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Jeff R.
05-21-2003, 11:44 AM
What does rank mean or do for you? What are benefits and drawbacks of having a rank in the martial arts?

I don't have any ranking any longer. I decided to stop testing altogether several years ago for several reasons. But I am curious to know about everyone else's standpoint on the concept of ranking.

sanosuke
05-21-2003, 12:00 PM
to me, rank is merely a milestone, just a sign of how improved we are in training. Remembering that help boosting up my motivation in training because by having some ranks I can see how much I have improved my skills.

The drawback, of course, will be setting the rank as a main goal for training. a bit ironic, I felt, seeing people training just up until attaining some ranks before they left, claiming that they already know the art by reaching that rank.

Old masters saying, not only in aikido but other arts as well, that martial arts is a way of life. That is, its a lifetime process to really master the art, which can't be measured by the color of the belt, hakama, or even how many strips on your black belt.

Daniel Blanco
05-21-2003, 12:02 PM
Jeff ranking is a positive because it shows the student andinstuctor how that student is advancing. It is also a good safety tool it shows immediatly to senior students if someone is a begginer so they can train slower.

Veers
05-21-2003, 02:15 PM
I think it's good as a milestone...a sort of record for yourself, though I can understand why one might wish to not advance in rank.

There's no substitute for good old fashioned experience.
Jeff ranking is a positive because it shows the student andinstuctor how that student is advancing.Except that if you stick with one instructor they wouldn't be needed, seeing as your sensei would know how far you've come. Then again, if you travel to other dojos often, rank would be useful so that they would know where to put you.

Personally, I don't care about rank, except that if I were to move to another dojo, I would not want to start back from square one. I'm going to be gone out of town when Kato Sensei is coming here, anyway, so I won't get to test until November or December...(how much do you want to bet I'll be out of town then, too?)

DCP
05-21-2003, 02:21 PM
Rank is only as important as people let it be.

The main importance of rank (IMO) is that a minimum rank should be acquired before teaching. If a certain level isn't achieved by the instructor, many folks wouldn't want to train in that person's dojo anyway.

I think I may want to have a dojo some day (in the DISTANT future), but I don't think I'd want to teach if I didn't feel qualified (rank) and have the "blessings" (including rank) of my sensei and shihan.

I hope this sounds the way I intend it to . . .

Larry Feldman
05-21-2003, 02:34 PM
Rank dictates who starts to practice first (Sr. student), and if there is any question about the technique being practiced, who to defer to.

Mallory Wikoff
05-21-2003, 03:10 PM
Rank to me is, as people have already said, a milestone. it's fun to look back at your previous ranks and see how much you have improoved. it's also fun to brag about it to your friends at school (lol). I dont realy have a set rank as my goal befor i quit, my goal is to just see how good i can get.

Nacho_mx
05-21-2003, 03:10 PM
I think rank is a good indicator of both progress and commitment. IMHO and I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I´d rather practice with someone who works hard for his/her yudansha (when the true learning really begins) than with someone stuck in the same kyu rank for an indefinite period of time.

Dave Miller
05-21-2003, 05:17 PM
These are all excellent responses. I would only add that in America, we seem to be enamored with achievement. This leads to 2 extreme perspectives about rank:The person for whom rank is everything. They work hard with no other goal but to acheive rank.

The person who wants to avoid this entirely so they suppose that the best way to do this is to forget about rank, often writing it off as simply an "American invention".What both these perspectives miss is that rank has always been a part of the martial arts. Granted, colored belts probably started with Kana (judo) and do indeed fit into our culture's desire for visual progress very nicely. However, even before colored belts, budokas still advanced in rank as they learned more about their art.

A good parallel would be in yudanshas today. You can't look at a black belt and determine their rank and yet it's still important. The kyu ranks are no different.

Rank is an opportunity for you to see how much you really know and for your sensei and your dojo to see how your are progressing. As such, it is as important to the community within the dojo as it is to the individual Aikidoka.

paw
05-21-2003, 05:36 PM
I have what would be politely described as a "minority" view of rank (perhaps "heretical" would be more accurate).
Rank dictates who starts to practice first (Sr. student), and if there is any question about the technique being practiced, who to defer to.

This assumes that rank is an accurate indication of ability. I submit it is not.
Granted, colored belts probably started with Kana (judo) and do indeed fit into our culture's desire for visual progress very nicely.

That would have been Kano, and rank was for the benefit of the instructor so that a lesson plan could be formulated, to the best of my understanding. Modern Olympic judo uses rank as a means of assigning competitive brackets in shiai.
What both these perspectives miss is that rank has always been a part of the martial arts.

I disagree. Wrestling is one of the oldest martial arts and has typically assigned no rank throughout it's history. Neither does rank exist in JKD, muay thai, boxing or sambo, just to name a few other martial arts.

Koryu assigns licenses that denote permission to instruct, but I'm not so sure that's the same as rank.

In my experience, rank does not accurately measure technical skill in performing aikido, nor excellence in teaching aikido, even within the same organization. Across organizations, using rank as an indication of anything is even more dubious. In another forum, a discussion of rank went several dozen pages and several hundred posts...you have been warned...

*dons flame retardant suit*

Regards,

Paul

Kevin Wilbanks
05-21-2003, 06:02 PM
I agree with Paul, as usual: as with grades in school, rank is merely an indicator of time and energy applied to following a bunch of rules and procedures laid out by a teacher or organization - fulfilling requirements. If the teacher is good, and the plan is good, it may have a correlation with some kind of knowledge or skill. If not, it is merely a measure of how much time someone has spent following rules and kissing ass. Most people I've known who were straight 'A' students weren't weilding the brightest and most imaginative intellects at all, but they were great at doing all their homework and showing up on time. My predilection is to believe that really excellent teachers are very rare. Otherwise, the best stuff usually isn't on the required reading list. Being a skilled martial artist involves different attributes, of course, but I don't see why any of these would necessarily correlate with industriousness and eagerness to please one's superiors.

Dave Miller
05-21-2003, 06:21 PM
but in my dojo, we don't "test" for rank but rather "demonstrate" for rank. What this means is that it has been observed that the student has not only the requisite time and skill but also the maturity required to advance in rank.

It's more than just how well they do on one particular day but a sign that they have demonstrated the qualities necessary to move on in rank. That's why we refer to it as a demonstration and not a test. It's been decided that the person is ready to advance, the demonstration simply formalizes this before the dojo.

paw
05-21-2003, 08:26 PM
Dave,
but in my dojo, we don't "test" for rank but rather "demonstrate" for rank. What this means is that it has been observed that the student has not only the requisite time and skill but also the maturity required to advance in rank.

