Ok, ok… so I promised to tell you about my experience at the bank.
No I wasn’t held up by any crazed maniacs with shotguns. That doesn’t happen so much at my new bank – it seems the B of A in our area wins 1st prize in that contest. It was held up 3 times in 18 months…
Anyhow, I walked into WaMu and the young male teller who was serving me commented about karate. I hadn’t spoken to him much before and he seemed excited to chat, but at the same time looked a little nervous. He was very slightly built, and very effeminate.
I could tell he wanted to tell me something, so I asked him “Have you got some karate experience?”
“Yes”, he replied. “I just got my black belt.”
“Congratulations.” I said.
“Thanks… but it’s only 1st degree.”
I couldn’t help but wonder why he would be proud enough of his achievement to tell me about it, but then downplay it with the big “BUT it’s only 1st degree.”
Hmmm. I pondered.
“So what style of karate do you practice?”
“Tae Kwon Do”
(Hmmm. Last time I checked karate and TKD were 2 different things, but anyhow…)
“Well good for you. That’s a great achievement.”
“Well, yeah… it’s ok. I’ve only been training for just over one year. It’s not like a 5th degree or anything.”
Wow! At last, there it was… I’d finally seen one in the wild! The 12 month black belt!
Now if you detect a *hint* of sarcasm, forgive me. I’m just not all that thrilled that people with 12 months of experience who train 2 hours per week should be awarded their black belt. That’s approximately a total of 100 lessons.
Now I understood why he felt uneasy about admitting he was “only a 1st degree”. But then I guess I could be wrong – perhaps he was a child genius and is a true master of his art. Highly unlikely, but possible?
As teachers in charge of issuing black belts, I believe it’s important for us to hold black belt for a high standard and not to “sell out”, just to have another black belt at our schools.
In the short term it might seem like a good idea to give the appearance to the public that “we are a black belt academy”, but in the long run the low standard will compromise the reputation of your school and the reputation of you as a serious instructor.
I tested for my black belt on Sept 11, 1993. Thirteen other students tested that day. 6 failed their test. 8 passed.
Achieving black belt should be revered as an outstanding achievement, not the norm. Not all who attempt the test will achieve it the first time. And that’s not to say that there should be a percentage that fails every time either. My point is that high standards should be set and should never be compromised.
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