The war on rank

JTKenpo

Purple Belt
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When asked about rank most martial artists will say that rank doesn't matter it is the skill of the student/instructor whom ever. Yet all the boards, lots of the threads and many of the posts all revolve around somebody being upset that so and so has this rank from that person or an honorary rank from such and such organization or "I have been in the arts twice as long as that guy over there with 28 stripes on his belt".

So......if its not what its all about and no one should care about rank why are we all so wrapped up in it?

someone please splain to me. :)
 
When asked about rank most martial artists will say that rank doesn't matter it is the skill of the student/instructor whom ever. Yet all the boards, lots of the threads and many of the posts all revolve around somebody being upset that so and so has this rank from that person or an honorary rank from such and such organization or "I have been in the arts twice as long as that guy over there with 28 stripes on his belt".

So......if its not what its all about and no one should care about rank why are we all so wrapped up in it?

someone please splain to me. :)

If someones explains it to you PLEASE forward a copy to me...I have NEVER understood the whole battle of ranks...
 
Because rank does matter.

It doesn't mean everything. It doesn't mean more is better than less. But, it does matter.
 
People usually really, really want things to be "fair." But it ain't like that in the martial arts. It's not all equal and it's not all fair. And alot of the talk in martial arts is pure hot air.

Also, people like to compare themselves to others and gauge where they are. I think the fact that there is no absolute way of telling where you are in the grand scheme of martial arts skill and knowledge drives some of us really, really crazy.

Some people will have a bazillion stripes and they just have a bazillion stripes. I'm never gonna have a bazillion stripes. :(

Also, some people get really cool titles and make people bow to them and require blind faith and following. And I ain't never gonna have that, either. :(

I am sooooo jealous. I better stop writing before I just give it all up and QUIT! ;)
 
People usually really, really want things to be "fair." But it ain't like that in the martial arts. It's not all equal and it's not all fair. And alot of the talk in martial arts is pure hot air.

Also, people like to compare themselves to others and gauge where they are. I think the fact that there is no absolute way of telling where you are in the grand scheme of martial arts skill and knowledge drives some of us really, really crazy.

Some people will have a bazillion stripes and they just have a bazillion stripes. I'm never gonna have a bazillion stripes. :(

Also, some people get really cool titles and make people bow to them and require blind faith and following. And I ain't never gonna have that, either. :(

I am sooooo jealous. I better stop writing before I just give it all up and QUIT! ;)

Or, just hit the dojo on the way home and enjoy the adrenaline rush which will make having a bazillion stripes and blind-faith followers seem...irrelevant ;) :D
 
Rank is important to some people, not important to others, and others think it makes them seem profound to say rank isn't important when it's all they think about, depends on their individual ego and need to be recognized for their accomplishments. To each his own.
 
I think rank & lineage is a big deal. Rank is a big deal because if you are learning from a 1st degree black belt you aren't going to go very far in that system before your going to have to find a new teacher. If your studying under a 7th degree black belt your obviously going to be able to go further in that system. I think lineage is just as inportant as rank too.
 
So does rank matter. In some ways yes and in some ways no.

I have seen people that have a high rank and know, by watching them preform, that they are not up to par with the belt that they have on.
Some people earn rank by being in a system long enough to progress due to, time in, but there skill set is lacking. I have seen some students that I train with and know they have a stronger skill set than those that out rank them.

I have always felt that my skills are not up to what my current belt level. There has always been a growing into the new rank period of time. This is the way that I have felt thru each belt level from white belt up!!
I also feel that today I am a little better than yesterday and that tomorrow I will be better than the day before. And so on and so on and so on. Trust me I have earned each belt/rank that I have worn, and wear them with pride, but still strive to continue to improve. I also know that I can learn from anyone regardless of rank if I see that they have a better understanding of something than I do and I am not ashamed to ask for help.

For the most part it just depends what you are training for cloth or knowledge?
 
lots of the threads and many of the posts all revolve around somebody being upset that so and so has this rank from that person or an honorary rank from such and such organization or "I have been in the arts twice as long as that guy over there with 28 stripes on his belt".:)

Intellectually, most of us do understand that there is no standardized system, and that the kid down the street that gets handed a dan ranking after a ridiculously short time while we had to sweat and put in many long years for something that others will view as "the same" doesn't matter in the end, because we are (most likely) a much better martial artist than he is.

