When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:
I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me
I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me
I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull
I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death
I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed
I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes
I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados
I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers
The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn
Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung
WARNING, CAVEAT AND NOTE
The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated.” - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources
“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames
“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne
Dan Rank/Level/Grade Testing Criteria
In the ancient times one practiced and trained. The only method of testing was to challenge and defeat adversaries. Most adversaries were other dojo where it was thought that to defeat the dojo's best practitioner was a way to validate and achieve greater understanding of their own martial prowess. Sensei spent efforts in training in conjunction with a critical eye for evaluation. It was expected that the disciple would have the focus and observational skills to "perceive" what was necessary to gain higher levels of proficiency in martial arts. This was a cultural essence that still drives many more classical or traditional Asian trainings.
There was no "criteria" for what one needed to reach a higher level within the martial arts. One simply trained and practiced continuously, diligently and with an eye set on Sensei for those brief and sporadic indications things were going in the right direction. Then came the test by fire. Challenges between rival dojo, rival villages and rival adversaries.
There were no ranks, no belt colors and only one "certificate" if you will when one left the dojo and went out into the world with the Sensei's blessings to practice and teach the system, style or branch.
Tests today have caused the creation of obstacles to this once ancient system of advancement in the arts. In order to "test" one has to specify what it is to be tested. In a more classical and traditional form of martial arts this is not possible. It is impossible and improbable that any criteria could be set that makes things easy to test.
Testing tends to lump humans, the uniqueness of the individual, into one category that hinders expression and dynamic applications of martial arts. It tends to take away the individual and places them in grouping where individuality is not possible without breaking the "testing system." One person's application is going to be "different, not wrong" compared to another person in the same training hall.
Placing specifics as to test criteria smothers the ability to be creative and locks the mind into "one thing" that when added to "other things" for uniformity in testing a system in lieu of a person that leaves efforts on the named items and passes over the unnamed items that are more important.
It is a bit like the difference, fundamentally, between a budo system and a sport system. The "rules" of the sport tend to ignore and invalidate the budo creativity necessary for combat, fighting and violence in general.
Testing has become merely a method of control and a means by which social activities to build camaraderie between dojo participants which is good, beneficial and important but the testing criteria and its limitations, much like sport rules, tends to move focus toward the social club and leaves important aspects of violent encounters under a heading of combative sports, etc.
This leaves the question then how does one ensure that another meets what is perceived by an individual as what constitutes a black belt or dan grade? You cannot answer this adequately with testing where the objective is to solidify the group dynamic that achieves greater solidarity toward the more economic goals of a dojo today. This is validated by the many conversations, threads, on how much did you spend to achieve a black belt vs. what experience have you gone through to achieve the level of marital proficiency you have today which by the way can not be expressed in words but needs to be demonstrated by actions, deeds and beliefs.
My personal experience in practicing martial arts, karate goshin-jutsu-do, for about thirty-six years is I would have missed out on a great deal of knowledge that would have contributed to my overall understanding in this discipline if I had adhered to someone else's idea's on what constitutes a black belt or proficiency in martial arts and all that it encompasses regarding budo. In my experience when a societal group or martial arts club becomes the group dynamic then when true budo is displayed their cultural belief system instinctually resists causing the "other" to either adhere to the group or remain solitary and alone. Something to think about.