The war on rank

Doc

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I've only been practicing for a year, but am halfway through the "color scale", so now belt advancements stop coming quickly. If I continue at the normal pace, working up through the rest of them will take another four years or so. For me, now is a good time to forget about rank, or at least put it in the back of the mind, because it will be a very long (but enjoyable) trip, and to lust after the next belt color will just make it frustrating. Brown is a year and a half alone at my school.

Especially important to forget about it because I know I could swap schools within the system and "get" a black belt much faster (villaris, ya know...heck I could get one in the mail).... but as my instructor says, you could get a black belt faster, but if you put in more time, and more practice, you could be so much better, which is why it takes a while at her dojo, and that's also why I stay there.
While it is commendable to not focus on rank in study sir, it is important to recognize that, "time in grade" is only one of many indicators of competency. There is a plethora of "brick" sporting black belts who would do well to actually learn something before beginning to teach others and attach such accouterments, albeit many have multiple decades of time wearing the uniform.
 

hpulley

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The converse problem to just being focused on belts and the syllibis is that you learn nothing else. Like the kids in school who could ace a test but couldn't answer a practical off-book question about the subject, people who know exactly what kata and techniques are required for their next belt but nothing else are going to be very one (or at best two) dimensional. Take the time to get good, to get breadth in the art and to really understand rather than just going through the motions and doing the bare minimum.

The other funny one I hear is that black belt is high enough, that a person will switch arts so they can get a different black belt. As if that is the end! Don't get me wrong, I cross train and love cross training so I think doing multiple arts is great but to think of stopping learning an art just because you get a black belt makes it sound like something very different than how I think about it. I don't think you could ever be done learning an art and even if you were, you could come up with extensions to it.
 

sjansen

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While it is commendable to not focus on rank in study sir, it is important to recognize that, "time in grade" is only one of many indicators of competency. There is a plethora of "brick" sporting black belts who would do well to actually learn something before beginning to teach others and attach such accouterments, albeit many have multiple decades of time wearing the uniform.

I agree. And, the fact that you studied under such and such does not make you any more competent than the next guy. Your family tree does not matter much either if it does not have roots. Why is everyone so concerned about rank and family tree and not what they see. The proof is in the pudding. If someone is a hen, call them a hen. If someone is not then so be it. When ones who call themselves so, they are probably not. The ones who say "I am just a student" are the ones you want to learn from. If they prostate others you probably want to look elsewhere.

Remember that tigers strike for what can be seen. Dragons strike for what maters.
 
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kenpo3631

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There is a plethora of "brick" sporting black belts who would do well to actually learn something before beginning to teach others and attach such accouterments, albeit many have multiple decades of time wearing the uniform.

Say it ain't so Doc, say it ain't so! :rolleyes:

:roflmao:
 

SL4Drew

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It all depends on how you identify yourself I think. When I think of myself as a member of the Emperado-Reyes-Forbach-Bishop lineage, then I am very proud of my black belt because know that they are not given away and anyone who knows that lineage well, knows what my black belt means. When I think of myself as a Kajukenbo black belt, then I am still proud, because I know that MOST of those ranks are given out properly compared to other organizations I've had dealings with, or ones I've observed. When I think of myself as a "Martial Artist" then my rank is almost meaningless given how little standardization there is and how many of them are merely sold to children etc. So it all depends on how I identify myself as to how proud I feel of my black belt.

For the record, I think Kajukenbo handles lineages and ranks better than most arts--Chow descended or otherwise.
 

shihansmurf

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It all depends on how you identify yourself I think. When I think of myself as a member of the Emperado-Reyes-Forbach-Bishop lineage, then I am very proud of my black belt because know that they are not given away and anyone who knows that lineage well, knows what my black belt means. When I think of myself as a Kajukenbo black belt, then I am still proud, because I know that MOST of those ranks are given out properly compared to other organizations I've had dealings with, or ones I've observed. When I think of myself as a "Martial Artist" then my rank is almost meaningless given how little standardization there is and how many of them are merely sold to children etc. So it all depends on how I identify myself as to how proud I feel of my black belt.

I have been conflicted on the subject of rank for quite a long time. On the one hand it means little to nothing to me, yet on the other I find that I give the subject a great deal of importance. I am preparing to grade in about a year, so the matter has been on my mind a bit.

I am not that big a fan of it for a lot of reasons. The selling of ranks for fun and profit. The false sense of security that an "unearned" rank imparts in a person. The over inflater sense

Rob Redmond has several articles on his site that have influenced my views on rank and its "value". For the most part I find that it is difficult to place objective worth in any of it. You do, however, raise an interesting point of view that I had not really considered. I respect and value the opinion of my teachers and, when the rank is viewed as an outward symbol of their assessment of my skill and ability, then it is priceless.

I appreciate your contribution to this thread.

Thank you.

Mark
 

Doc

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Keep in mind the modern origin of the rank issue has its roots firmly place in American Capitalism. Belt stripes originated in America, and went wild in the business of kenpo. Prior to the creation of the business, no one wore stripes. It was a smaller community and everyone knew who the bad asses were. You didn't need stripes to know the Emperado, or Parker were people you spoke in hushed tones to with no furtive gestures.

