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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2373
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As others have said, the belt is just an indicator of rank. Rank is just a combination of an indicator of where you are in your schoolís curriculum, your level of experience in your school, and where you stand in the pecking order, so to speak.

Quite often the belt and the rank are a bit inaccurate. Some people are far better than their rank indicates, and others are below the average in ability for their rank.

A lot of people think the belt automatically indicates ability. I used to be one of those people too. I learned pretty quickly that my new black belt didnít bestow any new abilities onto me once I stepped into my first class as a black belt. I was still JR making the same mistakes I always tried to correct. And a lot of new mistakes too.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14406
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What one can expect, at a glance, is that outwardly identifier, until the floor starts to revealing what's not noticed by those outwardly identifiers that were noticed but at a glance.



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MatsuShinshii
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 15 Aug 2016
Posts: 1423
Location: Kentucky
Styles: Machimura Suidi Rokudan, Ryukyu Kenpo, Kobudo, Judo

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with Sensei8 on this. Rank can be given without merit or be created just as a belt can be bought. In the end they mean nothing if the person who has/wears them doesn't merit them.

I know a guy that teaches and has a large school (300+ students) that did not EARN the rank he has. When he left his instructor he was a Sandan but somehow, almost over night, he was a Rokudan. Has the certificate hanging on one of the walls and wears a belt with this grade.

In this case rank means nothing and neither does the belt. To his students it means everything but to his peers it means absolutely nothing. He doesn't have the knowledge nor the skill consistent with the rank and belt he has and he cares little about the opinions of others and walks away if asked about it without even an attempt at explaining how it came to pass.

Is rank real in this circumstance? Is the belt real? What does his rank symbolize except fraud?

What is real is on the floor as Sensei8 says so frequently. Proof is in what you know and what you are capable of. Without substance to back up either of these things they are useless. If not I could promote myself to 20th degree black belt grand poo bah master of the universe and you would all have to accept it.

On the other hand if a teacher promotes as a way to retain and attract more students does the rank mean anything? If your pumping out BB's in a year how valid is the rank? There are many that have rank that do not meet minimum standards of most schools/arts. Is this rank more valid than a belt?

Belts can be bought or given, rank can be created or given (notice I do not say earned). These things do not define who you are and what you know or what you can do. They are just symbols. If the one that has/wears them doesn't meet the minimum criteria then they are empty symbols. You define them by proving that you are of that rank and belt. That is done as Sensei8 says, on the floor.
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XtremeTrainer
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 20 Feb 2018
Posts: 89


PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
A lot of people think the belt automatically indicates ability. I used to be one of those people too. I learned pretty quickly that my new black belt didnít bestow any new abilities onto me once I stepped into my first class as a black belt. I was still JR making the same mistakes I always tried to correct. And a lot of new mistakes too.


Of course a belt doesn't bestow any new abilities. As Miyagi put it, Karate is in the head and in the heart not in the belt. The belt is just a symbol of the knowledge and skill that's within the head and the heart.
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XtremeTrainer
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 20 Feb 2018
Posts: 89


PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2018 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

singularity6 wrote:
Personally, I'd be fine wearing a white belt until I earn my black belt.

So do you train at a school that only uses white and black? I do know that back in the day there were dojos where the only belts they used were white and black, they had no in between colors, but I've never known of any modern dojo that does that.
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singularity6
Pre-Black Belt
Pre-Black Belt

Joined: 26 Jun 2017
Posts: 958
Location: Michigan
Styles: Jidokwan Taekwondo and Hapkido, Yoshokai Aikido, ZNIR Iaido, Kendo

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

XtremeTrainer wrote:
singularity6 wrote:
Personally, I'd be fine wearing a white belt until I earn my black belt.

So do you train at a school that only uses white and black? I do know that back in the day there were dojos where the only belts they used were white and black, they had no in between colors, but I've never known of any modern dojo that does that.


No, we use white -> yellow -> green -> blue -> red -> black like most schools.

There are some advantages to the color system, but overall, I feel it's a bit convoluted and causes a bit of a contradiction. Many schools claim they have uniforms so everyone is "treated as equals" or something along those lines, but then there are belt colors.
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LLLEARNER
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 10 Feb 2016
Posts: 687
Location: Central Maine

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My belt keeps my pants up and gi closed.

