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#434053 - 10/26/11 09:34 PM "Time-served" Requirements
Christie Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 872
Loc: Waterloo, ON
Recently, there has been some controversy at the Tae Kwon Do club that I am currently training at with respect to time-served belt promotion requirements, and I wanted to pose this question to those individuals on this forum that run their own club or are involved with the structural aspects of the club they belong to. Of course, thoughts from any of you are also welcomed and appreciated.

For the most part, requirements for belt promotion vary widely from club to club, and the quality of students vary equally as much. In the end, the colour of cloth the person ties around their waist speaks little about their actual ability in the absence of observing them train, but I digress.

Most clubs that I have trained at across several martial arts styles have had some variation of a "time-served" requirement; however, most of them have also embraced the fact that as far as skills go, all students cannot be considered as equal. Some require more than the standard amount of time to reach the expected degree of proficiency for belt promotion while others reach it much sooner than the standard. Experience in similar styles of the martial art will mean a student will progress much faster than someone who is completely new. Someone who does judo will pick up BJJ faster than someone who does karate, but someone who does karate will pick up tae kwon do faster than someone who does judo.

So my question, or questions, are really these:

- Would you hold a person back by virtue of time-served alone even if it's evident they are proficient enough to move forward?

- Do you consider prior martial arts experience when someone joins your club when placing them in a class (for instance, beginner, intermediate or advanced), or is that irrelevant? Why or why not?

- For those in the area of tae kwon do, how would you handle a situation where someone with a black belt in tae kwon do, but from a different organization joins your club? For instance a black belt from ITF starting WTF, or a black belt from WTF starting Song Moo Kwan, or vice versa, etc.? Do they start at white belt, do they start as a black belt, do they start somewhere in between? What is the rationale for your response?

- Is "time-served" set in stone, or is the fitness level, prior athletic experience, natural ability, rate of learning, etc. an important thing to consider?

The situation I am specifically referring to is an individual with 14 years of experience in Tae Kwon Do recently took and passed their belt promotion from black stripe to double black stripe (the belt before black belt at my club) two months after their last belt test. This individual has a black belt in Song Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do, but was forced to switch styles several years ago because it isn't taught in very many locations. The club they originally started before joining my club asked them to start at purple belt (the half way point), which they did. It has been three years since. They passed their belt test and no-one questions their ability, yet the manager of another location of the same club (there are three locations of the club I belong to) is really upset they were permitted to take their belt promotion test after only two months.

I'm not sure where I stand on the issue and I wanted to gauge the general consensus in the martial arts community.

Thanks in advance!

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#434058 - 10/27/11 03:33 AM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: Christie]
choonbee Offline
Member

Registered: 02/26/11
Posts: 195
I don't think that he should be held back because of a "time requirement.
If he has the ability and has mastered the techniques for the level that he's at, he should be advanced.


Edited by choonbee (10/27/11 03:36 AM)
_________________________
Insert profound martial arts quotes or tough guy phrases here.

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#434059 - 10/27/11 09:01 AM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: choonbee]
gojuman59 Offline
Member

Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 223
Loc: Missouri

What it really comes down to is that rank is between the instructor and the student. If that ruffles feathers of other people that's too bad. I don't have a problem with it. What I do have a problem with is quick testing just to generate testing fees.
In the end it really isn't the business of the students to question rank.Trust your instructor , he should know when test time is appropriate.

mark

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#434060 - 10/27/11 09:44 AM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: Christie]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Quote from Christie: So my question, or questions, are really these:

- Would you hold a person back by virtue of time-served alone even if it's evident they are proficient enough to move forward?


No.

- Do you consider prior martial arts experience when someone joins your club when placing them in a class (for instance, beginner, intermediate or advanced), or is that irrelevant? Why or why not?

Yes and No. Everyone starts at the beginning, but you evaluate a transfer student and move them up according to ability. And despite your notion that someone with prior experience will have the skills in place to transition to a new style, I find that isn't so. Good martial artists can do it. Bad ones are bad in any art. And then there are those that simply can't let go of prior training and won't make progress in a new school.

- For those in the area of tae kwon do, how would you handle a situation where someone with a black belt in tae kwon do, but from a different organization joins your club? For instance a black belt from ITF starting WTF, or a black belt from WTF starting Song Moo Kwan, or vice versa, etc.? Do they start at white belt, do they start as a black belt, do they start somewhere in between? What is the rationale for your response?

Not TKD, but my teachers were and transitioned to Goju. No matter the style, a BB transitioning is evaluated on skill. Don't cut the mustard and you are relegated to the appropriate (underlevel) training class.

- Is "time-served" set in stone, or is the fitness level, prior athletic experience, natural ability, rate of learning, etc. an important thing to consider?

'Time served' doesn't get anyone a pass on ability. Natural ability will get one only so far, and training, good or bad, will show. Anyone claiming a BB in another art isn't really considered as 'all that'. But when claiming 'time served', stating 'I've trained 20 years in XX', that is a different matter. That person is expected to have figured out a lot more and is going to be evaluated more critically. (I just love all the weekend warriors with shodan/nidan that claim 10-20 years of training, show up, and can't deflect a punch.)

-The situation I am specifically referring to is an individual with 14 years of experience in Tae Kwon Do recently took and passed their belt promotion from black stripe to double black stripe (the belt before black belt at my club) two months after their last belt test. This individual has a black belt in Song Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do, but was forced to switch styles several years ago because it isn't taught in very many locations. The club they originally started before joining my club asked them to start at purple belt (the half way point), which they did. It has been three years since. They passed their belt test and no-one questions their ability, yet the manager of another location of the same club (there are three locations of the club I belong to) is really upset they were permitted to take their belt promotion test after only two months.

