What Belt Are You?

TraditionalTKD

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It is part of traditional Tae Kwon Do etiquette. Our GM is a senior Instructor within the Kukkiwon, and he mentioned that in his discussions with us. I don't know how it is within other systems, but traditional TKD practices that point-it is impolite to ask someone what rank they hold.
Again, if a color belt asks me, I can forgive a breach of etiquette. If a black belt asks me, it means they have not learned good manners.
 

Adept

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Again, if a color belt asks me, I can forgive a breach of etiquette. If a black belt asks me, it means they have not learned good manners.


What a silly rule.

jdinca said:
I say we string him up by his cute little black drawstring! It'll send a message to the rest of the bon vivants out there. Onward the revolution!!! :2pistols:

How about suspenders? Would a nice pair of black suspenders be acceptable?

:)
 

Adept

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I wouldn't expect someone who quotes Bruce Lee to understand.

Why not?

I have, at various stages, used quotes from John Wayne, Christopher Walken, MC Hammer, Clint Eastwood, Muhammed Ali, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Are you making an assumption about me, or about Bruce Lee? Either way, you know what they say about assumptions.

Perhaps you could instead explain to me why I should be offended when someone asks me my rank?
 

tellner

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Thank you. Point being, it is impolite to ask someone their rank. Their manners and way of talking and conducting themselves will speak for them. It is acceptable to ask someone how long they've practiced, and draw inferences from that. Now, if they tell you what rank they are, that's their perogative. I prefer to let people guess personally.:uhyeah:
If someone is a color belt and asks, I chalk it up to inexperience.

Impolite according to the particular customs of your school. Those who do not practice Korean revisions of Japanese versions of Okinawan-imported Chinese boxing may not feel bound by those requirements. In other words, manners and respect are what you make of them. Please don't assume that yours is the only standard for politeness.
 

TraditionalTKD

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Probably both. You quoted Bruce Lee, which means that you most likely agree with his philosophies.
Bruce Lee felt that tradition and etiquette were worthless-that how well you could fight was the only indicator of your skill as a martial artist. The purpose of martial arts is not just to produce good technique, it is to produce good people as well. I admire his technique if not his approach.
Asking someone their rank is like asking someone their age. In this country, if you ask someone their age, they quite possibly will get offended, because they will feel their age is irrelevant. So we have a similar philosophy in this country. If you don't practice martial arts and ask my rank, I will tell you. If you are a junior student I will tell you. If you are a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I will probably tell you, but I'm also thinking you don't understand Tae Kwon Do etiquette. A non-TKD black belt I might be willing to let slide if it is not part of your art's etiquette.
If a black belt asks my rank, I will probably just say I am an Instructor level black belt. If you really need to know, just look at the number on my belt.
For everyone who says rank is not important, there you go.
 

tellner

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It is part of traditional Tae Kwon Do etiquette. Our GM is a senior Instructor within the Kukkiwon, and he mentioned that in his discussions with us. I don't know how it is within other systems, but traditional TKD practices that point-it is impolite to ask someone what rank they hold.
Again, if a color belt asks me, I can forgive a breach of etiquette. If a black belt asks me, it means they have not learned good manners.

See my earlier notes on "traditional" Tae Kwon Do. You Grandmaster may have a high rank inside his organization. I assume it would be a breach of politeness to ask how high. But since I'm not even a colored belt I can only suppose that you will "forgive" me. It would be sort of strange since I don't really care one way or another about your forgiveness. As you say, you don't know about other systems. It is, therefore, presumptuous to tell someone he is being rude without knowing the particular customs and standards under which he operates.

I wouldn't expect someone who quotes Brue Lee to understand

In an otherwise forgettable movie from the 70s there was one good line. An ANC leader was on trial in South Africa. The prosecutor asked "Isn't it true that you've read The Communist Manifesto?" He replied "Yes. I've also read Mein Kampf, the Magna Carta and Winnie the Pooh." Adept requires no defense. We are all aware that he or she is an intelligent person who writes well. But if you wish to talk about rudeness and acceptable behavior please be aware that your own behavior is not beyond reproach. You're not violating some arcane rule from the self-contained world of your martial arts school. Crude attempts at sarcastic dismissal are the depth of poor manners anywhere in the world, especially when they are used to denigrate real points of argument. In some places it would have earned you a punch in the snoot.
 

