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Thread: Does the Black belt mean anything anymore?

  1. #46
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    I'm personally less concerned about the specific time to black belt. A lot depends on the amount of curriculum that student is required to learn and how much they train.

    One guy goes to a one hour class twice a week for two years and that's 832 hours. Another guy goes four days a week and that's 1664. Still only two years, but oh what a difference between the two people. A third guy who makes five days a week for 2,080 hours of class in two years.

    Also, you can spend four years in class and if you spend four years training like the typical hobbyist (90% of MA students), there won't be all that much difference between two or four years.

    Since we're speaking of black belts in the general, I'll address taekwondo schools, which comprise the majority of "karate" schools in the country, and are probably the ones most responsible for the state of the modern black belt. Never mind that taekwondo isn't a ryu of karate, more than two thirds read 'karate' on the door, and to the general public, its all just karate anyway.

    Kukkiwon taekwondo curriculum is pretty minimalist. You'd have a hard time pulling four years out of someone with just Kukkiwon curriculum. A good number of taekwondo schools add weapons and other curriculum to keep students interested after blackbelt.

    Personally, I feel that the bulk of schools have collectively lost the ability to push the students to do more than just gear up for the next level belt test. That, and I know of few, if any schools in my area where anyone ever fails a colored belt test. In the years I've been at my own school, I've seen only two people in an adult class have to retest for a colored belt.

    There is simply too much at stake for most schools to not pass a kyu grade student. To much in terms of money and such. Unfortunately, the kyu grades are the ones that should be the most diligently worked with and often, they're just seen as paying customers on the way through, expected to leave after they receive a black belt.

    Another issue is that schools have a mentality that more is better. "We promote more blackbelts than anyone in the state" sort of mentality. Unfortunately, this actually attracts a lot of people for the wrong reasons, though I'm sure that its good for business.

    Personally, I don't care how many blackbelts a school has. The black belt should represent a level of quality and a level of proficiency in the basics. I'd rather boast ten blue belts that are top notch than fifty black belts that look like yellow belts (yes, alarmingly, I've seen a few).

    Daniel
    Last edited by Daniel Sullivan; 25th February 2009 at 19:05.
    Daniel Sullivan

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Sullivan View Post
    Personally, I feel that the bulk of schools have collectively lost the ability to push the students to do more than just gear up for the next level belt test. That, and I know of few, if any schools in my area where anyone ever fails a colored belt test. In the years I've been at my own school, I've seen only two people in an adult class have to retest for a colored belt.

    There is simply too much at stake for most schools to not pass a kyu grade student. To much in terms of money and such. Unfortunately, the kyu grades are the ones that should be the most diligently worked with and often, they're just seen as paying customers on the way through, expected to leave after they receive a black belt.
    I know an instructor that will actualy demote you (yes even take away your black belt) if you do bad enough on a grading.
    Joe Stitz

    "Black belt and white belt are the same, white belt is the beginning of technique. Black belt is the beginning of understanding. Both are beginner belts."
    - Doug Perry -Hanshi, KuDan -Shorin Ryu ShorinKan

  3. #48
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    Time .......yeah it counts theoretically. I mean you can go to a dojo for 1 hour a month and be there for years and still not be any good of course. But time is a good indicator as to how long someone has been practicing. How may times a week/How many hours a session/ How many years.

    Yes, there are people out there that have put in the time and effort, I mean real and honest effort, into their practice. These people, in my opinion should be held in aww to some extent. there are different levels to black belts .....why?? Well I believe it is because the standards are different. I agree it isn't about the money......or at least it shouldn't be. You should get what you put into it ......not money wise ......I mean effort. You have to keep the effort and put more effort into the next level and so on.

    My Tae kwon do Sensei and my first Go Jyu Ryu Sensei both told me the same thing ........." A shodan is just the begining of "REAL" training. Anything before that is warm up or getting to know about the basics."


    I believe that is true for me and to those I teach. Yes, I think a Black belt does mean something ....... There are no short cuts!! It all comes down to practice .......!
    Mark Posselius

    Yep, and the practice goes on!!!

  4. #49
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    If you're serious about thinking about this topic, try Dave Lowry's new book, "The Karate Way: Discovering the Spirit of Practice" (Shambhala, 2009), ISBN 978-1-59030-647-5.

    Otherwise, well, recognized that the belt is what it is: a belt. It is a piece of cloth. It has no will of its own. And, whether in the end you get buried in it, or it gets buried in the back of the storage room, along with all the other belts you've worn out or outgrown or simply moved beyond, it's still just a piece of cloth.

