Western 10th Degrees. Fake or legit?

James Kovacich

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It seems that all of the head of family sokeships are looked down upon by many. Some of the reasons were because of the improper usage of the word soke and other reasons were about bogus rank.

It seemed to me that it was being implied that all 10th degrees in the west were bogas. Is that what everyone beleives? Why?

I think most of us have read at least some of the current threads rearding similar topics but this question was left unanswered. I my self know several Grandmasters and I'm sure that many in here do too.

So what is the view on 10th degrees in the USA and the rest of the west?
 

Andrew Green

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If you really look at it there is no such thing as legit.

Just a matter of how many people are willing to recognize it.

My view - What's the point? Anyone can claim any rank they like, there is no restrictions. If you are in business you got to beat out your competitors, so if you can get away with it the good business decission is to inflate your rank yourself.

So, whats the point? Just toss the whole belt idea out the window is my vote.
 

clfsean

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My opinion... almost all completely bogus. Not getting into percentages since it's not all of them, but the majority I've seen have been results of....

good ol'boy "you promote me, I'll promote you" self aggrandizing groups/clubs/orgs...

the solo flyer that created "a new style totally unique in the whole world after studying this & this & this & this & this for a total of 10 years" ...

the always fun "trained by a Shaolin monk in the back of a local Chinese restaurant, but he died so I'm the only one that's left"....
 

clfsean

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Andrew Green said:
And this is different in the east?
No... but the east wasn't mentioned on this thread... :boing2:
 

BlackCatBonz

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i think the whole soke thing is bogus........simply because they are using a term that has nothing to do with what it is they are trying to do. like i said in another post.....calling themselves a soke is like calling themselves a ham sandwich.
are there legit 10th dans.........i would say so. i also think there are a lot of guys walking around with 10th dan rankings that have no business wearing them. that being said......a lot of guys are either promoted to 10th dan unknowingly by a group of their peers and presented with this title at some award ceremony, and some of these guys deserve it, even though they accept it with protest; i think these gentlemen believe that they are not worthy of it and are simply students of the martial arts.
on the other hand, you have guys that go out of their way to try and get recognition from anyone that will give it to them........hey ill prove i started something and pull the wool over these guys eyes.....BANG im a 10th degree.
"pshaw", you say, "that doesnt happen."
the hell it doesnt, there are tons of people running around wearing their fancy belts with bogus rank simply because they showed enough to make people think their a genius, but not anywhere near enough to prove it.
the onus of these bogus super masters lies directly in the hands of those that gave them out.......because in their infinite wisdom they think that after 40 years in the arts they should be able to judge what is efficacious and what is not.
 

Makalakumu

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First off, I have never met a 10th dan in almost 18 years of MA training. Maybe that is my choice of art(s) and maybe that is because of where I live. The highest rank person that I've ever had the priviledge of learning under is 6th.

I've met one 7th and one 8th dan that I've know to be legit.

How?

1. They did not make up there own styles and could claim a documented line through a known organization like JKA or TSDMDK.
2. They were old enough. (A person who is not in their 60's or, even better, 70s is not old enough to put in the time to claim that rank).
3. I have seen "the goods" not first hand because I'm not high ranked enough, but by proxy as in "I am a direct student of this person..."

This is my least favorite aspect of the martial arts. The politics. My teacher's teacher says that its better to train and let frauds expose themselves...

upnorthkyosa
 

MichiganTKD

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I think 99.9% of the Western 10th Dans are bogus, questionable, and outright frauds. First, it is easy to claim your own style, with yourself as Founder, and award yourself 10th Dan. A quick glance at the World Head of Soke membership list will confirm this.
Second, I think people receive 10th Dans for reasons other than 50 years of dedication to a style and world credibility: honorary rank, getting some "Soke" to sigh your certificate if you sign his, going to Kinko's etc.
Thirdly, if you base 10th Dan on the premise that the recipient has dedicated 50 of their life to outstanding promotion and dedication to their art, very few martial arts have been established in this country for 50 years. Furthermore, by that reasoning, your average American 10th Dan should be at least 70 years old. Many of these "10 Dans" look pretty young to me.
 

RRouuselot

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Andrew Green said:
And this is different in the east?
It certainly not as prevelant in the east, and I rarely if ever see a 10th over here that claims 2,3,5,or even 8 high dan ranks as well as a 10th dan.

Also, most 10th dans I see here have been in that style for a very long time.
 

Andrew Green

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RRouuselot said:
It certainly not as prevelant in the east, and I rarely if ever see a 10th over here that claims 2,3,5,or even 8 high dan ranks as well as a 10th dan.

Also, most 10th dans I see here have been in that style for a very long time.
True, but then you got to ask why?

There are a lot less styles being practiced over there, and the ranking system is native to the country. So taking non-standard channels to rank is more likely to be spotted.

Also, correct me if I am wrong, but there is more of a attitude of wanting to at least "appear" humble, even if that is not the case.

For example, "Master" is common here for how instructors refer to themselves, not as much from what I have seen of Japanese / Okinawan instructors. They are more likely to down play there rank.

