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Old 07-08-2002, 11:05 PM   #1
Chocolateuke
Dojo: Muhu Dojo
Location: Middle of nowhere in California 14 miles from Buellton
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Smile Ranks

Question number infinity! Would have you started and keeped going at Aikido if we didnt have ranks, colored belts, and the whatever else you recive for promotions? I know some dojos just stick to white then go to black while others go from white, to yellow, to next color to next color ect!

As I look back now at the very start of my aikido training ( 5 years goes by way to fast!) I may have not kept going at first without rank ( how old was I? 12-13 years old!) but now I wouldn't care as much becasue I love Aikido but its nice to see thoes shiny new blue belts! hmmm blue belts!!

Dallas Adolphsen
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Old 07-09-2002, 02:31 AM   #2
MaylandL
Location: Western Australia
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Re: Ranks

Quote:
Originally posted by Chocolateuke
...Would have you started and keeped going at Aikido if we didnt have ranks, colored belts, and the whatever else you recive for promotions?
Hello Dallas

Yes I would have. For me it has always been about improving, training and learning; not about the collection of coloured belts or rank. Others, I would hazard a guess, may like to see some tangible outcome or "reward" for their efforts as a measure of their progress and that is fine. Each to their own Vive le Difference!

Kind of reminds me of a Monty Python Skit...
One guy in front of thousands shouting "You're all individuals!!" One lone voice shouts back..."I'm NOT!"

There may be other reasons for having a ranking system that others in this forum with more experience and mat time than I may wish to comment on.

Happy training all

Mayland
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Old 07-09-2002, 05:18 AM   #3
guest1234
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Well, one reason I've heard mentioned for colored belts was to give incentive to the kids to progress... don't know that I'd agree with that, it would not have appealed to me as a child, and at least one kids' class I've worked with did not have colored belts and did not seem to miss them, but kids are individuals, too, and many probably do enjoy the colors. Some may be more into the colored belts just for the visual effect, some for the rank thing.

Some who know me have questioned my attitude toward colored belts (don't like them) since I'm in the military, but I think the two are very different issues: rank is usually worn in the military to help maintain order and a chain of command, especially in light of a wartime situation that could disrupt and recombine units. But it situations I haven't experienced (POW camps, not in real life anyway) rank continued long after the uniform was no longer recognizible. In other situations, small units wearing civilian clothes, the rank and structure was still evident. So I think on the mat the leader is clearly defined, and after a couple of classes the beginner knows who to work with (or not work with, the other beginners)

Anyway, I was way past my youth when i started, but even as a child would have prefered the white-black only system.
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Old 07-09-2002, 05:35 AM   #4
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
Location: Coventry, England
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The coloured belt system is in use in our organisation. My own view is that I found it to be a personal yardstick of the little victories along the path. In our grading system there are particular requirements in the curriculum for each test. Each belt just gives the person wearing it and those seeing it a sense of just what to expect from the wearer.BTW we have a red belt for absolute beginners, it gives them a badge, if you like, that tells their training partners to go easy and to expect a certain hesitancy and difference of control. Also it shows that the wearer may not be confident in breakfalls. Just means we have to take care of them.
Have fun.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 07-09-2002, 06:10 AM   #5
DaveO
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I know the white-black system is the traditional method in Aikido, and I myself am a big believer in keeping things traditional; so I wouldn't have a problem with only wearing white until I recieve my Shodan certificate; many years hence. On the other hoof, being a retired soldier, I'm big on rank; its symbols and reasons. Jim's right - those little yardsticks can be extremely important for those who recieve them. Rank symbols are much more than self-gratifying objects; they're (theoretically) indicators of accomplishment and ability - visible signs which help both wearer and witness.

