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Himokiri Karate
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Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 229


PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:16 pm    Post subject: Is it ok with you to become a black belt through online... Reply with quote

Before I go on, I train in boxing and sambo as my base martial arts. I understand the importance of sparring and that it is mandatory to understand if moves are functional. That being said, is it ok in your book for someone to learn karate online in respect to not just learning but also earning a rank in process.

I am a bit conflicted because of the following:

1. The no in me says that part of training is human interaction and sparring with different bodies. Also there is competition and seeing different people perform moves with different body types and bringing their own perspectives


2. The yes in me says that if moves are being learned correctly and demonstrated flawlessly, then a person is a martial artist and that being a good fighter goes beyond sparring.


I find myself flip flopping back and forth. I feel that as long as someone is going out there to seek sparring to make sure their online training is being used in pressure cooker situation, then online certification might not be too bad.

But I like to her your perspective on this.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28555
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see and understand both sides of this argument. The Martial Arts, at their core, I believe, are interactive in nature. Sure, one can do a lot of solo training, and it is highly recommended. However, it is truly difficult to see and know how one is advancing without the eye of a qualified instructor and someone to work with as a partner. Learning how techniques work when practicing on a resisting partner, and the like. We often define the journey as our own, but it is rarely walked alone.

On the other hand, especially in a world where more and more online training takes place (both in the form of laid out courses or live classes done across a social media platform), the idea of rank promotion in this manner is gaining more and more traction. I believe the more and more schools are forced to present their training in this manner, the more credence that will be put behind this method of doing things.

With that said, I do think that by seeking out opportunities to train with other partners in order to "pressure test" things, as you put it, adds more credence to your training. It adds a level of sincerity to it.

I think what one has to be prepared to accept is that there will always be those who will look at you side-eyed when you tell them that you gained your rank "online." If you are ok with this, and do not care what these people think of you, because you know what you've trained and how you've trained, then in the end, what others think doesn't really matter, does it?
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sensei8
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15162
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This demonstrates to me that rank is far more important than anything, no matter the vehicle used.

Interaction between teacher and student is paramount because of the nature of that which is being taught. Effectiveness, no matter what's being taught, without interaction of a teacher, is as unsure as the day is long.

Just because someone LOOKS effective across the board doesn't mean that they're effective at all. The teacher can't know the maturity of knowledge and experience within the students techniques without any interaction.

I'm quite stern on this!!



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Wamp
Yellow Belt
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Joined: 29 Oct 2020
Posts: 40
Location: Japan
Styles: Ashihara Karate, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP)

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2021 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are just training at home with no intentions of being part of a Kaikan, then why even worry about belts, promotions, or rank at all, just train hard and enjoy the health benefits. If your Kaikan is offering that because of COVID, then that’s a little different. It’s different in the since that your instructor knew you before COVID. He knew your skill level before COVID, and knows your future potential.
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bushido_man96
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28555
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
This demonstrates to me that rank is far more important than anything, no matter the vehicle used.

Interaction between teacher and student is paramount because of the nature of that which is being taught. Effectiveness, no matter what's being taught, without interaction of a teacher, is as unsure as the day is long.

Just because someone LOOKS effective across the board doesn't mean that they're effective at all. The teacher can't know the maturity of knowledge and experience within the students techniques without any interaction.

I'm quite stern on this!!




I see and understand your thoughts on this, Bob. You mentioned rank, and many a Martial Artist are preoccupied with rank, especially achieving it. I remember being like that once, when I was young and fresh and full of energy.

I believe I can speak for Bob, and many others present, that more important the pursuit of rank, is the pursuit and accumulation of knowledge. They are not the same, and knowledge benefits us so much more than rank.
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DWx
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Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6335
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure my thoughts on this will change over time but right now I would say no.

The trouble is it is very hard to teach distance and timing, the two cornerstones of sparring and fighting, solo via video. Can you really understand a technique or concept in its entirety if you have never actioned it in a chaotic live scenario?

That said I didn't ever think that online training would work but having done this for months I now think it has its place as a supplementary form of teaching next to live classes. I haven't yet tried to teach pure beginners, all our online students have a foundation already but we are teaching children who are at most 6th kup, or we are teaching blackbelts who already know key concepts. With the younger ones, whilst our standard is high compared to other schools in our system, I can already see them falling behind where there would have been if live classes continued. The students who are doing okay are visual learners (i.e. the see and can copy), or they are auditory or verbal learners and can listen to my explanations. But what's missing is that physical correction or being able to go away and work out the drill in their own time with a partner and we are seeing poor results from several individuals. Whilst I try to make it interactive, you can also tell the kids do not find it as engaging as being in person.

After the first lockdown in our country, we did do a socially distanced kup grading. However the vast majority of students were low enough grades they would not have been tested on sparring anyway and those that were high enough I have seen spar in class and competition previously. Our next kup grading is scheduled for February and I'm seriously thinking about what to do. I wouldn't have issues with the low grades testing but what to do with the rest?

Regarding blackbelt gradings this is a firm no from me. I have one student who was due to test for 2nd lockdown before COVID hit and we have discussed it and he understands he must wait. As bushido_man96 said, at this level it is pursuit of knowledge not grade anyway and he is still learning. Others in our style have tested blackbelts online or in a socially distance format, whilst that is their choice, I cannot understand it as all you can do is assess their ability to make shapes in the air and not whether they can apply their knowledge. Its like learning to swim without getting wet.
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scohen0300
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Joined: 09 Feb 2016
Posts: 163
Location: It varies
Styles: Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu, Muay Thai

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I say go for it.

ANY training is better than no training. And if you’re learning from someone legit, and they’re saying that you’ve earned a rank - then you earned that rank (under them).

