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Old 01-30-2001, 09:37 AM   #1
Aikidoka2000
Dojo: SEIDOKAN
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Nov 2000
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How do you feel about belt ranking?
Obviously there must be a benchmark for a Sensei in order to facilitate observance
of any level of proficiency as it pertains to perception to students, however do you
feel Is it necessary to rank students who are below shodan?
In my past I have achieved what would be construed as a level of mastery in other
various arts, however I always felt that rankings were more for the organization
rather than myself. I suppose that one could argue that the belt levels are utilized to
reveal to the student their progression in the art, however, I am reminded from a
wise chinese saying that progression has nothing to do with near or far, yet in the
path than one takes in the hear and now. With that in mind, what constitutes a
"Master" of any given art? I am sure you know of at least a few so called
"Masters" who have such and such rank in an art, but yet when seen in practice,
really do perhaps not measure up to the expectations of their ranking.
Which opens up a whole other can of worms, so to speak, on just who gets to judge
mastery? Sensei? An organization? Just what in your opinion is Mastery anyway?
As for me, since I feel there is no future that exists outside of the here and now, then "Mastery" already exists within each an every one of us. We
need not seek it, yet only release it, and do as we do in every given moment, and leave the measurements to those who
attempt to define us.
-Tomu

[Edited by Aikidoka2000 on January 30, 2001 at 09:40am]

-When two blades cross points,
There's no need to withdraw.
The master swordsman
Is like the lotus blooming in the fire.
Such a person has inside of them
A heaven soaring spirit.
- Tozan Ryokan
4th verse on the 5 ranks
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Old 01-30-2001, 10:12 AM   #2
Matthieu
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Personnaly, I believe that the ranks are mostly for others. You should know at what level your training is and so is your sensei. So, what I am saying is that ranking is meant so others know to whom to look up to if they need some guidance in their training.

When you learn to love hell, you will be in heaven
-Golas
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Old 01-30-2001, 10:53 AM   #3
DiNalt
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I don't care if someone has spent less time studying, but if they have a better technique I'll try and learn how they do it.
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Old 01-30-2001, 11:45 AM   #4
Matt Banks
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safety

Purely for safety. Having a coloured grade helps you know quickly who your throwing. You could say well you should just know. But when youve got 20 + on the mat and there's a corner tecnique eveyones taking part in , it is v.difficult to know to what level you can do the tecnique. This definately true, from what I have experienced. When organising a class its easier to put diffrent levels students doing diffrent tecniques, so there's no hold up. Its easier for a beginner to find someone available whoes been training longer than them to ask for guidance, rather than asking the sensei when he;s not available. I feel the benefits of it out weigh the negative aspects, I dont agree that there are really any aspects which are negative about it.

Sure if you train in a club with about 5 people then there's little point, but in big classes, it is important.



Matt Banks

''Zanshin be aware hold fast your centre''
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Old 01-30-2001, 01:14 PM   #5
Nick
Dojo: Aikido of Greater Atlanta
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Belts, used in the right way, are quite beneficial. They hold the gi closed quite well, and allow beginners to know who's who. What's important is not to respect the belt, but the person wearing it, and not worry so much about getting one yourself...

Nick

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 01-30-2001, 03:35 PM   #6
Matt
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One of the reasons that I joined Aikido was because of the loose hierarchy(sp?). In other martial arts that I have tried one of the biggest turn offs is when someone would go around with the atitude of "look at my ( fill in the blank) belt, all of you people under me have to listen to me. It was even worse when the sifu or sensei or whatever would condone and sanction that crap. In my aikido class there is none of that attitude. Its nice. And even at the start I knew who was better than me: everyone.
Matt

"It is better to die on your feet
than to live a lifetime on your knees"
Emiliano Zapata
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Old 01-30-2001, 06:10 PM   #7
Tony
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Hello everybody

After reading the comments above, I suppose that there is some value to having various belts below black in order not to hurt your partner (uke).

It has always been my view that these belts are the North American way to keep students coming back to class each month.

I trained in karate for many years and didn't even have my first grading until 3 years into it, as the teachers were all brown belts. Having said that, I must also mention that they were better than many black belts that I met years after. When a yellow belt (there were a few) entered the dojo, you were very aware of them as they were very good also. We had no choice, as there were no black belts in the country who could grade us. Everyone trained very hard as we wanted to improve and we knew that belts were hard to come by so we didnt expect them, although we did want them.

I was very shocked and even a little dissapointed to see so many people with different colored belts in America. I know we didnt do it the right way, but somehow it was better. Many white belts were very good and anyone above that was excellent.

I should not have been so shocked because thinking back, we had a black belt from abroad visit our dojo and trained there for one class. Half way through the class, he had to excuse himself as he was exhausted and had to rest, even though the white belts were going strong.

