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    Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

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    Kenan79

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    Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Kenan79 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:30 pm

    First, a little background info:

    I have been practicing judo for more then 3 years now, almost every day. I have also taken part in 12 local competition tournaments (not including club tournaments), which is, of course, not much. I currently hold a green belt (white -> yellow -> orange -> green -> blue -> brown -> black)

    As I -love-judo for what it is, I never really gave much thought about belts. I perceive them as a symbol of natural progression after years of practice, competing etc.

    However, recently, I have found out that one of my colleagues, who's been practicing about 2 years, holds an orange belt, has way less practice hours then me and I am quite sure even less competition tournaments, was awarded a black belt after he went to Japan (awarded by the Kodokan).

    He has been taking part in kata tournaments and he can perform a full Nage No Kata. He obviously did a good job performing it in the Kodokan and thus has been awarded a Dan 1.

    No matter how hard I'm telling myself I should just let it go, inside, I feel this is just unfair. This guy is not an "old geezer", he's in his late teens so he has all the time and physical resources to devote to judo (so this is not one of those "veteran judoka" promotions - which I'm totally fine with BTW).

    On one hand, I feel pretty silly to have him now "outrank" me and I feel it's unfair. On the other hand, I'm telling myself I should take the high road, suck it up and congratulate the guy. But, it's kinda hard to be honest. I never asked anyone to give me any sort of "recognition" for the number of practice hours and sweat I invested in judo and the injuries that I had to "chew" through - be it a result of a competition or randori (I'm in it because I enjoy the sport).

    As I said, I really love judo and never was in it for the belt or gradings (though, it's always nice to earn one from time to time!) but this is
    just bugging me..I can't talk about it with my club coleagues as I don't want to leave an impression of a "sore looser" and to be honest, I'm not really proud of these feelings - even if they are, in my opinion, honest and a result of, what I believe is, rightly or wrongly, an undeserved promotion.

    I don't want to talk about it with my sensei (he IS a good friend of mine and a very knowledgable judoka) as I don't want him to know I feel this way.

    So, my questions are:

    1. Does he really deserve to be awarded a black belt?

    2. Should I just suck it up and let it go?

    What do you guys think?
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    Davaro

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Davaro on Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:46 pm

    Well, you first need to be aware that Japan has very different criteria for awarding shodan than the rest of the world. To us Western folk, a black belt has a very different meaning than to them. We think a shodan is an expert, or at least a guy that really knows his stuff when this should not really be the case.

    I think you probably know this and deep inside really want that shodan yourself. Please, I am not trying to say you feel you deserve it now and are full of sour grapes for the other guy but that is what its about. You talk about feeling aggrieved that he 'outranks' you and so-on.

    Take the moral high-ground and understand what happened for what it is. You cannot expect the guy to wear his orange belt just for your sake can you? So either you can, as you said, suck it up or you wont.

    The other option is to make the trip yourself and go get one? He did it... you cannot say he does not deserve a shodan. Who are you to judge? If a 19 year old Japanese visitor from the "kodokan" came to your club, wearing a shodan, and giving out advice, you would probably welcome him with open arms and tell your buddies how great he is... just saying

    I though believe you should just forget about it, see the shodan as just a thing to tie the gi with and get on with your own judo development.

    I do apologize if this came out harsh as that is not my intention.


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    afja_lm139

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by afja_lm139 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:05 pm

    Here is what I was told back around 53 years ago after being awarded shodan at the Kodokan, "The award of SHODAN indicates that the student is sincere in following a martial art and martial ways. It is the first serious step on an endless path of discovery and inquiry."  Was going on 21 years old at the time and had to shiai and demonstrate.  Never really felt comfortable about it until I returned to the USA.
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    Jonesy

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Jonesy on Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:11 pm

    Even harsher, but seldom have I read such a self-indulgent, whiny post:

    1. He does outrank you - by several grades;

    2. He holds arguably one of the most coveted things in judo - a Kodokan dan rank;

    3. Your arrogance to call it an undeserved promotion is breathtaking;

    4. He would have to have amassed several contest points as well - not just kata, or won it by batsugun;

    5. You cannot just get a Kodokan dan rank on a short trip to Japan - you need to be there for a few months;

    6. I would worry about your own judo - not his.


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    Kenan79

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Kenan79 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:25 pm

    ^^You're right Jonesy, I may be arrogant and self-indulgent to claim what I claim.

