How Important Are Gradings?

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

  1. Master Fahy

    Master Fahy Samurai

    I feel that by not telling the student what is required you are holding back their knowledge, that you are doing a disservice or cheating them out of something! The student could/should/would feel as though you may just be making things up and I would seriously look else where! If your in high school or college and the professor or instructor of your classes doesn't tell you what is expected of you and what you will be learning..... then you failed at the end of the course.... you would say.... "what the hell!" Then you would go to the dean or someone to get answers on why you failed. You should give the students a standard to follow and one that they all know what that standard is. I don't believe that handing over a belt or certificate without testing your knowledge is a good thing. If you went to high school or college without knowing how long you would be there and didn't get some indication as to what grade or level you were at, you could be there indefinitely. I don't know of any school (h/s or college) that just walks up and hands you a diploma! Master Fahy
    Eric Dufurrena likes this.
  2. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    I can only speak for myself and my students but this works for us. I have found that my students give 100% more of the time when they think that they could be testing at any moment without knowing it. I have not always done things like this. I got this method from one of my Jujitsu Senseis. Another issue that I have run into in the past when I would hand out a syllabus, is that the students would come to me when they have learned everything on it and tell me that they are ready to test. As their teacher, I am the one who decides when they are ready to test. Just because they know A, B, and C, does not mean that they can do it well enough to earn their rank. There was a lot of confusion surrounding that.
    Like I said, I can only speak for what works for me. You are right though, I am taking some online college courses. They are five weeks long and I would be upset if I failed because I was not given expectations. However if I were informed from the beginning that there is not a time requirement for the class and that I would pass when the teacher felt that I was ready, then I would have the choice in regards to if I wanted to take part in it and follow by their rules. All of my students know the deal before they sign up with me. The journey to black belt is not a race, it is a progression.

  3. Angelos Koskinas

    Angelos Koskinas Initiate

    too many variables. a black belt in one school could get knocked out or tapped out by a blue belt in another school.

    A lot of the schools also unfairly give promotions to people who spend more money, have more expensive packages, or do private sessions since they assist more in the funding and buying of equipment in a lot of these schools.

    although its necessary to evaluate progression and group people with similar experience in competition i dont think it plays a huge factor on most people who want to constantly get better.

    Goons will always be goons that will get a black belt to feel extra tough. People will always be able to cut corners from either financial compensation or internal politics within the dojo.

    so as important as the grading is if you really push yourself and focus on learning as much as possible and perfecting a craft over a life time then i dont think the grading and ranking really play a factor.
  4. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    I agree with a lot of what has been said BUT if you have no syllabus to complete(u know what i mean) to strive for or competition to beat and just push yourself, how do U know if u are getting better or are at a proficient level, like anything in life u need to be tested, I understand that we should always better ourselves and improve ourselves and I agree but without a gauge how good can u be.

    Ill explain a bit of context, When i started training I got frustrated the more I pushed the more I got nailed, I started pushing myself harder because of this because I wanted to be better, I took my first fight after 3 months of training(Muay thai) normal amateur fight, Lost it drove me insane so I trained harder and harder with the seniors and got punished until I learned to keep my hands up move faster, now technique wise at the time I obviously wasn't that great but i learned the basics really fast that happens when you get put under fire constantly, The next fights after that I won because I tested and got tested, and was the same with my gradings, Now I help the guys get ready for competition so the circle continues
  5. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    They have grades in Muay Thai? First I've heard of it.

