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big old smiler
03-27-2005, 03:51 PM
Hello all,

Here's one for you to think about. I had just finished teaching a class when a student walked up to me and said "considering the way that I am training, when do you think that I will get my black belt".

WHAT WOULD YOU DO??????

:crazy: :crazy: :crazy:

:ai: :ki: :do:

David Humm
03-27-2005, 04:12 PM
Answer the question honestly

Aristeia
03-27-2005, 04:43 PM
What David said. I might also have something of a conversation about why he wants to know. Is he keen to figure our when he'll reach a level of competance that is found at shodan, or is the belt itself important, in which case it's worth having a chat on the myth of the black belt.

jfenske
03-27-2005, 04:45 PM
Tell he or she that they could go buy one tomorrow, if they want it that bad ;)

TheWonderKid
03-27-2005, 06:56 PM
A while after I started, I told my Sensei I aimed to reach Shodan in 3 years, and perhaps start my own dojo if I moved and couldn't find one nearby.

Now I take a page from my Kung Fu instructor's book, a belt's just good for holding up your pants. :D

Nick P.
03-27-2005, 08:00 PM
"They say it normally takes between X and Y years. And once you get it, the real learning begins."

X and Y depend on your federation/org/dojo. I really love watching the deflated look most get when they hear the second statement. Priceless.

If they push (which I have seen) for an exact amount of time, pick Y.

There is a nidan I know who has not tested for many, many years. It is a widely help opinion that his skill is in fact more in line with the rank of godan or above. I like that story too.

Best of luck.

PeterR
03-27-2005, 08:07 PM
Hand them the curriculum.

rob_liberti
03-27-2005, 09:11 PM
I agree that you should tell the student honestly how long you think. Then tell that student that old story (I don't remember the exact numbers here, but it was something like...) A student asks the teacher how long to get a black belt and the teacher says 7 years. The student asks, what if I train fanatically day and night, and the teacher says, well then it will take 14 years...

Rob

Ketsan
03-28-2005, 05:50 AM
I agree that you should tell the student honestly how long you think. Then tell that student that old story (I don't remember the exact numbers here, but it was something like...) A student asks the teacher how long to get a black belt and the teacher says 7 years. The student asks, what if I train fanatically day and night, and the teacher says, well then it will take 14 years...

Rob
Hehe, I love that story.

I'd ask them why they were going to all the bother and effort of training so hard for so many years just to get a black belt costing about 3.95 and ask them if this was not something of a waste of time and effort.

crbateman
03-28-2005, 08:02 AM
Although the question deserves an answer, nobody ever remembers when you give them a correct answer, only when you give them a WRONG one. It's not a good thing when a student who has only trained once a month for the last two years comes to you and says "But you TOLD me it would only take 4 years!".

When I am asked such a question, I usually give a "fuzzy" answer, such as 4-6 years, but then I qualify that by saying that each student is different, and it could be more or less than that, based on their continued commitment, ability to train hard and often, attitude, philosophical growth, and continued health and physical abilities. This is as honest an answer as I can think of.

Then I explain that the belt is the wrong reason to train, and that he will probably come to know that for himself before he attains that goal.

Hardware
03-29-2005, 08:13 PM
"They say it normally takes between X and Y years. And once you get it, the real learning begins."

X and Y depend on your federation/org/dojo. I really love watching the deflated look most get when they hear the second statement. Priceless...

A good (late) friend of mine was a 4th dan in karate. He always used to say that the real learning started once you got to shodan.

His association engaged in open sparring and he explained that when you were a confident blue or brown belt, you would spar and "throw" 2 or 3 techniques with aplomb and confidence.

The first practice as a black belt, you would be right back to timidly throwing one technique at a time and waiting to see the results... :D

Nick P.
03-30-2005, 07:19 AM
Perhaps the question should be asked "WHICH black belt? First, second, third...eighth?"

