Should Students under the Age of 16 be Black Belts?

Black Belt Jedi

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This topic can be quite a popular one when talking about Martial Arts in the modern world. I was wondering if any of you agree if Karate students under 16 should be Black Belts? I see that being a Black Belt has so much responsibility from not only teaching classes for all age groups, but having the right attitude and being a good role model for others.

Any thoughts?
 

MJS

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This topic can be quite a popular one when talking about Martial Arts in the modern world. I was wondering if any of you agree if Karate students under 16 should be Black Belts? I see that being a Black Belt has so much responsibility from not only teaching classes for all age groups, but having the right attitude and being a good role model for others.

Any thoughts?

In a nutshell, no. Does it happen? Sadly, way too often.
 

Aiki Lee

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I don't think it's always unacceptable for younger teens to have black belts as long as they demonstrate the appropriate skill and attitude. Should they run classes, absolutely not. Adults don't want to be taught by kids, and kids don't have the experience neccessary to handle a teaching position.

A youth black belt doesn't bother me as long as the expectations of him or her are no different than for those of an adult.
 

Aiki Lee

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my karate history is a bit lacking, but Toshitsugu Takamatsu recived menkyo at the age of 13 in koto ryu and shinden fudo ryu, so even 100years ago it might not have been that uncommon.
 

Manny

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No.They should not, period. In TKD (the art I do) there is pletora of children firsth or second poom (the junior equivalent to 1st or 2nd dan) and believe they lack the training and understanding of the martial arts. I think the minimun age to become a shodan must be 16 and this only to kids that really deserve it as a special thing because of the trajectory, maturity and hard work.

I made my shodan at 20 and believe me I treasure that moment for ever something a kid must not, I did my nidan at 42 and it really makes me feel sad to see so youn kids having high grades in martial art.

The kids or the majprity of kids see martial arts like some kind of play, and it's not.

Manny
 

Cyriacus

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Personally, im all for the idea of Junior Black Belts.
Being a Black Belt implies Understanding the Fundaments leading up to that point.
And i do not believe anyone under the Age of 16 can reasonably do that.
HOWEVER, holding a Student back due to their Age is unproductive. Hence, make them a Junior Black Belt. In other words, a Brown Belt who could pass a Black Belt Exam, and who wears a Black Belt with a White Stripe or something. Then, when hes old enough, he re-does the Exam to prove he hasnt lost his edge, and ranks up to Black Belt.

Just my contribution.
 

jks9199

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Should students under 16 be promoted to black belt?

No. And yes.

No. Not in my style. We've set the minimum age as 18. We backed it down from 21 a few years back. That's been our choice, based on our expectations for black belts.

Yes, in some styles. If their definition of black belt permits promotion at 16, and the student in question meets the criteria.

It really comes down to definitions of black belts. There just is no one, solid definition of a black belt. In some cases, black belts are expected to be teachers and to have mastered the art. In others, it simply means you're ready for the advanced material. At the outset, it was just a way to differentiate between beginners and "serious" students...

As a side note, to those commenting about various historic or legendary people being granted menkyo kaiden or other similiar status at young ages... The comparison isn't valid. First, these were frequently people raised within the style, learning it from childhood on almost as pervasively as language or culture. Second, the title isn't the same. A menkyo kaiden indicates full transmission and full teaching authority of the art.
 

Aiki Lee

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As a side note, to those commenting about various historic or legendary people being granted menkyo kaiden or other similiar status at young ages... The comparison isn't valid. First, these were frequently people raised within the style, learning it from childhood on almost as pervasively as language or culture. Second, the title isn't the same. A menkyo kaiden indicates full transmission and full teaching authority of the art.

