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    Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

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    sydvicious

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    Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by sydvicious on Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:23 pm

    I received my 4th Kyu (orange belt) in March this year, together with 4 of my club mates. The fact that we were 5 people working on the same grade made things a bit easier, as we all had to work on the same techniques.
    Unfortunatley, due to work and family life, I have not been able to attend classes as regularly as I would've liked to. So I wasn't surprised that 3 of them had been promoted to 3rd Kyu (green belt) when I returned to class about two weeks ago. (I wasn't away for an extended period of time, but I only attended classes "every now and then")
    Last night, our sensei told me that he wants to do my grading next week, but I don't feel like I'm ready for it at all. Odds are that I would probably be able to perform the techniques "well enough" to pass the grading, but that means that I would get a belt that I don't feel good enough for, if that makes any sense...

    The thing is, I don't know how to approach this with my sensei. I have a lot of respect for him and I'm sure he won't give me a grade I don't deserve, but I still feel that I'm not good enough to get it yet.

    So should I talk to him about it or stop being a baby and just get on with it?


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    DougNZ

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by DougNZ on Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:34 pm

    The martial journey is an average of ups and downs. Sometimes we work hard for little gain and sometimes good things happen when we are taking it easy. Take things as they come, Sydvicious; they'll all average out in the end.
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    Kenan79

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by Kenan79 on Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:16 pm

    sydvicious wrote:Odds are that I would probably be able to perform the techniques "well enough" to pass the grading, but that means that I would get a belt that I don't feel good enough for, if that makes any sense...

    "Well enough" should be enough. The point of each grading (kyu belts) is for the pupil to show a basic understanding of the techniques required for that specific rank and is not expected to perform them "brilliantly". A technique is being worked on and improved through years of hard practice. If you are devoted to judo and your sensei knows this, he will give you the passing grade even if you think you could have performed the technique better then you did at the time.

    Raj Venugopal

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by Raj Venugopal on Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:47 pm

    Your job is not to question sensei. At this level your job is to show up ready to learn judo, test when told, and accept the rank awarded to you. Unless he sits you down to ask you about your feelings about grading, do as you're told.
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Fri Aug 08, 2014 5:55 am

    sydvicious wrote:I received my 4th Kyu (orange belt) in March this year, together with 4 of my club mates. The fact that we were 5 people working on the same grade made things a bit easier, as we all had to work on the same techniques.
    Unfortunatley, due to work and family life, I have not been able to attend classes as regularly as I would've liked to. So I wasn't surprised that 3 of them had been promoted to 3rd Kyu (green belt) when I returned to class about two weeks ago. (I wasn't away for an extended period of time, but I only attended classes "every now and then")
    Last night, our sensei told me that he wants to do my grading next week, but I don't feel like I'm ready for it at all. Odds are that I would probably be able to perform the techniques "well enough" to pass the grading, but that means that I would get a belt that I don't feel good enough for, if that makes any sense...

    The thing is, I don't know how to approach this with my sensei. I have a lot of respect for him and I'm sure he won't give me a grade I don't deserve, but I still feel that I'm not good enough to get it yet.

    So should I talk to him about it or stop being a baby and just get on with it?

    I feel overranked all of the time when I am on the same tatami with Okano-sensei, but that is in part also because the man is ridiculously underranked and historically among the very best what jûdô has ever produced.

    It is not possible to give a response properly tailored to your situation. Certainly, I do not buy "the sensei is always right". If that were true, then all the sensei who molest kids, beat up their wives and discriminate against women and other minorities, would also be doing the right thing. Most sensei are not some kind of demi-deities, but people of flesh and blood with their own quirks and limitations. Personally, I also would not refer to every person who teaches jûdô as a 'sensei' but that is another matter. The one club where as a youngster I was supposed to train in the kids division was led by someone who was 18 years old. One is not sensei at age 18 irrespective of whether one has a black belt or not and one is teaching or not.

    What is the reality ?  The reality is that several people have different standards as to when someone should be doing an exam. I once was in a school (not budô) where the majority of (still relatively young) instructors had the view that someone should be doing exam when they had a chance of passing. Exams consequently were very much hit or miss ?  Pass an exam involved a major luck factor, and if you didn't pass, you just took it again at a later time. Because of this approach, the school could present statistics showing that x% of their students obtained qualification whatever after just x amount of training.

    This is very different from how I see exams. For me exams are not something you can pass if you're lucky; instead exams are something you will pass, unless some total freak situation would occur. Consequently, no student of mine has ever failed a black belt exam before a national jury. With a new rank or certification, responsibilty comes, not just a sheet of paper. You owe to those who trust you that not only you are able and capable, but that they are safe in your hands. This is not just so for senior qualifications, but also for lower qualifications since after all as a 4th kyû you are ranked considerably higher than a 6th kyû and when working out with a 6th kyû they need to be able to rely on you and your responsibility.

