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Peter Boylan
01-23-2014, 11:13 AM
I let myself get sucked into another discussion of martial arts rank the other day. I really should know better by now, but I guess I'm a slow learner.

For me, rank is a reflection of a person's responsibility to the art, not of their ability to win matches or defeat other people. My full thoughts are a little long, and are posted at

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2014/01/what-is-martial-arts-rank.html

What does rank mean to you?

FusionMa
01-23-2014, 04:17 PM
Hi Peter. I like your post - it sparks true thought and requires an individual to look into themselves to see if 1. they want to answer honestly or if they want to answer in a way that shines the best kind of light upon them (maybe that is their honest answer but that is a mute point) and 2. they really are doing what they are doing for the reasons they believed themselves to be doing it.

My answer to your question is this: Rank is a means in to gauge experience and nothing more, an individual may demonstrate ability during a grading beyond their experience and attain a double grade, but that rank is not awarded hastily; a ranking awarded reflects the experience and expertise of both the student and the grader, if a double grade is awarded then the grader feels that an experience ranking higher than the grade taken has been displayed.
A rank means absolutely nothing in the real world, you may the highest ranking student ( we are all students regardless of rank ) in the world and can still get your butt handed to you by a nobody with no rank at all, there is after all always someone better. It is this that drives us to become better ourselves, because we realise that we are not trying to become better than the person who bested us, but we are trying to better ourselves to make everyone else better around us.
Rankings are useful though, they allow us to see the progress we are making and the progress of our students, they allow us to make contests fairer by grade matching contestants and the very best thing of all, a belt is very good at keeping our trousers above our hips and our Gi's closed and presented nicely. :o)

Rupert Atkinson
01-23-2014, 05:25 PM
I played table tennis for two to three hours a day for ten years when at school ... and beyond. I never had any rank. I did not need ran to teach me or to motivate me. I won several competitions and team events etc. We just enjoyed it. Rank is, to be honest, ridiculous.

Michael Hackett
01-23-2014, 05:45 PM
Rank only means responsibility to me; to our dojo, the art, our teacher, our students. In my mind today, the higher the rank, the greater the duty. Discounting the idea of responsibility, rank has no value.

Adam Huss
01-23-2014, 07:11 PM
What about rank being dynamic? For example, if someone takes a couple years off the dojo should they be reduced in rank for non-activity? If rank is an indicator of skill related to a prescribed curriculum, is it unethical to for someone to proclaim a certain rank if they don't recall all the items in the curriculum, or have a diminished capability to execute technique?

Rupert Atkinson
01-23-2014, 09:39 PM
What about rank being dynamic? For example, if someone takes a couple years off the dojo should they be reduced in rank for non-activity? If rank is an indicator of skill related to a prescribed curriculum, is it unethical to for someone to proclaim a certain rank if they don't recall all the items in the curriculum, or have a diminished capability to execute technique?

Makes sense to me - in fact, just check out how Sumo rankings work.

sakumeikan
01-24-2014, 02:47 AM
What about rank being dynamic? For example, if someone takes a couple years off the dojo should they be reduced in rank for non-activity? If rank is an indicator of skill related to a prescribed curriculum, is it unethical to for someone to proclaim a certain rank if they don't recall all the items in the curriculum, or have a diminished capability to execute technique?

Dear Adam,
Rank is not purely a matter of skill level. If a person has reached a certain rank and does not train perhaps due to injury or a change of circumstances would you reduce this persons rank ? One other point everybody gets old. Using you logic you would diminish a high ranking teacher to a lower level simply because the person is much older.Hardly a respectful action. Do you feel that this is the right approach?Perhaps you need to reflect on what you are saying. It seems to me that you do not value the work of senior teachers who may well have contributed to aikido for many years.
Cheers, Joe.

sakumeikan
01-24-2014, 03:00 AM
Makes sense to me - in fact, just check out how Sumo rankings work.

