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    New USJA Rank Requirements

    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sun May 12, 2013 6:00 am

    vabeachjudoka wrote:Hello all this is my first post to this site and this thread.

    i dont hide behide the blanket of anonymity or arrogance. i am a usja shodan tested and promoted fairly and upto the standards of who signed off on my paperwork. I take it upon myself to train my students to my best abilility and i myself train to my best to be a true judoka. i am sure some of you here have many more years in judo than i do,therefore alot of these rank panel issues(due to connections and/or location)dont apply to you.

    I am an educator as well as a coach. it is completlely fair that a "teacher" proctor a final exam for a students "graduation". i do not expect a random person experienced or not to come test my classes there fore its an unreal expectation to me in Judo. If I am not qualified to teach and test as a blackbelt why give it to me?Why and how have any club outside of a judo rich area? is Judo to die when its difficult to coordinate big 3 testings or clinincs(in US)? these are rhetorical questions for you to dwell on.

    As far as my students "flying the nest" i have never seen a bird panel teach the little ones as they leave (moment of levity).i am for self accountabilty. my students represent me and my training. not everyone will be olympic calibre and some may love judo as much as Kano himself and teach at a higher level than they perform and that would be doing Judo no favors to punish these people and keep them from spreading Judo.

    At this stage in the slowly fading life of Judo in the US we should be doing everything in our power to get people interetsed in Judo not regulate them out of a Judo Dojo. To all i say safe training and ask we all do our part to introduce people to the gift of Judo

    Thanks for the post. I was reading it but I am not sure if I understand some of the things correctly.

    A black belt is a rank that reflects a certain minimal level of technical skills, with the lower black belts ideally suggesting that some of these skills have been validated in competition. However, you seem to suggest that there is some implication in there that it also would be a teaching qualification ? Am I understanding you correctly ? If so, I am not entirely following this argument as there is per se nothing in there that prepares or educates someone for teaching. One could probably to some extent attempt to copy one's own teacher, but that would likely be ineffective since the people to whom you would project that copied material would not be in the exact same configuration hence reducing the teaching yield.

    I think this is important. I have invariably found teaching standards in judo extremely poor, and have always felt that when attending a clinic that somehow the majority of people seems to automatically substitute teaching skills with fame and height of dan-rank of the person teaching, which is something really bizarre. I guess it's probably not unique to judo. Probably, everyone playing tennis would be thrilled if Federer or Nadal or the Williams sisters might teach a class, though in reality they might be complete failures at teaching. The star status of these people would eradicate any common sense in evaluating their actual teaching skills in terms of how much and well they can actually analyze a person's errors and promptly correct them through supreme insight and transferable genius. What I am trying to say is that, the way I see it, a black belt can 'lead a class', that is ... to take a lead role and have others hopefully follow that, but that is not the same as teaching. Transfering the complex motor and coordinative skills of judo, facilitating learning, those are the things that a teacher needs to have.

    I am talking in general terms obviously. From what I understand, you are an educator yourself, so you will have many insights from your other activities that do not simply come with obtaining a black belt. There is no doubt a great benefit to that even though the two do not perfectly harmnonize. What I mean with that is that a judo teacher one should ideally have the ability to produce students who are better than yourself, or techniques one does not properly know oneself. To be able to achieve that, more is necessary than skill A + skill B, but some kind of skill AB that is not merely the sum of skill A and skill B, but a holistic and symbiotic whole.

    This is hard, very frustrating sometimes even if one has a lot of experience. This morning I was teaching tai-otoshi, we had been working on that recently but mostly statically. This morning I wanted to go one step further and do it while moving. No one could actually do it. What they did is ... they walked, stopped and did static tai-otoshi. But that is not the same as tai-otoshi during movement. The reference movement implies that one needs to make an optimal reactive response that facilitates the kuzusi. To me it is logical, simple, something one to do with eyes closed, and still no one could do it. They were trying to put force in their, become brutal, but they could not do the timing. After I had corrected that, I tried to explain how you had to turn in. No one could do it. What they did, was actually ... 'turn before the partner and take some position', but that isn't what 'turning in' is. Turning in, implies that the movement of your body is so coordinated that it makes optimal use of the opening you create, and in that movement take up the position. I explained to them that the movement had to come out of the hara, but they could not do that either. I explained that judo movements come out of the hara, and that your hara needs to communicate with the hara of your opponent to find that gap to sense if the gap is there, optimal enough, needs to work as a sensor. I demonstrated it vizualizing when the force from the hara collided because there was no gap, or missed the gap, or what, or when the turn followed precisely into that gap. I felt somewhat relieve having caught much of the essence of tai-otoshi in those phrases. I hoped they would jump up and now all do it but instead, they were sitting there their head lowered between their shoulders. So I asked what's wrong, don't you feel this, don't you feel this force from your hara, don't you feel that communication ? Everyone shook their head, n"o, you're just talking way over our heads !" There I was, what I thought was a crystal clear explanation did not achieve my objective of transfering those skills. Well, that is to say, maybe it did, maybe the effects will be visible in three months. It's a long process. However, the point I am trying to make with this is, that in order to teach this very aspect (even if you fail to transfer those skills) you have to actually KNOW the skills and be able to explain them and fully realize where the problem sits when it fails, although one does not necessarily have to be able to it.

