So, a brown belt walks in to your school...

Carol

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A friend of mine is an assistant instructor at a small school. She just ran in to a situation that may make for some good discussion.

A brown belt walks in to your school......and says that he's new in town, and wants to join up.

You do whatever it is that you that you do with prospective students that have a bit of experience....orientation, perhaps a few private lessons, a week or two of classes. He's seems like a decent enough guy. Everything about taking him on as a student seems good.

Until...you see him on the mat, and you notice that there is a big difference between him and your own brown belts. There are some techniques that he does differently than the way your brown belts do them. He can step through a form, but doesn't have the knowledge that your brown belts have. He doesn't move as cleanly and as confidently as your brown belts do. He doesn't have what it takes to be one of YOUR brown belts.

What would your approach be?
 

exile

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What would I do?

I'd keep him at brown belt till he comes up to speed. Tell him something like, we have a certain way of doing things here, my own brown belts don't advance till they've got it right, so if you want to be part of our school, the same constraints apply. You don't demote him; you just keep him at rank till he has retrained up to your standards. My own sense is, that's the most constructive way to handle the situation, the way that keeps everyone's integrity intact.
 

MJS

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A friend of mine is an assistant instructor at a small school. She just ran in to a situation that may make for some good discussion.

A brown belt walks in to your school......and says that he's new in town, and wants to join up.

You do whatever it is that you that you do with prospective students that have a bit of experience....orientation, perhaps a few private lessons, a week or two of classes. He's seems like a decent enough guy. Everything about taking him on as a student seems good.

Until...you see him on the mat, and you notice that there is a big difference between him and your own brown belts. There are some techniques that he does differently than the way your brown belts do them. He can step through a form, but doesn't have the knowledge that your brown belts have. He doesn't move as cleanly and as confidently as your brown belts do. He doesn't have what it takes to be one of YOUR brown belts.

What would your approach be?

Upon first glance at this, the first thing that came to my mind is that this brown belt is a video student, who purchased a belt and is trying to fool the school owner into actually believing that he has some skill. Then again, maybe he was fast tracked in his last school. Maybe he was given this belt when in reality he didn't deserve it, but the last teacher cared more about making a buck instead of the quality of the student.

Of course if we assume that is not the case, I think the first question that is IMO pretty common would be to inquire as to who this person trained with.

So, what would I do? Just what I said in my last paragraph...ask about his training history. Did this person come from a school that taught similar material? Ie: Tatum and Palanzo both teach Parker Kenpo, yet execution of each tech. may vary. I would certainly not promote him until he was brown belt material, and frankly, he should be in a beginner class until he gets up to speed, even if he is wearing a brown belt.
 

stickarts

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If the student comes from the same, or very similar, style as us I allow them to wear their belt however I let them know they cannot advance further until they come up to speed on our curriculum and are operating at that level. I always get a students backround before they take a class and I can usually tell pretty quickly if something seems suspicious.
If they come from a different style they need to start at white belt in our system.
I meet privately with the student and go over the expectations and discuss options on how we can help him / her progress.
 

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We actually had this happen in our school not too long ago. We had an individual come in as a brown belt under a pretty shady instructor. So our GM didnt even let him wear a belt for 6 months. After that 6 month probationary period was over he brought him down two belt ranks to a blue belt.
 

terryl965

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Easy explain the stituation and what I need for him to be what my school consider a Brown belt and let the chips fall as they might
 

Twin Fist

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let him wear his belt. Wether he is good enough or not isnt your call. He earned it from someone, so let him wear it.

BUT

warn him that if he spars wearing it, that your browns will fight him at brown belt level.

dont test him till he is good enough to pass your test.

this is not a complicated situation. I have not only been that guy, but i have known that guy too.
 

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A student isn't one of "mine" until I promote them. I'd be perfectly happy letting him keep his belt, but he wouldn't wear any of my school insignia, and he wouldn't teach for me even though a brown belt would normally be an assistant instructor. I've seen two things happen with this, one is that the person quits fairly quickly as they realize their old belt isn't really that high a level, or two, that they take off the brown, put on a white and start over.

I've worked out at several schools for an extended period of time, without ever having an intention of promoting under that instructor. They did the same thing, I wore a plain uniform and did not attempt to instruct their material, it seemed to work out fairly well.
 

tshadowchaser

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if he puts on your patch he needs to meet your standards.

