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  1. KO'd N DOA is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/15/2010 1:02pm


     Style: Judo Sandbagger

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    My JJ style went through something similar, especially because we broke away from Judo. It gets progressively worse the more we are not Judo.
  2. Punisher is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/15/2010 8:07pm

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     Style: Five Animal Fighting

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicko1 View Post
    T
    Here's an idea. Just wear a plain black belt. You are the founder of your system, you can give out any rank you want. Giving yourself ranking is kind of bogus though. The fact that this thread exists is proof that you think so on some level. Belt rankings originated in Judo. So what dan was Kano?

    What avenues of competition are available to your students? I assume you don't have kids doing full-contact MMA.

    Actually I do were a plain black belt, and have for some time. All of us outcasts decided colllectively to start wearing plain belts with no signs of ranking to signify the fact there was no place for us in our former instructor's current ranking system.

    When my instructor founded Five Animal Kenpo, he set it up so he had no official ranking. The original explaination was it would be improper to give himself a formal ranking an art he created. While this initial sounded noble, it quickly became perverted. As the "founder" aka the Sijo, he in effect had a ranking that no one else could ever get and set himself up in a position of ultimate authority.

    I didn't want to be periceved as another Sijo, so I decide to give myself a ranking based on the exact same criteria that I would use to give ranking to others. It seemed the lesser of two evils.
  3. Punisher is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/15/2010 8:21pm

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     Style: Five Animal Fighting

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Zendokan View Post
    I'm already happy that you didn't promote yourself to 10th Dan Soke!

    The grading system looks good.
    The only concern I have is, what kind of mechanism do you have to check the level of your instructor dangrades and yours in comparasion to the rest of the Martial Arts/Combat Sports community.

    Do you and/or students enter tournements? Which type of tournements? And are the skill levels of your students equal or better that the skill level of the same ranking students of other systems?
    One of the mistakes my instructor made was insulating the school from the rest of the martial arts world, even other kenpo schools. We didn't compete outside our school and didn't train with people for other arts.

    When I took over I changed that. On top of the MMA program I started I brought in instructors from other martial arts to teach numerous seminars. My theory was, if you want to know how to throw a guy, ask a Judoka. If you want to know the best way to do a wrist lock, ask an Aikidoka, if you want to know how to punch, ask a boxer.

    This mindset has transfer in how I plan to evaluate my students. If I want to know where my studen't grappling skill is, I'll ask someone with a legit grappling background to evaluate him. My ideal testing panel consists of at least one expert per area I'm trying to teach.

    I hold tournaments for my students and invite any and all kenpo schools in the area to compete, although usually on the Five Animal Kenpo schools show up. There are 5 schools in the local area being run by students of my former instructor, 4 of which no longer have any official affilation with him.

    3 of 4 unaffilated schools, including mine, have adopted the proposed ranking structure, and by doing so have formed a loose affilation/organization, however the schools remain completely independant.
  4. Punisher is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/15/2010 8:30pm

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     Style: Five Animal Fighting

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Skippy View Post
    To sum up, you've been actively training in Kenpo in one form or another for about 20 years. This training can be verified and lineage is easily established.

    What is the 'typical' duration that a Kenpo practitioner (actively!) trains before he is awarded a 3rd degree through traditional means?

    I can't speak for any other kenpo style but the official FAK guidelines for fourth require a minimum of 14 years of training.

    The typical timeline goes something like this:

    5 years to 1st
    7 years to 2nd
    10 years to 3rd
    14 years to 4th
    20 years to 5th

    To date there has been one person promoted to 4th in FAK. Like everyone else in FAK, this persons American Kenpo training time was counted towards their FAK eligibility.
  5. patfromlogan is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/15/2010 9:11pm

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     Style: Kyokushinkai / Kajukenbo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    It's good that you have other schools to interact with and the way you've brought in instructors. And I was going to say to get rid of the black belt stripes; most styles I've been in don't bother showing any difference between bb ranks. All the long timers know anyway.

    The school I'm in now didn't have belts and the students that I see, mostly high school and college age (there's a younger group, mostly bunch of cute little 13 year old girls and if I was a 13 year old boy I'd be stoked) wanted belts. To give themselves a structure to follow in learning techniques and motivating themselves planning on tests and to give the teaching more of a structure.

    I like what you are doing.
    "Preparing mentally, the most important thing is, if you aren't doing it for the love of it, then don't do it." - Benny Urquidez
  6. Dr._Tzun_Tzu is offline
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    It's pretty beat up, but it is a complete copy....

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    Posted On:
    2/16/2010 11:56am

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     Style: EBMAS WT/ Latosa Concepts

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I seriously expected this to be related to your Female Sifu thread........;-)

    OK, so I fully agree that belts above Black should only go to people that promote students, as you have outlined. Also, who wants a rank that you can get in less than 2 years anyway, so a time requirement is ok.

