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#166251 - 07/11/05 12:02 PM Since belt ranks mean nothing...
Galen Offline

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
I have read quite a few posts on this site, for the most part condemning the concept of the ranking system.

i.e. belts are for holding up your pants; dont get too hung up on rank, it means nothing, there is no consistency in ranking, etc etc.

For those of you out there who are instructors yourselves, and who believe that rank means nothing (and I can only assume most of you feel this way, as I have seen precious few arguments in support of the ranking system), I was just wondering if you have the courage of your convictions, and have done away with belt ranks.

It seems to me that if you honestly believe that the ranking system has no merit, why continue to use it?

Just curious...

Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

#166252 - 07/11/05 12:14 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: Galen]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
I personally like the belt system.People get hung up on who can beat who based on what belt they're wearing.They assume that a blackbelt can beat any greenbelt,not true.The belt only indicates where they are in their training,i.e. what techniques they know etc...
The greenbelt is only more advanced than THEY were when THEY were a whitebelt.If a person comes to class,does what their supposed to do,learns the required techniques,then they should be rewarded with the rank.
One problem is the schools that create new ranks or give rank away for money(such as by video).
Just my opinion,but I'll stick to the belt system.It suits our school just fine.
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

#166253 - 07/11/05 12:22 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: Galen]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
I have no problem with the concept of belt ranks. My problem is with how they are usually implemented.

I think ranks that are performanced based (like BJJ) are fine, as higher ranks generally WILL be able to whup lower ranks.

Other belt systems that are handled with integrity by those giving the ranks are OK. It is where there is little/no correlation to skill that I have a problem.

SANCHIN31 makes a good point about them being useful as a reference point in a given system, but I feel there should be more performanced-based merit, as a rule.

My current style does not use belt ranks.
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

#166254 - 07/11/05 12:40 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: MattJ]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
On the higher ranks being able to beat the lower ranks issue. I think that as long as they are at least similar in size and strength that wouldn't be a problem.The problem is when you have students that are very different.I have a 17yr old female that is 5' and weighs 100lbs and anothe that is 35yr old male 6'4" and weighs 270lbs. If she was a blackbelt would she then be able to whoop that guy? Uh,no. She would however have enough experience and training to possibly get away from an attacker that size,ofcourse if he was a whitebelt.
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

#166255 - 07/11/05 12:45 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: MattJ]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Within a school beginning ranks have great meaning and re-inforce how student development is progressing for the student.

For advanced ranking in long term students, rank means a great deal in a school/organization if they wish it to be, and has no frame of reference between other groups or organizations (even in the same system of training) because of vastly different standards.

I see no problem with advanced rank per sea because it just means what it means. The larger issue is advanced training is more complex than rank addresses, and none of the various ranking schemes really address the full range of what the long term student is. Which of course is a personal evaluation.

Do I have senior rank, yes, it is a personal trust between my instructors and myself, not a public topic of discussion. I extremely rarely reference it with my own students, most of whom have no idea what rank I possess. Why talk about it they're training to learn, not admire my belt.

I haven't kept training for 32 years because of rank, nor does anyone I've known do so either.

My senior students have chosen to keep rank from their training. They possess some but likewise don't discuss it, and likely the only one who cares is me.

Rank is neither good or bad. It's a tool that can be used as necessary, little more.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#166256 - 07/11/05 12:47 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: Galen]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
personally it works fine, between me and my intructors.

the problem is that different groups have different standards, ie some higher than others.

the modern trend (not for all!)is that grades = money, so it devalues it for us all and makes a bit of a mokery on the system really, you can buy rank after all !!! LOL

However my rank is personal to me, and im honoured by my instructors to be graded within our system, but it dont mean much to anyone else really !

#166257 - 07/11/05 01:04 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: Galen]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
I agree that on the street rank means nothing, in the dojo it very important. And I still pity the guy that tries to mug a real martial artist, if he sees it coming, from my own experince it ain't a pretty sight over in seconds.

Too many peole think that rank has no merit, I think its a very good method of evaluating level of acheivement. I think that were the problem starts is when Black belt start meaning expert here in the USA and other parts of the western world. In the east BB is just the begining of training.

As for skill level I remember asking this brown belt muscular 6'2 220lb, if he thought he could beat one of his female Sensei he stated that he thought he could but in a recent sparring match he missed a lunging attack and she side stepped knocking him unconcisous with a rk to the back of the head. His comment was that he thought he had her. She was listening in and stated that you almost did, she was 5'8 135lbs.