Dear Rupert,
Aikido is not a sporting activity. Would you consider ranking you own instructors? By whose authority would you have in doing so? If you were a junior rank in your dojo, would you consider demoting your own senior instructor ? Once again I see a potential breakdown in teacher /student relationships, a lack of respect.Senior instructors have paid their dues. Some have spent a lifetime training in aikido. Is the work done by these people have no value? Do you simply measure a person by how well he /she does waza? What a way to judge anybody.
Cheers, Joe.

philipsmith
01-24-2014, 06:59 AM
rank is in many sense illusory I agree. It can be a measure of ability, dedication to the art, teaching skill ............the list goes on & on.
However, for rank to be legitimate it must, in my opinion, be subject to an "external" review. For example in some associations rank is awarded as a consequence of time served, in others senior ranks are awarded to instructors by their students (who then increase the students rank).
One way to avoid this is from a HQ such as the various Hombu or by peer review of other senior ranks, but then who awards those senior ranks?
As for dynamic ranking - probably not possible in a non-competitive art.

Just my thoughts obviously.

dps
01-24-2014, 07:06 AM
Best explanation I have ever heard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaq72-rAqJU

sakumeikan
01-24-2014, 09:03 AM
rank is in many sense illusory I agree. It can be a measure of ability, dedication to the art, teaching skill ............the list goes on & on.
However, for rank to be legitimate it must, in my opinion, be subject to an "external" review. For example in some associations rank is awarded as a consequence of time served, in others senior ranks are awarded to instructors by their students (who then increase the students rank).
One way to avoid this is from a HQ such as the various Hombu or by peer review of other senior ranks, but then who awards those senior ranks?
As for dynamic ranking - probably not possible in a non-competitive art.

Just my thoughts obviously.
Dear Philip,
Junior students awarding grades to their seniors? Anybody we know? This is where the rank /grading system is abused. Before we know it some people will be 10th Dan[or higher]. Cheers, Joe.

Peter Boylan
01-24-2014, 10:34 AM
Your comments just strengthen belief that the koryu system of not having ranks, but only teaching licenses for various levels of the curriculum, is the right way. The whole dan rank thing was a huge mistake on Kano Shihan's part. All the questions and debate I see here vanish with a licensing system.

BJohnston
01-24-2014, 10:49 AM
In the lower kyu ranks I think it's suppose to reflect an understanding about the principles being taught for that particular level. However how that gets interpreted within the dojo is probably in the eye of the beholder. As you get into to the higher ranks, especially Dan ranks, it takes on a bit more weight and responsibility. I do agree that testing in front of folks outside the immediate circle of the dojo is a good thing. I also agree that the rank reflects your dedication the art. In our dojo its ultimately the responsibility of the individual to step up and prepare himself/herself for testing.

B

Fred Little
01-24-2014, 12:33 PM
Your comments just strengthen belief that the koryu system of not having ranks, but only teaching licenses for various levels of the curriculum, is the right way. The whole dan rank thing was a huge mistake on Kano Shihan's part. All the questions and debate I see here vanish with a licensing system.

Just to add to Peter's remarks:

It's worth pointing out here that koryu licenses are just that: licenses. And just like drivers' licenses, they may be issued with conditions. Some koryu licenses are merely authorization to practice a defined body of material within the school's syllabus. Others are supervised teaching licenses. Others are full teaching licenses. Others may even allow the holder to modify the school's teaching as s/he sees fit. There is a great deal of variation.

In almost every case, those licenses can typically be further conditioned, suspended, or revoked, should a headmaster see it as necessary for any reason, whether that be technical, behavioral, or simply in the best interest of the school.

Beyond revocation of training/teaching licenses, one can be expelled from a ryu, or made "hamon." (Some measure of the gap between gendai and koryu arts can be seen in the current thread titled "Banned from Aikido," in which various posters have expressed their amazement that someone could even think such a thing possible.)

The simple fact that licenses can be revoked and individuals can be expelled from an art creates a very different mindset among koryu practitioners. Conversely, the situation which seems to obtain in most gendai arts is that there is apparently no offense sufficiently grave to cause either revocation of dan-i or expulsion from the association in which one trains.

