the value of rank

jarrod

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there have been several threads lately about rank, black belts, & promotions so i thought i'd pitch in my two cents. what it comes down to is respect within your community. if other practicioners from your style think that you're a joke as a martial artist then it won't matter what color of cloth is around your waist or how many stripes are on it. if you can't fight & you can't teach, you will not be able to hide these facts. now if all you want is a black belt so that you can tell non-MAists that you're a black belt, that's fine too. but don't expect others from the martial arts community to hold you in high esteem based on a couple of years training & a few hundred dollars (or much more) in testing fees.

this is an issue that i've put a good amount of thought into. i put in most of my early training time in non-ranked styles such as kickboxing & submission wrestling. it was frustrating because whenever i had a conversation about MA with a non-MAist, they would ask me if i had a black belt. which of course i didn't, & i could see many people stop listening once i told them so. i considered putting in a year or two an a local belt-factory just so i could claim a black belt, but decided against it. sure, outsiders might respect me more, but i would know what my belt was worth & so would others within my community.

on the other hand, belt-factories aren't a bad thing in & of themselves. many of them have done a good job of creating insulated communities where their accelerated rank is still respected. & that's okay; not everybody is looking to get the same things out of their training. if you got a black belt for getting off the couch a couple times a week & taking a class with your kids, i have no problem with that. but it's different from other black belts.

so when asking what rank means, or whether it's important, what you need to do is ask yourself what you are after. what amount of work do you have to put in for you to respect your rank? what community are you striving to be a part of, & what will they respect? in short, will you be legitimately proud of what you acheive?

just some thoughts,

:asian:

jf
 

HM2PAC

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Good thread jarrod.

I have to say that I enjoyed MA training much more when I was involved in Hung Gar. There were no belts. There was no testing. There were only 2 ranks, Instructor and student. Everyone wore the same uniform and that was just fine with me.

Having a BB has never been one of my goals. I'm sure that given enough time in the belt factory I am in that I'll get there.....however.

My family does do this together, I've never considered that a bad thing. It is something that we do more than once or twice a week to "get off the couch". We practice daily. Most people in our factory practice daily too.
 

Akira

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To me, personally, rank means nothing. I have met many red belt kung fu fighters that were *******s, and many muay thai fighters that had 200+ fights that were the nicest people you could hope to meet. If someone steps into the ring against me and says "I'm whatever belt in whatever"..I really don't think about it at all.

However I think rank is important to recognize some kind of progression related to technique. It's a great measure against where you are currently, compared to where you used to be. It also gives you something to achieve and aspire to, so in that sense I think it's important.

I think it's more important with younger people, as it also gives them a sense of achievement, pride and respect whereas older people or professional fighters already have gained that and most are level headed.

So, in my opinion it's very relevant and I'm glad a lot of marital arts feature it.
 

terryl965

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For those that train for the sake of training it means very little for those that need that crutch to secure there training it means everything.:asian:
 

KempoGuy06

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I like the idea of belts...well at least the way it is done within my school (i would say organization but not every school within that has the same philosophy as my instructor. The rank is used as a recognition tool by my instructor so he knows at a glance where people are and what they need to be taught, but do not get me wrong we are made to earn those belt. Ive been through some pretty tough things but not many of them stack up to the physical and mental demand of a belt test.

For me personally I use it as a stepping stone. My goal in my primary art, SKK, is to get my BB, not within so many years but to just get it. I also want to get my blue belt in BJJ not because i think less of but because it is a much smaller task and much more attainable since im not entirely focused on BJJ. Does that diminish.

Ultimately though rank is what you make it for yourself. I use the saying "im going to be the best ______ belt I feel I can be" and as long as I feel that way about myself I do not care what other people think....never have and never will

B
 

jkembry

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What a great topic. Uechi-ryu for me was a way at my age (51) to get off the couch and back into some sort of fitness. But I wanted more than just the fitness...I also wanted the discipline and self awareness that comes with it. Having trained now for almost 2 years, I will be going for Gokyu (green belt) this spring. For me, belt ranking more a measure of progression rather than a destination(s). I think I would be quite happy stay purple, yellow or even white, so long as I kept training, learning and improving both mentally and physically.
 

