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For the prospective student, rank is one of the burning questions.  Everybody has heard about the supposed prowess of a black belt holder, and everybody wants to be that person.  It has a mythic status, with visions of having to register your hands as deadly weapons.


Sounds Great to Me.  When Do I Get My Black Belt?
Frankly, we place very little importance on rank – far more important is what a person is capable of doing, not the colour of fabric around the waist. Belts, sashes, titles and the like have little bearing as to what you can actually do, so it’s better not to worry about them.

So What is Wrong With Belt Ranks?
In general, belt ranking has gotten out of hand. Many schools offer every belt colour available, plus doling out stripes as inter-belt ranks. It is conceivable in some schools to go up a rank almost every month until you get your black belt. 

Mostly, this is a money-generating tool for a martial arts school, with increasingly large fees for each successive belt.  More belt levels means more money coming in through the monthly belt testings.

As a comparison, Chojun Miyagi, the founder of goju-ryu karate, never gave out a black belt during his life. He said there were two types of people in the world: those who deserved a black belt and those who didn’t. The ones who didn’t deserve it shouldn’t have one, and the ones who did deserve a black belt shouldn’t need one.

Does This Mean You Don’t Use Ranks?

We do, but in a conservative and informal manner.  Rather than using rank as some sort of strict hierarchy, we prefer to award it as a gift, as a recognition of one’s hard work and dedication.  Rather than have students go through some sort of artificial test, we prefer a day-to-day evaluation of a student’s progress.  

And, in class, often the instructors don’t bother wearing any symbol of rank.  It just isn’t that important.


Fine, So What Do I Have To Do To Get a Black Belt?
Unlike most martial arts schools, paying your fees and showing up to class won’t guarantee you a belt. This is a meritocracy, and just showing up won’t cut it – we want to see hard work.

When we feel the student is ready for it, he or she receives a green belt/assistant instructor’s rank.  If the student puts in the time and effort and discipline necessary, he or she might earn a black belt.  There is no test material to cram for (and then forget about), no usurious fees, none of the hoopla associated with the awarding of belts in other schools.  Who really needs it? 


But What About Registering My Hands as Deadly Weapons?

Sorry, it’s an urban myth.  Thought you should know, just in case somebody wants to charge you fees for your registration.

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