    However, I know this guy, I know how much time he has spent in our dojo and how much time I have spent practicing in the dojo as well. I also know which one of us has more competition tournament under our belts and his rank before he went to Japan.

    I know I'm "risking" a lot by saying all these things (being accused of being arrogant etc) but even before posting this, I kinda decided the best thing would be to, as you advised, take the high ground and accept it.

    As for your point nr 5., he was in Japan for 2 weeks or so (attending kata seminar) and from what I could hear from the colleagues who were there, all he did was a kata and this is how he got his Dan rank.

    However, to be fair, I'm gonna ask around and find out if he had to meet any additional requirements (you mentioned).
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    Kenan79

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Kenan79 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:35 pm

    Davaro wrote:

    I think you probably know this and deep inside really want that shodan yourself. Please, I am not trying to say you feel you deserve it now and are full of sour grapes for the other guy but that is what its about. You talk about feeling aggrieved that he 'outranks' you and so-on.

    Only because I know I invested a lot more then him (in terms of practice hours, tournaments etc.). This may sound as "sour grapes" but it's a fact. Up untill it happened, I was really not "obsessing" about belts. It took me (and some other colegaues who are Dan grades) by surprise and now I feel it's kinda unfair.

    Take the moral high-ground and understand what happened for what it is. You cannot expect the guy to wear his orange belt just for your sake can you? So either you can, as you said, suck it up or you wont.

    Of course I can't. It would be disrespectful not only to him but to our sensei but since I couldn't say what I feel out loud in the dojo, I'm saying it here.

    The other option is to make the trip yourself and go get one? He did it... you cannot say he does not deserve a shodan. Who are you to judge? If a 19 year old Japanese visitor from the "kodokan" came to your club, wearing a shodan, and giving out advice, you would probably welcome him with open arms and tell your buddies how great he is... just saying

    I never really devoted myself to a Nage No Kata i.e. I'm pretty much not familiar with it (apart from doing one segment of it for my green belt) so me going to Japan would make no difference as I would most certainly fail to do it properly.

    So, if indeed it played out as I think it played out (read my previous post to Jonesy) and merely knowing how to perform a Nage No Kata
    justifies a Dan grade, then i guess you guys are right - I had no right to question it.
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:54 am

    Kenan79 wrote:^^You're right Jonesy, I may be arrogant and self-indulgent to claim what I claim.

    However, I know this guy, I know how much time he has spent in our dojo and how much time I have spent practicing in the dojo as well. I also know which one of us has more competition tournament under our belts and his rank before he went to Japan.

    I know I'm "risking" a lot by saying all these things (being accused of being arrogant etc) but even before posting this, I kinda decided the best thing would be to, as you advised, take the high ground and accept it.

    As for your point nr 5., he was in Japan for 2 weeks or so (attending kata seminar) and from what I could hear from the colleagues who were there, all he did was a kata and this is how he got his Dan rank.

    However, to be fair, I'm gonna ask around and find out if he had to meet any additional requirements (you mentioned).

    I am assuming that this person is not a Japanese citizen but a foreigner. If so, there are only 3 ways he could have been awarded a black belt by the Kôdôkan:

    1. He participated in the kôhaku-shiai or tsukinami-shiai and won the necessary point that according to Japanese standards allowed promotion.

    2. He obtained a black belt abroad and carried a letter signed by the president of his IJF-recognized jûdô federation to seek recognition of the rank by the Kôdôkan. (according to you this is not an option as he only held orange belt)

    3. He somehow slipped through the cracks either through a material error, misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

    Whilst there is also a technical jûdô seminar that 'prepares' you for black belt, I believe that in the past the option was not on offer for foreigners to actually directly receive a Kôdôkan black belt upon completing it, but it could have changed and if so, this would create another option.