  5. #50
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    You're right. I did get off target, i'm sorry for that. I agree with about boasting top notch kyu belts. There was a guy who came by the school last year he claimed a 3rd Dan in a Martial Arts, kickboxing training, and a Dan ranking in Japanese karate. His girlfriend (at the time) was talking him up, and when he came in for soarring (with a few friends) we were ready. I layed him out (I was a 1st Dan at the time), and one of the 3rd Kyus (now 1st kyu) manhandled him, it was sad. Sparring isn't everybody's thing, but the stuff that he was doing (sliding into the splits to grab my feet) gave him a bad rap. You're right about the two year training subject. Great people like Bill Wallace & Joe Lewis got their Black Belts real quick due to their commitment. Now I know every school is different about the testing process. In our organzation the test scores are viewed, then compaired. I'd didn't pass two people for their 2nd Kyu test, but they still got their belts. I was told that there was three judges, and since I was the only one that failed them, well then my view kinda didn't matter. That may be one of the problems with the Black Belts. If there's ten judges on the test pannel and if two don't think that the testers shouldn't pass, and others think they should, what's going to happend? A good school would want to find out the faults of the testers, but the bad ones would just pass them no matter what. Also I think most instructor are scared of losing students, especially Black Belts, so they "look the other way" most of the time. The easier it is more people stick around, the harder it is less people stick around. I wonder how many Black Belts can say that they had to have a hematoma drained off their bottom lip, after a full night of sparring? How many Black Belts can say that their instructor yelled at them because an entire list of corrections wasn't fixed in a day? A lot of the "old timers (said with respect)" can, but I bet very few of the "new blood" can. It's because of this problem is why all U.S Black Belts test in my Organzation, have to be held in front of the VPs of the org (usually at a camp). An instructor can't test the students without one of the VPs present. Reguardess of the instructor's rank. Too some instructors may've gotton burned out, so they're just trying to stay happy.
    Yours in Budo.
    A. Wilson

  6. #51
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    Default You Graduated

    What I understood is the black belt originally ment you knew the system.
    Didn't mean you could fight, or were tough. I heard of some traditional Japanese schools that would not consider you worthy of teaching until you were fourth dan.
    I recently went back to an old school I trained at years ago. We trained in the park at night.
    It has sence grown to a whole dojo of about 20 black belt. Of all those black belts. only three or four really could do the system and maybe three really knew how to fight.
    "Have to give Pain, give pain all time"
    Master Masaki Hatsumi
    Terry Foster

  7. #52
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    Good point, Terry.

    I do think that perhaps, at least in the US, the blackbelt may suffer from over billing on one end and being over-inflated rank at the other.

    In other words, the guys who held blackbelts in the US early on trained hard and were proficient fighers as a result. The combination of learning the system and training very hard in it resulted in an impressive individual by the time they received the belt. But the belt still only meant that they had learned and could execute the kyu grade curriculum.

    Now, the blackbelt is used as a confidence builder and is handed out to people who show up for _______ amount of time and pay the testing fee, regardless of how well they either know or can execute the material. But the belt is supposed to mean that they have learned and can execute the kyu grade curriculum.

    So the belt still means the same thing that it always did. But the way that it is perceived and the way that it is presented has differed from its actual meaning.

    Daniel
    Daniel Sullivan

  8. #53
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    Default Talk about coincidence

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Svinth View Post
    If you're serious about thinking about this topic, try Dave Lowry's new book, "The Karate Way: Discovering the Spirit of Practice" (Shambhala, 2009), ISBN 978-1-59030-647-5.

    Otherwise, well, recognized that the belt is what it is: a belt. It is a piece of cloth. It has no will of its own. And, whether in the end you get buried in it, or it gets buried in the back of the storage room, along with all the other belts you've worn out or outgrown or simply moved beyond, it's still just a piece of cloth.

    Excerpt from The Karate Way
    Chapter 14: What Does a Black Belt Mean?
    Joe Stitz

    "Black belt and white belt are the same, white belt is the beginning of technique. Black belt is the beginning of understanding. Both are beginner belts."
    - Doug Perry -Hanshi, KuDan -Shorin Ryu ShorinKan

  9. #54
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    Quote:

    "try Dave Lowry's new book".

    .....I just placed my order. I know Dave Lowry and have trained with him in several arts over the years. He remains the the voice of logic and reason in these arts. The only thing better than reading his work is knowing him.
    In critical times one must be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.

    Gichin Funakoshi

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by JS3 View Post
    Excerpt from The Karate Way
    Chapter 14: What Does a Black Belt Mean?
    Mr. Stitz

    Thank you ..... That was a nice read.
    Mark Posselius

    Yep, and the practice goes on!!!

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