However. This issue definitely hits on people's sense of fairness, and the concept that there should be standards for certain accomplishments, and that two people who have similar time & intensity should be rewarded equally.

Then there's the big villain in the closet of the psyche... EGO. I suspect that this one accounts for a big, big percentage of the arguments, griping, whining, etc. that surrounds rank, honorary ranks, and so on.

So in short, most people's intellect says it really doesn't matter, but their ego screams "unfair!"
 
If rank is so important, then should a person be demoted if they neglect their art and lose skill? Once someone gets a black belt are they always a black belt?
 
Unfortunately, rank only really means something to someone else. Within your dojo/school I hope your instructor knows where you are without checking the cloth around your waist. But the irony is, you can't really compare belts given out to different schools or systems.

If you really want a black belt or stripes that badly I'm sure you can order them online. Create your own school and you can be your own grandmaster.

Honorary ranks and degrees don't mean much though some high ranks are pretty much honorary anyways.

If you think you should be at a higher rank then ask your instructor if you can test for it. Then be honest with yourself about how well you did.

Or perhaps we should do it like the old days to see if people deserve their rank: fights to the death. Think you're as good as that black belt over there? Prove it...
 
Rank is a big deal because if you are learning from a 1st degree black belt you aren't going to go very far in that system before your going to have to find a new teacher. If your studying under a 7th degree black belt your obviously going to be able to go further in that system.
that is a very naive statement.

you are making an assumption that the guy with the fancier belt knows more and can transmit that knowledge to you... not always the case, but unfortunately probably what many consumers think to be true.

arghh.. that's what i like about the traditional chinese arts, no belts, no rankings, no crazy titles - just teacher and student. '

pete
 
I'm really proud of my daughter who just earned her purple belt, she's 8yrs old.

The other day in the lunch room I overheard a snippet, somebody was saying to someone else "Wow, a 7 yr old black belt? That's amazing!"

I didn't like it. It bothered me. Kayla worked (and fought) very hard for a long time to get where she is now. Was there any way I could make this woman understand... but then I thought, if she's impressed by that, and doesn;t see what's wrong with calling a 7yr old child a Black Belt, then her opinion is pretty far from mattering to me.

But I sure would like to see my girl kick that kid's butt ROFL sorry I know that's bad...
 
When asked about rank most martial artists will say that rank doesn't matter it is the skill of the student/instructor whom ever. Yet all the boards, lots of the threads and many of the posts all revolve around somebody being upset that so and so has this rank from that person or an honorary rank from such and such organization or "I have been in the arts twice as long as that guy over there with 28 stripes on his belt".

So......if its not what its all about and no one should care about rank why are we all so wrapped up in it?

someone please splain to me. :)

It's only confusing because you are trying to assign the entire MA community, on teh internet and off, one consistent point of view... Impossible... You and I are in the same system (sortof) and we almost never agree on anything LOL. Some care and some don;t, and some care differently than others. It depends on teh one wearing it, and the one judging him.
 
It's only confusing because you are trying to assign the entire MA community, on teh internet and off, one consistent point of view... Impossible... You and I are in the same system (sortof) and we almost never agree on anything LOL. Some care and some don;t, and some care differently than others. It depends on teh one wearing it, and the one judging him.


It's a general statement yes and I did state that, but I don't pretend to state that everyone has the same point of view. If you don't understand that it is a general question looking for the readers point of view then I'm sorry. Personally I like that we don't agree because most times it makes (me atleast) try to see it from the others point of view, even if I still don't agree. As for the same system I don't see how, all of your combos have been changed before you even got there, now you are changing even more. Not that it is right or wrong, that is your path (meaning that of your school). And just so we are clear I see absolutely nothing wrong with what you are doing in fact I applaud it. I too teach much outside the realm of the #'d combos and katas.
 
Does rank matter YES and it always will, let me explain joe smoo down the street is a 9th degree BB and he demands 200.00 a month and joe smoo up the street is only gettint 95.00 because he is a 4th. So up the street guy finds two friends to cross rank and up his rank so he is now a 10th and also on the Soke council of the Universe, now he is getting 300.00 a month not because he knows more but because he is now the Soke of all Soke's. My point is simple people equate stripes to knowledge, when it should be the other way around. To me give me a person that has more years than me and can actually train me in something and make me learn some new material and has only a BB and that is fine by me.
 
