why belt test?

Thisposthuman

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I have been studying Krav Maga for just over a year and have never done a belt test. My instructors never push it on me and it hasnt held me back in training but I am the only one of my peers, whom i started with, who isnt going for belts. I wanted to throw this out there to the krav community of why you all think it is or is not important.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I'm not part of the Krav community, but I'll toss in my few cents' worth.

Belts/ranks are only as useful as an instructor makes them. Tests have an inherent value if they are testing for a useful quality (and "useful" is very contextual).

So, in my program, a student doesn't really have a choice of whether to test or not - because those tests are a tool for me to use in teaching them. Nor whether to wear the next rank or not - because those ranks are useful when interacting with students who don't know them (it tells others in the art what techniques they are likely to know, for instance).

But that could have gone another way. I considered not having ranks or testing when I formed my curriculum. If I didn't have ranks and tests, I'd use other tools (probably actually still periodic tests, now that I think about it).

So, to me, it comes down to this: if ranks and tests are something your instructor uses, you should probably participate. They can be (aren't always - it depends upon the instructor, mostly) useful, and when they are used well, not participating in them can become a problem for others.
 

wab25

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If you read these forums, and other martial arts forums, you can find countless reasons instructors use belt tests. Most of those reasons are valid. Some you might actually agree with. But it breaks down to this. How your instructor, deals with belts and belt tests, is part of how he teaches his art. He does it in a particular way, for his reasons. If you like what he is teaching, and how he is teaching it, enough to regularly attend class... you should take part in all the training opportunities he provides.

Some instructors test, some don't, there are various numbers of belts and sometimes different requirements, written exams and so forth. These are part of how each instructor teaches his art. Its kind of like saying: I'll do your drills, learn your kicks, learn your blocks... but I won't learn your punches.

I am one of those guys that doesn't really care what funny color my belt is. I only care for the learning new stuff part and the getting better I what I think I know part. I got to the point where I really didn't care about the testing or the funny colors, so much so that I now wear whatever colors my instructors want me to wear. If they want me to take a test, then it is part of how that instructor wants to pass on his art. If I have decided that a particular instructor has what I want, then I take the tests and wear the colors he wants me to, just like I do the stretches, the push ups, the forms, katas, drills, sparring, situational awareness, punches, kicks and other techniques he asks me too. Its all part of the instructors way of transmitting his art to me.
 
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Thisposthuman

Thisposthuman

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I share your sentiment toward the belts. We do not have uniforms and no one wears belts during training, so it really doesnt matter. The instructors know everyone by name and how long they have been there except for the people in their first couple of weeks. At our school, you start at beginner class but everything beyond that is by invite only. Essentially the instructor makes a case by case judgement on what you can handle and thats how you move up into more advanced training. There are classes on MT, boxing, jiu jitsu...if you go through "level 1" classes enough times and the instructor thinks you can defend yourself well enough not to get hurt in a higher level, they will invite you...all that said, I am in for self defense period, i really couldnt care less about rank as long as it doesnt bar me from participation in advanced training. I could see, that if i change schools it could be hars for me to prove on paper my capabilities.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I share your sentiment toward the belts. We do not have uniforms and no one wears belts during training, so it really doesnt matter. The instructors know everyone by name and how long they have been there except for the people in their first couple of weeks. At our school, you start at beginner class but everything beyond that is by invite only. Essentially the instructor makes a case by case judgement on what you can handle and thats how you move up into more advanced training. There are classes on MT, boxing, jiu jitsu...if you go through "level 1" classes enough times and the instructor thinks you can defend yourself well enough not to get hurt in a higher level, they will invite you...all that said, I am in for self defense period, i really couldnt care less about rank as long as it doesnt bar me from participation in advanced training. I could see, that if i change schools it could be hars for me to prove on paper my capabilities.
Just a note - the way they are using "levels" is similar to how many places use ranks. They aren't something grandiose, just a way of designating someone is ready for the next "stuff". The belt is a visual way of recognizing these different levels in a mixed group.
 

