How Important Are Gradings?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussions' started by Kevin, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. BHRobin

    BHRobin Disciple

    Eh, as one that was injured in such a way that it still affects him - blown out knee - I would say give them time to come back and be ready. I rushed it at first and strained my knee again, then had a sudden death in the family, but all that time I practiced what and how I could and went to class when and how. (Hell, after surgery, when the pain meds wore off I would rehearse all my forms in my head to distract myself.) Once they are back in ready shape, as long as they are working to THEIR limits, I say test them.

    And I fully admit there is some bias here on my part.
  2. perennius

    perennius Disciple

    A grading system has its good side and bad side. I for one think belts/awards should be based off the student. Some students need it and some dont. If , I feel a STUDENT deserves an award . i have that student help others in class. that are having issue with what that STUDENT is very good at. Then again i have had several students that needed a more visual type of award. So, I will have them lead the class in some type of exercise or congradulate them for making excellent improvement in front of the class. To be honest though. i have found it is not the students that desire the "belt" . it is there parents/friends.

    I do know that my kind of " award" is not for the young student (6-12) , but for the older students 13 on up.
    I have very rarely seem a belt test that actualy reflect the knowledge of the student. My wife need the "belt" . she and i studyed kumdo till we moved. the day she took the test. she did fine. the following week.( although she said that she failed the test) we went to class and we awarded of our belts. my wife broke down in tears. she needed it. i did not. if a system use belts , thats cool. if , not . thats cool too.

    a grading system does have its place. since most dojo's have sometimes ( hundreds of student). it can help with the teacher with keeping track of a students abiliites.
  3. Kevin

    Kevin Admin Staff Member

    I've been injured and missed a lot of training due to travelling etc too so I include myself in this. I was a much better fighter a few years ago though I don't think I looked out of place for my belt level when I did come back. Other people do due to the length of their absence. I'm not suggesting that a belt be taken away from a student, I just feel that it isn't always a good representation of a students current level.
    BHRobin, Deborah and RJ Clark like this.
  4. Deborah

    Deborah Ninja

    I have got to agree with Master Fahey on this and say grading is very important.....Where the grading is concerned, in my gym even senior Black Belts are graded every three months no matter what. It keeps you from stagnating also to strive to be better.....respects and peace xxXXxx
  5. RJ Clark

    RJ Clark Tree Ninja Staff Member

    Great point, Kevin. It correlates with what we all know about many black belts - they don't need to be able to outfight everyone there as that's only one aspect of martial arts (albeit a VERY important part). I agree with letting them train until there isn't too much of a disparity between them and others of the same rank before considering them for promotion.
    Kevin likes this.
  6. Deborah

    Deborah Ninja

    I agree, Kev if you are injured or absent and come back to the gym to train if your form, fitness and things are the same, fine. But if your performance in the art has been affected I feel you have the right to down-grade them. It keeps you hungry and always striving for more. Who knows what part of BB I will be downgraded to when I recover from my spinal injury....I will have to accept it humbly no matter what.....respects n peace XXxxXX
  7. BHRobin

    BHRobin Disciple

    True - I think I skipped two tests when I came back to make sure I was ready AND able to test with the knee. On the plus side, I closed out the belt I was in - purple. They discontinued it when I was out and I was probably the last one in the school to have it.

    But yes, I agree - you can't just stroll in after a prolonged absence without practice and reasonably expect to pass.
  8. BHRobin

    BHRobin Disciple

    1st off, good luck with the injury!

    I'm not sure I agree with that idea of downgrading. I see a couple of issues: 1.)keeping people. If I had been told that I would lose all my ranks, or even half, due to my injury I'm not sure I would have been eager to come back, thinking of all that time I would need to get back to where I was, much less the money cost. I can see a lot of people just quitting - which may not be the ideal expectation for a martial artist, but this may be a bridge too far for many to most. 2.)keeping people SAFE - paralleling my above point, the idea of losing a belt for an extended absence due to injury may make some people ignore an injury and make it worse. If you weren't sure you were hurt but knew you would lose your belt if you stayed out...well, I bet we all know people who would come back and get worse until they HAD to drop out, which is not an ideal end for teacher or student. 3.)While I agree there should be some standards for black belts, I'm leery of taking away a belt earned for any reason other than something completely contrary to martial arts - bullying, abuse, etc. In my old age - i.e. tomorrow - I will not be able to do the things I can now. But, to me, I will still have been a black belt, even if my current capabilities wouldn't correspond to what's needed. I may not be a GREAT black belt...but I'll still be one.
  9. BHRobin

    BHRobin Disciple

    On the idea of not being a 'good example' of your belt while coming back from injury or being away - I don't see it as a problem if the student knows they're out of shape and are working to get back to where they were, new capabilities in mind. They can keep their belt and still help out and all that if they're up to it, sort of kind of provisional/honorary. But if they come back in thinking they're just as awesome as they were and don't try to get any better, or when they try to help they're clearly wrong and won't admit it, then that's an issue and perhaps steps should be taken. (That would seem to be closer to my above idea of something contrary to martial arts)
    Deborah likes this.
  10. Deborah

    Deborah Ninja

    I understand what you are saying and I think the same about being injured then demoted, what I was pointing out was people who fall away from the art and then go back THEY should be asked to re-test their grade. Not if you are injured. This may happen to me when I get back to training but I am not too sure how I will be recieved, all I was saying is that if I were to be demoted I would have to accept my Guro's judgement............Respects BH Robin XXXxxXXX
    BHRobin likes this.
  11. BHRobin

    BHRobin Disciple

    I take your point. I think it's a problem when someone would act like I described - prideful and unwilling to admit they've, for lack of better term, lost a step. But then again I would think most black belts worthy of the name would come back in and train hard to get back to where they were in the first place willingly and this not be an issue.

