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#370118 - 11/14/07 07:12 PM Belt or no belt?
Cafa Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 11
I'd like to open a discussion about belts and their value to you.

Here's my point of view: today my sensei (3rd dan) demonstrated a kind of behavior which made me wonder, and I imagined what would he be like without his dan, and my conclusion was - a small and angry person.

I have a feeling that belts, championships and stuff, are mostly used among us westerners to show that we're better than someone else, not that we're better than we were yesterday. Sooner or later belts become an obsession, to many karate-kas, and they focus on the guy who's above them, wanting to beat him. We're only human so it's normal, but the concept of karate is to eliminate the ego and to become righteous. Meaning, a black belt should have less ego than a white belt, not more, not using a black belt as a license to be whatever you want.

I don't want to be better than anyone. I'll beat them on a tournament, but I have no desire to be called better by default. Even a 12 year old girl can teach me something I didn't know before, for example.

I'm an experienced and effective fighter, white belt in karate. I kind of fell in love with that belt, as I like that romantic legend that it shouldn't be washed, I want to wait and see will it eventually become black. Crazy, I know.

Belts are not awarded by the same standards in different dojos. Some are even gifts to friends, while some people worked hard for their belts. I heard all sorts of discussions "yellow belt in this dojo is stronger than a green belt in that one", and the more I think about it, the more I am reluctant to enter that rat race. I don't want people talking that way about me behind my back, it's disgusting. I don't want to take part in it, but I love karate.

If I (or any other karate-ka) decide to stay white belt, how would you look at it? Would I be the righteous guy, or the guy who's spitting on karate tradition and trying to show he's better than everone else? A true karate-ka who appreciates everyone for who they are, or just a rebel? Or both?

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#370119 - 11/14/07 09:18 PM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: Cafa]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
The best thing that can happen in the martial arts world is to do away with "belts" and ranks. The system was started for a reason, but now it's too corrupt and meaningless.
A belt/rank means nothing outside of your own dojo. It may possibly mean something to some in the same organization, but not much.

If you want to stay a white belt, then good for you.
I knew an excellent karate teacher that was a "brown belt" for 10 years; a fantastic Judoka that was a Shodan for 16 years when I met him and had no intention of taking a promotion.

On my first trip to Japan I was advised to be respectful to everyone, including white belts. I was also told if a "white belt" started to offer advice or corrections to play close attention, especially if it was an older person. It is not uncommon for very high ranked "black belts" to wear a white belt.

I also trained in an Aikido class where each beginners class everyone, black belts included, put on a white belt to practice basics. It really helps keep everyone a little humble and promotes the idea that it's not the belt that's important.

But so much of martial arts is about getting belts and not enough about training, knowledge and skills.

I would look at you as a person who loved the art more than the politics.

So often, when someone comes to look into classes, the first thing they ask is "when will I get my black belt". I'm to the point where I won't accept a student that askes this question.

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#370120 - 11/14/07 09:33 PM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: Cafa]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Quote:

Here's my point of view: today my sensei (3rd dan) demonstrated a kind of behavior which made me wonder, and I imagined what would he be like without his dan, and my conclusion was - a small and angry person.





Whoa right there!! You really need to look at going somewhere else if that's the kind of respect you have for your sensei. He may be,but then why would you want to train under him?

Quote:

I have a feeling that belts, championships and stuff, are mostly used among us westerners to show that we're better than someone else, not that we're better than we were yesterday. Sooner or later belts become an obsession, to many karate-kas, and they focus on the guy who's above them, wanting to beat him. We're only human so it's normal, but the concept of karate is to eliminate the ego and to become righteous. Meaning, a black belt should have less ego than a white belt, not more, not using a black belt as a license to be whatever you want.

I don't want to be better than anyone. I'll beat them on a tournament, but I have no desire to be called better by default. Even a 12 year old girl can teach me something I didn't know before, for example.






People are people whereever you go, even in the dojo.

Quote:

I'm an experienced and effective fighter, white belt in karate. I kind of fell in love with that belt, as I like that romantic legend that it shouldn't be washed, I want to wait and see will it eventually become black. Crazy, I know.





That'll never happen, it's a silly myth.

Quote:

Belts are not awarded by the same standards in different dojos. Some are even gifts to friends, while some people worked hard for their belts. I heard all sorts of discussions "yellow belt in this dojo is stronger than a green belt in that one", and the more I think about it, the more I am reluctant to enter that rat race. I don't want people talking that way about me behind my back, it's disgusting. I don't want to take part in it, but I love karate.




Guess what, people are going to talk about you behind your back whether you have a belt or not.

Quote:

If I (or any other karate-ka) decide to stay white belt, how would you look at it? Would I be the righteous guy, or the guy who's spitting on karate tradition and trying to show he's better than everone else? A true karate-ka who appreciates everyone for who they are, or just a rebel? Or both?




