How long does it really take to get a black belt?

Discussion in 'Tae Kwon Do Resources' started by Lafhastum, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    Here are the questions I have. First, why would we have to take into consideration her disability when evaluating whether she should be ranked as a black belt? What I mean is, in what way does it cheapen her accomplishment? I enjoy playing chess even though I'll never be great at it. I enjoy playing golf even though I'll never approach a par round. Training in a martial art is valuable whether someone achieves black belt or not, and the idea that the standard is maleable and subjective undermines the integrity of the entire system.

    I'm not suggesting that this person is undeserving of a black belt. I'm suspicious, sure. What I'm really interested in here are the implications within this thread on achieving a black belt. Why is black belt a function of tenacity over skill? Why is it virtually guaranteed if one is persistent, regardless of physical or mental aptitude for the art? Why is the idea of someone training over a lifetime for all of the intangible benefits, and never earn a black belt such a foreign idea?

    I've said before, and I'll say again, I'd much, much rather train in BJJ for 60 years and remain a blue belt forever than reach black belt in 6 and be forced to stop training for some reason.
  2. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    I enjoyed your post. The Black Belt has gone beyond any reflection of skill and became one of accomplishment. Along with such accomplishment, regulation could not be a standard, thus allowing anyone to achieve. Less not forget that in maany situations, that this level of accomplishment - achievement does have a price. Either in terms of integrity, skill-or lack of, and actual monetary price.
  3. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    Because she is operating with a compromised tool set and the standards of a disabled person are going to be different from the standards of an able bodied person.

    I agree with you 100% about it not being about the belts, and I don't think that it cheapens her accomplishment either way. A maleable standard in the case of a person with a disability isn't undermining the integrity of the entire system, it is adapting to the reality of the situation. If the person has less limbs to work with, then how can you still hold them to the same exact standard as those with all four limbs? Surely, an adjustment of the standard would have to be made in this case.

    You raise a really valid point and I am in total agreement here. I believe that it is a function of western society overvaluing the black belt and placing such high emphasis on achieving one. Sadly, if a person is not a black belt, then they are not considered "legit" by others both inside of and outside of the martial arts community. I believe that a black belt has become more about tenacity than skill for many reasons - two of them being the watering down of martial arts in general and the need to keep students in your school because they will go some place else if they actually have to work at earning it. Black belt is nothing more than a rank that states that you have become very proficient in the basics and are ready to move on to the meat and potatoes of the art.

    That is good, and to each his/her own. I train for the love of the art, not for this belt or that belt. I mean, what does someone do when there are no more belts to chase? I never liked the idea of doing it only for the belts, and I personally believe that it should be about the actual training and not about the belts. However, there are many people who are in it for that very reason (belt chasing) and they represent a marketable niche within the arts, so they will most likely remain a piece of the proverbial pie.
  4. Zerodauto

    Zerodauto Valued Member

    I've seen some valid point being made by everyone one time length, but I want to know is it right to judge someone by the amount of time they spent in the art. For example I am a yellow belt in TKD and my orange belt test is june 4th. First before I go any further, I down want to sound cocky or anything, I know I still have a lot to learn. I have been doing TKD since the end of January, and before that my friend and his dad taught me karate off and on for a few years. Now my best friend who has three black belts and is 18, he really knows his stuff and he teaches me and makes me train as though until the point I want to drop. I'm 20 and in college by the way.

    Now there is this girl at school that I use to like. She is a black belt in Chinese Kenpo. She hates the Korean martial arts for what ever reason and she always loves to try to find some way to discourage me. Now one day she was trying to show off. She threw some kicks in the air that were worst than mine were at the point. I thought to myself how can she really talk down to a yellow belt when here technique is worst than mine. Now I am also the type of person that loves to train and trains every chance I get and when I dont have to work I go to my Dojang at least 3 to 4 times a week minimum. I think if I am going to judge a martial artist I would judge them by their kicks because it's easier to pick up punching than kicking techniques.

    Someone like here who thinks she is better just because she has a black belt makes me angry. I might not have the belt, but I am on the same level as people higher in rank than I am.(I going on something two others told me.) I think the belt should just be something to tell you what to expect from someone. Not what they are actually able to do.

    When I finally open my school I dont want to have a time limit for people to test. I want to test them when ever I believe them to be ready. What do you think?
  5. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    This is true in many cases, but not all cases. I believe that it is due to the watering down of the martial arts in general.

    I don't think that there could be a universal standard in the martial arts community for belt rank because it is such a subjective thing by its very nature. Many people seem to agree on the general time period of 3-5 years before 1st degree, but systems are different and schools are different. Teachers grade differently, students have differing skill levels, Schools, organizations, so on and so forth. I was taught to judge the proficiency of another martial artist by their actual skills, not by their belt rank. Seeing as how the standards vary so widely from one school from another, I have found it to be a very sound approach.
  6. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    I personally don't think so. You could spend a lot of time in an art and completely suck at it. You could spend a short amount of time in an art and be very good at it because you pick it up very fast. I never liked using time as a way to judge the proficiency of a martial artist. Either you can do or you can't do, period.