If he wears his old patch let him wear the brown belt until he is ready to test for one in your school and then he puts on your patch and the belt
 

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maybe becasue our shcool is smaller (<50 adults), I think we would sign him up, patch him over, and just let him know that he has some catching-up to do before he get spromoted again. Maybe tell the others at his rank the same thing. I don't see any reason to make him feel excluded or second-class. If he's a faker, we'll know soon enough. If his previous school just wasn't that good, he'll get caught up...
 

14 Kempo

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We have this very situation, we honor the rank that was earned. We have many students that are coming over from a previous style that is very similar than ours. Our requirements are different. They where the rank earned, they wear our patch, they know that they need to make adjustments to get up to speed.

I might look at this differently if we had people coming over from an art that was completely different from ours. However, you've got to figure if a person is at the level of brown or black belt in any style, they know something, they aren't coming in with no experience. They may not know how you do things, but they do know something.
 

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In a way, this was me.

I had trained in Tracy kenpo many years ago and reached shodan. Then I drifted away from it for many years, while I trained in other, non-kenpo methods. A couple years ago I decided to return to my roots and see if I could retrain in my kenpo. I still remembered a lot, but I had also forgotten a lot, and at best I was very rusty with it.

So I found a very senior level instructor in Tracys, far senior to my first teachers, and began training with him. I was honest about my situation, and told him that I wanted to start over with it, from the ground up.

I even tried to put on a white belt, but he wouldn't allow that. He felt that I had earned my shodan, and I needed to keep that. But in the meantime, I would completely relearn it all. So I did. I was able to progress fairly quickly because it was all very familiar, but I learned it all over again, and not long ago I re-tested for shodan with him. That was my choice, he did not mandate that I re-test for shodan. But under the circumstances, I felt it was absolutely appropriate, so I did it. Now I am shodan under him, and am continuing my training forward.

I think given the circumstances, unless he comes from a VERY different kenpo system, it's OK to let him keep his belt. Just retrain him and go from there. No new material, no further ranking, until he is up to standard for the rank that he walked in with.

A friend of mine used to train with John Sepulveda, and he did the same thing. If a student earned rank with a different kenpo system, John would let him keep his belt, but he retrained up thru John's school in the meantime.
 

pete

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A friend of mine is an assistant instructor at a small school. She just ran in to a situation that may make for some good discussion.

A brown belt walks in to your school......and says that he's new in town, and wants to join up.

You do whatever it is that you that you do with prospective students that have a bit of experience....orientation, perhaps a few private lessons, a week or two of classes. He's seems like a decent enough guy. Everything about taking him on as a student seems good.

Until...you see him on the mat, and you notice that there is a big difference between him and your own brown belts. There are some techniques that he does differently than the way your brown belts do them. He can step through a form, but doesn't have the knowledge that your brown belts have. He doesn't move as cleanly and as confidently as your brown belts do. He doesn't have what it takes to be one of YOUR brown belts.

What would your approach be?

Teach him.
 
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Carol

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Easy....bring them up to the same level as the rest before moving forward.

Next question! :)

Next question is.....well....MJS mentioned that a student that fits this description may have been studying via video or some other dubious means.

I'm curious...would you do anything differently if you felt the guy was a fake?
 

Flying Crane

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Next question is.....well....MJS mentioned that a student that fits this description may have been studying via video or some other dubious means.

I'm curious...would you do anything differently if you felt the guy was a fake?

What does it matter? He's come into your school to learn, so teach him.
 

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Next question is.....well....MJS mentioned that a student that fits this description may have been studying via video or some other dubious means.

I'm curious...would you do anything differently if you felt the guy was a fake?

Fakes don't hang around very long when the orange belts are over in the corner arguing about who gets to take the brown belt first when its sparring night. And it they do, they will learn.
 

MJS

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Next question is.....well....MJS mentioned that a student that fits this description may have been studying via video or some other dubious means.

I'm curious...would you do anything differently if you felt the guy was a fake?

John Bishop has this great quote, something along the lines of, "Time will either promote you or expose you." That is soooo true. If in fact he was a video student, chances are, you're going to have to fine tune all of his basics anyways.

Would I question the guy? Sure, why not? I'd still teach the guy, if he wanted to be taught, but I'd make it clear that he, even moreso now, needs to start from ground zero. And if that means putting on a white belt, well, perhaps that would humble him a bit. :)
 
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Carol

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In the "real life" situation, the fellow was signed up, and his rank was honored. My friend seemed a bit uncomfortable with the honoring of his rank, but the head instructor feels that, once you are a student, you're family. You wear the same uniforms, etc, and the head instructor will say when he is ready to test.

If any of you have had to teach a student like this...have you found it to be more difficult than usual to keep them motivated?
 

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