It wouldn't bother me. Rank goes to people's head,but you are training at a dojo that uses rank and you should respect that or go somewhere else.
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#370121 - 11/14/07 11:22 PM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: Cafa]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Cafa:

Passion is enough... with a good teacher.

Many years ago, I attended a week long martial arts seminar in a gorgeous wooded locale. There were I don't know 30 students. Some with no experience, some with 10+ years experience, a few with lots more. Given the serious diversity of the group there was one senior teacher and three assistants. Two of the three assistants were tangibly experienced, the third was a curious puzzle. The fellow wore a normal gi but that had seen meaningful aging. Even so he wore only a white belt. He had presence and meaningful authority in his most basic technique. Others with no experience could not so easily see it until they touched. By then it was obvious.

He had been a daily student for twenty + years and never desired to test. His teachers all agreed it was time for him to do so. The discussions you heard are immature ones, avoid them. Or engage in them and let your feelings be publically known. "...Guys why do you talk that way, its little kid stuff..."

J

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#370122 - 11/15/07 12:59 AM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: Ronin1966]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
BTW, one reason for my growing interest in Chinese arts over Japanese arts is the lack belts and ranks.
Sure, some schools of "kungfu" use the "black sash". But usually that would indicate a problem with the school.

It's much more common in authentic Chinese schools to see no belts or sashes and not even a uniform of any kind. Just comfortable workout clothes. The only way to know "who's who" is by thier skills.

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#370123 - 11/15/07 01:48 AM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: JAMJTX]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
JAM

One "belt theory" is that back in the early days of karate in Japan there were a lot of clubs with only one real teacher that sort of "made the rounds" so the belts were a means of the TEACHER--who might not really know all the students personally--to be able to see at a glance what material a given person/people should be working on.

Just something to add to the pile.


Edited by cxt (11/15/07 01:57 AM)
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#370124 - 11/15/07 05:59 AM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: cxt]
Ives Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 691
Loc: the Netherlands
If you're happy with the school, the style, the teaching/instruction, just go with the flow. Without promotion you wouldn't advance in the curriculum in the school I train at.
There is a green belt at my school, that was an early green belt when I started karate at this school. I'm now a brown belt and have increased more in skill than she has. She is still a green belt. She refuses to test for her brown belt.
So be it.

I'm not saying that by promotions you gain in skill. You get more experience in different applications since the curriculum is broader. It becomes more diverse.
_________________________
Ives

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#370125 - 11/15/07 06:14 AM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: Ives]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
belts and such things are a funny thing really,

for many its a genuine tradition that should be respected as a sign of recognition of skill and experience from ones Sensei and peers etc etc, im cool with that.

for others its a good earner, and can give great power in the political running of a dojo or indeed association, im not cool with any of that.(ie regular rank testing, student retention, yuk yuk)

For many its a good boost to the ego, something I hsave/do suffer from for sure, from time to time .as I feel 'underranked' when I looked at standards around me, ego eh..........lifes like that i guess

Now I just don't worry about it, my karate is about training and research these days, rank may happen, it may not.

When people ask me these days I simply say my time training (22 years) and that I am teach karate as a blackbelt, if pushed then I would mention the term 'baby' sensei - which is what I consider myself to be at 35 years of age.

But other people tend to expect it (far to much, and far to often), so it has a place I guess in the world.

Now in my dojo its simple, students are awarded grade when they have earn't it, not when they pay for it, or ask for it, or expect it.

The nice result of this is no one really cares about it now as they know the right things will eventually happen if they train hard, and I have faith that will be the same for me with my Sensei.

I only work white to green to black to sensei to shihan,

This is more than suitiable for our needs, right or wrong it works well for us and can fit in with other larger groups as needed.
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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#370126 - 11/15/07 07:46 AM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: cxt]
Dobbersky Offline
Peace Works!!!!
Enthusiast

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 913
Loc: Manchester United Kingdom
Osu

In most Aikido dojos, only black belts and white belt exist.

I love how some associations, give explainations about what each colour belt symbolises.

As Mr Miyagi said - "in Okinawa belt mean no use rope to hold up trousers"

I would have only 4 colours if it was up to me White, green, brown and black

Osu
_________________________
A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.

Ken

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#370127 - 11/15/07 09:18 AM Re: Belt or no belt? [Re: Dobbersky]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
'Rank' doesn't interest me. HOwever, is there some kind of acknowledgement that certain ranks confer teaching status? If yes, then refusing to test/rank to a certain point in a system that confers legitimacy for teaching with a particular rank...effectively means the line stops with you.

I think rank isn't an honor or privelege. One may earn it in some sense...but to me it's really a responsibility. To refuse to test might be considered disrespectful.

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