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Nito
08-08-2005, 07:35 PM
Possible stupid question alert (in my defense, please see Introductions and note that I am a new/old student.)

The black belt. I know that it originally signified a serious student, one who has some of the tools to continue in his/her training. Here in the US, it signifies a bit more. My questions are as follows. When/how did the black belt change in its importance? If it is even possible to guesstimate, what would the equivalent of a Japanese black belt be to an American student? And for the Japanese/trained in Japan Aikido students out there, what are your thoughts on the US importance/weight of the black belt?

I dunno if this has already been hashed out somewhere, if so, I would appreciate a link to the thread. Joyful training to all,

Nito

Charlie
08-08-2005, 09:03 PM
I'm a little confused. Are you saying that by your definition, a black belt earned in the US holds more importance than one gained in Japan?

Mr Greyhame
08-08-2005, 11:50 PM
At the risk of being horrendously wrong and at making false generalizations, I will state things as I see them.

From what I hear and see the populace of the US has raised the level of black to an almost glorified level. Vast parts of the public particularly those without martial experience pay a great deal of regard to what a black belt signifies. They have placed a stigma that to attain a black belt is to be akin to having a mastery of the art, being a master fighter, or whatever is seen as being at the top of your training. which is in stark contrast to the meaning of the belt in Japan.

At least to my understanding (which is limited) in Japan the organizations and people(?) view the belt as a sign of becoming a serious student. A sign that you have developed a firm grip on the basics and are now capable of truly training and learning with the intensity warranted by the art.

It is as far as I can discern a difference of points of view of the two cultures. I think that nito is trying to ascertain what caused this difference in value of the belt(who what when where why how[reporter stuff]) and what would be an equivalency from Japan to America when accounting for "inflation" of ranks value that is rampant in the US, and most western nations.

Sadly I am not a great shakes at this kind of technical waffle and am hardly better a faking it, but now I wouldn't want to do that. However I do hope I have provided a starting base and perhaps clarified a few questions.

Nito please let me know if I am way off base interpreting you.

But FWIW I feel that the American value of the belt stemmed from the fact that we are a rewards based culture and as when the belt system was designed the black was the highest color we awarded it some special consideration. Since it was perceived as the top belt(color) it was also seen as the end of the ranking system and therefore a symbol of completed training, and I feel that this belief took firm root and has refused to leave. But it could be something much more deeply rooted in our culture, if it is then I am out of ideas.


Just a few ideas from me,
Matt

Charles Hill
08-09-2005, 07:04 AM
It's been my expeience that the image of "black belt" is the same in both Japan and the US in regards to the average person.

Charles

Jorx
08-09-2005, 07:17 AM
Nowadays you can't veiw the black belt symbol per se.
If a 7-year-old is awarded TKD blackbelt it tells one thing...
One the other hand most people know what it takes to be a competitive Judo or BJJ blackbelt...

ElizabethCastor
08-09-2005, 09:16 AM
FWIW I feel that the American value of the belt stemmed from the fact that we are a rewards based culture and as when the belt system was designed the black was the highest color we awarded it some special consideration. Since it was perceived as the top belt(color) it was also seen as the end of the ranking system and therefore a symbol of completed training, and I feel that this belief took firm root and has refused to leave.


My best guess is along these very lines... the stereotypic American wants to know when he'll see "results" and in the spirit of competitiveness and one-upsmanship measures according to belt color. Nevermind that you can see these "results" and changes from day one.

I picked up a book in the library the other day that was a guide to the parent seeking a martial art for thier kid. On a worksheet designed to bring to "interview" the dojo was the question "How long to reach black belt?" Granted, it *didn't* place any extra value on this question but it still caught my attention.

That's my bit of info...

Elizabeth

senshincenter
08-09-2005, 10:14 AM
I agree with Charles here.

If I would add anything more as it pertains to a division between "west" and "east," it is this: It seems a Western notion to posit the East/Japan as more capable of holding pre-modern sets of wisdom. In other words, it is very Western to say, "We don't understand correctly, but them there Japanese do." This doesn't make such a statement very true - just very Western. It is part of our fascination with the Exotic Other.

Another thing, from my experience of training all over the Kansai and with many folks from Hombu, and with many folks within the States, an average Shodan in Japan (in my experience) is like a second or third kyu from the States or even a fourth kyu from a really good dojo in the States. Nevertheless, this never stops the average Shodan in Japan from shoving his rank around and/or trying to utilize some of the cultural capital contained within that rank in some less than honorable way.

For me, the real division is between Modern and Pre-modern - not East and West. In many ways, Japan is a very modern nation (which should go without say - right?). In many ways, the States are very traditional, very attached to pre-modern cultural values. As such, there is much more similarity than Western martial artists are willing to admit between the two nations - there's a lot of overlap.