    In any case, one thing you have to realize is that unfortunately standards are completely different between some countries, especially countries in different continents. In many European countries, obtaining a black belt traditionally required winning 10 tsukinami shiai points against people who held at least 1st kyû and who were not limited to your age group, followed by a technical exam in front of an independent national jury, whereas in the US for example even your own teacher all by himself can give you a black belt and this just by completing paperwork, no juries or tsukinami-shiai victories required.

    Until a couple of decades ago, 18 years in many European countries was regarded about the minimum age to acquire black belt, and obtaining it at 16 or 17 years was considered truly exceptional since it meant that you had beaten at least 10 seniors whilst still a junior or even younger yourself. In Japan though even before the Second World War, obtaining black belt at 15 years of age was not unheard of, and the currently the minimal age for shodan at the Kôdôkan is 14 years. This is also understandable given the long tradition, and exposure of many kids to jûdô. When you see kids jûdô practice in Japan, that is also undestandable; contrary to the West where kids jûdô usually amounts to nothing but playing games, in Japan they actually seriously practice jûdô.

    When I first went to Switzerland in the early 1970s, I saw many foreigners there, adults trying to stand on skis and carefully making their first steps in the snow. Guess, what, the Swiss kids, many of them just looking like they were barely 8 years old, plowed through the snow on their skis like professionals at a level that most of the foreign adults likely would never achieve.

    I can understand how you feel. You shouldn't feel like that, but I can understand it. Unfortunately our world is rather competitive and we are educated as if competing with others is the way to go. Everything we do or are we compare ourselves to others: who is better, faster, stronger, smarter, richer, more attractive, more successful. Doing so, probably has some merit at a certain stage in our life where we still need to work towards developing our full potential. But as we progress on our path we will also learn to understand this paradox and that human value exists in ourselves in what we mean to our loved ones, what we can do to support others, rather than realizing comparative superlatives. But in the mean time, yes, it is understandable.

    I hope you will take the time to find back some of the old posts which our friend Hanon-sensei wrote with great wisdom on jûdô ranks. Among these I recall things such as:

    - the only people in jûdô who don't care about rank are either those whose rank is either so low or so high. Indeed, a remarkable phenomenon in jûdô is very high-rank holders who spent most of their lives selling out to get to a rank incommensurate with their abilities, who afterwards will insist that rank has no importance.

    - one's abilities show on the tatami, not by the color of the belt one wears around his waist. After all, if you want a black belt, or even a red-/white or white belt, you can just purchase one for $15 on eBay.

    - the higher the rank, the greater the responsibility and scrutiny by others.


    Whatever the way your colleague obtained his rank, really it is his problem, not yours. His value will assessed by the others who meet him on the tatami. In fact, you have already started doing so yourself. He will know that too. If such explanation is not satisfactory for you, and you cannot sleep at night and are close to requiring professional help because someone obtained a black belt before you or under conditions you feel are not fair to you, well, nothing prevents you from doing the same. Clearly, if you know how and where he did it, repeat it yourself. But before you decide to spend some of your savings to doing so, please do realize, that just as you now feel that he is not wearing a rank that reflects his true level, the same might happen to others when you do the same and repeat his achievement. You need to decide what it is for you that is the most important for you. If indeed you are convinced that he is not worthy of it and that your technical level is much better, I would indeed recommend that rather than spending $2,500 to go to Japan, that instead you order a $15 black belt on eBay, hang it on the wall in your bedroom in front of you, so you can see it as the first thing in the morning when you wake up and the last thing when you go to sleep, and let it hang there as a motivator while you continue practicing until the day arrives that you formally obtain it and can take it off the wall.

    Oh, and if you think that this is the end of the story, no it isn't. The same will repeat itself for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th dan or higher. Actually, I'll let you in on a secret. Maybe you didn't think of this, but I can assure you that many of us despite being 3rd, 4th, or 5th dan or whatever, still haven't grown up, and maybe even never will. Just like beauty, dan ranks mostly exist in the eye of the beholder ...