    I hope it all works out for the best with your training, your injury, your life, your current TV shows, your garden, your pets, your book list...;)
    Deborah likes this.
  12. Kevin

    Kevin Admin Staff Member

    Thanks. Injury is still giving me problems btut I'm confident I'll get back to training regularly :)

    I don't believe in the idea of downgrading either. I was referring more to the case that belts don't always represent the skill level of the person. I definitely don't think anyone should ever be downgraded. They earned their belt - no one can or should take that away.
    BHRobin and Sam Philpott like this.
  13. Deborah

    Deborah Ninja

    Uuuuuft B, what a kind, caring soul you are my martial freind and I'm positive things will work out just fine where my injury and my training are concerned. As for my TV shows, I am sooooo loving family Guy and American Dad!! My dogs are perfect as ever and my book lists continue to, peace and respects xxxxXXxxxx
    BHRobin likes this.
  14. Master Fahy

    Master Fahy Samurai

    If a student is out due to injury for a long time or had personal problems or what ever, I don't take away their belt but I do tell them that they won't test again for awhile until they catch up to where they were at! I will remove their belt for disciplinary reasons! I have been teaching for many years and only had to remove a students belt a very few times. I do recommend to students that they attend classes even if injured (not to participate) but, to show support to the school, other students and it keeps them connected with the rest of us. Master Fahy
    dmach and Sam Philpott like this.
  15. Schubertdog

    Schubertdog Shodan

    Say someone leaves school with an O level in Biology then gets an admin job in an accounts office for 3 years, then they decide they want to study for an A level or a degree in Biology, do they still have the O level in Biology? Of course they do.
    It is the same with gradings, they just show that the student passed that grade at some point in time.
    The Biology student probably forgot a great deal from the O level, same as a MA student will forget a lot of their training if they have a long absence. It just means that their next grading will take longer to train up to as they will be doing a lot of refresher work.
    OK at first they will appear to be of a lower standard than other students on an equivalent belt, but I feel it's a bit like riding a bike, you never really forget how to do it, you just get a bit rusty, but soon get back into the swing of things.
  16. Jinen Kym

    Jinen Kym Initiate

    We keep our grading system simple. White, Yellow & Orange take about 2-3years and are basic grade belts. Green, Blue & Brown take about 6years and are the transition belts ( beginning to apply in sparring, comps). Blackbelt is when it's all spontaneous and is the Beginning belt. This is where techniques are produced on the spot applying the principles drilled over the years. Gradings aren't looked for, I give it when they are ready. I don't charge for gradings nor have grading days. they are at that level or they're not and as individuals they will do it in their own time. I currently have 13 students with Blackbelts in other styles/clubs. Some got them in 12 months and feel better with the mudansha rank they have now 4-6 years later.
    This does not mean I disagree with more mudansha gradings at a cost, I hold onto that which I was brought up with. I have my 7 y/o son doing Ed Parker Kenpo and it pisses me off to have to pay so much but I want him to have his own world, his own achievements in a global style.
  17. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    What is your style?
  18. Jinen Kym

    Jinen Kym Initiate

    Wally Szlagowski was graded in Judo and Jujutsu but loved karate. In the 1950's an American exponent of Shindo Jinen Ryu Karate taught him and he was graded Shodan in Karate by Yasuhiro Konishi in about 1960. He didn't like a lot of the Japanese formalities but loved sparring and breaking tiles, bricks etc. So the style is Australian Karate, closer to Kyokushin but over the years I found we're probably influenced by the American's (4th Dan) experience as part of the Okinawan occupational forces. I'm still researching this. You'll see I have video's up with old footage sent to Wally of Konishi showing the techniques ( this old 8mm film has been handed down to me through my instructor, Wally's student, Rob Dobson.) Also I have one showing the early days in the "Park". All were invited to come and spar (contact) under the rules of respect and from this the style continued to develop. 60 years later every 6 weeks they still hold their sessions in the park. As I now look back through my magazines from the 1980's I realize a lot of well known guy's were influence in their early years by the hard style they came across in Blacktown, Sydney. Most links can be found at
  19. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    I do think gradings are important to test technique and fitness within a particular style, I think downgrading an achievement is a no no but also believe without gradings or competition how do U have a benchmark of your growth or skillset. With us if you are injured and cannot survive the grading u dont pass simple as that, black belts etc are earned not given for effort.
  20. Ian White

    Ian White Samurai

    Gradings are a way of assessing your progress. so each student knows how they are doing.

    My system has a set syllabus for each grade which each student knows what they are aiming for.
    knowing where you are going helps you walk the path!

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