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    Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

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    Y-Chromosome

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    Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by Y-Chromosome on Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:15 am

    I thought I'd throw this out here.
    One of our students, at the 'tender age' of 17, has passed his Shodan exam and been duly promoted to that rank.

    It is a non-issue as far as the adult class. He will simply move up a spot in the students line and continue to learn and try to keep pace with a pack of hungry ikkyu coming after him like ravenous wolves... yet I digress.

    My question concerns the kids class. We're a small club and we've had a few long-time instructors who have been dropping like flies due to health and infirmity. (Not so much to the great Dojo-in-the-sky as to the brew-pub down the street.)
    In order to keep the kid's class running I began pressing some of my better nikyu and ikkyu into service as "Sempai" to help with the little ones. It's been more than successful. I was worried they would resent the extra "work" but they seem to relish the perceived status and have embraced the chance to develop their own teaching and leadership skills.

    This particular student has been acting in this role for a couple of years now. Up to now, the "Sempai" have lined up one side, apart from both the Sensei and the students. They are all older teens or young adults, that wouldn't normally be part of the kids class other than to help out.

    Should this young man now line up with the Sensei, or stay with the Sempai?

    If he was older, I think it wouldn't even occur to me to ask. Most of our instructors that have retired or left were only Shodan or Nidan themselves. It's just he's so young. He's actually younger than the other ikkyu in the club.

    To put this in perspective, the kids class is mostly 7 to 12 years old. Grades run from yellow to green-blue at present.
    I try to get them to switch to the "adult" class at about age 14 or blue-belt (nikyu).

    I would appreciate your thoughts.
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    Udon

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    Re: Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by Udon on Wed Dec 07, 2016 9:33 am

    Considering the size of the club, the fact that the young man is shodan and has been teaching, I would have him line up with the sensei.
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    Reinberger

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    Re: Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by Reinberger on Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:36 pm

    As a shodan doesn't make one a sensei, I would think the "highest" seat of the senpai is still the most appropriate place, whether those have their own row in your club, or not. It may also teach/remember all club members about the real meaning of "dan" (what a black belt is, but isn't). IF that would be a little bit of disappointment for the young man, it would be for him another opportunity to learn and mature as well.

    If, for any reason, no sensei is present, then of course it would be correct for him to take sensei's seat as sensei's representative.


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    wdax

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    Re: Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by wdax on Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:41 pm

    I would really check, if three groups are really the best solution... I would always prefer max. two groups: those who teach, no matter of rank, and those who learn - also no matter of rank.
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    Y-Chromosome

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    Re: Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by Y-Chromosome on Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:32 am

    wdax wrote:I would really check, if three groups are really the best solution... I would always prefer max. two groups: those who teach, no matter of rank, and those who learn - also no matter of rank.

    This is how it is for the adult class.
    The cut-off is sandan at present.  The technical director being yondan and the sandans doing most of the teaching anyway.

    For the kids class I think there's a consensus that we're not going to have mudansha up front with the senseis, but it's also clear that they're there not as students but as helpers.  A third line seemed like the most appropriate solution.
    They are clearly not on the same level as the senseis but they ARE unambiguously on another level from the kids.  That includes age maturity and technical ability.  Most of them are college aged and most the kids are in elementary school.
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    Y-Chromosome

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    Re: Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by Y-Chromosome on Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:50 am

    Reinberger wrote:As a shodan doesn't make one a sensei, I would think the "highest" seat of the senpai is still the most appropriate place, whether those have their own row in your club, or not. It may also teach/remember all club members about the real meaning of "dan" (what a black belt is, but isn't). IF that would be a little bit of disappointment for the young man, it would be for him another opportunity to learn and mature as well.

    If, for any reason, no sensei is present, then of course it would be correct for him to take sensei's seat as sensei's representative.

    You are echoing a lot of my thoughts.  That said, this is not Japan or France and the bar for who teaches and who doesn't is lower and more fluid.  It wouldn't even have occurred to me that he might sit up front were it not for the fact that we've had other, albeit much older and more experienced shodans as senseis for many years.  (That in itself is another whole discussion.)

    I don't think he'll be too disappointed one way or the other.  His goal was to get his shodan, not to become a "sensei".

    I did have a mental image of him pouting like Anakin Skywalker when he found out he wouldn't be promoted to Jedi "Master", but I think we can rule out any danger of him being seduced to the Dark-Side. ;-)

    I suppose we could refine our non-existent policy a bit.  For instance explain that we'll wait till he's at least 18 and completes a coaching certification before he sits up front.  It will also be interesting to see if the kids automatically start calling him sensei regardless of where he sits.  I suspect they will.  Up to now they've never seen an exception to the rule that black belt = sensei.

    In any event, I hope to get another three of them through over the next couple of years.  I am aiming for a return to the days when yudansha were as common as dirt in our dojo.

    I'd like to thank everyone for their input.
    I must admit this one has me a bit muddled.
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    Reinberger

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    Re: Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by Reinberger on Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:05 am

    Y-Chromosome wrote:... I suppose we could refine our non-existent policy a bit.  For instance explain that we'll wait till he's at least 18 and completes a coaching certification before he sits up front. ...

    I regard that to be a very good solution, considering the fact that "this isn't Japan", as well as not to neglect that "black belt" doesn't automatically mean "sensei", something  that seems to be misunderstood so often in budō. In addition, your idea of also taking into account official coaching certifications seems to respect a/the modern, 'western way' too. In fact it is handled in a similar way in our club nowadays. Additionally, of course, there is a difference between A sensei, and THE sensei in a dōjō. In bigger organizations, that may vary.


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    Y-Chromosome

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    Re: Status of youth yudansha in kiddie class

    Post by Y-Chromosome on Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:33 am

    I thought I would update the forum on the outcome. As it turns out "THE Sensei" (ie. the club technical director) wanted him up front for the kid's classes.
    This seems to have been accepted by the other Dan grades without any grumbling, so I'm fine with it.

    So the clear hierarchy now seems to be:

    Adult Class:
    Sensei's line: Sandan+ or ranking yudansha present.
    Student's line: Everyone else

    Kid's Class:
    Sensei's line: Any yudansha so-employed
    Sempai's line: Any Ikkyu so-employed
    Student's line: Everyone else

    I am chiefly pleased with how our young adults are growing into leadership roles. I am tremendously proud of all of them. I am hoping that their example rubs off on the rest of the wee-uns. Most of them are just in complete awe of even the brown belts, but some the older one's are beginning to wake up to fact that maybe such lofty heights of brown and even black are within reach if.....

    .... I'm hoping they figure out the rest of that equation on their own, cuz me telling them doesn't seem to be sinking in.

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