When I get preachy (no, really), I usually say:
"If everyone in this room was overnight given the rank of shodan and given a black belt and hakama, the next time we practiced together nothing would have changed. You would still be you with all your strengths and quirks, and I would still be me with all my strenghts and weaknesses. 30 years from now I will (likely) be a yondan, you a sandan. I will have been training for 38 years by then, you 33. The rank changes nothing. It's the day-in and day-out training that allows you to progress."

Now if you will excuse me, I must begin my training for my upcoming shodan test.

acot
03-30-2005, 07:52 AM
It's a bit like saying "Mom, when will I be a grown up?" If one practices day in and day out a shodan is more a measure of maturity in appling the mind to the technique, vs raw talant in the martial arts.

:)

Larry Feldman
04-02-2005, 02:22 PM
"It depends" - the 2 variables that can affect the answer are: 1. How often do you train and 2. How quickly do you learn. You probably can't really change #2. So work on #1.

Jory Boling
04-02-2005, 06:28 PM
I heard a sensei reply once "well.. how long do you have?"

mattholmes
04-02-2005, 11:33 PM
I particularly like that one: "how long do you have?"
I think it's important to answer the question behind the question. I don't mean that you have to read the student's mind, but you probably have an idea of why they're asking. If it's just an academic question, you answer one way (maybe, "with your current rate of development, perhaps ___"). If you feel that there could be some insecurity being presented, you might address that as well.
For me, the point is that the student is setting you up well to facilitate some personal development on their part; I encourage you to use it.
Matt

WuMarci
04-03-2005, 07:27 AM
If this student is just a beginner, I would have to say in his defense, it's an innocent question that deserves a clear answer. Most people who are inexperienced in martial arts take the black belt to mean the official level of an expert, just like getting to the finish line. So this guy needs to know how much time he needs to put in before he's (what he considers) officially "good". I'm assuming he's a beginner, who hasn't yet experienced the depth of aikido. Nor should he be expected to. Where I practice, the teacher is very clear on this point. He knows people who first start out are just curious, maybe even a bit skeptical. So he gives them a general structure. He explains how many hours are required for each belt test. He also stresses that it's not just about the hours, it's also about the quality of the practice. He does this because most new students feel comfortable with a time line marked by colored belts which clearly deliniate their accomplishments. Then hopefully through more practice, they'll gain a deeper interest and see the depth. If your student is NOT a beginner, and he still hasn't seen for himself the depth of aikido, then he still deserves patience, and his question still reflects his need for structure.

What did you actually say?

Anat Amitay
04-04-2005, 11:55 AM
As to the story Rob started:
the continueing part was something like this:
So the student says what if I train day and night and weekends and holidays? and the teacher replies: 28 years.
The student looks confused and asks: how come each time I say I will train harder, you say it will take me longer to reach my goal?
The teacher smiles and answers: when you have one eye on the target, you only have one eye to find the path that leads to it.
I think it's a really good story, but I'm not sure if a beginner can truely appritiate it.
Anat

darin
04-04-2005, 12:18 PM
Hey at least you haven't had a student who was absent from aikido for several months ask if he could grade because he has been doing his aikido training in his mind.

Ivan Skrchevski
04-04-2005, 02:33 PM
Here's a little advice take of your belt, and give it to him, and just say:
If, you want it so much you can have it right now!
This will work only if he get the point of it.
I had the same situation and it worked.

Aiki LV
04-04-2005, 04:37 PM
I'd tell them It's the path not the goal :triangle: :circle: :square:

Big Dave
04-04-2005, 06:01 PM
There is nothing wrong with this question. I think that in many instances, the student is simply expressing a real interest in Aikido and may even be asking the question to simply know how long it will take to be competent. Some of the sarcastic answers above may serve to turn off a student - why would you want to do that? While I am a beginner in Aikido, I am a veteran teacher of many years and I can tell you that as teachers, the words that we use often have far greater impact on our students that we might imagine. What if the student is really asking, "Do you think I can do it?" I once read on this website that that something like 1 out of 100 actually stick around long enough to get a black belt - probably not a good idea to discourage those who might actually be interested in trying to accomplish this.
I really think that those who have suggested answering the question directly and honestly have the best idea.

