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#133474 - 07/16/04 07:35 PM ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?
WolfGate Offline

Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 93
I'm curious how instructors would have a student handle the situation of getting a "stripe" he doesn't think he's ready for yet.

In my TKD school, the instructors give 4 stripes while you're progressing towards your next test. One of the stripes signifies that you've mastered the self defense techniques for your current belt. From what I've seen, the instructors are quite demanding before giving these stripes. The class today was taught by the owner of our school; usually he's the most demanding! The whole class is adults (I'm 40).

I am currently 9th gup, meaning I'm only one belt above white belt. During class today, I covered the self defense techniques for my belt for the first time. I was also the only 9th gup, so I was paired with a very talented 6th gup both to allow that student to review and to start explaining techniques as part of their growth. The 6th gup explained quite well, but I was certainly thinking my way through some of the moves and being talked through them by my partner as well. Wasn't at all second nature or perfected yet.

At the end of the class, the owner said some students had earned their stripe. I was stunned when he stopped at me and put it on my belt. He only gave them to about 1/4 of the class.

I know what happened. As he looked on our pair from a distance I probably looked proficient - but only because the 6th gup was effectively telling me what to do immediately before I did so. And, since we didn't really need him for much personalized instruction, he didn't spend enough time with us to see that was what was happening. We're both athletes, so we were going pretty much full speed even at this point - also making it look more natural than it really was.

So, what should I do:
1) Say nothing and just focus on practicing and learning the material. I won't test until at earliest late August, so there's time to get where I need to be.

2) Tell the instructor privately that I don't think I'm ready for the stripe. Is that likely to be perceived as questioning his judgement? After all, he's 6th Dan and I'm a newbie.

3) Simply remove the stripe and go back to class. He doesn't keep written record of stripes, so he might or might not realize. (Yeah, I see the danger here.)

4) Something else?

How would you instructors want a newer student to handle this situation?

#133475 - 07/16/04 08:49 PM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?

I understand. I've gotten belts faster than what I feel like I should before as well.

Perhaps your teacher thinks you are ready for it even if you dont. When this has happened to me I work 10x harder to "live up" to the new rank. In some ways it is what pushes me to get better.

For others it could be a bad thing if they start feeling cocky I suppose. Your teacher should be able to judge when your ready but if you are not comfortable, just work your ass off until you are.

#133476 - 07/16/04 09:25 PM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?

You are one belt above white. Realize that your instructor has his own standards that he is looking for. If he thinks you have earned your stripes, he is the authority. He knows the standard. You are early in the game but at some point point but you will likely have some promotions that you think you are ready for but your instructor does not.

One day at a time. Relax and have fun.

#133477 - 07/17/04 08:26 AM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?
mark Offline
sword of magnamity

Registered: 03/04/03
Posts: 1284
Loc: uk
This comes down to money, the more students that grade and pass the more money the instructor gets!

A club in my area has 20 kyu grade levels, a grading every 2 months, 20 each time!!!


#133478 - 07/17/04 03:09 PM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?
WolfGate Offline

Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 93
[QUOTE]Originally posted by mark:
This comes down to money, the more students that grade and pass the more money the instructor gets!

A club in my area has 20 kyu grade levels, a grading every 2 months, 20 each time!!!


Nah, this one isn't a money issue. Did a lot of research before I picked a school, and this one is not a McDojang. Our testing fees are only $35, the school is purely functional and far from pretty, average time betweens testings is much longer than others I visited, and you're required to learn a lot more to test than I saw at others. No added belts from the traditional 10 gups and then the Dan's (none to that provisional or decided stuff.)

And since the stripe doesn't mean money or anything other than I've been identified as proficient on my self defense part, no financial reason here.

#133479 - 07/19/04 07:31 AM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?
JohnL Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/24/03
Posts: 4309
Loc: NY, NY, USA
Hi WolfGate:

An interesting question and despite my normal cynical response to grading questions being appropriate, I think a reasoned response would be more useful.

The grading system is not yours. It's the schools and the instructors. If there is no money involved in the stripes, which you indicate, then it really doesn't matter.

Also, the instructors only expect you at your stage to have a rudimentary understanding of what you're doing. I'd say just leave it alone.

When it comes to a grade where there's money involved, then you should question things.


#133480 - 07/19/04 06:27 PM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?
WolfGate Offline

Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 93
JohnL - thanks for the reasoned response; I debated posting this exactly because I wasn't sure of the appropriateness.

Over the past weekend, I've pretty much come to the same conclusion you mentioned. The other things I've seen don't cause me concern that the school is just trying to push people along for $$ generation, so why should I question anything? I'm really there to learn and train, so I'll focus on that.

Appreciate hearing someone with more experience than I.

#133481 - 07/21/04 09:33 AM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?

Hey Wolfgate:
#1: It's his School. If you wear the rank it has nothing to do with YOUR opinion of your's HIS opinion that matters.
#2: You really should trust your instructor and just keep working. Working hard and paying close attention is your only objective as a lower belt student. (To be honest, we upper belt students need to stick to this area as well)
#3: It's pretty bad to start second guessing your instructor. DO NOT just take off the rank and try to keep going. If you try to play your instructor for a fool...VERY bad things will happen. EVEN if he doesn't realize (I'd bet he would...if he's worth his salt) you've put your novice opinion before his expert decision. Leads to a deteriorating "Student/Teacher" relationship.

Work hard!
Pay Close attention!
Practice Daily!
Let those above you help you move forward, but first

#133482 - 07/21/04 04:29 PM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?
WolfGate Offline

Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 93
Papa John - thanks for the wisdom. I've pretty much decided, as you said, to trust the instructor. When I look at the higher ranked students in my school, they appear proficient and are at a level I want to be some day. And, they got there trusting my instructor. So I will just work hard and pay attention.

#133483 - 07/22/04 10:59 AM Re: ? How should a student handle unearned "stripes"?
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Good Morning WolfGate:

Your SOLE job, is to learn, from these folks the art which they are presenting you, period. Do not worry yourself with the what & whys.. that's THEIR job. Yours is hard enough... don't take theirs on too!!!

And look, you are an A-D-U-L-T person, right? You are not an infant. Therefore, feel free to speak with your instructor privately and mention your concerns. If you are treated like dirt, then RUN to the nearest exit and do not look back. As an adult, as a person who is doing their VERRY best you are entitled to understand their reasoning, their thought process in giving you the stripes. You do not understand theirs, so ask them...

They have many potential reasons to give you one, many good, a few not good. Perhaps you are CLOSE to the skills and will grow into honing them perfectly? Perhaps you are better than you believe? Perhaps there is a certain group dynamic they wish to keep. There will always be varying degrees of skill in any group... keep pushing, keep honing. You will improve and merit whatever ranking you disbelieve!

This help?


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