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#149915 - 05/27/05 09:43 AM A philosophical question for those who teach
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
Most sincere instructors wouldnt' test someone for a higher rank if they weren't certain that person wasn't ready for the test. Here's the question, would you test a student you expected to fail if the situation was such that the student might benefit from that failed test as opposed to not testing at all?

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#149916 - 05/27/05 10:05 AM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Gemini Offline
Member

Registered: 11/28/04
Posts: 333
Loc: NY, USA
Not sure how that student could benefit from such an experience, though maybe others might. I have seen schools fail a student just to keep the rest "at top level" though I don't agree with doing that. If you have a student that isn't up to par, just watching those at his/her level advance and leave them behind tends to either get them up to par or quit. What's your situation?

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#149917 - 05/27/05 01:36 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Gemini]
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
Almost three years ago, when I did test for blue belt, my instructor wasn't convinced that I would pass. At the time, I was having other problems in life, which were affecting my training. I asked sifu to let me test regardless, as an attempt to try and get my training back on track. I ended up passing and getting my blue belt anyway, but every teacher I've spoken to since have said the same thing. "If I'm not sure they will pass, they don't test." What I'm wondering is if there are instructors who will make an exception to that if it might help a student who is off track with their training.

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#149918 - 05/27/05 02:47 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
A Student asking a Teacher to be tested is a concept that is completely foreign to me... Bushi, wasn't that considered 'bad form' ? or am I just old fashoned.

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#149919 - 05/27/05 02:57 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Gemini Offline
Member

Registered: 11/28/04
Posts: 333
Loc: NY, USA
Quote:

What I'm wondering is if there are instructors who will make an exception to that if it might help a student who is off track with their training.




That's pretty much where I thought you were going with this, but wanted to be certain. Given that one of the ideas behind belt grading is to instill confidence, I wouldn't think most instructors (none that I know anyway) would consider this a positive approach. If they did, I'd love to hear their reasoning behind it.

A student requesting a grading is rare and more often than not, flattly refused. On occasion however, it will be permitted. Apparently your instructor saw more in your request than "I wanna be a BB as fast as I can", which is the reasoning behind most requests.

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#149920 - 05/27/05 03:11 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Gemini]
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
In my dojo, it is as much the students responsibility to bring up that they feel ready to test as it is Sifu's to tell them they're ready. In that particular case, I went up to Sifu and told him I wasn't sure if I was ready or not, but that I felt the need to test, as I was having so much trouble, and that if I failed it was my money ($15 at the time, so I wasnt' worried about wasting it) and it might just get me to stay with my training. I did pass, and for the next six months I was solidly into my training, taking a night off here or there instead of a week at a time. Eventually I signed up for college courses that conflicted with my training schedule, thus the two year hiatus happened. I'm fairly certain that if I wanted to test next month Sifu would let me, and there's a good chance I would pass, but this time I think I'll wait for the next test about six weeks later. I've quit school (with a cumulative GPA of 1.58) and my focus is on the MA now. I know I won't ever get rich doing so (God forbid I should, and I mean it) but I would like to teach for a living down the road. I would start down that path by teaching under my Sifu at his dojo at brown belt level, and work my way up from there.

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#149921 - 05/27/05 04:43 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
bushi, dude. I don't know how to tell you this, but I've been reading your posts about your dojo and sifu and situations... here's my observations:
warning, I'm blunt.

1) you are making your training waaay too complicated than what it needs to be.
2) your dojang seems to have a number of 'Mc' qualities.
3) you can still bring your GPA up to a pass level.
4) in general you sound confused about where you are going in your life (happens to everyone - make priorities)
5) you seem to be trying too hard on this forum. (I did the same thing for the first week- get it out of your system quick and then just relax)
6) everyone slumps and peeks...you gotta plow thru it. no other way. you can't drift between one or the other. Be committed to school and train part-time. Then, while you are stable in a job after school, you won't be worrying so much about the practical things like bills and food, etc...this freedom will allow you to focus more on training in your non-work time. plus making more per hour gives you more free hours to train!

you have an opportunity to finish school. there are probably excellent fighters and dojo senseis that wish they went to college...ask them the reasons why you should finish school.

take care, sorry if I was harsh. needed to be said.

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#149922 - 05/27/05 06:03 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Kintama]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
In our school you simply DO NOT ask to be tested. When you are ready to be tested and the instructor is ready to test you,you will be tested.
I missed my brown belt test and had to wait a few weeks before being tested.
If someone is not ready to test I don't test them.No reason to test someone just to watch them fail.
_________________________
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

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#149923 - 05/28/05 06:21 AM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: SANCHIN31]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Ah, a philosophical question.

I have seen instructors place students into testing situations where they would not succeed to teach them various lessons.

On the other hand I teach karate, not testing. I don't test students at all. When they're ready to move into the next level of training (an arbitrary decision after all) they do so by my leave, and if a belt goes with it, that's all that's involved.

