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Old 02-20-2005, 07:59 AM   #1
big old smiler
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Age limits on black belts??

Heere's on that follws on form the 'Young Folks thread'. I see that there are a lot of people getting hig grades who are quite young. I traing with and tech a few children myself, though I try more to focus on adult teaching, and some young ones have gotton grades say up to green belt.

So here is the thing. I was discussing with a mate wether or not younger people should be allowed to geade all the way to black belt. I know of a few people who have been held back from shodan because examiners felt that they were not ready, in other words mature enough, to make the step, which I kind of agree with. There is also the question of wether or not a under 16's body is ready for more severe training, particualrly with locking techniques. On the other hand is it wroing to paint all under 16s with the same brush as some are more developed and more mature than others and perhaps ready for a serious grade like green belty or black belt. I must admit to being in two minds about such things but tend towards the attitude of treating all people as individuals and taking it from there.

so, what do other people think????

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Old 02-20-2005, 12:09 PM   #2
DaveO
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Some young people are certainly more devloped and mature than others; nevertheless I'd place an across-the-board minimum age limit of 18 before testing for Shodan. This'd keep things on a level playing field and avoid the usual problems: "Why does his son get to test and mine doesn't?!?"

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Old 02-20-2005, 02:41 PM   #3
malsmith
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

thats tough... cause you have a good point about how its not really fair to one kid not to get a black belt but for another to get one..... but what if the person is really good enough, then they certainly deserve the higher rank. no matter what their age is.
i'd definatly go by the persons abilties over their age.
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Old 02-20-2005, 08:30 PM   #4
Joezer M.
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Quote:
Dave Organ wrote:
"Why does his son get to test and mine doesn't?!?"
Although limiting somebody's rank based on age might seem unfair, when it comes to kids it's important to also see how parents would react to seeing their children obtain a high rank... or other people's children a rank higher than their own...
"I'm sorry sir, but your son doesn't meet the requirements for shodan yet... But... Oh, you mean that other kid? He's been with us for 6 years already and trains really hard you know.... No sir, training once a week for two years doesn't get you a black belt... Uh, could you please lower your voice sir? And uh, please lower your umbrella.... "

IMHO, an age limit for higher ranks is not entirely unfair, and, at least here, is enforced in most martial art dojos...


Regards,
Joezer

I AM in shape... Round is a shape...
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Old 02-20-2005, 09:25 PM   #5
Hrvoje
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Yeah, fair points. I dont think that an age restriction is appropriate or necessary( btw im 16 for those who dont know). any person who trains in an the adult class, with adults( possibly a greater challenge?), consistently, should be treated as an adult right?(in my dojo its 13+ for adults). so as long as the applicant presents a consistent quality and degree of aikido proficiency i dont think age has anything to do with it what so ever. concidering that in many other martial arts you get kids as young as 8 with shodan ranks, i think the whole adult class= adult treatment thing should be accepted.besides shodan is just the beginner rank right? or is this more about older folks feeling bitter that a kid is higher up than them/ possibly teaching them?
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Old 02-20-2005, 10:01 PM   #6
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

This could always go back to the "whatever sensei says" thing...It's inevitably the instructor's call and if one "kid" is ready for rank and another isn't...then guess what...the one that's ready grades for it to see if he deserves it...I mean, if you pass the test, no matter the age, don't you pass the test?...You still have tougher things to do and it still tests the student...

As far as an age requirement goes...I don't think it's a good idea to have a 16 year old teaching a class, especially an adults class...18 on the other hand teaching a beginner's or children's class...now that's completely understandable, but not a full fledged high school kid who can just now drive (for those in the states), so there should be an age requirement of 18 to test for shodan in my opinion...The way I see it for a kid having to wait a year or two to test just makes them get more prepared and they would probably do better on their test...but that's just my two cents...

Bryce
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Old 02-20-2005, 11:39 PM   #7
Hrvoje
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Hey Bryce
just to clarify, i wasnt saying i was teaching classes or anywhere near shodan myself, i'm just saying whats the big deal if there is someone in that situation?ok, maybe teaching wouldnt be so good, not because the kid wouldnt know what they're doing, but rather that older people would lack respect and wouldnt value it. then again, concerning the teaching front, i recon someone in that position should have a decent amount of experience and some supervision from another sensei to begin with.
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Old 02-21-2005, 07:45 AM   #8
Tim Griffiths
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Having a shodan and teaching are quite different things, at least they should be. In my old dojo we had 16-17 year olds with shodan, who taught or took over the occasional class. Seeing how seriously they all took that responsibility, and the respect they got from people up to 4 times their age (although that's the easy part, getting the same from someone 2 years older than them is harder) I'd have no problem with them teaching. Except:
1. Under 18's, at least in the UK, cannot be in loco parentis, and properly supervise the class, especially if other teenagers are present.
2. I don't know, but I'd bet they'd be insurance problems, especially in a community gym or the like.
3. They often don't have a car, and there are time you need to go to the hospital, drive someone home etc.
4. School has a very changable schedule, and there *may* be problems with teaching regular classes thoughout the year.

