Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kyu Rank Requirements

  In the course of my instructional methods and approaches, I have modified the manner I have done so several times throughout my teaching career. These changes have come about for various reasons. Sometimes from the realization of inadequacies of techniques or methods (relating to execution), and sometimes because of the level of (or lack thereof) understanding (by my student's) because of how I was teaching that motion and/or concept. When deciding on kyu requirements for my own class, I determine what I feel are the best foundation elements to include, and at what level to introduce them. 
  In regards to Oyata's “kyu-rank” grading policies/requirements, there are none (really, LOL). Taika doesn't dictate what an instructor will/won't teach, and/or at what level they do so. By allowing this (freedom of choice) flexibility, an instructor has the option to utilize whichever teaching methodology and order that they feel work's best(for their student group). Oyata's schools/dojo are not “cloned” in their teaching methods/manners. Different schools often emphasize different aspects of training, depending on the instructor's preferences. There are basic requirements, but they can be taught at whatever level, order or kyu rank that the instructor feels would be most appropriate for their class.
   Student's are only officially reviewed, when they come to Taika to test for a Yudansha Grading. Taika considers it the instructor's responsibility to be sure that the individual student is ready, before sending them to test before him. If/when that student should fail (that testing), that student's instructor will hear ALL ABOUT IT(and most often from Taika especially), and despite the attempts to quench it, so will every other instructor and/or student in the association (ie. it's a BIG DEAL, to have sent someone not qualified yet, to be tested by Taika). 
  As they say, Freedom has it's price to pay, for an instructor of Oyata's methodology, that freedom of instruction(if abused, or neglected) can cost you much respect if/when done. Of course, for some individual's, that respect means nothing. They could care less what Taika, or anyone else in the association thinks (about what, or how well they teach their student's). And because of that attitude and behavior, numerous individual's have been ejected from the Oyata's Association.
  Evaluating what is relevant to a student's learning can be difficult to determine. Each person has their own strength's and weaknesses. Those differences will often decide which concepts/techniques would be best (for that student) to understand first. Though all techniques are eventually taught (to every student) some will acquire a better understanding from learning certain techniques before others will. As an instructor, it usually comes down to a “best guess” when deciding what/when and for whom. It's easy to fall into the “I know best” category (as many do), but I personally, won't delusion myself into thinking that to be true (for my own choices).
  As an instructor, I have to be careful when comparing my student's learning, understanding and ability to my own. My circumstances and learning history are usually far different from the majority of my student's. I've had numerous student's whose abilities have exceeded my own, and some who've only managed to grasp the basics. I've discovered no “majik” method of instruction or understanding. Until I do, I'll have to keep attempting to improve what I presently use.
  For my Shinkyu (“New” Student's )Technically student's begin at 10th kyu, their requirement's at this stage are so minimal, that we usually “Blur” those few requirements with the 9th kyu's (therefor, not acknowledging any real advancement until completion of the 9th kyu requirements). I begin their instruction with learning a couple of stances, the milking punch and they begin to work on basic Tuite and Combination's. As they progress, I introduce them to more stances and variations of the striking methods RyuTe utilizes. The 6 Basic Tuite Principles are shown to them, and as they become comfortable, they begin working on the (3) Naihanchi kata (Shodan, Nidan, Sandan).
  As student's progress through the kyu ranks, they are introduced to the beginning exercises and the relevant technique's contained therein. At the “mid” level ranks (5th thru 1st kyu) they are provided with additional (relevant) subject information. This information is provided on a user's choice basis, there's no (official) test in regards to them, but it should be clear to the student that it would benefit them to be knowledgeable about those subjects. 
  Kata are taught throughout the kyu level studies (for a total of 12). Knowledge of these kata are required to be eligible for Shodan grading. We explain numerous bunkai for each of the kata (usually in conjunction with the technique's practice in class) during the student's study.
  At (about) 5th kyu, we introduce the student to Kobudo (weapon's) practice. This is (mainly) done to enhance the student's empty-hand training (as the majority of the action's made with the weapon's, relates to empty-hand technique's). We (initially) offer a choice (by the student) of which weapon the student would like to attempt first. Each weapon relates to different aspects of open-hand technique's. Often the type of technique's the student prefers, will relate to which weapon they (end up) enjoying the most.
  Throughout all of the student's training, kyusho application is explained (and demonstrated). We don't tend to dwell on these, as they are viewed as being only supplementary to our (regular) technique's. Numerous individual's/system's have attempted to capitalize on the popularity of the subject over the past few years, but none (IMO) have come anywhere close to it's utilization the way that RyuTe integrates it (with common techniques).
  We set no time constraints or limits upon our kyu rank advancement (for student's). Each student is on their own time schedule, and can advance as rapidly as they are able to learn and perform the required actions. Each kyu rank tends to vary on the average time spent learning it's requirements. Over all, the time can amount to approx. 3yrs to be ready for a Shodan test (if the student is dedicated). Granted, our average student isn't able to commit the time to make this a practical (or realistic) time frame, but it could be done.
  Once one has passed a Yudansha test (given by Taika), they are eligible to train with Taika (at his dojo). When someone is awarded a Yudansha grading, they are (then) Taika's student.
  At our dojo, we allow any association member (who wishes) to, freely train with us, and/or our class (obviously, on scheduled class nights, LOL). The goal from doing so, is to share common knowledge, and to further disseminate Taika's knowledge (garnered from our own experience with him, and from that of others). 


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