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#168842 - 07/26/05 12:24 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
Belt ranking is very subjective, I tend to focus less and less on the belt and more on the person.

This year I've formally started cross-training in BJJ and I have learned so much from my white belt training partners. Of course I still pay much more attention to the higher ranks (recognized intially by belt color).

The reality is that if a bunch of yudansha (let's say shodan) from different aikido dojo's all came together, there would still be fairly wide variability in skill sets and in approaches to aikido. I find that belts allow me to do two things...

1. Get a rough approximation of a persons training level when I first meet them. But whose to say that the white belt I meet at an aikido seminar isn't a nidan in Judo? I'll quickly learn that my partner has some skill, knowledge and experience and if I'm wise I'll be open to that.

2. Keep the class a bit more orderly. You know where to kneel at the beginning and end of class and who should attack first!

Chris

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#168843 - 07/26/05 09:32 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: csinca]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
I agree.

In many traditional chinese systems, there is no belt ranking system. The way the Chinese used to do it, (and how it should be done!), is and always has been, by "feel".

i.e. as soon as someone goes to push or pull you, you can instantly feel where their power is coming from. (i.e. from their shoulders or hips). And as soon as you touch someone, you should be able to feel how centered they are.

This "old way" has unfortunately been forgotten and cast by the wayside in favour of visual cues (i.e. belt colors).

I remember training with this black belt once, many years ago. He certainly knew his "stuff" and all the "tricks" in the book. But sadly he had no "feeling". His attacks were weak and floppy (so you couldn't apply a technique). His techniques were hard and rough with no finesse. He had a good center, but he didn't know how to use it in movement.

All he saw was me and my white belt, and made it quite obvious that it was beneath him to be training with a white belt. Needless to say, when I stuck my foot in his guts to get him to move, it was an enlightening moment for him. It was just as enlightening for me when I found out later that he was a 4th dan and a Chief Instructor in his own right.

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#168844 - 07/28/05 12:17 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
samurai117 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 43


In many traditional chinese systems, there is no belt ranking system. The way the Chinese used to do it, (and how it should be done!), is and always has been, by "feel".
This "old way" has unfortunately been forgotten and cast by the wayside in favour of visual cues (i.e. belt colors).


Who are you to judge how it should be done. Are saying that you are better than the Japanese instructors that developed the belt ranking system? See how lame your argument is when applied to you. It seems to me by your logic if I feel I am a a 10 dan Shihan after training for two weeks and promote myself accordingly my new rank is legtimate, and no one dare compare my skill to other Shihan because every thing is all subjective.

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#168845 - 07/28/05 12:49 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
You can dispense with the straw-man argument.

I was proferring an opinion, as opposed to making an outright judgement as to someone's level of ability and whether they deserved the rank. Quite different.

The belt ranking system was developed by Kano (and borrowed by every other martial art henceforth). Prior to this, ranking was certification-based and according to level of technical skill - i.e. shoden, chuden/mokuroku and menkyo kaiden. Have no doubt that such certification was not handed out willy-nilly, since the reputation of the ryuha was implicit in the act of certification, and the skill level of the recipient was implicit in the possession of such certification.

So, even if you promoted yourself to GrandMaster and 10th dan Soke of your style (as Ueshiba and countless others did), you would still need to (somehow) back it up by some sort of technical ability.

The more valid question is HOW does one arrive at such determination objectively, rather than subjectively - which is WHAT I am asking. So far no one has been able to logically address this question....

Please do try and stay on the discussion, rather than launching personal attacks.

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#168846 - 07/28/05 04:03 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
samurai117 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 43
How is that different?

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#168847 - 07/28/05 05:39 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
How is what different to what?

If you say that if someone doesn't deserve a black belt (or whatever color belt) then state what objective means should be used to determine how and why a person should be ranked thusly. Rather than making subjective suppositions regarding a nebulous definition of "level".

Let's keep it simple then. I asked for someone (anyone?) to define their "standard" for black belt. So far, no one has stepped forward to proffer their definition of what constitutes the (minimum) requirement for black belt. Let's not even start to consider what the different gradations of black might constitute.

Some have even gone so far as to suggest that they are in some way better than this girl's sensei in suggesting what that supposed "level" might be, but no one has been able to back up their conviction that there is a definable level of technical ability, or what that might even constitute.

You say she is mediocre (or even less than mediocre)? Then show me what a "black" belt should be able to do. Let's keep it simple - what a black belt in aikido should be able to do or at the very least, be able to demonstrate.

