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#168822 - 07/19/05 01:14 PM Validity of young yudansha
Canyon Offline
Member

Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 42
I was working with a recently promoted black belt who's roughly 16 years old yesterday and I found that she could not do most techniques from a basic grab because she couldn't move (i.e. move around or break the grab). It made me wonder about the validity of such young black belts.

And before you start yelling McDojo, she's the only <18 year old student anywhere near that rank and has studied for > 5 years. On one hand she is very smooth and flowing. Her maai is solid and her balance is there. And she has certainly studied long enough and earned the right to test. However because she studied in the kids class the whole time where the kids don't grab very hard and because of her very small stature she just can't really seem to do techniques on adults without a lot of cooperation. I really wonder how valid her black belt is in terms of applying aikido.

I'm just curious what other opinions on this are.

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#168823 - 07/19/05 01:27 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: Canyon]
katsuhayai05 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 49
Loc: florida
Her technique here is probably poor I'm not sure I'd have to say. However I've been training since I was 15 and therea are no kids classes here. I've always trained with adults who are serious about doing techniques that work. i've never encountered this problem.

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#168824 - 07/19/05 09:29 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: Canyon]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Does it matter?

Just train.

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#168825 - 07/20/05 12:16 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
Canyon Offline
Member

Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 42
Well, I guess it does matter to me because I begin to wonder about the validity of my own rank. I begin to wonder what things I have been able to slide by with. I also wonder how much it hurts the image of the dojo to promote people whose techniques, for whatever reason, may not be up to par. I also wonder if it's fair to them to promote them.

It's not something that got me really worked up; I'm just being a little philosophical about it. And I do just train. Just food for thought.

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#168826 - 07/20/05 02:29 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: Canyon]
katsuhayai05 Offline
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Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 49
Loc: florida
If you question your technique find someone who will give you full resistance in practice. Realize you could get hurt doing this or you could hurt them but if you seriously want to have valid technique you have to practice it validly. Thats the only way. I have 2 brothers so finding full resisting partners is no problem for me.

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#168827 - 07/20/05 03:09 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: Canyon]
eyrie Offline
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Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
The only person you should be comparing with is the person you were yesterday, the person you are today, and the person you want to be tomorrow. You are your own benchmark. Not some 15 year old black belt.

As for the dojo's image, that's the sensei's problem, not yours.

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#168828 - 07/24/05 12:07 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
samurai117 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 43
Of course you should compare yourself with others. How else would you ever judge your progress. If 15 year old girl can't cut, she shouldn't be a black belt. Promotions based soley on time in the dojo,or political reasons are b.s. and dangerous to the student. This young women has it in her head that she is a black belt, if God forbid she is attacked she will may try to fight where maybe she should just run. I am a Police Officer and I have seen many young TKD black belts injured because of the mindset b.s. ranks install.

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#168829 - 07/24/05 09:05 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
All the more reason you should not compare yourself to anyone else.

Comparative benchmarks are unrealistic. Everyone is different. How can you compare yourself with a 15 year old (or an 8 year old)? Unless of course, you consider yourself to be in the same league....

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#168830 - 07/24/05 10:00 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
samurai117 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 43
Hey thats cute, I think you missed the entire point

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#168831 - 07/24/05 10:45 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
And the point being...?

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#168832 - 07/25/05 02:52 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
samurai117 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 43
If this young girl dosen't deserve to have a black belt she shouldn't have a black belt. It dosen't matter how long she has been training if her skill level is not at black belt level she should not be promoted. How do you tell if her skill is at black belt level. You COMPARE her to other black belts. If you compare her to her self she is the greatest martial artest ever. If you compare her to the rest of the yudansha, she can't cut it. If you promote someone who can't cut it you risk that person being injuried in a situation she may have avoided if she had an acurate estimate of her skills. Today some people don't want to keep score at sporting events because the losing team's feelings might get hurt. That attutide applied to martial arts can result in much more than feelings getting hurt.

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#168833 - 07/25/05 03:42 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Well, maybe you should tell her sensei that they shouldn't have graded her then.

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#168834 - 07/25/05 05:10 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
samurai117 Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/04
Posts: 43
Maybe it should just be common sense

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#168835 - 07/25/05 07:49 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
....which unfortunately is not so common.

But then again, by whose standards (of common sense) are you making this comparison? This has been done to death in various other threads on other forums.

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#168836 - 07/25/05 01:24 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
RedRaven Offline
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Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 6
Does belt really matter?



RedRaven

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#168837 - 07/25/05 03:30 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: RedRaven]
Canyon Offline
Member

Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 42
Quote:

Does belt really matter?




Well, in a sense it definitely does. It defines you as having some level of mastery and understanding of what you are doing. I think that's why it's so troublesome to see 6-year old black belts. Now of course that level is different for different people.

In this particular case, if the student I mentioned had been allowed to train in the adult class I'm sure her technique would be at a much higher level. But it's not. And for a bit of an an update, she is now working a lot with the other blackbelts trying to get her up to speed. However, it also seems like the belt has gone to her head. She refuses to help clean up after class and has started getting upset when she can't do a technique properly and blames the uke for not having good ukemi (which may or may not be the case).

Anyway, I've just stopped getting anywhere near her so I don't have to train with her.