Does rank matter YES and it always will, let me explain joe smoo down the street is a 9th degree BB and he demands 200.00 a month and joe smoo up the street is only gettint 95.00 because he is a 4th. So up the street guy finds two friends to cross rank and up his rank so he is now a 10th and also on the Soke council of the Universe, now he is getting 300.00 a month not because he knows more but because he is now the Soke of all Soke's. My point is simple people equate stripes to knowledge, when it should be the other way around. To me give me a person that has more years than me and can actually train me in something and make me learn some new material and has only a BB and that is fine by me.

I almost agree, but not quite. For many years, I was the SAME rank as someone clearly senior to me, having been a protege of my systems founder for many, many years. For many years after he passed, I outranked someone who clearly has more knowledge than I about many intricacies in our shared system. As I write this, I am outranked by guys who were brown belts, or brand spanking new blacks, when I was the same rank I am now, many years back.

More specifically, I'm a 5th in Parkers kenpo. There are guys who I absolutely consider my seniors who are the same -- and lower -- ranks as I. Conversely, there are guys who are 7ths, 8ths, and even 10ths, who I in no way consider to be my seniors, or anywhere near worthy of the stripes on their belts. There are 9ths in the system who are infinitely more deserving of respect as elder statesmen than many of the 10ths who outrank them.

There are several sets of "audiences" viewing ones actions and decisions at any point in time. There is the public, and they are the ones who care most about the stripes. Then there is the jury of our peers...those guys wearing the premature higher ranks have to look their betters in the eyes at tournaments and camps, and deal with knowing their peers are whispering unkindly behind their bakcs, if not outright talking smack as loudly as they can for all to hear.

I know my betters. And when they take the front of the class, I turn my knot to the side, and perk up an ear to learn what I might. Regardless of their style, background, whatever. Even regardless of who can beat whom...at a recent camp I was a guest instructor at, an oldster from another system showed to teach a segment. Nothing new offered, but the man offering it is a living icon, worthy of respect. I gave it gladly. Told the student I brought with me who was complaining about having already heard the content from other profs to shut up and train; that this man has absolutely earned the right to respect, and we will give it to him in spades.

Same camp had several guest profs who were "younger" in the arts than I, yet earned my definite respect as peers, because of their intelligence, commitment, earnestness, and work ethics. One from a really disreputable lineage history put on one of the best belt tests for a colored belt I've seen outside the Islands, and did it with (to me) all the right contexts in place. Props to them all; I learned much, and look forward to learning more, AND at some level continuing to be worthy (hopefully) of their respect and friendship in the years to come.

Flip side: I also recently walked out of a presentation by a guy from my system with more fame and stripes than I, cuz he was a dolt and talking nonsense that would get people hurt. I made sure he and his staff knew what I was doing, and why.

Earned rank is respected by those in the know; bought, schmoozed, or assumed rank is not. Simple, really.

D.
 
When asked about rank most martial artists will say that rank doesn't matter it is the skill of the student/instructor whom ever. Yet all the boards, lots of the threads and many of the posts all revolve around somebody being upset that so and so has this rank from that person or an honorary rank from such and such organization or "I have been in the arts twice as long as that guy over there with 28 stripes on his belt".

So......if its not what its all about and no one should care about rank why are we all so wrapped up in it?

someone please splain to me. :)

Personally, I'm not upset over anyones rank. I don't lose any sleep over it, because at the end of the day, its not me, but the other person, that has to worry about what others may think of them. :) I simply inqure about rank, because it often amazes me how some are so obessed with gathering up 20 belts in 20 styles with 7th, 8th and 9th degrees.

Of course, some people may view one person, and assume that everyone else in the art in question, is like that as well.

So, in the end, you're right, we should be focusing on the skill, not the rank. So, if thats the case, why the need for some to broadcast their credentials?
 
Rank is important to some people, not important to others, and others think it makes them seem profound to say rank isn't important when it's all they think about, depends on their individual ego and need to be recognized for their accomplishments. To each his own.

Of course, one would think that if the person in question was that ego driven to be recognized, that they would want to be known for their skill. Afterall, that is what matters when it comes to SD, not the cloth tied about their belly. :)
 

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