Student & Instructor ranking model
May 20, 2012 at 7:23 PM
Today I want to go over the system of grades and ranks as well as their importance and faults. I will build upon my previous comparisons of technical Wing Tzun and Conceptual Escrima.
The art of wing chun was revolutionized by Leung Ting and the Germans into a precision and perfected system, but it was also westernized at the same time. I am westernized! EBMAS was two Asian Martial Arts, and I think that together they can work a dualism and create the needed reflection points for a Asian Philosophy. More about that at the end.
EBMAS and all WT variants use the k-12 and University model for student and instructor ranking. Students earn 12 grades and then progress into college levels. This is exactly the way public and private schools organize their student body as well. Ancient societies may have used belts or sashes for rank but western cultures now use grades and University Degrees.
In the traditional Prussian School system there are certain grades that served as cut offs for education if you could not pass the exams. Failure at sixth grade might mean a return to the farms and labour industry, a failure at the eighth grade finals might mean factory work or in heavy dangerous machinery. The 9th to 12th grade is then for the training of the literate, the scientists, and the engineers. This system selected for and then focused on the brightest intelligences to prepare them for University work. Those few that made it to the college levels became the brain power of society: the judges, business leaders, government officials, architects and inventors. Today in a western country everyone gets to try for high school graduation, and in the USA that only requires a sixth graders level of intellect, and a person really needs at least an AA degree or some type of specialized skill training. But the grades of 6, 8, 10, and 12 still reflect these important stages.
In a WT school we also have these same important grades and if you are serious about it, you might get stuck. We won't send you back to the farm, but you might be spending a few years in a grade until you get it.
The first of these is the Sixth Student Grade test. Here a student is through the complete general WT kickboxing material and has started Chi Sau. Granted they may have spent a very long time in STG 4! before moving into knees and elbows and the Poon Sau but the test is at STG 6 there is an expected level of excellence and demonstration of skill needed here or you should not move on.
Again at the eighth student grade and at 10th and 12th. At the 8th a student should have a strong grasp of the first section of chi sau and be a strong and square player in Lat Sau free sparring. Grades 9-12 all add to the base built in the first section. A student cannot build ONTO that base special kicks or multiple attackers, weapons, etc..without a base. When I first started WT in 1994 it was expressed to me that a student might not ever pass STG 11 and 12. For a certain type of student these two grades each might take five or ten years.
A person can graduate early at the 10th grade in High School just as a WT can get a D-License and start a working group.
I must talk about black belts for a minute. The public always ask us if we have a ?black belt? What is that? What is our equivalent in WT? Is it about technical perfection of movement, or about winning in fights, or weapons, or merely how many months have you been paying tuition? I feel that any skilled WT STG 6 can beat most Black Belts in open sparring, but to be honest about it, the completion of STG 8 finishes the first section so this can be a fair BB comparison point, for most popular martial arts. Often people make the easy and direct comparison of the WT Technician to a TMA Black Belt. This is the truth, the highest standard, but few other TMA's equal this standard. In most cases a WT has faced their degree of BB level testing at STG 8 and 12, then the three section tests for Tech 1, so they are at least a third degree BB. But if you compare to a valid BB like from Judo or BJJ you can say yes, as those have extremely rigorous requirements for at least three belts to get to a Black.
So instead we use the same system as we learned in primary school and the same system we are using in a University as an adult. The four Technician Levels equate to the four levels of a University Degree: associate, bachelor, master, and PhD. The AA degree is the final level of education that doesn't imply you will teach. It is the fighters highest level. A Bachelors degree implies teaching. From Tech 2 and up a student must teach other students to learn, at a minimum as their helpful training partners but also so that they can teach themselves! A Masters and higher in modern education requires that you teach a class. Many of the things you begin to learn at the masters level involve leading teams of people. In the workforce this level is required to managerial level positions. For my purpose here, as an analogy, let us say that a Masters or PhD are of equal greatness but serve a different purpose. The PhD has the title Dr. or Prof. and is generally fully invested in the subject, not using the subject to do actual work. Example: the Geology Master is out digging rocks and writing publications while the Geology PhD is creating more Masters to send into the field and to help them study all the information about geology. Often in this example neither of them could do the others job!
This is not some abstract thing like the colour of a sash or how dirty your belt is. It is directly related to how we each got our own primary school education. Our curricula directly corresponds to our grades and levels, and these follow the K-12 University school model.
To contrast this and in that way give us a dualism we have some other tools to balance the constraints of such a rigorous and systematic grading system. As an Asian Martial Art we also need to embrace some of the more spiritual and what some people call mystical aspects of being human. This too is a type of education, but it is the most difficult because teacher can only point the way here. Often the student is left only looking at the finger.
Taoism and Buddhism offer the student philosophy on this and the experience in meditation is important. But it is not for everyone. Instead we have some other built in methods.
First, in EBMAS, you have a title based on the day you started. Nothing can change that. It gives to you some measure of respect when various aspects of injury and life slow you down. This works in a dualistic fashion ini conjunction with the grading based on skill and academics.
Next we have the family titles which also give us a contrast with the military style ranking of the grading system. We are not generals and sergeants but Fathers and Older-brothers.
And then we have Latosa Weapons System. We have the same type of grading and levelling system for Escrima. We have a required syllabus of methods and concepts for testing and advancement. But Latosa Concepts has a paradox in it, and for me it has served as the Yin to WT's Yang. I am not going to tell you, you must discover it. But here are some clues.
When I started in 1994 we were recommend to alternate between WT and LEO. Do six grades in WT then six Latosa Escrima. Then up to 12 WT, up to 12 Escrima. Then you alternate Technician grades. You don't stop the other system when you switch, but continue to get perfection up to that point while you develop new methods in the other art.
Enough for today! Stop looking at my fingers typing and go experience the heavenly glory!!!!