That's how I've seen it done as well. A "demonstration" --- in other words, a completely subjective measurement with a cooperative partner is used to determine rank. (Ok, I'm being overly harsh... But, seriously, "maturity" is completely subjective. As is a "demonstration". I'm sure you've seen some people give phenominal "demonstrations" while others give aweful "demonstrations". The result (pass/fail) is based on? Cooperative partner? Well, from what I've seen, it's almost always someone the "demonstrator" has trained with and someone who isn't going to try their level best to thwart the technique, provided the technique is reasonably good --- yeah, "reasonably good" is subjective.)
It's been decided that the person is ready to advance, the demonstration simply formalizes this before the dojo.

Then why have the demonstration? If the criteria is met (and the outcome nearly assured), why not just assign rank?

In the spirit of honesty, I'll say upfront, that I would prefer no aikido organization anywhere on the planet assign rank. I'll further add that, yes, I'm hypocritical as I haven't returned my ranking certificates.

Regards,

Paul

Jeff R.
05-21-2003, 08:57 PM
I can see rank being useful in a structural way.

It does make sense that students might carry rank in order to facilitate identification by new students, to determine a degree of training intensity, or especially as an instructor, for some "proof" of credibility, as this society tends to favor Graduate Certification Papers to keep things metered.

However, I have to pose these scenarios.

If there was no one else in your dojo, just you and the instructor, would you still need rank?

Would it be solely to measure your progress in retaining the information?

As a tool of measuring progression, rank may suggest that a person has learned and retained the basic principles of some techniques that are required for advancement.

But if we turn the camera around, we might ask the person holding the rank what the motivation might be. Is it a goal? A measurement of personal progress? Something to hold and display as a model for other students?

As Aikidoka, we train to learn how to separate the concept of self from the techniques. This is so that we recognise that Uke and Nage are not individuals at the time of interaction, whether it's physical or spiritual. We remove the concept of self from our existence so that we become free of bias and available to embrace the whole of existence. With 'self' in the way, we may see an attack as personal, we let emotion get in the way of purity, we have regret and fear, and then we cannot find a pure connection with Uke, a real-life attacker, or hardship. Our Aikido is inhibited.

If you are a Shodan, and you go to class with a white belt on, does it change your technical application? Does it make you spiritually inferior? Do the other Aikidoka say, "Oh, he changed his belt, now he is weaker, less capable."

And if they did say it, would it matter?

So, I guess the extension to the initial question would be:

Do you wear a rank because YOU want it, or because you are required to have it?

Please, in the Kyu ranks, I see ranking as a benefit to progression for many. I Think this may be more appropriately posed toward the Shodan and higher. I wouldn't suggest that the Kyu ranks need to take on the burden of my curiosity.

Bronson
05-21-2003, 10:56 PM
Do you wear a rank because YOU want it, or because you are required to have it?

More the latter. Rank is a hoop I must jump through to do what I want to do, which is teach. I love teaching. Not only to share aikido but for selfish reasons too. I've found that the best way for me to learn something is to teach it to someone else.

I find rank is most useful for those "other" people in the world...the non-martial artists. They don't know anything about martial arts or what it's about. But many people have heard that a black belt is supposed to mean some level of proficiency. If I were to go to a YMCA, college, community or recreation center and tell them I would like to start teaching aikido there, one of the first things they'll probably ask me is if I have a black belt and through what organization. In that sense I equate it with a bachelors degree. It's the piece of paper registered with an organization that says I've put in the time and effort. I don't equate it with skill. There are high kyu ranks out there that are better than some yudansha. I know a person who has no rank who's technique would shame more than a couple shodans. I also know a man who is a very talented self-taught mechanical engineer. But he can't get a job as one because he doesn't have that degree.

Hope all that makes sense.

Bronson

paw
05-22-2003, 06:02 AM
Jeff,
I can see rank being useful in a structural way.

Rank as structure is one of the biggest abuses. I've heard more than one person on the mat justify abusive behavior by saying, "since I am your sempai...."


Bronson,

I find rank is most useful for those "other" people in the world...the non-martial artists. They don't know anything about martial arts or what it's about.

Ironically, I agree with your last statement, which causes me to disagree with your first. Because non-martial artists have so many misconceptions about martial arts, I have found any notion of rank to be completely unhelpful.

Regards,

Paul

editted because I omitted Bronson's name. (Sorry, Bronson)

aikidoc
05-22-2003, 09:50 AM
I view rank as a way for students to test themselves against a standard-organization, dojo, or instructor set. This provides a gauge of progress for the student and I encourage video taping tests to give feedback. People are often more critical of their own performance than the instructor.

Also, eventually a student is going to move. It is difficult for the student to transition into another dojo after training for several years if they have never been tested for rank. This provides some form of yard stick for the new dojo to assess the students previous training, although it can be quite variable. I always ask for documentation of previous rank-had some claims that were not verifiable. I generally accept the rank from the other school and even other styles but make the student meet our requirements for the next level.

Don_Modesto
05-22-2003, 10:29 AM
What does rank mean or do for you? What are benefits and drawbacks of having a rank in the martial arts?
As a classroom teacher, I have problems with tests in general. As has so often been quipped, they often best measure test-taking ability. Students who are fluent in spoken English, bomb on tests meant to measure that while the clams who can't utter a word excel.

Early in my teaching, I gave as few tests as possible. Later, I came to realize that, despite the fact that they often don't measure well, they do motivate.

In classes in which I tested and quizzed a lot, the students evaluated the class higher, meaning they perceived more return for their time. Similarly, it seems to me that the process of passing to the next level, or here getting rank, seems more important than being in the next level or having rank.

Kevin Wilbanks
05-22-2003, 01:03 PM
In Aikido, I think it is precisely the influence on motivation that goes with testing that I find most disturbing. Whenever it comes time to train independently - whether after class, or during open mat periods - it is almost always about cramming for the exam or helping someone else who is. I would rather spend independent time doing something exploratory, investigative, or playing just for the joy of it - as an end in itself, yet I have almost never found others with similar interest/motivation. It's always about doing the same testing techniques and getting rank... if not, they simply aren't interested in extra training. Perhaps it is a necessary motivation tool, but if so, it says something pretty depressing about the spirit of those who need it.

Don_Modesto
05-22-2003, 03:25 PM
Whenever it comes time to train independently - whether after class, or during open mat periods - it is almost always about cramming for the exam or helping someone else who is. (1)

I would rather spend independent time doing something exploratory, investigative, or playing just for the joy of it - as an end in itself, yet I have almost never found others with similar interest/motivation. (2)

Perhaps it is a necessary motivation tool, but if so, it says something pretty depressing about the spirit of those who need it. (3)
1) A feature perhaps and not a bug. One can take your argument further and ask why THOSE techniques on the tests. Probably the importance of KIHON and our natural inclination to do something more "exploratory, investigative, or playing just for the joy of it".