    This is a personal pet peeve of mine, too. A belt only means that you have reached a certain point in your school's curriculum and the people in charge feel that you deserve the rank by their own standards. It does not mean that someone is "better" than you or anybody else.

    I think that it is a very noble idea and I wish you the best in it :cool:. This approach actually used to be more common.
  7. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    Why should they be different standards? I find the idea of that insulting, and I can tell you that many, many disabled individuals would agree. I'm all for accomodating a disability, but that in no way includes lowering standards.
    Perhaps we'll have to agree to disagree on this point. I believe that it does absolutely cheapen the accomplishment.
    Once again, I wholeheartedly disagree. As a society, we are all bound by physical limitations. Whether it's a small frame, a bad back, being short, being tall, being born without arms or being blind, we are all limited to some degree. This in no way means that we should do those things that we enjoy doing. It just means that we should hold realistic expectations about how much we can achieve. I love to sing, but I will never sing well.

    I would never expect to be recognized as a competent singer just because I persist in showing up to Choir practice at church. Longevity and tenure can't overcome physical limitations.
  8. Zerodauto

    Zerodauto Valued Member

    @Theforgotten : thanks

    @Stevebjj : Haven't you ever seen the crippled masters lol. I think if anything she had to work harder than everyone else to get her black belt. While we all have arms, she only has legs to do every thing with. It's like saying that someone with a prosthetic leg who runs a marathon shouldn't be held to the same standard as someone with both legs.
  9. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    Are you suggesting that we give a person a prosthetic limb a head start?

    I believe I understand what you're driving at, and to a large extent I agree. If someone overcomes some adversity, whether it's physical or mental, internal or external, we can all admire the achievement.

    But to exaggarate the accomplishment undermines the entire sentiment. It patronizes the individual and devalues their effort. That person in the marathon you mention... the equivalent to what we're discussing in a martial arts situation would be to give this person an advantage by making them only run... let's say half the marathon while everyone else runs the full 26 miles. 13 miles is still an achievement, but if the person crosses the finish line first, would we give him or her the prize money? Would he or she really have been the winner of the race? Would he or she qualify for the Olympic trials based upon these "adjusted" standards? Of course not.

    Does that mean that the accomplishment is any less admirable? Again, of course not.

    A disabled person who trains and earns a black belt based upon merit according to objective standards is to be admired. A disabled person who achieves green belt against all odds in spite of a disability is to be admired no less. Patronizing that person by awarding him or her a black belt he or she hasn't earned is, IMO, terribly insulting to that person.

    This is also true in business. As a manager, I will go out of my way to accomodate a disability. I've seen amazing things become possible with some imagination, some persistance and access to the right tools. But the point of the accomodation isn't to set a new, lower standard. It's to enable the person with a disability to work up to the existing business standards.
  10. Zerodauto

    Zerodauto Valued Member

    You misunderstood what I was saying. I wasn't saying we should give them an advantage. I was saying that it doesn't cheapen the accomplishment with the person having a disability. I'd hold her to the same standard of kicking that I hold everyone else to.
  11. potlucky10

    potlucky10 Valued Member

    I have to jump on the no lower standards band wagon here. I do not have any physical or mental disabilities I also know that I do not want a standard lowered for me ever. I would like to think I would have the same mind set if I did have a disability.
    While this seems completely off the topic of "how long does it take to get a black belt?" ask the females at your schools if they should have a lower standard, or ask someone in lesser shape then you if they should have a lower standard.
    All schools have a different length of time to achieve a "black" status, belt or sash, they all do have a certain criteria that needs to be met for some it may take less time then others. Again you have to look at what is being taught and what the syllabus has on it. Are the forms similar and build upon each other or do they all change, are there any animal forms, is there self defense, different techniques, striking, grappling, some sort of internals/ externals, how is the sparring set up, do you have different weapons, are there different styles incorporated, conditioning; strength/ body/ mental, and finally how much time have you put into your training?
    I just rambled on quite a few questions but instead of jumping on how long does it take look at what is being studied and how much development is required.
  12. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    There is a big difference between not being able to do something because you lack the skill to do it and not being able to do something because you are physically unable to do it due to a handicap. One person who only has 2 limbs is operating under a completely different set of circumstances than somebody who has all 4 four limbs, so to hold them both to the same standards when one of them is already "behind" before the race even starts is completely ludricus. I don't think that you lower the standards, but you most certainly must CHANGE the standards given that a disabled person is not operating with the full toolset from the start. Most disabled people are "behind" the average, able-bodied person due to their disability and they are training with a major disadvantage, so they automatically have to work harder just to do what the able-bodied person can do with a full set of limbs. Taking all of this into account, CHANGING the standards doesn't cheapen the accomplishment, especially when there are so many able-bodied couch potatoes out there who don't have the work ethic and dedication to achieve it. You love to sing and you will never sing well, but that is ENTIRELY different from not having a voice and not being able to emit sounds from your mouth at all. Again, I agree that one shouldn't be given a black belt just because they show up and pay dues, I've stated in many earlier posts that a person shouldn't be given a black belt unless they have reached a certain skill level. In the case of the disabled person, the black belt should be given to them if they have reached a certain skill level BASED ON THE TOOLSET AVAILABLE TO THEM. I don't think that CHANGING the standards in their case takes away from it.
  13. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    The misunderstanding comes from the assumption that I am saying "lower" the standards (which is why I capitalized the word "change" in my last post). You can judge a disabled person's technical proficiency just as strongly as you judge an able-bodied person's technical proficiency (and I strongly encourage it), but you can't expect a one-armed man to do an X-Block. What I am getting at is this - for every technique that a disabled person can't perform due to their disability, you SUBSTITUTE it with a technique that they physically can perform, but you still judge the disabled person's technical performance during tests just as strictly as you would judge the able-bodied person.
  14. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    The misunderstanding is actually my fault, as I am using the word "standards" differently. I am thinking standards as in - what one must do to advance curriculum-wise, not as in - how one should judge the technical proficiency of a technique. I apologize for the misunderstanding.
  15. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    I don't think that you rambled on at all. I think that you demonstrated exactly why TIME shouldn't be used as a measuring stick when it comes to black belts. There are too many factors when considering different arts, systems, schools, teachers, and ultimately, the individuals themselves.
  16. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    That is EXACTLY the point I'm making.
    What? I don't get it. Is it still a race at all if you monkey with the rules? Is a 10k run less than 10 kilometers for certain people?
    I hope you understand that your attitude is reviled by most disabled people. Once again, accomodating a disability does not involve lowering or "changing" standards. It is about enabling someone with a disability to meet existing standards.
    First, we're not talking about able bodied couch potatoes. They have a consistent standard, whether they can meet it or not.