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:54 am; edited 2 times in total


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    Kenan79

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Kenan79 on Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:53 am

    ^^Thanks for the insightful post.

    This whole thing took me by surprise really. Up until few days ago, I wouldn't even think of grades and belts etc. I would think of uchimata, harai goshi, my problem with my hands not pulling hard enough and many other strictly judo-related problems. When I go to sleep, I don't think about a black belt, I replay in my mind that day's randori and try to analyze all my moves, what I did right, what I did wrong, trying to project what would have happened if I did this or that.. When I get up in the morning, I often do a little "uchikomi" and immediately, whether good or right, I come up with new ideas to try out for the next practice - which in turn makes me barely wait for the evening class.

    So that's me.

    As for the black belt, my own concept of "getting there" was quite simple:

    1. Years of active practice (6 years, 1 year each belt as set by my judo union)
    2. Study techniques
    3. Don't avoid participating in tournaments even if you don't feel like it. Always compete.
    4. Go to camps as much as you can (I admit I've been only to 3-4 camps as I'm just too lazy to travel)
    5. When the time comes, perform a proper kata (which is required by my judo union).

    And then this happens and it totally destroys my concept of what Dan grade should be about.

    I know in the end, I will have to accept it, whether I like it or not and suck it up.
    I just had to take this somewhere and this forum seemed to be a right place for it.

    Thanks for all your replies.
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    Jonesy

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Jonesy on Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:47 am

    Firstly respect to Konan79 who after his initial post has handled the feedback very well and with maturity - taking it in the spirit intended.

    My perspectives is that grades really only mean something in the organisation that awarded them - promotion standards all over the world vary hugely - and it is pointless to compare one organisation with another and individual grade holders with others. For example obtaining a black belt shodan in Japan is much physically easier to obtain than in the UK, because attitudes about what shodan are different - in Japan shodan means you have completed a basic course of judo education and made progress - the beginning of a journey, whereas in the West black belt is viewed by many as being the end of the journey - a master grade. 6 dan in Japan is quite accessible and most machi dojo will have several 6 dan holders among their ranks of their middle aged players. There is an exam with well defined criteria for 6 dan and once you have satisfied the criteria - you get the grade. No opaque consideration by a panel of federation worthies. The same is true all the way up to 8 dan which is regarded as the terminal rank in almost all circumstances. Obtaining a 9 dan or 10 dan in Japan is hugely difficult, time in grade for promotion from 8 dan to 9 dan is normally 21 years, with 10 years as a minimum. Sometimes it is reduced for exceptional cases - e.g. Uemura-kancho. However, in some Western countries for example, there are many 9 dan holders who have a track record that is largely domestic and often devoid of an international top level contest or teaching contribution.

    I have taken dan gradings in 3 countries - UK, Japan and France. All were very different.  The UK was the toughest physically - contest set up, full mat area, referee plus corner judges, lots of strength, lots of fitness, lots of aggression - sometimes technique, sometimes not.  Wins were everything and theory was nodded through quite often.  Japan was easier - lots of fighting spirit - different from aggression, more like randori, generally lower physical strength levels, multiple players on the mat but a referee each, any win would do for a point, half point for a draw. No theory exam per se, but a compulsory kata test - as tori and uke, with a compulsory kata course a few weeks beforehand. Physically demanding in the Summer because of the heat. Published promotion requirements were more administrative guidance than absolute.  France was a hybrid of the two - tough fights, kata, but for me quite informal as I was at Pariset' dojo.

    Finally, the point I would make is that people get promoted via all sorts of routes all over the world. No one's own personal achievement is diminished by someone getting the same award via a different route and decrying those that do is not consistent with the respect and inclusivity that judo should instil. It is no different in academia. Getting a first class degree from a world renowned university is much harder then getting one from some newer institutions. However, ultimately a graduate from either institution has a first class degree - is it the same - well yes it is and no it isn't.
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    Kenan79

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Kenan79 on Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:26 am

    I met my fellow club mate today, shook his hand and congratulated him for being promoted to a Dan grade. To my surprise, I felt no jealousy or anything like that. Perhaps all these feelings was an initial "knee jerk" reaction and I guess it took some time for them to settle in.

