I run a martial arts school. I recently failed a 15-year-old testing for black belt and it has not gone down well with one of his parents. I have split my syllabus into senior and junior grades but have always maintained that the standard should be the same just that some of the more dangerous techniques are missing from the junior stuff.
To date no junior has ever achieved a black belt under me. The only reason I gave them a "grade" to aim for is because so many other local schools have junior black belts. As a result of his failing the mother looked at another local school which has numerous black belts under the age of 16. She told me this is because the school has a better instructor than me and that he makes black belts in under 2 years (her child has been training with me for 8 years) As a result, I started searching the net and came across your article on the black belt. I just wanted to say that it is the most refreshing article I have ever read on the subject. I believe that as a society we are letting our children down by wrapping them in cotton wool and making everyone a "A+" student whether they are capable or not.
For this reason, I am writing this email to ask you permission to change the article slightly for my students and put it on our club notice board. I think it should be published in every martial arts journal.
You may use the article for your students. It is good to hear from a traditionalist who is still in the fight. Strict standards are tough for a school to maintain in today's society, and still be profitable. Students must learn that the things they will treasure the most are those things that were the most difficult for them to achieve.
High standards for attaining the rank of black belt are admirable, however, it sounds like the questioner holds out the promise of awarding a black belt to juniors, when there is no intention of ever awarding one to a junior. If this is the case, is the questioner being truthful when enrolling junior students?
Good point! It is disingenuous to dangle a carrot in front of students to give them hope, while having no intention of ever letting them get to the carrot. A better tactic may be to have some belt that is the equivalent of a junior black belt without it being a black belt. Then, when a student reaches the age of 18, he or she could test for black belt. The student could also be made eligible for accelerated testing to a higher black belt level, so his or her belt level would be more commensurate with his or her skill level and experience.