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Old 09-22-2002, 10:11 AM   #1
Fitznutz
Location: Pennsylvania
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Confused Ranks aquired at other places

Hello all,

I posted about a guy that is in my class just a bit ago and i have another question about something. He aquired his orange belt before he came to our class. A friend of mine said something to sensei about how he got his belt cause this friend of mine and Mr. Orange know about the same amount of stuff, sometimes i think Mr. Orange knows less. Sensei replied " I don't know where he got his belt but i have to respect it." To me this seems wrong. I don't have a single clue about how to attain rank and belts but i was under the impression that you had to have the approval of your sensei and then go to some kinda "official" thing to get it. Maybe i'm wrong but if sensei doesn't think he should have attained orange then i would think others probably would feel the same. What do you all think?
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Old 09-22-2002, 11:24 AM   #2
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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To be absolutely blunt, I think that's your Sensei's decision.

Sorry, don't mean to be a jerk, but I'd strongly advise you not to get into the habit of second-guessing your Sensei.

Dave

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 09-22-2002, 11:47 AM   #3
Fitznutz
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oh hell no,

i'm in no way saying my sensei is wrong. I was just curious about the ways of aquireing rank and if sometimes people get rank and others wonder how they got it. I don't know enough to say someone should or shouldn't be a certain rank, i respect rank, you have to or your not going to last long in this world. It just sounded to me that sensei himself wondered if the said person should have aquired it. Is that a common feeling with teachers that get new students with rank?

Remember i'm as new as they come, i'm just curious.

Kenny
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Old 09-22-2002, 12:01 PM   #4
Kevin Wilbanks
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I don't think that's a very useful reply, Dave. We should not turn off our brains when we enter the dojo, and most of us couldn't even if we wanted to. I have a very curious skeptical mind, and I have a very hard time accepting arguments from authority. I have been willing to suspend disbelief about teachings based on the experience and authority of a martial arts teacher... temporarily, but I expect to one day understand the whys and why nots of any teaching for myself. To me, that's what learning is.

If he finds himself doubting his sensei's decisions to the point of 'habit', he'll probably have to find another sensei. Depending upon the sensei, moving on could be a good thing. What if Ken shows up to class next week and his sensei unfurls a giant Nazi flag and starts lecturing about racial purity? Would you still say 'don't second-guess the sensei'?

Ken,

In this situation, I think you should definitely keep quiet about your doubts around the sensei and fellow students. Also, given the nature of the issue, I'd say you'd be better off not worrying about it and trying to stay focussed on your own training. In my experience, it is not uncommon to have visitors or transferred students, or even people within one's own dojo who seem undeserving of their rank. I've known a woman who got a shodan in 2 years in Japan whose skills were worse than many 4th kyu at our dojo. We had a visitor once who got a Sandan from some place who could barely take ukemi or do ikkyo. In many dojos, people will eventually get promoted just by virtue of having been there for a long time, even if they test poorly. Their rank is not your rank, and only you can decide how important yours is to you.

I decided rank wasn't important to me for most of my time training. Now that I'm more of a free agent, having a disproportionately low rank to my experience is a bit of a pain. Oh well. You make your bed, then you lie in it.
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Old 09-22-2002, 02:41 PM   #5
aikido_fudoshin
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I know how you feel Ken. Even from the short amount of time that I have been with Aikido I have noticed great differences in ability and rank from dojo to dojo. Unfortunately this whole ranking system is suppose to mark your abilities and is a representation of what you have accomplished in Aikido. I have come to despise the ranking system mainly because of the lack of consistency and the way it pushes people to compare themselves with one another (I even feel the whole sempai/kohai thing is taken a bit to far aswell). For many, this is a difficult thing to look past but I feel the reason one should take Aikido is to work their hardest on improving themselves and try their hardest on bringing the best out of others while not thinking about rank or others abilities.
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Old 09-22-2002, 06:30 PM   #6
G DiPierro
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As for Ken's original post, I can't understand how someone could say that he doesn't know where the rank came from but that he has to respect it. Why? What if the guy gave himself the rank? Or what if he got it from an unrecognized teacher who is not sanctioned by any organization? Perhaps there is some misunderstanding, but it would be seriously abnormal to accept a rank without validating that it was awarded by a reputable teacher or organization. Even if the student has a rank through an organization, usually a teacher will want to know who, specifically, awarded that rank. Once it has been established that rank comes from a reputable source, the rank will usually be respected as a courtesy to the teacher and organization that awarded it rather than to the student.

