Modernizing the Martial Arts, Part 2

Modernizing Martial Arts , part 2

In Part 1 of Modernizing the Martial Arts, I discussed the outdated concepts of punitive traditions in Martial Art schools.  I explained how we are going to change that in One World Karate, and why.

In Part 2 I aim to explain how 1WK is going to adapt the testing procedures to reflect the unique challenges faced by a school that works with students of radically different abilities and needs.

Once upon a time in the traditional school, belts were awarded based upon mastery of technique. Schools were not meant to be egalitarian, democratic, or easy.  Only the best were supposed to reach Black Belt.  The rest were supposed to quit, drop out, or eventually “find their level”.  In fact, many many years ago, there were no belts at all!  You trained as hard as you could, and the best students learned the most.  Period.

A knock against many contemporary schools in America is that schools have become “Black Belt Factories”  that spew out rank in exchange for money.  In effect, these schools charge you money to attend, then give you a belt every few months (after a “test” is administered to justify the promotion) to keep your ego satiated enough to continue to spend money  and attend school.  The end result is a “Black Belt” with no real mastery of the skills and a dangerously false sense of security.

I come from a traditional background where the skills were required to be mastered to a set level before a promotion could be given.  I respect that philosophy, and I believe that any physically able body should should be held to those standards. 

However, One World Karate is not about producing one Bruce Lee out of 1000 students.  One world Karate is about developing the individual to their greatest potential possible.  That is why, despite being an inclusive school, the students will be placed into the program that best suits their needs.  We believe in setting up the student for success, not failure.

I’m sure one of these guys will get a black belt….

Before we describe the two programs we run, it is important to realize that the programs are personal, not institutional.  That means that just because a motor impaired student may be in a modern curriculum, that student is not isolated or removed from the traditional curriculum students.  Depending upon the lesson, they may train together or separately – whichever is the best solution for that particular skill set.

So what exactly are you talking about, Teacher Carroll?

So glad you asked!  Here’s the breakdown:

The Traditional Program– This program is for students who are physically able to develop mastery of the skill set required for promotion to higher belts.  This is a program that you would expect in any Martial Art school anywhere in the world.  Regardless of a students mental cognitive functions, behavioral issues, or Attention Deficits, if the student is physically capable of mastering the skill set, they will be placed in a traditional program.

What that means for the student in our traditional program is that belt testing will be a real test that they can pass or fail. A failure of a test is not a failure of a student.  This will be stressed repeatedly throughout a students training.  In fact, the belt tests will be referred to as Belt Evaluations.  This is  simply because I personally loath the word “test” wholeheartedly.  Hate it.

I don’t need the STRESS of a TEST!

The Modern Program – The other program is for students with motor impairment issues.  Again, regardless of mental cognition, behavior, or attention issues, if the student has motor issues that would preclude the student from mastering the skill set needed to reach Black Belt, that student will placed in the Modern Program.  The modern program will be based upon “time served” as a student, and a specific set of goals designed to be met within 3 months.  Class attendance will be monitored for every student regardless of program, but the Modern Program students will be eligible for a belt evaluation every 24 classes attended (essentially perfect attendance for 3 months).  Their evaluation will consist of a demonstration of what they have learned and improved upon since the last evaluation.  This is exactly how we teach in the special education setting in schools (well, it’s supposed to be how we teach…)

How is this different than the “Black Belt Factory”?  The difference is in the intent and execution of the class.  These students are not just given a promotion.  They earn it through participating 100% and striving for success within the limits of their physical ability.

Some of these students may, with time, reach a point where they transfer to the traditional program (this is part of our goal of individual excellence!).  They will retain their current rank, but will have to demonstrate physical mastery of the essential building block skill sets of the lower belts before testing for their next belt.

All students will have the opportunity for private lessons as well.  These lessons are designed to compliment the classroom training, not necessarily replace it.

To summarize – the programs are designed to facilitate the individual growth of every student.  We must recognize the limitations certain students may face when they join the school, and adapt to their specific needs.  The ultimate goal is to maximize their potential and build them up through success after success until they reach a place in their lives where they know they are successful.  Sort of like we all wish IEP’s and Texas ARD’s were utilized.  Maybe one day…

Both programs may participate in the same classroom at the same time together as one class.  Being placed in one program does not separate them from the other.  We are an inclusive school with the intent to integrate students to the utmost practical extent possible.

The skills they learn are essentially the same, so they can train together and help each other.  A front kick is a front kick, regardless of whether you are kicking a shield bag, or a balloon.  The technique is the same whether you are punching hard or just as hard as you can. 

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