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Thread: Why is it that many black belts have no skill?

  1. #1
    kungfukid Guest

    Why is it that many black belts have no skill?

    Whas up ya'll?

    I've been studying MA since I was 16. I have three different black belts. The one constant that I've come across is that many of the black belts I've met could not fight their way out of a wet paper bag with a hole in it. What's really funny is that many of them run schools. What's even more funny is when you go to these schools these guys have all these tournament trophies in their window. Or you look in the yellow pages and they tell you how many grand championships they've won, or gold medals. Can anyone say "self-deception?" Not to mention deception of the public. Now we all know that tournament fighting and reality are about a close as earth is to alpha centauri. But the implication of trophies in the window and the teacher's ability to fight still remain.

    But really. Why is it that many black belts cannot use what they have learned. I know, I know, Somebody's going to say, "Well, martial arts is not all about fighting." And I will agree. Martial arts is bout self-mastery, having the ability to not to have to fight. But let's be real. Our world is not a place where everyone loves one another. We've got some boo boos out there who would slit your throat before they would do something nice for you. There are going to be some times when you're going to have to throw down with some dude. That's reality.

    So, in the eyes of a green student who comes into the Dojo and sees sensei or sifu wearing their black belt/ sash, the implication is that the teacher can whup butt. That is not always the case. Then, to make matters worse, sensei or sifu transfers their self-deception onto the student by giving them a black belt/sash.

    And please spare me the crap about how not everyone takes MA to learn how to fight. That would be like saying not everyone buys a car to drive it. What the hell else are you supposed to do with MA? TAE BO? It may not be a primary concern, but let someone take MA for awahile then get into a situation, it becomes the primary concern then. Yes, MA is good exercise, yes it builds good character in children and teens. I agree with all of it. But 99.9991% of the people I've ever studied with or taught did so because they wanted to learn how to defend themselves. Every parent of every child I've taught has always mentioned that there might be an off chance where little Johnnie or Suzy might get bullied on the playground. Just look at the people who study MA. Are they the body builders? No. Are they Macho Jocks? No. They are the geeks and nerds who the Jocks and body builders abuse. In every club there is an excetion to this rule.

    Is this not a case of the blind leading the blind? Everyone will end up in a ditch.

    So someone help me. How can we quit deceiving ourselves by equating black belt with the ability to fight? How can a person who attains the rank of 1st dan be confident they haven't spent 3-5 years of there life learning how to dance when they thought they were learning how to protect themselves?

  2. #2
    blacktsun Guest
    I, too, have more than one instructors rank. One major thing that I have learned (not to upset any black belts/sashes reading this) is that rank means nothing. "The sash around your waist is an illusion." as my sifu said regularly to remind his students they do NOT know everything. One of the major problems that I have seen is that many schools will push students through based on the length of time in the school, as opposed to the skill of the student. After all, claiming "I have more black belt/sash students than my competetor" is, and, unfortunately, will always be, a major claim for schools. Once the skill of the student becomes more important than how long they have been in, the ranks become meaningless, and the students no longer care if they are a black belt/sash. Once this point is reached by the student, they are ready mentally to be a black belt.
    Incidentally, my best instructors that I have ever had have all believed this, and so do I.

  3. #3
    kungfukid Guest
    Thanx for you're reply. I appreciate it.
    I believe you have come to a great conclusion. It is one root of a multi-rooted
    problem. The problem is that of equating rank with skill. The two have nothing to do with each other.

    Knowing that then, why has the black belt/sash become the icon of fighting ability in the MA in the US. I mean it's kinda like coke (the soft drink). Everybody says "I'm gonna go get a coke," but they come back with a pepsi. Coke has become the icon for soft drinks. Likwise, whenever some one says, "Oh, I'm a blackbelt." People immediatelt respond, "Well, you must be a dangerous guy."