    The thing about grades is they're generally technical. I can't think of a grading which has had fighting/sparring proficiency as a requirement. As such I've known many black belts who simply can't fight. Now some people say martial arts isn't all about fighting, but generally, if you're training in a fighting art one would assume you can actually use the techniques you practice to, uh, fight...
  6. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    No generally not depends on the association though, Some do have syllabi that have actually been put together by associations etc but these would not be internationally recognised, I have my black belt in teukgong moosool hence the gradings

  7. Eric Dufurrena

    Eric Dufurrena The Iron Fist of Fun

    Gradings were originally created so that the teacher knew where you stood in the knowledge of the art, so he knew what to teach you next, and gave the student a reference point on what he should be learning as well. In my opinion, it is irrelevant what rankings are from school to school, all that matters is that you are honest with yourself and your goals. If you want to be decent at fighting but honestly just love training and learning, nothing wrong with that. If you want to be a great fighter, nothing wrong with that, either, but in either case, make sure you are at the right school. Is it our job to school people who go to a 'McDojo' about their rank? Only if they insist they can beat those who actually train to fight!

    Don't forget, there is a common and usually true saying, "those who can, do, and those who can't, teach." This is a great saying in reference to black belts and fighting. Think Greg Jackson, he himself is the coach/trainer, he is great at martial arts but can not fight that well, but he has several champions that he trains, and they are great. There are several black belts in our school who cannot fight as well as a couple others, but their techniques are crisp and clean, and their instruction and insight is second to none. They DEFINITLEY deserve that dark cloth wrapped around their waist.
  8. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    True you make a good point but If you could beat your instructor wouldnt that diminish the instruction if you can already beat him(philosophical question)

    for me it would, from a normal coaching perspective i see it differently but when it comes to martial arts im not sure why It would diminish it for me
  9. Ian Sinclair

    Ian Sinclair Bushido Warrior

    I think gradings are important for helping students get a general idea of their progress and offers them goals if they are goal orientated. I generally feel belts are not so important because the standards are different in every martial arts and often with every student too. I have seen some black belts and wondered how they got the belts and seen others i would say deserved it. All in all its just a general framework and not a set thing. There could never be a one size fits all method in the martial arts because they're all different and have differing requirements. Bujinkan for example does not do sparring in their grading's generally, because the methods they use could get dangerous in a full on sparring session. I like the idea of teachers deciding when u deserve ur rank, but its a bit of a double edged sword on that too.
  10. Eric Dufurrena

    Eric Dufurrena The Iron Fist of Fun

    I do not think so. If you are in it to fight, most of the trainers you have are not fighters. Some are going to be ex-fighters, but you could still beat them, mainly because they aren't going to be conditioning themselves to fight, or they are older and can't fight anymore. Finally, if you are gifted as an athlete and a fighter, lets use Jon Jones as an example, there probably isn't anyone he can't beat, so should he not have teachers?
    Judah likes this.
  11. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    true I hear what you saying and makes perfect sense but I dunno man, If i could smash my instructor(who is a machine ex korea presidential bodyguard etc) I would have no other benchmark know what I mean, understand the pro fighter route u mentioned but just from my perspective would make a difference:cautious:
  12. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    I've only ever had one boxing coach young enough and heavy enough beat me in the ring. But that doesn't mean the older coaches were any worse, they'd already done their time and had many bouts on their cards. For me an I strict or who has never fought/played the game doesn't make me confident that what they're teaching is valid. I once knew a guy who had very good technique yet whenever he fought he got annihilated. When he coached a girl I knew for a full contact kickboxing bout having only ever lost at semi contact TKD I was furious with him. The poor girl got destroyed. What business did he have coaching her for something he couldn't do/had never done?
    DeeD likes this.
  13. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    There are definitely different standards in different martial arts and from school to school in the same MA. I had this student once who would always worry at tournaments when he saw people with higher grades in his category then ask amazed how they got their grade after he'd trashed them. The difference was in how their grades were achieved and the standards required. I stopped testing my students for grades and simply awarded them when they reached what I felt was the standard. If also mix grades between technical ability and fighting skill. A yellow tag I dictated a technical grade and a red one fighting ability, sometimes both. That way students could see how achieved their grade.
    Ian Sinclair likes this.
  14. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    Yeah but I've beaten people who have beaten people who can beat me..... Beating one person doesn't guarantee you'll beat others he/she can defeat.
  15. Ian Sinclair

    Ian Sinclair Bushido Warrior

    That's an interesting idea.
  16. Martialist

    Martialist Each One, Teach One

    I personally never liked the raking system I was brought up with but I would also have to say that it does help in keeping order with students and ranking.

