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Old 10-09-2011, 01:51 PM   #1
alexwi
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dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Hi all,

I was wondering, I have heard of some aikido dojos where no level proof is carried out, nor are there any grades i.e. there is no kyu structure/advancement.
The dojo practitioners either have a white belt and normal gi, or the black trousers one, and sessions are divided in "beginners" and "advanced" ones.

Are there any pros and cons for this system, in your opinion? (apart from not being able to feel cocky at the idea of reaching 1st dan one day

Cheers,

Alex
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Old 10-09-2011, 02:05 PM   #2
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

AFAIK it is standard in aikido to have kyu and dan ranks and exams to advance through them, but many dojo's use a white belt only for all (adult) kyu ranks and a black belt for all dan ranks.

So the ranks exist, but you cannot see the exact kyu rank by the color of ones belt.

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 10-09-2011 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 10-09-2011, 03:02 PM   #3
alexwi
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

I am wondering if the "no kyu" only applies to very beginners then....
and the more traditional kyu courses are held else where for people with already a basic set of skills...
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Old 10-09-2011, 03:26 PM   #4
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Often dojo will offer several levels of classes. A beginner's class for new students who hold no rank, a general class for all students, and advanced classes for yudansha. From what I've seen, the beginner's classes are tailored to introducing brand new, unranked students to the art and focus on ukemi, dojo etiquette, very basic technique and various kinds of drills. The purpose is to prepare them to join in the general classes safely. Some dojo don't offer beginner's classes, preferring to integrate new students into the mainstream from the outset. You see both styles, apparently because both have their merit.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:39 PM   #5
alexwi
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Just talking to my pal around here, he trained at a Uni once, and confirmed no grading in the dojo, and some students have been training for three years or so....this is probably some sort of branching off the real dojo, i.e. no grading/kyu levels somehow....

In general, is there a technical benefit in kyu advancement, as opposed to just "learning"?

I have seen the belt value pop up many times, and am not sure why it became so important (I myself would love to be 1st dan, but I am not sure why
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:01 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

I'm baffled, Alex, where do you train, and why can't you ask your instructor?

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:42 PM   #7
Mario Tobias
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Often dojo will offer several levels of classes. A beginner's class for new students who hold no rank, a general class for all students, and advanced classes for yudansha. From what I've seen, the beginner's classes are tailored to introducing brand new, unranked students to the art and focus on ukemi, dojo etiquette, very basic technique and various kinds of drills. The purpose is to prepare them to join in the general classes safely. Some dojo don't offer beginner's classes, preferring to integrate new students into the mainstream from the outset. You see both styles, apparently because both have their merit.
I've experienced 3 types of dojo set-ups:

1. They mix beginners and advanced students together in one class
2. They mix beginners and advanced students together in one class but sensei teaches different techniques to both groups
3. The beginners, intermediate and advanced classes are totally separate.

I like the 3rd set-up most because when you advance, you like to up the intensity in your training by attending the advanced classes. Similarly, if you want to practice kihon or test your techniques with beginners if they are really working, you can attend the beginners classes.

In the 1st and 2nd set-up, you'll feel some discrimination as a beginner but this is unavoidable imo. It's human nature.

Regarding kyu advancement, it both important and not important at the same time. It is important as this is one of the metrics how you progress as an aikidoka as seen by you and your peers. Some people however make grading as the only basis for progressing even when their technique isnt good. There needs to be a balance in how you approach grading.
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Old 10-09-2011, 10:32 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
I've experienced 3 types of dojo set-ups:
1. They mix beginners and advanced students together in one class
2. They mix beginners and advanced students together in one class but sensei teaches different techniques to both groups
3. The beginners, intermediate and advanced classes are totally separate.
Add to this:
4. basics classes oriented for beginners but welcoming all students, so that there are generally some more senior students on the mat for the newbies to partner with
5. mixed classes, period - everybody works on the same stuff, and again folks make sure newbies team up with more experienced students

I prefer these models because I believe it is helpful for newbies to partner with more experienced students and for anybody who has trained long enough to have somebody be his junior to to partner regularly with beginners, peers and seniors.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-09-2011, 10:50 PM   #9
kewms
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

The advantage of a steady rank progression is that it gives people a way to measure their progress and a series of tangible goals.

The disadvantage is that the rank can become more important than the learning, creating many opportunities for ego and additional pressure on both teacher and students.

Katherine
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Old 10-10-2011, 05:54 AM   #10
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

A problem that might occur (in kyu system) is that students start to dictate what is being practised in the dojo. How so? Different students train for different grades. Everybody requires time to practise their set of techniques in order to prepare for their test.
There is limited time to the test so the teacher must somehow fit all the techniques in the remaining lessons. Next iteration the students want to train for the next grade and again the teacher must somehow fit in that set of techniques. The teacher is no longer in control...

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 10-10-2011, 08:35 AM   #11
lbb
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Quote:
Alex Wilde wrote: View Post
Just talking to my pal around here, he trained at a Uni once, and confirmed no grading in the dojo, and some students have been training for three years or so....this is probably some sort of branching off the real dojo, i.e. no grading/kyu levels somehow....
I'm guessing this was because the instructor was not a shidoin, maybe not affiliated with any federation, or if so did not have credentials to grant rank. I don't think this is uncommon in university clubs, and generally it's not a big deal, because most students don't stay with it long enough for it to be an issue.

Quote:
Alex Wilde wrote: View Post
In general, is there a technical benefit in kyu advancement, as opposed to just "learning"?
Not in and of itself. But if rank is granted by someone who is credentialed to grant rank, and that person in turn is responsible to a teacher or a federation for upholding certain standards, and you consider those standards worthwhile, there can be. It's a quality control thing, sort of.