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#168848 - 07/28/05 01:24 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
So it comes down to belts or no belts, that is the question.
After all if a belt could mean different things even within the same dojo, then what value do they add?

It looks like eyrie was offering an opinion that he prefers a "no-belt" way of life, what's the big deal. It's one persons opinion and if you are expecting much more than opinions from a forum like this you are probably often disappointed. If you really like the belt system, you are free to enjoy it, don't worry that some of us don't place as much value on it. I also don't like salmon or lobster, but I try to avoid making any value judgments on those that do...

Belts add a couple of things to an art...
1. It gives a rough approximation of skill level, in general a higher ranking belt is going to be better at a style than a lower ranking belt. That's all. And that is not necessarily absolute.

If you have two aikidoka that sign up on the same day at the same dojo and one is brand new to the martial arts and the other is a ten-year judo veteran, do they have the same skills just because they both tie a white belt around their waist?

2- Believe it or not, belts are a target for a large proportion of students. There is a fixation on getting to the next level, or measuring up against everybody else in the class. After all, isn't that how this thread started? It seems to be human nature in today's society, another way to "keep up with the Joneses" or to be the Joneses.

The one consistent thing I've noticed regarding belts and belt color is that in general they are less and less important to the more experienced and skilled people I've met.

Chris

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#168849 - 07/28/05 08:51 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: csinca]
samurai117 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 43
I copied this from a post at fightingarts.com. I think it is relavant to this discussion.


Of course, the whole dan system came from Kano. Ueshiba started out with the certificate system but eventually accepted the dan system.

The thing is, in judo, with all the techniques and methods well established and documented, dans could be awarded with great consistency and you could rely on the belief that any 5th dan could beat any 4th dan.

But in aikido, Osensei was continually changing and creating and we see that a shodan or a godan really represent very different things, depending on the teacher. Sometimes a seriously trained shodan can beat a godan who has stuck entirely to a soft approach. This is true of karate/tkd as well. Put a kyokushin shodan against most TKD sandans and I think you will see what I mean.

The dan system was created for judo and it had very clear rational meaning there. But there was nothing solid enough in aikido to base a consistent ranking system on. And the techniques of karate go quite counter to the principles of judo, so how can the dans be measured there?

My belief is that they were never really objectively accurate outside judo and that at this late date, with a 10th dan in every phone book, the dankai is losing all relevance. In the worst cases, it mummifies the real human character and people trade their real natures to be clones of an illusory image.

So ranking is all subjective depending on the dojo and sensei.

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#168850 - 07/28/05 10:27 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
If you're going to quote someone, can you please use some sort of referencing like who posted it and on which thread? It makes it easier to cross-reference.... thanks.

To understand the kyu/dan ranking system, you have to look at the rationale for its existence. Don Cunningham's article at http://www.e-budokai.com/articles/belts.htm is a good starting point.

The way I see it, and this is my VHO, belts serve 2 primary purposes:
1. to motivate individuals to attain the next goal (if you recall, Kano was the consummate educator, as was Funakoshi)
2. to advance, grow and expand the organization

While I agree to some extent with Chris that belts *can* give you *some* indication of comparative skill level, my experience has been that it really gives no consistent indication across systems, or even within the same system, as evidenced by the above quote, as well as Chris's example.

<inserted>
In fact, (for me) belt colors are a misleading guidepost for determining commensurate skill level. I prefer to see how a person moves, and feel for myself what they are doing in order to determine what their level of ability is, and therefore what I can or can't teach them (and vice versa).
</inserted>

If you consider the purpose of martial arts is first and foremost mastery over self, what relevance does a colored belt (black being made up of all colors!) have in a context where the only person you have to defeat is yourself?

OTOH, if you consider martial arts as a means to beat someone, then what does it matter what color belt you or they are... as long as you can beat them?


Edited by eyrie (07/28/05 11:55 PM)

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#168851 - 07/29/05 12:21 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
csinca Offline
former moderator

Registered: 04/16/03
Posts: 672
Loc: Southern California
Quote:

OTOH, if you consider martial arts as a means to beat someone, then what does it matter what color belt you or they are... as long as you can beat them?




The sensei that I'm currently training under (not aikido if it matters) once said something to me along the lines of "if someone comes into my dojo thinking they can beat me, then let's find out. If he can't and I beat him, maybe I get a student out of it. If he can then I want him to come teach here so I can learn more".

Now I'm summarizing but I think that is a great mindset to have. Focus on the skillset someone brings to the party, not what they are wearing.

Chris

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