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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2349
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lupin1 wrote:
aurik wrote:
My sensei once asked my sonís class, ďAre your belts for you or for me?Ē All of the kids thought the belts were for themselves, but what my sensei said was that they were for HIM. They reminded him where in the curriculum each student is, and what he should be focusing his instruction on for them. I donít think any of the kids really got it, but I thought it was a kinda profound.


I'd say it's a little of both. Belts work well to help the instructor know generally where each student is at a glance. But, as a former school teacher, I can say a good teacher should know generally where each of his students is without that physical reminder. If he can't remember that without a belt, he has too many students and each one most likely isn't getting the attention they deserve.

Belts are also usefully as extrinsic motivation tools. Even though intrinsic motivation (the motivation that comes from inside of us) is much better and more sought after than extrinsic motivation (the motivation that comes from external things like belts), it can be harder to sustain intrinsic motivation-- especially for kids. So it can be a powerful motivational tool for them.

It's also a way of teaching them to set and work for smaller goals. For adults, we can set goals based on performance-- "learn this kata" or "develop more power in my basic straight punch". But those types of goals are a bit abstract for kids, so "get to yellow belt" is something they can wrap their heads around a little easier. I know my school uses more belts for kids than they do for adults for this reason. Adults have five belts before Shodan. Kids have ten including three levels of junior black. It breaks down the goals into smaller chunks for them and keeps them motivated.

Basically what I'm saying is there's nothing wrong with belts. There's been a trend lately of people dismissing belts as useless or even harmful because they are extrinsic vs intrinsic motivators and some schools have misused the belt system to make more money. But really they're a very useful tool for motivation and goal setting and helpful for both the instructors and the students.


Very well said. Theyíre good at marking progress for the individual. Theyíre an outward reminder in a sense. Iíve got my old belts in a drawer next to some clothes that I rarely wear (stuff to wear when shoveling snow, fixing the car, etc.). I guess itís just the most convenient place they happened to end up in. But when I see them, I think back when I was wearing them. My old white belt and my old black belt stick out the most in my mind. Remembering walking in for the first time and remembering the most physically demanding thing Iíve ever done for my shodan test are great memories. And a lot of stuff in between. Sometimes that physical reminder helps reflect better than anything else can.
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