- WHAT RANK
- Onward and
- When I meet
students that do not know me, at other dojos or at
tournaments, I am often asked what rank I am.
sometimes the person doing the asking needs to know for a
- For example.
they are asking to make sure that I am called up in the
proper rank order if I am to be introduced with other
instructors, or perhaps it is to make sure I am
registered in the right category for a particular
- At other
times, however, I might be asked the same question by a
more junior student who is simply curious, since I for
one do not wear a large number of stripes across my belt
to indicate my rank as some black belts do. Since things
like that can sometimes be misinterpreted by others as
seeming to be saying to the whole world, "look at me
I am important".
- In the
first example I will always give them my rank right away,
since to this person knowing the correct answer is
important for reasons other than mere curiosity.
- In the
second example, however, I take a different approach and
I always say the same thing, "I am a beginner."
- Now this
answer invariably causes the person doing the asking to
look at me for a moment with a surprised expression on
their face, and then they might smile and say something
like, "no your not, you are a black belt".
- I for one
always find it interesting that some students find it
hard to imagine that a person with a Dan rank of any kind
could still consider themselves a beginner. I guess to
them having a black belt must somehow automatically make
you a person who should knows it all. In which case I can
see how my answer would come as a surprise to them.
- Then again
I suppose I should not be so surprised since from time to
time we have all probably come across Yudansha who,
regardless of their rank, really do try to give the
impression that they "know it all".
- Sad really.
- I have
known many experts in many different fields of endeavour,
and each one has at some point or another during our time
together, said that even in their field of expertise, and
despite their long list of credentials, they still do not
know it all.
- They too
are still learning.
- And there
in I think is one of the great truths about many experts.
- They freely
admit that the total sum of their current knowledge may
give them "expert status" in the eyes of many
people, but they themselves know that they have only
scratched the surface, and that each day brings them new
opportunities to expand their knowledge in their chosen
- I too feel
the same way.
minute I spend in the dojo is a learning process.
movement, each technique, each kata, teaches me something
new, or re-enforces and confirms for me something I
already knew. Either way each minute in the dojo, or
outside of it for that matter, is a constant learning
- My learning
curve, however, is never only upward.
- I for one
make lots of mistakes, but to me these "mistakes"
are little markers that continually try and point me in
the right direction, and that in the end need to be
heeded, since they contribute greatly to making sure that
I travel down the right path.
- Now it is
important to remember that the right answer may not
appear the first, the second, or the hundredth time you
try something, but if you keep and open mind and an
honest approach to what ever the task it is at hand, then
success can never be far behind.
- Yes rank
has its place.
- After all
we are a hierarchical society within the confines of the
dojo or other karate related events, but your Karate
training and your personal goals should never be based
solely upon a desire for a higher rank.
your goal should focus on learning more about things you
already think you know well enough, improving the things
that you know are not good enough, and constantly
striving to make yourself a better martial artist, and
for that matter a better person through the "way"
perfection of character"
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."