Quote:
Originally posted by Jim ashby
BTW we have a red belt for absolute beginners, it gives them a badge, if you like, that tells their training partners to go easy and to expect a certain hesitancy and difference of control. Also it shows that the wearer may not be confident in breakfalls. Just means we have to take care of them.
Have fun.
I like that idea - putting up a 'caution: Rookie' symbol achieves 2 things: 1; as Jim said, warns others to take it easy and don't break the newbie, and 2; provides an early, first achievement as the student is told he or she no longer needs to wear the red.
Myself, if I had a Dojo (and some day, I will) I wouldn't use a belt; more like a red belt-ribbon (such as that used in karate competitions) or some such. Just my personal preference on that one.
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:01 AM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Since I have trained in other systems that did not have ranking (Kali/JKD), I believe that I would still train in Aikido if it dod not have ranks.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:07 AM   #7
kironin
 
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It's a little easier to understand the all white till black system, if you remember that in Japan, shodan is often reached in 2-3 years. Often groups in the same organization outside of Japan take twice as long to promote people to shodan.

hmmm... I wonder if Jun has already done a poll on this.


If it takes two years of training to reach 3rd kyu outside of Japan, I don't see a problem with giving someone a blue or brown belt when if they had trained the same amount in Japan they would be wearing black.

I have seen all kinds of students. To some is doesn't matter, to some a little color is good encouragement, to some it feeds the ego, to some it bothers them because they feel not worthy.

I wonder that some times those that really love the all-white kyu rank system just really like it because they don't feel confident and feel threatened by wearing something that would indicate rank even after years of training. Those often seem to have huge psyche problems at shodan because of the change of clothes.

Craig
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:45 AM   #8
Hogan
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I think color-belts also provide a very important role. When a senior instructor goes into an area he has never been, or with people he has not met before to give a seminar, this provides him / her an idea of what the level of ukemi is of those folks. So when he / she works with that person, they won't assume then to be a certain level where they are not.
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:47 AM   #9
aikilouis
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Remember that colored belts are only given before shodan, during the very first years of learning. In my opinion the only appropriate rank for this period is 'beginner'. Why bother giving incentives and rewards when you have not accomplished anything significant ?
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:49 AM   #10
paw
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Quote:
I think color-belts also provide a very important role. When a senior instructor goes into an area he has never been, or with people he has not met before to give a seminar, this provides him / her an idea of what the level of ukemi is of those folks. So when he / she works with that person, they won't assume then to be a certain level where they are not.
I would agree if there were a consistant, universal standard for rank. I would submit there is not among different organizations and would further submit there is not even within the same organization.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:58 AM   #11
Jim ashby
Dojo: Phoenix Coventry
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Inconsistencies

Hi Paul, I would agree with you about inconsistencies, from some of the other associations I have seen. Our association has a set syllabus which all clubs in the association follow. Also, all gradings are held in front of the same panel. It makes for a consistent approach. True, we are spoilt for good instructors, but all of them stick to the syllabus for grading stuff.
Have fun.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 07-09-2002, 10:28 AM   #12
paw
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well, now we've strayed......

Jim,

I'm sure that folks in other organizations would say the same thing. That there is a syllabus and one person/one group that conduct exams, etc.... Be that as it may, there are still posts asking about "how can so and so be at X rank, when their test wasn't very good"? (I believe there was one recently)

Maybe, given a small organization the variation is so small as it can safely be ignored for instruction purposes ---- in the situation that John mentioned. But I believe the larger the organization, the larger the problem, and certainly across organizations the differences are pretty significant (not to mention countries). I admit that this can be worked around, the Aiki Expo no doubt showed this, but then again, I suspect most people started to work slowly and politely until they got an idea of their partner's abilities, regardless of the color of belt they were wearing.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 07-09-2002, 12:00 PM   #13
Lyle Bogin
Dojo: Shin Budo Kai
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Although I have grown to appreciate the value of the kyu/dan system, when I began training I stayed away from Korean and Japanese arts because I had strong opinions against rank, and I held that opinion until my interest in aikido began to take root.

After speaking to many many people about practice, the most common question I get about my personal experience is "do you have a black belt?". The black belt seems to be the general standard for acheivement. It will be nice to answer that question with a simple yes.