    What I did to make it work for me was to eliminate the scheduled testing dates like most Korean and Japanese Martial Arts follow, at least here in the United States. I will test the student when I feel they are ready. It can take 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.... I understand that not all students learn and progress the same so when a student signs up I 'll them from the beginning; Here we don't follow testing schedules etc, here you get promoted by your ability to learn and understand what it is being taught and how hard you work for it. If a student signs up at the same time as another student, that doesn't mean they will both test together. It also does not mean that he or she is better at doing something better than the other, like i said, not all students learn the same way or as fast as others. I still have 8 month and 18 month white belts for a reason, some people like it and some don't. We must understand that we can't make everyone happy either. I in under no circumstance am planning on teaching garbage. The(My) student will only get tested when I feel they are worthy, understand, and able to/how defend themselves in a live environment.

    Also about charging for testing, I am 50/50 on this. Why? Because I do understand that bills must be paid and that it is a business no matter how you look at it. The problem lies on how to balance business and Martial Arts without degrading what it is being taught and getting greedy. The other %50 is that I feel that if a student is training hard and needs to be promoted he or she has earned it, so it should be given to them instead of bought! I have my own system of making things work. The questions lies on how others balance this out without compromising the quality of teaching and "greed".

    "I also left any ties with federations. To much BS politics, BS curriculum and greed comes from my personal experience"


    Bow out with respect...
  17. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    [quote="DeeD, post: 22396, member: 2496" if you have no syllabus to complete(u know what i mean) to strive for or competition to beat and just push yourself[/quote]

    This is how I break it down for my students. There are two basic aspects to my martial arts (of course there are many other aspects but two foundational elements) Martial and Art. Martial is your ability to fight. Art is the forms, flow and tradition. If you know more about either than you did in the last class, or last week, or last month, then you are progressing. If your form and technique is getting better and your ability to defend yourself is improving, then there is no need for anything else. The belt is just recognition of your progress from your teacher. I would much rather have my students say that they are able to competently defend themselves than they have memorized snaking talon and alternating maces (just examples from my kenpo days - no disrespect to kenpo)
  18. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    I visited a Thai school recently. I honestly do not know much about it but the different students had different arm bands. I assumed, that was how they could tell rank.

    I have also run into this. The grading for belts is really off the charts from style to style. I am a third degree black belt. I trained with a fourth degree last night two at the end of the night said that he would not want to meet me in a dark alley. I have trained for much longer than he has but don't test all that often. I have close to five years of training on him but he has more stripes on his belt.
    On the other hand, I visited my friends school a few months ago. I sparred one of his brown belts and that guy was fantastic. He really kept me on my toes in a way that I have not experienced in a while. Now granted, point sparing is my my strongest trait since I rarely ever do it but that guy was good.
  19. Aaron Hutto

    Aaron Hutto Master

    I would agree with this on some levels. I do know some great fighters who are also great teachers. I consider myself to be pretty average as a fighter but I am a very good teacher and I am honest with my students about it. I am not a natural. I have worked very hard to get where I am. I have students that I have no doubt will surpass me in skill and I am ok with that. My contribution to the world of martial arts is teaching, not fighting.
  20. Angelos Koskinas

    Angelos Koskinas Initiate

    Some places should not even bother with teaching or the ranking. a little dissapointed at the caliber of Karate dojos in Connecticut. I went back to my old school a few months after not having been there in 5 years and was embarassed with how far it fell off. We used to have 80 people in the place training and hitting the drills and then sparring.

    Now there is a guy with a black belt over sweat pants and a sweat shirt teaching. I was utterly disappointed with how far the place fell off. the black belts in there were training alone and had absolutely no business wearing there belts.

    Unfortunately we will see a lot more of this to TKD and Karate as the old practitioners stop teaching and younger age transitions mostly to MMA.

Share This Page