When do we really get the "Good Stuff"?

Flying Crane

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On numerous occasions, I have heard people claim that training up to First Degree Black Belt is just the basics, and the "good stuff" really comes after that. How do you all feel about this kind of statement? Do you think it is true? For those of you who hold higher rank, is this an accurate statement, based on your experiences? For those of you who practice an art that does not use a ranking system, then maybe the equivalent could be training for over 7 years or so, or some other benchmark that would be roughly equivalent, you decide for yourself if you fit this category.

Personally, I am not sure I buy it.

To me, earning a first degree black belt is proving your dedication to your training, as well as proving that you have developed some reasonably reliable skills and knowledge in your art. It certainly does not mean that you know it all, or have a perfect and complete understanding of what you have learned, but maybe we never really do anyway, regardless of rank. This basis of knowledge and skill puts you in a position to really begin to grow and develop more fully as a martial artists, and better understand what you have been training. Of course there is always more to learn and room to grow, no matter what level one reaches. As your experience grows, your capacity to understand what you are doing also increases.

But do instructors really hold back "secret techniques" or special knowlege that is only given to those who have already earned at least first degree?

I have heard some very senior people in the martial arts state that there are no secret techniques. It is only basics that are thoroughly understood and applied well. I am more inclined to believe this, then believe that I am missing some "secret teachings" if I don't achieve a high rank from a particular instructor.
 

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Some of the more open hand defence methods joint maniplations take downs Defelecting parry type blocks are left out until blac belt levels in several arts. Now arts that do not go the belt levels many give you the real deal by the time you have trained 2 to 3 years. They give what could be considered the most common used tools that work most of the time. There are no real secrets to the M/A yes many years ago when M/A was a key for defence things was held back not showed to only trusted students that had deicated there self to a instructor. But those days are gone. M/A is not a key aspect any more. But yes 1st degree black belt means you are becoming good at the basics thats why there are miore degrees. from 1st through 4th and to 5 th in some arts you still learn new things. after you just are promoteed on time and what you have done to promote the art. Can a white belt beat a black belt in a real fight yes sao does the belt mean you can out fight any body under a black belt NO so it is something to wear around the waist nothing else.
 

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We have no "secret" techniques, but we do have techniques that are not practiced until a student has shown consistent ability and knowledge of the basics. That's Black Belt. At that point, they have the knowledge and ability to take the next step. It has everything to do with practicality and nothing to do with secrets. To build anything without a solid foundation makes no sense.
 

beau_safken

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I'm with ya Mike.

I have never held a black belt at all. But the arts I have done in the past have shown you pretty much everything. The real trick to it just seems to be the time invested. I learned little things about what I was already doing and how much more there was to the forms or techniques. A black belt is just a means of rewarding people to make sure they stay or have some kind of arbitrary goal to persue. But hey, thats our McDojo reality. No real art is gonna teach someone that mearly paid some cash to acquire all the skills of that teacher. The real good ones are given to those that spend time not money for them.
 

stickarts

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I do teach more sophisticated stuff to more advanced ranks so if you find sophisticated stuff "fun", then you might say you have that to look forward to! :)
The basic stuff to me is still fun though and thats what i fall back on in sparring. In my experience, when you really get down to the knitty gritty, its not about secrets, it about developing and sharpening your skills to the highest level possible.
When i was working with my sparring teacher, we all had side kicks and back fists and reverse punches, etc....The difference was that his were the sharpest from years of dedicated training and he used them with confidence that his experience gave him.
I think the path to mastery is never getting tired of the basics and always striving to improve them.
There are basic drills that i loved doing nearly 20 years ago that i still love today.
 

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Flying Crane said:
On numerous occasions, I have heard people claim that training up to First Degree Black Belt is just the basics, and the "good stuff" really comes after that. How do you all feel about this kind of statement? Do you think it is true?
I feel there is some truth to that. Although, my interpretation is a little different. I believe it is all relative. Before black belt each level brings with it it's own "good stuff" that is visible to self and it's level of goodness is valued by the self. As one learns more and more, their definition of what is good changes, it morphs into deeper understanding of things and then the "good stuff" that is visible is not visible to those who have not yet attained the eyes to see.