I think the value of the black belt exist primarily outside of the dojo.
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Old 07-09-2002, 02:09 PM   #14
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Quote:
Originally posted by aikilouis
Remember that colored belts are only given before shodan, during the very first years of learning. In my opinion the only appropriate rank for this period is 'beginner'. Why bother giving incentives and rewards when you have not accomplished anything significant ?
Signifigant to whom?
One of the oddities of gaining rank and expertise in any field is that once achieved, people sometimes forget that they were beginners at some point themselves.
Those who say "You just passed your 5th kyu test - that's nothing!" are forgetting what it felt when they passed their own; perhaps years back.
Shodan is considered 'Beginner Level' in Aikido - something with which I agree wholeheartedly; on the larger scale. However, down here at the bottom, I will be testing for my 5th Kyu in September (wish it was earlier - I have the techniques; just need the time in), and when I pass it, it will be a proud day for me. If the Shodan test is considered the first important leap; well, quite frankly right now I couldn't care less about my Shodan test - I want to pass my 5th Kyu.
BTW - if anyone's interested - just passed my 1st. level Ki test at the Kingston seminar. Was a pretty funny test; I managed to bollix the hitori-waza fairly thoroughly, at least so I thought. My examiners said I did well, but we all still got a laugh out of it!
Thanks, friends

Dave
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:45 PM   #15
MaylandL
Location: Western Australia
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Hello All

Its been interesting to read the various comments about rank and the visible symbols of rank and achievement (eg coloured belts). I would agree that recognition of achievement is also important as a motivator for some people. Others find other motivators for their continued training.

The dojo I train at uses a colour belt system to recognise acheivement of grading requirements and I have been involved in grading people. I can see their sense of achievement (and pride too) when they are recognised for achieving something that they weren't able to do before.

From this perspective I agree with Mr David Organ, its an achievement for them that they can celebrate. Its wonderful to watch someone take ukemi when 6 months ago, they had the aikidoka flight characteristics of a sack of potatoes. Its a good motivator for some to be recognised for that and other improvements. Yes, Shodan is an achievement, but it is a beginning.

I agree that rank can be used as a guage of progress but, as been highlighted by Mr Paul Watt, there isn't a consistent standard. Regardless, for some, its a way for goal setting within the dojo that they train at.

IMHO, if rank and the use of coloured belts is seen by those who use it as a means to an end and not an end it itself, then it may be beneficial.

Happy training all

Mayland
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Old 07-10-2002, 06:24 AM   #16
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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Quote:
Originally posted by MaylandL
Hello All

Its wonderful to watch someone take ukemi when 6 months ago, they had the aikidoka flight characteristics of a sack of potatoes.
Hey, Mayland; have we met? 'cause you just described me perfectly!
(Hee hee!)

Just thought I'd throw in one more tidbit:
While everyone's debating on which system is better (colour or white/black), remember that while we all have our favourite; each for their own excellent reasons, it doesn't mean that one way is better - just different. If "Jim-Bob's Smash 'N Bash Aikido Club" uses coloured belts, while the "Bruzdn'Bleedin' Aikido-Rama" uses a white/black system and both dojos are successful, I'd say the argument is moot: Both systems are equally good; just different.
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Old 07-10-2002, 07:20 AM   #17
MaylandL
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Hello Dave

Unfortunately we haven't met.

Its very inspirational for me to observe others in the dojo progress and be recognised for their achievements. Case in point - I was a 2nd or 1st Kyu when two beginners started at our dojo with no aikido (let alone martial arts experience). They were recently awarded their shodans. Its very satisfying for me that I had the pleasure of training with them during all this time and to see them progress.

They saw the grading process and ranks as a way to judge their progress but not as a comparison with others in the dojo. It showed them what they needed to work on and gave them some goals to work through.

Personally, I'm not fussed with doing further gradings and have little interest in ranks or collecting higher ranks. What's important to me is training and improving. Others will have different opinions and goals.

All the best for your training

Mayland
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Old 07-12-2002, 01:04 PM   #18
henry brown
 
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I like a white-blue-brown-black sequence. Blue denotes someone who is capable of falling safely. Brown can be given to someone who has 'assistant instructor' status.
Even those these colors in some sense correspond to kyu ranks, they wouldn't have to. You could have everyone wearing white, plus a shoulder aptch or something.
In my present dojo, you can tell the real newbies because theya re in street cloths. We don't recommend that they get gis until after a month or so. They usually get a hakama after about six months in the dojo. Even though we give people colored belts, you can't see them!
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