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JKD UnderGround >> Does Belt rabk matter to you?


9/28/09 5:19 PM
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Joe Maffei
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Just wondering if belt rank has any meaning to you other then giving props to the person who recieved it?
9/29/09 5:01 AM
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keseki
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Define "meaning".

Then define "matter".

Also define "rabk".

But, I think I can guess what you are trying to ask and I will answer: One of my belts (or ranks) has meanings and matters (to me, and to some other people), but the rest of them (belts/ranks) don't (matter or mean anythings to me and probably not to anyone else also).

WHY some belts/ranks mean and matter is maybe a more interesting inquiry. But then I suspect the answer is too obvious.
9/29/09 9:18 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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It's a bit inconvenient telling people all the time that the white belt I wear doesn't mean I'm new.
9/29/09 9:37 PM
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Joe Maffei
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I ask this question because belts don't mean anything to me. What's a Black belt? I don't know? The notion is unreliable. Way to much ego, politics, who has one? who doesn't.. it just seems to me that once again there is way to much emphasis on what's around your waist. Maybe for business it's a way to control $$$ flow and a way to put the carrot out in front, but other then that???
9/30/09 1:58 PM
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cprevost
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Joe Maffei - I ask this question because belts don't mean anything to me.

Not accusing you Joe but more often than not people who say that either haven't gotten any rank or they are lying, or they realize that the rank is BS. My TKD black belt I have no idea where it is? I remember putting it in the closet about 8 years ago. My BJJ brown is another story. I tie it on with pride because I earned it and can defend it on the mat anytime. It has a lot of meaning to me. It's not my reason for training and I'm not lusting after the next belt, but I appreciate my instructor acknowledging my skill level and abilities with it. Plus, it holds my gi closed.
10/1/09 12:26 AM
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Matt Thornton
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Edited: 10/01/09 12:26 AM
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http://aliveness101.blogspot.com/2006/03/about-belts.html
10/1/09 12:37 AM
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shen
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Joe Maffei - I ask this question because belts don't mean anything to me. What's a Black belt? I don't know? The notion is unreliable. Way to much ego, politics, who has one? who doesn't.. it just seems to me that once again there is way to much emphasis on what's around your waist. Maybe for business it's a way to control $$$ flow and a way to put the carrot out in front, but other then that???



Do "instructor certifications" mean anything to you?
10/1/09 1:33 PM
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cprevost
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Edited: 10/01/09 1:38 PM
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never mind...
10/1/09 2:10 PM
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Joe Maffei
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cprevost, no offense taken bro and shen, no cert's don't mean anything to me either. I know it means something to some folks, a sense of accomplishment, a place in the pecking order, so I guess it has it's place kinda for those who need that.

Thank you Matt for that link. And BJJ is exactly what I am referring to for this reason I brought this up. I see some purple belts similar age and weight from one school able to hold there own even beat some brown/black belts from other schools. Does this mean the purple belts should really be brown/black or does this mean that some brown/black belts are really purple belts? how can this be?

I had 2 of my students receive rank this past month. 1.received his purple belt and the other his brown belt, both from 2 different Bjj schools from reputable instructors from Brazil.

The purple belt when he was still blue would be asked by the instructor to run class when the instructor had to be gone. So the blue would be teaching the purple and browns, and could back it up on the mat. At the end of the belt ceremony he was congratulated but was told by fellow students the belt was the wrong color????

I asked the brown belt how he did testing, and he admitted that the purple belts just smoked him but he got his brown belt because he was a good teacher and could convey proper technical advice.

So where are we here? if it's a simple answer then fine, but if it's maybe this, or perhaps that and it coulda been because......No I don't buy it.

I personally don't care about belts. It's like Matt said, you know if a guy is good, when rolling, I don't know if someone is a purple/brown or black belt, but I do know if he's better then me and I do know if he is not better but just in way better shape then me.

So belts??? can be misleading.
10/1/09 11:58 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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I think the confusion comes as follows:

1) Completeness of game
2) Strength of Game
3) Ability to coach
4) Underlying attributes

You shouldn't be awarded a belt in BJJ for #4...

...I think that #1 is the most important.
10/2/09 12:44 PM
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cprevost
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Being too attached to "I don't care about belts" is as bad as being attached to belts. A healthy attitude is somewhere in the middle. I'm extremely grateful and proud when I get one. Don't much think about it one way or another any time else.

The rank is either proper or it ain't. Again, if you are training alive it all works itself out on the mat anyway.
10/2/09 11:51 PM
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John Frankl
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Lots of good feedback so far. I am with Cain on attitude toward belts.

