Thursday, 18 December 2008

Children Black Belts

Years past, the black belt was seen as an honour to achieve, and people who where certified black belts had to go through vigorous testing before. Although just a grade which never guarantees victory in competition or the street, the black belt was only given to people who trained hard and gained a thorough understanding of all basic techniques of there style.

Today however, is a completely different story. It is more and more common to see children who have gained there black belt, some even below the age of 10. Is this right?

As mentioned, black belts where seen as martial artists who had gained a thorough understanding of basic techniques. However, martial arts nowadays prohibit children from learning certain techniques. For instance the Judo syllabus states that a child has to reach a certain age before they can be taught chokes and arm locks. So if a child of 12 years old for example has never been taught or practised such techniques, is it right to grade them to Dan level.

There are still many styles do not just give there black belts away. Hard work and thorough testing is needed in order to achieve Dan grade. This could be winning a certain amount of competitions, performing gradings which go on for hours, sparring hard for a certain amount of time with a certain amount of fighters etc. Whatever the test is in order to achieve Dan grade, a large amount of preparation is needed for this. Either studying theory, sparring hard for weeks before the grading or preparing the body to be physically capable of performing the event, which in turn involves strength and cardiovascular training.

There are not many children that have the physical capabilities to do this. Weights should not be allowed for children as they are still developing. Although cardiovascular and bodyweight exercises may help them to develop good health, the intensity they would need to exert is to demanding for them and should be left for when they get older.

Normally you see children black belts from schools where gradings are very simple tests in which a few basic techniques must be demonstrated. Sometimes you see, 3rd 4th Dan or even higher. Maybe this is acceptable or maybe it is not. It certainly helps the schools in profiting. Normally, achieving Dan grade costs a lot of money and that may be the reason it is happening.

Peoples views on this are varied and it would be great to here them so please leave a comment below.


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Anonymous said...

i totally disagree with the practise of awarding dan grades to persons under 16, let alone to anyone below the age of 10.
my opinion is based on the fact that children more often than not, lack the physical and mental capacity and maturity to perform the function of a black belt. such a degree requires skill, experience, application and knowledge, amongst other things.

jean(2nd dan in shotokan karate)

John W. Zimmer said...

I have seen children attain black belt rank and have wondered why? The first criteria of a black belt in my mind is can this person defend him or herself against most attackers? If not then I would argue not to award a black belt. What is the point?

Maybe I am old school but I don't believe in social promotion in school either.



Zyaga said...

I believe this to be totally absurd. The fact that anyone below the age of 16 is able to earn a black belt is unreasonable.

Attaining a black belt shouldn't simply be about how long you've been attending a school. It should be about enhancing one's self, not only in fighting but in every way. I'm not exactly sure at what age it becomes appropriate to give out a black belt if they really deserve it, but they should DESERVE it.

I'm not one to like belts and ranking anyway, or rather, I don't focus on what belt someone is. It does have its purposes but people can focus too much on the color of their belt, or others, and make assumptions based on those facts.

Anonymous said...

Agree that children should never be awarded the Black Belt, at least unless they can successfully defend themselves.

But weighttraining hurting children is wrong. It would only help them.

Anonymous said...

Age means nothing. Maturity means alot. I know 13 year olds much more mature then 20 year olds. Plus they need to have the passion to learn the arts, the knowledge of when to use it, and advanced skills. 1st Dan itself is Nirvana, yet I see little children that can't spar for anything. If a black belt can only roundhouse, roundhouse, roundhouse, there is a problem. I might be just 14, but I believe if you know the moves, have the knowledge and maturity, Dan's can be given out, but with the utmost caution. Many kids now days show-off their black belts.

Anonymous said...

no diff between the McDojos which have been a problem since I started training in the 70s and the present day charlatans who open MMA training centres and make it up as they go along. i cant count how many times Ive seen articles, videos or others which tout how the 8 year old learned a RNC after training for 6months.

Martial arts is not a race.
If you cant wait till youre 16 to get your belt, maybe you should take up a sport which will give you instant gratification. The belt is not the means to an end or the end itself (nirvana). Of course, McDojos live off this need.
I think the halfcolour system for junior is excellent as it feeds somewhat this need while not bastardizing the sport.

Ive seen only a handful of judo black belts at 16 and 17yr and they were exceptional judokas with tremendous techiques and kata and most importantly, they carried themselves with dignity. They acted and behaved with the humility that is often forgotten in martial arts nowadays.

You are right about the age limitations in judo to practice chokes, locks, etc and is the main reason why presently it is impossible for someone to get a black belt at a ridiculous age.

Anonymous said...

16is only the minimum age one should wait to get his or her black belt.It could take longer.I believe in enjoying the journey it takes to get there,one must struggle to appreciate the achievementof getting a black belt.I got my black belt at19,and my first degree at 22yrs of age.

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