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SoldierGround >> Belt System


9/5/07 7:08 PM
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SFC Matt Larsen
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Edited: 05-Sep-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 746
 
The important thing about a belt system is that the belt holders actually are what we say they are, in other words we cannot create paper tigers. This means that we have to figure out what we want the belts to mean and then devise ways to quantify those things. For example, at least at the bottom end the primary things that a belt should mean is that you know the system and that you can fight. Many systems require a certain amount of training in order to qualify to test for your belt. The problem is that training for a certain length of time and then demonstrating techniques with a compliant partner does not meen that you can fight. I believe that we should require victories on the mat and in the ring in order to qualify for advancement. Only those who show they are proficient fighters would be able to be tested on whether or not they know the techniques of the system. We would also want to test other Soldier skills such as shooting, rucking, land nav, etc. At the higher end, what you want, in addition to fighting ability and Soldier skills, is teaching and coaching ability. You would also want refereeing experience and experience running tournament. The second thing is that the belt system must not break down or cause disunity. Many of you have heard me speak about the problems with the BJJ system in this regard but I will recap the basic here. BJJ rank is given out by individuals. This means a couple of things. First it means that personal loyalty to an instructor is the primary consideration for promotion. If you don't kiss someone's tail they simply won't give you what you want. You see this played out in the BJJ world all of the time. It is the cause of all of the in fighting in the BJJ world. It also means that the system can break down. BJJ ranks have only one meaning and that meaning is that whoever gave it to you thinks you should have it. His credibility is the only thing that backs it up. This is why you almost always hear from whom someone has received their belt. He is a ----- belt under -----. Since it is an individual system, standards will inevitably vary, over time wildly. We have all seen someone who we didn't think deserved the belt they were wearing. Imagine this system in any other profession. Who says you are a good doctor, plumber, physics teacher? Well my dad does. In all other professions there is a system of standards and a board process for accreditation. Our system must be this way as well. My basic proposal is to create a log book of the various things I just spoke about. When people met the requirement for each level they could go before a local promotion board who would test them on their techniques and review the other requirements and send their recommendation to the HQ where all promotions would be certified and documented. I have completed a draft of the lower levels. The first belt would require five competition points (at 1 per victory and an additional point for submission). The technique tested would be the level one techniques. Additionaly candidates would have to shoot expert and be first class on the APFT. The next level would require ten additional points from standard competition as well as an intermediate rules victory and to have refereed at least ten matches at two diferent tournaments. You can see where I am going. Thought? Ideas? Matt
9/5/07 9:58 PM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 05-Sep-07
Member Since: 03/12/2002
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I think it is not a bad idea to force guys to compete in non bjj gapplingrules and no gi as well. At least one time. Also to have taught many level one or two classes. Also to demonstrate their teahing ability during the test. When you would put all thsoe factors toggether, that wouled be a very complete instructor/fighter
9/6/07 9:49 AM
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rafie
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Edited: 06-Sep-07
Member Since: 11/21/2005
Posts: 394
All I think is a excellent idea and it should be discusses in any simposium on the All Army. Matt what about those soldiers with already ranks in arts comparing with those soldiers just with MACP experience? rafie
9/6/07 2:53 PM
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macpfighter
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Edited: 06-Sep-07
Member Since: 10/28/2006
Posts: 109
I'm definitely gonna have to ponder this one and post again later when I have my thoughts together. Initial feelings are that we absolutely need some sort of ranking structure if simply for the reason of motivation to train and compete. The issue I see with a tab or badge is that it is mainly a one time thing, unless we go along the lines of adding stars or whatever for different rank levels. Also, we all know that there are a lot of badge chasers in the Army and we could wind up with a lot of people getting into the program for the wrong reasons. Lastly, for now, I think that the advances in belt/rank do need to include teaching experience/ability. There is a huge difference between being good at something and being good at teaching it. Jimm
9/6/07 3:25 PM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 06-Sep-07
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And the way I think Matt is wanting it is all encompessing. So when I think about it, the guys should be teaching to spread the system. Anoither thing too, how to you structure a Belt system to ensure that guys are getting out there and becomng well rounded? You include those things you want done on the test. So, let's say you have 10 competition points( and they all could be grappling/MACP comps) but at the test they have to do 3 San Shou Rounds. If they wanted to perform to a given standard of competency, then they would be forced to train takedowns with strikes. My question is, what level is the minimum they need to be promoted? Do they have to be a level 3 or 4? What if they are only level 2 can they still attain a higher rank?
9/6/07 9:32 PM
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MAJLeavitt
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Edited: 06-Sep-07
Member Since: 05/09/2005
Posts: 93
Good concept I think. One thought that comes to mind.... Age, experience, and the ability to win in a competition may not exactly line up. At 42, I have maturity, experience, and skills that may be valuable, yet I may not be able to beat a young 21 year old stud. That said, I think you still need to compete and demonstrate you can walk the walk. It is difficult to make a system that is completely objective in nature (that is based on winning and losing). There has to be room for a certain amount of subjectiveness. I do understand where you are coming from though.
9/7/07 12:34 AM
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SFC Matt Larsen
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Edited: 07-Sep-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 750
There is definitely a need for a handicaping system. My original plan was to use the Arpad Elo system of numerical ranking. That would work if we could get big Army to buy off and implemet it. That of course is pretty dificult. An idea is to track victories in the log book and advance people in the handicapping system according to their victories. This would at least meen that a new competitor would not have to fight anyone who had won previous tournaments.
9/7/07 11:47 AM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 07-Sep-07
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I thought it was the computer system used in chess. It allows top players not to crush new ones like Matt stated
9/7/07 11:56 PM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 07-Sep-07
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I think the Marines have proven the effectiveness of belts and integrating it to a military branch. It motivates soldiers and looks cool:) I think some of their stuff is weird but i like the set up in some ways. Put the belts with MACP and it is golden!
9/9/07 9:37 PM
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Combat MMA
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Edited: 09-Sep-07
Member Since: 06/11/2002
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Fort Bragg Combat MMA

