Shodan ego inflation

  • Thread starter angrywhitepajamas
  • Start date


How do any of you deal with a member of the dojo who just recieved his shodan and has become convinced of his invincibility and atrocious in form?? Im interested in hearing upper and lower rank perspectives and opinions. And does any one have any sugestions for politly pointing out those self same problems before they (or he) becomes the catalyst of dojo politics??
(Im curious because Im not the most perceptive person around)
If he just received his Shodan, then there must be other senior folks AND a chief instructor...

The chief instructor should establish, in writing, what his standards are...if part of a larger organization, use the organization standards...

Once that's been done (and it may already be done...ask) then simply say to this guy, "That's an intersting variation, why do you do it that way? Is it in your interpretation?" It points out that it's different without threatening him or his tender ego.

If he says, "This is the way it is supposed to be done..." say, "I'm sorry, it was my understanding, based on sensei xxxx's standards that it be done this way..."

Hope this helps.

I remember in the old days (I're all probably real tired of hearing about this stuff, but...), as soon as someone was promoted to shodan, the teacher and other seniors all helped "pound the nail back down." That is, the new shodan was taken through gruelling training with them, during which time they took turns pounding the stuffing out of him - just to let him know that he still didn't know squat and had just started his real training.

And that's all a shodan is; someone who has come to perform the basics well and who is now ready to start learning the real thing.
well said yilisifu i was about to say something very similar but i think you have put it much more tactfully lol... so ill just state that i feel the same way... been there done that on both sides of that situation
Shodan is the first black belt rank, right? Well, as someone who has also recently received his shodan:

I think the head instructor and senior black belts are responsible for keeping this individual in his place and in good form in 2 ways. The first way, like yilisifu said, is to beat the crud out of him and show him how invincible he is not. The second way, which can be just as humbling, is to have him instruct the lower belts (under supervision of course). If he truly deserves the rank he has been awarded, the experience of teaching should make him take another look at himself and realize his own flaws.

The combination of the two should keep him in place.

Does this mean I can pound Matt and Dennis????

Somehow I just have a real problem with the whole "he's a black belt, so I have to be nice and polite and deferential to him" thought...

So he's a black belt. So what. Say what you have to say, politely and tactfully (simply because courtesy demands no less), but don't feel you have to walk on egg shells... At least that's how it should be in my mind.

When folks try to act all deferential around me, I just push back even harder for them not to accept me for anything other than a rank beginner... I'm not "Older Brother," dammit!!! I'm just me, and me happens to have a lot left to learn!

As for the change, it is a common thing, in and out of MA. In the Army, you constantly see these newly promoted sergeants who forget that just yesterday they were one of the rank and file. They forget that just yesterday they were the junior enlisted guy being bossed around by that grey-haired, hard-nosed bastard of a sergeant. Today they think they rule the world. Happens with second lieutenants, too (they all seem to think they're MacArthur or Patton... don't know why, since they all seem to need help buttoning up their pants).

Don't sweat it. If it is a big enough problem, pull him to the side and privately ask him what you have to ask. If he is worthy of the belt, he should accept the critique. If he's a punk, and he starts getting cocky and tries to "pull rank," remind him you're not in the army, then go see the instructor...

And Chufeng... Why do you think you need to find a new reason to pound me? :D I let you pound me because the day ends in the last three letters "d..a..y!"

OK...Full colors for you on Saturday...bring the nice belt (satin) with the two red-stripes...wear it OVER your jacket, not under...

I'll wear yellow phtphthththpht...

Originally posted by chufeng
OK...Full colors for you on Saturday...bring the nice belt (satin) with the two red-stripes...wear it OVER your jacket, not under...

I'll wear yellow phtphthththpht...


See, you make one little comment, and then folks start gettin' all mean and stuff... :wah:

But if I bring the nice belt, and wear it over my jacket instead of under, then folks will think things... I gotta get a nice, shiny, new white belt... Then you can wear yellow all you want!

You're not serious, right...?

I apologize to the rest of this board for my intruding with personal requests for one of our senior students...

back to the subject, now...kick his ***...No, that wasn't it....
...don't step on his toes if he outranks you, use the chain of command...without looking like a tattle-tale...

I don't think I've helped much:(

good luck
I agree. In days of yore, the exercise of "pounding the nail back down" usually occured immediately following the the poor guy was exhausted to start with. He would have to do ALL of his forms with LOTS of critique and repetitions (and he'd better use plenty of power and celerity), then a lot of One-Step (done full-tilt boogie), followed by an inspiring session of sparring or freestyle one-step.