JR 137

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I share your sentiment toward the belts. We do not have uniforms and no one wears belts during training, so it really doesnt matter. The instructors know everyone by name and how long they have been there except for the people in their first couple of weeks. At our school, you start at beginner class but everything beyond that is by invite only. Essentially the instructor makes a case by case judgement on what you can handle and thats how you move up into more advanced training. There are classes on MT, boxing, jiu jitsu...if you go through "level 1" classes enough times and the instructor thinks you can defend yourself well enough not to get hurt in a higher level, they will invite you...all that said, I am in for self defense period, i really couldnt care less about rank as long as it doesnt bar me from participation in advanced training. I could see, that if i change schools it could be hars for me to prove on paper my capabilities.
Substitute "level 1, 2, 3... for "belt 1, 2,3..." or "white belt, blue belt, yellow belt..." and there's no difference IMO. It's the nonsense stuff that people attach to them that can make them absurd.
 

drop bear

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Ok. here is the concept.

Training for specific concepts forces you to focus on areas of your martial arts that you may be avoiding.

So if I am a red hot striker i may not need to be very good at takedown. Which is cool.

But to get good at takedowns I would need to isolate that and just do wrestling. This will make me more well rounded and ultimately a better martial artist.

In the same way a belt test will force you to focus on a syllabus whether it is your go to game or not. And will like these situational exercises force you to become a better martial artist.

So ultimately you use these belts as a progressive learning tool.

In the same way if you Krav. You should also box kickbox or grapple.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Ok. here is the concept.

Training for specific concepts forces you to focus on areas of your martial arts that you may be avoiding.

So if I am a red hot striker i may not need to be very good at takedown. Which is cool.

But to get good at takedowns I would need to isolate that and just do wrestling. This will make me more well rounded and ultimately a better martial artist.

In the same way a belt test will force you to focus on a syllabus whether it is your go to game or not. And will like these situational exercises force you to become a better martial artist.

So ultimately you use these belts as a progressive learning tool.

In the same way if you Krav. You should also box kickbox or grapple.
Well said, DB.
 

Runs With Fire

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A well documented test adds credibility to claims of skill, knowledge and lineage of training. Not that it makes a difference to most people. In the instance of a student becoming an instructor and opening a school, it helps you to be accepted by the local martial arts community. Official documentation makes a more unique resume.
 

PhotonGuy

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I have been studying Krav Maga for just over a year and have never done a belt test. My instructors never push it on me and it hasnt held me back in training but I am the only one of my peers, whom i started with, who isnt going for belts. I wanted to throw this out there to the krav community of why you all think it is or is not important.
I thought that Krav Maga did not use a ranking system but if you're school does have a ranking system and you don't care about earning rank, not all students do. However, if you don't eventually advance in rank you might never learn the more advanced material.
 

PhotonGuy

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I am one of those guys that doesn't really care what funny color my belt is. I only care for the learning new stuff part and the getting better I what I think I know part. I got to the point where I really didn't care about the testing or the funny colors, so much so that I now wear whatever colors my instructors want me to wear. If they want me to take a test, then it is part of how that instructor wants to pass on his art. If I have decided that a particular instructor has what I want, then I take the tests and wear the colors he wants me to, just like I do the stretches, the push ups, the forms, katas, drills, sparring, situational awareness, punches, kicks and other techniques he asks me too. Its all part of the instructors way of transmitting his art to me.
For me, I consider making 1st dan to be a Rite of Passage. I like to call the rank "1st dan" not "black belt" since the physical belt is not the actual rank, its a symbol of the rank. And the black belt is used for higher ranks too such as 2nd dan, 3rd dan, ect. Anyway, as I said I see earning the rank of 1st dan for the first time in the first style that you really get seriously into as a rite of passage. Another words, you could sat I see getting your first black belt as a rite of passage but I like to call it "earning 1st dan" rather than "getting a black belt" since that differentiates between earning the rank and having the physical belt in your possession which anybody can do simply by buying it at a martial arts store, ect. But I don't really care about rank progression beyond 1st dan as at that point I just like to keep training and keep getting better. But after that, Im for the most part with you. I don't really care about belt color or as I said rank progression beyond 1st dan. And if I start learning some new style I don't really care much about belt color, not after already earning the rank of 1st dan in a primary style. Right now I am training in Goju Ryu and in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In BJJ I've got two stripes on my white belt so I've been promoted twice since starting and in Goju Ryu I've got a yellow belt which is the belt right after white so I've been promoted once in that style. While it's nice to be promoted and while it would be nice to someday get black belts in both those styles, or to put it more accurately, earn 1st dan in both those styles, as of right now I am much more interested in learning the material.
 