Why do some avoid seeing this overlap? I think using Japan in the way they do serves them in their own pedagogy, in the running of their dojo, in the stating of their own expertise - in much the same way that one may make use of the phrases, "Jesus said" or "the Buddha did." When you talk like that, you get to mark a difference at the same time that you side yourself with the difference you are making. Thus, such statements actually work like this:

"The Japanese (who are wiser and who I am like) are different from 'us' Westerners (who you are like, but which I am not like, though I be a Westerner myself)."

After that kind of position gets passed around enough, you are going to have students wanting to play the same game but not really wondering if the rules are all that accurate. Hence, such ideas get repeated and the "unsaid" elements get more unsaid as the potency of the statement consequently increasing (for he/she that is using it).

just my opinion,
dmv

bcole23
08-09-2005, 01:12 PM
Excellent post.. 10 Aikido points to you.

maikerus
08-09-2005, 04:59 PM
Another thing to consider is that - and yes I may be wrong, but this is what I have been told - traditionally dojos in Japan have existed for the purpose of giving the head of the dojo someplace to train and someplace to show off their stuff.

Dojos were *not* there for the express purpose of developing students. Regular students were/are(?) just a way to pay the rent. However, a student on the uchideshi track and taking care of the master of the dojo is worth putting effort into. So the skill level between a "regular student" and an "uchideshi" is fairly pronounced for more than just the obvious time and dedication reason.

My impression is that elsewhere dojos are there for students and to pass on knowledge to the best of the instructors ability. This was certainly the case when I trained in Canada!

This difference might lead to the requirements for a regular black belt test being markedly different between Japan and elsewhere, in that the Japanese standards for Regular students is not as high as it is elsewhere. I would also submit that the standards for Japanese Uchideshi are *higher* than elsewhere, based upon my experience.

I confess that for myself, I do not care what a person's rank is as that I believe it is very subjective and changes markedly from dojo to dojo, instructor to instructor and (here in Japan) type of student you are. To me questions on lineage and then seeing/feeling your training are better to judge ability.

My few yen...

--Michael

-

Charles Hill
08-09-2005, 07:33 PM
Regular students were/are(?) just a way to pay the rent. However, a student on the uchideshi track and taking care of the master of the dojo is worth putting effort into. So the skill level between a "regular student" and an "uchideshi" is fairly pronounced for more than just the obvious time and dedication reason.


I strongly second this opinion/observation. Now, the interesting thing for me is that the VAST majority of dojo both in Japan and out are headed by people who were NOT "uchideshi." Nor are they connected to people who were "uchideshi." I am using quotes for "uchideshi" to point out that it is not a title. Uchideshi is a word to divide students in the minds of instructors. Also noteworthy to this line of thinking is Aikikai Honbu's insistence that there were no uchideshi at Honbu after the war.

Charles Hill

Nito
08-09-2005, 08:13 PM
Thank you very much for some very interesting posts!
Mr. Burmeister, I hope the posts cleared perhaps a muddled question. If not, my opinion closely resembles that of Mr. Stuempel. Whatever the rank or lineage, there is not much that can take the place of feeling the technique. What I was trying to convey was wondering how the significance of the black belt went from a committed student to one of high esteem.
About 7yr old TKD black belts, I have seen some of them, and whatever you think of their technique, they can be cute lil' stinkers!
Thanks again,

Nito

senshincenter
08-09-2005, 08:33 PM
Well maybe the question doesn't quite fit the history - as it assumes that a "black belt" meant to recognize commitment. Perhaps, way back when (whenever that might be), commitment wasn't in so much need of recognition - it just was (unlike today where it comes with all kinds of conveniences and all kinds of considerations). I think you might want to be asking, "When did the black belt get the meaning of 'expert'?" That probably happened right from its inception or right near there - when its existence made it possible to mark those who do not have one as "less skilled."

Or a better question might be: "When does a 'black belt' come to mean more about commitment and less about expertise?" Answer: When you mature enough in your training to realize the color of your belt and the title of your rank don't mean crap.

Tubig
08-09-2005, 11:23 PM
There is a legend/myth that the reason that black belts are black. Apparently in old Japan there is only one colour in the kyu grades which is white. The more they wear it the more it gets dirty until it becomes brown and eventually black. To get the white belt to that dirty black colour... maybe it does mean that one has to train hard enough and long enough that it became a badge of honour. Or maybe hygiene issues are on high priority.

In Australia as far as I am concerned we do not have 10th Dan shihans in aikido walking and teaching around. To achieve a shodan is already a big deal to the common Australian. Where as in Japan there are still high ranking Shihans, and shodan is just the initial step to that skill level. Regardless that it is Japan or Australia the shodan should be the same level. Culturally maybe it is a bit more glorified here in Australia, it is certainly a good line to drop in pub to impress someone :D

PeterR
08-09-2005, 11:55 PM
The Shodokan curriculum is standard inside and outside of Japan. All things being equal there is a difference between those that spend time at Honbu and those that don't. As for uchideshi they are taken from a pool of talented students that have usually had extra attention paid for some time. The end result is always something quite special.