For the belt system to work, it must be bought off and enforced by Big Army as part of a culture change within the entire Army. Without it, it will have no meaning. I know the next direction this conversation goes, and that is that we will "provide" meaning by calling people out wearing the black belts, brown belts, etc. Bottom line, soldiers are not going to give a shit if they are getting called out or not for wearing a "Black Belt". It has no meaning to them, because they do not train in MAC, even with MAC being part of the Warrior Core Tasks and Drills.

I have to disagree a bit with the Marines example. I think the Marines are a great example of the belt system not working at all. Yeah, they have the posters with the "Our belts are earned, not issued" and things like that, but the average Marine could not care less what MCMAP belt they hold. I taught for the Marines as a civilian before I came into the Army

Now, of course the Marines that are into fighting care, just as all of us involved in MACC would be into the belt system. But, at the end of the day, for the most part, if the Marines, a mch smaller force does not make it work, we are going to end up the same way without serious Big Army support and a serious culture change in the Army.

9/10/07 1:29 PM
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SFC Matt Larsen
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Edited: 10-Sep-07
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Your points are well taken Jeff. It might be a while before we get the Army to officialy adopt the belt system. The best way is probably to just do it through a private organization. I don't think we should concern ourselves with the people who won't care. They are the same people that are always going to be a problem. The best way is just to do it a let momentum build. It might take a while but eventualy they will be shamed into playing along. The only poeple who who will care at first will be us but that is the nature of the beast. The only way we concur it is when the people in the Army who are not eligable for the other cool guy stuff like the Ranger Tab etc, realize they can get some respect from it. Imagine the femail Soldier who can kick every one's but in her company as the model for why it would meen more than the MCMAP belt. The problem is that right now we have a defacto belt system, the BJJ belts. The problem with that will always be that BJJ is not inclusive and our biggest eneimes play off of that as our identity. All you have to do is read Josh Collins article to knoiw what I meen. Too close an affiliation with BJJ is our biggest problem politicaly.
9/10/07 9:36 PM
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MAJLeavitt
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Edited: 10-Sep-07
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Matt, So why not use your private organization as a governing body and set up the criteria that would have to be met in order to earn belts. I think it would be a challenge to do so and maintain the quality and consistency. It would also have to take into account that many good people cannot attend MAC-P military courses at Benning as their Chain of Command may not allow it. Requiring them to keep a log book of training and weekend trips etc to qualified instructors. Finally attending a testing board where they are tested based on the critieria established. One thing I think you need to be sensitive to is not making this an exclusive club of your MAC-P buddies down at Benning and the Pro fighters that, while good, and we need those guys, lets face it, they have an incentive to get the belt and martket it back to the army. There is a balance for sure, and finding it will be a challenge. You don't want to be a belt mill, and also you don't want to make an exclusive club. I am encouraged to see this conversation taking place!
9/11/07 1:16 AM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 11-Sep-07
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I am going to search for that article. I know Bjj is very messed up and has some very bad politics( Very). I think we do have to move away from that( wHAT OTHER bJJ BLACK BELT WOULD SAY THAT?) Not that i do not l;ike Bjj but it is stopping our progress in many ways including people's focus on training.
9/11/07 9:47 AM
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SFC Matt Larsen
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Edited: 11-Sep-07
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MAJLeavitt, I agree with you. Using the PO is probably the only workable solution in the short term. As for what the belts meen, I think it is important to have fighting criteria, even to advanced rules, for the lower belts. The good news is we can host our own events which helps to control the quality of opponents. One thing that I think is important is the level we expect out of a black belt. The perseption in the civilian world is that a black belt meens that you are an expert at something. This contrasts with what it meens in most martial arts where it actualy meens you are a serious student. The average time in the Karate world is three years of training. This is one place were BJJ has it right. The BJJ model is ten years. So a BJJ black belt is what the general populace thinks every BB is. I think for MAC that we should go with the ten years and real expertice model. Of course that meens that there will be far fewer BBs but it also meens that the belts will always meens something. We just have to design a system that insures real expertice.
9/11/07 5:01 PM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 11-Sep-07
