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Thread: Your feeling about grades

  1. #31
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    Simon Keegan,
    Hmmmmm to be honest with you.. looking into a field of flowers on this.. if I showed you a few pieces of my art work and asked you to tell me which one was the best one you is much like asking you to tell me about the ranking of the martial arts.

    I feel you are placing a great deal of opinion into the subject of ranking where personal judgment creates a vortex.

    ralph severe, kamiyama
    Dallas Ninjutsu Academy
    www.artofcombat.com
    The best Japanese and Mexican Bugei in Dallas !

  2. #32
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    In my opinion, the entire notion of comparing ranks is ridiculous.

    However, also in my opinion, the best you're going to find is length of time training.


    ...but I train 4x a week for 1.5 hours and he only trains for 2x a week for 2 hours so I train more...

    ...I started 10 years ago, trained for 4 years, then took 5 off, now a year back - he's only trained for the last 3...

    ...etc...
    Stephen Kovalcik

  3. #33
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    Mr. Keegan,

    I think if you examined the history of at least some of those luminaries, you would find some interesting jumps in ranking, particularly in arts that had no such ranking system (most notably Okinawan karate).

    Modern i-dan ranking has always been shoe horned onto arts, and a great deal of it makes no sense.

    Hatsumi has only menkyo in the arts he teaches, and as soke is really beyond rank in the bujinkan. Ueshiba had no rank, Kano had no dan rank, they were considered beyond it.

    It is a really silly thing to be worried about. Those who stick around long enough come to know the value of rank (as I am sure you have, so don't take that statement the wrong way). Those who do not will chase it where ever they go. Cultivate relationships with the former and not with the latter.

    In many koryu, a time period of 15 years is considered reasonable for full transmission. People of judan ku-i happo biken menkyo (otherwise informally called ju godan) all have at least 15 years of study. Since the idea of the Bujinkan is not transmission of each individual ryu-ha, but the essential feeling of true budo as visualized by Hatsumi sensei, then it is reasonable to say that these people have achieved full transmission. What that means to you and me is irrelevant, it is only what it means to Hatsumi sensei and these people.
    Glenn R. Manry

    ---Iaijutsu, don't forget the doorman.

  4. #34
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    Default Thank you

    Thank you gentlemen

    Your answers have been most informative and helpful.

    If any offence was taken by some of my more provocative comparisons, then I apologise I just wanted to inspire debate and I think this became an interesting thread.

    I already know my own opinions (naturally) and those of many of my 'mainstream' budoka friends - it's nice to get a view from the inside (of Bujinkan) looking out.


    Ganbatte

    Simon
    Simon Keegan 4th Dan
    www.bushinkai.org.uk

  5. #35
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    On a parting note...I just wanted to say that according to my Sensei when I used to be in Shotokan and Judo. That the actual belt ranks weren't invented until when Judo had become a sport in the Olympics...But he told us some old story that when martial artist would train in a grassy field, they'd used to wear white belts and as they would train in that grassy field their belts would turn green...and as the kept training the grass would fade away and they soon be training in dirt and thus their belts would turn brown. And as they kept training in the dirt their belts would eventually turn black because you're not suppose to wash your belt....LOL that was when I was in the kid's class....lol.
    Pablo Torres
    www.bgninpo.com
    Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
    Bowling Green, Florida

  6. #36
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    This has turned out to be a very interesting thread, and I wanted to thank the participants.

    I find this discussion especially interesting because, as I understand it, one of the main reasons that Kano developed the belt system was to establish common levels between people of different styles at tournaments. You could have a Takeuchi Ryu guy with some license like a mokuroku, and a Shindo Yoshin Ryu guy, whose license might be called Okugi (no idea if these are actual license names in those ryu) show up at an open judo tournament. The belt ranks were a way of comparing the level of these two fighters so that you would know what to expect from them-- the same basic goal that Simon's group seems to have. Ironic that the belt system has evolved to the point where a new system is needed to standardize ranks.
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

  7. #37
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    Dave Lowry addresses that old story in his newer book "In The Dojo." It's basically folklore; Kano invented the Dan-i system so he (as well as newcomers) could tell who, in the ridiculous amount of his students, could be looked to for assistance.

    On the topic of length of training, it may be important to remember that earlier in history it was very common for someone to be awarded menkyo kaiden (or whatever your art calls it) in their mid 20's. In a country where war is the norm, most people just didn't live very long. So the concept of having to have trained for 30-someodd years before you get menkyo or whatever is a bit dramatic.
    (Note: The previous comment excludes those who may not be able to train on a regular basis or travel to Japan, etc.)
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    Tom Barton

  8. #38
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    Default Grades

    I've heard the story about training in the dirt and the belt getting progressively darker as well. I think its probably apocryphal (is that the right word?). I also heard the tale that eventually layers would start to peel off the cloth belt and the canvas underneath was white so the master would again be wearing a white belt. A sort of "coming full circle" Zen type thing. That's why we go back to red and white belt after black belt.

    As regards the Judo belt system, I've also heard the story that Kano introduced the standard plain gi (rather than Keiokogi with clan crest and hakama) because he didn't want students to worry about hurting somebody that was their cultural/social superior and so wearing the gi they were all equal - except for the rank earned on the mat.

