Hello again ;-) My trip report begins with my visit to the Great Intergalactic Shotokan Reconciliation Convention and Trade Show of 2257 where, in an unprecedented show of unity, the leaders of the more than 22,000 governing bodies for Shotokan karate style agreed once and for all to put aside petty differences and work together to serve the needs of students. One of the more interesting agreements reached at the conference was a new way of using dan ranks to acknowledge individual progress. Going forward, it was decided that the first five dan ranks would be used as follows:
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In today’s installment, I advise instructors on how they can put some extra time and effort into planning and executing something that most Karate instructors have never given any thought to: Awarding promotions to club members. Awarding promotions can be turned into a community-building experience that deepens the relationship between you and your students, strengthens their commitment to their membership in the club, and leverages the full power of the incentive that Karate ranks are designed to represent. If you meet this challenge, you will have another technique in your arsenal of Karate club management.
The original belt colors taken from Judo in the 1920′s were white, brown, black, as far as I have been able to determine.
When I started training in karate, the first rank that our club awarded was a yellow piece of electrical tape attached to the end of our white belts. We did not even receive the dignity of receiving a yellow belt – a belt which I have always thought looked sort of wimpy. We worked very hard to earn these first ranks and to receive our little certificates marked with the name of the school, signed by the teacher, and stamped by the little recreation center where we kids trained. We were very proud of ourselves for having received our first rank certifications.
Karate Ranks: The Revenue Rainbow Featured
Why do karate schools issue ranks? It’s complicated. The most obvious answer is that people charging money for karate sell karate belts to students who pass tests. The more belts there are to sell, the more revenue the owner of the school collects from each student as they pass through the ranks. This effect is amplified by the fact that a karate school owner probably sees that the more quickly students are rewarded for their efforts, the more motivated they are to continue training. Therefore, more students training for longer paying money for more belts can mean an exponential increase in revenue from equipment sales.
Your beginners start off with white belts, gradually working their way through yellow, gold, orange, red, green, blue, purple, brown, and black. In between each of those belts, they get little stripes of colorful electrical tape around their belts to indicate half steps in between their belts. What do you have? Twenty ranks between novice and black belt? Why?
No matter how much you might wish otherwise, the belt ranks that you receive from your karate instructor do not carry the same value amongst the general public that they have within your karate club. Being the holder of a black belt used to be a big deal. Now, not so much. What happened? Why did your karate rank go from being something that intimidated and impressed to something that people shrug at or even laugh about?
You have been doing karate a long time, and you have achieved significant success in it. You have earned your first, second, third, or higher dan rank. You finished instructor training. You are qualified as a referee, examiner, and instructor. You are licensed by seven different organizations and are even trained in CPR. Why shouldn’t you list these achievements on your resume?