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#370444 - 11/16/07 09:55 AM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: MattJ]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
Well...each system is different. I have 'nunchuk skills' (Nap. Dyn. )...but does any TKD or MMA school value that? Some 'skills' are transferrable, others are not.

Perhaps 'social skills' should be considered. Too many butt-kicking nasty people out there already anyway.

#370445 - 11/16/07 09:55 AM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: MattJ]
Blackrainbow Offline

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 220
Loc: Brandon Fl.USA

Real good point. So someone thought I was good enough by his standards to award be a BB. Obviously he got his training from some other someone who thought he was good enough. I guess it doesn't really mean a lot unless you can convince people outside of your system that everybody in the promotional chain was good enough. So---how do we do that?
You cannot defend against that which you do not understand

#370446 - 11/16/07 10:25 AM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: MattJ]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
I often think the issue is rank has no concrete defination. Rank was tool used to present the Okinawna arts to Japan. It created many problems in Japan too, but those issues were kept inhouse, IMO.

In the 1950's the various Okinawn systems adopted their rank standards, realizing IMO that the American's handing Okinawa back to Japan in 1972 made sense to try and follow the Japanese model. But there were no universal standards on what rank should mean at that time, nor are there today.

I come from a background where we don't test anyone for rank. There is a sho-dan initiation (which looks very much like a test as it can be failed) but that's it.

I've always kept to the path of my instructors, seeing no reason to change and begin testing outside of real training.

But I have defined rank in a meaningful way for myself and my students.

I don't see rank as an accomplishment but a license for harder training. Not a acknowledgement of what you've done, or passed, but a statement that now the coals get turned on harder as continuing training becomes more difficult.

And if rank has meaning it's that one is ready for a new set of challenges.

If someone steps back or leaves why worry about taking rank away, a waste of time. They're just not taking the challenge even though they've earned the right.

In fact obtaining rank in a meaninful way means you don't take the time to take it out of the envelop/box/wrapper because you have to much training ahead of you.

How an individual reaches the right for those new challenges is a schools business and nobody elses.

Anything else is meaningless, just paper.

We change every day of our lives, how we react to those changes, how we drive ourselves forward is the real challenge, not pieces of paper we can print for ourselves more cheaply than what others charge, IMO.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#370447 - 11/16/07 10:35 AM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: harlan]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Harlan:

FRIENDLY sane butt kicking (optional) is a sign of bone-fide rank IMHO!


#370448 - 11/16/07 11:01 AM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: cxt]
jude33 Offline

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539

I don't know....I think it all goes back to how a person/school views the ranks of shodan.

I've been to schools that could care less about the shodan...pretty much everyone can get one if they train long enough--they view it as just an indication of a persons dedication.

I seem to remember hearing that certain Japanese Sensie had stated that shodan was an indication of a person having managed to get the basics to a level where further progress could be made.


And I have been to schools where if you can't fight...and by "fight" I mean hold your own against the other people with the same rank--you don't get the belt.

(they actually have a series of sparring matchs vs other people that are shodans..if you can't beat them...or at least hold your own--no dice.)

I suppose in that scenario training basics hard might take a back seat.
The person would only have to concentrate on techniques that win a match.

Unless both had to be done. Would mean a longer wait for a B.B


#370449 - 11/16/07 05:13 PM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: MattJ]
Vig Offline

Registered: 11/08/07
Posts: 4
I think a person who has a disability, but has overcome many things and knows the art should be allowed to test and achieve rank. I would rather have someone in our school with down syndrome then one of those 8 yr old black belts. I hate those little [censored].

#370450 - 11/16/07 09:03 PM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: Vig]
tkd_high_green Offline

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Is this really any different that a high school diploma? A special education student who graduates from high school is going to have a different skill set than an advance placement student.

A good school is one that challenges each student to become the best they can be, whether they are athletic, overweight or disabled. If you spend several years regularly training to the best of your abilities, then yes, the student should be rewarded. If someone has a specific handicap that prevents them from being able to perform certain techniques, like someone missing an arm, you shouldn't hold them back because they can't do an x-block, but instead focus on techniques that will work for them.

The fact is, there are really only two options.

1) you set a specific standard that must be met for promotion. When a student signs up, they are informed of those requirements and are held back accordingly


2) you work with the student to set a special standard that is just for them, rewarding them as they meet those goals.

either way, a school needs to stick with the option they chose when the student enrolled in the school, unless the situation changes drastically to warrant a re-evaluation.

Either option is perfectly acceptable, as long as the student is continually given encouragement and support.


#370451 - 11/17/07 02:59 AM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: MattJ]
floatfishski Offline

Registered: 10/02/07
Posts: 88
Loc: Danver for now.
It's a two edged sword or two sides ofthe same coin. As some one who used to teach chemistry at the college level I took a two pronged approach. I had students who excelled from the start in their understanding of chemistry. I also had those who came in, had a difficult time grasping the concepts, but dug in and improved. I also had others who did "C" work from start to finish. So I adopted the approach that improvement meant as much, or more, than inherant ability. What is martial arts after all, an adherence to set standards, or a belief that all of us can be better tomorrow than we are today? The whole rank system is about recongnizing achievement - from where the student started - isn't it. It is about the value of martial arts. One of the cover stories on this page is about a man with CP who recieved a black belt. What a sweet and endearing story (read polite clapping) until you consider - martial arts got him out of a wheel chair. Or rather martial arts and his desire got him out of a wheel chair! That is the fullness of martial arts.

I think of the "titles" I've recieved. I did my post doc in physics, got my Dr. in chemistry, and my masters in math. And I've had students who could punk me in each! I'm a Rokudan and teach kids who can do what I never could. To understand what this means let me offer this - I'm 6'4", 223lbs, ran a 4.39 40 out of college with a 39" vertical leap. So I'm no athletically challenged type. I've been called "master" and "sigung" and yet, and yet - I teach those who could, and will, out do me at every phase! They are better now than I will ever be, and frankly, better when they came in. But I will tell you, with pride that I earned every title. Martial arts, to me, is about you started from here and got to here and I'm amazed at what you did!

#370452 - 11/17/07 08:50 AM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: MattJ]
Cord Offline

Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 11399
Loc: Cambridge UK.
Equality cannot exist when the unfortunate are patronised.

Plenty of impaired people achieve truly remarkable things, as soon as you start praising other impaired people to the same extent for lesser real world accomplishments, you not only insult them, but those in similar boats who truly achieve the exceptional.
We all have problems, and we all have weaknesses, may as well give us all gold stars and ice cream for being limited by our personal achilles heals.
Don't let the door hit ya' where the good lord split ya'

#370453 - 11/18/07 05:31 PM Re: Who earns black belts? [Re: Cord]
floatfishski Offline

Registered: 10/02/07
Posts: 88
Loc: Danver for now.
I'm not talking about patronizing. I simply ask the question of "Where did you start and how far have you come." The black belt applies to YOUR life, and is not measured against another. Watch a kid with autism suddenly blossom because he got involved in martial arts. It's (martial arts) is bigger than just inherent physical skills. It molds, shapes, and ultimately adds definition to our lives. Better today than I was yesterday, better tomorrow than I am today - that's the point, isn't it!

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