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aazaaazaaazaaaza
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 11 Dec 2016
Posts: 9

Styles: Shotokan karate

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:26 am    Post subject: What will my rank be if I join with prior experience? Reply with quote

Hi.

My stepfather ran a karate school in the 80s and early 90s. He taught me karate during my teenage years (between roughly 2002-2008) and I've practiced daily since then (including sparring at a local kickboxing gym).

He never gave me a belt or a rank of any kind. So if I were to join a Shotokan karate dojo, would I start at white belt or what? Would I be treated as a total beginner? Would I have to "prove" my martial arts training in some fashion?

EDIT

And do I have to be a member of a school to participate in any karate tournaments? I've done some local kickboxing competitions for fun (nothing serious), but I'd feel like a fraud if I dress up in a karate gi with a black belt and participate in a karate event.
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Lupin1
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 15 Dec 2009
Posts: 1603
Location: NH USA
Styles: Isshinryu

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends on the school and the instructor. Different schools, even in the same style, have different requirements for ranks and tend to do things slightly differently. Since you were never given a rank, you'll most likely start at white belt. Since you trained before, you'll probably advance faster than a typical white belt, but since it's a new school that will do things differently from what your stepfather did and it's been over twenty years since you last formally trained, you'll probably have to relearn and/or tweak a lot of things to make them the way the new school wants them.

People will recognize that you have prior experience as soon as they see you move and so they won't treat you like a total beginner (even if they do have you wear a white belt), but it's also important for you to empty your cup a bit. Realize that this new school will most likely want you to do things slightly differently than you've been doing them and you need to try to do things their way and that's going to take an adjustment period.

Same thing with karate tournaments-- they're going to have different rules and different strategies than the kickboxing tournaments you've done. Definitely don't put on a black belt and go enter a random tournament. Join a school and wear whatever rank they give you. If that's a white belt, than that's a white belt. Don't go giving yourself rank.

A lot of people start new styles after having done other styles or come back after years off. People who have been in martial arts for awhile know not all white belts are blank slates and white belts with experience are actually pretty common. A white belt just means that you're new at that school. Just stop worrying about rank, go with the flow, and you'll settle into where you belong soon enough.


Last edited by Lupin1 on Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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aazaaazaaazaaaza
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 11 Dec 2016
Posts: 9

Styles: Shotokan karate

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you misunderstood me. He stopped teaching professionally around 1992. He didn't meet my mother and me until around 2002, when I was 13 years old. It was at this time that he began teaching me karate in the privacy of our home.

The thing is I've never actually stepped foot in a dojo. I hate to use this analogy, by it's as if my mother married Mr. Miyagi and he spent the next several years teaching me karate.

I know he's legitimate because he's well-known in the local karate scene. His school was popular and a lot of his students have had success in martial arts. He's got a 4th dan black belt and he says he's taught me everything he knows.

Another question: Does this make me qualified to teach others? Is there certification someone needs to acquire, and what does this entail? All my research suggests that there is no universal standard for belts. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm a phony, but how do I prove my legitimacy when I have no affiliation with any organization or school?
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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

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

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i agree with what Lupin is saying. To add...

What's your point in joining a dojo? Is it for rank, or is it to train? Or is it to learn and improve. If it's anything other than rank, then the belt color you start with and subsequent belts you attain aren't any more important than you and the instructors knowing approximately where in the syllabus you are.
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Lupin1
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 15 Dec 2009
Posts: 1603
Location: NH USA
Styles: Isshinryu

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no universal standard. You could award yourself a 10th degree rainbow belt and open your own school tomorrow and no one would stop you. But that doesn't mean it's the right way to do it.

It's been awhile since you've trained and you've only trained with this one guy. Everyone does things differently and it's good to have multiple teachers and training partners to become a well-rounded martial artist.

I say your best bet would be to find a local school and enroll. Know that you're most likely going to have to wear a white belt for awhile. As I said-- white belts, especially adult white belts, who have experience are pretty common and you'll be treated a bit differently than a white belt with no experience. White belt just means you're new at that school and are still getting used to the way that school does things.

Most likely you'll wear a white belt for a few months and then get promoted. Depending on the school, you may get skipped ranks to where the instructor thinks you fit best or, if they do things very differently than your stepfather did, you may find yourself needing to go up the ranks one by one as you learn the new school's curriculum.

Since you've never set foot in a dojo and have only had one teacher and it was awhile ago when you were teenager, I'd be weary of trying to take on students before you get some experience with the wider martial arts world by enrolling in a school for awhile.

I also wouldn't award yourself any rank. That's a big no no. If you're still in contact with your stepfather, see if he'll give you an official rank if that's important to you. Otherwise your best bet is to join a local school and get rank through them. Again-- they might test you and offer you a higher rank right off the bat or they may want you to pay your dues and earn your rank through their school. It depends on the school and how they do things.
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aazaaazaaazaaaza
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 11 Dec 2016
Posts: 9

Styles: Shotokan karate

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JR 137 wrote:
i agree with what Lupin is saying. To add...

