New Schedule and Location for 2016

...

Rank inflation

Inflation (per the dictionary) - a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.

So, by extension, rank inflation could be defined as a generalized increase in the cost/effort required to advance in rank, accompanied by a reduction in the value of each successive rank.  Or, in redneck speak, "Paying more and getting less." or maybe, "Paying a premium price for a lemon."
.
I began to write this article on rank inflation and all of a sudden had a sense of deja vu.  I did a search and sure enough - I'd already written this very article 5 years ago!  We now have proof that I am YEARS ahead of my time!
.
From the previous article...

...imagine a conversation like this...
"How long did it take you to get your black belt?"
"Oh, My teacher was rough on us. It took us 2 years!"
"Well, it took us 3 years."
"I heard that fella over there makes his students practice 4 years to get their black belts!
They must be really tough!"
Everyone then thinks to himself, "I guess I'd better make my students practice 5 years so we can be the toughest."
Pretty soon it takes 20 years to get shodan! How many people have heard folks bragging on internet forums, "It took me 12 years to get my shodan!" This is like making everyone suffer for someone else's great performance just so folks won't think your martial art is too easy. This is ridiculous when you consider that...
Standards are necessarily minimal standards. You don't see medical or engineering (or any) schools making each class have to be 50% better than the previous class just in order to graduate. If you did, soon there would be no graduates.
I bet it's pretty easy to imagine that conversation - because you've probably heard it or something very close a zillion times (like someone bragging "I've been a Nidan for 25 years!") .  It seems to be part of our competitive nature - we want to be the toughest, and we want to be able to brag about how when we were kids we had to walk 20 miles to school every morning, through the snow, uphill, BOTH WAYS!


Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Meaning of kyu ranks

I've heard it said that any martial arts teacher in the world who is worth a damn could teach a newbie everything that the instructor knows about self-defense within the space of 6-8 months.
.
Coming up through the ranks, our teachers were always insistent that we had to teach the best, most useful things first, and we had to teach so as to keep those fundamental self-defense skills constantly honed. 
.
So, the following represent some general guidelines about how I (and some of the groups I circulate in) do kyu ranks...


  • Gokyu (yellow belt) is about mobility and survival.  At this level we teach sfe, reflexive ukemi skills (particularly emphasizing standing backward breakfall and forward rolling breakfall.)  We also emphasize taisabaki (footwork and body management).
  • Yonkyu (green belt) is about the external jutsu of the system - learning to do a handful (3-5) of the most common, most pragmatic, most robust techniques.  Techniques that are quick to learn, easy to remember under stress, and that tend to work in street clothes and street situations.  Techniques that tend to work well for smaller females against larger males.  Yonkyu is the teeth of the system.  Examples of Yonkyu material would include wrist releases and atemi and low-risk, low-commitment footsweeps followed by dropping a knee on the attacker's ribs.
  • Sankyu (3rd Brown belt) is still about the external jutsu, but now we focus on learning a handful (3-5) of consequences or responses or combinations or variations that tend to spring naturally and commonly from the Yonkyu material.  Sankyu fills in most of the rest of the practical goshin jutsu of the system.  If one were to quit at this point, the instructor could be fairly assured of the student's chances of surviving most bad incidents on the street.
  • Nikyu (2nd Brown belt) and Ikkyu (1st Brown Belt) are about further rounding out the basic knowldege of the student, making sure they know how to practice in a productive and safe way, and how to acid-test things (randori).  Often there are fewer techniques and more time-in-grade at these levels so that the student has more time to marinate in the strategy underlying the system.  In some schools there are no additional technical requirements between Ikkyu and Shodan so that the ikkyu can concentrate even more resources on intangibles like movement and strategy rather than tactics and techniques.

Incidentally, how much material is necessary for the Shodan?  Probably not as much as you think.  Back in the day in Japan (1950's Kodokan for instance), one could get a shodan in 12-18 months, and my teachers assure me that the standard shodan material was Kyo #1-3 of the Gokyonowaza (that is, 24 techniques).  Nowadays people want to brag that they make their shodans master all 40 techniques of the Gokyo or more).  I think this sort of thing comes from a misunderstanding of the real significance (or insignificance) of Shodan, and I think it results in greater rank inflation.
.
Wait, what does "rank inflation" even mean?  Stay Tuned, Dear Constant Reader.


Want to discuss this blog post? 

____________________ 
Patrick Parker 
www.mokurendojo.com

Rank Schmank!

I'm pretty tired of the subject of rank in martial arts, but since everyone around me seems so interested in it lately, and since people keep asking me what I think of this and that, I made a bet with myself that I could do a month's worth of posts on the topic of rank in the martial arts.
.
Stay Tuned, Dear Constant Reader - First up is guideposts for lower ranks.


Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group


 ____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com