Yes but that's my point. If a 13 year old can be dedicated and obtain teaching authority, then a teen in today's age could very well be dedicated enough to at least earn his 1st dan. A child raised in martial arts with a desire and eagerness to learn, should be no different than the historical example I provided. Let's also not forget that having a 1st dan in no way makes a person an expert. It's really just evidence that the student has practiced the basic movements enough to begin a level of training that goes beyond the fundamentals. I think it is rare for a youth to be qualified enough to deserve a black belt, but then it was rare back in the day for a 13 year old to be qualified enough to be granted menkyo kaiden. I think the comparisons are quite valid.
 

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we have a 13 year old 2nd dan black belt in our group. he doesnt often train at my dojo so i've only seen him a couple of times but when our usual assistant was off he was helping our sensei out and taking me through everything i needed for my grading.

im 29, he's 13 and he's teaching me.

its a little strange but he was professional, mature and made the proper comments to correct any stances, positions i wasnt doing correctly.

as long as they can not only show the skill but show the right mentality as well i see no reason why a minor cannot achieve black belt as someone over 16 would be able to
 

chinto

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THE SIMPLE ANSWER IS NO. Importunately it does happen a lot. I would say no black belt under 18 in at least North America as in that aria a black belt is seen as some kind of expert in unarmed combat. It is not true of course, especially at shodan, but still police, judges and jurymen see it that way. I think it puts the black belt under 18 in real risk of being treated as an adult after a confrontation at school or where ever that they other wise would not be. with very negative resultes for that individual.

as to under 15 its usually ridiculous! I have seen some who are under 10, and it would be laughable if not so sad.
 

stickarts

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Our younger students may earn a Junior Black Belt. We do have general guidelines regarding ranking and age, however, I take a close look at each student on a case by case basis too. Also, once a student reaches eligible age to test for full Black it doesn't necessarily mean that they automaticlaly will test. If they are ready they will, if not they will be told what is needed.
 

sfs982000

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we have a 13 year old 2nd dan black belt in our group. he doesnt often train at my dojo so i've only seen him a couple of times but when our usual assistant was off he was helping our sensei out and taking me through everything i needed for my grading.

im 29, he's 13 and he's teaching me.

its a little strange but he was professional, mature and made the proper comments to correct any stances, positions i wasnt doing correctly.

as long as they can not only show the skill but show the right mentality as well i see no reason why a minor cannot achieve black belt as someone over 16 would be able to

I have a similar situation at my school, we have a 16 year old 3rd Dan, he doesn't actually teach any classes by himself, but he does assist when we break out into groups. He does have a good head on his shoulders and acts very professionally for his age so I don't have a problem with him assisting when asked or needed.
In regards to the OP question, I don't necessarily have a problem with kids under the age of 16 earning their black belt, but it also depends on the maturity level of the individual. Some kids are more mature than others, but at the same time I would not expect those Jr. black belts to actually teach classes on thier own, without another qualified adult teacher.
 

Cyriacus

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we have a 13 year old 2nd dan black belt in our group. he doesnt often train at my dojo so i've only seen him a couple of times but when our usual assistant was off he was helping our sensei out and taking me through everything i needed for my grading.

im 29, he's 13 and he's teaching me.

its a little strange but he was professional, mature and made the proper comments to correct any stances, positions i wasnt doing correctly.

as long as they can not only show the skill but show the right mentality as well i see no reason why a minor cannot achieve black belt as someone over 16 would be able to
Quick Question - Was he correcting things in a way that implied that he just had a damn good Memory, or in a way that implied that he understood what he was Correcting?
Just a detail.
 

MJS

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Personally, im all for the idea of Junior Black Belts.
Being a Black Belt implies Understanding the Fundaments leading up to that point.
And i do not believe anyone under the Age of 16 can reasonably do that.
HOWEVER, holding a Student back due to their Age is unproductive. Hence, make them a Junior Black Belt. In other words, a Brown Belt who could pass a Black Belt Exam, and who wears a Black Belt with a White Stripe or something. Then, when hes old enough, he re-does the Exam to prove he hasnt lost his edge, and ranks up to Black Belt.

