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Old 07-05-2012, 12:15 PM   #1
TokyoZeplin
Dojo: Seishinkan Dojo
Location: Copenhagen
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 111
Denmark
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A word on Time Trained and Ranking

Before you go at me, I'll first say: I haven't started practicing Aikido yet, still finding my dojo. Second, I'm not overly concerned with getting any particular ranks, this is merely my thoughts on this subject. Third, this applies to practically all Martial Arts, not just Aikido. Fourth, and last, but important: this isn't meant at a stab at anyone, an offense to anyone, or trying to single any person out, again, just my thoughts on this.

So with that said, lets get going!

A natural question that you see pop in almost all Martial Arts discussion forums, is the question "how fast can I get a black belt?". For some, this may seem like a superficial question, and in some cases it is. However, considering that many "newbies" to MA consider a black belt "a master/expert", it's truly a fair enough question: how long will it take me to master this art? It's a valid question, as different martial arts take different amounts of time to learn, to a profeccient level. Some are more difficult, some are easier. For instance, Krav Maga is said to be fairly easy to become profeccient at, it is made to be straight forward and practical, whereas older styles of Kung Fu requires years of training to build up flexibility, "chi/ki", weapon techniques, and so forth.

So it annoys me when I see people getting instantly attacked, on any martial arts forum or discussion, simply for asking this question. It's not nescesarily that they are superficial, and just want that cool black belt (though granted, some surely are), it can be a valid question on the intricacy of the art form.

Second, it's frustrating to often read that "the belt/rank doesn't matter", yet those very same people hold higher ranks in high esteem, lots of respect, can often teach, and so forth. You need to decide: either the rank means nothing, and then treat people the same regardless of their rank (and purely on personal relations or thoughts on their performance), or accept that the rank is a valid way of determining some sort of profeciency level.

Last thing though is my pet peeve in all of this.
If anyone actually gives an answer to this quite valid question, they'll often give a year range. Around 4-7 years seems to be the average in pretty much all MA's. If anyone got it faster, they'll often accuse them (accused by the same people who said the rank didn't matter, then why the rage bro?!) of getting it at a McDojo. In a recent thread here, for example, I remember one person being somewhat appauled / laughing at the idea of a 1-year Shodan.
So why does this annoy me? Because people assume everyone trains with the same intensity, the same amount of hours a week.
The easiest example with this, the 1-year Shodan, is the Senshusei course in Yoshinkan aikido, where complete newbies get their Shodan AND teachers license in 1 years training (if they pass, of course). Why? Because they train a lot more than the average joe.

A simple calculation:
Person A: Lets say that 1 class is 1 hours, and the average joe trains 2 times a week, never taking a vacation. After 7 years, they take their test, and become Shodan (or whatever). That's roughly 1092 hours of training. That's an important number here.

Person B: Now, another person also trains, but does 2 classes a day, 6 days a week. In just a bit over a year, about 13 months, they have trained the same amount as the person above.
Person C: Or in the case of the Senshusei course, which is roughly 6 hours a day, 5 days a week: in a single year, they have practiced 468 hours MORE than the person (Person A) that trained for 7 years. Or put in another way: what would equate to 156 weeks (about 37 months / 3 years) for Person A has been trained EXTRA in in just a year.

The difference? Intensity.

Of course this is a very black and white comparison, set in extremes, but it illustrates the point I want to make (and have made): intensity of training.
This is an aspect I see 100% forgotten in practically every single discussion so far, I have ever read, on this topic.

Now, of course some might add in a (valid) point, about coming to grips with the mentality of the art form, which some might argue (again, a valid point) takes longer. However, to my understanding and from my research in various MA's, such things do not play a role until considerably higher Dan grades.

For instance, in Denmark, a Bachelors degree generally takes 3 years. If someone asks me how long it's going to take to get one, I'd say "the normal time is 3 years", but if someone else says "I took mine in 2 years" (or even a single year), I wouldn't assume they went to a University that just dishes out easy degrees, instead I'd assume they studied their asses off and did multiple classes at the same time, and put in much more effort than the average person.

So perhaps, something to keep in mind next time someone asks you this question. If you decide still to answer with "7 years", perhaps add in a little extra to your answer, and go with "Usually about 7 years, for people taking around 2 classes a week".
And next time, perhaps look into the case a little bit more, before assuming that someone who get a certain grade considerably faster than you, must have gotten it at a place that slacks with their tests - they could just be practicing a lot more than you.
And that's not even taking natural talent and skill into the equation.

That's my little rant here, take from it what you want, or disregard it completely, but I hope you keep it in mind next time.

Last edited by TokyoZeplin : 07-05-2012 at 12:29 PM.
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