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GS718Trek
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 08 Oct 2014
Posts: 61


PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 12:11 am    Post subject: Would you ever consider just staying a 1st degree for life? Reply with quote

Would anyone consider staying a 1st degree once its achieved and decline higher ranks for the remainder of your lifetime? Or do away with the dan system totally (jk)

I personally see more positives than negatives when really getting to think about it. I always thought it would be more impressive that a black belt alone can work and give higher dan ranks in trouble (if they had close to the equal amount of time training). The 1st degree would have nothing to lose and would actually give the term "Black belt" real meaning again..
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SLK59
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

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

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want my rank to accurately reflect my seniors' assessment of my current physical and mental development in the art. And it wouldn't feel ethical for me to attempt to deceive my fellow karateka, all of whom would be able to determine my level of skill after watching me perform for a few minutes anyway.

Cheers,
Scott
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Shotokan Karate of America (SKA), 2021-present
Japan Karate Association (JKA), 1974-1990, Sandan
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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1871

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not as long as it is possible to find someone who is technically superior from whom there would be something to learn or improve and whose evaluation can be trusted to accurately reflect my skill level. 8 years ago I found such an instructor and gave up a third dan to start over the weekend and exact same karate style from zero.

So I have re-earned up to nidan and am on the cusp of earning sandan again. Giving up and forgetting previously earned dan grades was very easy once it became obvious how little I really knew. Especially kata applications, basic principles of the style and a whole lot more I wish I had learned earlier.
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Wastelander
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2552
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The answer to this question is obviously going to vary from person to person, but I think it's also important to point out that some people are limited in what they are allowed to learn by their rank, and that's going to significantly affect their view on this question. For a most schools, the curriculum does not stop at Shodan, and many don't actually allow students to learn the curriculum of the ranks above them, so staying at Shodan for students in those schools would actually mean that they would stop learning new material. They could continue to refine what they already learned, of course, but that limitation is still a problem.

To answer your question, though, I could have stayed a Shodan forever under my late Sensei and been fine, since he taught the full curriculum by Shodan and taught all the black belts all the same material, and it was up to us to explore it from there. He did want us to test for higher ranks, though, and I ended up earning Nidan, and being told of his plans to test me for Sandan, but my personal story gets a little complicated after he passed away.

I was officially put up to test for Sandan by the highest ranking member of our dojo, who unfortunately passed away a few months later, himself. My test ended up being cancelled 3 weeks out, after about 9 months of preparation, because someone higher up in the organization found out that when I started my own karate program, it wasn't going to be part of the organization, because I wanted to alter the curriculum (which my late Sensei and I had discussed and he liked the idea of). They also refused to repay me the money I had been forced to pay well in advance to have my rank registered with the organization, despite the fact that I had not even been given the chance to fail the test. I had originally planned to remain in the organization, myself, and continue training and testing in it, but after treating me that way, on top of a bunch of other political nonsense I had to deal with in the last two years of being a member, I wanted nothing to do with it.

This leaves me in a position where I am not even able to test for a higher rank, even if I wanted to. Since I have started my own program, it would be nice to be able to have that higher rank for marketing purposes, I suppose, but most potential students don't even know there are varying degrees of black belt. Several friends have urged me to pursue Sandan, at least, so I am currently looking at my options for that, but if I say a Nidan forever, that's not the end of the world, for me. My Sensei's standards for Shodan were nearly equivalent to some people's standards for Godan in that organization, and as Bob likes to say, "the proof is on the floor."
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Kishimoto-Di | 2014-Present | Sensei: Ulf Karlsson
Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage (RIP), Jeff Allred (RIP)
Shuri-Ryu | 2006-2010: Sankyu | Sensei: Joey Johnston, Joe Walker
Judo | 2007-2010: Gokyu | Sensei: Joe Walker, Adrian Rivera
Karate Obsession | Arizona Practical Karate
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28973
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lots of great points made here so far. The way curriculums have developed to reflect what is learned at each rank, would probably really limit most students if they chose not to test after 1st dan level.

Personally, I think at times, at least in my experiences with my school, we worry too much about the testing, getting to the next testing, and making sure students have the testing material down, instead of exploring more aspects of the Martial Arts world. If I had my way, I'd change some of that.
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http://www.sunyis.com/
www.aikidoofnorthwestkansas.com
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Zaine
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1783
Location: Dallas, TX
Styles: Matsumura-Seito, Shobayashi-Ryu, Shudokan, Long Fist, American Street Karate, Southern Mantis, HEMA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Similar to Wastelander's point, if Shodan isn't the end of the curriculum, then I definitely wouldn't be okay with staying put. If, on the other hand, that at Shodan I had everything available to me to learn, then it wouldn't really matter either way.
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Martial arts training is 30% classroom training, 70% solo training.
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GS718Trek
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 08 Oct 2014
Posts: 61


PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2021 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

@SLK59

Pardon me if the initial post sounded like it, but I did not mean for it to look as if there is a hidden intent to be deceptive. I have known black belts that genuinly had no intentions of moving up in rank, they were content with just continuing to train the core aspects of the art, or some just really didnt care while their contemporaries went up in rank.. I would gladly accept what I am told I qualify as in regards to progress/rank, at the same time, I also have a certain respect for those who Ive met that exhibit the Mr miyagi type approach (belt from Jcpenny) when training martial arts

Ill add imporant missing detail to the original question that others mentioned in their responses - Would you ever stay at first degree and decline higher ranks in your art? ? (While being confident you know all there is to know of your arts curriculum)
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aurik
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 197
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My CI has very strong opinions on this, and I agree with him. One translation of "shodan" (at least in his book) is "beginner degree". In our style, you really don't start to learn the "good stuff" until you get to first degree. He tends to get really frustrated with parents and kids who see shodan as the end of their MA journey.

Personally I plan to continue training for as long as I can and enjoy the ride. Whatever ranks I do or do not earn on the way will be nice but not the reason for the training.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15453
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deny Nidan and above to just train after earning Shodan is admirable, or it should be. This path is rarely taken for whatever the reasons might be for the practitioner.

If rank has meaning over knowledge and experience, then staying at Shodan is impossible. The MA IS a private journey that's a shared endeavor one way or another.

Had my formal training ended at Shodan at the instructions of my Dai-Soke, I would've been perfectly ok with that MA path. However, that path wasn't in that direction.

I didn't end my formal training after earning my Shodan because I just didn't. Rank meant nothing to me once I earned my Sandan; whatever happens after Sandan happens of which I stopped seeking after rank...rank was no longer important to me, then and even now.

To deny my Dai-Sokes invitation to a Testing Cycle is a slap in his face. Who was I to say anything that would be contradictive to the knowledge and experience that was of my Dai-Soke?? So, I tested and let any Testing Cycle take care of itself...pass I pass, fail I fail...those thoughts were never important to me because all I can do is my best.

I've never ever meet anyone stop at Shodan to not continue their formal training...."Train me, Sensei, but I don't want anymore ranks." To ne, that's an illusion. Stopping all formal training after earning Shodan...Yes...I see that all of the time.

As it has been said here already, the answer to the question at hand will vary.

Imho!!



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DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6423
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2021 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As has been stated already, it depends really on the student and what they want to achieve, and whether that is open to them without continuing to grade.

I know plenty "Forever First Dans" who have little interest in the curriculum beyond that. They got to first dan so they could compete as a blackbelt (in sparring) and spend their days doing that.
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