Just my contribution.

IMO, I'd rather see a Jr. BB being used, rather than a 5yo 2nd degree, which is a joke! Personally, I'm not in favor of kids under 12 training anyways, but thats another thread. So, for discussion purposes....kid starts training at age 10. God forbid he/she actually waits, instead of getting upset because the 'time standards' have elapsed, give them the Jr. BB. When they're old enough, mature enough, for the full BB, they take an adult BB test.
 

MJS

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Yes but that's my point. If a 13 year old can be dedicated and obtain teaching authority, then a teen in today's age could very well be dedicated enough to at least earn his 1st dan. A child raised in martial arts with a desire and eagerness to learn, should be no different than the historical example I provided. Let's also not forget that having a 1st dan in no way makes a person an expert. It's really just evidence that the student has practiced the basic movements enough to begin a level of training that goes beyond the fundamentals. I think it is rare for a youth to be qualified enough to deserve a black belt, but then it was rare back in the day for a 13 year old to be qualified enough to be granted menkyo kaiden. I think the comparisons are quite valid.

Good points. I'm sure there are those 'rare' cases, but if I were to walk into a dojo, and was taught by someone young enough to be my child, they damn well better be capable of answering more than 50% of any questions I ask. If they can't, then IMO, they have no business wearing a BB. No, the BB doesnt make someone an expert, though thats the impression it gives, but if you're going to wear it, you better be able to meet some sort of standards.
 

jks9199

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Quick question-how in the world would a student know and tell the difference?
Just a detail.

"No, no, it's full step - rising block - punch" vs. "No, it's a full step. See, how that gets you out of the way? Rising block -- because the attack is coming from this line or this line. (If it was here, you could do this instead...)"

In other words -- some depth of knowledge and understanding can be perceived, even by someone who doesn't know it themselves yet.
 

elder999

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"No, no, it's full step - rising block - punch" vs. "No, it's a full step. See, how that gets you out of the way? Rising block -- because the attack is coming from this line or this line. (If it was here, you could do this instead...)"

In other words -- some depth of knowledge and understanding can be perceived, even by someone who doesn't know it themselves yet.

Maybe, but:

we have a 13 year old 2nd dan black belt in our group. he doesnt often train at my dojo so i've only seen him a couple of times but when our usual assistant was off he was helping our sensei out and taking me through everything i needed for my grading.

im 29, he's 13 and he's teaching me.

its a little strange but he was professional, mature and made the proper comments to correct any stances, positions i wasnt doing correctly.



Based on what he said, what's the difference?Just for arguments sake, let's say he was only pointing out how bent the knee should be in a front stance, or hand placements, or some such, rather than movements-how is a student supposed to tell?

More to the point, it would depend an awful lot on how their teacher taught movements and stances himself-and, if they were taught that kind of understanding, they'd have that understanding before being ranked shodan, wouldn't they?
 

Brian R. VanCise

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In Instinctive Response Training the juniors or younger people that I teach are striving simply to get better. They may be promoted once a year or twice. There goal is to improve and truthfully ranks are not very important. My goal for them is that when they reach eighteen they will be able to achieve an adult rank in our system. After that if they have the skill sets and the drive they probably will advance fairly quickly and also have tremendous depth of knowledge at that point as well. The model I use is similar to that used in Brazilian Jiujitsu with a seperate ranking system for kids and teens. So they are achieving and learning appropriately and as they mature they move into the adult system and continue on. This definitely helps with quality control! So far while I teach only a few kids and teens it has worked perfectly! Kids/Teens: white, yellow, oarnge, green with stripes in between. (ie. green belt/blue stripe) Adults: White, blue, red and black! We do not put a major emphasis whether teens or adults on rank. Instead the emphasis is on treating everyone the same. Everyone goes by their first name and simply just improving and getting better! ;)

Our curriculum is also geared towards age appropriate material at every level!

So far this has worked great!
 

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