What to do when an advanced belt has lost it?

OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
Sadly I was friends with a young lady (4th dan) and when I taught practical situations she would have been helpless. She knew all the forms, had good striking and kicking power, which is worthless if one doesn't know how to apply them. I taught grabs and not only she but other balck belts simply froze and did nothing. They "knew" the art but didn't know how to use it.
Quite frankly, this is unfair. If a boxer gets taken down, and doesn't know how to ground fight, because all he's ever done is boxing, is that an indictment on his boxing gym?

If you take someone who's training is in punches and kicks, and you grab them, it's not fair to criticize them for not knowing what to do in a situation they aren't trained for.

Taekwondo is, at its core, forms and kicks. Everything else you learn at a Taekwondo school is a plus.

I only hope that you used this as an opportunity to teach how to deal with that situation, instead of an opportunity to show them how much better you are because you know how to deal with the situation.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
The worst thing you can do is reward bad behavior. If they are getting progressively worse, you shouldn't be giving them an opportunity to test, and certainly shouldn't be promoting them. It sends the wrong message to them and the other students. It also makes it that much more difficult to bring their skills up to the standard of the belt they are wearing.
Let me explain the situation in slightly more detail, and you might get what I mean.

Right now I have one specific kid in mind, but I have seen this plenty more than this one kid. He started around 8 years old. He wasn't the most coordinated or the fastest learner, but he was enthusiastic and worked hard. If I were to give him a score for his abilities at each belt level, there was an upward curve from white through green belt (total of 6 belts).

As a blue belt (3 belts, because of the stripes), he didn't really improve his technique, but he wasn't really on a decline yet. It was like he had let off the gas. He's still moving forward with learning the curriculum (i.e. the stuff you memorize for testing). He wasn't getting A grades on his test, but he wasn't failing it either.

By the time he got to red belt, the effects of letting his foot off the gas had started to materialize. Bad habits (i.e. loose fist, dropping the hand in forms instead of keeping tight chamber at the hip) started to creep in. He would rarely kick above his waist, rarely kiyhap above a whisper, and he was quickly losing any crispness in his punches.

He coasted through blue belt, but the sharp decline hit in red belt.

I've already divided the question into 50/50 (as instructor, as owner), but now I'm dividing it in another metric. What to do when you see these blue belts who are on the decline to avoid the steep fall at red, and what to do with those red belts. So now I have four quadrants of the question.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
I almost wonder if we need a name for a dojang that's on the spectrum of a mcdojo, but not quite there.

Both the school I attend now and the school I attended have had the quality (in terms of what the potential for learning is), but not the quality control (at least by my estimation). But, someone who is sloppy and unfocused generally doesn't progress as fast as someone who is.

So it's not exactly a mcdojo by either the instant-gratification or the low-quality benchmarks. You're not guaranteed to get your belt in any amount of time, and there is the potential for a high level of skill if you take advantage of the opportunity. But it's also not exactly a meritocracy either.
 

HighKick

Green Belt
Joined
Apr 8, 2023
Messages
176
Reaction score
65
I saw this quite a few times at my last school. You have a student who was at least decent, if not great, by the time they were a green belt. Then, by blue they get lazy and start to coast (instead of improving technique), and by red belt their technique is almost as bad as when they had first started.

I don't know how much of it is just that they've stopped trying, or it's that they want to quit but their parents won't let them (often because they want them to learn the discipline I'm trying to teach). In either case, it's been a challenge to try and motivate kids like this, and an embarrassment that they hold such rank with such a poor attitude and performance.

Have you seen this in the past? What have you done to try and get them to work hard and improve? Demotions? Counseling? Talk to their parents?
Green belt level is far and away the highest color for attrition. The shiny newness of training has worn off and reality has set in. For many it is when a real decision about their martial arts future is made. This becomes a quagmire when the strict parent is part of the decision-making process.
We work very hard at separating green belts and stressing these truths to them. Really emphasize the importance of quality class time and inject the idea of responsibility in them. We Never talk about repetition too much. There is a clear difference in the amount of push green belts get. The target is to mentally plateau somewhat at red belt (we are two green belts, one blue belt before red). Red belt gets very physical. This is used as a preparation tool for green/blue belts.
I personally would never use demotions on kids or teens. I think this would be the quickest to run people off and start a bad school reputation. Counseling is continuous during regular classes. Maybe your model needs working on? I try to talk to parents almost daily.
It is not a militaristic model we are trying to create. Instead, it has to be a place people want to come to. Yes, there is a curriculum and incremental requirements to achieve for every belt level, but some people get there in different ways. It is up to the instructor to see and work with these differences quite often. In other words, there is always more than one way to skin a cat.
This is a great question.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
I think most folks in this thread are missing one key aspect of the question.