2) Actually, when I moved from karate to aikido, I noticed this big time. The karate dojo was still busy 45 minutes after class ended. In aikido, most are showered and walking out the door before that.

3) Alas! Human, all too human!

Kevin Wilbanks
05-22-2003, 04:20 PM
1) A feature perhaps and not a bug. One can take your argument further and ask why THOSE techniques on the tests. Probably the importance of KIHON and our natural inclination to do something more "exploratory, investigative, or playing just for the joy of it".
I admit that a lack of solid footing in terms of Kihon is my weakness. However, I only attribute part of that to my independent, investigative propensities. I think it would be possible to have time for both.

How you view this probably has a lot to do with the quality of the instructional situation available to you. The fact is, I've never had a training situation in which this stuff was covered systematically and consistently. My old dojo had a committe of teachers who each had different and sometimes at least seemingly conflicting views of various basics, and in my current club situation there is no real teacher who knows them, so we just go through various opening/technique combinations, mostly skimming the surface.

In general, when I see people in 'cram for exam' mode, I don't see a lot of work on penetrating to the essentials anyway - I see a lot of piecing together all the superficial elements to an extent that is sufficient to fulfill some rote requirements. One of the reasons I like exploratory time is that it allows me to sometimes stumble into grasping something more fundamental on my own.

I don't know if I can really conceive of pairs or small groups of lower ranking students getting much Kihon on their own any other way. Attempting to grill basics without an exploratory attitude tends to just be one student repeating things they've been told, and neither really having the perspective to give the proper corrective feedback. It seems to me like a class led by a good sensei or shihan in which one technique is focussed on for a prolonged period is where you get Kihon.

So I guess I'm saying that, in terms of really getting some understanding, I think exploratory, investigative playing is the most productive way to use independent training time, unless one trainee is quite advanced. Cramming for exam training, by comparison is just about getting by, doing what's required, getting another certificate....

Don_Modesto
05-23-2003, 12:34 PM
In general, when I see people in 'cram for exam' mode, I don't see a lot of work on penetrating to the essentials anyway - I see a lot of piecing together all the superficial elements to an extent that is sufficient to fulfill some rote requirements.(1)

One of the reasons I like exploratory time is that it allows me to sometimes stumble into grasping something more fundamental on my own. (2)

Attempting to grill basics without an exploratory attitude tends to just be one student repeating things they've been told, and neither really having the perspective to give the proper corrective feedback.(3)

1) Hmm. I have to agree. But you also see the finest writers are folk who don't sit around waiting for inspiration, but often journalists cranking out product for deadlines. Hemingway and Royko come to mind.

2) It's probably ironic that I should argue against exploratory training because I do far too much of it in the mind of the gentleman with whom I now train. He frequently comes over to tell me that, "That's not what I demonstrated." What I find, though, is that usually the simplest things--KATATE DORI TENKAN--blossom into techniques of their own. There is something in the very numbing quality of repetition which inclines one to creative response. I think with you and me, the words are getting in the way and we agree fundamentally.

3) I would use different words here. To me one has to stay awake every moment. The attack can't be just to let UKE throw you. It has to be genuine with intent. Aikido is not choreography despite its training method. I find this excruciatingly difficult myself.

Grappler
05-24-2003, 09:10 AM
Color of belt means little to me. Fight history is a better indication of abilities. If a fighter has solid record of tournament victories, he has my respect.

I dont like the belt system. It gives higher belt holders a false sense of confidence and importance. I've seen so many weaker higher belts reluctant to spar with strong white belts because they are afraid to be beaten by a lower belt... thats not good.

Josh Manning
05-24-2003, 09:53 AM
Andrew,

although I understand your perspective in spirit (actions speak louder than words)I find myself disagreeing with you in practice. Tournament combat is not street combat, and you will certainly find that Dojos that train for tournament produce less effective fighters in real world application. I have watched olympic tounament fights from a style which shall remain nameless and been disgusted with the knowledge that If they fought for their lives in the same fashion in which they fought for their medals, they would be annihalated. Tournament always implies ludicrous restrictions to safeguard safety. So much for tournament as an indicator. I am sincerely hoping that you are not going to point to UFC as a benchmark, its not either. You are not free to escalate into victory, as safety precautions diminsh realism.

Josh Manning
05-24-2003, 09:56 AM
Andrew,

although I understand your perspective in spirit (actions speak louder than words)I find myself disagreeing with you in practice. Tournament combat is not street combat, and you will certainly find that Dojos that train for tournament produce less effective fighters in real world application. I have watched olympic tounament fights from a style which shall remain nameless and been disgusted with the knowledge that If they fought for their lives in the same fashion in which they fought for their medals, they would be annihalated. Tournament always implies ludicrous restrictions to safeguard safety. So much for tournament as an indicator. I am sincerely hoping that you are not going to point to UFC as a benchmark, its not either. You are not free to escalate into victory, as safety precautions diminsh realism.

As a second thought process, rank is to give students something to strive for, give everyone progress benchmarks and to allow students a bit more in the way of motivation, not to delineate who could whoop who. There will always be people of differing ability at any rank level and clearly people of differing levels of ego.

Josh Manning
05-24-2003, 10:01 AM
OOOPS! sorry for the double post, my browser went goofy on me

Grappler
05-24-2003, 11:11 AM
Andrew,

although I understand your perspective in spirit (actions speak louder than words)I find myself disagreeing with you in practice. Tournament combat is not street combat, and you will certainly find that Dojos that train for tournament produce less effective fighters in real world application. I have watched olympic tounament fights from a style which shall remain nameless and been disgusted with the knowledge that If they fought for their lives in the same fashion in which they fought for their medals, they would be annihalated.
And why do you think they'll fight in the same way in a street or bar fight? I also do things in tournaments I dont do in real fights. For example, in a wrestling tournament if I am up on points, I am happy to just waste time and wait for the bell. I dont do that in a street fight.

I respect tournament winners, because it shows their athleticism, smartness, dedication to training and experience. The more open the rules are, the more respect they get.

