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May 28, 2004



Utter crap... its this kind of 'i'm in the club and i know it all' nonsense that holds back karate.

litmus test...who says a shodan knows enough to grade?...which godan truly is a panel grader?....its this kind of elitist crap which is a throwback to an empire embraced neither by the americans or the europeans.

Challenge, yes. follow? not our way without a fight.



I dont think this is elitist at all.

Clearly this post is just opinion and you can take it or leave it.

As for the 'I'm in the club and I know it all' nonsense, no karateka can claim to know it all but isn't the whole principle of karate that it is a life study passed on from person to person.

This is purely another channel for passing on that knowledge. You can choose to ignore it if you wish.

Great website BTW :)


My observation was that 1st kyu is one of those times when many karate-ka lose their humility and get a bit cocky. This doesn't last, and it can happen to anybody, at any rank or skill level -- as I mentioned, it's happened to me.

The issue here is that people who believe they've trained hard enough, and learned enough, stop learning. If you aren't willing to admit there are things you don't know, then you will never learn them. I learn new things all the time, and when I was feeling full of myself, getting that knocked out of me was the best favor they could have done. My karate took a big leap forward once I opened my mind back up and started listening again.

Not everyone with a black belt is an "expert", not everyone who corrects you is right in what they're saying. However, there's a decent chance that they do know what they're talking about. The people in question here have decided that they are "good enough", and are not taking ANY input -- and we're all telling them the same things, basic technique problems which will almost certainly mean they don't pass for Shodan. So they aren't doing themselves any favors.


It is strange that the only one you mean is technical good enough for shodan is that one who listens to advices - and that all these who has bad techniques also are bad in listening.
That the first person also practise a lot both before and after the regular training, that is quite understable, but I think that many who is technical good are proud and dont listen to other.


I really don't think I'm expressing myself properly, because I'm not trying to say that those who don't listen to advice are no good, or can't be any good. Some very arrogant people are incredibly skilled. Other arrogant people are not. Many black belts are worthy of respect and technically amazing, some are not.

Either way, that's not the point. There is always someone who is better than you. There is always someone you can learn from. This is my point. People who are watching you can sometimes see things that you don't see by yourself, which can make a big difference. If you stop believing that, you're in trouble.

Shodan tests are exciting -- not because black belts are so superior, but because it represents a lot of time and hard work. All of us want to help people prepare and do well and pass. When we see a roundhouse kick that's more like a front snap kick, or a jodan punch that lands chudan, or a kiba-dachi stance that looks more like a back stance, we will try to correct that, not because we think we know everything but because these things count against you in dan testing.

The frustrations I expressed in this post were the result of a discussion between 5 black belts after class one day. All of us are discouraged about these 2 people. All of us were commenting how we could remember times when we didn't want to listen to advice, which meant that we ended up practicing a bad technique so that it became a bad habit we had to break later.


Hey, great blog! Just found it today.

I'm also a 1st kyu, and had to laugh at your description of the symptoms, as I also have them. I have rationalized in a few ways, however:

- I have two main instructors, both 5th+ dan, from two clubs, instructing me. I hold both in high regard for their ability to teach and correct and lead me towards shodan. I find getting too much input from too many black belts is overwhelming, I already have enough to work on, and they tend to focus on symptoms, not the actual real cause of the problem.

- Some people don't deserve my respect. I don't believe in respecting someone merely because they have a black belt. I will stand junior to them and I will be polite and keep my mouth shut and work hard, but I will also employ evasive maneuvers to avoid partnering up with them or getting their advice pre-class, and if I'm stuck with them I will do what they say but not think about it again afterwards.

Thankfully I exist where there are a lot of people to learn from. I don't have to put up with an arrogant jerk who can't bother to wash his gi, for example ;)

Anyway, I love your blog! I shall be back!



Haha thanks for the kind comments on the blog! As for the symptoms, well... it is my humble opinion that they're pretty much universal, even if they don't always hit at 1st kyu. Those who deny or defend them the loudest are usually the worst :-) You sound like you have a fairly typical, relatively low grade case!

There's no question that too much advice results in frustrating overload, and it ends up doing more harm than good. Hopefully the black belt sees when you're getting to that point and backs off -- but not always!! (I could cheerfully throttle a couple who don't know when to back off).

As far as the evasive maneuvers, etc... well, naturally you understand that I can't condone it! However, I will confess to having spent quite a lot of time, once upon a time, dodging sparring drills with certain people, and there were certainly people whose input I didn't welcome. I was surprised to find later that some of it ended up to be quite sound... but some of it did not! Sounds like you have enough good people around that you respect, that you should be able to progress solidly -- and you are at least paying lip service to respect, just as I did!

Visit often and post comments! I love the feedback and interaction almost as much as I love the sound of my own typing... ;-)


I've encountered a similar "syndrome" with people from other martial arts who start into a new one..

it's not so much that they are scrutinized more, but that they feel they've earned this respect in their other art, and are mad because they are now being treated like babies.

As for the comment about not respecting someone just because they have a blackelt, I think IN the dojo you should ALWAYS show that respect, to any superior... you can hate the person and bad-mouth him/her as much as you want once you take a bow and leave, but in the dojo it's all about etiquette... as a show of humility, keep the dirty looks inside, and take it out on a punching bag later.

And i think that if someone is treating you with disrespect, do something about it after class by talking to THAT person's superior, and if he/she runs the dojo... well get yourself out of there and find a dojo that will treat you with respect.


The respect issue is so central to traditional martial arts, and one of the trickiest. Ideally, you get the respect that you earn, but sometimes, you feel that you've earned respect that you aren't receiving. It's true that a black belt doesn't ensure that the wearer is worthy of respect... however, it's a sign that they might be. In a traditional dojo, they are your elder, and most dojo etiquette dictates that you treat them as such. Hopefully, they deserve that respect. In return, you will hopefully be treated with respect as well.

Besides, it's good for you to have to make nice to people you don't like, every once in awhile. Builds character :-)

I also agree about people who come in from other martial arts, particularly from other karate styles. The closer the style, the harder the adjustment. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be, to want to do the familiar movements, and keep getting corrected! On top of that, they're back at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of seniority. I'm sure I would be very resistant!!

And 100% true: If you are not being treated well (and this isn't just temporary frustration), then go somewhere else.

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