TraditionalTKD

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I wasn't trying to be sarcastic. Many Bruce Lee fans are also fans of his philosophy and use his writings as an excuse to justify dismissal of many of the philosophical underpinnings of traditional martial arts, many of which go back hundreds of years, far older than many of the teachings of the man they admire. A man who died at the ripe age of 33.
And my Instructor has told us repeatedly that these are not his rules, they are rules established and practiced by the world Tae Kwon Do community. And since he has been around the world promoting Tae Kwon Do, I hardly think his views are "insular".
He is 9th Dan Kukkiwon BTW. And modern Tae Kwon Do is far from a cheap distillation of Japanese-Okinawan-Chinese styles. It stands on its own quite well thank you.
 

Adept

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Many Bruce Lee fans are also fans of his philosophy and use his writings as an excuse to justify dismissal of many of the philosophical underpinnings of traditional martial arts

Such as?

many of which go back hundreds of years, far older than many of the teachings of the man they admire.

Does age equate to accuracy and efficacy?

A man who died at the ripe age of 33.

Relevance?

And my Instructor has told us repeatedly that these are not his rules, they are rules established and practiced by the world Tae Kwon Do community.

That still doesn't make it sensible.
 

tellner

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Probably both. You quoted Bruce Lee, which means that you most likely agree with his philosophies.
Bruce Lee felt that tradition and etiquette were worthless-that how well you could fight was the only indicator of your skill as a martial artist. The purpose of martial arts is not just to produce good technique, it is to produce good people as well. I admire his technique if not his approach.
Asking someone their rank is like asking someone their age. In this country, if you ask someone their age, they quite possibly will get offended, because they will feel their age is irrelevant. So we have a similar philosophy in this country. If you don't practice martial arts and ask my rank, I will tell you. If you are a junior student I will tell you. If you are a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I will probably tell you, but I'm also thinking you don't understand Tae Kwon Do etiquette. A non-TKD black belt I might be willing to let slide if it is not part of your art's etiquette.
If a black belt asks my rank, I will probably just say I am an Instructor level black belt. If you really need to know, just look at the number on my belt.
For everyone who says rank is not important, there you go.

Sheesh. I should have given up a while ago. Maybe it's the new meds. The ability to focus is a two-edged sword. *oy*

You're putting a lot of words into the late Mr. Lee's mouth. One wonders how well you knew him. I don't agree with everything the man said, but you know, it's not a bad place to start. So here's a story. When my Silat teacher - who also doesn't have a belt or a rank - was a young teen he wanted to learn from someone other than his grandmother. And his uncle lived a long way away, so he couldn't train with him as often as he would have liked. He started looking for a guru. Whenever he came home and started talking about some new teacher his grandmother had one question. "Stevie, can he fight?" If the answer wasn't an emphatic "Yes!" she would say something like "No good. Find someone else." Once he found someone who could pug it was time for other questions. It may not be the only measure of someone's skill as a martial artist. But it's a damned important one. Comments about how thus-and-such is "just fighting, not real martial arts" will earn you a less polite rant.

Martial arts don't have an inherent purpose. They are tools or more properly technologies that can serve many different ends. Because most grown ups understand this it is considered polite not to project one's own desires and goals on those who may not share them. Being able to fight is a perfectly understandable and legitimate goal. I've been taking African and Middle Eastern drumming for a few years not because I want to be in a band but because it's important for my martial arts development and a part of certain religious practices in which I participate. Other people take it up for other reasons. Since I am not them I do not presume to tell them why their goals are wrong and they should be just like me.

Now as to the importance of tradition and etiquette, that could be another whole megillah. I'll keep it shorter and over simplify. Keep in mind that I study a traditional martial art from a teacher who is pretty Old School. So...

Why should anyone care?

Tradition and manners can serve several ends. We will consider only a few: cultural conservation, role-playing, the maintenance of a harmonious social order and the avoidance of needless conflict or easy access to useful mental states.

One reason to engage in traditional practices is a desire to preserve something valuable which might otherwise be lost. If that's what you want to do, great. Practice away. Find a bunch of like-minded people and keep the flame alive. It's your thing, not mine, so don't expect me to participate.