Flying Crane said:
But do instructors really hold back "secret techniques" or special knowlege that is only given to those who have already earned at least first degree?

I am more inclined to believe this, then believe that I am missing some "secret teachings" if I don't achieve a high rank from a particular instructor.
No I don't believe that instructors hold back (at least as I see the art I train in) knowledge. However I believe that as a person trains and gets better, they gain new eyes and can see things they could not possibly see before. I believe it is not "Secret Teachings", rather I believe it is "Secret Understanding". The information is always there, just do you have the eyes to see it. These are things that cannot be taught, but has to be discovered.
 

terryl965

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My answer will be different from everybody else but the "GOOD STUFF" as you have put it starts the very first day you put on that uniform and start training. The discipline you will recieve will last long after all the physical benefits leaves your body.
Just my opinion.
Terry
 
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Flying Crane

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stickarts said:
I do teach more sophisticated stuff to more advanced ranks so if you find sophisticated stuff "fun", then you might say you have that to look forward to! :)
The basic stuff to me is still fun though and thats what i fall back on in sparring. In my experience, when you really get down to the knitty gritty, its not about secrets, it about developing and sharpening your skills to the highest level possible.
When i was working with my sparring teacher, we all had side kicks and back fists and reverse punches, etc....The difference was that his were the sharpest from years of dedicated training and he used them with confidence that his experience gave him.
I think the path to mastery is never getting tired of the basics and always striving to improve them.
There are basic drills that i loved doing nearly 20 years ago that i still love today.

I think you have make some good statements here.

I think also that some people confuse Complex and Sophisticated with Complicated. Complicated is no good and doesn't work, but complex and sophisticated can take training to a higher level. Complex and Sophisticated is really just basics applied at a higher level, but still done well.
 
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Flying Crane

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Bigshadow said:
I feel there is some truth to that. Although, my interpretation is a little different. I believe it is all relative. Before black belt each level brings with it it's own "good stuff" that is visible to self and it's level of goodness is valued by the self. As one learns more and more, their definition of what is good changes, it morphs into deeper understanding of things and then the "good stuff" that is visible is not visible to those who have not yet attained the eyes to see.


No I don't believe that instructors hold back (at least as I see the art I train in) knowledge. However I believe that as a person trains and gets better, they gain new eyes and can see things they could not possibly see before. I believe it is not "Secret Teachings", rather I believe it is "Secret Understanding". The information is always there, just do you have the eyes to see it. These are things that cannot be taught, but has to be discovered.

Yeah, well said. I can sink my teeth into these ideas. Very eloquent, this is what I have believed but I think you have said it very well.
 

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Bigshadow said:
I feel there is some truth to that. Although, my interpretation is a little different. I believe it is all relative. Before black belt each level brings with it it's own "good stuff" that is visible to self and it's level of goodness is valued by the self. As one learns more and more, their definition of what is good changes, it morphs into deeper understanding of things and then the "good stuff" that is visible is not visible to those who have not yet attained the eyes to see.


No I don't believe that instructors hold back (at least as I see the art I train in) knowledge. However I believe that as a person trains and gets better, they gain new eyes and can see things they could not possibly see before. I believe it is not "Secret Teachings", rather I believe it is "Secret Understanding". The information is always there, just do you have the eyes to see it. These are things that cannot be taught, but has to be discovered.

I agree as well - especially with the "Secret Understanding" part. When you start any MA, it is 90% physical and 10% mental - drill, designed to teach you to react automatically for defense. As you improve your physical ability and earn increased rank, the proportions begin to change - until at black belt it becomes 10% physical and 90% mental, not in terms of what you do in class, but in terms of what you are taught and what you understand of what you are taught - the emphasis shifts from "learn this" to "understand this". The proportions may vary from art to art, but the idea remains the same; first one learns, and then one learns to understand.
 

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Kacey said:
the emphasis shifts from "learn this" to "understand this". The proportions may vary from art to art, but the idea remains the same; first one learns, and then one learns to understand.