    Do you think it has something to do with our society. I mean, it takes a lot of hard work to get a blackbelt, but for many at the end of the day that's all they have to show for their work. A belt. In many cases you don't have to demonstrate any relevant skill to get one. As a matter of fact, you can buy one.

    What bothers me about this is that many instructors are perpetuating self-deception on to people, giving them a false sense of security. They promote them to BB, and send them on their way.

    Let me tell you a little story. I went to a self-defense seminar in Texas last year. At that same seminar were other blackbelts of various rank. Some at masters level. The facilitators of the seminar brought in a guy from the Texas state reformatory and one buy one this guy scared the **** out ALL of the black belts. One guy ran off the stage and left, he was so scared. Now this inmate didn't hit any of them. He did not touch them in any way. all he did was TALK TO THEM. From their fear alone, had a physical confrontation taken place, this inamte would have had all of them for lunch. Now tell me, how am I to put trust in a guy who is afraid when someone curses them? I mean, we're not even talking about fighting, just the verbal stuff that goes on before the fight.

    So you are right, mentally a lot of balck belts aren't black belts.

  4. #4
    Wongsifu Guest
    In cyprus the black belt is a common problem the reason i say problem is because everyone gets one !!! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
    our country is tiny (700,000)so there isnt really a lot of good instructors most of them are karate tkd judo, these ppl go over seas get to black belt , come to cyprus and upgrade themselves to 4 5 even 9th dan
    And their students all get a black belt after 1 and a half years
    We went to a demonstration once and out of the two schools that were demonstrating there were 40 ppl (all kids 13-16) all of them had black belts except for 3 !!!!
    I thought jesus , the reason they do it when i asked the teacher was that its desirable for the kid to have a black belt and he gets happy when he has it so to keep him in the school he advances belts fast and it makes good money !!
    My GF has a black belt in ju jitsu and it took her just over 7 years to get !! her instructor took 30 odd to get 4th dan nowadays everyones got one.
    If you do a net search on belts and sashes you can see that there are web sites that sell them. I found on once that was selling things like
    honorable sihing of style 500$
    sifu of style 1000$
    Sigung of style 1500$
    Founder and upholder of style 5000$
    I thought blah

  5. #5
    Robinf Guest
    It is a sad state of affairs that so many black belts aren't able to apply their skills. Your story about the inmate scaring off so many black belts is a common theme, it's also the common flaw: under every black belt is a human being, behind teaching every black belt is another human being. Their motivations for promotion are different. Some do promote based on skill, using time as a reference to see when someone is eligible, but not allowing promotion until proficiency is seen. I don't understand how anyone can pass a black belt exam that can't at least hold their own in a match.

    The philosophy behind the degrees in black belts in taekwondo is that for each of the first 3 degree, the practitioner must be able to defeat/kill one opponent of equal or better ability with one technique for each degree (so for second, you have to be able to defeat 2, etc.). The basic philosophy of the black belt is based on fighting ability, at least for the first three degrees (the next 3 are based on teaching ability).

    Your question of what is a black belt is a highly valid one that, from my perspective, is asked by students who deserve their black belt. Everyone I know who questions what a black belt is happen to be the best practitioners.

    I, for one, have no idea what a black belt is. I hold a second dan black belt in Taekwondo and I'm nearing a black belt/sash in kung fu. I see myself improving and driving myself to improve, I never give up, I feel that I can hold my own, I have avoided a fight by standing my ground against a bigger individual who was coming straight at me yelling at me. Does any of that make me a black belt? I don't know. I just consider myself lucky.

  6. #6
    My 2 cents. Kung Fu schools are a business,they make their income from the students they teach.This is not the old days where you really had to earn your rank(belts).I think the schools promote and pass out belts to keep their paying-customers happy.I learn nothing from someone who can not fight,therefore I agree that a Sifu that can not fight is a waste of time.I'm not trying to sound like a bad-ass here,but ****,if someone is going to teach me how to fight,they have to be able to defeat me;otherwise,I might as well teach them.Right?