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Right so, the black would be a real legit warrior, I eman Thai boxing, shooting, stickfighting,wrestling all around bad ass. You would have to be competent in all ranges One thing bjj also has right as well is that most purple belts know as much as most Brown and Black Belts. So if we set up a system that has the full range of skills, then at a certain point, you bwould have all the necessary skills but you would have to refine them to reach a higher level. Plus, it could be helpful if guys are further away from instructors too
9/11/07 8:58 PM
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MAJLeavitt
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Edited: 11-Sep-07
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Establishing criteria is important. I will have to give this some serious thought. I think you need to balance a few things...i.e. Have realitive weighted criteria. ability to fight...maybe 50% Physical conditioning, stamina, agility etc....15% demonstrated technical ability...35% ability to teach, instruct, mentor, and maturity...25% Contributions to the program...i.e..."what do you bring to the table mentally/intellectually? (Scholarship???) I think testing along these lines lends for a greater balance and could account for such things as limitation imposed by age, injury, etc. In the martial arts organizations I belong to...not ONE of them has such a comprehensive system. There is much room for politics, rewarding your buddies, and dangling the carrot to keep the students coming back for more! You see a watering down in BJJ in some areas...you see guys getting purple belts way early simply because they are establishing a school and the BB wants them to affiliate so they can grow there domain. You see too many BB that are fat and lazy that pontificate about what they used to be able to do, not what they can currently do. also much of what they supposedly can do, they really can't and then limit themselves to teaching just that! Establishing a certification board based on balanced/weighted criteria gives you the ability to take in subjective as well as objective criteria and control the process...taking into account that there may be some pretty darn good instructors out there that may be good fighters, but lack interpersonal skills and the maturity and ability to teach and lead...it also takes into account those that might not be so strong in the fighting arena (but they still have to get in there and mix it up), but have very strong technical, teaching, and leadership skills. Don't pay too much attention to the criteria or percentages I listed...it is just a stab to get people thinking in that area.
9/12/07 12:09 AM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 12-Sep-07
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No but they are good points. Some Black belts have problems because of injuries. We only need to use Bjj for it's good points but I think you are right about being in good shape. The fact is, it is easy to get laszy:) I love being lazy but I have a few tough guys in my school that like to remind me of that @!
9/13/07 3:56 PM
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SFC Matt Larsen
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Edited: 13-Sep-07
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I think the key is performance gates. we can make it fairly sophisticated so as to adjust for age etc. but the key is to make sure that it really means what we say it means. The gates would be the test of the things we value. Fighting ability- first gate, if you can't fight the rest doesn't matter. This can be adjusted to compensate for various factors by the way we set up the handicapping system for the competitions. Fitness- the easiest way is to just use the APFT. We could modify it some and require other physical tests such as road marching or pull-ups, or we could design our own test. We would just have to make sure our test was platoon sergeant friendly so the test committee will not have too much to do. Other skills tests- such as marksmanship and weaponry. For the army the only practical way is to use the army systems. A better way, since the army marksmanship standards don't really test battlefield marksmanship, would be to piggy back of someone like the IDPA. They already have a robust testing system and a large enough database that their standards are good. They also do a good job of staying focused on combat. Higher requirements- such as producing students, refereeing, etc. I think the best way to test the intangibles is to make criteria that require those qualities. If a guy is a hard to get along with or dishonest, it will surface in his record long before test time, assuming we require events that require a track record Matt
9/13/07 10:57 PM
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squirrle42
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Edited: 13-Sep-07 11:01 PM
