View Full Version : New Students From Other Dojos...

16th April 2002, 22:28
How do you deal with students who come to your dojo having trained and earned rank in your style? For example, I teach Matsubayashi-ryu, and someone moves to my area having trained in it where he/she used to live. They were part of a different organization, so you can't verify their rank, but they obviously seem to be legit. Do you:

a) grandfather them their rank after a period of something like 6 months, possibly jumping them over students who have work hard at your dojo for a while, and having them possibly not pick up things specific to your dojo, or...

b) rush them through your rank structure, which even though they go through all the belts can still yield the same problems as the first solution, or...

c) make them go through the process like they had no previous experience.

How do the above change, if any, if it is someone who has previous experience but in a style that is NOT the same as yours?

Looking for comments....

16th April 2002, 22:56
We have situations like this arise occasionally.

What we do is apply this to them...

Is their art close to ours (ie - we teach Kyokushin, did they take Shotokan, etc.)

If their art is close, we have them keep the same rank, but do not let then advance until they meet our requirements.

If it is not close, (ie - TKD, Kung Fu, etc.) we have them start over.

If they are a Black Belt, we respect their rank. If they show us that they want to learn under us, we catch them up with what we teach.

Shitoryu Dude
16th April 2002, 23:03
I've seen it done two ways.

1) Grandfathering them in, with or without a waiting period depending on the style they came from. Sometimes they retain their black belt rank, sometimes they drop down to brown belt for a time so they can learn the kata.

2) Start all over again and work your way back up - I had to do that. Kenpo and Shitoryu are sufficiently different, and it had been years since I had trained anyway, so I started off again as a white belt. On the other hand, it took only 2 1/2 years until I was informed I would be testing for black belt.

All in all I'd have to say that the dojos I've been at have been rather fair and even-handed about it. Currently it would seem that Shihan accepts rank from traditional Japanese karate ryu much easier than other styles. We have two former TKD people who started over at the bottom; one of them was a blue belt and actively training when he moved to Seattle. While his kicks were great, his kihon suffered greatly and his punches were so-so. One guy who trained at a McDojo is still kind of miffed that his previous training isn't really acknowledged.


Nicolas Caron
17th April 2002, 06:34
I am not yet experienced enough to teach, but I would say it depends on if they previously trained in the same art or in something else.

If they trained in the same art I'd be tempted to test them to see if they are worthy of their rank and I would also verify the validity of their rank. If their rank is "valid" and they pass the test I see no reasons not to let them keep their rank. If they do not meet both these criterias I would either make them start over or drop them a couple of ranks depending on the case.

If they previously trained in a totally different discipline I don't see how they could expect to keep their rank. I mean, I've been doing alpine skiing for 12 years does that mean that I should be a black belt in karate? This exemple might seem a bit ridiculous, but it is no more ridiculous IMHO than me keeping my Tae Kwon Do grade when I started practicing aikibudo (which are two totally different discipline).

Hope this was the kind of answer you were seeking with that post...

Benjamin Peters
25th April 2002, 07:52
In my experience, similar situations have been handled by allowing the student a lesser rank to begin with in recognition of their efforts. Say from Shodan in another system (which is similar) to 5th Kyu. Then make them earn their grade over time their (usually by double grading them each grading over the same time frame as a normal student). This way, committment and technique are proven. If they cannot be proven, nothing is lost. Otherwise, it is just a 'retraining exercise' or 'conversion program'. If it is within the same system, I guess sometimes, you may have to honour the grading given in respect of their teacher's faith.
Benjamin Peters

25th April 2002, 21:09
Good Afternoon All,

This is my opinion, nothing more. If it helps great if not throw it to the way side.

I can agree that a student outside your dojo but affiliated with your organization should be able to keep their present rank. The rank can only be kept though if the person changing dojo's can perform there current level's test to adequate standards, and their attitude is reflective of the rank they hold.

In the case where someone practicing the same art but from a different organization, the person coming to the new dojo should enter under the assumption that their previous training will only provide them with nothing more than good experience, not rank.

Those from completly different styles should always begin at the beginning. This is what I have always done. My thought is I don't want to miss anything, even if I know how to punch, kick, roll, or whatever.