I really like how you said that! Excellent!
 

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I've had some students ask similar questions, but I'll present this from a slightly different angle.

Some will see other kids (kyu rank) at tournaments who are of similar rank, yet they'll be doing some kata that are normally taught at dan ranks (Kanku Sho, Jitte, Jion), while they're still working on something like Kanku Dai. Or, maybe they'll see other kids doing Bassai Dai, when they're still working on the later Heian kata or Naihanchi / Tekki.

I simply tell them this, that they should trust in the quality of the techniques that they learned, and that if they properly apply those techniques, they'll do just fine. Many times, the kyu rank kids performing dan level kata are lacking in their fundamentals, and it almost seems as if they were rushed through the sequence, just so they can say that they learned it. Some of them have bad footwork, others lead with their upper body, or yes, even their head, when moving forward. These things really do add up, and I would much rather have the kids learn it correctly from the start.

Videotape is your friend in this case. At one of the tournaments, I did tape a child who was a 4th kyu rank performing Kanku Dai. Many, many small mistakes that were not immediately evident to the inexperienced eye, but they did add up.

When I compared this showing side by side with another child (one of my students) in that division who performed Tekki Shodan cleanly, and correctly, I showed each one of them side by side, step by step. When you compare the two of them, there really wasn't any comparison, and the kid who wasn't rushed ahead was deemed better by everyone watching the tapes.

Now, I am not saying to squash a kid's dreams. Far from it in fact. If a child proves capable of mastering all of the forms at his current rank, then I wouldn't have any hesitation in teaching him the next rank's requirements. However, until he has proven that he has a good command of the techniques at his current level, I would have to have him wait.

I think that a certain Jedi Master in the Star Wars series once said to be mindful of the future, but never at the expense of the present!
 

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Flying Crane said:
But do instructors really hold back "secret techniques" or special knowlege that is only given to those who have already earned at least first degree?

I have heard some very senior people in the martial arts state that there are no secret techniques. It is only basics that are thoroughly understood and applied well. I am more inclined to believe this, then believe that I am missing some "secret teachings" if I don't achieve a high rank from a particular instructor.
Hey Michael :)
Yes I too have heard this "now you get the good stuff" in common parlance to new BBs. And I am still waiting for my good stuff two years after getting my second black. I think you are correct insofar as secret techniques are a mythology with goodness knows what sources.

It's maybe irrelevant or tangential I know but one thing I always noticed wherever I went was that there is a greater acceptance of the new BB as finally being a "serious" practitioner with the implication that everyone below that rank is somehow just playing at their martial arts studies and this I find a silly notion but one that exists regardless. That would be the only equation I would make to "the secret teachings" because with this acceptance of the practitioner finally having "serious" intentions, comes training in a different way. I have noticed this I wonder has anyone else and how odd that it we should only be privvy to this stepped up training suddenly as a result of passing some arbitrary belt test...

Anyway... oh btw, you are a latin speaker?? Your signature - no point in arguing over tastes? Yes?? Clever. And apt! No point in arguing but we all know arguing is fun even in its pointlessness, ha! :)

Yr most obdt hmble srvt,
Jenna
 

IcemanSK

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The title of this thread made me think of "The Simpson's" episode when Bart takes Karate. He's in the room 2 minutes & says, "When do we break out the numb-chuks?!"

Seriously though, I've seen that "good stuff" implication by instructors used aa an invisible carrott to dangle in front of students for a long time. "When you are ready, Grasshopper," kind of thought. Even Master Po let Kane go into the world to see what was out there. My 1st instructor, as much as I respect him, never promoted anyone beyond 1st Dan to my knowledge....Including a guy who fought at the World Championships & took 2nd place!

I think the "good stuff" is out there. Its not in secret techniques. Its in showing up & training hard for years. With the experience (hopefully) comes maturity & desire to share the Art. Instructors are in the business (ultimately) of reproducing themselves. Their students should grow to be able to teach & "leave the nest." Instructors who only have under-developed (emtionally) students who are under the thumb of the instructor year in & year out, says little for the instructor.

