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User2020
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 02 Oct 2020
Posts: 4


PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 4:16 am    Post subject: How strict are Shotokan gradings? Reply with quote

I'm transitioning from TKD where everybody payed up front and got the new belt automatically by showing up to the grading no matter how poorly they did. It was ITF and a grandmaster instructor. So....no quality control at all in TKD

I've heard Karate is a lot tougher, but just how tough? Will I likely fail one of the tests to black belt statistically? This is JKA.


Part of the reason I want to do Karate is because I want to earn my belts. Not just get them by default.
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Wado Heretic
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 23 May 2014
Posts: 453
Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends very much on the School and how decentralised that particular organisation is. Being JKA, generally speaking, it will depend on the school with regards to the Kyu Grades, and the branch with regard to Dan Grades.

I know of people who have failed JKA gradings, yes, but I must admit I do believe one should not be submitted for grading unless one is ready. A failure on grading is very much a failure of the teacher. One should not fail a grading unless one absolutely falls apart under the pressure, because the pressure is a factor in life and in combat. If you fail the stress test that is one thing, but from a technical perspective one should be ready before the grading. However, it is indeed nonsensical to have a grading as a mere formality.

Ultimately, it will depend on the school. I mean, I know of people failing ITF Tae Kwon Do gradings. Indeed, a student of mine did, but for all the wrong reasons. It was what drove them away from Tae Kwon Do. Gradings can be very damaging things for martial arts and martial artists. It is hard to find a balance.
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User2020
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 02 Oct 2020
Posts: 4


PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wado Heretic wrote:
It depends very much on the School and how decentralised that particular organisation is. Being JKA, generally speaking, it will depend on the school with regards to the Kyu Grades, and the branch with regard to Dan Grades.

I know of people who have failed JKA gradings, yes, but I must admit I do believe one should not be submitted for grading unless one is ready. A failure on grading is very much a failure of the teacher. One should not fail a grading unless one absolutely falls apart under the pressure, because the pressure is a factor in life and in combat. If you fail the stress test that is one thing, but from a technical perspective one should be ready before the grading. However, it is indeed nonsensical to have a grading as a mere formality.

Ultimately, it will depend on the school. I mean, I know of people failing ITF Tae Kwon Do gradings. Indeed, a student of mine did, but for all the wrong reasons. It was what drove them away from Tae Kwon Do. Gradings can be very damaging things for martial arts and martial artists. It is hard to find a balance.


I just attended a JKA grading and it was just as awful quality control as in my TKD place. Brown belt who couldn't side kick above ankle height (not even mid section), closed hip, wrong foot placement.

I can literally pull guys off the street who are better. And he had no balance doing it either.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15162
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As already pointed out, grading integrity is as strong as the CI. Schools that pass to pass for the sake of money over effectiveness of the individual are solid reason to reconsider ones involvement with said school, and quickly.

That is why every one of my students must first submit a formal request for said Testing Cycle, of which I'll either invite/approve or not invite/disapprove said candidates application to said Testing Cycle. Even IF, said student is invited/approve to said Testing Cycle, not one thing is guaranteed in any Testing Cycle; earn it, and I'm quite the taskmaster and strict whenever it comes to any Testing Cycle.

Students came to me to learn, and not for me to sell them anything; they'll either earn it or not!! I don't believe in meeting said expectations; I believe in exceeding expectations. There MUST be a noted improvement across the board; I fail far more than I pass.

"Why invite if you know that student will fail?" I didn't know that said student was going to fail, that responsibility is up to said student; there's an untold reasons why a student fails. The Testing Cycle will take care of itself, not the student.

Imho!!



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User2020
White Belt
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Joined: 02 Oct 2020
Posts: 4


PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was one of the best JKA schools in the country. Still Mcdojo standards...

Karate has sold out.

But, there was at least one brown belt in there that I could spar with who was a legitimate brown belt.
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Bulltahr
Brown Belt
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Joined: 08 Mar 2015
Posts: 707
Location: NEW ZEALAND
Styles: Shotokan, Seido Juku

PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe Kyokoshin will suit you better. Go to one of their dojos, tell them what you think of karate and that you are interested in finding a real karate dojo to train in, IF their sparring is up to standard. I'm sure they will find someone to spar with you, please let us know how you get on there.
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RW
Green Belt
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Joined: 07 Mar 2009
Posts: 377


PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, gradings, I hate them.

I don't feel that a certain quota of people (or even any people) must fail in order to make the school more legit:

- If your instructor feels you're prepared for the test, which means you know all of the required material, there should be no reason you will fail the test, since it's a fact you know it already.
- If your instructor invites you to test even though you don't know the material then he's setting you up for failure.

My main issue with testing is that who gets to test is so subjective:

- For example, in my kempo school it was well known that "sensei A'" 's students got to test very quickly, while "sensei B" ' students tested almost 2x as slow. I think it's cow poop, since in the end of the day your belt is as valid as that of the students who test 2x as fast, it just makes you look like you're "the slow progressing guy".
- after 3 years at my kempo school, it suddenly decided to become a mcdojo. It took me 3 years to become a brown belt, and I became a black belt at 4 years in. I was considered in the top 10% of the students at the dojo, by the way. After year 3, when the dojo became a mcdojo, a bunch of white belts were warp speed promoted to green within 6 months. Now they're brown belts (within 1 year of having joined!) and chances are they're going to be blackbelts by their second year. This total cow poop, and these students are really unskilled too.
- Oh, these new unskilled students were made "assistant instructors", meaning they're basically free labor. They have substandard skills, poor fitness, they have been doing kempo for 1 year and they were still made instructors and a fancy instructor (red) belt to conceal that they're green or brown belts. They feel they're hot stuff and don't take kindly of real black belts, especially real black belts like me going to the dojo because we're not part of their dumb clique.

