Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Does A Green Belt Mean?

I've written two posts on the question - What does a black belt mean? - in my Kojutsukan blog: #1 and #2. I've also recently posted a similar post on my The School of Jan de Jong blog.

I've been discussing this issue with a very knowledgeable, albeit relatively lowly graded, martial artist. He was awarded a green belt in Jan de Jong jujutsu. He brilliantly posed the question, 'What does a green belt mean?'

Do we get defensive or judgemental when we ask or answer the question, 'What does a green belt mean?' Do we talk about 'journeys' and how it doesn't mean much to us? Do we get all esoteric or philosophical over a green belt? Not so much.

We start to talk about progression. We start to talk about a level of achievement. Now we are starting to talk about things that matter.

I suspect there are very few people who would get all philosophical or esoterically wax on if they were asked what does a Bachelor degree means. They would not get defensive in actively pursing this milestone as a goal. They would not be condemned because they wanted to get a Bachelor of whatever.

Asking what a green belt means encourages us to suggest the martial artist needs to 'get over themselves' when answering the question, 'What does a black belt mean?' It encourages us to suggest that the martial arts in general needs to get over itself.

Asking these two questions encourages us to specifically understand and articulate what each grading/belt means. It encourages us to examine the content of the gradings in order to see if they are actually achieving what they are designed to achieve. Is there progression? If so, how?

Interestingly, what does a green belt mean comes to become a far more important question than what does a black belt mean.

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