When should rank be awarded?
Adult Dan (Black Belt) Ranks
Part I Children's Rank
From time to time families move into the area and want to enroll their 6 to 8 year old black belt kids into my school. It is also not that uncommon to come across the 24 year old practitioner who is a 5th or 6th degree black belt. I am not here to say when a child should be awarded what particular rank or what age an adult should be to reach a certain dan (black belt) rank, but maturity needs to be considered as it relates to rank, both for kids and adult black belts.
In part one I will discuss the maturity relationship between rank and age in children and in part two, I'll discuss the same issue, with a slightly different twist, with the adult black belt rank. I think you'll find it interesting that there are areas of similar concepts that should be considered in each case. I will share how I award rank only as an example of my big picture thinking and not to suggest how and when a rank should be awarded.
We must keep in mind we are talking about martial arts and not soccer or any other sport. When we talk about black belt, whether it's with kids or adults, it is understood there is a certain level of self-defense skills and technical expertise that have been acquired.
I have been taught and strongly believe that the ability to effectively defend one's self depends on the close relationship of the individual's mind and physical skill set. When these two areas progress together the individual's ability to defend one's self improves. These two areas need time to develop. Physical development requires quality instruction with thousands of repetitions and mental development needs maturity and critical thinking with proper instruction over a long period of time.
In addition to developing self-defense skills, most martial art instructors want to improve their own wisdom and that of their students. Most would agree that time, education and experience is what makes a person wise. So we traditional martial art school owners want to develop wise students that can adequately defend themselves. The beautiful thing is it takes the same formula to develop wisdom as it does self-defense proficiency. That formula is "time" and "education". Time is experience, which can't be taught and education is the physical development of skill and the advancement of sound philosophy and common sense thinking.
With this foundation, let's look at what point should rank, belt colors including black, be awarded to kids.
The first thing we need to do is define what a kid "black belt" is and then work backwards through the colors to white belt. This is difficult; it is like trying to describe the indescribable. To do this I have overly simplified this argument for presentation purposes only. Though I personally believe in the old school philosophy that a black belt should be awarded at 18 years of age, I understand and agree there is a need for a junior black belt.
So what is a junior black belt? It needs to be a kid with the same technical skill set as an adult black belt while possessing a minimum maturity level. It is this maturity issue that has been taken out of the consideration process by many schools when awarding kid's ranks. I believe that in most traditional schools it is not the question that maturity should be a part of the decision making process when awarding black belts to kids, the question is what level should that be?
I give out junior black belts to kids 13 to 17 years of age. These kids generally start training around 4 to 7 years of age and will possess a sound level of proficiency and maturity. My reasoning for awarding black belts to these kids is because they have trained consistently for 6 to 8 years, have achieved a certain level of proficiency and have reached the minimum age of 13, which in many countries and religions is the beginning age of adult maturity. It is this general world consensus of maturity and my personal experience that 13 seems to be the youngest a person can be to reach black belt in my school.
Again, I am not saying 13 is the correct age for junior black belt; this is just what I use. What I am saying is there needs to be a minimum age that includes the technical skills we all agree should be considered for black and a minimum maturity level.
Working back from junior black belt through the colors to white belt, I have minimum age requirements for the different color belts in our system. I am not a psychologist, but I have taught children of all ages for over 35 years and there are distinct levels of maturity between the ages of four and 13. To me there are distinct levels at 4, 7, 9, 11, and thirteen. There are of course some gray in these ages and there are exceptions. There are topics and discussions that can be discussed at one maturity level and not another. The maturity age should have a distinct impact of the rank level of a child. Again, we are talking about martial arts and not tennis. Self-defense is an important part of our art. Death and danger are by-products of self-defense training and can only be discussed when a child is mature enough to understand them.
It seems to me there should be a gradual transition of rank (color belts) in relationship to maturity and body development; from a young child with no rank, little maturity and fragile body to higher rank, stronger body with a higher level of maturity. In other words, when you are talking about kids, physical development and maturity need to have a direct relationship to rank.
