Standards For An Adult Black Belt

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
430
Location
Cromwell,CT
Hopefully the Jr. BB thread will be reopened soon, but in the meantime, I figured we could discuss the standards for an adult Black Belt. What standards do you have in place?
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,985
Reaction score
7,541
Location
Covington, WA
This remains a subject that I think is interesting. I still feel that any school or system that considers a black belt to be anything other than an expert is actually misleading most prospective and some current students, as well as the general public.

In BJJ, a black belt is considered to be an expert. Not superman, but a real expert with a deep understanding of the techniques and tactics of groundfighting and a lot of mat time. The understanding and expertise of a BJJ black belt is both practical and academic. In other words, they know a lot about BJJ and can actually DO it.

My impression based upon a lot of discussion with guys outside of BJJ is that a high blue or certainly a purple belt is the equivalent of a black belt in most systems. A blue belt should understand and apply the basics with some level of proficiency and has a foundation for learning more advanced tactics. Purple belts run quality schools in some places, but usually as an affiliate to a school with a black belt.
 

Twin Fist

Grandmaster
Joined
Mar 22, 2008
Messages
7,185
Reaction score
210
Location
Nacogdoches, Tx
there are not many schools ran by 1st Dans in traditional systems.

I would say that that the BJJ BB, from what you have said is closer to the 2nd Dan in most systems.

In terms of time spent studying, it is pretty close based on what I have heard about time in grade for BB in BJJ

here is the trick tho, those standards BJJ has NOW? they are gonna change.

It is easy to regulate standards where there was only the Gracies and the Machados teaching it.

But that will change, just wait, I predict in 20 years, BJJ and what skill level at what belt will be a LOT more like what TKD has today.
 

Twin Fist

Grandmaster
Joined
Mar 22, 2008
Messages
7,185
Reaction score
210
Location
Nacogdoches, Tx
I hope not as well, but it is pretty much the nature of martial arts.

the further you get from the source, the more watered down it gets.

trust me, the karate guys in the 60's? the first generation? they were experts at BB. and it took some of them around 10 years to get there, just like it is now in BJJ. Sure there were superstars, like Joe Lewis, but even BJJ has those people that just GET IT, like BJ Penn.

I mean, think about 1960. There was basically 3 guys teaching, Trias in Arizona, Parker in California, and Urban in New York

all thier BB's were incredibly good. Then those people opened schools,and then their students opened schools, and now there are 7-10 generaltions removed from the source, and look at what we have...

look what has happened in the last few decades to karate. Thats the future of BJJ.
 
OP
M

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
430
Location
Cromwell,CT
IMHO, a BB is one goal and yet its the beginning of another. The learning or training really doesn't stop there, although some people think that it does. The BB test, I feel should be the most demanding, both physically and mentally. The student should be pushed pretty much to the point of exhaustion. Every punch, kick, strike, technique, and kata should be shown.

Mentally, they should be put in various random situations, to see how they perform. They should be able to explain, in detail, various things from the art. This can range from breaking down parts of kata, having them come up with a few applications, all the way to fine points of techniques.

The material should be done with power, proper footwork, stances, etc. Its perfectly normal to be nervous when under pressure, however, the mistakes should be limited. There is a difference, IMO, between a small 'brain fart' and standing there not knowing what to do at all.

Of course, standards will vary from art to art, teacher to teacher.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
21,985
Reaction score
7,541
Location
Covington, WA
I hope not as well, but it is pretty much the nature of martial arts.

the further you get from the source, the more watered down it gets.

trust me, the karate guys in the 60's? the first generation? they were experts at BB. and it took some of them around 10 years to get there, just like it is now in BJJ. Sure there were superstars, like Joe Lewis, but even BJJ has those people that just GET IT, like BJ Penn.