I wish I felt strongly about this subject.
 
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Flying Crane

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Jenna said:
Hey Michael :)
Yes I too have heard this "now you get the good stuff" in common parlance to new BBs. And I am still waiting for my good stuff two years after getting my second black. I think you are correct insofar as secret techniques are a mythology with goodness knows what sources.

It's maybe irrelevant or tangential I know but one thing I always noticed wherever I went was that there is a greater acceptance of the new BB as finally being a "serious" practitioner with the implication that everyone below that rank is somehow just playing at their martial arts studies and this I find a silly notion but one that exists regardless. That would be the only equation I would make to "the secret teachings" because with this acceptance of the practitioner finally having "serious" intentions, comes training in a different way. I have noticed this I wonder has anyone else and how odd that it we should only be privvy to this stepped up training suddenly as a result of passing some arbitrary belt test...

Anyway... oh btw, you are a latin speaker?? Your signature - no point in arguing over tastes? Yes?? Clever. And apt! No point in arguing but we all know arguing is fun even in its pointlessness, ha! :)

Yr most obdt hmble srvt,
Jenna

Hi Jenna,

More good thoughts here. I appreciate the feedback. I always questioned this mythology, and it looks like we are seeing a lot of agreement here. Different people have a different way of expressing it, but it looks like most people who have bothered to respond are on the same page.

No I am not a Latin speaker, but I always thought this was a funny, and often appropriate liner. My dad had all the Latin and Greek instruction when he was in school, including two years in a Catholic seminary before he decided to NOT become a priest, and get married and have a bunch of kids instead. This is one that he sometimes tosses around, and I just stole it from him
icon12.gif
.
 
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Flying Crane

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IcemanSK said:
I think the "good stuff" is out there. Its not in secret techniques. Its in showing up & training hard for years. With the experience (hopefully) comes maturity & desire to share the Art. Instructors are in the business (ultimately) of reproducing themselves. Their students should grow to be able to teach & "leave the nest." Instructors who only have under-developed (emtionally) students who are under the thumb of the instructor year in & year out, says little for the instructor.

I am in huge agreement with you here. Esp. the part about students being able to leave the nest and be on their own. So often it seems that people get really hung up over their associations with others, and need to take direction from others even when they have earned a surprisingly high rank. I often think, "why would XYZ instructor, who is a 6th degree, need to check with his teacher about every little thing he does?" It never made sense to me. People need to be willing and able to stand on their own two feet, no matter rank, whether they are a white belt, or a seasoned 9th degree.

Even a beginner should internalize what he has learned, and make it his own. If he needs to check with his teacher every time he practices something, then he hasn't learned it yet. Even a white belt could end up on his own, without a school to attend, but he could keep practicing what he has learned and make it the best it can be. No sense it giving it up and failing to practice, just because Sensei isn't standing in front of you telling you to do it.
 

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Flying Crane said:
I am in huge agreement with you here. Esp. the part about students being able to leave the nest and be on their own.
Yes, I agree here as well. "Learning" is a lonesome endeavor. People walk the path alone. Sure we have training partners and such, but the instructor or teacher is just showing you "how To", the learning you have to do on your own.

Let's not forget, the instructor is a student too (or at least IMO should be) and hopefully is always progressing ahead of their students, constantly showing them, there is something more, always more.
 

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Okay... it's hokey... it's silly... and it's one of my favorites; I play this for my class periodically, to remind them of the need for basics before getting to "the good stuff":

"Boot to the Head", by the Frantics (free download here)

PART I : THE LESSON

MASTER: Approach student, close the circle at the feet of the master. You have come to me asking that I be your guide along he path of Tae Kwon Leap. But, be warned: To learn its ways, you must learn the ways of your own soul. Let us meditate on this wisdom now. So: Ohhhhmmmmm...

STUDENT1 (Ed Gruberman): Uh, sir! Sir! (Oo!, Oo!) Sir!

MASTER: Who disturbs our meditation, as a pebble disturbs the stillness of the pond?

EG: Me! Ed Gruberman!

MASTER: E-Ed Gruberman.

