I’m new to the forum but I’ve been following Iain’s stuff for a while. I’d love it if I could get some help with some questions that are on my mind at the moment.
I’m a martial arts instructor and I run my own school in North Wales. I have been trained in a very “3k” environment. Since getting into the pragmatic martial arts movement, it’s led me to analyze and question a lot of the ways I’ve been taught and sort of took for granted. I was part of a group that had gone very political and in a way I daren’t explore this new avenue while under them, so I’ve gone my own way and taken my club and students independent of my old group. Some of the issues I have are things that I’ve “inherited” from the old organisation and their way of doing things that I want to get away from as part my own way of running the club.
A couple of the challenges I have at the moment are that I run a kickboxing class for my adults, and I want to eventually set up a separate programme for Pragmatic Adults Karate, though since I’ve not been trained in this, I know the katas, but not the “proper” way. Can anyone recommend ways to get myself to where I need to be to start such a programme? I have years of gracie jiu jitsu under my belt as well, so limb-control, throwing and joint locks aren’t at all alien to me, and it has in fact helped me to understand the katas better in the new light. After a training session with Peter Consterdine (while in the process of moving over to the BCA) the karate I’ve been taught was likened to the “child’s version” of the art, and in a way I completely agree, and it sort of made me feel like a fraud for holding my 3rd Dan. Though I’m a competent martial artist, I feel that my 3rd dan doesn’t mean what I would like it to or feel it should mean.
The other question I have is that under the old system, kids in my school are able to earn black belts as early as 7-8 years old. This is something that sits very uncomfortably with me, because of course, under the “do” ethic, I suppose they have shown the stick-to-it-iveness and developed all the positive character traits to earn a big reward, but I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate for someone so young to have such a prestigious and in a way “loaded” thing as a black belt. I already have many kids on the grading system, 2 current 1st dans and will have 3 more in the next 6 months.
Is there anyway I can adapt the system I’m working with to change this without completely overhauling the system and stripping kids of their black belt? Do I start referring to them as “Junior Black Belts” and make them re-qualify when they hit 16? If so, what do I do for grading them in the meantime? I’m struggling with the system I’ve been nurtured in to find a balance between running a successful club with students who enjoy training and also holding standards as high as I feel they should be.
In essence I suppose both issues are similar in nature.
Any input or feedback you can offer is more than welcome!