JR 137

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For me, I consider making 1st dan to be a Rite of Passage. I like to call the rank "1st dan" not "black belt" since the physical belt is not the actual rank, its a symbol of the rank. And the black belt is used for higher ranks too such as 2nd dan, 3rd dan, ect. Anyway, as I said I see earning the rank of 1st dan for the first time in the first style that you really get seriously into as a rite of passage. Another words, you could sat I see getting your first black belt as a rite of passage but I like to call it "earning 1st dan" rather than "getting a black belt" since that differentiates between earning the rank and having the physical belt in your possession which anybody can do simply by buying it at a martial arts store, ect. But I don't really care about rank progression beyond 1st dan as at that point I just like to keep training and keep getting better. But after that, Im for the most part with you. I don't really care about belt color or as I said rank progression beyond 1st dan. And if I start learning some new style I don't really care much about belt color, not after already earning the rank of 1st dan in a primary style. Right now I am training in Goju Ryu and in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In BJJ I've got two stripes on my white belt so I've been promoted twice since starting and in Goju Ryu I've got a yellow belt which is the belt right after white so I've been promoted once in that style. While it's nice to be promoted and while it would be nice to someday get black belts in both those styles, or to put it more accurately, earn 1st dan in both those styles, as of right now I am much more interested in learning the material.
The way I look at, chase improvement, not rank. Rank will be a byproduct, not a cause. I chased rank during my first stint while I was 18-24. Now that I restarted at 38 and am 41, the belt doesnt motivate me; outperforming my own personal expectations motivates me.
 

PhotonGuy

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The way I look at, chase improvement, not rank. Rank will be a byproduct, not a cause. I chased rank during my first stint while I was 18-24. Now that I restarted at 38 and am 41, the belt doesnt motivate me; outperforming my own personal expectations motivates me.
I see what you mean but here's the thing, improvement is mandatory for earning rank. So if you are going to pursue rank you will also be pursuing improvement as its a requirement for earning rank.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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why belt test?

1. quality control.
2. force your students to meet the requirement.

For ACSCA, you cannot obtain your 2nd degree black belt if you don't compete in tournament. This will force your students to test your skill in the ring or on the mat.

The belt is not important. What's important is the test and meet requirement.
 

Gerry Seymour

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The belt is not important. What's important is the test and meet requirement.
This has always been my view. And it doesn't change if the "test" becomes an informal evaluation over time. And it doesn't change if (in either of those cases) the belt doesn't even exist.
 

JR 137

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I see what you mean but here's the thing, improvement is mandatory for earning rank. So if you are going to pursue rank you will also be pursuing improvement as its a requirement for earning rank.
In a perfect world where belt mills dont exist, absolutely. In a world where there are no 4th degree black belts who arent old enough to legally drive, absolutely.

I saw one of those 4th dans at a TKD demo in a mall one time. I was giving her the benefit of the doubt and thinking she just looked really young. Then in the food court, I overheard her mother saying (they were sitting behind me) I cant wait until youre old enough to drive so I dont have to drag you all over the place for these things. I felt sorry for her, as it wasnt a great thing for her to have to hear. Way to support your kid.
 

PhotonGuy

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The belt is not important. What's important is the test and meet requirement.
Well the belt itself is not the actual rank, its a symbol of the rank. Earning the rank, as opposed to obtaining a belt (which anybody with some extra dollars can do simply by buying it at a store) is a matter of, as you put it, meeting the requirements.
 

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