My view is that this comparative lack of clear license control in gendai systems creates both technical and moral hazards which have diminished the integrity of the modern systems, both functionally and more broadly. Inasmuch as aikido is a modern art, it is not immune; and the increasingly common situation of a group of senior practitioners finding themselves unable to keep the dojo full is the long-term effect of several generations of junior practitioners voting with their feet when they bump into rigid hierarchies of rank and authority which are not backed by technical competence (even if they once were) or moral authority (as they may once may have been).

None of which is to say that the license system can't be abused. But that's a different can of worms for another venue.

YMMV,

Fred Little

Demetrio Cereijo
01-24-2014, 02:19 PM
Rank? External ex-post recognition ... mostly meaningless.

PeterR
01-24-2014, 02:49 PM
Your comments just strengthen belief that the koryu system of not having ranks, but only teaching licenses for various levels of the curriculum, is the right way. The whole dan rank thing was a huge mistake on Kano Shihan's part. All the questions and debate I see here vanish with a licensing system.

It seems to me that there is enough politicking and infighting over licenses to negate that point. Apples and oranges they may be but they are both fruit. If anything there are more dan ranks per school so maybe its a matter of degree. <-- pun alert.

OwlMatt
01-24-2014, 04:35 PM
Students who are only interested in learning the system for themselves and who don’t take responsibility for the system should be, and usually are, slowly frozen out of the school, and sometimes even simply expelled.

This is the way it should be.
I have to disagree with this. I don't see anything wrong with someone practicing an art just because they like it.

JJF
01-27-2014, 09:29 AM
I have to disagree with this. I don't see anything wrong with someone practicing an art just because they like it.

Matthew: I don't think that's what it means. Of course you should practice because you enjoy it - but with increased time in any budo and with increased rank should follow an increased awareness of your own responsibility towards carrying the budo on to new students and to live up to the standards that come with the specific rank.

Otherwise it may be a martial art - but it will not be a Budo (in my opinion).

To the original poster: I have linked your blog in a facebook discussion where it was relevant. It has received some very positive comments so I hereby pass the kudos on to you :) I quite enjoyed reading it. It put some of the thoughts I have been struggling with into words in a very nice and precise way.

JJF

Peter Boylan
01-27-2014, 09:41 AM
Jørgen

Thank you very much. I appreciate the feedback.

Peter Boylan

OwlMatt
01-27-2014, 10:41 AM
Matthew: I don't think that's what it means. Of course you should practice because you enjoy it - but with increased time in any budo and with increased rank should follow an increased awareness of your own responsibility towards carrying the budo on to new students
The idea of this kind of obligation is popular among martial artists, and I've never bought it. I don't believe taking part in an activity obligates me in any way to introduce others to the activity. Sure, it behooves to to help keep up the supply of training partners, but I think you're talking about more than that.

and to live up to the standards that come with the specific rank.
I don't know what your organization is like, but every organization's rank standards that I have ever seen is a list of martial arts techniques. To suggest that there are standards of morality and character that go along with rank is, by extension, to suggest that a martial arts instructor is a moral authority who is qualified to teach, train, and test for moral virtues. And that doesn't make sense to me.

Otherwise it may be a martial art - but it will not be a Budo (in my opinion).
Is what is and is not a budo really a matter of personal opinion? Someone who knows Japanese better than I do can correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that it wouldn't make sense in Japanese to subjectively say that one person's aikido (or karate, or judo, or kendo, or whatever) is a budo and another person's is not.

Fred Little
01-27-2014, 03:51 PM
The idea of this kind of obligation is popular among martial artists, and I've never bought it. I don't believe taking part in an activity obligates me in any way to introduce others to the activity. Sure, it behooves to to help keep up the supply of training partners, but I think you're talking about more than that.