My rank is what I smell like when I skip a shower or 2.
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1723

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With or without a belt, oneís skills do not change. With or without a given rank one still has the same qualities, abilities and weaknesses. Ranks, belts, certificates etc are only arbitrary symbols.

Once a martial arts practitioner is honest about that and accepts that there is always something more to improve and someone with more knowledge and skill to share, all ranks are insignificant. Ranks etc have symbolic value only because the recipient values, recognizes and respects the judgment of whoever bestowed it. A rank or belt bought from a random source or an unconfirmed authority is worthless.

Imagine for instance, that a highly skilled martial art practitioner has a high rank with belts and everything from his deceased teacher. Our hypothetical martial artist has all the authentic symbols and they are one of a kind. Unfortunately he has the misfortune of having all these destroyed by an accident. With all documentation of rank and belts gone and unrecoverable, does he not still possess everything his teacher passed on?

If you suddenly loose all the tangible symbols of your training, do you still have what you know? Can you still do everything you were able to do before?
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14406
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps...

Belts is to ranks as the deep blue sea is to the deep blue sky; both are different, not the same, not even in context and/or content.

Can the two be separated; belts and ranks?? I sadly wonder if it's even possible for some, if not many!!




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Wado Heretic
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 23 May 2014
Posts: 387
Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would argue it depends on the robustness of the individual ranking/belt system. I have found the Judo Belt system to be consistent. After all, to challenge for Shodan you must earn sufficient points through competition play and pass a technical grading where you demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Judo. Similarly, challenging for senior grades requires facing a line-up, and/or a technical grading panel. Yudansha in Judo have had to contend to get that belt; might not demonstrate they are an elite player, but it demonstrates they have fought, and have technical knowledge. Similarly; it was once a tradition in Kyokushinkai and its circle of influence that one fight a line up of the grade you were aiming for. If one made it past the Kyu Grades; they had fought for it. The belts in said systems are largely consistent with the skill development curve.

Now, what I would say is that many systems award grades based on activities that do not directly correlate to fighting ability. Many Karate, Tae Kwon Do, QuŠn Fǎ, Kenpō, and Gendai Budo Jujutsu schools grade based on the rote memorisation of new Kata/Tŗolý/Hyeong, and demonstrations of techniques on compliant partners.

Forms, after the initial hurdle or developing the ability to learn them, do not necessarily reflect progress, barring Forms which introduce more athletically demanding movements. Even then, that only reflects a development of athletic ability. Similarly, the demonstration of techniques on a compliant partner merely reflects knowledge of the final part of the technique; not the ability to apply it under duress, or create opportunities to apply said technique against a resisting attacker.

The above is of course not true of all the dojo/dojang/kwoon and sub-systems of the broad approaches mentioned. Since the 90s, there has been increasing trend towards more alive training approaches in martial arts over all. However, it cannot be said yet that the above issue has at all disappeared. There remains the issue of many rank systems not in fact relating to actual fighting ability.

That is what I feel is the actual essence of this discussion. If someone has a Purple belt and it means Yonkyu in a system; the belt and the rank are one in the same. Now, let us say that purple represented Yonkyu in two different schools, of the same umbrella discipline. In this example, let us say karate. If we took two purple belts, of the same size and relative strength, and had them fight and it was not a competitive bout we would have to question what Yonkyu/Purple means. The rank should indicate a similar level of skill, according to the standards of the school, and if they were of the same size and weight class we can eliminate a simple difference in strength as the determining factor.

What has gone wrong in this scenario? Over saturation of the belt-system, and a rank system which awards abilities not related to fighting skill. Thus, what occurs, is that individual differences determine differences in skill; not the actual standards of the school. If you have too many ranks, awarded too often, then the belts are not reflecting the actual time it takes to improve as a combatant. Similarly; if the belts are being awarded based on factors not relating to fighting ability, then of course the belts do not reflect an individuals growth as a martial artist.

Belt and Rank are one in the same. The issue is what they mean in the context they are seen. Now, do the belts meet the expectations placed on the rank they represent is the real question.
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