I some times question the value of a ranking system in karate and would like to hear what others think.
Grades are without a doubt the single most controversial aspect of Martial Arts. They cause more problems than anything else.
I became independent of my previous organisation this year. In doing so I questioned EVERYTHING that we did. The reason being that we form our own rationale for everything rather than doing things because the organisation declared that it had to be. This questioning process considered our primary objectives and our methods for fulfilling these objectives. This meant I asked questions like "do we need or want to wear the dogi?" and "do we need a grading system?"
Despite my first comment, which I stand by, I felt that the benefits of the grading system outweighed the drawbacks.
The first aspect of this is honesty about the purpose of gradings and then what they actually stand for. Iain has covered this is his Podcasts but essentially you need to recognise that grades do not equate across styles. I'm sure we've all seen impressive green belts that deserve much higher grades and Dan grades that just make us dispair. This isn't unique to Marial Arts. I may lay claim to a Bachelor's degree (as it happens I do) but stating this alone doesn't tell my prospective employer very much. A BSc from Oxford is very different from a BSc from Lampeter. Anyone been to Lampeter? It's got to be the strangest place on Earth. Best avoided.
I believe that the grading system is very valuable. It sets objectives for students, enables the structuring of a syllabus provides a measure of progress and helps focus. We're all different of course, but I'm at my best with a clear objective in sight, be it a grading, a fight, a coursework deadline or whatever.
Ranking systems are not unique to Martial Arts either. Many activities see the value in them. Consider that in my 35 years on this planet I've amassed "ranks" in academia, music and swimming. The merits of a ranking system are well understood, but certainly not without drawbacks.
They are often a revenue-generating process. McDojo, anyone?
To wit, one of my students has remained in our previous organisation, training with both of us. Yesterday he graded for 2nd Dan in the previous organisation but I've learned that he was also awarded "Honorary 3rd Dan." Not taking issue with my student as I suspect he's embarassed by it, but this is where rankings are at their worst for this award is without doubt political.
I suppose to conclude therefore: inside your school or style ranks are very valuable. Outside of your school they are always contentious.
Tau, Thank you for your input.
You make some very valid points. Especially providing objectives for students. I have a very small group of students and they don't seem to care much about rank. I use my ranking system as a syllabus now but I don't focus on rank with the students. When they are ready I just promote them. Perhaps I need to do a better job of providing goals for them.
I did a couple of podcasts on this a few years ago which may be of interest:
All the best,
I looked up the old podcasts and they where very helpfull
Dana Bennett wrote: I looked up the old podcasts and they where very helpfull
I’m pleased to hear that. I think I may have a look at converting them to articles as well; particularly the first one.
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