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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15425
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lupin1 wrote:
We've restructured our rank system before, but only for children.

The ranks for adults remain:

White
Yellow
Blue
Green
Brown
Black

For children it's slowly expanded over the years. First white belt was split into three belts for children. Previously it took kids about a year to get through white belt. In the 80s they were fine with this, but as the decades wore on and kids started expecting more immediate rewards, that didn't work anymore and kids would get frustrated and quit before they ever got to yellow belt. So for kids it became:

White
Purple (equivalent of adult white)
Orange (equivalent of adult white)
Yellow
Blue
Green
Brown
Black

Around 2000 my instructor started noticing a huge attrition for yellow belts and thought it was due to going from a belt every 3-5 months to staying the same for over a year. So he split yellow into two and added a yellow belt with a black stripe. That didn't do much, so it only lasted a few years (coincidently, when I was in middle school I dropped out at yellow with a black stripe).

In 2010 he made the latest change to our children's rank system. He noticed all the other schools around here gave kids black belts after just a few years and that our blue/green belts were better than the kid black belts at other schools in the area. He wasn't usually one for changing things based on what others were doing, but he was noticing a lot of kids quitting or getting picked on because they were only blue or green belts while all their friends who had been studying for less time than them were black belts. He held the belief that everything under shodan is meaningless anyway, and the entire point of the colored belts was to give people motivation and keep them coming, so he had no qualms with changing around pre-shodan belts, as long as the standards for shodan and above remained the same.

So he added a junior black belt rank that was the equivalent of adult green and brown belt. Now it takes kids 4-6 years to get to junior black belt and then another 4-5 years to get to shodan from there (longer if they start younger, shorter if they start older). It takes an average adult about 5 years to go from white to shodan. Here's the current kids' ranking system with the adult equivalent in parenthesis.

White
Purple (white)
Orange (white)
Yellow (white)
Blue (yellow)
Green (yellow)
Brown 1 (blue)
Brown 2 (blue)
Jr. Black 1 (green)
Jr. Black 2 (brown 3+2)
Jr. Black 3 (brown 1)
Shodan

Honestly, I can't say how much all those changes have affected retention rate. I think it's more of a change in demographics of who we serve than anything else. We work out of a Boys and Girls Club. When the karate program started in the 80s, the club served mostly pre-teens and teenagers and so that's who did karate. They had longer attention spans and moved up the ranks more quickly-- often starting in middle school and getting to shodan by the time they graduated high school. Now the B&GC serves mostly elementary school kids with a few middle schoolers. The majority of our students now start in 2nd or 3rd grade (we won't take younger than that) and so learn much more slowly. A kid starting in 2nd grade will still take until around graduating high school to get shodan, but now that's stretched to 11 years! That's a long time for a kid to wait for black belt, so it makes sense to add a Jr. Black Belt. There's also the problem that high school kids never go to the B&GC anymore, whereas they used to be the primary demographic. So we lose most of our students once they hit middle/high school and stop going to the club. Very few stick with us once they get into high school. We just have one high schooler now and she works part time at the club. If it weren't for her working there, we would've lost her along with everyone else. But for the rest of them, they at least have a chance to get Jr. Black Belt by the time they finish 8th grade so they leave with a sense of accomplishment.

We don't charge tuition or have any testing or belt fees, so we're not trying to retain students to make money. We want to retain them and keep them coming so they can learn and benefit from studying karate. All our changes have been based solely on what's best for our students and what will motivate them to try hardest and stick with it for as long as possible. In the end, though, we lose them all.

So those are our reorganizations and our challenges.

Solid post!!

Unique how your JBB is done; I like it!!

Our JBB is the bane of my existence. I was a JBB for LONG 5 years, 13 years old to 18 years old; no other ranking structure within JBB...no advancements of any type, whatsoever!!

However, Dai-Soke continued to teach us as though we had earned our Shodan. By the time I reached 18, I was more than ready; I earned my Shodan in 1975...Nidan in 1976...Sandan in 1977. After that, all Dan ranks had to meet tenure before I could apply for any Dan Testing Cycle Candidacy.



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Shizentai
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 01 Mar 2009
Posts: 417

Styles: karate

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Reorganized Rank Structure!! Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:

So, we, the SKKA, are going back to what they originally wanted...