I think that no matter who enters your dojo, as the instructor you set the standard. If you feel someone's ability isn't where it should be you have an obligation to that student as well as yourself to take whatever steps are necessary to produce a quality martial artist.

6th May 2002, 03:39

This is my comment...

As an instructor in a specific style, if the student is of the same style he should be able to wear the rank but still move through the ranks to make sure he knows your own variations and interpretations.


I would not allow someone of a different style or Organization hold rank in my own Organization. As we know, they might know the kata, or the techniques. Every instructor has strategy based upon what they have been taught and experience. Principles of other arts don't always apply when it comes to the style you teach.

You wouldn't call a car a cow. You wouldn't called a horse a tree.

My comment is this...

Let them hold the respect they have earned, but do them a favor as a mentor, teacher, etc...

Let them go through your style from the beginning.

If someone is telling a story, and it's mid way through. If you jump in the middle of the story it won't make sense in the end or as you go along.

Respect, acknowledge the new student for what they have done, but do the same in what they will do as your student.

As we know, the slightest variation in technique whether it be mentally or physically can mean defeat.

It's your school, it's up to you...

Black belts too, however there should be a separate program for them ...otherwise it's like spitting in their last instructors face.


10th May 2002, 07:57
Originally posted by Didaskalos

Black belts too, however there should be a separate program for them ...otherwise it's like spitting in their last instructors face.


Excellent point. I would also like to add that a student, even from a school with lower time in grade standards, who FINISHES the course and earns a black belt from that school had DEMONSTRATED an attribute more important than athletic skill - the ability to finish what they start. It would be a shame to punish them for this by refusing to acknowledge their accomplishment.

Some schools put a black stripe on the white or coloured belt, I think some Parker schools, to acknowledge that the student completed a black belt program in another school or style.

Ian Sparrow
30th May 2002, 16:35
It seems to me that this discussion ultimately ends up with the question "what does rank actually mean?" (Probably another thread in its own right).

...black belt from that school had DEMONSTRATED an attribute more important than athletic skill - the ability to finish what they start...
A black belt in one style indicates a level of proficiency in that style but doesn't mean the holder has 'finished' or has nothing left to learn.
When it comes right down to it, does it really matter what colour ones belt is?
We can all still learn from others no matter what rank. Having a belt colour or ranking doesn't really make a statement about the person inside.

Another point is the philosophy of the art. When progressing through the ranks, some arts teach/test philosophy. Being technically adept is no indication of understanding the ideas, motivation or underlying morals of a given art. This is not something that can necessarily be tested at an accelerated rate to allow a high rank in one art to become a high rank in another. This possibly applies to same-art different-organisation situations, though I have no example to base this on.

Personally, if I were to train in another style I would fully expect to start as a complete beginner. When learning anything it is important to master the basics and ensure a solid foundation (easier said than done!!). The detail of the foundation in one art will be in some way different to many/most others so going back to beginner level seems to me to be logical.


8th June 2002, 04:22
If faced with this scenerio, this is how I would handle it.

I would ask the student for a referrence from his/her previous Sensei. I would even go as far as calling the previous Sensei to inquire about the candidate.

Upon the initial meeting does the student just 'expect' to keep their current rank? If so, maybe it would be better if they didn't keep it.

All said and done, if the candidate is legitamate, and everything is on the up and up, I would have the candidate take the formal exam for the rank they curently hold based on the criteria my current students are responsible for knowing.

will szlemko
10th June 2002, 22:03

Simple, from a different organization they start over at white belt. They are graded according to their proficiency. If they do not pick up the organization or dojo specific differences quickly they do not advance quickly. If they pick these variations up quickly then they advance quickly.


M.C. Busman
11th June 2002, 00:40
Most experienced people whom I've trained have the ability to pick up the techniques quicker than the average total beginner. That being said, they sometimes have bad habits which take time to get over. It is so dependant upon the <i>individual</i> and his/her ability to adapt.

I have no "time in grade" or $ requirements. When the person can demonstrate their competence consistently, they get the rank (if the want it).

Best to All,

M.C. Busman