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Good Evening to all. I love the Combatives system. I am a prior Marine with Marine corps martial arts program experience, and not a good one at that. My reading of going to a belt system concern me. Mainly to the point of soldiers going out of their way to compete and possibly getting injured. Both are a loss of man power. Granted I would love to compete more, but their are not too many promoters in Oklahoma, I would have to take leave every time I want to fight and my command would not like for me to get broken. Some of the requirements that you have put out there to play with are to me a little high. I know there are soldiers that can fight, shoot expert and score a high APFT. But what about those who can't score high on the range or APFT? What about those people who have some sort of recuring injury? Can they not fight? I have a sholder injury right now and I am still helping out with a Lvl 1 class, minus the clinch drill. I score mid level on the range, pass an APFT, a level 2 instructor. I will close the gap and finish the fight wearing a black belt or a rigger belt if it means going home dead or alive. The willingness to close the distance and finish the fight are what drive the individual, not a belt, tab or patch. Right now I think the main focus should be on getting all posts and units on the same field as everyone else. There are units out there that are concerned with all the other "Good Training" and leaving combatives behind. Bugs should be put into higher ups ears about this. Call out some challenges. My top 5 vs. your top 5. Fight for funding to get mats,a Combat ring, pads and gloves or any combination of gear for soldiers to train. Like I said before, I love combatives. I know some things will change. I hope to come out to Benning for level 3 in the near future. But please reconsider having a belt system and the "I'm better than you" mentality that goes with it, like the Marines. D.Johns Ft Sill Ok
9/13/07 11:47 PM
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MAJLeavitt
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Edited: 13-Sep-07
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squirrie, I think the thing we need to stay focused on is that we are talking a different paradigm for black belts than what is commonly happening in the MA community. In the general MA community it is generally held that everyone will get a black belt if they simply stick it out long enough. As Matt Points out in most martial arts it represents simply the level of dedication of the point of being a beginner. Most japanese systems in japan view it this way. However to most in the west, and to the those that are not familiar with MA...it represents acheiving a level of competence or expertise. Each martial art style has it's own value system and criteria for promotion. Most I have found will promote you to BB based on very subjective criteria. Essentially you stick around long enough, pay enough money, learn what they tell you to learn, learn the verbage, how to "appear" knowledgable, and to position yourself so you look like an expert, yet it is possible that you have not really mastered much or only mastered those things that allow you to perform a very narrow set of criteria or conditions within that dojo. (translated, not much depth or breadth.) BLUF: Everyone can earn a black belt. In reality the bell curve or the pareto principle will apply. That is most should or will be at a mid point of the curve. That mid point should be like a Senior Blue or Purple belt, using the best model we have...BJJ. Not being a black belt should not mean that you are not dedicated, or not a decent martial artist...only that you do not have the time, ability, or maybe you are not quite there as instructor material. There are many things that might keep you from being an instructor or a black belt...things that are no fault of your own. Such as in ability to shoot well, or you may simply suck at instruction or leading an organization. for example. I think you bring up some good points though. I think this is why Matt is looking hard at how you handicap things. A 45 year old guy with a shoulder injury would preventing from doing well on push ups may be a factor that a board would have to consider. It would be only one of many factors in consideration. That same guy though if he sucked at fighting, was grossly over weight, did not exemplify warrior ethos, did little to take care of his diet, and simply loved to pontificate about what he was once able to do when you was a whole person...probably should not be a black belt. However, a 45 year old guy with a hip replacement that still managed to be an inspiration, exuded warrior ethos, was able to teach, coach, mentor, and could still walk the walk...might be a good candidate, even though he simply could not whoop ass anymore, or pass the APFT because he was on permanent profile because of an injury. I think we have to accept the fact that in the paradiqm that Matt is trying to establish that not everyone would become a black belt. It would further mean that the value of the other colored belts would also become more valued and respectable. Look at how brown belts, purple, and even blue belts are held in BJJ as compared to other TMAs out there. In this way of thinking you may peak as a brown belt....and that would be Okay. This is the kind of system I'd like to see in place.
9/14/07 11:33 AM
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SFC Matt Larsen
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Edited: 14-Sep-07
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The key, and what we need to work out, is a testing plan that motivates people in the right direction, recognizes and rewards the right people. The idea of a belt system is a tool to steer people's growth. What we test will eventually be the identity of the program. We also have to be smart enough to recognize potential unintended consequences. That is why I used the example of BJJs personal promotion resulting in problems. Matt
9/14/07 8:57 PM
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JasonKeaton
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Edited: 14-Sep-07
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that is it
9/16/07 6:28 AM
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gryfen
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Edited: 16-Sep-07
Member Since: 11/07/2006
Posts: 17