Would you rather fight a typical street brawler or an olympic level wrestler/boxer? The olympic athletes have insane cardio, insane strength and stamina, insane speed and a lot of heart. A typical bar fighter or street mugger has a big gut, knows a few dirty tricks, has the stamina to last for 1 minute at best (if he is sober), and pisses his pants in fear after a few hits...
Tournament always implies ludicrous restrictions to safeguard safety. So much for tournament as an indicator.
It is an indicator. Or do you really believe you'd beat an olympic wrestling gold medalist in an unarmed fight? I remember after Karelin won the Barcelona 92 heavyweight gold in Greco Roman, people were talking about how Greco Roman is not a realistic fighting style, and he made an open challenge for anyone to step forward and fight him under any rules. No one dared. The guy is over 300 lbs with 5% bodyfat, has the cardio to run 10 kilometres every day, and strength to pick up other 300 lbs guys and throw them around like dolls. I dont know if he has ever fought in a street fight or any NHB fight, but I'd be pissing my pants and running around in circles if I had to fight him under any rules... :eek:
I am sincerely hoping that you are not going to point to UFC as a benchmark, its not either. You are not free to escalate into victory, as safety precautions diminsh realism.
The early UFC's were as close to reality as you can get. No sticking fingers in the eyes or mouth, and thats it. A winner of an NHB tournament gets all the respect from me. Who would you rather fight, a UFC champ or a black belt in some traditional MA that never competed in anything?

John Boswell
05-24-2003, 11:12 AM
To put it simply: Rank is a matter of perception.

When a person new to martial arts walks into a dojo, any dojo of any art, and sees various belts of color, etc., that person realizes he has a WHITE belt and that he is a beginner. He can then deduce that White = Beginners and others with similar belts are very much like him... just starting off.

Now, the instructor has a black belt. The instructor is teaching the class so therefore must know something about what is going on, therefore Black Belt = teacher or one capable of teaching.

Everyone else with a colored belt is in between, some better than others but we can leave it with the point that : They are not beginners nor are the teachers. They are students.

WHERE ALL OF THIS GOES BAD... is when rank itself becomes the goal with total disregard for the skill expected.

What does that mean? It means that should someone attain 4th, 5th, 6th + Dan ranking when in fact their skill is lacking, their time in training is equivilant to another of 1st or 2nd degree Dan ranking... then rank loses meaning and becomes a cookie to be fought over.

I believe many international organizations are looking more and more into the issue of Rank and are trying to better define the issue so that when you see someone is 1st Kyu or that they are a Sandan, you know exactly what it means and what that person is capable of.

First and foremost, Rank is Perception. Whether one choses to accept the "meaning" of some rank is a personal choice and it is the organization's responsiblity to define rank and enforce/uphold the adherance of set standards.

Grappler
05-24-2003, 11:27 AM
To put it simply: Rank is a matter of perception.

I believe many international organizations are looking more and more into the issue of Rank and are trying to better define the issue so that when you see someone is 1st Kyu or that they are a Sandan, you know exactly what it means and what that person is capable of.
I dont know where they are looking, but where I am looking I see black belts given out to 8 year old kids:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/uk/newsid_3034000/3034513.stm

That kid's gonna get a hard wake up call when older school bullies start smacking him around. Ridiculous.

John Boswell
05-24-2003, 11:33 AM
Again, its perception and you chose to think he is incapable of that rank. I'd tend to agree. But then again, I'd like to see the video of his test, too.

Curiosity and all that... ;)

nial forsyth
05-24-2003, 04:35 PM
hi there ,just putting in my thought,s on rank , so here it is "It,s not the destination that matter,s ,it,s the journey that matter,s " .

Josh Manning
05-25-2003, 03:42 AM
Andrew,

It is critical to note the variance between art and sport, and if you are an athlete, thats fantastic. But don't confuse yourself into thinking that competition on a mat is ever going to be the same as competition for your life. The fact is that if you have pressed me into combat, i'm not going to try and get"up on points". Im going to do my level best to kill you, or we are not really fighting. That is the principal difference that I am talking about, and the most dangerous way that tournament fails to prepare you for. I have fought in many tournaments myself, and trained in schools where tournament was the focus, not to mention fought those who were so trained. There can be no comparison in my experience between someone fighting for a ribbon and someone fighting to burn you to the ground. In any case, that was a couple of styles ago and this is an aikido forum, and in aikido tournaments are not a factor, unless you think randoori is a competition.

Creature_of_the_id
05-25-2003, 05:00 AM
kyu grade rank:

a guage of what level your ukemi is at so your partner does not kill you

PeterR
05-25-2003, 05:01 AM
It is critical to note the variance between art and sport, and if you are an athlete, thats fantastic. But don't confuse yourself into thinking that competition on a mat is ever going to be the same as competition for your life.
That was as far from Andrew's point as you are going to get. To paraphrase you - but don't confuse yourself into thinking that training on a mat is ever going to be the same as fighting for your life.

Andrew's point is very very simple - those who choose to compete are far more likely to survive a fight than those that just do kata. There is something that is learnt in a shiai environment that is very hard to duplicate elsewhere.

I'm always amazed at the implicit assumption that somehow a Judo player, for example, can not adapt to a situation whereas a kata based person can. The whole idea behind disordered training (randori) which begets shiai is that you must learn to adpat and are constantly tested on your ability to adapt and apply the techniques.

I would want shiai tested Judo or Aikido players behind me in a confrontation before I even consider kata only trained.

Kelly Allen
05-25-2003, 05:15 AM
For me rank is important because as I increase in ability and hence in rank I can offer more to the dojo I train in, and assistance to the sensei that trains me. I can imagine that there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the dojo you train in grow from a small number of newbees to a moderate number of mixed kyu ranks to a couple of yudansha holding seperate classes at different times in order to accomodate more students. This cannot be done if there is no desire to acheive and deserve rank. IMO this is one of the best ways to spread Aikido to the world. Just don't let the rank go to your head.

paw
05-25-2003, 06:32 AM
Kelly,
For me rank is important because as I increase in ability and hence in rank I can offer more to the dojo I train in, and assistance to the sensei that trains me.

Again, there is the assumption that rank indicates ability, which I would strongly assert, is not always true.
I can imagine that there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the dojo you train in grow from a small number of newbees to a moderate number of mixed kyu ranks to a couple of yudansha holding seperate classes at different times in order to accomodate more students. This cannot be done if there is no desire to acheive and deserve rank. IMO this is one of the best ways to spread Aikido to the world. Just don't let the rank go to your head.

Two comments:

Again, there are arts that don't assign rank, and don't seem to have much trouble sprending, so I would assert that a desire to achieve rank is necessary to spread a martial art/martial system.

Second, I fail to see how one can claim that rank is necessary to spread an art, and still avoid students studying only to pass the rank exam (see Kevin and Don's posts previous) or avoid students from developing an ego-driven view of rank.

Regards,

Paul

PeterR
05-25-2003, 06:50 AM
Again, there are arts that don't assign rank, and don't seem to have much trouble sprending, so I would assert that a desire to achieve rank is necessary to spread a martial art/martial system.