Quote:
Alex Wilde wrote: View Post
I have seen the belt value pop up many times, and am not sure why it became so important (I myself would love to be 1st dan, but I am not sure why
If you're not sure why, it's probably because you see it as a status thing. If it helps, the status attached to shodan is really not that great.
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Old 10-10-2011, 10:45 AM   #12
kewms
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
A problem that might occur (in kyu system) is that students start to dictate what is being practised in the dojo. How so? Different students train for different grades. Everybody requires time to practise their set of techniques in order to prepare for their test.
There is limited time to the test so the teacher must somehow fit all the techniques in the remaining lessons. Next iteration the students want to train for the next grade and again the teacher must somehow fit in that set of techniques. The teacher is no longer in control...
A teacher who can't control his own curriculum has bigger problems.

Especially for black belt and higher level kyu ranks, this problem is generally solved through an expectation that the student will spend time on test prep outside of class.

Katherine
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Old 10-10-2011, 12:10 PM   #13
David Maidment
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Here's what I don't get: Advanced aikidoka (by and large) cannot seem to get their heads around the notion of being taught something advanced without having an advanced rank. "But how can they learn the advanced techniques if they're not a dan grade?" I have heard far more times than I care to think about.

The amount of times I have tried to explain the idea of just not bothering with rank and instead teaching people -- and going into more depth and 'advanced' stuff when each person clearly has the ability to do so -- consistently, class-in, class-out, and have been met with completely blank looks... People just don't get it. 'Rank' is so central to modern martial arts that many cannot even so much as gauge ability without a shiny colour or pair of baggy trousers to point them in the right direction.

I would love to train somewhere where you didn't have to take tests. Where you could just show up and be 'that guy with ten years of experience' rather than 'that sandan'. And be as good as any ranked sandan because you'd got just as much bloody mat-time.

"Never escalate a battle unless forced to do so by your enemy" - Zordon
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Old 10-10-2011, 12:24 PM   #14
kewms
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

While I mostly agree with you, having a rank *should* imply some level of knowledge. It's pretty tough to teach certain empty hand techniques to people who can't breakfall, or paired sword kata to people who don't know the basic cuts and stances. Mixed classes can end up being frustrating for all concerned: advanced students can't stretch themselves because their partners aren't ready, while beginning students end up lost because they don't have a foundation yet. Segregating classes by rank allows the teacher to assume that everyone in the class has a certain level of understanding.

My current dojo has three levels:
-- Beginner: open to everyone, required for brand new beginners
-- Open: open to everyone with basic ukemi skills, which generally means 6th kyu (our lowest rank) or above
-- Advanced: open to brown belts (3rd kyu) and above, or with the instructor's permission

Katherine
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Old 10-10-2011, 01:57 PM   #15
Garth Jones
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
A problem that might occur (in kyu system) is that students start to dictate what is being practised in the dojo. How so? Different students train for different grades. Everybody requires time to practise their set of techniques in order to prepare for their test.
There is limited time to the test so the teacher must somehow fit all the techniques in the remaining lessons. Next iteration the students want to train for the next grade and again the teacher must somehow fit in that set of techniques. The teacher is no longer in control...
Teaching to the test could be a huge problem, especially if the dojo has testing frequently and the instructor feels that there is no time to do anything but get folks ready for their next exam.

However, I think the whole thing can be much more positive. Testing is a good way for people to mark their progress. Also, the test is not as important as the training that leads up to the test. In my dojo I expect students to use the time before their test to train a bit harder (including outside of normal classes). Our early kyu tests contain techniques that we do regularly anyway, so preparing students for a 6th or 5th kyu test just means teaching basics classes. That's good for everybody.

On those much rarer occasions when we are preparing somebody for a higher rank (say shodan) test there are some classes in which all the students get some experience in harder, more complicated, etc. techniques. That's good for everybody too.

As an instructor I believe that I am obligated to do my best to provide my students with a good grounding in the basics, as well as show them then entire broad curriculum of aikido. That's a tall order, since we don't have infinite time to train. In that sense I am not 'in control' of what I teach - I might want to just do Ikeda Sensei's connection exercises for a month but I don't because it would be a disservice to my junior students.

My $0.02 anyway....

Garth
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:01 PM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Not in and of itself. But if rank is granted by someone who is credentialed to grant rank, and that person in turn is responsible to a teacher or a federation for upholding certain standards, and you consider those standards worthwhile, there can be. It's a quality control thing, sort of.
In theory, of course that's true. In practice, there really is very little in the way of standards and quality control.

Overall, ranks probably end up causing more problems than they solve.

Ideally, there probably ought to be none - but that route's probably hard going knowing human nature. It also takes away pretty much the only leash that an organization has on its members - which is the real reason why rank's not going anywhere soon.

Best,

Chris

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Old 10-10-2011, 03:59 PM   #17
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: dojos with no kyu advancement or promotion?

In the dojo where I train all ranks train together. Usually the group consists of students of all ranks, so there is no big majority of any particular rank range.

Beginners and advanced students train the same techniques most of the time, which is a mixture of basic and advanced techniques.

Sometimes there is a differentiation, like after training a few defenses against a particular attack, advanced students may train jiyu waza against that attack, while beginners keep training a specific technique (but if they feel like it they may try jiyu waza too).

There are yudansha specific lessons every now and then, but I don't think we train specifically for exams (that I am aware of).

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 10-10-2011 at 04:02 PM.
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