ment but it was funny when I read that because my teachers had a white belt on for like 40 years
Maybe they were in a style that didn't use rank and the white belt was simply part of the uniform and had nothing to do with rank. There's some chinese styles where you wear a uniform with a red belt. You go in with a red belt and you go out with a red belt and neither your belt nor anything else with your uniform changes due to rank because they don't use rank.
 

Tez3

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If you ask me, medals and trophies that you might win at martial arts tournaments would be a better thing to equate to military medals.

Well, no. Military medals, at least in our Armed Forces are given for specific reasons, long service, bravery and campaigns. They aren't competed for and they aren't given for minor things.
 

Carol

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There is a hierarchy even in schools without rank. I have trained in locations that did not have belt ranks or even a formal uniform code. Yet there was still no doubt who the instructors were, and who the more senior students were. For that matter, once we were on the mat, I don't think any of us had any trouble determining where another person's skill level was in relation to our own.
 

ballen0351

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Maybe they were in a style that didn't use rank and the white belt was simply part of the uniform and had nothing to do with rank. There's some chinese styles where you wear a uniform with a red belt. You go in with a red belt and you go out with a red belt and neither your belt nor anything else with your uniform changes due to rank because they don't use rank.
Ya think
 

Chris Parker

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Maybe they were in a style that didn't use rank and the white belt was simply part of the uniform and had nothing to do with rank.

Very true. The thing to remember about the idea of coloured belts is that it's a very modern thing stemming from Kano's introduction/application of the kyu-dan ranking system (taken from the game Go) in the late 19th/early 20th Century, and adopted by many others after that.

Many of the older Japanese systems continue to not have any similar ranking, using menkyo (licences) instead with no external indication as to the rank itself, in many cases. Then you have some systems who date their methods back to the usage of armour and, traditionally, the belt worn with Japanese armour was always white as a result, some of these systems use a white belt throughout their training, with no connection to rank at all, as it represents the belt worn in armour.

There's quite a few MAs out there that don't have rank at all. Boxing and MMA immediately come to mind, and they're working out just fine.

Interestingly, one of the reasons I chose Bjj over MMA was the belt system.

This intrigues me I train a number of systems, some of which have ranking with external indication (belts), others have ranking with no external indication (or, at least, not overtly noticeable and not definitively used, either), and others with no ranking. The ranking hasn't been a part of my decision making at any point, as I never really thought about it as a factor I'm interested as to what it was about the belt ranking that attracted you? I can think of a few reasons, but am curious to understand yours.
 

DennisBreene

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The belt I tend to notice is the tattered grey belt. To me it denotes someone who has been active for many years. Individual abilities and school criteria aside, such dedication to training over the years is worthy of respect.
 

Hanzou

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This intrigues me I train a number of systems, some of which have ranking with external indication (belts), others have ranking with no external indication (or, at least, not overtly noticeable and not definitively used, either), and others with no ranking. The ranking hasn't been a part of my decision making at any point, as I never really thought about it as a factor I'm interested as to what it was about the belt ranking that attracted you? I can think of a few reasons, but am curious to understand yours.

I simply prefer it. Every martial art I've done since I was a child has utilized the belt system and the gi/kimono, so I'm simply more comfortable with it. So I probably shouldn't say its just the belt, its the entire aesthetic of the gi and belt that attracts me. It's also probably one of the reasons I never practiced a Chinese martial art.
 

Chris Parker

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Cool, thanks for that I was wondering if it was because it gives specific goals to strive for. That all makes sense (the familiarity). Thanks for answering.
 
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