I don't know what your organization is like, but every organization's rank standards that I have ever seen is a list of martial arts techniques. To suggest that there are standards of morality and character that go along with rank is, by extension, to suggest that a martial arts instructor is a moral authority who is qualified to teach, train, and test for moral virtues. And that doesn't make sense to me.

Is what is and is not a budo really a matter of personal opinion? Someone who knows Japanese better than I do can correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that it wouldn't make sense in Japanese to subjectively say that one person's aikido (or karate, or judo, or kendo, or whatever) is a budo and another person's is not.

Mr. Story,

Oh, it would make sense. It would be terribly, terribly rude to say so to someone's faces, but I've heard -- on more than one occasion -- just such remarks made by senior practitioners about other practitioners' and their arts.

I think it's safe to say that if you don't believe that you have a responsibility toward the art and its transmission that you have so sharply circumscribed the traditional understanding of michi or do that you've changed the fundamental meaning of the usage and moved into the category of what po-mo literary scholars call "creative appropriation."

That said, I share your skepticism about the moral authority of most martial arts instructors and, yeah, the gap between the glorious high-tone rhetoric of budo and the habitual conduct of its most vocal proponents is usually quite wide enough to jaundice the view from even the most innocent and trusting of observers.

YMMV

FL

OwlMatt
01-27-2014, 05:30 PM
Mr. Story,

Oh, it would make sense. It would be terribly, terribly rude to say so to someone's faces, but I've heard -- on more than one occasion -- just such remarks made by senior practitioners about other practitioners' and their arts.
Thanks for that. Good information.

I think it's safe to say that if you don't believe that you have a responsibility toward the art and its transmission that you have so sharply circumscribed the traditional understanding of michi or do that you've changed the fundamental meaning of the usage and moved into the category of what po-mo literary scholars call "creative appropriation."
There are many, many people who have a better understanding of Japanese terminology than I have. My opinions are based on my own experience and my own understanding of logic, not on any "traditional understanding of michi or do".

I have a problem with the idea of having "a responsibility toward the art". An art is an activity, not a person; you can't owe an activity. You can owe your training partners and your instructors, but to say that you owe the activity, I believe, is to falsely imbue the activity with characteristics of a person.

That said, I share your skepticism about the moral authority of most martial arts instructors and, yeah, the gap between the glorious high-tone rhetoric of budo and the habitual conduct of its most vocal proponents is usually quite wide enough to jaundice the view from even the most innocent and trusting of observers.

YMMV

FL
You're absolutely right; that is exactly what has happened to me. The result is that I have stopped expecting martial arts instructors to teach me anything but martial art, and have stopped treating martial arts as moral entities, or in fact any kind of entities at all. And I, for one, am much happier for it.

NagaBaba
01-27-2014, 08:34 PM
Present ranking system is already deeply rooted into the consciousness of occidental people. It will stay, independently of its strengths and weakness, do we want or not. Most people must have some landmarks to situate themselves, where they are in an abstract scale of ‘progress’.

So one may choose to live in some kind of wishful thinking world (and ignore or fight against) or use it wisely to improve. One use of rank can be to express the relation with his/her own teacher. Other, as Michael stated, the degree of responsibility toward an art, dojo, students….I see it as an excellent tool to motivate people to continue a training and improve quality of their practice. Most beginners see ranks as very important in their practice, may be later they will change their motivation, but for the moment it keeps them coming to the dojo. Some advanced instructors see a rank as kind of recompense for many years of practice and organizational efforts and it keeps them coming to the dojo despite of injuries and age issues…

There is yet another aspect of ranks – preparation for tests. I haven’t seen it until I started my dojo. In fact, this preparation plays very important role not only for given individual, but for dojo as a group. Somehow, during preparation the relations between students are getting tighter, group become more and more consolidated, coherent, may be because they suffer together? In the same time, everybody benefice from advices of instructor, even people who don’t prepare the test. Beginners are being impressed by the fact that during preparation students are being push beyond the limits and start to believe that one day they can do it also. Also the true respect is earned, yes, it is not a test itself or rank, it is a suffering during preparation that earns respect. It reminds the rituals in the culture of primary tribes where a teen became an adults.

