Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Belt System... I'm griping!

This may sound heretical, but I'm not sure I really like the belt system. In my master's school, we the students would often listen to lectures on what being a black belt meant. For instance, a black belt is a leader, a well rounded student who displays courtesy and knowledge in order to help those lesser in rank; I'm not debating that, but often schools have black belts and students who wear black belts.

I want to be clear that I'm not saying that they did not "deserve" their promotion. They performed what ever requirements that were required in order to pass. But when a teacher looks around, they can tell who the real black belts are. 

As I said black belts are leaders. They lead the lower ranks in class and drills. But black belts are also students in the fire and wind mindsets. They are passionate and creative, finding answers to their questions through study and rigorous training. They try to best themselves as they train and push themselves farther. 

If you are a teacher, and you have black belts that are not like this, should they be wearing black belts?

Now this opens up another avenue of discussion. Not every black belt is going to open up their own school, or go to the olympics, or star in action films, or even become a major part of their MA like Ed Parker. Many martial artists have other lives and MA is just a hobby. That's great! MA is a great way to get in shape and also get in touch with your deeper self, but should they be awarded black belts?

I think they should be given black belts, especially if they are hard workers and are, in fact, black belts in class and represent their school well. There are not that many students out there that are ready to give their whole life to MA, but they are still great teachers and leaders in their schools or should be...

Some schools are black belt factories and just promote without giving their students much of a test at all. they don't challenge their students and allow them to pay a monthly fee so they can "train" and "test" every two months. Some students just want the black belt to tie around their wastes. They don't want the knowledge and responsibility that comes with it.

It's easy to get a black belt; go online and buy one from a MA magazine. It will save you all the months paying a teacher to promote you. And you can wear it to school, brag about it and get served by the guy who is easily irritated by showoffs... And so this is my gripe about the belt system. I don't really know what should be done about it.

It is a practice that has gone on since the late 1800s. It is a part of MA now and will be forever... probably. So what do you think? Should there be a different way of promoting? Or maybe we should just tear down the bogus MA schools? Your call!

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