As for younger students, there are some techniques generally accepted as being bad for growing joint structures (nikkyo is the usual example). In my old dojo children (5-15/16, depending on size) had their own syllabus up to 1st Kyu, and when they transferred to the adult class their next grading would be the adult version of whatever kyu they had. No 12-year old dan grades.

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:51 AM   #9
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Oh sorry about that misconception...I wasn't directly referring to you about you teaching or you personally being shodan...just my personal opinion on kids teaching adults...or kids teaching kids...sorry bout that.

Bryce
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Old 02-21-2005, 11:18 AM   #10
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

As for the younger children teaching...There are some martial arts schools in my town that have 14 year old teaching classes, which usually makes the children mad because they are being taught by someone the same age as them...and there are even some 16 year olds that teach the adults classes, which again cause disturbance...I personally don't have a problem with an 18 year old teaching a children's class or even a beginning adults class for that matter because I view that age as being mature enough.

Bryce
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Old 02-21-2005, 01:04 PM   #11
Steven
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

In my organization, students in grade and middle schools, usually age 6-13, can earn a shodan, however it is a purple belt. When they move up to Teen/Adult class, 14-up, they move up into the grading level appropriate to their skill. Usually 3rd kyu. Now don't ask why this is because I don't know. I'm just a good little kohai that follows our honbu dojo and that of our shihan.
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Old 02-21-2005, 01:42 PM   #12
Adam de courcy
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Hi there.

I Started Aikido in a children's class at the age of 11. A year later I was asked to join the adults class. From that moment I started to grade as an adult until after I was graded to 1st kyu, It was then that my instructor told me that she thought it maybe sometime before I would be allowed to grade to shodan. At the time I was furious.

I turned 18 and I thought "now I must be allowed to grade". But my instructor did not say a word. Then I accepted the fact that it still maybe sometime before I would be allowed to grade. and that grading didn't matter as long as I was doing Aikido. After all it had been a long time since I had done a grading and I was still training 5 times a week, so I must be getting something more out of practicing Aikido than gradings or else I would have give up.

The last class of 1998 came around, our club was going to have a special day long training session to celebrate the end of the year. after bowing in my instructor turned around and she said "today is a special day, Adam is going to grade for shodan, Adam please come forward", and I graded for shodan that day without any prior warning. It was 3 months after my 18th birthday.

I look back at the experience now and I thank my instructor for the forethought of holding me back. In the early days of training I was focused on gradings, all the training I did was directed towards the syllabus for the next grading. When I was told I wasn't going to grade and that my instructor didn't know when I would. something had to change in the way I trained. Aikido became a joy, without the reward of grading, I discovered other rewards in training. If I had done my shodan at 16 I do not know if I would be training today. But by holding me back, and waiting for my attitude towards training to change before allowing me to grade my instructor has made Aikido a permanent part of my life. I have now been training for more then half my life, and in DEC of 2004 I graded to sandan. Now I training for the joy of training, gradings may happen and they may not. Aikido is for a life time.

I think having a rule that an individual cannot grade for shodan before they reach a certain age is a good idea. If the individual is truly committed to practicing Aikido, waiting will not harm them, in fact it will probably do them some good.

regards
Adam

Last edited by Adam de courcy : 02-21-2005 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 02-21-2005, 09:25 PM   #13
Kelly Allen
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Now that was elequenty put and makes perfect sense.
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Old 02-21-2005, 09:55 PM   #14
thomas_dixon
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Re: Age limits on black belts??



Run for your lives.
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:26 PM   #15
mriehle
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

I really think the way my teacher does it - or some variation on the theme - is the best solution to this issue.

We will award a Junior Black Belt. It's a shodan, sure, but it's equivalent to nikyu or shokyu in adult ranks. When kids move to the adult classes they go through an evaluation period where it's determined just where they fall. Certainly maturity is a factor in this.

When a child goes through all the grading requirements of the kyu ranks, I think it's really unfair not to give them some kind of "badge of honor" to celebrate their accomplishments. But most of them really aren't ready for an adult shodan. The junior black belt is, IMO, a very serviceable compromise.

What's more, some adults who train at our school who got their adult shodan after getting their junior shodan are very proud of what they see - with some justification - as a dual accomplishment.

BTW: There is nothing in the rules that say that Sensei can't award an adult shodan to a child moving into adult training without waiting requiring training as nikyu or shokyu. I don't believe it's ever happened and I think a child who was treated in this way would be a remarkable child indeed. But it could happen.

The only downside I've seen is that there is no such thing as a junior Nidan. A few kids get there junior shodan at an early enough age that this creates a problem. It's pretty rare, but I know the head of our juniors program is working on a sensible way to fix this because it has become more common recently.

I regard that as a great problem to have, though.

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Old 02-22-2005, 10:48 AM   #16
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Quote:
Thomas Dixon wrote:


Run for your lives.
That's what I'm talking about!

Scary, eh?

