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-   -   should there be an age for black belts? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9674)

justinmaceachern 01-24-2006 06:26 AM

should there be an age for black belts?
 
This is a question often asked of me. and i think that there should be an age limit on when you should get your black belt. For instance i know a 15 year old kid who has his black belt, but lacks leader ship in the calss. and has let his technique go sloppy.
I believe that if you take the responsibility of the rank then you must show leadership in the class and out of the class. I a rank under him should not have to be telling him to settle down in class, Which brings me to my main point. kids under the age of 18 should not be tested for their black belt. what do you guys think?

Yann Golanski 01-24-2006 06:37 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Shodokan does not allow shodan or above to under 18s. In fact, you have to re-grade all the sylabus when you turn 18 -- sure, you generally get to 2/1 kyu on your first grading cause really you know most of it.

Remember that due to physionomy, under 16s should not use wrist locks. It can permanently damage said wrist.

justinmaceachern 01-24-2006 06:51 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
This true and what alot of people forget is that, these are overall children. ya see people tend to think oh they are young and healthy and can bounce right back. but i dont feel that is the case.
Just a nother example. iam curently ranked 3rd kyu. And i am 23 and have extensive backrounds in taekwando. How can i do techniques properly like irimi nage to a young child. I cant because they do not have enough strengh to protect thems elves with the fall.
but yet there are some teachers out there that will insist a higher ranked should be with a lower rank, like 1st kyu with a 6th kyu. how is the 1st kyu suppose to do technique.
Thank you for your time

Edwin Neal 01-24-2006 07:11 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
my personal opinion is that aikido should be taught to people no younger than 15 or 16 with possible exceptions if they show some level of maturity or have a sincere desire, so they are not likely to be at a shodan level before 18 or 19 (longer really!)... my exception is possibly an all kid class, the curriculum would not grade to black belt, just white belt with possible some promotion, maybe stripes or up to sankyu... so no problem

Zach Sarver 01-24-2006 07:25 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
The way the dojo that my dojo is a branch off of works is there is a kids class for ages 8-14. In the kids class you get belts and do little things, none of the more physically demanding wrist locks, throws, etc... Then when you turn 15 or 16 you get moved to the adult class where you start from 6th kyu. To test you have to first as your instructors permission and if he thinks your ready and you have pracitced for X amount of time you are allowed to test. Testing is held every 3 to 4 months and when you are at the main dojo the head sensei of the area is the one that grades you. To even get to black belt here takes a good amount of years. I have been training for a year and have only reached 5th kyu. Maybe I am just slow, but I would like to believe that I am moving along nicely :-p. If people in my dojo generally misbehave and don't put full effort into training, my sensei won't allow them to test.

Mato-san 01-24-2006 07:26 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Touchy but I will go there.
I think as a higher ranked student, your sensei has placed a little faith in you to bring the lower ranks up through the system,(whatever your system may be). But really your sensei should not use you as a "tool" until you reach shodan, at least. "But" If you are placed with a weaker or lesser ranked student for a bit of kata, you should look at it as a god sent, not a burden. "Spred the love", look at that child, give that child some experience, give that child the uke or gental nage that that child needs.Bit of give and you shall get a bit, I think! But as far as belts given (or rank) your sensei gives a guy who is 16 a shodan, if he gets "belt head" and then sensei will hold him back! But if he is mature enough to handle it, others will take urami and press on with their life and give those little guys some aikido love! IMO

justinmaceachern 01-24-2006 08:05 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
thanks mathew, i agree with you in a sense. but if you are a 1st kyu
training for your shodan, dont you think it would be better to train with somone more your caliber. I also study gracie ju jitsu and my sensei Britt Knickerson wont even let you through him unless you are ofa senior rank. your right its goodfor senior ranks to get involeved from time to time with the younger ranks. but it also creats a gap for them. here they are training for shodan where none of the lower ranks will be involved.

cconstantine 01-24-2006 10:19 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Quote:

Yann Golanski wrote:
Remember that due to physionomy, under 16s should not use wrist locks. It can permanently damage said wrist.

...can you provide any references for this information? I'm always intrested in learning more physiology and kinesology.
-c

Bronson 01-24-2006 11:27 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Quote:

Craig Constantine wrote:
...can you provide any references for this information? I'm always intrested in learning more physiology and kinesology. -c

I got these with a Google search of "growth plate injuries". You could also try epiphyseal plate injuries, physis injuries, or physeal injury

http://www.emedicine.com/orthoped/topic627.htm

http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/926048658.html

http://www.niams.nih.gov/hi/topics/g...ate/growth.htm

Bronson

crbateman 01-24-2006 11:41 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
IMHO, age is absolute, maturity is relative. Some organizations have age requirements, some do not. Much is the same with independent teachers. The best advice I could give is to ignore what others are, or are not, doing. It's not about a rank competition. If someone is given rank before he deserves it, it has been my experience that he will not be given the respect that goes with it until he deserves it. A belt only holds up your pants.