I know BB ladies in Judo that can grapple even with larger men under classmen and tap out most of them, so there should be a level of skill marked, rank does a good job of it.

A BB don't make you walk on water, but should be a measuring stick of a schools and indivuals skills. I'm proud to say in most cases it is.

As for the 2 yrs in training purple belts in BJJ, thats good if you are planning on fighting in the UFC or something simliar. But there are adquates methods of street self defense thats are just as affective. I mean self defense didn't start with Gracies or BJJ. I find their approach to street defense limited to wanting clinch and control. There is a lot of damage that can be done before the clinch. I know they do cover the before clinch range a little bit, but not much.

Edited by Neko456 (07/11/05 01:05 PM)

#166258 - 07/11/05 01:36 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: MattJ]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
I think Matt and Sanchin both have good points, but rank "wrankles" because of a couple of connected issues, one of which that doesn't have the connotation of "bad" connected with it that the other does.

In a meritocracy...such as a sporting the victor the spoils (or in this case, the belt)...but what then? Can you persue your education past this sporting context and to what level? How do you recognize this level within an organization? If you get too old or injured so that you can no longer perform to the same level...will you expect to give up your rank?

I know what I just listed is not the intent of the posters here, but I am going to extremes on these issues, because I have been pondering them.

However, if martial arts are indeed universal and have something to teach the least of the physically and/or mentally adept, then the meritocracy argument gets thrown out the window. Time in office, so to speak, equals rank. Education = ranks, not the ability to use the education as well as others.

But, the real problem is the McDojo and the assorted ranks that one can expeditiously get within a year or two. Two years to a BB??!!! Please.

However, if the style is now a complete advocate of just giving some education and not ensuring how well it is persued in actual use, well....why not a BB in 6 months? If the style's syllabus allows such things.

So the problem is harder than associating skill to the that the old lady down the street can learn some serviceable techniques and grow in the art to her betterment... and not just bow to all those with more ability, and be recognized for "her" progress.

But a level of usable ability, in my opinion, is necessary. So where do you draw the line?

This is a hard problem that did not exist before the entrance of belt for a buck mentality and McDojoism...where a person could go for education and be sure that what he got was worth the money...and the rank.

All I am saying is that rank should equal ability, but might be better served to recognize it from the standpoint of where "you" were previously, but also note your time in office...not always how well you can kick ass.

If everything were easy, I'd have the answer, but I don't.


#166259 - 07/11/05 01:46 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: butterfly]
Galen Offline

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
I think that each club needs to be very specific in their requirements for ranking.

If fighitng ability is a definer of rank (and I think that fighitng ability should have absolutely nothing to do with what rank a person wears), then this automatically precludes anyone of limited physical ability from gaining rank, from the handicapped, to the very old.

I personally think that rank is a a very effective tool within any individual organization. It allows for clear definition of poition and ability within the hierarchy of the organization. As well, it allows the students to track their progress through their martial arts education.

I think we all agree that rank means nothing in practical, real life situations, and even among various schools. Within one school however, the disadvantage is not with the ranking system as such, it is more with the lack of consistent application of that rank.

Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

#166260 - 07/11/05 04:19 PM Re: Since belt ranks mean nothing... [Re: Galen]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
This is what I find different then most sports then the martial arts even in your twlight hours, your skills at teaching and conveying a message or how to train are still sought after its not all about being combative among each others.

The fellow that stated if you get old or get injuried, do you give your Rank/belt back, how preposterous when you finish high school or College when you get too old or get injuied do you give up that degree? No. That just the reason, I don't punish by taking rank is my speech in class. I state, "Once you learned these skills nothing or no one can take them from you".

Rank in class help establish a route for the unders classmen and precedence for the ranked, responcibility for him and his peers. It answers the question Am I my brothers keeper.

Some of these old Masters, it would be a big mistake for some young 20 yrs olds to attack them. A Belt is just a symbol of accomplishment, in the Martial art it also is a symbol of skill in the right school.

Surly aging will dimenish physical skills, but just like the other activities that stress physical fitness the MA leads to a stronger body in old age. And the mental awareness to know when its over, you rae not contastly tormenting your self, I COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER. What was has past, you welcome the future.

Its not all about fighting, the MA teaches how to live during and past your prime.

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