Second, I fail to see how one can claim that rank is necessary to spread an art, and still avoid students studying only to pass the rank exam (see Kevin and Don's posts previous) or avoid students from developing an ego-driven view of rank.
Hi Paul;

In agreement but I must say that rank when done right is a structural method no more - one can say it only has relevance within a structure.

Kano used the kyu/dan system mainly because he needed away to sort out larger groups of people.

Older systems used systems of certification (menkyo just means certificate) of varying degrees of complexity dependent I guess on particular needs.

Wrestling - no grades? Most associations have coaching certificates and some method in determining who gets to compete where. I don't care what you do or where you do it - there is always some sort of heirarchy. Better if it reflects true ability but that's an organizational problem if it doesn't.

I would like to say that if you get rid of the kyu/dan system in Aikido something else will take its place with either the same problems or new ones.

I don't think there is anybody, in any of the dojos I currently train in, that considers what rank they have obtained to have any meaning outside a pretty small circle. It seems to suit our purposes just fine.

paw
05-25-2003, 03:30 PM
Peter,

Hi!
Wrestling - no grades? Most associations have coaching certificates and some method in determining who gets to compete where. I don't care what you do or where you do it - there is always some sort of heirarchy. Better if it reflects true ability but that's an organizational problem if it doesn't.

Well, this going to be overly long, but you asked for it.

In the US, there is primarily folkstyle wrestling up to and including college. Folkstyle is unique to the US, awarding points for control (all takedowns scored the same, escapes are awarded as is "riding time") In grade school - through college, young men (and women!) join the wrestling team and wrestle whoever happens to be in their weight division prior during the season.

Freestyle (Olympic) wrestling is a different animal. Within the US, if anyone wants to make the US Team, they follow the rules of USA Wrestling, which is basically, the best wrestler goes. But make no mistake, a judo player who has never wrestled in their life can take off the gi enter a qualifying event and if they win, find themselves on the US Olympic Team (a simplification, but nevertheless, I believe the point is true).

There is a structure to this, certainly. Different divisions are more competitive than others, different tournaments are more competitive than others, and so on .... but I would not say those perceptions the same thing as "rank". I would say that the selection process in the US for freestyle and greco-roman wrestling, does select the best wrestlers to represent the US...because the selection process is performance based and pretty darn objective.

The point is, within the US, there is no money in wrestling. No "ranks" or "lineage" in the way most aikidoka would understand the terms. And yet, particularly in an adverse climate, wrestling is alive and well in the US.
I would like to say that if you get rid of the kyu/dan system in Aikido something else will take its place with either the same problems or new ones.
I agree. That's a price I'm willing to pay.
I don't think there is anybody, in any of the dojos I currently train in, that considers what rank they have obtained to have any meaning outside a pretty small circle.
Then we have different experiences. But just for kicks, do think that a seminar announcement for a shodan would get as many attendees as a seminar for a sandan? How about a 6th dan?

Oh, by the by, I totally agree with your previous post on the benefits of randori and shiai.

Warm Regards,

Paul

PeterR
05-25-2003, 07:38 PM
Then we have different experiences. But just for kicks, do think that a seminar announcement for a shodan would get as many attendees as a seminar for a sandan? How about a 6th dan?
Like I said within an organization its an indicator that's all.

To milk the wrestling analogy some more whose seminar would you pay to attend. A nationally or internationally recognized coach or that of the current city high school champion. Same same. I'ld actually go to both - samller seminars are often quite interesting.

It's not that I really care about the kyu/dan system or that the dojos I am in are not immune to silly ego games (we are human after all) I just don't see the kyu/dan system as such a big bogey man. We have less because of our little crucible.

paw
05-25-2003, 08:30 PM
Peter,
To milk the wrestling analogy some more whose seminar would you pay to attend. A nationally or internationally recognized coach or that of the current city high school champion. Same same.

It depends on the seminar. Although it sounds like I'm ducking the question, or giving an "of course" answer, I would disagree. Without "lineage" or "rank" in the aikido sense of the word, wrestlers choose seminars, instructional tapes, and coaches on the basis of performance or value, not name recognition or titles. Good coaches attract wrestlers because they are successful coaches, not because of any titles they may have won as a competitor, or who they trained with.

Although the conclusion may be the same, I believe it's a different thought process.

Regards,

Paul

Josh Manning
05-25-2003, 09:51 PM
Peter,

Forgive me for not being more articulate, but I am making no inference about the merits of repective arts or their implicit adaptability. The implication of tournament as an indicator of proficiency rather than rank is the point which I was contesting, not because of flexibility but because of focus. When tournament is the focus, your art becomes sport. Please understand that I am not so foolish as to place any one style above another, it is evident that it is fighters that make the difference, not styles. As a final point before I get my next comeuppance I would like to add that a good fighter is not necessarily a good artist.

PeterR
05-25-2003, 10:10 PM
Hi Josh;

No problem - please understand that these internet forums have memory with most peoples points read not in isolation.

There is a recurring theme that somehow those groups that engage in shiai are less real than Aikido which does not.

I come from a style that takes quite a bit of critism, usually uninformed, because it does engage in shiai. The fact that the bulk of our training is, like most Aikido dojos, kata based is besides the point. I can understand the philosophical interpretation of Ueshiba M.'s teachings although I disagree that he banned shiai (there are several threads discussing this point already). However, I can not agree that somehow shiai makes my Aikido less effective. I would argue the opposite - in fact Kenji Tomiki called it painting the eye on the dragon (ie. giving Aikido life).

So please forgive me - when someone says that combative sport is not real fighting I have to agree but always toss in the reminder that it is far far closer than just engaging in kata.

acot
05-26-2003, 02:42 AM
I for one really like Rank. Everytime I grade and get a new belt it is as if I am starting over. And I have to relearn everything from a new angle. Those who don't like rank especally in the KYU ranks I think shortcut their own training. Though in the end everyone has to put their own dogi on and hit the mats, so whatever someones motives are are none of my business.

Ranks doesn't translate in to street smarts, but it should give you direction in the Aiki way. IMHO.

Cheers

Ryan

kensparrow
05-27-2003, 12:51 PM
I think most people agree that rank is a very poor measure of ability so what about the idea of rank as a measure of responsibility? I'd rather think of my rank as more like a job description than as defining the upper or lower limit of my ability. Something like:

6th kyu responsibilities: Show up, try to relax, stop saying "sorry" every time you mess up.

5th kyu responsibilities: Know dojo etiquette, attack with spirit, stop saying "I'm never going to get this..."

and so on until you have real responsibilites that include the proper development of those below you and a commitment to those above you.