I you wonder why I keep going to this kempo mcdojo it's because it wasn't always a mcdojo and I was already a brown belt when it went downhill. I ended joining a muay thai gym 1.5 years ago just to get real martial arts training, but I stayed in the kempo place too because I miss katas and the kempo place gives me a connection to the more traditional martial arts world and I get to practice my old karate kata there too, let's just say the martial part went to my muay thai practice and the art part went to kempo .... but going back to the question, grading/belts made my school a mcdojo.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15162
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RW wrote:
Ah, gradings, I hate them.

I don't feel that a certain quota of people (or even any people) must fail in order to make the school more legit:

- If your instructor feels you're prepared for the test, which means you know all of the required material, there should be no reason you will fail the test, since it's a fact you know it already.
- If your instructor invites you to test even though you don't know the material then he's setting you up for failure.

My main issue with testing is that who gets to test is so subjective:

- For example, in my kempo school it was well known that "sensei A'" 's students got to test very quickly, while "sensei B" ' students tested almost 2x as slow. I think it's cow poop, since in the end of the day your belt is as valid as that of the students who test 2x as fast, it just makes you look like you're "the slow progressing guy".
- after 3 years at my kempo school, it suddenly decided to become a mcdojo. It took me 3 years to become a brown belt, and I became a black belt at 4 years in. I was considered in the top 10% of the students at the dojo, by the way. After year 3, when the dojo became a mcdojo, a bunch of white belts were warp speed promoted to green within 6 months. Now they're brown belts (within 1 year of having joined!) and chances are they're going to be blackbelts by their second year. This total cow poop, and these students are really unskilled too.
- Oh, these new unskilled students were made "assistant instructors", meaning they're basically free labor. They have substandard skills, poor fitness, they have been doing kempo for 1 year and they were still made instructors and a fancy instructor (red) belt to conceal that they're green or brown belts. They feel they're hot stuff and don't take kindly of real black belts, especially real black belts like me going to the dojo because we're not part of their dumb clique.

I you wonder why I keep going to this kempo mcdojo it's because it wasn't always a mcdojo and I was already a brown belt when it went downhill. I ended joining a muay thai gym 1.5 years ago just to get real martial arts training, but I stayed in the kempo place too because I miss katas and the kempo place gives me a connection to the more traditional martial arts world and I get to practice my old karate kata there too, let's just say the martial part went to my muay thai practice and the art part went to kempo .... but going back to the question, grading/belts made my school a mcdojo.

Solid post!!

NERVES!!

They do in student after student during a Testing Cycle. No, RW is right, failing students doesn't make said school more legit. While my fail rate is what it is, it's the students darn nerves that do them in each and every time.

I mean, man, forget the darn Testing Cycle....just execute IT and be done with it. That's why I always say..."Don't sweat the Testing Cycle because it'll take care of itself." The Testing Cycle doesn't need the students help to make it any more difficult; it's difficult enough all by itself.



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Tepul
White Belt
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Joined: 05 Jan 2020
Posts: 13

Styles: Shotokan, Taido, Kamasutra

PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2020 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got all 3 degrees in JKA karate, from a headoffice teacher. (Kawawada Sensei)

Shodan:
- Basics and combinations checked. Nothing special, but you must be confident/profient.
- Kumite: Normal kumite, just show some skills, you dont need to win
- Kata: your preferred kata. Depending on how well you perform, you might get some questions (bunkai, meaning) Not really difficult if you know what you are doing.

Nidan:
A little bit more strict then Shodan, but still very much manageable.

Sandan:
Now it starts to get tricky. You get a lot of questions. Since Sandan is trainer level, a good examinee will thoroughly check you knowledge. For example, Bunkai of a kata is not enough to answer with only 1 variation. I was asked 2 or sometimes 3 variations of certain parts. Which I had no troubles with, since my dojo did a lot of bunkai.

Cant tell more abiout higher degrees though, sorry.
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aurik
Orange Belt
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Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 146
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2020 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our CI won't invite someone to test unless he feels that they're ready. During the test, if a student makes mistakes, he has three options: 1) If the mistakes are minor and he's testing for a fairly junior rank, he'll pass the student with comments. 2) If the mistakes are a bit more serious, he may pass the student but note in their file that they'll need to spend an extra month or two in their new grade before they're eligible to test again, or 3) outright fail the student. He doesn't fail students often, but then he also usually does pre-tests the week prior to a grading to see if students have a sufficient grasp of the material before grading.

Dan gradings are a different story. They're only done twice per year, and you must complete (and pass) a 3 month test prep cycle before grading -- if he gives you corrections during that test prep cycle and you can't incorporate them into your technique, you may need to wait for the next grading. Additionally, each section of a Dan grading is scored, and if your total score isn't above a certain threshold, you don't pass.

I've not heard of people failing dan gradings, but I have heard of people who sustained injuries in the cycle leading up to the dan gradings and were unable to test.
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