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#168838 - 07/25/05 04:30 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: samurai117]
csinca Offline
former moderator

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

If this young girl dosen't deserve to have a black belt she shouldn't have a black belt. It dosen't matter how long she has been training if her skill level is not at black belt level she should not be promoted. How do you tell if her skill is at black belt level. You COMPARE her to other black belts. If you compare her to her self she is the greatest martial artest ever. If you compare her to the rest of the yudansha, she can't cut it. If you promote someone who can't cut it you risk that person being injuried in a situation she may have avoided if she had an acurate estimate of her skills. Today some people don't want to keep score at sporting events because the losing team's feelings might get hurt. That attutide applied to martial arts can result in much more than feelings getting hurt.




Actually I have an expectation that a black belt in aikido is going to have a pretty good handle on the basics and is going to have enough of an understanding to work through problem areas. If I'm working with a black belt that can't do that, then in my opinion they don't deserve the rank, the fact that they might be better than other BB's doesn't justify their rank it calls the others into question. I wouldn't let quantity dilute skill.

I delayed my own nidan test because I wasn't where I thought I should be but I was afraid I still might pass. I didn't want the rank because I was as good as another nidan or better than a different shodan...

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#168839 - 07/25/05 09:24 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: Canyon]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Ah... let's define "mastery". What level of "Mastery" and to whose standards? And in comparison to what or who?

I submit that no standard is valid except the standard you set for yourself (as Chris has) - i.e. "personal mastery". In which case, belt colors (or gradations of black) mean very little, in a worldview where you have only yourself to compare with.

As for belt colors to the supposedly undeserving, who are you to make that judgement? Are you suggesting that their sensei has lower standards? Or that you have higher standards? What makes your standard more valid? How do you make that determination?

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#168840 - 07/26/05 02:12 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: eyrie]
katsuhayai05 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 49
Loc: florida
I agree if you can't perform at the level your supposed to be at why are you at that level.

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#168841 - 07/26/05 05:45 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: katsuhayai05]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
And what level would that be? According to who? Are you saying you are better than her sensei to be saying that so-and-so should be at what level?

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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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#168852 - 07/29/05 01:00 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: Canyon]
csinca Offline
former moderator

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

I was working with a recently promoted black belt who's roughly 16 years old yesterday and I found that she could not do most techniques from a basic grab because she couldn't move (i.e. move around or break the grab). It made me wonder about the validity of such young black belts.

And before you start yelling McDojo, she's the only <18 year old student anywhere near that rank and has studied for > 5 years. On one hand she is very smooth and flowing. Her maai is solid and her balance is there. And she has certainly studied long enough and earned the right to test. However because she studied in the kids class the whole time where the kids don't grab very hard and because of her very small stature she just can't really seem to do techniques on adults without a lot of cooperation. I really wonder how valid her black belt is in terms of applying aikido.

I'm just curious what other opinions on this are.




Canyon, things may have gotten off track here but my biggest piece of advice is to be completely and painfully honest with yourself. If you are jealous of this other person rank but lack of ability, refocus on why you are training and hopefully you will realize that this person probably had nothing to do with you taking up aikido so they shouldn't weight too heavily on you now.

If you are questioning your ability, visit other dojos, go to seminars, or for a real eye-opener, find a dojo from a different style/art and go play for a bit. No need to tell them about your aikido background, just look for some introductory specials and go join some classes. See what you feel!

Chris

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#168853 - 07/29/05 08:09 AM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: csinca]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
That has got to be the best advice I've heard all day.

Some people do not advocate cross-training. I think it's important. Reason being that there are generally 2 ways people generally see things: sameness or difference.

Go explore another style or system. Look for similarities. Appreciate the differences. Make up your own mind later.

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#168854 - 07/30/05 02:16 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: csinca]
Canyon Offline
Member

Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 42
No it's certainly not jealousy. It's more of a question of what I've been able to get away with (i.e, sloppy technique). I do train at other schools when I travel but it's often hard to gauge how I'm doing because they often have such different techniques. I'm moving in a few months and will likely find a new school to train at. I think that will give me some better perspective.

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#168855 - 07/31/05 07:41 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: Canyon]
AttorneyJohn Offline
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Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 14
Loc: Houston Texas
I sort of hesitantly agree with what you are saying. In my, personal, opinion, she should have been involved with the adult class in order to learn the things that she should know about off-balancing a larger, stronger opponent. I would have started her in the adult class as soon as she was, say, an ikkyu level in the children's only class, if your school has such a thing. Then, you would be teaching her not only the adjustments she'd need, but teaching her at a, generally, more advanced, more mature level all around. That is JUST a personal opinion, so don't tell your Sensei that he did wrong.....

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#168856 - 08/04/05 03:53 PM Re: Validity of young yudansha [Re: RedRaven]
hayduke Offline
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Registered: 08/04/05
Posts: 2
A belt is something to keep your gi closed.

We have students that are white belts that have studied for 3+ years but have for some reason or another missed kyu testing, that I would rate with many nikyu or ikkyu.

So, does belt really matter?

No.

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Self Defense
Offering stun guns, pepper spray, tasers and other self defense products not available in stores.

Pepper Spray
Online distributor of self defense supplies like videos, stun guns, Tasers and more.

Spy Cameras
Surveillance, Hidden Cameras, Nanny Cams, Digital Recorders, Spy Equipment, Pocket DVR's and more

Stun Gun
Wholesale Directlhy to the Public! Stun gun and Taser Guns and personal protection products. Keep your loved ones at home safe!

 

Unbreakable Unbrella

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