    2 suggestions. 1st, what do people that don't teach get? a blacker belt? one solution is to have shades of grey belt for time and skill, or grey stripes for non-teachers that want to continue past blackbelt first degree, as the black belt fades over time kinda thing. Another would be to just have a separate set of requirements, an either/or for the first few degrees then a both for the higher degrees.

    2nd, Colored lower belts are for kids, as you said. If they are under 18 years old you could do a belt for each school grade. Adults can test through this at whatever pace they are capable. You could also lock it out for kids at brown belt so once they are 18 they still have to do the entire black belt work as an adult.

    edit: maybe have second degree BB only need to promote a brown belt? You get people stuck here on this one for a very long wait otherwise.....

    as an example: Wing Tsun does this kind of thing with 12 Student Grades, 4 college levels (Technician) and 4 Master (Practitioner) levels. To be considered a Si-fu you must promote a student to Technician. North America just got it's first Practitioner last August, at least for EBMAS.

    "If anything is gained from this, it should be you both wanting to get better so you can make up for how crappy you are now." KidSpatula about the Sirc vs DTT Gong Sau Event
    Until the Bulltube is fixed:
    DTT vs Sirc

  7. Homernoid is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/16/2010 2:06pm


     Style: Taijiquan

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Punisher View Post
    I should point out I also tried to get input and guidance from my "instructor" but he was in Tennessee and I was in California so things were kinda difficult. He also had no interest in MMA or grappling. He would constantly make commets about how he would never be caught rolling on the ground with sweaty men.
    Quote Originally Posted by Punisher View Post
    One of the mistakes my instructor made was insulating the school from the rest of the martial arts world, even other kenpo schools. We didn't compete outside our school and didn't train with people for other arts.
    your former instructor seems to be an asshole, at least to a certain degree and your story reminds my, why I enjoy this community so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Punisher View Post
    I've toyed with doing away with ranking systems altogether, but I just don't think it will work. The major reason is a that most of my students are kids. Most of the adults we have don't care about ranking and are perfectly coming to train knowing they will a little better every class. Kids and their parents are different. They need someone of "authority" to tell them little Johnnie is doing well or not.

    I could stop teaching kids, but making a difference in young people's lives is a major reason why I teach instead of just training.
    I understand, there may be some need for ranking in children-classes, however, I prefere to keep it simple:
    colors for children, white belts for adult-beginners, with only one promotion possible: plain black (for every adult with some skill). promotion authority would be you, or anybody you deem worthy.
    Hell, I wouldn't even give more than that plain black to the instructors, for they are in charge for a reason so there may be little need for further hierarchy.
    At least it would be funny, when your ordinary blackbelts kick asses in competition with 10-dan or 25-dan-bullshidoka.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zendokan View Post
    I'm already happy that you didn't promote yourself to 10th Dan Soke!
    Wearing an ordinary Blackbelt yourself could be totally suficient, demonstrating you being grounded or even humble ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Skippy View Post
    To sum up, you've been actively training in Kenpo in one form or another for about 20 years. This training can be verified and lineage is easily established.
    For your marketing strategy, why not counting the years in various Ke?po - after all, when I meet people telling me, they have Xrd Dan in Idunnowhat-bullshido, while I kick their asses with no ranking, just because I do spar there is allways laughter. who cares about larping? I used to think everything over 1st Dan was just out of courtsey - but I have no clue about ranking, I'm just a sceptic about it...

    Quote Originally Posted by Punisher View Post
    When I took over I changed that. On top of the MMA program I started I brought in instructors from other martial arts to teach numerous seminars. My theory was, if you want to know how to throw a guy, ask a Judoka. If you want to know the best way to do a wrist lock, ask an Aikidoka, if you want to know how to punch, ask a boxer.

    This mindset has transfer in how I plan to evaluate my students. If I want to know where my studen't grappling skill is, I'll ask someone with a legit grappling background to evaluate him. My ideal testing panel consists of at least one expert per area I'm trying to teach.

    I hold tournaments for my students and invite any and all kenpo schools in the area to compete, although usually on the Five Animal Kenpo schools show up. There are 5 schools in the local area being run by students of my former instructor, 4 of which no longer have any official affilation with him.
    Your focus on competition and improving with mma and ground-fighting should speak for itself, why not pointing out your schools success in competition with other schools? it would be fair enough to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Punisher View Post
    My current curriculum is a lot closer to FAK than AK, but if you ask my former instructor and people assoicated with him, it isn't FAK either. I officially call if Five Animal Kenpo Karate, because I don't have anything better to call it at the present time.
    About the name I really don't know - I had only 3 years in "Shaolin Kempo" and allways was irritated by the numerous variety of ke?po-brands - but why not just call it "Ke?po" or "Kick-Ass Ke?po" - propably not a completely useless idea I guess.

    My perception is that there is little need for you to immitate those that play by irritating-promotion/brandmark-politics anyway. It is your gym. You are confident in what you do, while you are constantly improving.

    Imagine, how you want it to be, do accordingly and avoid hindering yourself from doing as you please.

    For what it's worth.
  8. Uncle Skippy is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/16/2010 3:00pm

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      Style: BJJ, MT, TKD

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Punisher View Post
    I can't speak for any other kenpo style but the official FAK guidelines for fourth require a minimum of 14 years of training.