This is how my instructors trained on Okinawa, this is how they taught me, this is how I've taught my students and this is how my students train their students.

There is a black belt initiation ceremony, that might be considered a test, but the way we do it is the student stands up and runs it themself. They simply spend a few hours explaining and demonstrating everything they've studied. They're simply demonstrating they understand the entire body of kyu training and are ready to enter advanced studies for the rest of their life. But they are already at a serious level of training in order to give the ceremony.

The ceremony is private, only for the group's dans and the single student.

I've never put somebody up for the ceremony who was not fully capable of completing it. If they can't do it they shouldn't be there, they should be training.

In fact there's an aspect of testing that is often lost. When a testing situation takes place, the instructor is being more seriously tested than the student, becuase the student is the wave front reflection of the instructor's teachings.

I've been tested various times. I've helped test many times. I've watched innumerable testings.

From my perspective as an instructor, every minute spent testing could be better put in use, everywhere, training.
Having an initiation ceremony is something very different, it's a celebration, a very, very private one, done once, and that's all.

As for awarding kyu and dan ranking, I just do it and get on training.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#149924 - 05/28/05 04:10 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Victor Smith]
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
Victor, as with most schools, the "test" per se is a formality. In the past, the few people who have failed have done so because of their older skills from earlier belts degrading. The only person I know of "failing" a test because he wasn't "up to par" on his current material was my brother, and our Sifu was willing to pass him as long as he spent the first few weeks training the belt material he was lacking. Our mother and my brother agreed that it would probably be just as well if he retested in a month, and was above the required proficiency and not right at that level.

I see one major advantage to having a set time to test for rank. The instructor might be sure a student is ready for the next belt, but taking a few hours to specifically watch students and make sure they are ready for the next belt means that the instructor sees exactly what they are capable of. The advantage is that an instructor might see the capability of a student in class, but there are distractions from students that aren't ready for their next belt.

And I've learned something at every test. Usually a minor detail that I needed to work on in a technique, but I still learn something.

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#149925 - 05/28/05 09:48 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Victor Smith]
kenposan Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 633
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Great post Victor, you summarized how I feel about testing very well.

My Sensei didn't test. At the end of class, it someone was being promoted, he simply annouced it. The black belt test was more of a formality. Not that it was easy, but you didn't "test" unless you were ready to pass.
_________________________
The angry man will defeat himself in battle, as well as in life. -Samurai maxim

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#149926 - 05/28/05 10:08 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
I grant you there can be positive experiences in testing.

But in our case, the class size has always been about 25 students and it averages 15 or so show up for a given class. There are currently 2 or 3 of us conducting the class with between 50 to 70 years training between us.

We've very closly watching and directing everyones training. Our students are neither better or worse than others are, its just when I decided I would share my own studies I decided to pick an older model, one going back pre 1900, and class size has always been very small.

Having additional testing would be redundant, every class is a test in that sense, and the students are receiving constant re-inforcement.

Class is not simply training in a group. It's a full experience beginners to advanced, working together and singularily. Actually one of my students is now the instructor, and he's been with me 20 years, and I concentrate on constant re-inforcement of the smaller details.

Of course there is no right answer for everyone.

In our case all classes are unique experiences, never to be repeated. Part of the reason behind long term qualification of an instructor. Each class is a chance to explore a new facet of the art.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#149927 - 05/28/05 11:53 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Victor Smith]
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
Victor, we've hit upon one of those many facets that aren't set in stone. Here's a related question. Since you don't test, do you have stages to a belt? If so, would you be a little more giving with a stage if you knew the student was putting forth the effort, even if that student had plateaued and wasn't really making progress?

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#149928 - 05/29/05 06:22 AM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Not teaching to the belt, you teach to the student.

All learning progresses in layers. Sometimes rising, sometimes plateauing, sometime falling. It's not linked to a belt, or to how many years you study. It's linked to our individual potentials and efforts.

I've trained with kyu testing every 3 months. People often burned the midnight oil before a test, to coast afterwards once they were promoted. That is one of the things to realize my original instructors approach had more merit.

When the belt 'promotion' signifies that the student is now ready for the next level of study, that's all it means, not that they've accomplished something that they can set aside, or slow down. Rather each promotion for the rest of their life means more work, more advanced work, more effort, etc.

A student who is stalled isn't not moving forward, they're progressing on their current level at a pace apopropriate for them.

The only purpose of a program is to teach and work. The only promise to a student is training. If someone reaches a level that they cannot progress beyond, and are not ready for more advanced study, why is it wrong for them to work on their art there.

There is nothing written that anyone must advance. And in my experience, the most long term students all reach their own level. For example most have no interest in being an instructor, and in turn ought not be an instructor.

The over all problem with rank, that has always existed, is the 'belief' is everyone will move forward.

If you closely look at how society was structured in Japan, everyone did not move forward, ever. There were many layers to ranking. For chess or flower arranging, you might progress to higher levels if your ability manifested itself.