It wasn't unusual to see the poor fellow literally crawl out of the training area.

And if he puked or bled on the deck, he had to clean it up himself. Before he could rest or clean up.

Nowadays, too much emphasis is often put on the "black belt." People (including many martial arts practicioners) associate it with the term "expert" which, as Walt Whitman stated, is "anyone who can spit over a boxcar."
A shodan is no expert (whatever that is). He's done well and certainly accomplished something noteworthy but he needs to understand what it really means. ;)
it is one thing to be proud of your rank, and another to be egotistical. those who obtain the BB rank need to realize there is much more to learn. maybe if the instructor tested their knowledge on something they knew nothing about they would be a little bit embarrassed themselves.
Thanks for the advice. Ill try the subtle way, but I have to admit that he's 40 something and im only starting my twenties. If not ill have sensei introduce him to jyu-kumite, and jyu-waza to teach him control. Weve tried having him teach lower ranks, but he dosen't controll his hits. (he's the uke from hell in aikido parlance). So he is religated to just traing with the sensei. (He thinks that this is a good thing)

But thanks
some people must be shown to be taught. give it some time. he will come to realize that he is just like the rest of us on a never ending journey.... not superman :)
One thing you may want to remind the new shodan why you are beating the bajeezuz out of them is shodan means first level not "last level"or first grade, which means they only just graduated from kindergarten.
One thing you may want to remind the new shodan while you are beating the bajeezuz out of them is shodan means first level not "last level"or first grade, which means they only just graduated from kindergarten.
ha ha, we have this one a lot, hey i had it myself!!
we call it "dan grade syndrome" i try and avoid it with my students by telling them about it WAY before they are due to go dan grade, i then tell them how stupidly i acted when i was like that! we all have a laugh and they have a dig at me and so far this approach has worked for me.
the only time i've had to deal with one of these charectors in my class was a visiting black belt and therefor i had to be pretty diplomatic, after he told my students i had taught them kata wrong, and told them the self defence technique i was teaching didnt work( everyone is entitled to their oppinion) he tried beating up one of the girls in the class (during sparring), an orange belt 3 years his junior, so i unleashed the fury that was a student of mine dubed "pepperami" (if your not from england you probably wont get that!) a much smaller kid with the heart of a lion and a fight like a junkyard dog!
a small lesson in humility was learned by some, and a really good laugh was had by others!
I think it is pretty fair to say that most every "Sho" Dan gets a bit egoistical for the first few months after receiving their BB. Think about it...wouldn't you after working your *** off, sweating blood and whatever other hard work you have put into it for over 3 or 4 years...I would be pretty damn cocky myself for a bit.

And truth be told, I WAS for about 6 months until I basically realized how much of an *** I was being and after having numerous conversations with my seniors and juniors.

If the newly Sho-Dan isn't really a "liability" or hurting anyone physically then let him continue to make an *** out of himself. Eventually (hopefully) he'll realize it and stop. In the meantime choose to either not train with him OR train with him, but take the opportunity to work on your defense when he attacks and your offense when he defends in a different light. Try to feel how your body is now responding to the difference and try to recognize openings or opportunities etc.

Also make your feelings KNOWN! That is not being disrespectful if done correctly in my opinion.


Lord help me,
He is now my training partner for my dan test. Its gonna be a long summer full of testosteronetoxicitysyndrome.
Any tips on patience:eek:
Hehe....."What goes around, comes around". I think it's an old Chinese saying that "He who strikes with a sharp edge is not himself safe for long".

Sounds like our school got pretty lucky. About a year ago, the majority of our upper belt class earned their Black ranks. There were about five or so of us that had the privilege, and, I have to say, I have actually seen egos go *down*. I think that primarily comes because we are constantly training with a 4th degree and our head instructor, who is an 8th degree. There is never any doubt as to who the top dogs are, and how little we actually know.

I give a thumbs up to all those who point out that Black/Dan ranks are not the end of training. They are just the end of worrying about the pretty colored belt parade. Once you earn Black/Dan rank, you stop worrying about testing to get your next belt, and start realizing that all you have done is proven that you have learned enough basics to start learning "big people's" martial arts. In terms from our school, a Black Belt is an "advanced white belt". :D

I do find the concept of having a bigger ego at Black/Dan ranks to be funny.....aren't you supposed to have your eyes opened at that point? Again, at our school, when you have earned your Black, the upper belts stop going so easy on you. They figure that you are now ready to start learning seriously, and the standards bar gets raised that much higher. You learn a *lot*, but you gotta work hard to get it.

It's just like being a white belt all over again.

Man, I love it. :D