aikidodragon 01-24-2006 11:47 AM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
I do agree that a black belt should be a certain age. In the AWA the is an age requiement, but if you test befor the age of like 16 or 18 i don't remember exactly, you still can't wear a hokama.
I also believe that the uper ranks should work with the lower ranks. If the lower ranks only work with each other the ability to learn will be depleted, there is only some mutch that they can gain from working together. In my old judo school it was that way, if you wanted to work with a higher rank you had to practicly run them down because they thought we were not wirth the time. From my own training I have learned working with those lower then me helps my technique. In my jujitsu and my aikido school, it is said that you don't really start to understand the techniques until you have to try to teach them. I learn something new every time I have to teach a technique. I don't know about your style, but our black belt test is the colored belt requierments with a few extras added on. You must show that you understand the macanics of the techniques you are doing, and do them with kemei and good ty sobaki.
However I don't think a child under the age of 13 should even be allowed to think about testing for black belt.

justinmaceachern 01-24-2006 12:29 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
this coment is for sara. i agree that we as older ranks should be helping younger ranks. But what i am getting at is, someone who is going for shodan should be placed with someone of his or her stature, not a 6th or 7th kyu who cant fall. How does this help the 1st kyu. this just makes the 1st kyu softer when he goes for shodan. i like working with younger belts it is a lot of fun, and yes you do learn a lot from them but you also need to have someone who can both uke and nage. Thats all i am saying.
Plus when i open my own school one day i will not allow any one under the age of 12 even learn aikido. taekwando is a different story.

Trish Greene 01-24-2006 12:59 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
I think maturity has a lot to do with the childs ability to understand what it is that they are doing. Some kids are mature enough to be respectful in their practice, some are still caught in a "ranking game". I believe it is up to the Sensei though to gauge when someone is ready to test for the next rank.

My son and I train at the same dojo. He is 11 yo and has great respect for the art,for the Sensei and for the traditions surrounding training in a dojo on and off the mat. He gets the relationship between Uke and Nage and isn't a firecracker out there on the mat trying to show off how strong he is by "putting the hurt" on someone.

In November there was a rank test for 5th kyu( I was still a white belt beginer and didn't test until January). One of the younger boys( 11yo) tested and pasted the rank. For the next two months we watched him ordering the "lower ranking white belts" around, insisted on sitting in seiza as " his rank called for" and telling others "I am a yellow belt, I know more then you". I actually sat in his place once to see what he would do, he tried to squeeze in to the place between me and the next aikidoka until his father told him to take a spot in the back row. I typically sit in the back row, and still will regardless of what my "rank" is.

In turn though, this child was a great lesson in observation for the rest of us on etiquette. Don't get me wrong though, there were a few times when Sensei spoke with him about his attitude as well.

I am happy to say that the story has a decent ending. Now that the majority of the class is all on the same ranking, this child has been quieter and less demanding of respect.

So I guess my point is... it is a maturity issue with kids. It is unfair to put an age limit on teaching (accept for the growth plate issue) children when there are those out there that are very willing and respectful to learn.

Lyle Bogin 01-24-2006 01:42 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
If the kid can do all of the techniques, give 'em a belt.

Trish Greene 01-24-2006 02:00 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Quote:

Lyle Bogin wrote:
If the kid can do all of the techniques, give 'em a belt.

But is it only about just learning the moves?

Amassus 01-24-2006 02:36 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
I have to agree with some of the folks here and say that a black belt should be of a certain age. The issues of safety and responsiblity can not be ignored.
As to what age? That is another issue altogether ;)

Mark Uttech 01-24-2006 02:56 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Maturity is ranked way up there for something like a black belt. Leadership qualities run a close second. Technique is important, of course; but true Aikido goes beyond technique, my take on the 'beyond technique' is that Aikido is simply more than technique. Some farm kids are out there driving tractors and fixing them even at a tender age, but a regular driving license sticks with a uniform age. Maybe a bad analogy; maybe not. In gassho.

aikigirl10 01-24-2006 04:13 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
My opinion on this subject is (and i may get a lot of heat for this) age isnt really what should be looked at so much as just maturity.

In shaolin there is absolutely no age/maturity limit on when you can get your black belt. And thats of course not a good thing. As long as you know your material you can recieve it.

However, i have seen 12 yr old black belts who are very deserving of it, and grown adults that seem like they should've never been given it. Your age doesn't always go hand in hand with your maturity level. Just like rankings don't always go hand in hand with your skill level.

Not only this, but an even more important issue that i think alot of people are forgetting about is that... a black belt is not meant to be "yay i did it, im the best" A black belt only shows how far you've come through that martial art, and it should show that you have an exceptional understanding of it. I've heard several times from many martial artists that a black belt is only the beginning of your journey as a student. You should continue to learn long after you've reached 1st dan. If you don't then you are not committed to your martial art, whatever that may be , IMO.

