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Rank Levels




This is no green belt level.


Yes, it is.


He has no purple belt standard.


That cannot be proven.


Nor has she.


Where should one draw the line ?


This doesn't meet brown belt requirements.


Those are completely arbitrary categories.


This is no black belt level.


It is not possible to define that.



Yes, it is !


But the definition is not done with mathematical formulas or with words. It is done with examples, with many examples, namely by all persons holding the specific rank in question, possibly symbolized by some belt color. Of course, everybody can only watch a limited number of other people, a sample usually containing the members of one's home club and the participants at training courses and at belt examinations. At some point one has acquired an idea of what constitutes a specific rank level. (This is at least possible if one is interested and observes studiously.) One can realize it, learn it, understand it, grasp it, even without being able to sufficiently put it into words or to verbalise it at all.


When rank levels were introduced, the respective terms got their meaning. Arbitrariness is no particular criterion at the introduction of words, simply because it actually is the first time they appear. But it becomes crucial when words have been established and then somebody sets out to distort and reinterpret their meaning for his own agenda. The article "The Name of the Game" on this website deals with this topic.

Can such a definition of rank levels work and secure high quality standards ? Yes, it can, provided that belt examiners and instructors are qualified, dare telling the truth, and do not give away ranks. And there was a time when it did work by and large, even in the  *** association. However, this was quite a while ago.


And how about today? No, it doesn't work for the most part, and that is true for all rank levels. And is it really that bad? So the requirements have changed, and there are new standards. Bad? Yes, about the worst that could happen in this domain.


What will finally happen? For one thing, the general qualifications decrease more and more, so the role model function of people with specific ranks gets lost.

Moreover,  at an increasing rate, inept and dubious individuals receive ranks, most notably master grades, and positions which they cannot live up to and which they should never get in the first place.


There is an indispensable precondition for the rank bungling business, namely the difference between the classic grading requirements and the new ones. This is crucial, because in people's minds, a specific rank is not equated with the characteristics and the value of some new standards epitomized by rank donees. Ranks and belt colors are associated with the previous definition, the high demand one. Its properties deliver what people want to be identified with, that is superior quality, respect, and reputation. And this is also true for those persons who try to camouflage their (self-) deception and voracity for titles with arbitrariness of rank levels.  


Eventually, the martial arts landscape will be poisoned by charlatans, liars, cheaters, assholes, forgers, budo criminals, bootlickers, twaddlers, impostors, heralds of pseudo-philosophic justification and stultifying logic, utterly disgusting ...

Come again? Whether it is right to say such things? To depreciate people in such a way? No, this is not what we are doing, because fraud and charlatan and asshole and similar words are not insults but praising expressions of appreciation for reality based future optimism; at least with the new definition of those terms. It might have been different with their old meanings, but those were completely arbitrary and could not be proven; where should one draw the line ?


 2009 PDE