Statements along the line of a Japanese Shodan is worth only a 3rd or 4th Kyu is outside of my experience and essentially meaningless. How long have you been doing Aikido and who with, followed very quickly by let's see what you got. That's what's important.

nekobaka
08-09-2005, 11:57 PM
One member of my dojo was really shocked that it would take at least 4 years to get shodan in aikido, he was thinking about 2 years or so. for me I think shodan was more like 6 years. last year an exchange student took a shodan test for kendo after 9 months, she didn't pass but she was close apparently. a teacher at my school (I work at a high school) was a 5 dan in kendo and was about 23, 24. in aikido that was would be pretty impossible. a friend of mine doing judo got shodan after about a year and a half. a lot of my students who are in their last year of high school, who started shorinji kempo 3 years ago are taking 2 dan this year.
that's all I know about other martial arts, but to me, it seems a black belt isn't that big a deal in japan.

I am often surprised when I see that some members of my dojo get shodan. it makes me feel that shodan really is the beginning and not even close to the middle.

PeterR
08-10-2005, 12:15 AM
I think Sandan is the barrier for many of these arts and then there are arts where promotion is based on shiai - a young talented Judo or Kendo player can have an advanced dan rank especially if he's been at the game since he was 5.

I think what I'm trying to say is that there is so much variation that a comparison is essentially meaningless.

Ani - didn't you in a previous thread complain that a Japanese Shodan was not particularly impressed with yours. He of course might have been using different criteria than your previous instructor but he is probably also convinced that Shodans outside of Japan aren't worth much.

nekobaka
08-10-2005, 12:47 AM
well he was 2 dan, but yes. that's why I think he was being harsh, because the reality is that most shodan aren't up to his standards, and he isn't the one to decide, the instructor is. I see shodan as a line between learning techniques based on order of events to learning techniques and training based on manipulation of ki, balance, and so on.
the thing is I've practiced in japan longer than i did in the US, and while he may have been implying I don't meet his standards (could be a misunderstanding as well) I don't think he was saying that because I'm a foreigner.

PeterR
08-10-2005, 12:53 AM
Ah ok - I did say before the guy probably has issues. For us Nidan isn't technically that much more involved over Shodan but is used to separate out potential Sandans or more to the point to differentiate from the mass of shodans. I suspect this model is quite common. In Judo the difference between Shodan and Nidan is huge but that is based on two levels of Shiai selection. The end result is that you have young guys being told that they have a certain level of talent beyond the ordinary. Some handle it well, while others ......

senshincenter
08-10-2005, 01:27 AM
I think the meaning of such statements lies in the fact that we are talking about general experiences that mark differences from and in each others' experiences. One guy says, "Japan kicks ass, America sucks." Another guys says the opposite - another guy agrees with the first - a fourth guys with the second, etc. Combined you get something - you get a whole lot of room to ask more questions and to further formulate positions, etc. That's a whole lot better than just (only) saying, "Yeah, I agree" or "No, I don't agree." If anything is meaningless, it is those kind of final statements but I don't think there are many of those here in this thread. As long as a sharing of one's general experience is all tailored with phrases akin to "in my experience" it's all worthwhile - not meaningless, in my opinion.

Nick P.
08-10-2005, 06:08 AM
What I was trying to convey was wondering how the significance of the black belt went from a committed student to one of high esteem.

Perhaps it came about during the boom in Bruce Lee (and others) movies; we are a culture that looks for absolutes and simple imagery.
Q. What coloured belt does that @$$-kicker have?
A. Black.

And bingo, a stereotype is born. Of course, no-one thought to ask "Hey. Is there more than one black belt?" Perhaps learning that in fact there are more levels to black than there are for white (in most grading schemes) would have avoided placing too much significance on black.

Nevermind the fact that some very talented and skilled 2nd kyus are "better" than your average shodan, or that some nidans should never have obtained a rank higher than ikkyu. IMO.

diesel
08-10-2005, 09:29 AM
I'll point this out as I don't recall seeing it.. the whole belt system is a recent invention... If I recall correctly it was developed by Kano Jigoro for judo.. maybe in the 1920s? Before that, students were members of clubs or koryu's and each had their own ranking system.

As for a shodan in japan.. I came to japan a little under a year ago with almost 4 years of experience in aikido ( 3~4 times a week and ikkyu.) After training at my current dojo with some nidans and shodans and absolutely running them through the gauntlet, I realized that the training ideas in japan are completely different for a lot of people.. of course their styles are reflected in this (as anywhere else.) Also, you have to take in to account that japanese society, on a whole, is non-confrontational. With this in mind, watching a majority of native japanese people train and watching foreigners train, you can see a world of difference. This doesn't hold true for anyone I have seen above nidan though..