Yes, you’ll be lacking on the practicality side of things because training partners will always be better than training alone, but learning and understanding the practicality will become your own responsibility. If your online teacher promotes you, you’ll essentially become a representation of his teachings. I’d hope that he would want that to reflect well upon him.

Is it ideal? Not unless you’re extremely introverted. But again, any training at all will always be better than none.
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bushido_man96
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28555
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DWx wrote:
I'm sure my thoughts on this will change over time but right now I would say no.

The trouble is it is very hard to teach distance and timing, the two cornerstones of sparring and fighting, solo via video. Can you really understand a technique or concept in its entirety if you have never actioned it in a chaotic live scenario?


Very good points, especially at the higher levels, when it's so much more than just evaluating technique.

Quote:
But what's missing is that physical correction or being able to go away and work out the drill in their own time with a partner and we are seeing poor results from several individuals. Whilst I try to make it interactive, you can also tell the kids do not find it as engaging as being in person.


I see this happening with my kids when they do online learning at home for school work, too. The engagement just isn't as focused, and you can tell that the teachers aren't able to help out as much as they usually can in the classroom.

Quote:
After the first lockdown in our country, we did do a socially distanced kup grading. However the vast majority of students were low enough grades they would not have been tested on sparring anyway and those that were high enough I have seen spar in class and competition previously. Our next kup grading is scheduled for February and I'm seriously thinking about what to do. I wouldn't have issues with the low grades testing but what to do with the rest?

Regarding blackbelt gradings this is a firm no from me. I have one student who was due to test for 2nd lockdown before COVID hit and we have discussed it and he understands he must wait. As bushido_man96 said, at this level it is pursuit of knowledge not grade anyway and he is still learning. Others in our style have tested blackbelts online or in a socially distance format, whilst that is their choice, I cannot understand it as all you can do is assess their ability to make shapes in the air and not whether they can apply their knowledge. Its like learning to swim without getting wet.


I feel for your 2nd Dan student, but if he is serious about his training, I'm sure he is very understanding of the situation. The circumstances are just not good, and it's hard to see when they'll be getting better. Hopefully, it's sooner rather than later.
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Wado Heretic
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Joined: 23 May 2014
Posts: 453
Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If one was to give a black and white answer for the topic title it would have to be an emphatic no. A Shodan grade represents having become competent in the fundamentals of the system, and that requires there being substance to your performance of the art. A person can learn, and emulate the motions via video training, but they cannot learn the other essential components: they cannot be tested for the effectiveness of their techniques.

The only aspect of karate I think you can learn online with any success are the kata, and even then only the motions, and that is at most a fraction of the battle. You cannot begin to grasp the very idea of Bunkai without Kumite. It reduces the kata to cultural dances rather than movement drills relating to combat skills.

With the above said, I do think that Kyu grades can be earned online to a limited extent, not unlike the Technical Blue-belt offered by Gracie University (which ultimately requires one to test for the belt in person), but I am speaking of the first two or three grades. You can test a number of things -

1. Performance of Kata.
2. Performance of Kihon Waza.
3. Ability to meet fitness criteria - Be able to do 20 Press-ups in a minute for example.
4. Run through of a virtual sparring session.
5. Performance of drills that test different skills relating to sparring - foot work exercises et cetera.

At a distance, footage of such, can give the trained eye some inkling of the skill of the person being observed. However, without the pressure tests of having them hit something, or seeing them up against an actual person it can only give you so much information to work off of. I would be fairly confident awarding an 9th and 8th Kyu, based on observing the above, but I would be reticent to offer anything further without testing the person on the dojo floor.
If some one trained diligently at home, but came to test in person for their 7th Kyu, that is the highest grade I would be comfortable offering to someone doing distance learning. Just because I ramp up the resistance work we do in the dojo at 7th Kyu - it is the grade where we start to do more kakei kumite and Kata-based sparring.

Speaking of Martial Arts more broadly. There are some arts where it is less about preservation of one's life and well-being and more about preservation of a tradition: where the martial matters less than the art. This is increasingly true of those arts built around the study of weapons, and in particular, eastern traditions. I think, if someone trains diligently, in an art where the goal is preserving the tradition they can be awarded some responsibility for its propagation through some form of acknowledgement.

Speaking from my own experience of the above I have teaching qualifications in Toyama-Ryu Battodo and the Weapon Arts of the Bujinkan. Both of which were earned via distance learning because I unfortunately lack access to such training on a local level. With that said - I augmented my distance learning through several things:

1. Taking full advantage of the online coaching offered. I film at least one of my training sessions each week and send it in for feed back.
2. Making myself present at any real-time, online, coaching sessions offered.
3. Attending any offered in-person seminars or residential courses I can that are in reasonable distance to myself.
4. Getting regular private lessons with the closest instructor I have found - prior to Covid Sars 2, with the the distance being prohibitive, it was usually once every other month.

Furthermore, I continue to do this after earning the grade, because it is about knowledge not the rank. I sadly lost access to local kobujutsu instruction six years ago when my instructor stopped teaching, though I have maintained my training in Ryukyu Kobujutsu through course attendance and private lessons when time and funds allow, and have taken up studying the kobujutsu syllabus as preserved in Shi'to-Ryu.

Yet, I do enjoy more regular feed back and structured instruction. Thus, for me distance learning to continue developing this knowledge was the optimum choice, and I have only pursued coaching to be able to pass the knowledge onto my students who are interested. I would not take my coaching credentials seriously though, if I did not put in the additional in-person hours, or did not already have significant experience in weapon arts prior to studying them via distance learning methods. I also make no claims to being an expert or master.
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