I think this is a better way to look at the whole thing for two reasons. 1) it makes rank the beginning rather than the end. 2) It forces you to ask yourself if you are really ready to perform at a higher level from now on rather than just if you are ready to demonstrate a few techniques on a particular night.

BTW I'm testing next week so I've been thinking about this a lot :)

paw
05-27-2003, 01:46 PM
Ryan,
Ranks doesn't translate in to street smarts, but it should give you direction in the Aiki way. IMHO.
How does separating people into groups reconcile the universe?

Ken,

First, best of luck on your test.
I think most people agree that rank is a very poor measure of ability so what about the idea of rank as a measure of responsibility?

Shouldn't everyone have a sense of responsibility (as you mentioned "a development of those below you and commitment to those above you")?
I think this is a better way to look at the whole thing for two reasons. 1) it makes rank the beginning rather than the end. 2) It forces you to ask yourself if you are really ready to perform at a higher level from now on rather than just if you are ready to demonstrate a few techniques on a particular night.

How do you suggest someone quantify "perform at a higher level" in this context? As I see it, someone may have a strong sense of responsibility, but have terrible technical and instructional skills.

Regards,

Paul

kensparrow
05-27-2003, 04:05 PM
Shouldn't everyone have a sense of responsibility (as you mentioned "a development of those below you and commitment to those above you")?

How do you suggest someone quantify "perform at a higher level" in this context? As I see it, someone may have a strong sense of responsibility, but have terrible technical and instructional skills.
Paul,

I agree completely. I just think that your responsibilities deepen and change over time. Keep in mind I've only been practicing aikido for a year so this is more of an external observation than one based on experience. I would think that a shodan has a much greater duty to the dojo than a gokyu does. A beginner should certainly try just as hard to live up to (and exceed where possible) his responsibilities, but less is asked of him.

As far as the rest goes, I didn't mean to imply that you should advance in rank if you are lacking technical skill (i.e. it's not your sense of responsibility, it's your fullfillment of responsibility). I was just suggesting a different way of thinking about rank. Rather than "I just made ikkyu, I must be really good at this aikido thing" it would be "I just made ikkyu, Sensei will be asking more of me now."

I think attaining rank is like making a baby. A willing partner, a lot of sweat and a reasonable understanding of technique will get you there, but the real work comes after!

:D

DCP
05-27-2003, 10:06 PM
I think attaining rank is like making a baby. A willing partner, a lot of sweat and a reasonable understanding of technique will get you there, but the real work comes after!

:D
I do believe we have the funniest quote from Aikiweb here.

Jun, can you set up a "great aikiweb quotes" section?

acot
05-27-2003, 10:59 PM
Another aspect to rank in my opinion is giving a particular dojo or organization credibility. Hollywood-fu has a lot to do with this. If I have never trained in any martial art and was looking for a good school a valid question would be "how does the school and myself chart my personal progress.

How does separating people into groups reconcile the universe?

How does putting putting an elementary school student in a Ph D. course give understanding of that Universe to the student? I think alot times students try to walk before they can crawl. Good organization creates harmony. Without harmony in the class how can one create the environment of reconcilation. Politics of rank aside of course. :)

Ryan

SmilingNage
05-27-2003, 10:59 PM
I view rank as the Dojo's achievement. If you really think about it, the Dojo invests as much time in you, as you invest in it. All your training partners, instuctors, Sensei, everyone has lent a hand in teaching you. I think our teachers enjoy looking up at the ranking board and seeing all the names that have reached true beginner level(aka black belt) and other ranks.

Students that train hard and long and gain rank, show a commitment to the dojo. Which keeps the atmosphere healthy and must bring a special amount of pride to our teachers to have students that show such devotion to the dojo and their teachings.

Kelly Allen
05-28-2003, 04:45 AM
Second, I fail to see how one can claim that rank is necessary to spread an art, and still avoid students studying only to pass the rank exam (see Kevin and Don's posts previous) or avoid students from developing an ego-driven view of rank.

Regards,

Paul
How many people do you know who would join a dojo with students or a teacher with no rank? I know of none.

I don't deny that rank doesn't mean ability, but to someone who is looking for somewhere to train it is typically more appealing to the person to find a dojo that has a larger pool of practitioners of different ranks than a dojo that has one sensei and a couple of non ranked students.

Also in todays typically busy scheduled family and work lives chances are a dojo with just a sensei would only be able to open his/her dojo 3 times a week max. The only way to increase the time slots would be to promote rank till one of sensei's students are capable of running a separate class or two as an assistant. I certainly wouldn't join a dojo if I was to start out with an instructor in a beginners class with one who I would perceive as a beginner because he has no rank.

I say let them desire the rank, test and award them when they deserve it, and explain what the true meaning of rank is.

my $0.02

paw
05-28-2003, 06:08 AM
Ryan,
How does putting putting an elementary school student in a Ph D. course give understanding of that Universe to the student?
So, your dojo separates the class and teaches 5th kyu techniques to the 5th kyu students, 3rd kyu techniques to the 3rd kyu students and so on? (I'm betting no)

In other words, there aren't lesson plans and basics/competancies that must be mastered as a prerequiste for other techniques. So the division --- by rank --- is artificial, is it not?
If I have never trained in any martial art and was looking for a good school a valid question would be "how does the school and myself chart my personal progress.

What is progress? That's not a retorical quesiton. How can you accurately measure something if you don't know what that "something" is? More to the point, several people have mentioned rank exams are "demonstrations". What does a "demonstration" measure?

William,
Students that train hard and long and gain rank, show a commitment to the dojo.

I would say students that train hard and show a commitment to the dojo create a healthy atmosphere. Rank has nothing to do with it.

Kelly,
How many people do you know who would join a dojo with students or a teacher with no rank? I know of none.

Off the top of my head, every boxer (western, muay thai), wrestler and sambist on the planet. Most jkd'ers and everyone in AAU Judo in the US. For aikido, look no further than David Lynch (http://www.aikidojournal.com/new/encyclopedia.asp?entryID=452)

Regards,

Paul

happysod
05-28-2003, 07:16 AM
Paul, although I agree with you on your attitude to rank, we do actually split our dojo in the manner you describe - not so much on the techniques as the way they're applied (speed, effect on uke, distance between uke & nage at start etc.). Having said that, yes we get the entire dojo together for the more "off syllabus" fun stuff

I'm always ambivalent with regards to rank. On the plus side, it does form a solid core of techniques to use for teaching, especially useful for relatively new teachers. I'm also not sure something of the sort can be done without once you have more than a single dojo involved. To me, rankings based on tourney bouts can be just as arbitrary, look at boxing for this taken to the extreme.

