Thursday, July 31, 2014

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!

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Patrick Parker
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