EG: Yeah, uh, no disrespect or nuthin', but, uh, how long is this gonna take?

MASTER: Tae Kwon Leap is not a path to a door, but a road leading forever towards the horizon.

EG: So like, what, an hour or so?

MASTER: No, no, we have not even begun upon the path. Ed Gruberman, you must learn patience.

EG: Yeah yeah yeah, patience. How long will that take?

MASTER: Time has no meaning. To a true student, a year is as a day.

EG: A YEAR??? I wanna beat people up right now! I got the pajamas! Yah yah yah hwoom!

MASTER: 'Beat people up'...

EG: Yeah! Just show me all those nifty moves so I can start trashing bozos! That's all I came here for! YO ASTA STA STA!!! Pretty good, ey?

MASTER: The only use of Tae Kwon Leap is self-defense. Do you know who said that? Ki Lo Ni, the great teacher.

EG: Yeah? Well the best defense is a good offense, you know who said that? Mel, the cook on 'Alice'.

MASTER: Tae Kwon Leap is the wine of purity, not the vinegar of hostility. Meditate upon this truth with us. Ohmmmmmm.....

EG: Listen, shrimp! Now are you gonna show me some fancy moves, or am I gonna start wipin' the walls with you?

MASTER: Ed Gruberman, you fail to grasp Tae Kwon Leap. Approach me that you might see.

EG: All right! Finally some action!

MASTER: Observe closely, class. Boot to the Head! (SH-ZOOMP!)

EG (drunkenly): Owww! You booted me in the head!

MASTER: You are lucky, Ed Gruberman. Few novices experience so much of Tae Kwon Leap so soon.

EG (quietly, to himself): Ow, oh, my head!

MASTER: Now we continue. Ohhhmmmmm...

EG: Hey! I wasn't ready! Come and get me now shorty, hah? Come on, are ya chicken?

MASTER: Boot to the head! (SH-ZOOMP!)

EG (again, drunkenly): Oww! Okay, now I'm ready, okay, now, come on, try it now.

MASTER: Boot to the head! (SH-ZOOMP!)

EG: Mind if I just lie down here for a minute?

MASTER: Now class, we shall return to our..

STUDENT2: Master?

MASTER: It is wrong to tip the vessel of knowledge, student.

STUDENT2: Many apologies, master. But I feel Ed Gruberman is not wholly wrong.

MASTER: What do you mean?

STUDENT2: I want to boot some head, too.

MASTER: Have you learned nothing from the lesson of Ed Gruberman?

STUDENT2: Yes, master. I have learned two things. First, that anger is a weapon only to one's opponent.

MASTER: Very good.

STUDENT2: And secondly, get in the first shot. Boot to the head. (SH-ZOOMP!)

MASTER: You missed.

STUDENT2: Yeah. Well...

MASTER: You too shall be honored to learn a lesson...

STUDENT2: You don't have to, you know. I gotta be going...

MASTER: Boot to the head! (SH-ZOOMP!)

STUDENT2 (agonizing pain): Oyyy oy oyyyy.... Oh....

MASTER: Can anyone tell us what lesson has been learned here?

STUDENT3: Yes, master. Not a single one of us could defeat you.

MASTER: You gain wisdom, child.

STUDENT3: So we'll hafta gang up on ya! Get 'im guys!

(Master throws many Boot-to-the-head's and SH-ZOOMP's, and people are groaning in pain)

MASTER: And now class, let us rejoin the mind to the body and gaze into the heart of the candle of meditation.

UNISON: Ohhhmmmm....

MASTER: Very good, class.
 
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Flying Crane

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Kacey said:
Okay... it's hokey... it's silly... and it's one of my favorites; I play this for my class periodically, to remind them of the need for basics before getting to "the good stuff":

So it's YOU!!!
 

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I can tell you that we never hold the 'good stuff' back at our school. We simply can't deliver the good stuff until the student is in a position to understand and apply the good stuff.

In one case the student might be a green belt. In another it's black belt. When we see a student is getting it ... we shovel as much of the good stuff their way as we can.
 
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