Rank, for me, is an artificial way of introducing some structure to an organisation. Ideally, it’s not needed, but this is only really possible when all practitioners know each other well, and even then personalities can cause problems. I don’t like rankings, but as long as we keep people from focussing too much on the silly colours, it does work sort-of and I can’t think of what to replace it with.

paw
05-28-2003, 08:36 AM
Ian,
we do actually split our dojo in the manner you describe - not so much on the techniques as the way they're applied (speed, effect on uke, distance between uke & nage at start etc.).
I suspected someone would say the way they train leads to a division based on ability or syllabus. Which leads to this question: if someone is capable of working with a higher group (say a 4th kyu that can train with the dan ranks) or someone is capable of performing an "advanced" throw consistently, are they promoted? If not, why not? What does rank measure?
To me, rankings based on tourney bouts can be just as arbitrary, look at boxing for this taken to the extreme.

I disagree. While there is a good deal of corruption in boxing, I think that the rankings are fairly accurate. I don't mean to suggest that a boxer ranked # 5 is "better" than a boxer ranked # 15. I do mean to suggest that boxers are judged on their performance against skilled, athletic, uncooperative opponents. Additionally, a victory over a talented opponent holds much more weight than a victory over a mediocre one. I would argue this is much less subjective than a demonstration.

But as I said at the start, I'm clearly a minority at best (heretic is probably more accurate). And, as it's been pointed out in other threads, I'm evil as well.....

Regards,

Paul

happysod
05-28-2003, 09:26 AM
Paul, you're not evil, that's Mike, I've got you in the nefarious category :) Anyway, we haven't disagreed for too long so it seemed time

With regard to your query on promotion, answer is yes we would promote if they show the aptitude, this is normally done through allowing them to double-grade or reduce the time constraints between gradings. However, we would want them to do all the grades as they have to be able to teach those below them (even at Kyu).

Agree with you on principle w.r.t. demo vs bouts (doesn't Tomeiki already do this?) and as I've already said, I'm not a fan of rank, but personally I wouldn't be attracted to the bout scene either. A lot of people seem to need to be able to easily differentiate ability/time practiced/whatever and ranking seems to be one of the ways aikido has approached this (what about all them titles out there as well?).

Kevin Wilbanks
05-28-2003, 10:27 AM
But as I said at the start, I'm clearly a minority at best (heretic is probably more accurate). And, as it's been pointed out in other threads, I'm evil as well.....
Although you have plenty of persuasive, reasonable arguments for getting rid of ranking, it will never matter, as people rarely change their minds via this mechanism. People tend to stick with thought habits, and people are in the habit of seeing rank and colored belts with their martial arts.

This whole struggle reminds me of the argument to eliminate pennies from the US currency system. It makes sense in all kinds of ways - eliminating wasteful metal use and manufacturing/distributing costs, uncluttering people's pockets and lives... Yet people just plain won't go for it. The idea of rounding down amounts ending in 1,2,6,7 and rounding up 3,4,8,9 in cash transactions is just too out of the ordinary for people to wrap their heads around. It usually takes me several minutes to explain the concept to even quite sharp people, and they still won't go for it once they understand. People are just mentally stubborn. So, ulitmately eliminating pennies IS a bad idea, simply on the basis that few people will accept it.

You've mentioned some arts/practices that don't use ranks, but these certainly aren't among the most lucrative and popular to teach - they seem to appeal to fairly narrow demographics. In fact, it almost seems that popularity and money come in proportion to the degree that rank is stupidly and simplistically emphasized (which should tell you something). I even saw a Karate/TKD dojo where "THE BLACK BELT IS THE GOAL" was printed in 12 inch block letters along the top of the wall... the dojo had lots of students and lots of money.

While getting rid of rank makes sense from a standpoint of purity of study, since so many people are attached to the idea of rank, I think it would ultimately mean making Aikido more obscure and less popular. Even teachers who aren't concerned about money don't want that. They usually want a growing dojo.

Ron Tisdale
05-28-2003, 11:02 AM
The one syllibus I am intimately familiar with does build skills from one kyu rank to the next.

Weapons:

first stances are taught, then solo kata, then kumi-tachi, tanto, jo.

Ukemi:

each kyu rank requires ukemi for that kyu and the next one. No one takes falls that they haven't been taught. If you pay attention to the syllibus, you can choose the techniques for any given class based on the lowest ranked student, and know that **everyone** knows an appropriate ukemi for the techniques you teach.

Techniques:

Much the same...the techniques build on one another from basic techniques to more advanced variations to stringing attacks and techniques together in a series to multiple attacks and evasions and eventually jiyu waza. I find the syllibus very well thought out, and by knowing the ranks of the various students, it makes it easy to know how and what to teach in each class. Every student has a test booklet with the specifics of everything required for each kyu rank. People do not jump kyu ranks. You learn the material, you test for the rank. When you learn the next set of material, you test for the next rank. There is a time in grade, but in my opinion, it is not onerous, even if you are "ahead" of other students. Because there is specific material that is tested on, it really about as objective as such a thing can be.

That said, the independant dojo where I now train is still building a syllibus, and we are using the one mentioned above as a base. We are reducing the number of kyu rankings so that there is less stratification in the dojo. We are also going to more of a demonstration format for dan rankings. The demonstrations measure the depth of a student with the techniques chosen for the demo. In our last one, we concentrated on osae waza (ikkajo through yonkajo with at least two variations for each), nage waza (shiho, irimi, kaiten, kote gaish), again with at least two variations, weapons (kumitachi), disarms, and freestyle. I think there may have been a few other things thrown in there as well. The demo was an hour long, with almost constant activity, forcing students to show conditioning as well as technique. I think the things that our instructors were looking for were the ability to perform ukemi, the ability for nage to take uke's balance at first contact, maintaining the connection to uke's center, and a variety of throws.

We considered throwing rank right out the window. We decided not to for a couple of reasons:

Tradition

the need for rank when it comes to instruction

some (perhaps small)need for hierarchy in the dojo

recognition for each students efforts over a period of time and the skills gained.

Eric Joyce
05-28-2003, 05:44 PM
I would tend to agree with the posters in this forum in regards to ranking. I think it is a way to test and measure ones progress at a certain point in time over material that should be known up to that point. However, I have seen a watering down of ranking and the abuses still continue. Not a lot, but enough to make you think. Some have suggested switching over to certificates (Menkyos), but these could be abused as well. I would like to add a comment a fellow poster said to me once on another forum regarding this issue. He said, “Train for the sake of training. Train because you want to. Don’t do it because you want to get a belt.” In his style of martial art (Yoshida Han Bujutsu) they have no ranking, but they are probably some of the best practioners of aikijujutsu I have ever seen. Just food for thought.