No the business of the martial arts created this atmosphere of rank hustle. I know a guy who promoted him self to 7th, because a guy moved into a building in his neighborhood who was 6th, and thought he was justified. I asked him "what he would do if the 6th degree left or closed down? Would he "take his 7th back off." He had no answer.

Even Parker never wore stripes until 7th, forced to by the business and his own students wearing stripes. Rank is primarily important if you're trying to "sale" something in a ranked discipline. The general public actually thinks these ranks mean something. Why study with a 2nd, when there is a 5th down the street? It's all about competition and salesmanship.
 

marlon

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So does rank matter. In some ways yes and in some ways no.

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.

I really enjoy the above...and ditto. I remind myself often that my current rank means that i have completed my previous rank and not this one yet.

Respectfully,
Marlon
 

Carol

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I have been conflicted on the subject of rank for quite a long time. On the one hand it means little to nothing to me, yet on the other I find that I give the subject a great deal of importance. I am preparing to grade in about a year, so the matter has been on my mind a bit.

I am not that big a fan of it for a lot of reasons. The selling of ranks for fun and profit. The false sense of security that an "unearned" rank imparts in a person. The over inflater sense

Rob Redmond has several articles on his site that have influenced my views on rank and its "value". For the most part I find that it is difficult to place objective worth in any of it. You do, however, raise an interesting point of view that I had not really considered. I respect and value the opinion of my teachers and, when the rank is viewed as an outward symbol of their assessment of my skill and ability, then it is priceless.

I appreciate your contribution to this thread.

Thank you.

Mark

And that's why its important to see how an instructor (or potential instructor) views the subject of rank. Have they earned it through hard work and contributions to the art? Or was it a prize that was awarded for joining a different organization? Or did they essentially promote themselves (whether or not they found someone else to sign off on the rank jump)?

How the instructor views rank is going to indicate a lot about what a students rank under that instructor will mean. It may take several years of work to earn a black belt. After putting in all that time, effort, and money in to one's training, the rank earned should be one that the student can be thoroughly proud of achieving.
 

LawDog

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Belt stripe ranking, being an American creation or not does mean something inside a school of quality. These little stripes represent a standerized level of physical and mental acheivement, a quality control thing.
Granted there are many schools that use these little stripes for monitary gain, shame on them. I cannot understand why a school owner would remove part of his / her schools quality control because others abuse it.
One should not care what the "coat tail" riders do, be concerned instead with your own students.
By using these little stripes you have on display a visable mulit level of achievements for your students, they can look across your dojo floor and see the many different levels of abilities and associate them to these little foolish stripes.
In the martial arts of today there seems to be little of no standerized quality control levels.
To each their own path to follow.
:ultracool
 

Daniel Sullivan

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We all know that rank is only of any import within a given system. My kumdo yidan is only of import within my own school. My Taekwondo ildan is only of import at Kukkiwon schools. The public is wrapped up in it because all they see is a black belt.

But while we in the MA community may say that it is skill, not rank which is important (which is true, by the way), rank will get you into certain conversations or help you to be taken seriously in certain conversations.

Lastly, some systems, such as the Kukkiwon, require one to be of a specific rank before they are allowed to promote anyone to first dan, so there is sometimes an administrative component as well.

Daniel
 

Danjo

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We all know that rank is only of any import within a given system. My kumdo yidan is only of import within my own school. My Taekwondo ildan is only of import at Kukkiwon schools. The public is wrapped up in it because all they see is a black belt.

But while we in the MA community may say that it is skill, not rank which is important (which is true, by the way), rank will get you into certain conversations or help you to be taken seriously in certain conversations.

Lastly, some systems, such as the Kukkiwon, require one to be of a specific rank before they are allowed to promote anyone to first dan, so there is sometimes an administrative component as well.

Daniel

There are also other times when rank matters outside of your school. Tournaments for example, only want black belts to judge/referee etc. for various reasons, so in a sense that's outside recognition of your rank. Also, having a black belt from a school tells the outside world what a black belt in your school looks like. The problem comes when complete novices take all black belts to men the same thing. You can see this in a lot of other situations. There is a world of difference between Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, and Sheriff Buford Pusser of McNairy County, but they both have the title "Sheriff".
 

Daniel Sullivan

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There are also other times when rank matters outside of your school. Tournaments for example, only want black belts to judge/referee etc. for various reasons, so in a sense that's outside recognition of your rank. Also, having a black belt from a school tells the outside world what a black belt in your school looks like. The problem comes when complete novices take all black belts to men the same thing. You can see this in a lot of other situations. There is a world of difference between Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, and Sheriff Buford Pusser of McNairy County, but they both have the title "Sheriff".
Good observation regarding the tournaments. USAT has not only blackbelt requirements, but I do believe that to qualify for the olympics, you not only have to be USAT, but Kukkiwon as well.

I also liked your sheriff analogy.:)

Daniel
 
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