Concerns from the Pouge side of the house:

Amen.  We've got plenty of things out there where if you put in the time & proper sound bites, you WILL get your souvineer / 'thanks for playing' certificate.

I've already gotten a shiver or two from people who display no interest in so much as dabbling in Level 1, but their ears perk up like a hound dog when they hear MACP courses go on the ERB.

Maybe I'm a snob, but I don't want to roll with a pack of tab chasers.  It's much better to learn from an honest, ass woopin, focused program; than it is to learn from a pontificating block checker.  I worry that if a belt system were implemented before MACP fully infiltrates 'Big Brother Army' it will draw the wrong sort of people into the local programs 'we', of 'Big Army', will have available to us.

Hopefully, the thoughts given here to what the criteria sould be will prevent that.  But, please Jesus, don't let it happen soon.

9/16/07 12:00 PM
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Spc Lee Lohff
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Edited: 16-Sep-07
Member Since: 05/31/2004
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I agree belts would be a good idea as long as, 1) Fighting ability remains the number one priority, and 2) The main school at Benning plays a large role in who has the ability to award these belts to prevent the bastardization of the system.
9/22/07 7:15 AM
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Normal MT
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Edited: 22-Sep-07
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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Matt, Jeff.

Just a question, just had a talk with an ROTC Instructor here at ISU who just got back from his Level 2 in WA. He was curious about cert, Level 3? I told him I could teach him and the college kids "Box/Thai" but that Official certs would be through your network.

Where does a civilian like myself stand in your scheme of things. I told him that I can help but that I would ask what the procedure's should be.

On a side note, my other daughter's boyfriend just gave me his Marine's Blackbelt now that he's looking at a Law enforcement job. It looks like it should hold my pants up pretty good. ("slight sarcasm intended")

Your thoughts?


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