Different cultures, different game...

Of course this is not true of all Asian cultures, and certainely not true of Asians how live and teach in North America. But Japan and Okinawa have a different set of "rules" when it comes to titles and self-promotion.
 

RRouuselot

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Andrew Green said:
True, but then you got to ask why?

There are a lot less styles being practiced over there, and the ranking system is native to the country. So taking non-standard channels to rank is more likely to be spotted.

Also, correct me if I am wrong, but there is more of a attitude of wanting to at least "appear" humble, even if that is not the case.

For example, "Master" is common here for how instructors refer to themselves, not as much from what I have seen of Japanese / Okinawan instructors. They are more likely to down play there rank.

Different cultures, different game...

Of course this is not true of all Asian cultures, and certainely not true of Asians how live and teach in North America. But Japan and Okinawa have a different set of "rules" when it comes to titles and self-promotion.
Maybe it’s because they know it looks really stupid to claim many high ranks. I know in Okinawa if you claimed you were a 10th dan and really weren’t two things would possible happen. One people would just laugh at you or someone would call you out and embarrass you with a good beat down. So yeah I guess it is a different set of rules......
 

Jerry

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Lacking any objective criteria for what constitutes "10th dan", nor any reason someone should not invent an art with 20 dan rankings, I don't see it as a very useful question.

My understanding of the typical use of "10th dan" is "head of system". By that standard, anyone who is the head of a system is 10th dan... otherwise, who will promote them?

On large and old systems, this should lead to a roughly approximate skill, though on new systems it will not.

In my school, there are phases (I suppose the equivelant of belts), which are entirely internal and not intended to line up with anyone else. I can tell the approximate skill of a student of my instructor or one of his student's students by their phase, but that does not translate over to any other art.

The danger of the uniform belting system used in most JMA/KMA/OMA, is exactly what you run into here. It's likely more prevelent in western practitioners because I suspect there are more recently created western arts.

Perhaps this segue's well into a disussion of what people think the qualifications to start a new style should be? Obviously, if the founder of a new system first had a 9th dan ranking in another established system, his 10th dan should be unopposed.

It's also worth noting that, in most arts I'm aware of to use the dan system, ranks after 5th dan are generally awarded as honoraries, not as a commentary on skill. You get rankings over 5th in may arts by moving the art forward, or adding or giving something to it, not by being able to beat up people of a lower rank.
 

The Kai

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RRouuselot said:
Maybe it’s because they know it looks really stupid to claim many high ranks. I know in Okinawa if you claimed you were a 10th dan and really weren’t two things would possible happen. One people would just laugh at you or someone would call you out and embarrass you with a good beat down. So yeah I guess it is a different set of rules......
Kinda like trying to help ot your auto mechanic with some advice?? What might impress the little women will get you laughed at bny those who know
 

MichiganTKD

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But establishing your own system and awarding yourself 10th Dan are two different things. You can establish your own school or organization but keep the ranking you already have. To have rank, someone must award it to you. You cannot award yourself 10th Dan, or any Dan, simply because you think you deserve it a la Peter Urban. That's not credible. An outside party, either your instructor or a council of your art's peers, must decide you are worthy of rank because of established criteria.
And honorary rank does not count because non-martial artists have been awarded honorary rank simply by being famous. You must be awarded rank by an outside party who has no vested interest in your promotion.
That's one of the reasons why these Soke organizations are a joke. A lot of these guys claim "10th Dan World Soke Whatever", meaning someone in the World Soke who is entirely unqualified to judge them signed a certificate proclaiming them 10th Dan. Impresses average guy off the street. Has absolutely no credibility.
 

Jerry

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But establishing your own system and awarding yourself 10th Dan are two different things. You can establish your own school or organization but keep the ranking you already have. To have rank, someone must award it to you. You cannot award yourself 10th Dan, or any Dan, simply because you think you deserve it a la Peter Urban. That's not credible. An outside party, either your instructor or a council of your art's peers, must decide you are worthy of rank because of established criteria.
And when you establish a new art, you have no instructor in the art, and no peers; or are you asserting that martial artists from other arts should assign belt-ranks in your art?

And honorary rank does not count because non-martial artists have been awarded honorary rank simply by being famous. You must be awarded rank by an outside party who has no vested interest in your promotion.
Then you devalidate most Akidoka (and I'm sure others) rankings above 5th dan, as they are usually given for time and achievement, rather than a mastery of new skill.

As an even more interesting example, BJJ blackbelts get a degree for every 3 years they are training after going black (http://www.answers.com/topic/brazilian-jiu-jitsu).

That's one of the reasons why these Soke organizations are a joke. A lot of these guys claim "10th Dan World Soke Whatever", meaning someone in the World Soke who is entirely unqualified to judge them signed a certificate proclaiming them 10th Dan. Impresses average guy off the street. Has absolutely no credibility.
Do you feel the same over the Gracies? They award purely for time (after BB).
 

The Kai

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Actually I've been told the next step (6th) is learning the healing arts. So I've been working the aromatherapy pretty hard
 

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