    Anyways, in the school I was talking about, I did not feel ready for an exam, and made the huge mistake of giving in and let the instructor have it her way, which turned out to be a very bad experience. Afterwards, after telling the instructor my experience and making it clear I would never do that again, I made an appointment with the chief-instructor and explained him my experiences, and told him that never I would do an exam again when I did not feel ready irrespective of what my instructor might feel. He listened attentively, and said "fine, I appreciate that". From that moment I did all my exams when I was ready, and interestingly it must have made some impact on the chief-instructor since from that moment he made sure he himself examined me for future exams and not some junior assistant. I took longer than the average student in completing my exams, but when I left there I was known as one of their best students whose knowledge was very thorough, who was responsible, and who was safe. I could live with that.

    This is 2014, not the Middle Ages. Things aren't right just become they come from the highest in rank. I don't want students who slavishly do whatever I tell them. I want students who speak up, express their meaning, challenge me. How can someone be a teacher when he does not want to be challenge or when students do that it would be bad ?  A major part of jûdô's pedagogy is mondô, that is discussion, not submitting to dogma's. At the least the sensei should carefully listen to what the student has to say. A sensei needs to have a chance when a student has doubts about an exam whether those doubts are justified, or whether he has a lack of self-confidence and anxiety of failure. For black belts exams before a national jury it does happen with some frequency that at the last moment the student feels nauseous and starts doubting himself. But a sensei who has guided and mentored his students knows what they know and master, and at that point also may have to be the coach that installs self-confidence and encourages the student to continue. that's why empathy, psychology and realism are important qualities for a sensei.

    In any case, if we are talking relatively junior ranks, chances are that whatever the outcome the effect will not be a total world crisis. I remember that my 2nd kyû exam came very short after my 3rd kyû, so naturally I felt less prepared for 2nd kyû than for 3rd kyû. In such case, nothing prepares you from the moment you obtain that next degree even though feeling at the lower range of abilities, to increase your training and effort so that within the shortest time possible you do feel totally worthy of that rank. I did, and I also sharply increased my competition participation of which the results underlined that my commitment was working.

    Oh, by the way, I also have refused every rank that was ever offered to me without a formal exam; for dan-ranks that means for me: I will never accept any promotion to a higher rank without being examined by an independent jury (at least as far as the 'examinable' ranks go in jûdô, which is up to 8th dan) consisting at least of 3 people, all of whom ideally hold at least the rank for which I am being examined +1, and if not possible than at least the same rank for which I am being examined.

    Good luck !


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:50 pm; edited 2 times in total


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    Stacey

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by Stacey on Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:16 pm

    then grade, accept the rank if it's offered, and work your a55 off until you feel you're worth it. By the time you feel you really deserve to wear the rank, you'll be given a new belt, a new rank, and a new challenge.
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    sydvicious

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by sydvicious on Fri Aug 08, 2014 7:27 pm

    Thanks, CK and Stacey, that makes a lot of sense. I guess it gives you an incentive to work harder!


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    JudoSensei

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by JudoSensei on Sat Aug 09, 2014 8:08 am

    Most likely, your instructor is just trying to encourage you with an incentive to get a little more serious and try to catch up with the others. If you can do that then you don't need to talk to him. He may also want you to come up in rank so you aren't left behind. This can discourage you, and also affect others in class, for example by pushing them further for their next rank. There might be a lot of reasons he is offering the exam.

    Kyu grade students seldom have the same perspective on their own progress that their instructor does. When it comes to judo, I would always err on following your instructor's suggestions and assume that he or she knows the rank system best. I have had lots of students tell me they aren't ready for testing when I know they clearly are able to demonstrate all of the skills at the appropriate level. I've also had the reverse, but this is generally more rare in judo. Most of us tend to be very patient with promotions and take much longer than minimum times in each grade.

    On the other hand, I love to hear from my students so I can better understand what works best for them. If I have a student tell me that they would like a little more time to prepare it's fine as long as they commit to a not-so-distant date. I always want my students to confidently demonstrate their best skills. He might not mind this approach assuming there is not a scheduled testing date involving other students. If this is a regularly scheduled testing opportunity for promotion, you may just want to test with the other students.

    We have all attempted things that were more difficult than we would like, or more rushed, or more worrying, but in going for it you will be learning more as you achieve a rank that will demand yet more. It sounds to me like you think you can do it. If so, do it.
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    sydvicious

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by sydvicious on Tue Aug 12, 2014 11:40 pm

    Well I did the grading last night and got my green belt!

    I felt comfortable with the Tachi-waza, but not so much with the Kansetu-waza. For instance, I was asked to show Waki-gatame and then I did Hiza-gatame!  Embarassed 

    Now I just need to start working hard again so that I can be a "good" green belt, as others have mentioned before. Most importantly, I have to work hard on Ne-waza, as that is the area where I'm lacking most. Being an ex wrestler, I can defend and control position, but my offensive Ne-waza is almost non-existant!


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    JudoStu

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by JudoStu on Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:06 am

    Congrats on the green belt. You may notice the brown belts start to take you a little more seriously in randori now


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    sydvicious

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by sydvicious on Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:37 am

    JudoStu wrote:Congrats on the green belt. You may notice the brown belts start to take you a little more seriously in randori now

    Nah, they already did that when I got my orange belt!