I mean, think about 1960. There was basically 3 guys teaching, Trias in Arizona, Parker in California, and Urban in New York

all thier BB's were incredibly good. Then those people opened schools,and then their students opened schools, and now there are 7-10 generaltions removed from the source, and look at what we have...

look what has happened in the last few decades to karate. Thats the future of BJJ.
NooooooooOOOoooo!!! :D In all seriousness, your point is well made. I understand. Makes me glad I'm in relatively early.
 

Twin Fist

Grandmaster
Joined
Mar 22, 2008
Messages
7,185
Reaction score
210
Location
Nacogdoches, Tx
hope you're right Steve.

Now then, my standards for BB?

to be able to not only DO the techniques, correctly, with speed and power and balance, but be able to explain WHY each movement is the way it is.

I am not a big believer in the whole "he is as good as a BB but he cant teach" thing. I figure if you cant teach, you shouldnt be a BB
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
3-5 years (average) of consistant regular hard training by someone that has reasonable athletic ability. They have to be proficient at being able to work techinques in and through the various ranges of fighting with an emphasis on stand-up. Aside from the take-downs and joint locks and other compliance holds, our grappling tends to be more about escaping back to one's feet. Like Sijo Emperado said "Stun em, give em the works and then finish them off on the ground."

They have to know all of the required grab arts, punch counters, knife and club counters, forms, two and three man defenses etc.

Most of all, they have to love to bang away. Contact is a big part of our training. If you're not comfortable with it, you will not last very long in Kajukenbo. Certainly not long enough to get close to black belt.
 

Rabu

Green Belt
Joined
Jun 2, 2007
Messages
174
Reaction score
6
Location
Madison Wisconsin
How many mat hours in that 3-5 years? If those hours were achieved at a faster pace and the practitioner met or exceeded the standards, would they be eligable for promotion sooner?
I would say that looking at how judo promotes would be a good start. Accumulated mat hours and knowledge as well as execution in matches for promotion.

Black Belt should not be meant as a 'teaching' rank at all. It should mean only that the person has the foundation of the system and has met requirements set forth in advance for the acheivement of 'membership' at that level and should be specific to an organization.

Effectively 'senior member in good standing'. A title specifc to the organization should denote status as a teacher or position greater than 'member in good standing'.

Just a few pennies,

Rob
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
How many mat hours in that 3-5 years? If those hours were achieved at a faster pace and the practitioner met or exceeded the standards, would they be eligable for promotion sooner?

Rob

Depends, but 1000 to 2000 hours of mat training is probably average if the person was also working on their stuff at home putting in that same amount of time on most days of the week when not in class.

Clearly the reason that there is a range is to account for various starting abilities. If someone has a black belt in Kenpo, Karate, judo or Jujutsu, they will likely advance faster than someone with no experience since their basics are already there.

Of course these are just the physical things that make for a black belt. There are other qualities as well.
 

Rabu

Green Belt
Joined
Jun 2, 2007
Messages
174
Reaction score
6
Location
Madison Wisconsin
That feels right to me Dan, thanks.

The reason I asked was the difference I have seen in regards to the intensity of the training of people from different backgrounds. It certainly also allows for the 'miracle' black belts who promote extremely fast.

How can you compare someone training for the olympics, working out for most of the day for years to compete and someone who goes to class after a day at the office to unwind? That was the point of my challenge to the 'years of time' mark. It also answers the question of whether martial training would be worthwhile for a military. If your training for 12 hours a day or more, in a fairly short time you fail out or become competent. It would add to the legitimacy of the ranking as a general measurement IMHO.

REgards,

Rob
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
That feels right to me Dan, thanks.

The reason I asked was the difference I have seen in regards to the intensity of the training of people from different backgrounds. It certainly also allows for the 'miracle' black belts who promote extremely fast.

How can you compare someone training for the olympics, working out for most of the day for years to compete and someone who goes to class after a day at the office to unwind? That was the point of my challenge to the 'years of time' mark. It also answers the question of whether martial training would be worthwhile for a military. If your training for 12 hours a day or more, in a fairly short time you fail out or become competent. It would add to the legitimacy of the ranking as a general measurement IMHO.