In addition, a high priority of most traditional martial art schools is the education of life skills and character development in its kid's programs. Life skills and character development can only be taught successfully over many maturity levels. Life skills are taught as the student experiences life. This is a time issue. It cannot be shortened or condensed. Experience is time and age.
In summary, a black belt must have a certain level of technical understanding, physical development and mental maturity. Shouldn't all color ranks have this same understanding but at lower benchmarks?
So when I see a parent bring in their 6 year old black belt child into my school, I just shake my head. Of course I say how impressed I am and then guide them to a school that holds those standards. I always feel bad because that child will have more difficulty learning life's skills and developing philosophical understandings than they would have if they took the natural learning process that takes time and experience. In addition to this, that child's martial arts career will probably never fully recover from this early rapid rank advancement.
The sad thing is most parents understand this child development process. There is no need to move a child rapidly through the ranks. The parents simply need to be informed of this process you are taking their child through and then continually reminded them of it. The majority of parents get it.
Next month I will discuss the importance of maturity as it relates to adult dan ranks.
Until the next philosophical enlightenment.....
Welcome to the world of "Wado"
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One of the most difficult areas that this newsletter has to deal with is the use of instructor titles. We are very sensitive to this issue and do not want to offend or insult anyone. To simplify this daunting problem we will use the following guidelines with the use of instructor titles:
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We consider the title "Sensei" a very prestigious title
Be The Change
by Doug Jepperson
It is getting colder out lately and night comes early in late November. Last week we saw the WKF championships in Paris France, one of the biggest and brightest events in karate history. Christmas is around the corner and I am getting too philosophical lately.
At this time of year I am following the usual inclinations of reflection. This past year I have gone to both coasts to participate or see karate. I have visited John DiPasquale's amazing organization of over 7,000 students and I visited my friends Atur and Joegene who teach part time less than 40 students. I have had conversations with "traditional karate instructors dedicated to preservation of karate-do, I have spoken with Olympic coaches trained in the very latest in human performance development.
So what does it all mean? What have it learned in 2012?
In no particular order here are few lessons from last year.
I notice that we old guys love to reminisce about the days when we all fought bare knuckled without any safety equipment. Of course all of old guys I know walk like they are wearing diapers and hold a pen like it is a pipe wrench. These old guys can steal two hours of your time before you know it, so I thought to help you out for 2013 I would list a few hints on how to recognize "old dudes."
If you have attended a seminar and the presenter spent 45 minutes telling you about his/her good old days when only real karate was taught, they might be an old dude.
If you have listened to a Shihan or Hanshi tell you how they have the last true title of Shihan, Hanshi, Kiyoshi, Renshi or any other of the catalogue of titles available. They might be an Old Dude.
To read the rest of this article click HERE.
Park City Karate
Following is a series of articles that are brief overviews on the more popular karate styles
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE, MAN?
"What style?" I always ask when I meet a fellow traveler in karate. Somehow I feel it tells me a lot about a person. Gives me a reference point to judge attitude and character.
How stupid is that?
"What's your sign, dude?" would be as appropriate.
I hope someone invents an "ignorant things I've said and done" eraser before I die. I'll rest more peacefully.
But, regardless of my personal frailties, styles do exist in the world. It's part of that desire to box life into easy to understand (and easy to sell) packages. My first teacher, Sensei Handest, called his six-person-dojo style "Te Lung", the "Iron Dragon", from something he picked up from studying Indonesian Kun Tao (or maybe TV).
More than likely, a person's style is inherited from the first dojo they entered, or the teacher who ran the school down the block. Some people bounce around from one style to another, but rare is the person who chooses a style based on a logical comparison, like some militant wine connoisseur. ("I say old man, I was considering one of the lighter, Shi-To Ryu systems, but the more aggressive approach of the Shotokan syllabus might be more appropriate to my refined taste.") No one knows enough on day one to make any decision at all, and once you sign up to a dojo, brother, it's hard to break away. If you had the chance to do it over again, would you choose differently?