I'm not talking about an adult who made the decision to do martial arts, but rather a kid who is being put into martial arts by their parents in the hopes it will help with discipline, respect, and self-defense.

These aren't helicopter parents nor absent parents. The parents are present when the kids are in class, but they don't disrupt class or micromanage.

Having done martial arts as a kid and an adult, there's a big difference when it's just something you go to because your parents bring you, and when it's something that you pay for and make time for.
 

HighKick

Green Belt
Joined
Apr 8, 2023
Messages
176
Reaction score
65
I think most folks in this thread are missing one key aspect of the question.

I'm not talking about an adult who made the decision to do martial arts, but rather a kid who is being put into martial arts by their parents in the hopes it will help with discipline, respect, and self-defense.

These aren't helicopter parents nor absent parents. The parents are present when the kids are in class, but they don't disrupt class or micromanage.

Having done martial arts as a kid and an adult, there's a big difference when it's just something you go to because your parents bring you, and when it's something that you pay for and make time for.
I call them active parents or 'birddog' parents. But I treat them the same and make every attempt to talk with them after classes.
Birddog parents and always tougher because they have expectations that are not always realistic or relative to the class or training. I try to be fully honest and explain this if necessary and place the real or correct expectations in front of them. Then give an assessment of their child relative to the expectations. Then, I talk about what they can do at home to augment the training process. I make it very, very, clear that no instructor can do this on their own, especially when they only see at child 3-6 hours/week.
 

wab25

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,318
Reaction score
1,175
I'm not talking about an adult who made the decision to do martial arts, but rather a kid who is being put into martial arts by their parents in the hopes it will help with discipline, respect, and self-defense.
This is the issue right here. The kid is not there because he wants to be there and learn TKD. He is there for "day care" or "to be active"... He is there because his parents want him there, not because he is interested in TKD.

You can't fix that. His parents can't fix that. The kid has different interests.

When you are running a school for profit.... you need to bring in the kids, they pay the bills. But, most kids are going to be there, for the "day care." That's just part of it.

In the dojo where I trained... it was not for profit. So, we really only wanted people who were interested. Therefore, our focus was on the adult class. We did have a kids program. But, the parents were told that we were not a "day care." If the kid participates and follows instruction then they were welcome... but if the kid lost interest, we would ask them to move on. The other part was the belts.... in the adult class you go white, blue, green, brown, black. The kids had a lot more colors, yellow, orange, red, purple... and a bunch of stripes.... But the highest rank for the kids, was purple... which equated to the adult blue belt in curriculum. If the kid wanted to get to green and keep moving, he had to attend the adult class and participate in an adult class. Step one, he had to do the blue belt throws with adults, then move towards the green belt rank with the other adults. Not many kids did this.... but we never ended up with any kid brown belts or black belts either.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
I call them active parents or 'birddog' parents. But I treat them the same and make every attempt to talk with them after classes.
Birddog parents and always tougher because they have expectations that are not always realistic or relative to the class or training. I try to be fully honest and explain this if necessary and place the real or correct expectations in front of them. Then give an assessment of their child relative to the expectations. Then, I talk about what they can do at home to augment the training process. I make it very, very, clear that no instructor can do this on their own, especially when they only see at child 3-6 hours/week.
Even in class.

For example, some students, you point out a bad habit, and they work on it and after a few weeks never make it again.

Some students, you point out a bad habit, and they fix it for the day, but start over next time. You know they aren't practicing at home.

These students, that this thread is about, you point out a bad habit, and they fix it for that instance, but ten seconds later are doing it again. It's often a habit they've recently developed, that previously they've been doing good.

This isn't even about practice at home, but level of effort in class.
 

Holmejr

Brown Belt
Joined
Dec 23, 2017
Messages
440
Reaction score
261
Why in the world would you promote someone that doesnt deserve it? Money?
At our school when students waste the time of the school we kindly let them know. Nothing wrong with the senior instructors correcting and encouraging struggling or troubled students.
 

HighKick

Green Belt
Joined
Apr 8, 2023
Messages
176
Reaction score
65
Even in class.