Randathamane
04-29-2005, 04:05 AM
I agree that you should tell the student honestly how long you think. Then tell that student that old story (I don't remember the exact numbers here, but it was something like...) A student asks the teacher how long to get a black belt and the teacher says 7 years. The student asks, what if I train fanatically day and night, and the teacher says, well then it will take 14 years...


Have read this one many times before, although always with slight variations. will see if i can dig it up.



:ai: :ki: :do:

Randathamane
04-29-2005, 04:05 AM
I agree that you should tell the student honestly how long you think. Then tell that student that old story (I don't remember the exact numbers here, but it was something like...) A student asks the teacher how long to get a black belt and the teacher says 7 years. The student asks, what if I train fanatically day and night, and the teacher says, well then it will take 14 years...


A young man approaches a famous swordsman and asks politely...
"master, how long would it take under your tuition to become a great swordsman?"

The master puts down his cup of tea and replies bluntly "7 years, depending on the season"

"7 Years! i don't have that kind of time" the student replies.
"well what if i trained for 14 hours a day?"

"14 hours a day, then it would take 10 years" said the master.
"10 years!!! Hmmm. What if i were to train the mind and body with my every waking moment?" replies the slightly confused student.

the master calmly says "if you were to train on sword for every waking moment it could take you up to 20 years"

"master i am confused.... Each time i promise more effort and time, yet it takes me longer to get what i seek. Why is this?"

The sword master takes a sip of tea and replies-
"because, the longer you look at the path, the less time you take to look at your destination. not to look where you are going will get you lost and confused. Focusing on the destination will allow you to make your way safely and swiftly"


:ai: :ki: :do:

Randathamane
04-29-2005, 04:06 AM
I think it is a wonderful story and we all have somthing to learn from it. If you look to what you seek and stay true to the path that leads to it you will get it.

In a nutshell that is..... :D

:ai: :ki: :do:

John Boswell
04-29-2005, 09:21 AM
Newbies to martial arts are FILLED with mis-information. Before I started training over 3 years ago, here is what I "knew":

1) Black belts were totally "bad a$$" at kicking butt.
2) Black belt martial artists have to register with the local police department as they're hands are "lethal weapons."
3) For a person to be a black belt, meant they could take ANY layperson in a fight, armed or unarmed.
4) Black belts had SOME form of ESP. Their senses were heightened beyond that of "normal" people.
5) Training hard, faster, more hours... even total dedication night and day, was best to train up to black belt... and would get you rank faster.
6) All martial arts have "secrets" that only the instructors and masters know... and will not teach to their students until they reach shodan... then you get the secrets! ;)

SO... think about who you are talking to and be sure to give them the truth... and make sure they KNOW it is the truth! :)

Lyle Bogin
04-29-2005, 09:49 AM
I usually state the "average" time as 5-7 years, which is what seems to be true.

I understand the point of the above mentioned parable, but it's just an exam and if you study hard and focus on it's primary content it takes less time before you are prepared to pass, assuming the exam is fairly standardized and not an "off the top of sensei's head" kind of thing.

bryce_montgomery
04-29-2005, 02:14 PM
Newbies to martial arts are FILLED with mis-information. Before I started training over 3 years ago, here is what I "knew":

1) Black belts were totally "bad a$$" at kicking butt.
2) Black belt martial artists have to register with the local police department as they're hands are "lethal weapons."
3) For a person to be a black belt, meant they could take ANY layperson in a fight, armed or unarmed.
4) Black belts had SOME form of ESP. Their senses were heightened beyond that of "normal" people.
5) Training hard, faster, more hours... even total dedication night and day, was best to train up to black belt... and would get you rank faster.
6) All martial arts have "secrets" that only the instructors and masters know... and will not teach to their students until they reach shodan... then you get the secrets! ;)

SO... think about who you are talking to and be sure to give them the truth... and make sure they KNOW it is the truth! :)

You know what's bad...I know some black belts in Tae Kwon Do that still think all of those things...and use pretty much the same terminology too!...

Bryce

maikerus
04-29-2005, 11:25 PM
"master i am confused.... Each time i promise more effort and time, yet it takes me longer to get what i seek. Why is this?"

