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?
I believe there are exceptions to every rule. The time required to promote, as your refer to time-served, is a guideline
. If evidence showed the student was more than proficient at the skills required I may
give the opportunity to grade faster.
- 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?
Prior martial art experiences is taken into account. A student came in and had not taken Taekwondo for over 5 years however had a black belt from a different organization. He started at a white belt and was able to test as high as he wanted at each test period. First test he tested from white to blue. Next test he tested from blue to Red/Black Stripe. Final test was black belt. He progressed faster than most but that is only because he had the necessary skill.
If a student hast he necessary skills than why hold them back? They are an asset to the club with not only helping out as know the skills but can also bring a different look and different skills to help others.
- 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?
I addressed this a bit above. The reason this student started at white was it was agreed upon as had not taken Taekwondo for several years and this seemed the best course of action.
One of the students I trained with who had just reach black belt (WTF), joined a local ITF club as our school closed down. He was able to retain his black belt but trained from the bottom up. I believe each situation has to be looked at and then the best course of action taken. In this case most of the skill sets are equal with the exception of the patterns (forms). A person from another art such as Karate I may start at a white belt however allow them to progress faster.
- 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 required between belts is not set in stone however is a good guideline. While a student may have all of these skills in most cases I would have them continue for the "time required" to become even better at those skills, rather than rush them through the system. In that same breath, I would hold up other students if they could not show those skills even if they had served the time.
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.
This doesn't bother me too much; 14 years of experience is a solid amount of time to know most skill sets and to pick up on other styles faster. Obviously the school where he took this the Instructor was confident enough to allow this; the other Instructor at the other school can show his dismay but it is not up to him.