Zero

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I think belts are essential and from experience; the last time I went out of the house without my belt I ended up with my slacks around my ankles and tumbling head first into the petunia bush!!
 

seasoned

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My instructor mentioned this as I came up through the ranks. Kindergarten to 12th grade was like white belt to black belt. At the black belt level your education is just beginning. At this level you can teach the colored belt ranks. 2nd and 3rd degree is your associates degree. At this time, you are beginning to grasp your teachings. 4th through 5th degree would be your Bachelor of Arts degree, and perhaps the start of your own DoJo, if you so desire. 6th degree and above begins a distinct division in your education, or training process. By college standards you have obtained a masters degree, or a doctorate degree, and in Martial Arts circles, you have elevated to teacher of teachers. Now mind you, in the non Martial Arts arena of education, kindergarten to doctorate is a very long journey, with much hard work and sacrifice. Consider now, the journey from white belt to the higher ranks of your given art, if done properly it is a life changing experience, combined with blood, sweat and tears, and much knowledge and pondering, as your art turns you into the artist. At this stage you have much to be proud of indeed, but pride is the enemy within. Pride will destroy a life time of endeavor, in any undertaking. In my final summation, I view the Martial Arts journey as a circle from beginning to never ending. A journey that takes us back to that white belt level in our mind, so that we never forget that hunger we had, that brought us full circle. In the words of my teachers teacher just keep training. :asian:
 

Sandstorm

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As I said in the other thread of the same theme, I don't feel that rank is the be all and end all at all. I want to learn, evolve, experiment, understand etc etc. I love the arts and I could really care less what grade I hold. It's my experiences within the arts that matter to me. Yes, I hold belts but it's the knowledge that got me those belts that matters most of all. When I trained in Shootboxing, there were no grades, it was just turn up and train. The same with any other fight gym I attended.
It's all down to what the individual wants out of it. If, as you say, it's to please non MAists, fine. Just as long as there is no harming others by trying to pass on knowledge via BS certificates and belts.
 

Phoenix44

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whenever i had a conversation about MA with a non-MAist, they would ask me if i had a black belt. which of course i didn't, & i could see many people stop listening once i told them so

It gets even stupider than this. First people ask if I have a black belt, and then they ask what degree! I want to say, "What's it to you?"
 

MJS

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there have been several threads lately about rank, black belts, & promotions so i thought i'd pitch in my two cents. what it comes down to is respect within your community. if other practicioners from your style think that you're a joke as a martial artist then it won't matter what color of cloth is around your waist or how many stripes are on it. if you can't fight & you can't teach, you will not be able to hide these facts. now if all you want is a black belt so that you can tell non-MAists that you're a black belt, that's fine too. but don't expect others from the martial arts community to hold you in high esteem based on a couple of years training & a few hundred dollars (or much more) in testing fees.

this is an issue that i've put a good amount of thought into. i put in most of my early training time in non-ranked styles such as kickboxing & submission wrestling. it was frustrating because whenever i had a conversation about MA with a non-MAist, they would ask me if i had a black belt. which of course i didn't, & i could see many people stop listening once i told them so. i considered putting in a year or two an a local belt-factory just so i could claim a black belt, but decided against it. sure, outsiders might respect me more, but i would know what my belt was worth & so would others within my community.

on the other hand, belt-factories aren't a bad thing in & of themselves. many of them have done a good job of creating insulated communities where their accelerated rank is still respected. & that's okay; not everybody is looking to get the same things out of their training. if you got a black belt for getting off the couch a couple times a week & taking a class with your kids, i have no problem with that. but it's different from other black belts.

so when asking what rank means, or whether it's important, what you need to do is ask yourself what you are after. what amount of work do you have to put in for you to respect your rank? what community are you striving to be a part of, & what will they respect? in short, will you be legitimately proud of what you acheive?

just some thoughts,

:asian:

jf

The issue of whether or not someone will/will not like your art, is one that will never die. People bash things all the time. Frankly, I'd be willing to bet that many who trash talk arts, probably have a) never set foot on a mat, b) only have a youtube impression of what the art is really like, and c) are so brainwashed by their art into thinking that what they do is the end all, be all.

As for rank....it really doesn't mean that much to me. Its simply a classroom status, to seperate the new students from the intermediate from the advanced. Just because someone is wearing a black belt, does not mean that they're worthy of it. Of course, we would hope that they would be, but we all know about those belt factories and mcdojos.