PeterR
05-28-2003, 07:24 PM
The Shodokan system does as well. Although the bulk of the lesson everybody practices togeather with a senior student paired up with junior (ie. 5th dan with 2nd dan, 5th kyu with 7th kyu, or some such mix) there are techniques concentrated on depending on what grade you have achieved during every class. Quite a lot of thought went into what's introduced when - Tomiki was an educator after all.

That said - rank is an organizational mechanism nothing more. My class is so small I haven't held a grading - there is no real need but I probably will eventually. The kyu/dan system was introduced as just that - there was no deeper meaning.

And to tell you the truth (vis a vis the last post) I have yet to meet anyone who trained just to get a belt. I have met people who wanted to do a certain budo for a defined length of time before trying something else. Shodan was a convenient marker and who am I to question that.

Peter Goldsbury
05-28-2003, 08:46 PM
Hello Paul,

As usual, your posts are always sharply argued and to the point. As for your being evil, and your posts being taboo, how would you measure yourself against Agent Smith, especially in his second incarnation?

My own view is that the issue of rank masks other, larger, issues: involving power and money—supposedly objective measurement of abilities or progress; and such measurement in the context of larger groups than a particular dojo. The issue is pragmatic in the sense that, like moral and spiritual issues, it tends to come to the fore when it is abused and there is a need to ‘do’ something about it.

If we go back to M Ueshiba's relationship with S Takeda, progress in the art seems to have been measured by payment made for certification of mastery of techniques. Takeda seems to have charged a fee for teaching each technique and then issued a certificate to the effect that X had mastered the appropriate number of techniques (because the technique had been shown, the explanation had been given and the fee had been paid—acquisition of actual mastery was left to the student). In other words, the certification makes sense only in respect of the skill and reputation of the teacher, in this case S Takeda, and in the way the master-pupil relationship is structured (i.e., the number of techniques taught & payment received).

This ‘teacher-centred’ way of thinking is something I have come across in the Aikikai. According to one interpretation, dan ranks are seen as a (new, post-Kano) way of Sensei A assessing the proficiency of Student X and has no significance outside this personal framework. If a student who is not a complete beginner comes to my dojo in Hiroshima, the first thing I will ask about is training history. I learn that the previous teacher was one Paul Watts and my estimation of P Watts will largely depend on what the student can do, as compared with the other students. The assessment is, if you like, teacher-centred and, because it is the famous P Watts, my expectations will be high. Of course, the issue arises only because the student has come to my dojo. If the student’s entire training career was confined to P Watt’s own dojo, there would be no need for any estimation at all, other than what operated in that dojo.

Another way of looking at this is ‘technique-centred’. The entire art can be seen as a set of possible techniques, which are mastered according to the structure of the art. This also applies to S Takeda’s dojo. The students were ‘ranked’ in some sense by the number of techniques they had mastered = for which payment had been received. The ‘technique-centred’ way of thinking places less emphasis on the teacher, since the same techniques operate throughout the entire art and proficiency can be measured in other ways than by a particular teacher’s estimation.

I think you can apply all the questions you have asked to both ways of looking at this system. For me, the questions would be:

Why would one want or need to measure progress in the art?

To what extent can this progress be objectively measured?

To what extent is the measuring process reliable?

How does one evaluate the measuring mechanism?

Best regards,

paw
05-28-2003, 09:49 PM
Ron,

Huge appreciation for the thoughtful consideration of rank and the construction of a syllibus in your dojo.

Peter Rehse,

The more you share about Tomiki and the Shodokan system, the more impressed I am with it.

Peter Goldsbury,
As usual, your posts are always sharply argued and to the point.

*blushes*
As for your being evil, and your posts being taboo, how would you measure yourself against Agent Smith, especially in his second incarnation?

What a great question! I'd like to defer answering until I've seen the third and final movie in the trilogy, "Matrix Revolutions". On second thought, maybe my wife should answer....
My own view is that the issue of rank masks other, larger, issues: involving power and money—supposedly objective measurement of abilities or progress; and such measurement in the context of larger groups than a particular dojo. The issue is pragmatic in the sense that, like moral and spiritual issues, it tends to come to the fore when it is abused and there is a need to ‘do’ something about it.

I often think I should not post and wait until you do, and this paragraph is why. I agree completely and wish I would have written that.

Your points about "teacher-centered" and "technique-centered" give much food for thought and are very interesting. As are your final questions. I think I'll sit back and see if anyone wants to take a stab at them before I take a shot.

If I haven't mentioned this previously, I very much appreciate your time and thoughtfulness in sharing on this and the other forum. I for one, am very grateful.

Warm Regards,

Paul

Kevin Wilbanks
05-29-2003, 12:23 AM
Maybe you two should like, get a room. Sheesh.

(Sorry, I don't do smilies. Envision the one of your choice here.)

Eric Joyce
05-29-2003, 04:39 PM
Peter's Quote:

"And to tell you the truth (vis a vis the last post) I have yet to meet anyone who trained just to get a belt. I have met people who wanted to do a certain budo for a defined length of time before trying something else. Shodan was a convenient marker and who am I to question that."

Peter,

I have meet those people who just wanted the belt and they got it and left. Some of the people that visited our dojo would always ask how long would it take to get a black belt, etc. It seemed that the underlying motive was that based on the people we ran into (not all...some) IMHO, and based on some experience, some people train for that. It's a sad commentary, because there is much more to get from budo than just ranking/belts.

PeterR
05-29-2003, 07:31 PM
Peter,

I have meet those people who just wanted the belt and they got it and left. Some of the people that visited our dojo would always ask how long would it take to get a black belt, etc. It seemed that the underlying motive was that based on the people we ran into (not all...some) IMHO, and based on some experience, some people train for that. It's a sad commentary, because there is much more to get from budo than just ranking/belts.
Perhaps. I have heard of this also but far more common is the scenerio I described. Not everyone wants to make martial arts a life long endeavor (I think that is true for most of us when we start) and reaching shodan is a convenient point of departure. The been there done that concept. I know several very committed Aikidoists that will do another Budo for a time with a certain goal (often dan grade) in mind. It's not the dan grade that's important but like I said, an easily definable point. Judo is like that for me, although in my case my defined goal was just to show up for practice while I live in the village.

As for asking how long it takes to get a black belt - for these people its a very fair question. Basically it translates into how long I have to commit to reach my defined goal.

OK I am sure there is still heathens trying to impress with a black belt earned ten years ago with not a lick of training (evidenced by beer gut) since.