    Now I feel I shouldn't have opened this thread at all and that it was, as such, inappropriate. And perhaps unfair to my club mate. But I guess, none of us is perfect and we take the things we love, sometimes with too much passion.

    As already posted, I should just focus on my own judo. That is what matters.

    Once again, thank you all for your insights. It was much appreciated.

    GregW

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by GregW on Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:47 am

    Jigoro Kano said that judo's goal is the eventual perfection of human character. A lot of people dismiss that, because they see judo as a means of self-defense, fitness, or an outlet for competitive urges. Those things don't perfect human character.

    I'm sure that there are some who will disagree with me, but there is a quasi-religious facet to judo. It's not a religion of deities, but it's a religion of self-improvement. Doing judo reveals our weaknesses, not only in technique, but also our character flaws.

    When our personal failings are exposed, we either have to justify them, explain them away, or consider means to address them. Perhaps a person has a bad temper and it comes out when he loses. Maybe it's envy of someone else's successes. Sometimes, its the tendency to gloat and be ungracious when we win. Maybe it's the tendency to rationalize away laziness or sloth.

    The stress of judo on the physical body impacts the mental or spiritual side. It exposes our flaws and makes us come to terms with them. Perhaps our original poster has learned something about himself from the event he describes. If so, he should be grateful that judo has exposed these feelings and now, he can work to improve himself. It's up to him to figure out how to address them and that's how the perfection of character occurs.

    Real self-improvement is hard. It's a bitter pill to take sometimes. I had a sensei hold me back from promotion at a point when I was no longer progressing. It was hard to see some of my peers move forward in rank while I stayed at green belt. In the end, the experience made me a better person. It made me have to deal with feelings of envy, shame, embarrassment, and it focused me more on the amount of effort I put out to progress.

    Judo is an excellent tool for self-improvement on every level if we allow it to work on us. If it's teaching a green belt such profound lessons about his character, it inspires me to keep on working through my own weaknesses and shortcomings by continuing to live according to this way. I'm grateful judo teaches us these kinds of hard lessons about ourselves.

    DougNZ

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by DougNZ on Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:12 am

    The longer I have been doing martial arts, the more I like the 'Japanese model'. I like that shodan represents ability with the foundation techniques and commitment to the art. I like that it is not about complete mastery and that a shodan therefore has failings and shortcomings.

    I now grade shodan (in ju-jitsu) a lot 'easier' than all my contempories and I were graded. My new black belts are very aware of their weaknesses and probably feel them more than their strengths. That, I think, is good. It is humbling and another lesson in ego. And it demonstrates that they really are on the first step of a journey and along that journey they will get more proficient and gain greater understanding. By comparison, in our country, the drop out between shodan and nidan (in both judo and ju-jitsu) is huge. Such is the expectation of shodan in other organisations that the new shodan sighs a huge sigh of relief when he/she obtains that black belt ... and then has no further goals. Shodan is such a lofty goal that they have never been able to see beyond that. In my organisation, members are pupils to shodan and students to sandan, after which time they are mentored, rather than taught, and the journey becomes much more personal.

    All this said, I have great confidence in the ability of my shodans, mostly because the much greater number of randori hours than their peers holds them in good stead.
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    Stacey

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Stacey on Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:48 am

    I've felt a bit like what you were feeling. I helped prepare a guy for his nidan test. He'd started judo after I'd obtained my shodan and I was still a shodan, and here this guy was, going for nidan, and getting it. Amazing.