I'm more interested in what the person can teach me. People 'ohh and ahhh' over rank. Why? I've gone to seminars and camps, and have worked with lower ranked students, and picked up new ideas and ways of doing things.

To answer your other questions:


what you need to do is ask yourself what you are after.

Knowledge. I love training, and don't see myself stopping until the day comes when I can no longer train. :)


what amount of work do you have to put in for you to respect your rank?

IMO, if you really are dedicated and bust your *** while training, that to me says alot. Whenever I've been asked to test, there are many times, when I get a bit down on myself, because I want to make sure I'm 150% ready.


what community are you striving to be a part of, & what will they respect?

Not sure what you mean by this?


in short, will you be legitimately proud of what you acheive?

Yes, I'm happy to say that I'm proud of the goals that I've reached so far. :)
 
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jarrod

jarrod

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Not sure what you mean by this?

well for instance if you find a place where you can get a bjj black belt in a year or two, that rank won't be respected anywhere outside of that school by any in the grappling community. however there are other arts where it is perfectly okay to receive your BB in a year or two. or in judo, most belts are earned by competition, but there are other ways to black belt as well. but people in the know can tell the difference.

jf
 

MJS

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well for instance if you find a place where you can get a bjj black belt in a year or two, that rank won't be respected anywhere outside of that school by any in the grappling community. however there are other arts where it is perfectly okay to receive your BB in a year or two. or in judo, most belts are earned by competition, but there are other ways to black belt as well. but people in the know can tell the difference.

jf

Ok, thanks for the clarification. :)

Fortunately, all of the schools I've trained, well, with the exception of 1, perhaps just because of the org. they were affiliated with, are not mcdojos, and don't hand out rank. You have to earn it. Of course, I'm sure there're Arnis and Kenpo schools that hand out rank, and yes, that IMHO, makes the rest of the Kenpo and Arnis schools look bad, because everyone will automatically assume that every school is like that, when in fact, its not the case. Yes, people in the know can and probably will tell the difference. For those that are not in that group....hey, I can't change everyone. :) I really have nothing to prove. If someone wants to form an opinion of something that I train in, thats fine. As long as I know the difference, thats all that matters to me. :)
 

bowser666

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My opinion on this , yet another, belt thread is this. Who cares if there are belts or not ? Why does it matter so much to some ? Why does it not matter to others? Who cares I say !! Whatever helps to keep the student motivated and learning and then hopefully pass on word and keep the art alive is worth it IMO. Some use it to measure progression, some use it as a sense to bolster there ego and brag. Doesn't make it right or wrong. Do what floats your boat. Just as long as you aren't using your knowledge for Ill intent then that is what counts.
 

KempoGuy06

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My opinion on this , yet another, belt thread is this. Who cares if there are belts or not ? Why does it matter so much to some ? Why does it not matter to others? Who cares I say !! Whatever helps to keep the student motivated and learning and then hopefully pass on word and keep the art alive is worth it IMO. Some use it to measure progression, some use it as a sense to bolster there ego and brag. Doesn't make it right or wrong. Do what floats your boat. Just as long as you aren't using your knowledge for Ill intent then that is what counts.
Good point

B
 

Aniela13

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Two things came to my mind while reading this thread. First, since I am learning my second MA (and my instructors request that I continue to wear my black belt from Kenpo), the value of my initial rank within my new dojo is that I am held automatically to a higher standard of work and proficiency. We use a "plus points" system (one each per belt rank for self defense techniques, grab techniques, sparring combinations, kata, basic techniques, and weapons) where, once a student has shown "proficiency" at the specified technique, they are given a plus point for it and told to work toward "mastery" before the test--the level of proficiency I am expected to show before receiving plus points is higher than a student working on the same material who has never studied MA before. So there is one value of rank that came to mind.

The other thought that I had while reading this was of my favorite part of the promotion ceremonies at my new dojo--whether I am watching the promotion or participating. After the new rank has been awarded, our system coordinator Master R hands the student his folder containing his certificate for the new rank. He then says "Inside this folder you will find your certificate. But remember that this paper, although important, is nowhere near as important as the knowledge that you carry. Even more important, however, is the kindness that you hold in your heart to show you how to use that knowledge." I suppose that would be the value of rank to me--just like that paper that talks about the rank, it is important, but not as important as the knowledge attained in the process of earning it, which is not as important as personal character.

~Ani
 

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