My current sensei studied closely under nishio shihan for quite some time and is high ranking in aikikai, and his style is very strong and what we in america would call 'street effective'. His shodans reflect this. After training with him for a while, he made the comment to me that as an ikkyu in america I could be a nidan in japan.. With this, it would seem even higher ranking aikido senseis recognize a difference between a majority of japanese shodans and american shodans.

As for the 'what belt is he question.' I think we can thank the Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris movies of the 60s and 70s for introducing america to the whole 'black belt master' idea.


thats my .02..
Eric

senshincenter
08-10-2005, 10:06 AM
Aside from the reasons behind one's training, it might also be relative to note that in Japan it is not that common to find a dojo that actually trains more than two or three times a week (outside of a Hombu). When I was there, in order to train five or six days a week I had to go to about four to six different dojo. Aside from taking a lot of time traveling back and forth, it was also extremely expensive as there were train and subway costs and of course mat fees, etc.

diesel
08-10-2005, 10:30 PM
David is 100% correct here. I train with two clubs, one is an 'adult' club at a budokan and the second is at a local high school.

The adult club meets twice a week whereas the high school is everyday but sunday. It isn't expensive though.. roughly 2000yen a month.

I'm lucky :D

Lyle Bogin
08-11-2005, 08:29 AM
Didn't Bruce Lee help introduce the whole "black belt means nothing" thing?

If you train with Jeet Kune Do players and mention your black belt, you'll probably get especially kind treatment ;) .

ikkitosennomusha
08-16-2005, 12:04 AM
A black belt means you are a serious student of Aikido and in many ways, your training has just begun.

Avery Jenkins
08-16-2005, 10:54 AM
A black belt means you are a serious student of Aikido and in many ways, your training has just begun.

Actually, a black belt has only the meaning which you place upon it. It is, after all, only a belt, much better suited at holding a gi together than holding together sociological constructs.

In my case, acheiving shodan means that I will have finally attained my goal of becoming the reincarnation of Thor, God of Thunder. Other men will cross me only at their mortal peril and the young girls will swoon in my presence. UFC fighters will buy me beers.

Avery

senshincenter
08-16-2005, 11:47 AM
Oh - that was great! Fantastic post. :-)

Chuck Clark
08-16-2005, 12:29 PM
That's pretty close to what I thought my first shodan meant when I got it in 1964. It took awhile to let it go, when I realized most folks didn't care. :)

Mark Uttech
08-16-2005, 12:50 PM
It is amazing how much people try to turn traditions and other things into a joke. Those type of people are never successful and the joke turns out to be on them. The 'Sho' of Shodan = Satori.
And satori is not at the end but represents a true beginning.

senshincenter
08-16-2005, 01:09 PM
And yet Zen insight is filled with humor. Go figure.

A great example of this is Ikkyu.

Chris Li
08-16-2005, 03:07 PM
It is amazing how much people try to turn traditions and other things into a joke. Those type of people are never successful and the joke turns out to be on them. The 'Sho' of Shodan = Satori.
And satori is not at the end but represents a true beginning.

Are you speaking metaphorically? The kanji for "sho" is quite different than the one for "satori", which simply means "first" or "beginning".

Best,

Chris

Nick P.
08-16-2005, 10:01 PM
Other men will cross me only at their mortal peril and the young girls will swoon in my presence. UFC fighters will buy me beers.

You forgot the "...and mother's will sing nursery rhymes of my exploits to small children down through the ages." -part.

jonreading
08-17-2005, 11:39 AM
If it helps, here's my input...

Like David said, there is a clear historical distinction between early (pre-WWII) black belts and post war black belts. In fact, that difference actually becomes pronounced in Japanese history in the late 1800's, after the end of the feudal system. The history of the color of a belt was through training and often war. I remember reading an interview with an old katori shinto ryu instructor that said the black color of the obi was not the result of dirt, but the result of blood; he said dirt could be washed away, but blood stained. There is evidence that early value was placed on fighters that possesed darkened obi stained with blood from many battles; the assumption was if they survied many battles they probably were good fighters. I believe there are stories of young warriors that would stain their obi with indigo dye to fake blood and intimidate their rivals. That may be an interesting subject to pursue...

I think Western culture has fallen victim to Hollywood and the mystery of martial arts and elevated the value of a "black belt" to exaggerated levels. I also think that Japanese culture has possibly devalued the black belt as their culture has grown - Think of inflation: my parents used to buy a Coke for $.25, now I pay $1.10. The Coke is the same recipe, so the dollar must not be as valuable?

I don't think a comparison of cultural values is going to yield the "right" answer. I think that ultimately you are comparing apples and oranges. I have seen a spectrum of students that possesed a balck belt in both cultures. I could mix and match them to make one culture look "better" than another at any given time.