And no, im not just saying this b/c im under 18. Trust me i'm sure i won't be getting a black belt in anything before im 18. Im saying this as my view from my experience in martial arts. Yes, there may be a few (even a lot) of kids out there that don't deserve a black belt but does that mean you should hold back the ones that do?

*Paige*

markwalsh 01-24-2006 04:23 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
What about an upper age limit :-)

Mark Uttech 01-24-2006 04:27 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Basically, a black belt in aikido does not mean 'expert' but 'beginning student'. Before that, you are like guest who shows up inquiring about the path.

mathewjgano 01-24-2006 04:56 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
In my opinion, children cannot attain the same ability a black belt typically denotes an adult has. Regarding maturity, I've seen 10 year olds who were more mature than 30 year olds so I don't think that's an automatic issue. I've trained kids who were about 7 or 8 years old, but that was rare and he was initially limited by his ability to focus. Once he learned the basic routine, that 7 or 8 year old (I forget exactly how old he was) became the most mature student in the class. It depends upon the individual. I don't think you can set an age-limit and have it be 100% correct, but I think you can get fairly close. 18 seems like an ok age to me, if I had to pick one. Of course, now that I'm approaching 30, 18 year olds seem like children to me, though I swear I was WAY more mature than most of them when I was but 15 :D Then again, maybe that wasn't as correct as it felt like it was at the time.
Take care!
Matt
ps-I'd just like to add that ultimately it should all be based upon performance of the criteria. I do think attitude is a big part of an Aikido shodan and it's very rare that young adults demonstrate what I personally consider to be a truly mature attitude. I'd say one good marker of a healthy attitude can be summed up like this: if one is ever more concerned with getting a blackbelt than simply learning and practicing then I don't think that person is deserving of the title. Rank is superfluous to the training itself and that should be understood before one reaches the "first step" that is shodan...in my rookie opinion anyway.

RebeccaM 01-24-2006 05:23 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Quote:

Yann Golanski wrote:
Remember that due to physionomy, under 16s should not use wrist locks. It can permanently damage said wrist.

????
I started training when I was 12. My wrists are fine. So are my brother's.

Black belts should be handed out when the students are ready. At my dojo back in Seattle that meant we had to be training in the adult classes, which my brother and I both started doing as soon as we had the size and ukemi for it. There's also a junior black belt system in place at that dojo that was developed after I went away to college to accomodate a couple very young and talented girls who were too small to train at the adult level but too good to be left in the brown belt ranks (the kids got colored belts; when we moved into the adult ranks we had to take an adult kyu test and switch to the white ones - I was actually kinda proud the day I traded my brown belt in for a white one).

As far as a teeenage shodan losing focus after their test, I've seen adults do the same. This usually happens among those who just wanted the belt, and this attitude is under no circumstances limited to children.

PeterR 01-24-2006 06:09 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
All that means Rebecca was that yours wrists were taken care of by your dojo mates. Might have been the normal care taken for a beginner but care all the same.

Yann
A little incorrect. Shodokan has 12 year old black belts - but these are referred to as student grades. When they join adult class its right to the bottom but they can advance quite fast. There is at least one guy with Dan grade now who is not 17. There is some restriction to people joining the adult class with no Aikido experience before 17 or so but we have people as young as 12 in the adult class that are given permission based on how they perform in the children's classes. Every now and then an even younger child is allowed to join a single adult class.

Shodan for us really does indicate beginning level - not Mastery.

Kent Enfield 01-24-2006 06:34 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
According to the All Japan Kendo Federation, the minimum "age" for shodan (in kendo) is being a second year middle school student, so around 12 years old (and it's not uncommon for people to graduate college with yondan). Over here, in the Pacific Northwest Kendo Federation the minimum age for shodan is 14.

It all depends on what you think shodan is supposed to represent. Is it a modicum of skill in the basics, or is it the first "teaching rank"? Is it based entirely on technical skill, or is there something else required? How much training, on average, should a brand new shodan have? Twice a week for two and a half years, or five nights a week for seven?

Personally, I'm fine with teenagers having shodan, giving it out after only 2-3 years, and leaving kyu for kids. But all that matters is that what's expected for each rank, kyu or dan, is easily explained and consistant. To each their own.

Janet Rosen 01-24-2006 07:57 PM

Re: should there be an age for black belts?
 
Quote:

Justin MacEachern wrote:
But what i am getting at is, someone who is going for shodan should be placed with someone of his or her stature, not a 6th or 7th kyu who cant fall. How does this help the 1st kyu.

There is a lot of value in working with beginners. Makes you really pay attention to small details because...hmm right off the top of my head:
1. you have to model both as nage AND as uke the correct form
2. you have to slow down which means you get to focus on your precision
3. you have to take care of them which also is of value
4. dealing with an uke who doesn't know what he is "supposed to do" is an invaluable lesson in where some holes in your footwork, movement, timing, "messages" you give your partner are.
I'm not advocating ONLY partnering w/ beginners--in every dojo I've been a member of, the expectation was that folks of all ranks would mix.


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