I think I made a mistake trying to put it like in the follow up post to my "story" post.
Originally Posted by Permalost
I accidentaly said that belts are irrelevant.
The point I was trying to make is that there are a ton of other things which affect the comp. success of a particular country, and that a rank system, and the implementation of visible markers of the same and their possible benefits may be so small of a factor that it could easily get squashed by factors which are clearly more decisive, such as the talent pool of a country, or the level of enthusiasm for the sport.
Judo is Japan's national sport, sort of how Greco or Shooting is a serious matter among the fans in my homeland.
Basically, I agree with you and Petter on the fact that belts/ranks/whatever-you-call-it may or may not affect the performance.
I wasn't actually trying to make a stance on the issue, as in "oh yeah, belts are the bestest ever!" or "Belts SUCK! Why the hell are we still using them?!"
What I attempted to say was that a whole lot of variables exist in such a serious competition like the Kendo Worlds or Olympic Judo.
Sorry to get you two dragged into disassembling my post because I made a mistake forming a sentence. My bad.
We've been having this discussion in the recently formed Bartitsu Club of Chicago, and have more-or-less decided against instituting a rank system. It can't be demonstrated to have been a part of the original Bartitsu Club system and members are pretty much split between "don't care", "it would be fun" and "hate it". We've decided that you get the major benefits by holding regular tests, without necessarily awarding new titles/belts/etc. Also, we tend to take a very freestyle approach to the syllabus, and formal rank tests would impose a sort of in-class stratification (e.g., if "only level 2/whatever ranks are allowed to learn this kata", etc.) that would be counter-productive.
What do you think about having more advanced people working on different things than the beginners during a class? For example, in my FMA class the more advanced people may be practicing espada y daga vs espada y daga while the beginners are working on basic blocks and strikes with single sticks.
Originally Posted by DdlR
I started out training in WTF TKD back in the 1970s, and that was the model they used then. I see the benefits but I prefer the model we're using at the moment for current purposes.
Originally Posted by Permalost
This is a bit hard to describe in writing, but our approach is that everyone works on the same thing at the same time, only at different levels depending on ability. Taking the formal, "canonical" material as an example - the funky two-man jujitsu kata and stick fighting sequences Barton-Wright recorded around 1901 - the whole class first practices them verbatim as they are represented in the source material, as a kind of "living history" training.
Then we start introducing tweaks and twists; the opponent/uke is allowed to "break" the kata by resisting or evading the scripted actions, etc. and the defender has to get creative to re-establish control of the initiative. Further tweaks may require the defender to counter the counter with c1900 kickboxing, or to maneuver into a specific jujitsu takedown, or for the opponent to drag the defender down with them into sub. grappling, etc. There's a lot of emphasis on in-the-moment improvisation within the Bartitsu milieu of fisticuffs, jujitsu, wrestling, low kicks and Vigny stick fighting.
On that basis, the more advanced people get to try out whatever they bring to the table while the beginners tend to stick to the basics, while at the some time being "thrown in the deep end" to some extent by having to deal with spontaneous resistance, etc. from the earliest stages of their training.
We'd initially thought about dividing the formal kata and set-plays up into rank-based grades, etc. but that would really be contrary to the spirit of what we're trying to do, which is (simultaneously) to preserve the traditional elements and to try to find out where Barton-Wright's experiments might have gone if the original London club had lasted, say, another 10 years. The more freestyle approach serves those aims better because we can basically begin anywhere; every element (style, technique, etc.) references and reinforces all the others. An added bonus is that people don't freak out about missing a class or two, since every class tends to cover different technical material from the canonical syllabus while developing the same core skills.
The grand plan is to end the current 6-week intro. course with a test that will include some of the canonical sequences but will focus on being able to actually fight in the "Bartitsu style", including dealing with the unexpected.
I have mixed feelings about the Capoeira ranking system. On the one hand, I like it when people move up cords at Batizado and the fact that in the Roda it serves as a warning about whether someone is new or dangerous. On the other hand, it weakens a lot of old traditions of capoeira, like hiding one's skill and malicia from one's opponent and encouraging everyone to approach a situation cautiously. It also used to be the case that a mestre was a mestre when other mestres and his students started calling him one, that was it. Now, it is just a rank that can be obtained with enough time.
In many capoeira schools, all cords work on the same material in a lessons but higher cords tend to get a few extra movements are expected show more malicia and skill. Some games, like Iuna are almost exclusively reserved for higher cords, and in Mestre Bimba's original system, rank was determined by colored silk neck kerchiefs and after one earned their first kerchief (blue) they would be introduced to things like the straight razor and other, more dangerous, aspects of capoeira.
All in all, I kinda like the treat of gaining rank and the external reward to go along with an internal sense of accomplishment. At the same time, I wish that it could be achieved in a more true-to-the-roots way for capoeira.
It sometimes happens that, yet still, on rare occasions in some arts, a student will just be awarded his next rank because the instructor assesses his skills and abilities and decides "yup, he's rank X" now. No "tests." No formalized recitation of an index of the curriculum. Just a recognition of skill.
In some ways, I find that very appealing. On the other hand it is also very vague, ill-defined, and heavily based on individual instructor's "feeling" which might change from day to day or from instructor to instructor.
There is also something to be said for "Playing the Prize" competition style advancement. It goes a lot farther to guarantee skill and understanding. But it also depends heavily upon assumptions that the group of competition will be homogenized in their skill. If MMA has taught us anything, it is that this assumption is wrong. The bar of skill and strategy raised quickly and perceptibly through the first 10 UFC's and continues to evolve today. It also places a great deal of importance on physicality. While it's great to say, "The Rank is in the Ring" it also biases the process to people with superior genetics instead of a measurable understanding of technique and application. It also biases toward youth.
I've seen various attempts to address this. Savate has two ranking systems, one based on skill and one based on competition performance. Judo has a "Masters" division for old geezers (like me) to compete in.
It's a very complicated and nuanced issue.
Peace favor your sword,
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