It may be more insightful to look at the quality of the product. If Toyota builds a good car, it would be a good car when its a frame, when its got and engine and wheels and when its completed with leather trim. The end result is a quality car.

Apply the same logic; An eastern culture says value "A" is a blue belt. A western culture says value "A" is a yellow belt. If both cultures recognize that value "A" represents a quality product, does the color matter?

deepsoup
08-17-2005, 12:02 PM
the black color of the obi was not the result of dirt, but the result of blood; he said dirt could be washed away, but blood stained. There is evidence that early value was placed on fighters that possesed darkened obi stained with blood from many battles;
I've heard the urban myth about 'dirty belts' many times before but never this lurid version, its quite refreshing. :)

Lyle Bogin
08-17-2005, 12:50 PM
I have always felt that the blackbelt was essentially meaningless.

But when I see a child'd face light up at the thought of obtaining one, in that moment I change my mind.

Then I think I have the opportunity to make it mean something unique and powerful.

senshincenter
08-17-2005, 01:30 PM
I do not mean this in a derogatory way at all, but, in all seriousness, couldn't it also mean that such things are childish? I asked myself this same question last night when I had read this thread before I walked out of my home on my way to class. A neighbor kid asked what color belt I wear, his face lit up when I said, "black."

Chris Li
08-17-2005, 03:43 PM
If it helps, here's my input...

Like David said, there is a clear historical distinction between early (pre-WWII) black belts and post war black belts. In fact, that difference actually becomes pronounced in Japanese history in the late 1800's, after the end of the feudal system. The history of the color of a belt was through training and often war. I remember reading an interview with an old katori shinto ryu instructor that said the black color of the obi was not the result of dirt, but the result of blood; he said dirt could be washed away, but blood stained.

Shinto Katori Ryu doesn't use the dan-i system.

Anyway, the entire dan-i system didn't exist in martial arts at all until well after the feudal system when it was introduced by Jigoro Kano, so the belt colors were never used during a period of war. The system itself existed prior to Kano - it was used in Go (IIRC), which I can't imagine producing blood stained clothing in any quantity.

Best,

Chris

Charles Hill
08-17-2005, 08:35 PM
couldn't it also mean that such things are childish?

It is my understanding that Jigoro Kano came up with the system of colors representing diffierent ranks for school children. Part of the reason was that when instructors from the Kodokan visited school judo clubs with students they didn't know, they could see about what level ukemi each student could take. So the answer to David's question is a clear "yes" in my opinion.

Charles

Adam Huss
08-17-2005, 09:35 PM
Yes, I have noticed that trend as well. Its almost as if in Japan, if you have a black belt, most people are like "So? You do martial arts? Thats for old people." Whereas in the States the general non-budo savy populace think that a black belt signifies some sort of status giving you the powers of a charachter from Mortal Kombat or something..you are the ultimate killing machine. Most people I have trained with consider black belt status the same...as a sign of a serious student. We usually call first degree black belt 'shodan'...'beggining rank,' to symbolize just that..that it is a begining rank. It signifies a new beggining in your training, it signifies that you have made a no b/s commitment to learning something and other students and teachers should recognize this and treat you accordingly (ie you should be expected to have certain knowledge of the fundamentals of body ergonimics and the application of aikido fundamentals, but also it should be recognized that you have the capabilites to learn 'for real.').
In our organization, we also have an understanding that there is no reason for anyone to test or gain rank above nidan uless they plan on teaching. For us, sandan is the level at which one can create other black belts. A huge deal. So to go there, or beyond is pointless unless you teach. But really, the best way to learn (in the dan ranks) is to teach. Your sensei can only teach you so much, you really start to learn how techniques work when you have to explain/teach it to another person..especially beginners. In working with begginers (or especially at seminars with non-aikido marital artists who have pre-concieved ideas of the effectiveness of aikido..or lack thereof) you really learn if you have control. Its a great way to learn and a great experience.
Oh, off subjuct. Gomen nasai.
Cheers!
~adam

Adam Huss
08-17-2005, 09:41 PM
HAHA. Nice. Very well said. As one of my teachers put it "We don't wear stripes on our black belts because someone should definatley be able the tell the difference between a shodan and a sandan." Very nice post Mr. Jenkins.

kokyu
08-18-2005, 08:49 AM
IMHO, part of the reason for people taking shodan more seriously overseas is that for some time, most of the dan grades were found in Japan. Thus, if you became a shodan (or higher) in another country, you were part of a select few who could probably teach classes. To teach meant that you had to be quite good at Aikido (as it becomes obvious to your students if you stumble in your techniques). Thus, the expectations and standards of shodans became much higher overseas than in Japan.