    So, I can't speak. No voice. Should American Idol be coerced into allowing me on their show because I have a disability? That's the sort of thing you're suggesting.
    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Just lowering the bar for disabled people is a cop out.
  17. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    As an aside...disability is one reason I favour a really broad base curriculum for martial arts.
    No arms = you can focus on the kicking aspects.
    Partially sighted = Throwing and grappling.
    In a wheel chair = Punching, sensitivity drills, weapons etc.
    With a broad base you can accomodate more people. Try doing your average TKD class with a false leg and you'll see what I mean (even though I saw a TAGB guy in competition one time with a false leg!).
  18. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    Look, all I said is that you SUBSTITUTE one technique for another if they don't have the body parts to do the original technqiue you wanted. This is not monkeying with the rules, this is dealing with the fact that you can't expect a man with no arms to do an X Block.

    Nobody is talking about lowering anything. If a person is required to do a block involving two arms and they don't have two arms then you substitute another technique that they are physically capable of doing while still judging them just as strictly as the next person. I don't see how changing the requirements based on someone's physical inability to do something qualifies as lowering the standards. If a disabled person reviles me for making them do a kicking drill in place of a punching drill because they have no arms, but I still hold them to the same exact standards as the rest of the class, then how is this offensive? Would it be more offensive if I tell them to take a seat because of their disability? How about if I make the no-armed man wiggle his knubs in futility?


    Who said anything about coercing anybody!? I am not suggesting such a thing, and American Idol has nothing to do with what we are talking about here. If someone is going to allow a disabled person to train in their school then they are obviously going to have to change some things around because the disabled person is not working with a full tool set. I can't expect you to drop into a horse stance and throw 50 punches if you don't have any arms, so in your specific case I assign a kicking drill as a substitute. That's all I'm getting at here. I'm not suggesting that you lower the standards and/or make things easier for someone just because they have a handicap. I am suggesting that if the person is missing certain limbs and one of the requirements is to do something that requires the use of those missing limbs then you make them do something else that is equally as challenging but utilizes what limbs they actually do have. This isn't lowering the bar, this is tailoring the curriculum. You're not making it easier, you're changing things to utilize and challenge the person's available tool set. Their skills will be judged and graded just as harshly as the next person's skills.
  19. Theforgotten

    Theforgotten Drifting Aimlessly

    This is exactly what I'm getting at. I'm not trying to say that you lower the standards and make it easier for someone just because they have a handicap. What I'm saying is that you tailor the curriculum according to the person's disability so that they can maximize the use of their available tool set while still holding them to the same exact rigorous standards as the rest of the class. It would be absolutely foolish to require someone to do a kicking technique if they are in a wheelchair, and I don't think that they'd be offended if I made them do a punching technique in place of that kicking technique but still judged them just as harshly as I would judge the rest of the class.
  20. mjn

    mjn Valued Member

    Achieving a Black Belt is a personal goal, and what each person overcomes, in the way of obstacles and injuries is different. The is no benchmark of results to achieve to become a Black Belt, you have to push your boundaries physically and mentally. These boundaries are different for everybody, and thus is why you will never see 2 identical Black Belts.

    If there were set benchmarks for everybody, it would be boring, and everybody would be the same. e.g. lets just say that for Black Belt you needed to break 4 inches of wood with side kick. Which is the greater achievement, the person who has broken 4 inches of wood, who was able to break 2 inches from very early on, or the person which was struggled with breaking from the beginning, and was only able to break 3 inches for their Black Belt?

    Achieving Black Belt, is about achieving your personal goals, and developing as a person.

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