What's your point in joining a dojo? Is it for rank, or is it to train? Or is it to learn and improve. If it's anything other than rank, then the belt color you start with and subsequent belts you attain aren't any more important than you and the instructors knowing approximately where in the syllabus you are.


Honesty, I just want to train with other people. I'm no master in karate, but I'm competent and was trained by a well-regarded man in my area. My fear is that I'll be treated as some white belt noob and thrown in with kid classes or something. I certainly don't want to waste $$$ and time learning things I already know. I also don't want to seem like I'm showing anybody up by wearing a white belt and displaying my knowledge of all the kata and all that.

I guess my desire is to be able to walk into a dojo and improve my skills. (My stepfather is too old and crippled to continue training with me, and I'm 27. I need guys closer to my age to train with.) The kickboxing guys I spar with had no problem acknowledging my previous training, but I get the feeling that practitioners of a rank-focused martial art like karate would make me jump through useless hoops.

So that's my goal: to improve upon the karate I already have and to become the best I can be.
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aazaaazaaazaaaza
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 11 Dec 2016
Posts: 9

Styles: Shotokan karate

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lupin1 wrote:
There is no universal standard. You could award yourself a 10th degree rainbow belt and open your own school tomorrow and no one would stop you. But that doesn't mean it's the right way to do it.

It's been awhile since you've trained and you've only trained with this one guy. Everyone does things differently and it's good to have multiple teachers and training partners to become a well-rounded martial artist.

I say your best bet would be to find a local school and enroll. Know that you're most likely going to have to wear a white belt for awhile. As I said-- white belts, especially adult white belts, who have experience are pretty common and you'll be treated a bit differently than a white belt with no experience. White belt just means you're new at that school and are still getting used to the way that school does things.

Most likely you'll wear a white belt for a few months and then get promoted. Depending on the school, you may get skipped ranks to where the instructor thinks you fit best or, if they do things very differently than your stepfather did, you may find yourself needing to go up the ranks one by one as you learn the new school's curriculum.

Since you've never set foot in a dojo and have only had one teacher and it was awhile ago when you were teenager, I'd be weary of trying to take on students before you get some experience with the wider martial arts world by enrolling in a school for awhile.

I also wouldn't award yourself any rank. That's a big no no. If you're still in contact with your stepfather, see if he'll give you an official rank if that's important to you. Otherwise your best bet is to join a local school and get rank through them. Again-- they might test you and offer you a higher rank right off the bat or they may want you to pay your dues and earn your rank through their school. It depends on the school and how they do things.


I guess I could join as a white belt somewhere. I still practice karate everyday in addition to kickboxing, btw. I practice kata regularly and go through the various drills, and I practice takedowns and ground-based techniques with buddies at the gym.

Now that I think about it, maybe I don't need to join a dojo. I'll never want to be a teacher, and if I'm desperate enough to train with other karate guys I'll befriend one or two and do it an informal setting.

Thanks for the replies, everyone.
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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: Sun Dec 11, 2016 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you were to come to my dojo, you'd be a white belt, regardless of your experience because no one comes into Shindokan above white belt. However, any and all rank discretion remains with the CI, and the CI alone!! Knowledge and experience needs to be recognized by the CI, and the CI alone, as well!!

Proof is on the floor!!



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JR 137
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

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

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I get where you're coming from. I don't think any serious 27 year old student wants to get stuck in kids' classes and train for a few years until the teacher decides to let them train at the appropriate level.

Reputable schools won't do this. Honestly, a reputable school will have you start off at white belt. The CI will evaluate where you're at and teach and treat you accordingly.

I was preparing for my 2nd dan when I left my previous school to go to grad school. I met my now wife, started a career and a family. It took 15 years for me to return to karate. I was rusty, but I remembered just about the entire syllabus. Things needed polishing.

I started at white belt, as it was a new (to me) school and organization. The syllabus was extremely close, as my former organization was under my current one before the head guy left and started his own.

I started at white belt and promoted quickly through the first several ranks. I've slowed down in the promotion pace because I need more time. I know 90% of the material up to and including 1st dan. But I'm not worthy of wearing that rank. My CI asked if I wanted to double promote last time around, as there was nothing in the rank I was testing for that I didn't know nor demonstrated to him. I respectfully declined. I told him "I'd rather perfect the next rank's material than skip it. I'm not in a hurry. I can always improve." My CI gave me the look like 'I guess you're smarter than I thought.'

Go visit some schools. You'll know which one or ones are right for you and which aren't.

Furthermore, if you're still in contact with your stepfather, ask him if he recommends any schools. Maybe he can make a phone call or two.
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1723

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed the best advice would be to contact your step-father and ask him to help you find a dojo. If he is as well-known and connected as you say he is, then with some luck you may be able to get somewhere through his introduction. However expect and be prepared to accept that your skill level will be re-evaluated by whoever the new instructor might be. Remember that the new instructor does not know you or your skill level and it takes time to observe and make a decision.
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