Ken, if I were you I would want to know where the student trained and recieved his rank out of curiosity if nothing else. Your teacher should be in a better position than you to assess what this student's actual ranking should be, and he may well feel that the student deserves his rank based on his behavior on the mat. But I would not call this respecting his rank as much as respecting his technique. You should know the difference, and if you are still puzzled about the situation then maybe you should approach your teacher about it in a diplomatic manner.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 09-22-2002 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 09-22-2002, 06:50 PM   #7
Choku Tsuki
 
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kyuless

What my Sensei does is make the new guy re-take the test for the last grade he says he earned.

He gives him all the time he wants.

In the meantime there is a lot more going on than simply waiting for that test to happen.

Who knows more about Mr. Orange Belt's background and capabilities? My bet is on your teacher.

--Chuck

rank

noun: relative standing or position

adjective : offensive in odor or flavor
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Old 09-22-2002, 08:35 PM   #8
Shoshinsha
 
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I've faced issues of rank (the noun) so many times it makes my head spin. Every dojo is different, but a comment from a sensei like, "I don't know where he got it..." seems rather unprofessional and aloof. In my experience, if a sensei feels that a transfer student is ready for a higher kyu, the sensei will make the student take the test and see what happens. In all other situations, my senseis have bluntly said, you're starting at scratch here if you didn't get tested in our affiliation already (most dojos seem to be like this).

Testing and rank is good for the student and the dojo for a variety of reasons:

- it makes a student focus on more specific elements before moving on

- it allows other students to observe the progress of those around him or her

- it gives a sense of confidence to older students when they work with beginners, both in the sense that beginners trust them more, and that the older students trust themselves more

- it's an additional source of income for the dojo

- it gives the sensei a chance to see what points to focus on in his or her teachings

However, I think that multi-colored belts are tacky and offensive, and I feel that pride deriving from rank is just as equally offensive, but kenshusei deserve their place in the inner circle, because if someone's willing to devote himself or herself to Aikido like that, it is their right to certain additional privileges and classes, for the safety of beginners, and for the continuation of more advanced training. I do not appreciate being treated as an inferior just because someone has a prettier belt than mine, and frankly, people who do so have some major issues to deal with on their own.

On a lighter note, if your sensei is so cavalier about allowing people with pretty belts to wear them in class, get a pretty belt for yourself. They sell them in plenty of supply stores and if not, I'm sure you can find one on-line. You could always try tie-dye!

-Sho
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Old 09-22-2002, 10:38 PM   #9
Edward
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There are a few guys at my dojo who got their belts for political reasons, while mine has been considerably delayed fror the same reasons. I just destroy the guys on the mats at every opportunity and show them my real abilities.
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Old 09-23-2002, 02:27 AM   #10
Jason Tonks
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All right Ken. Good topic, the infamous rank subject. I personally think if you start at a new dojo you should ask that Sensei if they accept your rank. If they say yes fine, go ahead and wear that belt, if no then you need to decide whether or not to train there. At our dojo our Sensei always allows practicioners from other dojos to to wear whatever belt they have. If they can practice with the people in our dojo of the same rank at their level and intensity of training there's no problem. It's up to the practicioner to be honest with him/herself. Having said that there's no point fretting over someone elses rank, it's not a race!