    It's hard, but I guess, not surprising. Most of the greatest judo champions never succeeded in successfully transferring even just a quarter of their skills to someone else. Then again, David Oistrakh, who was a violin pedagogue in addition to a violin virtuoso taught so many master classes, but have you ever heard anyone else having the ability to produce his sound ? No. So, he was not able to transfer that to anyone else either.

    I am not going to comment on the changes in rank requirements among the various US judo organizations. Other people here have more useful things to say about that, but personally I think it is good practice that from a certain level one is not involved in grading one's own students, and leave the assessment to another hopefully objective committee of sensei. The outwards validation of skill through shiai through examiners one does not have a friendship or acquaintance relationship with is a good thing in the process of spreading one's wings. I am in favor of no sensei having any rank authority above 1st kyû and have all higher ranks be decided by an external committee of examiners. This has obviously nothing to do with the skills of the teacher him-/herself. I have students who have to do black belt exams tomorrow. I teach the federal courses kata/technique myself and am a member of the exam jury, but tomorrow I will recuse myself from that task, so that my students can be judged objectively without potential bias from me, really, or apparent ... meaning "as perceived by other candidates who too have to do exam tomorrow but who would not have the luxury of their own teacher being in the exam jury". My students do not need me in the jury to pass. If they did, they would not be ready for a higher rank. I will be present as an observer, a privilege extended to any student's teacher during a formal black belt exam. In this way they know I care and support them, and that I will provide personal feedback afterwards on which we can continue to work and they have a feeling of shared burden, namely that it is something we worked on together. This is just a reflection from the situations I am most familiar with.

    In terms of regulations, I would hope that the purpose is not to over-regulated. As an educator you know though that something are important towards students: aims and abilities of what it is you are teaching, how assessed, when assessed, what in that assessment represents excellent, good, medium, poor, fail. What kind of format, clear understanding that helps avoiding problems, and that helps giving people a feeling of being treated differently in a biased way, or bluntly avoid discrimination and preferrential treatment. Those who have been in judo a long time know that things change. At one point you will have judo governed by people who were not even there when you started. If so many years later you have to try and explain or prove your position that carries a lot of things that used to be common but sounds strange to the much newer people, then having the ability to fall back on a written contract, rules, or documentation might help. It might help to document things if ever moving countries, or other drastic changes take place (for example coaching qualifications becoming legally required, and becoming administered by separate governing bodies).

    Please, understand that I am writing these things just as a reflection on points that might be useful to raise here for people wanting to discuss some of these things, and not as a critique to your specific post, although it inspired me to write about it.

    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Sun May 12, 2013 7:42 am; edited 1 time in total


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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

    Post by vabeachjudoka on Sun May 12, 2013 6:54 am

    I apologize if my response is out of order chronologically to yours. Thank you for the respect given to me not knowing anything about me. I am not opposed to an “exam Jury” if there are enough people in your area to do so. I just see it as unfair to punish the students that have a desire to learn and promote (tangible reference point to their growth) because of factors out of there control. In all honesty I am proud of my black belt but just as proud as my white. I feel my white is my most important belt because that was when I first found judo and holds most meaning in my judo career but not until I was experienced in my growth did I understand that. I say without any malice or disrespect intended but you deserve to be on the “exam jury” if you meet the requirements of that committee and all on that committee should have enough experience to be impartial if not then they should not be on the committee. My rule of thumb is to just be fair and impartial (even to my own students). You as a martial artist should be able to decide knowing your students if they know the technique or not up to your level.
    As far as teaching goes I’m sure you know you can’t teach every student the same. You can only hope they reach the goals you set for them in the time given (our job is to guide them). We can as in life only do our best. No body or system is perfect. The teacher /student relationship is reciprocal. If my student has no desire to learn the best teaching methodologies are moot. If I am not willing to adapt to my students as an instructor than most likely the students will not be taught the highest potential, generally of course. Some techniques are complicated and very difficult it’s up to us as instructors to decide when they are to learn that technique.
    All in all I think a “blanket Approach” is unfair. Judo as in all martial arts is voluntary. not all areas have the luxury of many judo players let alone black belts that can oversee such testing’s. As a shodon I showed a sufficient understanding of all knowledge up to that level. I showed I can demonstrate and execute that knowledge(or else I would not have been awarded it). Why I should not be able to test my member is purely political.