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    Hanon

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by Hanon on Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:30 am

    sydvicious wrote:

    ...................Last night, our sensei told me that he wants to do my grading next week, but I don't feel like I'm ready for it at all.

    ................. I have a lot of respect for him and I'm sure he won't give me a grade I don't deserve, but I still feel that I'm not good enough to get it yet.


    Hi Syd. Pleased you took the grading and even more pleased you passed. I have taken some snippets from your post for you to re read.

    I think one needs to ask oneself on what knowledge base we make decisions in life? In your case your sensei feels you should take the grading , he didn't state you would pass! Now you didn't feel comfortable with his or her request. That says to me you should find a dojo where you have confidence in the sensei who is teaching and relax yourself into his or her teaching.

    I have often read posts like this on the forums and ponder how a relative beginner has the knowledge to evaluate his or her own judo especially when a sensei makes a suggestion, I assume, based on decades of learned experience (you do refer to him or her as "Sensei")?

    As CK sensei points out not all sensei are sensei, if that is so in your case it may be an idea to find a dojo where you can place your tuition in safe hands. I also agree with CK sensei when he says Q+A are as vital as the gokyo. I ponder though do you yet have the knowledge base to even question your own rank?

    I failed my 5th kyu TWICE that is how I reached my present rank some 14 years ago. Now in MY case I will not progress to further rank in judo. After 52 years of practice and 44 years of non stop teaching all over the globe and with my own dojo not to mention pupils who reached rokudan I can make a knowledge based assessment on my own ability. I will not accept hachi dan regardless.  WE all have to know when we have reached our limits but I don't think that could be yet written of your good self?  Evil or Very Mad 

    The experience gained in taking the grading has much more value than the eventual rank at the end of it. At your stage in judo take the opportunities, pass or not the experience is so important and as stated more important than the rank itself.

    I hope you will take this post in the spirit it is written Syd.

    Oh BTW. There is not a sensei on earth who can 100% predict the outcome of a pupils grading. I have sometimes found that those who do well in class crumble at the pressure of a grading while those who stumble though lessons can often pull something out of the bag at the grading and pass.  Cool   

    Kind regards,

    Mike


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    sydvicious

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    Re: Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your belt?

    Post by sydvicious on Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:32 pm

    Hanon wrote:
    sydvicious wrote:

    ...................Last night, our sensei told me that he wants to do my grading next week, but I don't feel like I'm ready for it at all.

    ................. I have a lot of respect for him and I'm sure he won't give me a grade I don't deserve, but I still feel that I'm not good enough to get it yet.


    Hi Syd. Pleased you took the grading and even more pleased you passed. I have taken some snippets from your post for you to re read.

    I think one needs to ask oneself on what knowledge base we make decisions in life? In your case your sensei feels you should take the grading , he didn't state you would pass! Now you didn't feel comfortable with his or her request. That says to me you should find a dojo where you have confidence in the sensei who is teaching and relax yourself into his or her teaching.

    I have often read posts like this on the forums and ponder how a relative beginner has the knowledge to evaluate his or her own judo especially when a sensei makes a suggestion, I assume, based on decades of learned experience (you do refer to him or her as "Sensei")?

    As CK sensei points out not all sensei are sensei, if that is so in your case it may be an idea to find a dojo where you can place your tuition in safe hands. I also agree with CK sensei when he says Q+A are as vital as the gokyo. I ponder though do you yet have the knowledge base to even question your own rank?

    I failed my 5th kyu TWICE that is how I reached my present rank some 14 years ago. Now in MY case I will not progress to further rank in judo. After 52 years of practice and 44 years of non stop teaching all over the globe and with my own dojo not to mention pupils who reached rokudan I can make a knowledge based assessment on my own ability. I will not accept hachi dan regardless.  WE all have to know when we have reached our limits but I don't think that could be yet written of your good self?  Evil or Very Mad 

    The experience gained in taking the grading has much more value than the eventual rank at the end of it. At your stage in judo take the opportunities, pass or not the experience is so important and as stated more important than the rank itself.

    I hope you will take this post in the spirit it is written Syd.

    Oh BTW. There is not a sensei on earth who can 100% predict the outcome of a pupils grading. I have sometimes found that those who do well in class crumble at the pressure of a grading while those who stumble though lessons can often pull something out of the bag at the grading and pass.  Cool   

    Kind regards,

    Mike

    Thanks Mike. You make valid points, but I think you have the wrong idea about what I said about not feeling ready.
    I know my knowledge is infinately less than that of my sensei. However, sometimes you just don't feel "right" about it and that goes for everything in life, not just Judo. So in this case, eventhough my sensei was probably 90% I would be able to do it, I just didn't feel confident about it at all. I didn't feel that I knew the techniques well enough to perform them correctly in a grading situation. Obviously, it turned out that he was right!  Laughing 

    As to the point about not all sensei being sensei in the true meaning of the word, that is not the case for me (luckily!). My sensei is 6th Dan with many years coaching experience and he really has all judoka's best interests at heart, so I couldn't really ask for more.


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