All the best Jason T
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Old 09-23-2002, 04:52 AM   #11
JJF
 
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
There are a few guys at my dojo who got their belts for political reasons, while mine has been considerably delayed fror the same reasons. I just destroy the guys on the mats at every opportunity and show them my real abilities.
Destroy ? I'm just guessing here, but maybe that attitude is what keeps you from raising in the grades. It doesn't seem like a very 'aiki' attitude to me.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 09-23-2002, 05:55 AM   #12
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
I don't think that's a very useful reply, Dave. We should not turn off our brains when we enter the dojo, and most of us couldn't even if we wanted to. I have a very curious skeptical mind, and I have a very hard time accepting arguments from authority. I have been willing to suspend disbelief about teachings based on the experience and authority of a martial arts teacher... temporarily, but I expect to one day understand the whys and why nots of any teaching for myself. To me, that's what learning is.

If he finds himself doubting his sensei's decisions to the point of 'habit', he'll probably have to find another sensei. Depending upon the sensei, moving on could be a good thing. What if Ken shows up to class next week and his sensei unfurls a giant Nazi flag and starts lecturing about racial purity? Would you still say 'don't second-guess the sensei'?
I'd like to apologise for the surliness of my earlier remark; it's not usually like me to let a REALLY bad night at work come out in what I type. Sorry 'bout that, Ken, and everyone else. Still, I stand by what I said, please let me explain what I meant by it.

I believe that there are times; particularly when one begins training in a new area, where one should take things 'as read'. In other words, trust your teacher implicitly, unless real good grounds not to trust him/her are present. Remember, in this case, the Sensei is not only responsible for teaching the Dojo, he's also responsible for running it; managing the organization, that includes seeing to it that all protocols and regulations are properly followed. He's the one in the position to know whether or not to accept 'Mr. Orange Belt's' orange belt, if he has accepted it, he has accepted it for the dojo and all its members. Therefore, what's good enough for him should be good enough for all members of that dojo. If, as stated elsewhere, 'M.O.B.' is demonstrating lack of ability or attitude worthy of the position, then it becomes something one should bring to the Sensei's attention.

Now, if the Sensei does or says something obviously and/or blatantly incorrect or bad, (such as unfurling a big Nazi flag - Kevin, you have to admit that example was a little over-the-top), then question away. But until then, trust your teacher.

Dave

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 09-23-2002, 07:56 AM   #13
Edward
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Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis (JJF) wrote:
Destroy ? I'm just guessing here, but maybe that attitude is what keeps you from raising in the grades. It doesn't seem like a very 'aiki' attitude to me.
It's more like trashing, if you like. And, no, I don't have a very aiki attitude. Can you describe aiki attitude please? Does it mean love and peace? And no again, this is not the reason keeping me from raising in the grades.
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Old 09-23-2002, 08:25 AM   #14
James Trueman
Dojo: Kioido Aikido / Aikijutsu Kai
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Many years ago I proposed a related question to members of an Aikido organisation I belonged to, 'who recognises our grades?', the reply I received contributed to my current view and response. Aikido is not in the belt or dependant on who awarded it, Aikido is on the tatami, is in our technique, however variable between the many styles and schools. A belt is a superficial representation of where we are, but as with many things, representation is open to interpretation - techniques may vary, but if they are strong, effective and appropriate what matter what we wear around our waist.

Ken, in saying the above ultimately your sensei is responsible for the safety of his class, the belt system can help us ensure that appropriate grades train together if needed, but it is not foolproof, as others have cited - the belt system is applied differently. Your sensei may make a choice based on safety or perhaps on technique, if Mr Orange wants to work within the teaching system used in your club, then he may have to fit into that system, that is up to him and your sensei - it's your job to learn Aikido and help everyone you train with to learn to the best of your ability. Don't stop thinking or questioning - it's what keeps us alive.
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Old 09-23-2002, 08:30 AM   #15
JJF
 
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
It's more like trashing, if you like. And, no, I don't have a very aiki attitude. Can you describe aiki attitude please? Does it mean love and peace? And no again, this is not the reason keeping me from raising in the grades.
Hi Edward!

