Thursday, January 31, 2013
The Illusionary Relevance of Rank
I have always found it interesting to see how people (in the Martial Art's world in general) react to, or treat individual's based (solely) upon their “claimed” Rank (in/of what-ever). I've been involved with the study of various forms of some martial art, since the age of 14. Since that time, I have encountered hundreds of individual's who have claimed to have (some level of) a Yudansha ranking (and many of those, had no idea of what a “Yudansha” even was).
Over the course of the years, and throughout those numerous encounters, some of those people actually garnered my respect. This was done sometimes through their actions/attitudes, and sometimes through their abilities (separate things BTW, LOL). Those who did receive it though, never asked for it (much less demanded it).
The deciding factor for myself was always their personality (over their abilities). A person might know a whole lot about some individual subject (that I might have an interest in), but if they came across as (IMO) being either condescending and/or an arrogant “Ass-Wipe”, I would have nothing to do with them.
After being awarded a couple of Yudansha rankings (of my own, LOL), my concern's regarding raising that level became less, and less. Experience has demonstrated that having any higher level of ranking, would actually accomplish nothing (at least for myself).
Of course that doesn't take “bragging rights” into account. But I've never felt the need to have to (at least attempt to) intimidate someone with a piece of paper that is worthless to anyone who's name isn't on it (and even then, it's questionable, LOL).
None-the-Less, I've had numerous individual's (usually someone who doesn't know me at all) attempt to (either) impress or intimidate me with their own “Certificate of Pompousness”. Usually, when presented with this attempt at intimidation, I will respond with an attitude of disconcern (often mistaken for disrespect, two separate attitudes BTW).
I believe that what bothers me most about the whole Rank-Race, is that the improvement of the system is not being considered as being a relevant factor (when awarding those ranks).
A "system", that had a total membership of 900 member's (of whom 700 were “Yudansha”) and 200 were of various Mudansha level/rankings would be ridiculously lop-sided (and IMO would be on the verge of collapse).
The awarding of any Yudansha rank (above Shodan), pretty much is decided by who has the money (to pay for the “test”). Now in some systems, each “test” amounts to (nothing more, or less than) a “hazing” ceremony. To claim otherwise would be completely disingenuous (how else could one “justify” having participants perform kick's, punches, stances or even kata, for ridiculously long periods of time?).
What does doing so, actually prove and/or accomplish? Does it establish some manner of superiority? (not in my opinion). The fact that I may be able to perform a thousand punches/kicks in succession, does not establish that I am any more (or less) capable/knowledgeable at teaching (or even performing) the art that I study and/or teach.
Taika did not (directly) mandate that anyone “test” (for a higher rank). He may very well have encouraged it, LOL (been there, done that). But it was never mandated. Everyone, regardless of “rank”, was always taught/shown the same thing (in class, seminar's, etc.).
It's always been (only) my own opinion, that acquiring higher rank is an option only available to those with money. That (at least) appears to be the primary prerequisite. The (unfortunately) only alternative, is if your running your own organization (then you can make yourself any freakin' rank you wanna be, LOL). The only “catch” will be if anyone else will honor it.