For example, some students, you point out a bad habit, and they work on it and after a few weeks never make it again.

Some students, you point out a bad habit, and they fix it for the day, but start over next time. You know they aren't practicing at home.

These students, that this thread is about, you point out a bad habit, and they fix it for that instance, but ten seconds later are doing it again. It's often a habit they've recently developed, that previously they've been doing good.

This isn't even about practice at home, but level of effort in class.
Engraining a bad habit is the worst. I think some of it comes for the poor job some people do at teaching a technique in the beginning. I can't count the times I have seen someone gloss over a technique with a kid because "they will figure it out later".
 

Gwai Lo Dan

3rd Black Belt
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Messages
922
Reaction score
140
I can't count the times I have seen someone gloss over a technique with a kid because "they will figure it out later".
That's annoys me too. But when the class goes from 1 technique to the next and there are 15 kids, it's all glossed over with "they'll learn eventually".

Me, I'd rather do 1 technique and stay on that (e.g., turning kick, perhaps with variations), and give that as the homework ("knee up, turn sideways....just work on that this week". Then try another technique the next class. But perhaps too many students would find that too boring, too slow, and it's not my school.....so....
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
My Master's approach, which worked for the most part, was that keeping kids engaged long-term is more important than any immediate fix. The problem is when the fix gets delayed indefinitely.
 

Anarax

Master Black Belt
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
1,021
Reaction score
377
Location
New Mexico
I don't know how much of it is just that they've stopped trying, or it's that they want to quit but their parents won't let them (often because they want them to learn the discipline I'm trying to teach). In either case, it's been a challenge to try and motivate kids like this, and an embarrassment that they hold such rank with such a poor attitude and performance.
I know how frustrating this must be as an instructor. I've seen this plague multiple kids' classes.

Have you seen this in the past? What have you done to try and get them to work hard and improve? Demotions? Counseling? Talk to their parents?
If they are at an age and you feel comfortable enough to talk to them, then I would do so in private. Open communication is a good policy to have, it may also help him understand the situation better. If not, students like this can be a hinderance to class, especially if they hold a mid rank. Speaking to them first and seeing how receptive they are to you is a great way to assess and determine what the next best step is.
 

Phoenix44

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
1,616
Reaction score
68
Location
Long Island
You stay at blue until your skill level matches the rank you're going for.
This. I don't think you necessarily have to ask the person to leave just because they aren't advancing in rank. Maybe they just like the martial art, and want to practice without the pressure of rank. Having said that, I don't think they should be advanced in rank. You can discuss it with them (or the parents), or the student may bring it up. Then you can tell them why, and what they need to do to advance. And you'd better have an answer.
 

Balrog

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
1,761
Reaction score
469
Location
Houston, TX
I saw this quite a few times at my last school. You have a student who was at least decent, if not great, by the time they were a green belt. Then, by blue they get lazy and start to coast (instead of improving technique), and by red belt their technique is almost as bad as when they had first started.

I don't know how much of it is just that they've stopped trying, or it's that they want to quit but their parents won't let them (often because they want them to learn the discipline I'm trying to teach). In either case, it's been a challenge to try and motivate kids like this, and an embarrassment that they hold such rank with such a poor attitude and performance.

Have you seen this in the past? What have you done to try and get them to work hard and improve? Demotions? Counseling? Talk to their parents?
In my school, they would not have made it to red. I would not have given them permission to test for rank until both their attitude and their technique improved.

Private lessons, motivational counseling, whatever it took. I wanted my students to be successful and to take pride in their progress. They couldn't do that if they didn't earn it.
 

Khang24

White Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2023
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
I saw this quite a few times at my last school. You have a student who was at least decent, if not great, by the time they were a green belt. Then, by blue they get lazy and start to coast (instead of improving technique), and by red belt their technique is almost as bad as when they had first started.

I don't know how much of it is just that they've stopped trying, or it's that they want to quit but their parents won't let them (often because they want them to learn the discipline I'm trying to teach). In either case, it's been a challenge to try and motivate kids like this, and an embarrassment that they hold such rank with such a poor attitude and performance.

Have you seen this in the past? What have you done to try and get them to work hard and improve? Demotions? Counseling? Talk to their parents?
I've known a Taekwondo guy who claimed to be a red belt in TKD and practice chi power. For some reason of the things I've seen him do some half *** kick that barely look like a side kick to show his skills, he just swings his straight leg up high without looking where he was "kicking" while bringing it down without recoiling and his eyes was closed. While we were light sparring, 90% of the time his eyes were close and bowed while in his TKD fighting stance which was kind of weird for any TKD I might not knew of, then around 10-15 seconds he said "okay stop!" very pitifully after a series of getting punched in the gut and with me, while in self control, carried the fight offensively to him in the corner for disrespecting me by slapping my face while after I have mentioned there will be no face contact before the fight.