That said, I did find the following comment interesting:

"but I do know if he's better then me and I do know if he is not better but just in way better shape then me."

I think I know what you are saying here, Joe. And I think it is right when it comes to say a BJJ blue belt losing to a college wrestler. But we must also realize that a college wrestler is more than just "in good shape." He has many thousands of hours on the mat to develop timing, sensitivity, distance, speed, power, etc., without which, no matter how strong he is in the weight room, he will never beat a decent blue belt.

Goint beyond this, however, I also see BJJ and combat sports in general as a totality. That is, can you really separate out physical conditioning from the total package? And would simple physical conditioning allow someone not better to beat you?

It would be somewhat like losing a gunfight and saying, just before you died, I'm a better gunfighter than he is, but he's just faster and more accurate than I am.

You might be right in a certain sense, perhaps meaning that you could teach a third person to gunfight better than he could. But you might also conclude that speed and accuracy are just as important, or even moreso, than the other aspects of gunfighting?

Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying Kevin Randelman deserves a black belt, but I am looking for a middle ground--something like Cain's and Kai's positions above--that simultaneously acknowledge a complete game (which must include being in pretty darn good shape) and a healthy blend of honesty and non-attachment.
10/3/09 4:22 PM
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twinkletoesCT
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Some nice things about ranks:
  • Nice acknowledgement of progress and skill development (when that IS what it acknowledges)
  • Can sometimes encourage students to work on specific areas they might not otherwise
  • Demonstrates to those outside that this person has a certain amount of experience
  • Are supplemental motivational tools for many people. 
Some bad things about ranks:
  • Some people over-fixate on their "position" in the group, based on rank.
  • Some people rely strongly upon rank for motivation (as opposed to "improvement").
  • Some ranks are not predicated on the development of skill, which can cause tremendous confusion. 


10/4/09 4:55 AM
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John Frankl
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Oh yeah, another reason rank matters (thanks Twinkletoes!): "Demonstrates to those outside..."

This may sound foolish, but it can matter. I have a contract to teach a US special forces group stationed here in Korea. We have been going for quite some time without any hassle. Then, all of a sudden, some bureaucrat requires a certificate proving my rank. Of course, I had one or two such things--though it took me a while to find them and dust them off--but I can no longer say they don't matter, considering they are now helping me continue to do something I feel is very important.
10/5/09 8:56 AM
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Scott Elliott
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Again, very good points by most everyone.

John's last comment brings up a point that I too have faced more than a few times. I teach for a university and they ask for certification/rank. I am beginning a program for the local law enforcement as well and they, too, require some sort of rank/certification. The public will also often ask for some sort of rank/certification as well. Unfortunately, if you don't have these things they will often go to someone less knowledgeable and less experienced just because they have the rank that they are asking for.

If you truly care about doing good in your community and providing true benefit your customers, you fail them if they walk out your door to go study "chi" just because they have a belt and you don't.
10/5/09 9:52 AM
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Joe Maffei
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As I said, for business I can see belts and rank. But I asked if belts and rank mean anything to "YOU" not what the outside world thinks of you or how one can gain advantage in the work place.

cprevost "if you are training alive it all works itself out on the mat anyway." Yup that's what I'm talking about.

John "but I am looking for a middle ground--something like Cain's and Kai's positions above--that simultaneously acknowledge a complete game"

This is my point about my purple/brown belt story. The instructor finds the middle ground, the instructor decides who has a complete game... Right? then awards a belt if he "feels" the student deserves it. Another instructor might "feel" different, he may feel the student needs more time/knowledge etc. Some other instructor may have given the rank much sooner. So it seems every school is different and set the bar or standers if you may, at different levels.

Don't get me wrong, I think out of all the MA, Bjj is the closest to level gauging then others, however with the saturation of schools, instructor's and participants in the U.S today the scale is becoming blurred and if not monitored will follow in the same path as JKD certifications which many folks have acquired for personal financial gain and that's it.....:(
10/5/09 6:09 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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Let me explain a bit further:

1) Completeness of game
This means having the gamut of important skills within the art you are evaluating. In Judo it would mean that you know the whole Nage no Kata and Katame no Kata.

In Brazilian Jujitsu it gets a bit more fuzzy. But ultimately it would mean having a good guard that you can submit, reverse and never have passed, have a good top side passing game, good submissions from all the major positions and great reversals and counters to offensive positions.