Also for the peoples outside of budo community, it is the only way to evaluate a student or instructor, we like it or not.
I’m far from glorification of rank but I can see its utility in the present society.

Chris Li
01-27-2014, 09:38 PM
Present ranking system is already deeply rooted into the consciousness of occidental people. It will stay, independently of its strengths and weakness, do we want or not.

There was another system that deeply rooted in the people's consciousnesses - until Jigoro Kano came along and it wasn't anymore.

Everything changes.

Best,

Chris

Ecosamurai
01-28-2014, 03:25 AM
I'm not a terribly huge fan of the dan system, in the absence of some sort of levelling test that is (mostly) consistent across the board such as a Judo competition there is no way to say definitively that this dan ranked person is better than this other one. As to it reflecting duty to your art then that surely means you can get promoted for painting the dojo. Not that I don't feel the burden of responsibility increase toward aikido and my teacher with every promotion, just saying that it isn't something that enables fair comparison between two 5th dans.
The only time I've ever seen it make sense is when it was mapped onto a scroll/licence system as I've seen done with one koryu, they take the view that everybody uses dan ranks so they are easier to understand, but they have a strong tradition of the older koryu licencing system and so started with the premise that a particular scroll is equivalent to a particular dan, with menkyo kaiden being an effective 8th dan. Which only goes to show that the dan system doesn't work without the older system backing it up.

Mike

Rupert Atkinson
01-28-2014, 05:35 AM
Also for the peoples outside of budo community, it is the only way to evaluate a student or instructor, we like it or not. I’m far from glorification of rank but I can see its utility in the present society.

I can see such utility too, but to train hard to get a rank is really rather silly. Kind of like giving a boy scout a badge because he can light a fire. Fun for kids, maybe, but we grew up ... did we not?

One should train hard to get the skill, I am sure you can 'think' and see some people who just want the rank. How many quit after getting black belt, for example? How many people train harder before a grading and then afterwards ... well ... you don't see them for a week or more after that? I see things in a different way. And in Japan ... they have rank too ... but they just don't make much of it. My friend's daughter was 4th or 5th Dan in calligraphy ... while she was still a teenager. She was good, of course, but it makes you think does it not? It was the same with the game of 'Go'. But do we really need to be 'green belt' at chess? I think it's all ridiculous - a folly - and worse, a huge distraction.

Chase the skill.

JJF
01-28-2014, 10:20 AM
The idea of this kind of obligation is popular among martial artists, and I've never bought it. I don't believe taking part in an activity obligates me in any way to introduce others to the activity. Sure, it behooves to to help keep up the supply of training partners, but I think you're talking about more than that.

I don't know what your organization is like, but every organization's rank standards that I have ever seen is a list of martial arts techniques. To suggest that there are standards of morality and character that go along with rank is, by extension, to suggest that a martial arts instructor is a moral authority who is qualified to teach, train, and test for moral virtues. And that doesn't make sense to me.

Is what is and is not a budo really a matter of personal opinion? Someone who knows Japanese better than I do can correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that it wouldn't make sense in Japanese to subjectively say that one person's aikido (or karate, or judo, or kendo, or whatever) is a budo and another person's is not.

Well... it is beginning to make sense to me :) but I have been dabbling in Japanese martial arts for 30 years, and I like to read and reflect so I might be over-analyzing the whole thing.

In my opinion rank it is not about measuring. So what I tried to write is not that we could compare the amount of budo in each persons interpretation of Aikido (or any other art). What I wanted to say is that there are a large number of martial arts to be studied, from many different places in the world. But what makes the difference between a Martial Art and Budo is how to incorporate the element of studying how to fight with the element of choosing this as a path towards.. well.. something else than just the ability to kick butt.

And yes. Even though the hombu dojo curriculum is only mentioning the specific waza - I do believe that with each level of kyu and especially dan follows a number of tasks and responsibilities to be taken upon yourself. This will vary from organisation to organisation and from country to country, but having a grasp of how you should fit into the puzzle and do your part to make the whole jig saw stick together is a prerequisite for obtaining the next rank in any budo. Actually I think this gradually become more important compared to technical ability as one rises through the dan grades.