You got me cornered here since I'm not really sure what the difference is between 'destroying' and 'trashing'. Anyway both words implies in my ears a lack of care for your training partner, which I believe to be at least a part of what I call 'Aiki attitude'. And no! I am not one of these 'aikido is a dance' or 'embrace the world through love' type of aikidoka but I do believe it to be essential that one treats ones trainingpartners with respect and care for them - even if they are total pinheads

Mind you this is my conception of what would be ideal - not the way I practice. I still have a long way to go before I can say my attitude is 'aiki'

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:29 AM   #16
Edward
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Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis (JJF) wrote:
Hi Edward!

You got me cornered here since I'm not really sure what the difference is between 'destroying' and 'trashing'. Anyway both words implies in my ears a lack of care for your training partner, which I believe to be at least a part of what I call 'Aiki attitude'. And no! I am not one of these 'aikido is a dance' or 'embrace the world through love' type of aikidoka but I do believe it to be essential that one treats ones trainingpartners with respect and care for them - even if they are total pinheads

Mind you this is my conception of what would be ideal - not the way I practice. I still have a long way to go before I can say my attitude is 'aiki'
Well, actually this kind of treatment is reserved to those who get their ranks by lobbying the instructor (a Thai lady) responsible for accepting and rejecting grading applications. Lobbying includes wining and dining, a** kissing, occasional financial contributions, and total submission and servility to her needs and demands.

Rest assured, I do trash them with (undeserved) respect and care, and I have never injured anyone in aikido so far. They just might feel a little dizzy and confused after practicing a few techniques with me.

(Actually they refuse to practice with me for a while now )
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Old 09-23-2002, 11:41 AM   #17
Bruce Baker
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judging and being judged by other

I have seen some pretty smug attitudes from people who do other arts, and have yet to go through the colored belts, and for my money they should scrap the whole thing, but it has not only become a firm money maker but a measurement for level of achievment.

Personally, I think it is very obtuse and petty to judge anyones ability on or off the mat, unless you have a narrow mind?

I understand how we think the recognition our peers, our accomplishments in our lives will mark the significance of our being alive, and our level of acomplishments, but who cares?

A hundred years from now, who really will care if we were slightly better than this person, or not as good as that person? You put too much weight in the justification of marks of training, when indeed, the training is the thing that gives you the insight of skill, forsight of thought, and humility of character that will mark your importance to others.

Stop worrying about what sensei says, or if he/she recognizes a colored belt that seems to be hollow in your judgement. You should worry about why you are judgeing others to be inferior, and look to your own house of morality.

Let the money scheme of colored belts take care of itself, your training, your understanding of practice, and your ability to grow in application of Aikido along with your polishing the spirit is in jeopardy with this type of judgemental thinking ... let it go.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to practice at the highest level of your skill, but try not to use anger, or injure the new guy, huh? It will all come out in the wash ... with time.
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Old 09-23-2002, 11:47 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, whoever gives the rank, is sanctioned to give or accep the rank, or own the school I want to study at, has the right to give and accept on whatever criteria they see fit. I must trucst my Snesei to know what he his doing. Even though I would not have promoted me, personally. I guess I would suggest that we take other people's ranks less seriously and personally than we do our own. And, I would suggest we don't take our own rank too seriously or personally.

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 09-23-2002, 12:19 PM   #19
rgfox5
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An interesting note: According to the sensei at a Steven Seagal (Taka sensei) dojo I visited, Taka sensei requires that any yudansha that didn't get his shodan from him retake that test before being allowed to wear their black belt at a Seagal dojo. By the way I saw Seagal sensei's Path Beyond Thought video and once more was astounded by the man's speed and ability. I could have done without all the comments by his students though, they took up video time which could have been used to show more of Seagal in action.
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Old 09-23-2002, 01:28 PM   #20
giriasis
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Mr. Orange's rank represents the level and ability his previous dojo gives to "orange". That's it. What "orange" means in your school is obviously different. Your sensei may recognize his "orange" rank, but I'm sure Mr. Orange will have to meet your sensei's qualifications for the next rank. So don't worry about it.