2) Strength of Game
This is the competition part. There are certain people who have certain games that are incredibly strong. Those people can also impose their will and make you play to their game. They might not have an all around game like some, but can always seem to find a way to play to their technical strengths and win.
10/6/09 8:49 PM
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Kai Tremeche
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Both of the above can get you a black belt, but the first will make you a better coach, the second will make you a better seminar coach.
10/7/09 6:47 AM
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Scott Elliott
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In answer to the threads initial question:

No. Rank is not important to me. In fact, I trained for years and never sought any rank or certification. It was only when it became obvious how important it was to other people that I had to pursue it.
10/7/09 11:54 AM
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Joe Maffei
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Kai. "Both of the above can get you a black belt, but the first will make you a better coach, the second will make you a better seminar coach."

Thank you for the time and the break down. But what I'm asking is after you have done that, do you even want or care about the Black belt, does it matter to you?

I think perhaps for new guys 20 yrs and under in the industry it may have personal meaning especially if it is your first. I also think (and thank you Scott) that it may even come to a point that outside influence regardless of personal growth is the motive for achievement recognition.

Teachers need to make a living, I understand that, and if the guy down the street has a Black belt in Bjj and you don't he will get the customers. That is why back in the day Brazilian's cornered the market for Bjj and now Americans with Black belts, are a real threat to the customer base. Further more, a strong brand name in MMA who beats Bjj Black belts will and can steal customers from black belt schools IMHO I don't think they give a rat's ass about a belt. They have the skill. respect through performance and are making a living.
10/7/09 12:35 PM
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laqueus
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Belts matter in a sport context. Your rank determines who you compete against, and ostensibly means you'll be going against people of the same level. It also factors in with officiating. You've gotta be purple to be a certified IBJJF referee, and I think black belt minimum for Judo (although this could vary according to country). When it's stuff like that it matters.

Also, if the curriculum is set up so only certain techniques are taught to certain ranks, you'd want to rank up. Of course this would be a big warning flag that you don't want to practice that style, but perhaps it has some strong merits to it otherwise. Some sparring might be restricted to certain ranks, which is reasonable, depending on how it's done. For instance where I train Judo, white belts aren't allowed to be choked or armbarred and aren't allowed to do them either. I'd imagine some places might not allow randori until yellow belt to ensure everyone has practiced sufficient breakfalls.

Of course a lot of this can be determined without belts. You don't spar until you have the fundamentals down (or you only do gradually controlled sparring for beginners), you don't learn techniques or principles until you understand the underlying principles, and you don't officiate until you have sufficient competition and technical experience to actually know what you're doing. If you're training with a group that ties that to belt, then belt rank matters.
10/7/09 12:58 PM
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laqueus
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As for meaning something to me personally, it depends on the belt and who I'm getting it from.

When I started Judo, in the 2nd class I got promoted from white to green. This was because I had ground skills to beat competetive black belts, and I had a wrestling base that nobody below green belt could reliably throw me. I had 2 throws though, and I wasn't terribly good at them, and couldn't throw anyone green or higher. Essentially what it reflected was my sparring ability, not my technical knowledge of Judo. On the one hand, it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but on the other hand it now motivates me more to work on my standup - partly because I made the mistake of buying a karate green belt rather than a judo one, so the stitches are already coming undone, so I want to rank up to blue before it completely falls apart as I don't want to go out and buy a second green belt. Outside of that, it's a kick in the pants to force me to catch up to my rank in a judo context.

For BJJ, it's different. I'm still sitting at white belt, even though I do quite well competetively, particularly in no-gi. I know at least one reason I'm not ranked up - I don't play with grips well, when I try them I'm quite awkward and when people beat me, it's usually because of grips. That's clearly an integral part of BJJ. When I get my blue belt, it'll mean I've developed that part of my game - which doesn't come easy to me. It'll be an accomplishment, and it'll mean something, even if it's nothing more than the fact that I've overcome that hurdle. I also think I'll benefit from it, because I have to look at how I do rolling with guys who are higher rank than me, and also competing, and the fact that I'm even with blue belts in my own club and at competitions, while still being white. I have to look at why I'm white, and fix those parts of my game, which are probably more important to fix sooner than later.

At some point they'll have exclipsed their usefulness. For Judo, once I hit brown I can't rank any higher without doing Kata. Now there's at least one kind of cool kata that seems more like a 2 person stretching exercise than a simulated fight. I do Yoga, so I could possibly stomach that. On the other hand, brown belts, as far as I know, can compete with black belts, and can also get coaching certification. I like to teach, although I don't care about being paid, and I don't like sandbagging. With a brown I'll be able to do both, so the motivation to get black will be pretty low, and it'll stop mattering to me as well.