But for societial rank, if you weren't born Samauri there was no chance to become Samauri (except perhaps hundreds of years before during the warring days, and then only by hurculean efforts).

And karate rank developed as a combination. You would rise through kyu ranks, but then at dan ranking, eventually you would find your place, and unless you were blessed, there was no place to move forward.

Which is why from the beginning rank in karate broke down and people moved on and created new Japanese systems. Later to follow in Okinawa and the rest of the world.

Studying karate is about studying karate, not acquiring rank. Rank is a minor useful tool for newbies, and irrelevenat within the dojo for the long training. All know what they know and don't know and how good they are and how good others are. Rank is meaningless in truth within the school when you're no longer new.

It's just in most places, most don't realize they're looking at the shell game, and not the hands moving the shells.

Looking at the rank and not the goal, what's underneath.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#149929 - 05/29/05 04:16 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Victor Smith]
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
Therein lies my problem. AKK is very clear about rank. Very much an American Ideal, hence the American being part of the style name. The problem is, while it's ok to teach a snippet of information here or there (ie a brown belt technique to a purple belt) I couldn't just get my instructor to teach me Short Form three if I was still just a purple belt. That's why this is a philosophical question, because Isshin ryu Karate does have some different philosophies. AKK philosophy does make some allowances, but for the most part, you aren't supposed to just go on and learn the next set of techniques without testing on the current set first. It is, with some variance from school to school, a set curriculum. It is alot like being in school and having to fulfill the prerequisites before you can take the next course. You don't take English 3b before you can pass 2a.

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#149930 - 06/01/05 03:08 AM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Kintama]
Foolsgold Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/02/04
Posts: 1635
Loc: South Lyon, MI, USA
Quote:

5) you seem to be trying too hard on this forum. (I did the same thing for the first week- get it out of your system quick and then just relax)





Actually, I was on the verge of mentioning this, myself. You are averaging over ten posts a day since you started. The problem isn't in the number, it's that they are all long and thought-out (which, don't get me wrong, I appreciate).

Everybody goes through a phase like this. What I chose to do was take a week off and forget that the forum existed, and when I got back I couldn't believe how much of my life I had been investing.

Meanwhile, it's 3 in the A.M. and I'm lecturing you on forum-addiction . Seriously though, take some time off, it's good for you.
_________________________
Soy stupido, pero soy guapo!

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#149931 - 06/01/05 03:02 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
BulldogTKD Offline
Member

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 294
This is great question and something that my Sah-Bum-Nim just brought up yesterday at a meeting, and something that I had reservations about too. I think the reason that my Sah-Bum-Nim has for having the student ask permission to test is a formality and a form of respect since we have testing every two months our students know when testing is. I don’t agree with this entirely since the instructor of a class knows who is ready and who is not.

The school where I train is a Mc Do jang and I have done my best to change things. Some things have changed and some have not, but this is the only place I can train so I make the best of it. I have been in MA for a long time and I have been at a school that did not test at a regular schedule but tested when the student was ready. I also trained under an instructor and I was his only student and I never received a promotion. I think that testing at a specific time has good points and some not so good, asking to test is something that I would not have my students do if I had my own Do jang. If a student was ready to test early I would test him or her early as I would not test someone that was not ready either. If I had a student that I felt needed to test that was ready in my mind but was unsure in their mind I would test them as a way to help build their self esteem, character, and confidence.

Mr. Smith brings up a good point about teaching and testing but unfortunately too many schools are in existence only to make a buck. Testing students makes the school money and an income at a steady rate.

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#149932 - 06/01/05 10:18 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: BulldogTKD]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Bulldog and everyone,

The name's Victor. Mr. Smith is my father (to borrow a great line).

As for what I believe, it's just what I do. I don't worry to comment on what others do. I've observed and/or participated enough in them over the years to know it cannot be my way.

One serious thought. While I love the arts, if I couldn't practice them the way I believe in (and/or study them in the way I believe too), I would stop my participation in the arts and do something else of merit.

Life is far to short to make accomodations to lesser training, IMVHO.

The arts are but one path, and I'm often troubled by so many who are less than satisfied with their own way.

Doc says if something is causing you pain/problems, the answer is to stop doing what is hurting you.

Something else to chew on.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#149933 - 06/01/05 10:41 PM Re: A philosophical question for those who teach [Re: Victor Smith]
BulldogTKD Offline
Member

Registered: 05/11/05
Posts: 294
My apologies if I offended you Victor. As for your comments:

Victor said:

“One serious thought. While I love the arts, if I couldn't practice them the way I believe in (and/or study them in the way I believe too), I would stop my participation in the arts and do something else of merit.”

“Life is far to short to make accomodations to lesser training, IMVHO.”

I love the arts and have an opportunity to change some things, and I have. I have no where else to train and every day I train and teach I get better, therefore my students get better.

Victor said:

“The arts are but one path, and I'm often troubled by so many who are less than satisfied with their own way.”

Well put.

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