rank – oh my now i’m pushing it

The ranking system in martial arts is both a blessing and a hinderance. I’ll need to explain why of course.

I’ll start by saying that for lower ranks and specifically juniors the ranking system is important and significant in the ongoing understanding if where they are on the progress to being a black belt. I think at black belt things need to change and other factors need to be taken in to account.

For juniors, there are numerous studies that show the effectiveness of the reward feedback system that provides a positive flow for the juniors to strive and achieve the levels needed to progress. The methods of how you provide the positive feedback will affect how they progress and at what rate, however it would seem that when the junior has the reward system they strive to improve to achieve the next level.

Should a rank be a awarded on a time or skills based system, or do they operate hand in hand? You would think that skills progress over time, if the student is given enough time to work at these skills. So time plus effort should equal skill… So if time and effort equals a new skill, and I believe lower ranks need a continual feedback loop to progress with a complete and positive approach, then more levels would equally build esteem and confidence…. but then too much of  will make the next level less rewarding because of the continual reward for the limited effort, so there needs to be a balance. So for lower levels (below black belt), I like the 10 levels to black and then multiple stages between each level.

Beginner and intermediate levels would have more and accelerated step between levels.

At intermediate to black the steps lessen and the time between extends, so it could possible look like the following

| Levels…
|_>    Steps

  1. White
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    6. 6
    7. 7
    8. 8
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    6. 6
    7. 7
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    6. 6
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    1. 1
    2. 2
    1. 1
  2. Black

Ok so whats the thinking here. I feel that for a beginner it important to continually feed them both small chunks of information and reward them for achieving a goal no matter how small.. The steps as a beginner as all big compared to learning the same information after a year or 2 of training. The time frame between the level are approx. the same its the number of rewards between them that would help build confidence and their incremental skills that they will use from there on.

Looking at the list above you may get the impression that the longer they train the quicker they obtain the next level. Not so all the levels are based on a similar length of training hours, for my thinking and the common thought is about 10000 hours to achieve black. Not based on lesson or classes but the amount of hours you spend with an instructor / teacher. That would be about 100 hours per level. As the amount of time you train increases the number of visible rewards ie. stripes on your belt decreases while other methods of student achievement would replace the visible strips.

This also indicates to me that the final step is more about honing your skills in more than learning new ones, and ideally the focus of the student at that time is more intent on the big goal of their Black Belt as apposed to the now learned skill needed to achieve it.

The levels about Black I feel should follow a similar methodology. Though the idea / concept of strips is replaced with another reward system.

For levels above Black I see the following

  1. Instructor
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
  2. Teacher
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
  3. Master
    1. 1

So my thoughts here are similar to the lower levels… After achieving your black there is a large number of dropouts because a lot of people have obtained the thing they most wanted. To help alleviate this dropout rate I think its important that there are a level of rewards and new skills to be learned for the student to start the next part of their journey. Each level is approx. 1000 – 2000 hours of training / research time with a teacher.

So at level 1 you would learn the skills to better your understanding of training systems and how to impart the knowledge to others. At teacher level you are learning to train the trainers and your understanding is at a deeper level and should be prepared to openly discuss your methods and learn better ways of doing learning and teaching the skills needed to run schools. The Master level is where you would focus your training into a specific area, where you would research and develop the finer points of your chosen area. Part of this would be to publish your study to help benefit others.

Part of the overall precess is the continual feedback loop, at all levels and steps regardless of the amount of training you have done. Feedback in any for will help you better understand what your trying to achieve, and it does not always need to be what you want to hear but provided its honest open and backed by experience or a valid explanation then it will help enhance your process to the end goal.

Of course this could be completely out of whack…. and quite possible the reason I don’t run schools… But hey i’m always thinking on how it works…

more thoughts to follow…

Leave a Reply