With BJJ, I guess I'll have to see what happens after I hit purple. At the very least I do want purple as it lets me get ref certification (it's something I already do, but only at local tournaments, would be nicer to get it officially). I also have no idea what my next obstacle will be and if some deficiency in my game will be the barrier to purple, again giving me the indication of what to work on.

Will I be proud of it? Probably not. I'm proud of finishing a marathon, despite being in incredible pain from it, and I got a finishing medal for it. That means more to me than any of my belts, or my martial arts competition medals, since I really had to dig deep to do that, it still has some similarity to belt rank though, and it's quite possible that someone else had to overcome as much for their belt as I did for the marathon.
10/8/09 8:27 AM
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phauna
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Belt rank doesn't matter to me but other people are always bringing it up. Also I've just started Escrima, I've done MA for 17 years, and some of the one year escrima guys try to tell me things which I know are wrong, even in escrima. So having a higher belt than them would perhaps keep them a bit quieter.

I've kind of opted out of the bjj rankings too as I only train no gi, or a no gi game with a gi at bjj class. So I can hold my own against belts that I don't have and will apparently never get.

As some have already mentioned, if I have to learn a form or kata to get a belt, then it's a belt I don't want.
10/8/09 9:39 AM
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Joe Maffei
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Edited: 10/08/09 9:41 AM
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laqueus: the first half of your post is politics you can't officiate, you can't train with certain folks that's all business and has nothing to do with your ability.

the second half of your post regarding judo and motivation , this is the carrot put out in front. as I said, some folks need that some don't

regarding Bjj and grips, I don't agree with your statement

"I don't play with grips well, when I try them I'm quite awkward and when people beat me, it's usually because of grips. That's clearly an integral part of BJJ. When I get my blue belt, it'll mean I've developed that part of my game"

No,,, your belt has nothing to do with that. When you start defending and utilizing your grips, neutralizing and taking advantage of your grip technique, that will prove your game is developing. You will know that with or without a belt.

phauna FMA can be another deceptive training endeavor because so much is based on pre determined patterns with out resistance and with out forward pressure. So it's easy to blow smoke up your ass if you don't know their little drills. An easy way to quite folks is to lightly gear up and have an MMA match , just with sticks in your hands....:)

All I'm saying is for "me" I see a lot of BS, and gray in ranking, I am very self motivating and it is not useful for me.
10/8/09 11:04 AM
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laqueus
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"No,,, your belt has nothing to do with that. When you start defending and utilizing your grips, neutralizing and taking advantage of your grip technique, that will prove your game is developing. You will know that with or without a belt. "

Eventually yes, but in a rankless environment I wouldn't have thought about grips until much later. I would have continued working on my nogi game, and would have progressed just fine in gi until eventually hitting a wall (somewhere around purple belt level is I think where not having a grip game would really be a disadvantage). Basically the thing was I'm in there with prior nogi experience, beating some guys who are blues, and most of the whites who are my weight, and even occasionally catching a purple. So I look at why I'm not being quick promoted to blue (if rank were based purely on competetive ability, that would have happened). I start comparing my game to others, and see what I'm missing that others have, even if I'm beating them. That turned out to be quite valuable.

Obviously, once you know that stuff, the belt stops mattering, but looking at something with hindsight that only is of benefit to someone who lacks that hindsight is a bit useless.

The value of a belt will change from time to time and from belt to belt, also depending on how much experience you have and how well you can fight.

If someone already has a couple black belts and is quite experienced, a belt might not matter to them anymore. Someone who's starting, or who has less experience, it'll matter more. It's always questionable when someone who's just starting out says belts don't matter to them. More often than not, if a beginner says belts don't matter, you can point to a deficiency in their skills that they'd have to spend a lot of work addressing if they needed to rank up. Of course this depends on the style. I practice Hapkido, and genuinely don't care about my rank, in fact I'm rather happy to stay as a perpetual white belt, because injuries increase from blue belt on, as the curriculum gains a higher percentage of convoluted techniques that can have things go wrong. I can sit knowing most of the yellow and green belt curriculum, working more on fundamentals and improving according to my own measuring standards. Judo however has a much more complete curriculum, that doesn't really have anything I'm keen on avoiding, and there if someone says rank doesn't matter to them, it's probably 'cause they can't do throws, pins and/or submissions well. If a brown belt in Canada says the black belt doesn't matter, then I buy it, 'cause there's the barrier of entry of the kata, and from black belt on it's less about skill and more about community involvement and time spent with the belt.

Asking if belts matter I think is very dependent on the style you're practicing, why you're practicing martial arts, and how good you actually are.

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