Having said that though, there is also the 'shodan syndrome' according to one of my current senseis. Because the shodan/black belt is so highly regarded overseas, many people tend to drop off training after getting the hakama because they feel they have reached the peak. In Japan, however, shodan is just a beginning step and signifies that one is a serious student of the art. Hence, it is possible that the Japanese train even harder after reaching shodan. This might help to explain why the gap between Japanese and overseas yudansha tends to close after nidan or so... Of course, if someone else has a better explanation, I would be really interested in hearing it :)

Lyle Bogin
08-18-2005, 09:41 AM
Also I think initiation rituals play an important part in most cultures. Black belt exams supply us with food for that hunger.

I recall going to one exam and saying to a friend "yo man, this is like a bar mitzvah", and he said "that's exactly what this is".

jonreading
08-19-2005, 10:30 AM
Chris,

To clarify,:
1. The instructor's response in the interview (if I remember correctly) was essentially that he (KSR?) did not use belt ranking, but he heard the tale from another person. I am not familiar enough with KSR to comment about it's ranking system.
2. As for the story, like a million other stories it could be true or not... It certainly is a different spin on the same old thing.

Perry Bell
03-09-2006, 04:08 AM
Hi

My name is Perry I am new to this site and thread just to put a square one to you all, if no one is exactly sure of the importance of the black belt may i ask a question, I apologise if its seems I am taking away from the topic , if it is pls don't fret I will ask the question on a new thread. The question is ...Of all the belts which is the most important?

Thank you for your time if I have offended please accept my apologies.

Perry :)

Dirk Hanss
03-09-2006, 04:49 AM
Hi

My name is Perry I am new to this site and thread just to put a square one to you all, if no one is exactly sure of the importance of the black belt may i ask a question, I apologise if its seems I am taking away from the topic , if it is pls don't fret I will ask the question on a new thread. The question is ...Of all the belts which is the most important?

Thank you for your time if I have offended please accept my apologies.

Perry :)

Maybe not what you wanted to hear, but for me the very first white belt, you by with your keikogi ist the most important, as it means that you started the right thing.
Everything else is important, but then it is an individual point of view. Either you are not interested in grading, then none of them are important, or it is always the next grade you are aiming to. That is the one you need to go further.

Dirk

pezalinski
03-09-2006, 03:05 PM
...Of all the belts which is the most important?


Zen answer #1: The one hopefully holding your dogi (or pants) closed.

Zen answer #2: None of them.

Zen answer #3: Whichever is in front of you.

Actually, I think the queston could be re-phrased in all manner of ways to get at an answer to what the questioner was really looking for... :confused:

Perry - are you asking what rank/test seems to be the most challenging, compared to the ones before and after it, or are you trying to get at some other answer? :ai: :ki: :do:

Perry Bell
03-09-2006, 03:18 PM
Maybe not what you wanted to hear, but for me the very first white belt, you by with your keikogi ist the most important, as it means that you started the right thing.
Everything else is important, but then it is an individual point of view. Either you are not interested in grading, then none of them are important, or it is always the next grade you are aiming to. That is the one you need to go further.

Dirk


Hi Dirk

You go to the top of the class, I have been at 5th dan in karate for over 15 years I have been training in both karate and Aikido for 30 years and what I have learned is this...

When you come to learn you come so you don't have to fight, then you train for a number of years only to realize that you still don't want to fight, so what you wanted you knew all along, when you receive your black belt after a few years it starts to fade nd some like mine actually go white so like a circle your learning is never ending.

Congratulations Dirk :)

Some times we place to much emphasis on being a black belt and forget that its not the end product that is the important part of what we do.. its the journey and what we make of it .. to often we are so much in a hurry to get where we are going we don't notice all the beauty we miss along the way, it is important to stop slow down and take in all the changes in your body and life and that is what training is all about, its not about how many people you can beat up in a ring or on the street but how many people you can save and take with us on this miraculous journey we call life.

I know there will be some that disagree with me but hey they are entitled to its their opinion and are entitled to it and I embrace them for it, but at the end of the day I am sure it is peace and happiness, harmony and LOVE that we are looking for and you can not find it in violence, it can only be found in the heart, so training is all about the development of character, and not what we wear around our waists.

Dirk I thank you for your response and am honored that you allow me this opportunity to express what lies in my heart, thank you. :)

Dirk train hard you are well on your way.......................... ;)

Your friend

Perry :)

Perry Bell
03-09-2006, 03:38 PM
Zen answer #1: The one hopefully holding your dogi (or pants) closed.

Zen answer #2: None of them.

Zen answer #3: Whichever is in front of you.