    Then I looked at it; I'm not somebody who pursues rank, and I hadn't even tried to test for a higher rank during those ten years. So, I should get upset by somebody who's counting every point and testing the moment he's able to test? Pft. Not my style, not my emphasis, and just totally not me. Yes, it did make me realize that there was an entire generation of judoka who'd passed me by in rank while I was off playing judo, teaching a bit, and helping those same judoka prepare for their nidan tests. But when I got right down to it, it's not my thing and I'm not going to object to somebody "overtaking me". My journey in judo is my journey in judo. Their journeys are their journeys. Their rank is not a criticism of my skill or judo knowledge or love of judo. My rank is not a criticism of their skill, knowledge or love of judo. I'm not them, and they aren't me (good thing, really, just ask CK).

    Glad you're talking it out and working it out. Very glad you were able to congratulate the dude and shake his hand without a sense of jealously or any other "negative" feeling. This, too, is a judo lesson.

    DougNZ

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by DougNZ on Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:54 am

    Stacey wrote:My journey in judo is my journey in judo. Their journeys are their journeys.  Their rank is not a criticism of my skill or judo knowledge or love of judo.  My rank is not a criticism of their skill, knowledge or love of judo.  I'm not them, and they aren't me.

    Wonderfully put.

    idealab

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by idealab on Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:38 am

    Just a slice of my own experience to share with you, I have been doing judo for many years and never bothered to get promoted beyond shodan, even though I trained some years professionally with certain strong European national team members under a very experienced Olympic-level coach, this is among several other places I trained around the world. When I began to teach at another place, I would often find myself teaching to a group of older black belts who outrank me. So here I am, technically a shodan, teaching 2~4th dans and they enjoy learning despite the official rank difference. Later I was persuaded into getting my nidan by my coach, but the point is, people know your skill once you are on the mat. Another example that caught my attention, Miriam Roper from Germany, who was #1 IJR ranked in the world last I checked, was still a shodan.

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by tafftaz on Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:15 pm

    idealab wrote:Just a slice of my own experience to share with you, I have been doing judo for many years and never bothered to get promoted beyond shodan, even though I trained some years professionally with certain strong European national team members under a very experienced Olympic-level coach, this is among several other places I trained around the world. When I began to teach at another place, I would often find myself teaching to a group of older black belts who outrank me. So here I am, technically a shodan, teaching 2~4th dans and they enjoy learning despite the official rank difference. Later I was persuaded into getting my nidan by my coach, but the point is, people know your skill once you are on the mat. Another example that caught my attention, Miriam Roper from Germany, who was #1 IJR ranked in the world last I checked, was still a shodan.

    Good post. Nicely said.
    Good judo will always be recognised on the tatami, whatever the rank.
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:38 pm

    idealab wrote:Just a slice of my own experience to share with you, I have been doing judo for many years and never bothered to get promoted beyond shodan, even though I trained some years professionally with certain strong European national team members under a very experienced Olympic-level coach, this is among several other places I trained around the world. When I began to teach at another place, I would often find myself teaching to a group of older black belts who outrank me. So here I am, technically a shodan, teaching 2~4th dans and they enjoy learning despite the official rank difference. Later I was persuaded into getting my nidan by my coach, but the point is, people know your skill once you are on the mat. Another example that caught my attention, Miriam Roper from Germany, who was #1 IJR ranked in the world last I checked, was still a shodan.

    All true, but being underranked is as much a problem as being overrankend. In an ideal world one's rank should accurately reflect someone's skills, and that for many reasons. If you are really a 4th dan but wear an orange belt it could potentially become an outright dangerous situation for any orange or green belt who wants to fight you or compete against you thinking that you are about equal in level to him. This is just one example. In jûdô you also have the opposite of chasing rank; I don't want to call it "false modesty" as it is pejorative term that would suggest a person would have bad intentions, but one can artificially keep a rank as low as possible. Heck you could switch federations and intentionally start as a white belt and become "the greatest white belt champion" the nation has seen, attracting wild admiration of how this "white belt" beats all these black belts ... Surely there is a problem too.


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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by JudoStu on Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:39 am

    idealab wrote:people know your skill once you are on the mat.