Bryce
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Old 02-22-2005, 10:51 AM   #17
Gabriel A
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

JAJAJAJAJAJ great pic, just iamgine if he keeps going how good he'llbe in 10-15 years though.
Regards
Gabriel

GREAT MINDS HAVE PURPOSES, OTHERS HAVE WISHES"
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Old 02-22-2005, 11:06 AM   #18
thomas_dixon
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

The kid had only been practicing 3 years to get that BB, he's 8 years old.
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Old 02-22-2005, 11:35 AM   #19
mriehle
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

You know, he might be that good. But I still wouldn't have given him a black belt that had no distinction from an adult black belt.

1) Does he have the emontional maturity to justify it? I doubt it.

2) At eight years old, a black belt makes him a target for all the older kids in school. Sure, maybe he can beat them all up, but why should he have to? What if he injures some kid who picks a fight with him trying to prove that he can "handle this kid even if he does have a black belt?

3) A significant minority of children would see having a black belt as a justification for bullying classmates. I'm not saying this kid is one of them, but then, how would I know? He could be.

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Old 02-22-2005, 01:47 PM   #20
DaveO
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Quote:
Michael Riehle wrote:
1) Does he have the emontional maturity to justify it? I doubt it.

2) At eight years old, a black belt makes him a target for all the older kids in school. Sure, maybe he can beat them all up, but why should he have to? What if he injures some kid who picks a fight with him trying to prove that he can "handle this kid even if he does have a black belt?

3) A significant minority of children would see having a black belt as a justification for bullying classmates. I'm not saying this kid is one of them, but then, how would I know? He could be.
Well; I don't believe in kids testing for black best but in regards to these points; I agree at least in part with #1.
Points 2 and however are entirely speculation and have nothing to do with the awarding of a belt - sorry.

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Old 02-22-2005, 03:45 PM   #21
DaveO
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Just to make sure - hope I didn't come off as too terse in the last post; wasn't intended that way.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 02-22-2005, 03:59 PM   #22
akiy
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

The testing guidelines set forth by Aikikai hombu dojo states that a shodan candidate must be above 15 years of age and a yondan candidate must be above 22 years of age.

-- Jun

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Old 02-22-2005, 11:11 PM   #23
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

In our battojutsu organization we will not permit anyone under the age of 18 to have a shodan rank.

We tried giving a pre emptive shodan once before. Long story short, arrogance and impatience made the decision turn out to be a bad one that is not going to be repeated again.

I think part of having your black belt is dedication. Kids change so much in their puberty years and so do their interests. Do you really think that 8 year old kid is going to be doing whatever art in the next 10 years? Somehow I doubt it.

I'd say, get them up to ikkyu or nikkyu. If they want shodan bad enough, then they'll stick with it till they're 18 and earn it. Alot of it has to come from maturity. And I don't mean just being a good kid with good grades. It's something a little deeper than manners and the way you conduct yourself.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 02-23-2005, 01:12 PM   #24
Kevin Kelly
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Quote:
Thomas Dixon wrote:


Run for your lives.
Looks like a TKD instructor I had once...
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Old 02-24-2005, 05:03 PM   #25
mriehle
 
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Re: Age limits on black belts??

Quote:
Dave Organ wrote:
Well; I don't believe in kids testing for black best but in regards to these points; I agree at least in part with #1.
Points 2 and however are entirely speculation and have nothing to do with the awarding of a belt - sorry.
Yes, they are speculation, or at least supposition.

So?!?!

They are very real problems for parents. Yes, of course, they can be blown out of proportion. In point of fact, they aren't serious as single issues. But combined and then combined with the first point that you did agree with, they matter.

The target thing: this is one I have seen happen and I've, in fact, experienced first hand. A black belt isn't really required, it just makes the problem worse. Anything which makes a child seem to a certain class of other children to be worthy of testing makes them a target. Besides the whole rank thing, this is a strong argument for teaching children not to talk too much about their art.

The kids bullying classmates is also not as uncommon as we'd all like to believe. The good news is that it is a minority of children who will react to rank this way. That bad news is that often it's not the kids you expect it to be. It directly relates, BTW, to the issue of emotional maturity.

The problem here isn't that these things are guaranteed to happen, it's that their potential represents a significant risk to the reputation of the dojo, the financial well being of the parents and - oh yeah - the mental and physical health of the child in question. Get it wrong and all three of those things are going to get nailed big time.

All this being said, I feel like a child who has done the work deserves recognition. Some kind of way of saying, "look, you did it, and we're recognizing your accomplishment, but you're a kid so you don't get a shodan because you need to do some growing up to be ready for that". Saying that without coming off as condescending.

I like the approach of a junior black belt - at least the way we do it - for two reasons:

1) It provides concrete, but not overblown, recognition.

2) Because of the indeterminate nature of its relationship to adult rank, it give instructors leverage and students motivation. Both of the risks I described can be mitigated by the child having a motivation to display the correct attitude, i.e., not bragging about being a black belt, not picking fights to prove how tough he is. A kid who is still working on earning his adult shodan will work a little harder at those things.

OTOH, while this works well for Aikido, I wonder if it would work at all in more combative arts. This really is pure speculation, but I'd bet not.

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