I guess his poor attitude for disrespecting other trained martial artists like myself must've gotten him to be reduce in rank or gotten kicked out of his school. He mentioned his "friend" has given him a red belt and I asked of him who is his friend's name and what are their genders? He got quiet and couldn't respond back, same question was asked of his teacher's name with the same quiet response, with his eyes closed and blank face. I'm a trained Karate guy by the way, and have no regrets on sparring this fake TKD guy and his "chi power".

His defeated face after giving up and trying to teach him some arm bar on the ground later while seeing his head bobbing left and right, eyes closed as usual, was priceless!

Never lie about Martial Arts, you might get yourself hurt or at worse get killed in a fight is something I would advise. Don't practice something that won't save you from potential death.
 

Khang24

White Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2023
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
I've known a Taekwondo guy who claimed to be a red belt in TKD and practice chi power. For some reason of the things I've seen him do some half *** kick that barely look like a side kick to show his skills, he just swings his straight leg up high without looking where he was "kicking" while bringing it down without recoiling and his eyes was closed. While we were light sparring, 90% of the time his eyes were close and bowed while in his TKD fighting stance which was kind of weird for any TKD I might not knew of, then around 10-15 seconds he said "okay stop!" very pitifully after a series of getting punched in the gut and with me, while in self control, carried the fight offensively to him in the corner for disrespecting me by slapping my face while after I have mentioned there will be no face contact before the fight.

I guess his poor attitude for disrespecting other trained martial artists like myself must've gotten him to be reduce in rank or gotten kicked out of his school. He mentioned his "friend" has given him a red belt and I asked of him who is his friend's name and what are their genders? He got quiet and couldn't respond back, same question was asked of his teacher's name with the same quiet response, with his eyes closed and blank face. I'm a trained Karate guy by the way, and have no regrets on sparring this fake TKD guy and his "chi power".

His defeated face after giving up and trying to teach him some arm bar on the ground later while seeing his head bobbing left and right, eyes closed as usual, was priceless!

Never lie about Martial Arts, you might get yourself hurt or at worse get killed in a fight is something I would advise. Don't practice something that won't save you from potential death.
Update: His friend hasn't given him a red belt, but he instead gave his "red belt" to his friend, is one way to lie from any fake out there. I've asked some other questions like what does his uniform color and uniform look like, where he went to train, how many other friends he knew of while he was there, how many years until he became a red belt, and all the responses are the same as my previous post above has already mentioned, he showed a blank face and his eyes closed. The way he bowed was more of a nod from his head while he's in the TKD fighting stance than a full body bow whenever you would usually see other trained martial artists you well knew of.

To this day, he never apologize from what he did.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,851
Location
San Francisco
Update: His friend hasn't given him a red belt, but he instead gave his "red belt" to his friend, is one way to lie from any fake out there. I've asked some other questions like what does his uniform color and uniform look like, where he went to train, how many other friends he knew of while he was there, how many years until he became a red belt, and all the responses are the same as my previous post above has already mentioned, he showed a blank face and his eyes closed. The way he bowed was more of a nod from his head while he's in the TKD fighting stance than a full body bow whenever you would usually see other trained martial artists you well knew of.

To this day, he never apologize from what he did.
Im a little confused: to whom did he need to apologize, and for what, exactly?
 

Khang24

White Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2023
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Im a little confused: to whom did he need to apologize, and for what, exactly?
From lying to me as he claimed to be a Red Belt in TKD. I don't take time wasters sparring with liars as they go out there in public or private whatever in their life and make some fake stories to get famous or something similar. He doesn't use any kicks while he's at it with his lies, not even using the basic common techniques like a front kick, round kick, and side kick for example.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,851
Location
San Francisco
From lying to me as he claimed to be a Red Belt in TKD. I don't take time wasters sparring with liars as they go out there in public or private whatever in their life and make some fake stories to get famous or something similar. He doesn't use any kicks while he's at it with his lies, not even using the basic common techniques like a front kick, round kick, and side kick for example.
I dont follow you. What was the lie he told, and how do you know it was a lie?
 
Top