    ^^^^^this
    I'm only a 1st kyu but i did randori last night with another 1st kyu whom I outweighed considerably. I felt I should have been able to dominate him with grip and strength and match him in skill, but I didn't and couldn't. It turns out he has been a 1st kyu for 12 years and just never bothered going for his shodan. He still trains twice a week but he said he's just too busy at the weekends to give them up for Dan Grading comps. He clearly has the skill to be a shodan and everyone at the club knows how good he is and that he is better than his rank. I'm sure when I get my shodan he'll still be able to throw me around and at the end of the day that's all that matters. He's still improving despite not grading.


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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:27 am

    JudoStu wrote:
    idealab wrote:people know your skill once you are on the mat.

    ^^^^^this
    I'm only a 1st kyu but i did randori last night with another 1st kyu whom I outweighed considerably. I felt I should have been able to dominate him with grip and strength and match him in skill, but I didn't and couldn't. It turns out he has been a 1st kyu for 12 years and just never bothered going for his shodan. He still trains twice a week but he said he's just too busy at the weekends to give them up for Dan Grading comps. He clearly has the skill to be a shodan and everyone at the club knows how good he is and that he is better than his rank. I'm sure when I get my shodan he'll still be able to throw me around and at the end of the day that's all that matters. He's still improving despite not grading.

    I know a woman who refused to do exam for shodan, which was the only way to obtain a dan rank. She had been a 1st kyû for about the same time as your friend, plus ... she had been the dominating national champion in her category and a multiple medal winner in many international tournaments. It really became a total joke. She then actually became a European Champion ... still as a brown belt while defeating all the 3rd and 4th dan-holders along her route. In the end the federation gave in and for the first time ever awarded a shodan without formal exam before a jury. She has remained a shodan until she quit the competitive scene some time after her European title and has now been absorbed into oblivion. While this may sound fun and one could claim how one defeated much higher ranked players, there is clearly a certain degree of falsification in place here. From a pedagogical point of view there also is a misunderstanding here: ranks should be Commensurate to one's true level and that goes both ways: claiming/wearing a rank much higher than the one one truly holds or claiming/wearing a rank much lower than the level one has are both anomalies.

    There exists a famous story of "the beast of Amsterdam", Jon Bluming, while he was a kenshûsei at the Kôdôkan intentionally putting on another foreigner's jûdôgi with a different name, and then putting on a white belt, intentionally worn too high, and with unequal ends and a wrong knot to give the impression he was just a stupid beginner. He then stepped on the tatami where "as a white belt" he destroyed every Japanese on the tatami. Afterwards he was summoned into the office of Kanô Risei and severely scolded for his behavior. You can read the story here: http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_bluming1_0300.htm

    After federations were created the emphasis has been --at least theoretically-- on making rank standards consistent and rigorous. In theory that means people should no longer obtain ranks higher than what they qualify for (we know that in practice this is hardly true). Unfortunately the other end of the equation has been ignored, namely people no longer wearing ranks lower than what they qualify for. This second problem likely is more difficult to address, since one can't force a person to do exam, and if one's standards of rigor imply that no ranks should be given without an exam, then it also becomes problematic to award a rank to those not interested in getting promoted and doing an exam. In the days that Kanô-shihan himself was still alive, this problem was effectively addressed by Kanô more than once on the spot jump-promoting someone by 2 dan-rank when he saw him demonstrate his skills.


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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by JudoStu on Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:51 am

    [quote="Cichorei Kano"]
    JudoStu wrote:
    idealab wrote:people know your skill once you are on the mat.


    There exists a famous story of "the beast of Amsterdam", Jon Bluming, while he was a kenshûsei at the Kôdôkan intentionally putting on another foreigner's jûdôgi with a different name, and then putting on a white belt, intentionally worn too high, and with unequal ends and a wrong knot to give the impression he was just a stupid beginner. He then stepped on the tatami where "as a white belt" he destroyed every Japanese on the tatami. Afterwards he was summoned into the office of Kanô Risei and severely scolded for his behavior. You can read the story here: http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_bluming1_0300.htm
    .