REgards,

Rob

Again, we're just talking about the physical side here. Sport Judo tends to award points for competitions etc. and once you've accumulated enough of them, you get your rank.

In Kajukenbo, it's much more of a family organization. Respect, loyalty, Ohana Spirit etc. are all essential components as well. In fact, that's the stuff that will remain after one is no longer able to train hard or at all. Once you're Kajukenbo, you're in for life. You might piss off someone etc., but that's still part of the family context. Sijo said one time he was like a father. He had good kids and bad kids, but they were still his kids and none of them could talk badly about him without also talking badly about themselves. We're all brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties in this Ohana.

When you realize this, you don't want to promote someone to black in Kajukenbo without some serious consideration going into it. There are a lot of physically gifted people out there that I wouldn't promote if they couldn't have that Ohana spirit. This can take some time to determine.
 

Twin Fist

Grandmaster
Joined
Mar 22, 2008
Messages
7,185
Reaction score
210
Location
Nacogdoches, Tx
this is particuarly interesting to me since I am hoping to start kaju soon. yes I am old, and out of shape, but with my background in TKD and Kenpo, I thin I will do ok. Plus i LIKE getting hit.
 

Kreth

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 26, 2003
Messages
6,980
Reaction score
86
Location
Oneonta, NY
I think in most traditional Japanese systems, a shodan is not an expert per se, but someone who has demonstrated mastery of the basics. IMO, a shodan should be able to proficiently demonstrate any basic you ask of him/her.
 

CDKJudoka

Purple Belt
Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Messages
346
Reaction score
13
Location
Hicksville, NY
I have always been of the mind that BB is very far from expert. They may have a great grasp of the basics, but they are in no way an expert. I hold two BBs, a chodan and an edan, and I still see myself as a beginner who does beginner stuff really well.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

Senior Master
Joined
Mar 9, 2004
Messages
2,228
Reaction score
113
Location
Dana Point, CA
Hopefully the Jr. BB thread will be reopened soon, but in the meantime, I figured we could discuss the standards for an adult Black Belt. What standards do you have in place?

I have some standards I use strictly as guidelines. 5 to 8 years is approximate timeline, but have had some take longer, some shorter. For me, there is a level of skill embodiment I look for. If they have 15 years in brown belt and still ain;t got it, then they stay brown. If they get it in a year, I will award them black.

To me, it represents a certain level of ownership with the material. Different people own things at different rates. It takes as long as it takes.

But then, I don't do it for a living, and have failed at 3 studio attempts because I couldn't compete with the guys down the street who were giving it away. Ah, well...whaddyagonnado.

D.
 

SL4Drew

Green Belt
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
157
Reaction score
8
I tend to look at standards from a systemic perspective, e.g. at this level, the person should be 'A' for that system and or school. I persist in my belief there are no minimum, universal standards for black.

The belt system, which is relatively modern, was a creation of Kano to deal with the nationwide adoption of Judo. It was basically used to divide people (mainly youngsters in Japanese schools) for competition and training. And under this regime, black only represented a minimum competency with basic skills. So, historically speaking, you weren't an expert at black, only an advanced beginner.

I really wish he'd have found some other way to distinguish between students on the floor then the belts...imagine martial arts with people worrying about the color of 'cloth trophy' around theirs and others' waists...it isn't hard to do...
 

Kenpo17

Green Belt
Joined
Jan 12, 2009
Messages
109
Reaction score
1
Location
Maryland
I myself as a 2nd Degree Black Belt hold myself to high standards, and after 10 years of training, I should hold myself to high standards. Whenever I do a form wether it is form 1, or form 5, I do it to the best of my ability everytime. Sometimes I might pause for a second or two to check my stances in the mirror, make sure my blocks are strong, and I extend my punches, ridge-hands all the way out. It is especially important to pay attention to your range of punches, and stances in forms, since when you disect the forms and do each technique individually, you practice them like you would if you were attacked on the streets. You don't have time to pause and check your stance while doing the techniques, even in practices.
 

Latest Discussions

Top