Modern karate styles are pretty much 20th century creatures, concocted by four enterprising guys in the 1930's. Prior to that, a style ended with the death of the teacher and new styles began when yesterday's students suddenly found themselves today's masters.
This still goes on. It imbues karate with new life.
Before 1936, however, there were no styles, no politics - no ranks, no belt colors, no tests, no promotions - nothing but teachers teaching students how to fight, passing down techniques through kata. Hmmm?
To read the rest of this article click HERE
Sensei Hunt holds Dan ranks in Wado Ryu, Shito Ryu and Shotokan.
He is the author of the book "The Art and the Way". Click the title to get information about this book. To order the book click HERE.
You can contact Sensei Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org
MARTIAL ARTS HUMOR
The old Zen master's health was fading. Knowing his death was near, he announced to all the monks that he soon would be passing down his robe and rice bowl to appoint the next master of the monastery. His choice, he said, would be based on a contest. Anyone seeking the appointment was required to demonstrate his spiritual wisdom by submitting a poem. The head monk, the most obvious successor, presented a poem that was well composed and insightful. All the monks anticipated his selection as their new leader. However, the next morning another poem appeared on the wall in the hallway, apparently written during the dark hours of the night. It stunned everyone with it's elegance and profundity but no one knew who the author was. Determined to find this person, the old master began questioning all the monks. To his surprise, the investigation led to the rather quiet kitchen worker who pounded rice for the meals. Upon hearing the news, the jealous head monk and his comrades plotted to kill their rival. In secret, the old master passed down his robe and bowl to the rice pounder, who quickly fled from the monastery, later to become a widely renowned Zen teacher.
We all need a little Zen in our Lives. If you have a story, please send it in.
WIKF Wado Karate Seminars
Sensei Jon Wicks
WIKF World Chief Instructor
Friendship Cup 2013
Colorado School of Mines
1400 Illinois Street
Special Wado Seminar
The Connection between Wado ryu and Shindo Yoshin ryu
Toby Threadgill (USA)
Menkyo Kaiden, Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu
Bob Nash (USA)
Dan JKF Wado-Kai
February 23 -
For information click HERE
Arizona Karate Championship & USA Karate National Qualifier
|Grand Canyon University Arena|
Sunday March 3, 2013
Grand Canyon University Arena
3300 W. Camelback Rd.
go to karateTmaster.com
USA Karate Referee Seminar
with Sensei Madani
Saturday, March 2, 2013
10am to 4pm
For additional information
USA Wado-Ryu Karate-Do Remnei Championships
Hosted by Nishimura Sensei
March 24, 2013
Tesor High School
1 Tesoro Creek Rd.
Los Flores, CA. 92688
For additional information (949)233-2691
USA-NKF National Qualifier & Tennessee State Championships
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Volunteer State Community College
Pickel Field House
1480 Nashville Pike, Gallatin TN 37066
for more information
Tournament Flier click HERE
Divisions & Itinerary click HERE
Tournament Letter click HERE
Bespoke Karate figurines
Handmade in the U.K. by Karateka
THE FIGURE SHOWN IS CAST IN WHITE RESIN, IT IS AVAILABLE IN A WIDE RANGE OF FINISHES AND COLOURS, THE SIZE OF THE FIGURINE IS 6 ½ INCHES (165MM) LONG,BY 4
¾ HIGH (120 MM ), INDIVIDUALLY PRICED
£25 ($40 us)
plus P&P £15 ($24us)
These prices are for figurines on a unadorned base.
Wado base £10 ($16us)
figurines are available on Ebay U.K
wado specific figurine for use as a trophy ,award or as you wish,made in the U.K.by martial artists
For additional information contact Paul David Hammond