Actually, I think the queston could be re-phrased in all manner of ways to get at an answer to what the questioner was really looking for... :confused:

Perry - are you asking what rank/test seems to be the most challenging, compared to the ones before and after it, or are you trying to get at some other answer? :ai: :ki: :do:


Hi Peter,

How many time have I told my students just what you have expressed and I still find it funny specially when someone says it to me ;) thank you I have not laughed that much in at least two days... thanks heaps :)

Yes I was looking for another answer.. I asked the question as i would have in my own class, I see this forum as a class and we are all the teachers and students, if you look at the name of my school it is called "Deshi-do" the way of the student/disciple the school's moto is the quest for excellence, excellence in our lives and how we are with others not our fighting skills we all know we can defend our selves with our fists and feet and weapons if we must, the real trick is to defend with honor and love so all are safe even the attacker, I try to teach every one I come across thats everyone is important, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story. A great poem if you are interested is called La Desiderata have a read you will like it, if you cant find a copy i will post it on the forum.

Thank you for your reply you are a funny man you made me laugh :p

Take care be happy laugh loud and live long

Perry :)

Perry Bell
03-09-2006, 04:01 PM
Hi all,

Sorry to have diverted from the subject you were all talking about, but I thank you for listening to me.

On the subject "History of Black Belt?" I was once told by an instructor whilst in japan/Okinawa that originally there were no black belts only white ones, and the way you told how much knowledge in a particular art a person had, was how dirty his/her belt was, because it showed how much he/she trains, this person then told me that the color system was introduced mainly for western cultures where we have to be able to see tangibly how our progress is going, we are to focused on what we get in our hands and wallets rather than in our minds and hearts... well that was what I was told and after talking to many people in martial arts and seeing how many Hugh EGOS there are out there I tend to agree with him, mind you I know not all are like that but there are heaps.

Thanks for this opportunity to have my say.

Perry :)

mriehle
03-10-2006, 09:08 AM
I do not mean this in a derogatory way at all, but, in all seriousness, couldn't it also mean that such things are childish? I asked myself this same question last night when I had read this thread before I walked out of my home on my way to class. A neighbor kid asked what color belt I wear, his face lit up when I said, "black."

How about "child like" rather than "childish"?

As adults we've lost the child like wonder associated with any accomplishment, large or small. This makes us poorer.

But we've also lost (we hope) the childish attachment to those accomplishments. This makes us richer.

If we could regain the child like wonder without regaining the childish attachment, wouldn't that be the coolest ever?

To be able to say, "I got my black belt" and recognize the accomplishment without feeling like you're done now. There's still a lot to be done, but don't diminish the work you've already done. Take pleasure in your accomplishments, just don't let that prevent you from working toward more and greater ones.

Aiki x
03-12-2006, 02:49 AM
It is noble to say belts don't matter, however, when you first start training they are a great motivation to train that little bit harder. The actual gradings are also a good learning experience. The participants learn to use their Aikido under stressfull conditions.

The coloured Kyu grade ranks also protect inexperienced Uke's. I visited a club that only used white belts for kyu grades. After receiving lots of advice on my technique from one of the white belts I assumed he was experienced. When using him as uke for a tenchi nage I threw his with full power and really shook him up. The instructor scolded me saying that he was not graded and only a beginner. I felt a little bad. If the club used a colour belt system I would have realised that he was just an "all knowing" 6th Kyu.

Nick Simpson
03-13-2006, 04:15 AM
Well, I've trained at dojo's that use coloured belts and to be honest, I dont think the colour of someones belt is a fail safe method of being able to recognise their level of ukemi (or much else).

The 6th kyu above should have known better I reckon and perhaps it might have been a good idea to feel him out before throwing him too hard. Personally I feel everyone out who is a new training partner, on a course I always introduce myself and if im interested/trying to ascertain a level of my partner I ask them their experiance level (not their grade) and then it doesnt take too long while training with someone to realise what they are capable of, in my opinion...

Rupert Atkinson
03-14-2006, 02:46 AM
Having seen what goes on in a Japanese university, most first year students of whatever art get their BB at the end of their first year. Most get their 2nd BB at the end of their 2nd year, and some at the end of their 3rd year. Only a few get their 3rd BB before graduating - the more serious ones Budo-wise, or perhaps, study-wise, the less serious ones, if you know what I mean. That's what I saw. Kind of normal, really.

Koren Ko
04-29-2006, 02:12 PM
Yes, I have noticed that trend as well. Its almost as if in Japan, if you have a black belt, most people are like "So? You do martial arts? Thats for old people." Whereas in the States the general non-budo savy populace think that a black belt signifies some sort of status giving you the powers of a charachter from Mortal Kombat or something..you are the ultimate killing machine. Most people I have trained with consider black belt status the same...as a sign of a serious student. We usually call first degree black belt 'shodan'...'beggining rank,' to symbolize just that..that it is a begining rank. It signifies a new beggining in your training, it signifies that you have made a no b/s commitment to learning something and other students and teachers should recognize this and treat you accordingly (ie you should be expected to have certain knowledge of the fundamentals of body ergonimics and the application of aikido fundamentals, but also it should be recognized that you have the capabilites to learn 'for real.').
In our organization, we also have an understanding that there is no reason for anyone to test or gain rank above nidan uless they plan on teaching. For us, sandan is the level at which one can create other black belts. A huge deal. So to go there, or beyond is pointless unless you teach. But really, the best way to learn (in the dan ranks) is to teach. Your sensei can only teach you so much, you really start to learn how techniques work when you have to explain/teach it to another person..especially beginners. In working with begginers (or especially at seminars with non-aikido marital artists who have pre-concieved ideas of the effectiveness of aikido..or lack thereof) you really learn if you have control. Its a great way to learn and a great experience.
Oh, off subjuct. Gomen nasai.
Cheers!
~adam


Mmm...Just a thought.