White [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]


It's interesting that you are going to fewer belts, makes sense to me. It seems like ranks tend to trend the other way (rank drift?) either by adding on to the top end (25th degree black belts) or on the bottom end (0.125 white belt stripe). Taking the time to re-calibrate makes sense every now and again.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15425
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Reorganized Rank Structure!! Reply with quote

Shizentai wrote:
sensei8 wrote:

So, we, the SKKA, are going back to what they originally wanted...

White [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]


It's interesting that you are going to fewer belts, makes sense to me. It seems like ranks tend to trend the other way (rank drift?) either by adding on to the top end (25th degree black belts) or on the bottom end (0.125 white belt stripe). Taking the time to re-calibrate makes sense every now and again.

Solid post!!




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SLK59
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 05 Nov 2020
Posts: 94
Location: USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dredging up an old topic with a few additional thoughts.

First, congratulations sensei8 on decreasing the number of belt colors back to your organization’s original preferred system. It may be difficult for students used to the old ‘rainbow’ of colors, but it is one way to save costs for your students while also getting them to obsess just a little less about receiving a new belt color every time they are graded to a new rank.

Would you be willing to post a follow-up describing how the students have reacted to the changes?

BTW, in Shotokan Karate of America, we have used the original system set up by Gichin Funakoshi since 1956:

8th-4th kyu: white belt
3rd-1st kyu: brown belt
1st-5th dan: black belt

There are no stripes or bars, just the three belt colors. This ranking system is the same for all ages, i.e. no junior ranks.

Cheers,
Scott
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15425
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2021 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SLK59 wrote:
Dredging up an old topic with a few additional thoughts.

First, congratulations sensei8 on decreasing the number of belt colors back to your organization’s original preferred system. It may be difficult for students used to the old ‘rainbow’ of colors, but it is one way to save costs for your students while also getting them to obsess just a little less about receiving a new belt color every time they are graded to a new rank.

Would you be willing to post a follow-up describing how the students have reacted to the changes?

BTW, in Shotokan Karate of America, we have used the original system set up by Gichin Funakoshi since 1956:

8th-4th kyu: white belt
3rd-1st kyu: brown belt
1st-5th dan: black belt

There are no stripes or bars, just the three belt colors. This ranking system is the same for all ages, i.e. no junior ranks.

Cheers,
Scott

Our entire Student Body across the SKKA network reacted favorably for the change; as they're taught, rank means nothing!!



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SLK59
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 05 Nov 2020
Posts: 94
Location: USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate

PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Our entire Student Body across the SKKA network reacted favorably for the change; as they're taught, rank means nothing!!



Glad to hear that there was such a positive response among your students!
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RW
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 07 Mar 2009
Posts: 407


PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 11:12 am    Post subject: Re: Reorganized Rank Structure!! Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
For us, it's a rank structure, no big deal, really.

After months of meetings, we've, the SKKA have decided to trim the fat away from our ranking structure. Why? A rainbow looks only good in the sky, and not on our students.

This is us, and we hold no judgement to those who do have a lot of different belts.

Our Rank Structure use to be:

White [Beginner]
Yellow [Beginner]
Orange [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Blue [Intermediate]
Purple [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]

8 different ranks...8 different colors!!

Soke, once he and Dai-Soke, moved to the USA, they cooperatively decided through some painstaking research and good old trial and errors, they went to the 8 ranking structure, from their original 4 ranking structure because they both believed that students in the USA needed recognition of their achievements, no matter how minute or unnecessary it might appear.

They both really hated the 8 ranking structure because it went against what they had done in the past, but they felt that change was good, no matter how much it went against their all the believed. In time, they warmed up to it, and they never looked back. They never showed outwardly that this deeply troubled to anyone; they wore a brave face.

So, we, the SKKA, are going back to what they originally wanted...

White [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]

It is said, the best way between two points is a straight line. Well, I believe that we've straightened out our line.

Announcements to the Student Body across the SKKA network is being made while I type this post.





Interesting.
How does this affect the curriculum? e.g. maybe you need pinan shodan for yellow, pinan nidan for orange, pinan sandan for green, pinan godan for blue, pinan yondan for purple (just a hypothetical). So now it'd be "pinan shodan, nidan and sandan for green"?
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15425
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 10:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Reorganized Rank Structure!! Reply with quote

RW wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
For us, it's a rank structure, no big deal, really.

After months of meetings, we've, the SKKA have decided to trim the fat away from our ranking structure. Why? A rainbow looks only good in the sky, and not on our students.

This is us, and we hold no judgement to those who do have a lot of different belts.

