Gradings - What are they for?

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Gradings - What are they for?

Gradings – What are they for?


For anyone who has ever taken even a passing note of the Martial Arts cant help but notice that gradings make up an important part of the training.


But just what are gradings? And why are they important and are they still relevant in today’s day and age.


If we are to look back over the history of Martial Arts, Gradings in the form that we see now are a relatively new phenomenon. In traditional martial arts the transmission of knowledge is a long and timely process, which is signified by the handwritten transition of the school you are studying once you have reached a certain level.


Today in the Martial Arts rank is seen as your progression within your chosen style and is indicated by varying colours of belt up to the awarding of the Black Belt. Each of the colour belts in the modern age, represent the successful completion of that module of training. Note it is the successful completion and not the mastery.


A great number of martial art schools also tie the new belt structure to goal setting, thereby encouraging the student through periodic goals to achieve their new belt, and thus getting closer to their desired outcome, which for most is the achievement of Black Belt. If this is the sole goal of gradings it unfortunately misses the point of training. For me, it not about being better than the next person, or achieving a new belt, it is about am I better today than I was yesterday? Do I have a greater understanding of what I have been taught, and can I implement these teachings in my daily life?


There are in effect two ways gradings tend to be done, one is that you are rewarded for what you have learned and are able to recreate. The other is that you are rewarded and challenged for what your perceived ability is IF you continue to train and push yourself. This for me is the harder of the two, this second method challenges you in a different way, you are always having to push yourself to achieve a distant goal or target. 


Gradings are in fact still relevant today as they help to create a strength within a school if those who are administering the gradings have a defined idea of what they want their students to look like as they progress. Gradings should never be a given, just because you have turned up and paid the relevant fee, does not mean that you should automatically pass. In the same vain, it shouldn’t mean you as an instructor just put students into grade, even though you know they will not pass, just because you have been given a grading fee. 


If gradings are done in an ethical manner they are a good way of monitoring your teachings, and as a method of ensuring you are keeping on top of your knowledge and are moving your students forward in the manner that you as their instructor want and require. Gradings today are still as relevant as they were in the recent past.

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