  7. #7
    nospam Guest
    I, for one, do not care if 83.3334% of ALL Black Belts are dellusional. The only Black belt that I care for are the one's trained by me..and my fellow classmates.

    My Grandmaster once told me that he looks forward to the day when I would go to visit him and we would fight, and I would win. It was an interesting statement. I never took him up on it. This example alone describes a generational gap & societal difference between those of past practitioners, to those of the present.

    There was a time when martial artists used their respective arts daily or weekly on the mean streets of their native countries. Granted, in many North American cities, these mean streets still are a live and kicking...but not for 97% of us. So our perspective on practising and using our fighting arts differs. This is where we gain the experience from past stylists. They used the style, and used it successfully. Even traditional styles are not bareft of actual fighting experiences that so many feel have become antiquated.

    Where people run into trouble is when their teachers have not completed their course of study or have taken nothing but a mish-mosh of techniques from a variety of sources. These people are guilty of passing down incomplete styles and perpetuate misunderstanding to the next generation of students. Even if I had a good teacher from a great master, if I am the one teaching and I allow incomplete study or endorsement (through belts) of my students, then the strength of what had past is diluted exponentially. The actual experience of those prior is diminished and might never be replaced.

    We are our weakest link. Like Robin asked, what makes a black belt? The answer to that is based in dellusion and perception; ego and reason. It is simply too subjective to objectify. Thus, BJJ is the best. Kickboxing is real. Western boxing is superior. Kung fu is crap. Tai chi is for old folks. Tao Bo is an unpolished gem.

    I need some Coke. Now where the heck did I put that **** 7-Up!?

  8. #8
    Robinf Guest
    hey nospam,

    that's tae bo, and it's the king of all the martial arts! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  9. #9
    MaFuYee Guest

    [This message has been edited by MaFuYee (edited 06-23-2000).]

  10. #10
    nospam Guest
    heh heh..I realised I used tao, afterwards. *dhoop! *EAT* *EAT* *EAT*

  11. #11
    laughing tiger Guest
    I tend to agree with JKDVIGILANTE. One should only study with a master of an art, and if he is good, he should be able to fight well. My personal preference is studying with traditional guys from the old country, but that is just my taste. Also, the whole belt ranking&black belt in 3 or 5 years thing was designed to keep american students interested. Not too many americans have the discipline to walk the circle with only a few techniques (in Baguazhang)for 6 years, as an example. That is why my current Sifu doesn't teach Bagua.

  12. #12
    blacktsun Guest
    Just for clearity, what I have always defined as being a black sash of mind is not only knowing the techniques, but being able to apply them in real life, and knowing when to apply them. After all, if you are an increadible fighter, but having no idea of when not to fight, all you are is pathetic. Very rarely have I actually had to resort to violence in a one on one encounter. Usually I can find another way out. But if I can't, most of the time, I can fight my way out.

    That is not to say that I am the best fighter, or even really good. What I am, however, is inventive and flexable in what I do, and in control of what I do. Having studied for 19 years, under various instructors, for 10 years before gaining my first black sash, I understand that being flexable of mind is nessicary in real life.

    The definition of a true black sash is difficult to explain. It is not something you are given, it is simply something you are.

  13. #13
    DragonzRage Guest
    Here's my solution:

    get rid of the belt/sash system. Let your ability speak for itself.


    It's not the size of the Dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the Dog.

  14. #14
    Kyoshu Guest
    Belts, Sashes , Patches and the lot are all meant for your own personal development, so you know how far you have come since your last belt. They are not to show how good a fighter you are, fighting proves this, you wanna show how good you are fight in a realistic competition or get into a real fight or join a gang, you'll find a good proving pround there.

  15. #15
    kungfukid Guest
    Greats posts guys,
    I like what all of you have said.
    I expected a few more replies, but it
    is no shock that there are only 13.
    Keep'em coming.


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