    My association isn't really trying to reinvent the wheel or anything or radically change perceptions of grades we are just trying to bridge the cultural divides between arts. I met a Thai boxer and he told me he was 7th Khan and I wondered whether this was a low grade like 7th Kyu or a High grade like 7th Dan. It turns out it's more like 1st Dan! So I wondered how confused our students would get with Japanese, Okinawan, Chinese and Thai stylists all on the mat together.

    Like the previous poster said, when Kano had hundreds of students how did you know which ones to look to for guidance - by the belt. So when on mixed style courses (or Budo workshops as we call them) it's good to be able to tell the beginners from the experts. If one style considers 8th Dan to be a generous grade for someone who has been training 32 years (that would be a generous grade in Shotokan I think) but another may award the same time served upwards of 12th Dan (ie Bujinkan) it can get mighty confusing.
    Simon Keegan 4th Dan
    www.bushinkai.org.uk

  9. #39
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    Simon I think you might find interesting:

    taken from:
    http://www.budoseek.net/articles/importance_paper.htm

    '' First of all, the claim that koryu never had free-style practice is not true. There are many records of jujutsu schools practicing randori in-house or between schools. Essentially, Jigoro Kano formalized competition rules so that various schools could compete in relatively safety. Initially, it must have been quite exciting to view a match between Takenouchi-ryu, Yoshin-ryu, and Kiraku-ryu - all those different approaches on one mat! After a point, however, judo and its rules "took over" as a kind of homogenized system. This same thing has happened in the so-called No Holds Barred world. A decade ago, the excitement was seeing somebody from Brazilian Jujutsu fight a sambo player or a kick boxer - now, as Frank Shamrock said, "There are no secrets." Everybody trains pretty much the same way.

    Thus, in the early decades of the 20TH century, a Japanese martial artist's name-card might read, X-ryu menkyo kaiden, Kodokan judo 4th dan. The Kodokan rank was, in a sense, certification that he'd been tested in free-style competition, and was not merely a master of kata practiced in the safe confines of his own dojo.

    I believe that WWII is one of the major reasons that we so rarely see such Japanese jujutsu instructors today - the jujutsu schools were relatively small, and many of their top people were killed in the war or abandoned practice upon their return.

    This, plus the ever-increasing trend towards sportive Budo, led to judo achieving almost complete primacy over the traditional ryu.

    There was also some level of "sparring" in weapons arts - either in controlled fashion with wooden weapons, free-style in many ryu with shinai (bamboo practice swords) and body armor, or through taryu shiai (fights between men of various schools - anything from official matches before feudal officials, vendettas, dojo breaking, to street fights). It's a fair assumption that the vast majority of koryu practitioners today are not nearly of the level of many of those from generations past - because many of the latter had either fought or sparred, or at least were training with the intensity which comes when you really are preparing for such an event.

    Even today, some koryu teachers are incredible, but many of them have skills that are a mere shadow of those of generations past. But even in the latter case, if a martial tradition has maintained an authentic compendium of kata and technique, one has a living tradition that can be revivified by one's own intensity and will.

    ''
    Paul Greaves
    ''Skill is aquired via sweat equity''

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Keegan View Post
    So I wondered how confused our students would get with Japanese, Okinawan, Chinese and Thai stylists all on the mat together.
    If we're are all on the mat together, the confusion should be fairly short lived; the one who just tossed me on my hind quarters and is currently making tears well up in my eyes by doing something horrible and unexpected to my wrist outside of my field of vision is a *better* martial artist than I, the one that *I* tossed earlier and made cry is *worse*.
    Carl Hamlin
    -----------------------------------------
    'The etiquette that underlies all martial arts is based on the assumption that the person with whom you are dealing is standing before you wearing three feet of razor sharp steel.' - George Ledyard

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by bu-kusa View Post
    I think its important to remember that in many arts gradings past 3rd to 5th dan aren't given for technical ability.
    I'd like to second this. As a general rule, at least in those that I am familiar with, there is often no new curriculum past fourth or fifth dan. The practitioner goes from being graded on their personal mastery of the art to being graded on how they have contributed to the art itself.

    I have heard 6th dan and up referred to as administrative, though I don't know that that is the best word for it.

    I have no clue what is entailed in higher Bujinkan dan gradings, especially anything from 10-15, but I would gather that the Bujinkan first through fifth dan equivocate roughly to the same time in grade as in other arts. Not being a Bujinkan yudansha, I have to say that I am surmising.

    Someone else later in this thread made the comment about yudansha being expected to teach. I have observed a similar trend in taekwondo. In my own experience, transitioning to a yudanja in TKD meant transitioning from training to training, assisting with instruction, and eventually teaching the class.

    Daniel
    Daniel Sullivan

  12. #42
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    I read the initial post, but not all the responses. Why? Because this question comes up, in one way or another, at least twice a year.

    You'll get the following answers:

    1. It doesn't mean what it used to.
    2. It's just your perception; people have been asking the same question for years.
    3. It depends on your teacher/dojo.
    4. "Shut up and train." (My favorite useless reponse to any number of valid questions)
    5. Yeah, it's better now.
    6. The vast amounts of poor examples passing the godan tests on youtube (administered by Hatsumi Sensei) shouldn't matter to you. Hatsumi Sensei knows what he is doing and why he is doing it.

    Anyway, I think MA ranks are meaningless anyway in any real sense. You, your teacher and your fellow classmates know if you suck; even if they are too polite to tell you.


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