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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

    Post by medo on Sun May 12, 2013 7:53 am

    I do have problems with there’s not enough student’s in my area approach. So because I graded to dan grade I can teach all JUDO. You will never be able to learn every tactic/technique/skill in your life time let alone demonstrate to a competent level.

    You need the help of a Judo community even if you have to take yourself and your pupils hundreds/thousands of miles to learn Judo be it courses/competitions/gradings.

    I have seen clubs who end up with near enough is good enough type of approach missing the salient points of each technique. When they fall out over something, they then start their own in independent club, then next comes I think he’s good for a dan grade, therefor I have to be the next grade up and before you know it 20yrs down the line the teachers graded himself to 6th dan and the pupil who got his first dan is his right hand man and Yep he’s now a 5th dan and he’s never been outside the few clubs they have set up or sort levels of knowledge/skills to clearly give significance to the grade’s they hold.
    Its a slippery slope Wink


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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

    Post by medo on Sun May 12, 2013 8:31 am

    Never been to America! Maybe one day like any country I visit even on a week’s holiday if the misses allows it then Dojo hunting I go. Hey Judo has been my passion for 40yrs. Now days I have to leave the Gi behind and just watch from the side.
    The only dealings I have had with USA Judo has been from RAF wittering which was an American force base back in my youth must have had 20 or so different American Judoka turn up over a 10yr period.
    We had a club of around 20 regular seniors(50% dan grades). We did one hour of hard, three minute change, randori and half hour split warm up and technique at the end. Cannot say I got to know any of the passing USAF chaps as they all seemed to have problems, most siting out before the end of the randori session.
    Ian Shiparii

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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

    Post by Ian Shiparii on Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:56 pm

    Hi All,

    Interesting topic.

    I would like to point out that the "shodan" requirements posted above for USJA don't seem accurate to me. Furthermore, I imagine that different sensei will have differing requirements for shodan (before they recommend to the NGB). I had to take a written test, write some short essays, spend time teaching, demonstrate technical knowledge (or lack thereof lol), perform NNK, and a bunch of other stuff. Oh, and I can't imagine someone getting any rank (kyu included) without some continued success in shiai.



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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

    Post by ccwscott on Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:27 am

    Heisenberg wrote:USJA does have a validation system. If you can demonstrate the skills, pass the test, and pay $250 (for Shodan. Kyu ranks are cheaper, higher Dan ranks cost as much as $450. They doubled pricing last year- I don't think they believe in incremental increases) you can have unrecognized rank validated and registered by a rank examiner.

    It certainly doesn't seem like good policy to make someone "start over" just because their rank wasn't properly recorded. It isn't really fair to your students, either, to put a 10 year veteran with an unrecognized Nidan at Rokyu.

    Yeah, there may or may not be any "official" process in the USJF, but the requirements for the lower ranks are certainly played pretty loosely. If someone walked in the door who obviously had black belt skills, I don't think anyone would scoff at you handing the person an ikkyu right there, if anything people would be pretty pissed if you started putting him in novice tournaments. Demonstrate that you know nage no kata, go clean up at a few tournaments, and they will hand you your black belt at the next promotion meeting..


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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

    Post by ccwscott on Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:40 am

    Just to clarify some of the USJF requirements, it may not explicitly use the phrase "contest experience", but contest results can mean the difference between 3 years TIG, and getting the grade immediately, there's a whole section at the top that talks about class A through D competitors that can override the normal TIG requirements. But USA Judo seems to put a special emphasis on randori practice that I don't see in USJF requirements.

    And the requirements are cumulative, and represent a bare minimum, so knowing 2 dozen plus throws is pretty normal, and though it's not really explicit, there's an understanding that helping out in class and at events counts for a lot, especially when going for your shodan.

    I kinda like the way the Kodokan does grading. Instead of doing points which are interchangeable through a lot of different areas, it does more of a grade-point average system by looking at a bunch of different categories of skill, and that determines your time in grade. It means you have to be a lot more well rounded, especially at the higher grades.

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    Re: New USJA Rank Requirements

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