The sword master takes a sip of tea and replies-
"because, the longer you look at the path, the less time you take to look at your destination. not to look where you are going will get you lost and confused. Focusing on the destination will allow you to make your way safely and swiftly"

Interesting. When I first heard this the final reply was that the more you look into the art the more there is to see and learn and the longer it will take to get to the goal. But you will be a better shodan for the longer journey.

The meaning at the time for me was to describe/account for the different "levels in understanding" of shodan...meaning one level for those who train once a week, one for those who train a couple of times a week, one for those who train kenshusei, one for those who are uchideshi. etc.

--Michael

big old smiler
04-30-2005, 03:01 AM
hi, thanks for the replies but that is saying that it is all about getting a black belt. All very well looking at the destination but personally I think you also have to have your head in the now. Think ahead but be aware of where you are at, the perfect combination.

cheers lads

:crazy:

Berney Fulcher
04-30-2005, 06:39 AM
The meaning at the time for me was to describe/account for the different "levels in understanding" of shodan...meaning one level for those who train once a week, one for those who train a couple of times a week, one for those who train kenshusei, one for those who are uchideshi. etc.
Michael's answer to the story seems to me to hit the nail on the head, I liked it :)

djalley
05-02-2005, 10:14 AM
Newbies to martial arts are FILLED with mis-information. Before I started training over 3 years ago, here is what I "knew":

1) Black belts were totally "bad a$$" at kicking butt.
2) Black belt martial artists have to register with the local police department as they're hands are "lethal weapons."
3) For a person to be a black belt, meant they could take ANY layperson in a fight, armed or unarmed.
4) Black belts had SOME form of ESP. Their senses were heightened beyond that of "normal" people.
5) Training hard, faster, more hours... even total dedication night and day, was best to train up to black belt... and would get you rank faster.
6) All martial arts have "secrets" that only the instructors and masters know... and will not teach to their students until they reach shodan... then you get the secrets! ;)

SO... think about who you are talking to and be sure to give them the truth... and make sure they KNOW it is the truth! :)

Nice! I thought this was very funny. One thing though, I think in comparison to the average person, higher ranks do have abilities that novices/untrained people think are "magical". It is because these feats are beyond their ability. They've never seen someone punch through a bunch of boards, jump a 15 foot distance and kick the target before landing, or throw 5 people off you in an attack. With training these things can be done successfully.

Once you're high level, you take these feats for granted as you train in them all the time. With your heightened understanding of the arts, you know how much you still have to learn. Your more experienced awareness tells you how much you DON'T know, thus you are more humble and honest about your art.

I was watching a Discovery Channel documentary on the US Navy SEAL teams. One of the officers said the line "It's not that we're so good, it's just that everyone else sucks." This line stuck with me because here is someone belonging to an elite military organization who quite literally is capable of astounding feats of aggression, stealth, strength, accuracy, etc etc etc. To a layman, they might as well be magical. To him, though, he knew how much he knew, and more importantly, DIDN'T know, and thus continuously trained and improved.

To me, that's what a black belt's attitude should be.

:ai: D

Justin Gaar
05-06-2005, 10:06 AM
Such a question from a newer student, for me anyway, would warrant an honest answer. Therefore to be simple I agree with david 100%. Tell the student that a "black belt" is nothing more then what that one person said: "To hold up your pants" A belt is no indication of your character or your ability to practice aikido. A belt is indication of your experience in it though. Tell him to try not to worry about the color of the belt as much as the his honest dedication to the art. If seniority or an ego trip is what he's looking for then he should go into karate. hehehe. Aikido takes time and effort to practice. One must be patient, and not try and act like a dan when all they're capable of AT THE MOMENT is their current belt. Tell them they grow first. A plant does not sprout to full height the same day it was planted.
Good Luck,
Justin Gaar
:ai: :ki: :do:
BTW I have nothing against karate, i just think aikidos better. ;)

samurai_kenshin
05-07-2005, 12:19 PM
I'd just give 'em the ol "Less chat, More mat" speech!