The Ranking System and Delusions of Grandeur

I approach the Kyu-Dan ranking system cautiously. For kyu or coloured belt ranks in my school, students in a specific rank learn specific skills and applications for that rank, and the line up of colours helps me organise myself and the lesson plan I have for each class.

But who cares really cares about what I think. Martial art students get off on the colour of their belts. The belt you wear shows off effort invested and it identifies progress, seniority, and growing experience. Being proud of what you've achieved is not all that bad. You should be proud of what you achieve. In fact, even a white belt should be proud to wear the white belt!

In my opinion, the slippery road begins when a person becomes prideful - overly valuing rank over its usefulness to progress you through a system, exacerbated by the very environment many martial arts schools seek to develop. The Kyu-Dan system is a Japanese system, and exists surrounded by people who are naturally conservative and ultimately very humble, who understand their place in the grand scheme of things. Out of Japan however, I have seen martial arts clubs and organisations place so much emphasis on the ranking aspect of the system that everyone becomes really concerned with their grade, an instructor's particular title, or when the next award is coming.

I myself hold ranks in the Kyu-Dan system as well as a title in the Shogo licensing system. Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I can hear all those purist nerds out there say Colin is full of it because Taekwondo is a Korean art. But that is another story ...

What I'm saying is that I'd like my students to keep a balanced approach to their training and not have to deal with an instructor who's trying to be larger-than-life, signing cheques their bodies can't cash. Remember that movie?


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Colin Wee
Coordinator, IAOMAS
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]. Colin is a martial art instructor with 28 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia.
Connect with Colin on FaceBook and Traditional Taekwondo on FB.


Skryfblok said…
I once visited Japan as a Taekwon-Do umpire for a championship in Tokyo. There I met ITF Taekwon-Do black belts whom have trained for twenty or more years with technical skill far above my own, but who were of lower rank. When I asked them why they have not tested for higher ranks yet, they told me that they were not good enough, that they have not perfected their current levels yet. It says much about their mindset.

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