    The typical timeline goes something like this:

    5 years to 1st
    7 years to 2nd
    10 years to 3rd
    14 years to 4th
    20 years to 5th

    To date there has been one person promoted to 4th in FAK. Like everyone else in FAK, this persons American Kenpo training time was counted towards their FAK eligibility.
    Here is my gut feeling:

    You trained in an art where you reached a level that focused on an aspect in which you had no/minimal interest (weapons). When that hurdle was removed (you left your teacher's 'group'), you had the ability to restructure your curriculum such that the barrier was removed or optional. The restructuring allowed you to define belt/dan progression requirements.

    Instead of promoting yourself to 10th Dan / Grand Master / "Grand Pooba", you defined a system so that instructors were given a rank which they should have already been given under traditional requirements. In fact, other instructors were promoted ahead of you to 4th Dan.

    This doesn't seem like a case of unreasonable promotion.

    -You do not have a governing body which defines promotion requirements. It is up to you and your instructors now.

    - You defined a realistic promotion system based on one that had been used previously by your instructor. You didn't come up with it 'willy nilly.'

    - You didn't promote yourself ahead of people who have been training for more time or had more black belt students.

    The typical red flags that we've seen here that are missing in your case are:
    - 'New' martial art system that somebody designed
    - The founder is immediately a 10th dan regardless of ability
    - Promotion requirements are unreasonably easy or pay-for-play
    - No sparring with other schools
    - No competitions with other schools
    - No cross training in other arts
    - Other arts are integrated into the curriculum and taught by an unqualified instructor
    - (I'm missing like 50 more.)

    In regards to the promotion system, I think it is reasonable to use it for initial ranking but I've been of the belief that rank should be earned based on personal ability rather than in relation to others. I don't think it matters if an instructor is a 1st dan and his student is a 1st dan as well. When the instructor puts in X number of years of active training, they should be awarded rank based on that performance; the rank should not due to their student putting in X number of years of active training.

    But, keep in mind this is how I've trained over the years and have been ranked. I'm obviously biased towards *minimum* active training time requirements. There have been cases at my school where somebody earns a 1st dan, falls off the face of the planet for a year, and then comes back and trains, fully expecting to be able to test for their 2nd dan as if they weren't gone. Our head instructor simply tells then 'no way.'

    That's just my thoughts on this though.

    It sounds like you have a nice, loosely knit 'association' going on there which will hopefully give each of the individual schools support should anything political come up.

    Good luck to you!
  9. Punisher is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/16/2010 9:17pm

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     Style: Five Animal Fighting

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    A couple of other details on how I've set things up.

    There is no testing after 1st Degree Black Belt and no formal evaluations of skill. In our system, 1st Degree Black Belt is like a Bachelor's Degree, meaning the student has shown sufficent proficiency and understanding that they can now represent their art and instructor without qualifications.

    When I recommend someone for Black Belt, I'm saying this person is ready to transition from a student to a training partner. I don't charge my training partners to work out with me, so I don't change Black Belts to attend our classes.

    Because a Black Belt is considered a peer, they are now beyond the judgement of me or anyone else. The only person he or she has to answer to is themself.

    Even though instructors are recoginzed with titles based on the accomplishments of their students, we will all continiue to wear plain black belts to symbolize all Black Belts are considered equals and no ones opinions or thoughts have any more weight than the rest.

    Because we are all equals, I can't, nor do I want to, dictate what other instructors teach or how they teach it. Everyone is free to set their own standard and criteria. If one instructor wants to focus more on form, technique, and looking pretty, that's fine with me. If another instructor wants to require their student compete in a professional MMA match before they are promoted, that's their choice. The only requirement is the instructor has to put their criteria on paper and stick to it. If they ever want to change their criteria, that's fine too, although I expect major changes to be few and far between.
  10. Punisher is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/16/2010 9:28pm

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     Style: Five Animal Fighting

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr._Tzun_Tzu View Post
    I seriously expected this to be related to your Female Sifu thread........;-)
    Actually it is. Kenpo being culturally confused as it is, we use English, Japanese, and Chinese terms for different rankings.

    Traditionaly rankins below Brown Belt, were English, e.g. Brown Belt.

    After Brown we switched to Japanese, Sankyu, Nikyu, Ikyu, Shodan, Nidan, etc.

    Black Belts that also were instructors were regonzied with a Chinese teaching title, Sihing, Sisook, Sifu, etc.

    When my instructor first set up his ranking system, he had the separate male and female titles for each level of teaching certification. To my knowledge it is still technically that way in FAK, but AFAIK no one uses the teaching titles and only the male version of the kanji appears on the belts.

    Since I will not be using the Japanese system, I will be using the Chinese a lot more and with be calling people things like "Sifu Jones". About half the people I currently have training for Black Belt are female, so I figured I better figure out what to call them. Exclusively using the male titles, while maybe not anatomically correct, definitely makes things easier.
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