    The above reminded me of this, which was done for a laugh. A BJJ black belt dons a white belt and spares and beats everyone at a local club.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz_26gVAXCg


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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:13 am

    JudoStu wrote:
    The above reminded me of this, which was done for a laugh. A BJJ black belt dons a white belt and spares and beats everyone at a local club.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz_26gVAXCg

    There are, by the way, also considerable suspicions of some of the people who have won medals during the IJF World Cadets Champions in reality not being cadets ... especially some from a number of Eastern European countries, but I digress. Then again, I understand that the 'songstress' Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision song contest though the beard to some might be an indication of a dissonant too ...


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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by idealab on Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:46 am

    Cichorei Kano wrote:
    All true, but being underranked is as much a problem as being overrankend. In an ideal world one's rank should accurately reflect someone's skills, and that for many reasons. If you are really a 4th dan but wear an orange belt it could potentially become an outright dangerous situation for any orange or green belt who wants to fight you or compete against you thinking that you are about equal in level to him. This is just one example. In jûdô you also have the opposite of chasing rank; I don't want to call it "false modesty" as it is pejorative term that would suggest a person would have bad intentions, but one can artificially keep a rank as low as possible. Heck you could switch federations and intentionally start as a white belt and become "the greatest white belt champion" the nation has seen, attracting wild admiration of how this "white belt" beats all these black belts ...   Surely there is a problem too.

    I agree with you. In my case, I am one of those who slipped through the crack of promotion to stay lower rank that what is merited. I changed judo club and locations several times and some of the former instructors are no longer around to make the promotion. There is another issue of cost, in the U. S. it's around $200 for the promotion fee, which for a competitor means a good tournament. Time flies, and years go by like this and one remains a lower rank.

    Cichorei Kano wrote:
    There are, by the way, also considerable suspicions of some of the people who have won medals during the IJF World Cadets Champions in reality not being cadets ... especially some from a number of Eastern European countries, but I digress. Then again, I understand that the 'songstress' Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision song contest though the beard to some might be an indication of a dissonant too ...

    It's proven in the recent junior world championships some Eastern-bloc athletes were found to be seniors! I have spoken to people who trained in those central Asian countries with a strong wrestling tradition, let's say falsifying the age is not exactly rare.

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Anatol on Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:14 pm

    Belts and Gradings and Ranks are the confucian part of Judo.

    I don't care.

    It's good to be a black belt for one reason: in most countries you are allowed to teach Judo.


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    judoheidi

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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by judoheidi on Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:58 am

    We had an orange belt student go to Japan for the summer one year and come back with a black belt. Did he "deserve" it? Not to our standards, but as the first response to the original post says, the standard is very different in Japan. You could probably go and get a black belt too. Needless to say, he entered the advanced division at the next local tournament and was soundly thrashed, since in the US black belts generally have a lot more experience than shodan from Japan. Most of the Japanese international teams are sandan, yodan, and above because shodan is just the starting point, not the end point.
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    Re: Earning a black belt after 2 years of practice

    Post by Ben Reinhardt on Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:07 am

    judoheidi wrote:We had an orange belt student go to Japan for the summer one year and come back with a black belt. Did he "deserve" it? Not to our standards, but as the first response to the original post says, the standard is very different in Japan.  You could probably go and get a black belt too.  Needless to say, he entered the advanced division at the next local tournament and was soundly thrashed, since in the US black belts generally have a lot more experience than shodan from Japan. Most of the Japanese international teams are sandan, yodan, and above because shodan is just the starting point, not the end point.


    Hi Heidi !

    I had a student come to the club at Tulane who had graduated from high school in Japan, where he did Judo for a couple of years (he was a freshman in college).

    By American standards, he was not a shodan. Sankyu more like it.

    However, he was up to shodan level in about a year and a half. His basic skill level was such from his training in Japan that once he actually got some instruction (other than just doing randori), he turned out quite well.

    The funny thing was, he had a AJJF card for shodan, so, well, he was a shodan...



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