Our Rank Structure use to be:

White [Beginner]
Yellow [Beginner]
Orange [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Blue [Intermediate]
Purple [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]

8 different ranks...8 different colors!!

Soke, once he and Dai-Soke, moved to the USA, they cooperatively decided through some painstaking research and good old trial and errors, they went to the 8 ranking structure, from their original 4 ranking structure because they both believed that students in the USA needed recognition of their achievements, no matter how minute or unnecessary it might appear.

They both really hated the 8 ranking structure because it went against what they had done in the past, but they felt that change was good, no matter how much it went against their all the believed. In time, they warmed up to it, and they never looked back. They never showed outwardly that this deeply troubled to anyone; they wore a brave face.

So, we, the SKKA, are going back to what they originally wanted...

White [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]

It is said, the best way between two points is a straight line. Well, I believe that we've straightened out our line.

Announcements to the Student Body across the SKKA network is being made while I type this post.





Interesting.
How does this affect the curriculum? e.g. maybe you need pinan shodan for yellow, pinan nidan for orange, pinan sandan for green, pinan godan for blue, pinan yondan for purple (just a hypothetical). So now it'd be "pinan shodan, nidan and sandan for green"?

We shifted ever so slightly. Since Yellow, Orange, Blue, and Purple were dropped all together, Kata's were moved to the experience levels; beginning, intermediate, and advanced accordingly. Curriculums changes really are quite easy, for the most part. Kata order is unchanged, in that, move this way or that way into their appropriate experience levels.

Beginners: Pinan Shodan and Nidan
Intermediate: Pinan Sandan, Yondan and Godan
Advanced: Naifanchi Shodan, Nidan and Sandan



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RW
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 07 Mar 2009
Posts: 407


PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2021 9:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Reorganized Rank Structure!! Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
RW wrote:
sensei8 wrote:
For us, it's a rank structure, no big deal, really.

After months of meetings, we've, the SKKA have decided to trim the fat away from our ranking structure. Why? A rainbow looks only good in the sky, and not on our students.

This is us, and we hold no judgement to those who do have a lot of different belts.

Our Rank Structure use to be:

White [Beginner]
Yellow [Beginner]
Orange [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Blue [Intermediate]
Purple [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]

8 different ranks...8 different colors!!

Soke, once he and Dai-Soke, moved to the USA, they cooperatively decided through some painstaking research and good old trial and errors, they went to the 8 ranking structure, from their original 4 ranking structure because they both believed that students in the USA needed recognition of their achievements, no matter how minute or unnecessary it might appear.

They both really hated the 8 ranking structure because it went against what they had done in the past, but they felt that change was good, no matter how much it went against their all the believed. In time, they warmed up to it, and they never looked back. They never showed outwardly that this deeply troubled to anyone; they wore a brave face.

So, we, the SKKA, are going back to what they originally wanted...

White [Beginner]
Green [Intermediate]
Brown [Advanced]
Black/Junior Black [Advanced]

It is said, the best way between two points is a straight line. Well, I believe that we've straightened out our line.

Announcements to the Student Body across the SKKA network is being made while I type this post.





Interesting.
How does this affect the curriculum? e.g. maybe you need pinan shodan for yellow, pinan nidan for orange, pinan sandan for green, pinan godan for blue, pinan yondan for purple (just a hypothetical). So now it'd be "pinan shodan, nidan and sandan for green"?

We shifted ever so slightly. Since Yellow, Orange, Blue, and Purple were dropped all together, Kata's were moved to the experience levels; beginning, intermediate, and advanced accordingly. Curriculums changes really are quite easy, for the most part. Kata order is unchanged, in that, move this way or that way into their appropriate experience levels.

Beginners: Pinan Shodan and Nidan
Intermediate: Pinan Sandan, Yondan and Godan
Advanced: Naifanchi Shodan, Nidan and Sandan




Nice!
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Himokiri Karate
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 308


PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In sport karate/kickboxing. I have seen them having tons of belts. This is what I remember:

1.White
2.Yellow
3.High yellow
4.Orange
5.High orange
6.Green
7.High green
8.Blue
9.High blue
10.Brown
11.High brown
12.Low black
13.Black belt


These dojos are not bad in terms of technique but they do love to get that paper. As I get older, I am oddly becoming more alright with it because I know how tough it is to make a living. As long as they are learning proper technique then it wont bother me if they have some cash money marketing tactics.
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