When you said:"In our organization, we also have an understanding that there is no reason for anyone to test or gain rank above nidan uless they plan on teaching. "

Do you mean your sensei or your senior often inform the would be shodan what the ranking signifies and/or how your organisation function?

I ask, because, I dun get info how actually a martial art organisation works and what its system signifies back then during my mid-school time as a kyu student.
After I reached shodan in that art, and left school and away from practice, I feel stupid for try to get shodan and then lack knowledge of how things run in the organisation. The sensei and senpai were also tight lips or not well informed too. Now, I probably feel more not worthy of being say a serious student and belt the black this way for that art.

Williamross77
04-30-2006, 11:53 AM
i think there is more pressure on a Shodan in America than in Japan, Because there are less long term students and often a Shodan is looked to as more of an instructor ( warranted or not). I japan i have been told by people who visited and trained there are more Shodan and Nidan in the ranks where there might be three or for San dan or Shihan. Thus In America where there are just fewer in each school the Status is perceived differently

Lucy Smith
05-11-2006, 12:17 PM
Bill,
I think ur right. Except on calling your country "America" when the three continents called that way have a large number of countries, none of which is trying to steal the name to the others. I'm an american too, and I'm not from usa. Surprising?

dps
05-11-2006, 09:16 PM
I just read this thread for the first time.

In my case, acheiving shodan means that I will have finally attained my goal of becoming the reincarnation of Thor, God of Thunder. Other men will cross me only at their mortal peril and the young girls will swoon in my presence. UFC fighters will buy me beers.

Avery

I did not know Thor, God of Thunder was a blackbelt in Aikido. Is there any other comic book heroes that have a black belt in Aikido?

WAIT!!!!! I found another. http://www.aikidokids.com/aikidoman.htm

mathewjgano
05-12-2006, 12:03 AM
I just read this thread for the first time.

I did not know Thor, God of Thunder was a blackbelt in Aikido. Is there any other comic book heroes that have a black belt in Aikido?

WAIT!!!!! I found another. http://www.aikidokids.com/aikidoman.htm
Thor, a mere comic book chracter!? Someone's not going to valhalla! ;)

dps
05-12-2006, 05:21 AM
Thor, a mere comic book chracter!? Someone's not going to valhalla! ;)

Ooooooooooooooops

dps
05-12-2006, 07:53 AM
"Colored belts and how they came to be

In the old days the white belt was simply dyed to a new color. This repeated dying process dictates the type of belt color and the order of the colors!. The standard belt color system is white, yellow, green, brown, and black. In some Karate school and styles, the color order is white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, black.
karate belt colors

Due to the dying process, it is practical to increasingly use darker colors. All of this came about shortly after the second world war, when Japan was a very poor country, and dying the belts to a new color was a cheap way to have a visible, simple and effective ranking system.

The dying of the belts became part of the Karate tradition and was also adapted in other countries. In Australia, Sensei Terry Lyon of Lyon-Karate.com reports that in the early 70s, Australian Karate students also dyed their belts to their new color."

I found this at following site, http://www.all-karate.com/125/history-of-karate-belt-colors

David

Dirk Hanss
05-12-2006, 09:25 AM
I was told the idea came from the battle fields. The darker one's dress (the belt is just a symbol) the longer he has survived, i.e. the more experienced he is.

For getting the belts cheap, our karate and judo fllows do it just that way: All belts are provided by the dojo. If you get graded, you have to exchange your current belt against the new one. But in most cases it is used.

The big advantage is, that the belt is already used to the techniques, you still have to learn, which makes life much easier. "You don't know how to do this? Ask your belt!"

All the best

Dirk

Williamross77
05-12-2006, 01:56 PM
actually i did mean the whole of the American continents both of them. actually i should have stated anything not in japan, however in the US it is even more pronounced due to the infamous Daniel-son scurge. IE "oh dude, he's some kind Black Belt Karate Guy... wax on dude.." to which respond, "wha tha are you talkin bout man?!?" well you get the point.

Qatana
05-12-2006, 04:22 PM
I like the idea of getting a used belt and trading in your old one.It says something to me about lineage and continuity.