I'm not sure where I stand on the issue and I wanted to gauge the general consensus in the martial arts community.


Hung up on petty rank. One stripe, two stripes. How about a gold star to go with that? Only thing that matters is your training, and whether or not the school you are training in is actually teaching you something of value and not holding you back.


Edited by harlan (10/27/11 09:48 AM)

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#434061 - 10/27/11 10:41 AM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: harlan]
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2572
I don't think there should be a time requirement for grading where a curriculum exists for promotion. If a person has learnt the curriculum and can fufil the curriculum to a high standard then they should get the belt they deserve.

Many Judo and BJJ associations award you rank based on your ability, which is mainly governed by your ability to beat your peers in full contact matches. People like BJ Penn have been awarded their BJJ black belt in 3 years. People like Ed O'Neill (aka Al Bundy) took 16 years to get their BJJ black belt. One guy trained all the time (sometimes a couple of times a day) and won a lot of competitions. The other guy trained once or twice a week and didn't compete.

Bottom line for a martial artist should be how well they can apply their training. People have different ways of testing this but if you can walk the walk you should get the rank you deserve.
_________________________
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

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#434062 - 10/27/11 01:56 PM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: Prizewriter]
Christie Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 872
Loc: Waterloo, ON
Thank you everybody for your thoughts.

My beliefs on the issue pretty much align with the points you've each raised. If there is a curriculum in place, also having a time-served requirement holds those who train hard, and learn fast back. I do not believe that all students are created equal, and so when it comes to advancement you can't treat them as if they are. If the particular club doesn't have a rank-dependent curriculum than actual rank isn't all that important, but if an individual is barred from advancing further because of the colour of cloth around their waist, then that individual may be wasting their time continuing to train with that specific club.

In any case, the manager of club location 1 is intent on stirring up trouble by making it a huge issue with the club owner. I think it's a little petty, really ridiculous, and misses the point of martial arts entirely. I guess the trouble with teaching at a club you don't own is you get mixed up in politics you have no control over, and you are limited in your expression of how you believe martial arts should be managed and taught.

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#434063 - 10/27/11 04:59 PM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: Christie]
choonbee Offline
Member

Registered: 02/26/11
Posts: 195
You referred to the individual who has the problem with advancing the student as a manager.
Is he a martial artist as well?
(I use the term martial artist loosely for this individual).
_________________________
Insert profound martial arts quotes or tough guy phrases here.

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#434064 - 10/27/11 05:13 PM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: choonbee]
Christie Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 872
Loc: Waterloo, ON
Yes, she's a third dan black belt. She is the manager of locations 1 and 2, and the head instructor at location 1. She has no control over location 3, where I train. It's the university tae kwon do club.


Edited by Christie (10/27/11 05:14 PM)

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#434084 - 10/29/11 09:05 PM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: Christie]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Christie:

Rank is an issue between two individuals, the one who gives it and the one who receives it. Nobody else truly matters. Time served (positively) implies that we practice longer and ingrain our experiences more deeply, carefully given more time to do so. We gain more depth.

Negatively artificial requirements are simple mcdojo fare. No quality, no skill or depth at all. Every 30 days rank (the adjective to smell bad) increases.

Promotion has three qualities: technical, political and merit. Technical skill is very simple. Can I do the technique, the concept with credibly or not? Political is a certain dynamic between a small, tight group. Three men/women are very good together, help each other grow, learn, one of the three is weaker than their friends... they can be promoted to keep the group dynamic in place. That individual will require more effort at the new rank than his/her peers. They cannot coast. But to keep the other two growing, the third friend is necessary to bolster their particular weaknesses. Without all three the synergy is gone, the group stops learning and self motivating. Merit, is the most difficult. Close in skill will I benefit from being promoted and grow INTO the skills which I am weak, or slightly lacking? Rank is a relative thing. If I perceive I am weaker, I can grow and improve because of a teachers insistence/belief, you were promoted because I believe you are very able... show me I was right.

<< prior martial arts experience Why or why not?

Having serious experience in a different art will give someone knowledge-understanding. It does not guarantee anything however. If my experience were (random choices) 5 arts over 15 years, a new practice every three years... is that prior positive experiences, or negative ones? Prefer serious depth to shallow techniques.

The TKD politic... if having my rank is important to you, small changes may be necessary. But whatever knowledge, experience you brought with you are still yours... It does not disappear if you don't wear that belt. Myself, I would let them wear it... they earned it.

Fitness is almost irrelevant to real art. A cute by-product but nothing necessary beyond a very, very low level.

Within your own house, your own rules apply, or can be broken as well. It is on the teacher and the teacher alone whether a rule gets bent or not. What is the TRUE objection here? If the other manager does not like the flavor of the art presented, that is a much bigger discussion. But is the sole question time-in grade... that seems superficial and pretend...

Merely my opinion, I could surely be mistaken,
Jeff


Edited by Ronin1966 (10/29/11 09:11 PM)

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#434087 - 10/30/11 11:32 AM Re: "Time-served" Requirements [Re: Ronin1966]
Christie Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 872
Loc: Waterloo, ON
Hey Jeff,

That was an interesting comment you made about group dynamics, it isn't something that I have put much thought into before.

Her objection is solely time in rank, my objection is that on its own, time in rank isn't a valid objection. She is the only individual at the club that seems to believe there is an issue with the individual having been allowed to test. All of the other instructors, most of which have been doing the art for longer than she has, do not see a problem. However, because she is the manager, she is choosing to make it an issue. As a result, I am no longer volunteering my time at her location, it just stresses me out too much.

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