I hope I did not upset everyone with my remarks. Keep training hard. Ous!

Tony R.
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Old 01-30-2001, 06:52 PM   #8
Chris Li
 
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Quote:
Aikidoka2000 wrote:
How do you feel about belt ranking?
Obviously there must be a benchmark for a Sensei in order to facilitate observance
of any level of proficiency as it pertains to perception to students, however do you
feel Is it necessary to rank students who are below shodan?
Not so obvious to everyone, I would think. There has been no belt ranking in Shinto Katori-ryu for 500 years, and it doesn't bother my instructor at all.

The whole belt ranking thing is fairly new - around 50 years in Aikido (for general use), and just over 100 years in Japanese martial arts in general. Before that people functioned and schools flourished in Japan for hundreds of years without them.

There are pluses and minuses to ranking, but I wouldn't term it "necessary" for anybody, either below or above shodan.

Best,

Chris
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Old 01-30-2001, 06:59 PM   #9
Tony
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Chris,

I think I heard the belts started with Judo. Im not sure though.

Tony R.
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Old 01-30-2001, 07:43 PM   #10
Chris Li
 
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Quote:
Tony wrote:
Chris,

I think I heard the belts started with Judo. Im not sure though.
Yes, Jigoro Kano was the first to popularize the current ranking system (which didn't originate with him, by the way) when he started using the kyu/dan system in Judo. I don't recall the exact dates off hand, but if memory serves he opened the Kodokan somewhere around 1883, so the kyu/dan system in Japanese martial arts more or less dates from around that time period (around 100 years).

The kyu/dan system fits in well with the Japanese mania for heirarchy and organization, so it's not surprising to me that it gained wide general acceptance.

Best,

Chris
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Old 01-30-2001, 08:11 PM   #11
Nick
Dojo: Aikido of Greater Atlanta
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If I'm not mistaken, the Honinbo family was the first to use the kyu/dan system... but not for budo, for Go, the board game! Given the many similarities between Go and budo (as far as mindset, etc), it's not surprising the budo picked them up...

Also, I guess samurai didn't need a "rank" system... you had your menkyo certificates, but their methods of determining skill were a bit more dangerous than the three point (sanban?) shobu encounted in karate, etc...

Nick

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 01-30-2001, 08:58 PM   #12
Jim23
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Sometimes the world should be black or white. No grey areas.

I've never been comfortable wearing a yellow or green belt. White, yes. Black, yes.

The belts are a little bit silly. Let's concentrate on the art and ignore the things that keep the pants up.

Jim23

Remember, all generalizations are false
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Old 01-31-2001, 01:27 AM   #13
sceptoor
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I agree. I rather cherish the idea that there are no colored belts in Aikido(at least not in my dojo). I do approve of the kyu/dan system in that the rank is only known by oneself. I personally think it's great everyone of all ranks practice with each other and not seperated based on one's belt color. This keeps the arrogance down to an extreme minimum.
Once one passes their 6th Kyu in our dojo, the student is then encouraged to start wearing a hakama, after that, no one can tell exactly what kyu one is until one reaches shodan, after that, no one can tell exactly what dan one is, and not many people in our dojo care to ask, they just want to learn.

just my input

C. Martin

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Old 01-31-2001, 05:18 AM   #14
ian
 
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I think for self-defence, belt ranking is superfluous. However it has been very useful for me in formalising techniques i.e. learning the japanese and during randori when you're thinking "now what technique haven't I done yet?". Without the gradings I think people would tend to have a mish-mash of techniques, where they always pull out their favourite.

Beyond shodan I think the grades are just important to allow people to get a rough idea of someones ability when they are giving or being invited to teach. Ironically, the higher the grade, the less this is necessary because everyone begins to know how good they are.

Ian
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Old 01-31-2001, 05:19 AM   #15
ian
 
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P.S. as you may therefore realise, for me gradings are a personal thing relating to how we logically put bits of aikido into compartments and does not really reflect ability in 'real situations'.

Ian
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Old 01-31-2001, 07:46 AM   #16
cbrf4zr2
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I'm not sure belts are necessary, but they sure can help. We have around 50 or so registered students in our dojo. We also use the colored belt system. White, yellow, blue, brown and a stripe at each color. I've been only studying for 5 months, and if I am training with another beginner, (7th kyu or new students) it helps myself and my partner at the time if we can look around quickly, see a colored belt, and ask for help. In our dojo, the attitude of "well I have a (insert color here) belt, you do as I say" is not prevelant with the upper ranks as they know that someone, even of a lower rank, may be able to teach them something. Are belts necessary? No. Do I like them? Yes.
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Old 01-31-2001, 07:50 AM   #17
cbrf4zr2
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Uh oh...

Before I get chastised, I better sign my name to the post.

Ed
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