With that said, rank only tells you where you generally are in your particular dojo. I was ranked 5th kyu at my old dojo. When I changed schools, I realized that I was not really at a 5th kyu level at my new school. So, I decided to just start over from the beginning. I was only 5th kyu at my old school not my new one. Three years later, I'm really glad I did start over. All the people I used to train with at my old school are now "black belts." Well, they are the level of black belts for that organziation. If I stuck around, I would be a black belt, too. Yet at my present school, I'm gladly and proudly a 3rd kyu and still have a very long way to go before I'm a black belt. There is just so much more to learn where I'm at now.

Everything is relative. Even ranks from dojo to dojo are relative. I use it to give myself a measure as where and what I need to work on and learn to be better. Outside of that, even comparing my rank to others in the school, rank is useless.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 09-23-2002, 02:10 PM   #21
opherdonchin
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There are a lot of ways that rank is both interesting and useful, as a phenomenon within the aikido world. There are a lot of ways that it gets in the way and can even be problematic.

One of the ways in which I've found it interesting is precisely in the way it brought me to wrestle with my own goals and aspirations and desires as I progressed in AiKiDo. I started out feeling strongly that rank didn't matter to me. I remember avoiding my 5th kyu test for a long time. At some point I realized that avoiding the test was a way of showing how much it mattered to me. Later, I had to wrestle with feling like I deserved rank that I hadn't yet received. These sorts of opportunities to question myself and look deeper into my own attitudes towards my art, my sensei, my place in the art have always been really helpful to me and to my AiKiDo. They are one of the most important things about rank to me.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 09-23-2002, 03:40 PM   #22
ajbarron
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I have had the opportunity to visit dojos in Canada and the U.S. I have seen all colors of belts and many different styles of aikido. I have seen shodans who seemed 5th kyu and 5th kyu's who could have been shodans.

I aspire to improve. I test to test myself. I pressure myself on most tests because it brings out the best in me.

This weekend we had a shodan party for a new black belt. The new black belt sponsored the party to thank all those in the dojo ( beginners to our teacher) for helping him achieve his rank, by either improving his skills, or by him teaching them, which helped them to improve and for him to better understand his own by helping others.

I don't begrudge the yellow belt or shodan from another dojo who has recievd there rank through a different system. Hopefully they can teach me to be a better aikido practitioner and I them.

When I earn my shodan I will finally begin to really learn aikido.
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Old 09-23-2002, 03:59 PM   #23
Young-In Park
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Quote:
Andrew Barron (ajbarron) wrote:
When I earn my shodan I will finally begin to really learn aikido.


Why do people have to wait until shodan to "really learn aikido"? How come kyu-ranked people can't "really learn" it right now?

YoungIn Park
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Old 09-23-2002, 05:26 PM   #24
Jermaine Alley
Dojo: Aikido Of Richmond
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Ranking Issues...

Oh Yeah,

i am definitely of the opinion that you shouldn't be concerned about another persons rank.

In our dojo, rank is only questioned around testing time, to decide what you are going to test for next and who is leading classes.

Correct me if I am wrong, but historically, whether it be chinese wushu, or budo, rank was never an issue. There weren't "ranking systems" the way that there are now. There were white belts and black belts. The "western ranking system" was brought about, because us westerners needed to see smome kind of sign of progression.

I am definitely a novice in martial arts compared to most of you, but I think there is just too much attention put on issues of rank. There are definitely too many ego's out there in different colored belts looking for more "rank" to boost up an inflated ego.

When i train, i take everyones' opinion and experience in to help my waza. In other words, i always try to keep my cup empty.

jermaine
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Old 09-23-2002, 05:35 PM   #25
akiy
 
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Re: Ranking Issues...

Quote:
Jermaine Alley wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong, but historically, whether it be chinese wushu, or budo, rank was never an issue. There weren't "ranking systems" the way that there are now. There were white belts and black belts. The "western ranking system" was brought about, because us westerners needed to see smome kind of sign of progression.
Actually, the belt colors distinction (including the white/black belts) was popularized by Jigoro Kano sensei, the creator of judo. Before then, most koryu used scrolls to denote the "level" attained by its students.

(And, yes, the "white belt gets darker as one trains because it gets dirtier" is an oft-repeated urban legend as well.)

-- Jun

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