As you can see here: http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/gradingsystem.htm - 2nd. 3rd. and 4th dan requires an article from the applicant. This is a way to judge the level of maturity and reflection. And from 5th dan and above there is no curriculum. From there it is a combination of time passed (while training actively) and development as an Aikido-ka and likely also as a teacher.

It may be that we come to realize that our part is to break away and start a new puzzle - but then it is even more important to embrace those tasks that make us an example for students than if we are just a small part of a large organisation.

That's just my current opinion. It is likely to change with time :)

JJ

Peter Boylan
01-28-2014, 12:35 PM
For those who have never seen a rank requirement that was more than just a list of techniques, from the USJF

Eligibility for promotion shall be based upon the following general requirements, not
necessarily
in
this
order:
a) Moral character, attitude, and maturity
b) Competitive ability
c) Technical proficiency
d) General experience, contributions, and time in grade
e) Recommendation by candidate’s instructor

For gokyu they require "Good moral character and maturity". By Shodan it has become "Unquestioned moral character and maturity". So yes, non-technical requirements are out there. The full rank requirements document is at http://www.usjf.com/public/rank_requirement.pdf

Keith Larman
01-28-2014, 12:42 PM
Honestly I don't give much of a damn about rank in adults. It can be a bit convenient for figuring out a sort of gross estimation of who's where, etc. in a class you're unfamiliar with. But... If you train with a group over time folk figure out who has the goods and who doesn't regardless of rank.

But I will say for us with a kid's program, it can be a remarkable tool. We've got a few right now with some issues in behavior (nothing major) both in and outside the dojo. So I spoke with the parents before the test and we'll try to work on encouraging the kid to understand their responsibilities and role in life. Basically the "rank carries with it the notion of representing us and your teachers" kind of deal. So it gives a little more leverage and context with which to encourage certain behavior in kids. It also allows us another tool to use to work with the kid's parents to help them bring up a well rounded person.

All that said, I think there is a somewhat of a straw man argument that goes along with these discussions. Most in the arts know full well there rank can be very "accurate" for some folk and not meaningful at all for others. Lots of variables. So we can point to outliers or the mean and make our arguments. But all in all it has some meaning; it just varies. So we can wail and carry on about this or that, or we can ack that many outside martial arts place way too much emphasis on it due to modern depictions of martial arts. Okay, fine. No problem. To me it is a gigantic non-issue for the most part.

And comparing rank to koryu teaching licenses is I think comparing apples and neutrinos. But even with teaching licenses many similar issues can come up.

And fwiw I know people who have been hamon'ed out of their rank in Aikido, but they keep on wearing the gear and artfully ignoring it continuing to pretend they have the rank. So it does happen. Lord, how many different groups started with just such things... And I know people who have resigned from Aikido groups who have disavowed some of their promotions due to disagreements with the "powers that be" that awarded them the final ranks.

Honestly, it's one of those preaching to the choir kind of deals to me. But over something most who are long term serious really don't devote much energy to anyway...

NagaBaba
01-28-2014, 02:20 PM
There was another system that deeply rooted in the people's consciousnesses - until Jigoro Kano came along and it wasn't anymore.

Everything changes.

Best,

Chris
It is true, however system used in Koryu was used by very restricted number of individuals. Kano introduced a system that is used by millions of ppl from different MA and combat sports. Additionally mass media and internet pushed it to the billions as a reference.

It will be a quite a challenge to wipe it off….

NagaBaba
01-28-2014, 02:24 PM
I can see such utility too, but to train hard to get a rank is really rather silly. Kind of like giving a boy scout a badge because he can light a fire. Fun for kids, maybe, but we grew up ... did we not?
.
On motivation level, I don't think billions of people grew up, look at the rats race who can have more money, more power, better car, greener yard...

