Ooops. Spelling is hard
Originally Posted by baby_cart
Seems like "shut up and train" applies once again. I shouldn't be surprised. I guess I caught myself getting slightly invested in ranking up despite all I have learned here and in training.
Rank to me is helpful for a few things:
First and foremost, ranks are mileage markers on your personal road through martial arts. Try not to compare the rank you have with the rank of someone else. A shodan given to someone at 50 who started in his 40s is just as valid as the shodan given the 17 year old Olympic hopeful for banging through a bunch of his peers, even if the 17 year old would kick the old man's ass.
Second, they are useful for rough divisions in seminars and tournaments. Not so practical in judo these days where due to small numbers they pretty much throw everybody into one category by weight, or maybe sometimes two. Kendo we often have 4 maybe even 5 categories by rank. Seminars I like to divide up by rank, depending on what we're teaching. For example, if we're teaching referee skills we might have the 3dan+ guys reffing and everyone else doing the fights they are judging.
Rank is a necessary evil for dealing with the organizational aspect of it. Most organizations won't let you have your own dojo below a specific rank. Especially if you deal with Japanese people a lot, rank carries weight if you want to be heard in the org.
You gaining rank reflects well on your sensei. They like to see you succeed in part because it means they have succeeded.
Finally, despite all that don't get too hung up on rank. Especially kyu. If they want you to skip them, skip 'em. Nobody gives a damn about kyu except mudansha.
It's just a belt, dude.
It's not the color that counts, it's the experience of the practitioner wearing it.
My school had no belts. The only "ranks" were what level of instruction you were allowed to undertake on your own. I.E., the very first "rank" is junior instructor. (Generally takes between 1-3 years depending on the student.) There is no belt that goes with it. Just a nice piece of paper and a cool honorific.
You'l find even among belt schools there is a difference in the number of colors, the order they are awarded in and the time to reach the next belt.
If they think you're up to a brown belt test, then get your brown and be proud of it!
Why put rank in quotes? Your school had ranks, and actually that sort of rank by instructor level is relatively common in older Japanese systems. We don't wear belts in kendo either, but we have ranks and the whole system is very rank-conscious.
Originally Posted by Mr. Machette
Well, the route I took (mainly to provide moral support to my office manager....) me along a prescribed Learning Curve with known Syllabi. Concepts were introduced at each Belt and gave a sense of progress. As said above, it also allowed grouping at seminars, where Techniques would be imparted commensurate with the level of the students.
Much was empirical and as a student, the grounding had already been learned for variations/developments of higher techniques.
As a motivator, my Sensei would encourage us to look at higher kyu grades and say, "He's a Green/Blue/Purple/Brown Belt???" A useful tool. As a purple, I remember looking at a Brown Belt and thinking, "She's doing Black Belt??". This at an International Seminar. A perfectly reasonable confidence builder.
After Black Belt, an older Black Belt asked me how long it had taken me. I said "3 and a half years" [I had missed a kyu grading through illness and you can only grade Dan twice a year.] He said, "I did mine in 3 years". So he had met the minimum. He then said "Could you do it all again?" I replied "No". He said, "Nor could I". haha.
A long, painful and injury laden path. Of course, the interest remains so I continue on the path. There really is only The Journey - there is no Destination.
I am also reminded by the quote of a 5th Dan at a seminar (when I was the pained uke). He said, "The Belt only holds your trousers up so the rest is up to you to cover your arse".
Remember some Dan/Kyu grades can be great fighters but can't teach to save their lives. Others are great teachers but less adept in Sparring/Randori. All should have their place if they have demonstrated the necessary level of skills consistent with the Grade. They should reinforce that legitimacy through Criminal Records checks, Personal Insurance, First Aid training etc.
That do ya?
Unusually, the branch of shuai-chiao I'm training in does use a colored belt system, and has belt tests, but they're sufficiently casual about them that you can apparently kick around for a decade and learn stuff and train without bothering to take a test. The belts seem to have utility primarily in motivating children, and in seeding some tournaments.
When I trained in Japan, Judo belts for adults went from white to black. Only kids got coloured belts. I left that dojo with a shodan aftera couple of years of in-house and regional competitions, but I'm pretty sure it was just a going-away present (shodan doesn't seem to be that big a deal over there). It was mad fun, but I really never thought I was particularly good at it (a college wrestling background may have given them the impression I knew what I was doing). Anyway, I learned some nice nagewaza and newaza which turned out to be useful at work.
Karate here, same deal: I went from white to black (though I had previous experience there too: as well as the wrestling and judo, I had some years of bouncing and training in a KK derivative), but formal testing was involved. As I never paid much attention to belts, I had to be reminded by the teacher that it was time to test for shodan, nidan and sandan.
Sorry. I put in quotes because we were not especially "rank concious" as you say. The Guro's would even claim loosley that "We don't really have ranks. You'll test for mastery of the first half of the curriculumn and eventually the second half too. When you've passed the first test you can host classes by yourself. When you've mastered you can open a school if you want."
Originally Posted by NeilG
Even the higest ranks in the system would downplay their "title". The GM himslef doesn't like being called "Grand Master" all the time. It's too stuffy for his taste. He'd rather you call him GM or preferably just "Rob". I am not pulling your chain! The founder himself prefers that you drop the honorific. It's a humility that trickles down from the highest ranks and IMHO made the classes a very comfortable and welcoming experience.
That's not to say it wasn't a big deal when people ranked. It was huge since there were only two ranks! But nobody and I mean nobody in the system would ever brow beat you with their title. That just wasn't the organization's style.
I won't claim it's better or worse than anyone else's school. Some people are big on the rigidity and traditional formality. The place I went to was a LOT more laid back than that. It happened to fit my personality better than the super formal schools I've visited. Your mileage may varry!
My FMA style has its curriculum broken into 4 quarters. Each quarter has a specific curriculum, and tests have a written component and a physical component where the student must demonstrate the curriculum with a partner (or solo, for the few sayaws). The written part is mostly details about history or pedagogy or other things that a student should know but can't demonstrate through martial arts. Recently I helped with a Guro exam, which included demonstration from all the quarters (mostly the latter) as well as rattan sparring against several opponents (I was one of three facing one of the guys testing).
When I did kung fu, they had a colored sash system, which I think was incorporated from the chief instructor's kempo background. Each sash test required demonstrating self defense techniques (like 20), forms (at least 2 starting at the 2nd sash), and kicks in the air and against a shield (progressively more as more are learned). Starting at 2nd or 3rd sash, some form of sparring was required for every test, with san da for the black sash. The purple sash test also included board breaking, because that level involved training with the wall bag (so there was some hand conditioning). Starting at blue sash, there were weapon forms to demonstrate, first staff, then broadsword and so on.