Another reason is a desire to copy people whom one respects. Often this ties in with a usually unstated belief that that past time was better. In other words, a less-elaborate version of the SCA or Star Trek fandom combined with theater. Again, be like your heroes. Hang out with people who admire the same people whom you do. Admire in each other the ideals which you love. Don't expect everyone else to play by the script.

We are social animals. As practicing martial artists we are, at least in theory, capable of being dangerous. Formal etiquette gives us ways of working with one another without getting into a lot of fights. We tone down the aggression signals. We have formalized dominance and submission behaviors. We back down without being submissive, maintain a respectful distance and engage in ritualized displays so that we can get things done without constant jockeying for position or causing offense inadvertently. One definition of a gentleman is someone who never hurts another unintentionally. To the extent to which tradition and etiquette serve these ends they are useful. If they do not, they are ritualized behavior divorced from reality. In other words a possibly comforting neurosis.

Habitual and ritualized behavior can be associated with particular mental states. You ingrain the ritual so that your mind will react quickly to the stimulus and evoke the desired mental and emotional response. The rituals can be completely individual or rigidly institutionalized. It's all a matter of conditioning. When one loses sight of the goal and engages in the practice for the sake of going through the ritual there is a serious disconnect.
 

Brandon Fisher

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6th Dan Seijitsu Shin Do - Karate Do
Ranking from the Zen Sekai Bujitsu Kyokai (Kyoshi Frank Williams) and the Okinawa Kensei Do Ko Kai (Hanshi Seifuku Nitta)
 

Kacey

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It is part of traditional Tae Kwon Do etiquette. Our GM is a senior Instructor within the Kukkiwon, and he mentioned that in his discussions with us. I don't know how it is within other systems, but traditional TKD practices that point-it is impolite to ask someone what rank they hold.
Again, if a color belt asks me, I can forgive a breach of etiquette. If a black belt asks me, it means they have not learned good manners.

Hmm... I've been in TKD for 20 years (Ch'ang H'on - so not the Kukkiwon; we were with the ITF originally) and I have never heard such a rule. Now, it's possible that this is a Kukkiwon/WTF concept that Ch'ang H'on/ITF does not include; it is also possible that it is something peculiar to your own organization. I would invite anyone who is a member of the Kukkiwon to comment on this issue, as I find it interesting, if somewhat inexplicable. Certainly, if I were in your presence, I could check your belt (assuming you're wearing it when we meet), but when I started TKD in 1987, no one in the association I belonged to wore embroidered belts; they wore belts with stripes made of cloth sewn on them. Therefore, if you encountered someone you didn't know and were trying to determine rank - to decide who lined up where, for example - you would not only compare ranks by asking, but also compare certificate numbers, as people holding lower numbers either tested sooner, or tested on the same day and were older, and thus senior.

In addition, you know no one on this board, and you don't know that all organizations use the same rules (indeed, I have never heard of that particular rule); unless you have taken the time to delve into their profiles, you have no idea what rank(s) people hold in which art(s) - so even if what you say is true, that your organization considers it rude to ask another's rank, how do you know that the person you are berating for what you perceive as discourtesy even follows the same rules as yourself? And if their rules are different, then who is rude - the person who follows their own rules and lets others do the same, or the person who insists on judging all other people by the rules of the organization to which they belong?

Oh... and I'm a IV Dan.
 

Kwan Jang

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I hold several dan rankings in several different systems since 1971. I also train in and teach a few systems that don't use any belt systems. BTW, I am not offended by people being curious or wanting to share, that's what I am here for (despite being a TKD 6th dan. LOL).
 

jks9199

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No belt...Master Instructor in Police Defensive Tactics..
That's a black belt! Or at least, I know my duty belt is black... Even our sheriff's deputies here have moved away from brown...
 

kidswarrior

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How about suspenders? Would a nice pair of black suspenders be acceptable?

:)

Hey, for the record, I don't care if you use a drawstring (hear red's the new black, tho, if you're into status), suspenders, or a pickle barrel. Just keep the stuff covered that no one wants to see, 'K?
 

Adept

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Hey, for the record, I don't care if you use a drawstring (hear red's the new black, tho, if you're into status), suspenders, or a pickle barrel. Just keep the stuff covered that no one wants to see, 'K?

Ya know, I've got a funny story about that...

:uhyeah:
 
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