Chris Li
01-28-2014, 02:35 PM
It is true, however system used in Koryu was used by very restricted number of individuals. Kano introduced a system that is used by millions of ppl from different MA and combat sports. Additionally mass media and internet pushed it to the billions as a reference.

It will be a quite a challenge to wipe it off�.

Not really, many Koryu continue to use such systems today with no particular problems. All it takes is a decision.

Best,

Chris

Rupert Atkinson
01-28-2014, 09:53 PM
On motivation level, I don't think billions of people grew up, look at the rats race who can have more money, more power, better car, greener yard...

Perhaps you are right. You usually are :) Ha ha.

Tore Eriksson
01-28-2014, 10:05 PM
I It was the same with the game of 'Go'. But do we really need to be 'green belt' at chess? I think it's all ridiculous - a folly - and worse, a huge distraction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_rating_system#Elo_rating_system

Rating range Category
2600+ World Championship contenders
2400--2600 most Grandmasters (GM) and International Masters (IM)
2300--2400 FIDE Masters (FM)
2200--2300 FIDE Candidate Masters (CM), most national masters
2000--2200 candidate masters, experts (USA)
1800--2000 Class A, category 1
1600--1800 Class B, category 2
1400--1600 Class C, category 3
1200--1400 Class D, category 4
below 1200 novices

Rupert Atkinson
01-29-2014, 04:26 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_rating_system#Elo_rating_system

Rating range Category
2600+ World Championship contenders
2400--2600 most Grandmasters (GM) and International Masters (IM)
2300--2400 FIDE Masters (FM)
2200--2300 FIDE Candidate Masters (CM), most national masters
2000--2200 candidate masters, experts (USA)
1800--2000 Class A, category 1
1600--1800 Class B, category 2
1400--1600 Class C, category 3
1200--1400 Class D, category 4
below 1200 novices

Fair enough :-) But I played chess for years and was never even aware of all that. It's not the point for most people.

OwlMatt
01-29-2014, 05:17 PM
For those who have never seen a rank requirement that was more than just a list of techniques, from the USJF

Eligibility for promotion shall be based upon the following general requirements, not
necessarily
in
this
order:
a) Moral character, attitude, and maturity
b) Competitive ability
c) Technical proficiency
d) General experience, contributions, and time in grade
e) Recommendation by candidate's instructor

For gokyu they require "Good moral character and maturity". By Shodan it has become "Unquestioned moral character and maturity". So yes, non-technical requirements are out there. The full rank requirements document is at http://www.usjf.com/public/rank_requirement.pdf

Maybe this organization is much more moral than all the others I've seen, but I know a LOT of martial arts instructors I wouldn't want as judges of moral character, attitude, or maturity.

Peter Boylan
01-29-2014, 07:53 PM
Maybe this organization is much more moral than all the others I've seen, but I know a LOT of martial arts instructors I wouldn't want as judges of moral character, attitude, or maturity.

Oh yes. But it has always been then case that we have to verify things for ourselves. And of course any group of people can start and organization and hand out ranks to each other.

Even for good, well intentioned organizations quality control can be a problem. I've got a lot of issues with the All Japan Kendo Federation, but their rank quality control is excellent. Their solution to the problem of people showing favoritism is to require a panel of five 7th dans for all gradings from shodan up to godan. I've never been to the 6th or 7th dan gradings, but I believe those require 8th dans on the panel. Quality control is possible, but it does require dedication and effort.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-30-2014, 01:42 AM
For those who have never seen a rank requirement that was more than just a list of techniques, from the USJF
This is the org founded by O Sensei Phil Porter, isn't it?

Peter Boylan
01-30-2014, 08:40 AM
This is the org founded by O Sensei Phil Porter, isn't it?

No. Phil Porter founded the USJA. The USJF was the original organization in the US and was not influenced by Mr. Porter. It's a good question though.

Riai Maori
01-30-2014, 05:22 PM
“Sadly, rank does not necessarily equate to a higher level of understanding, skill, or knowledge”