Earning White Belts

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by ginx10k, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. ginx10k

    ginx10k New Member

    quick question, the Kenpo school that I want to attend, say that I have to pass a test to earn my white belt, it takes from 1 - 3 months. my question is, is this normal or is it only this school? I'm just curious, I don't know anything about belts, so I'm just wondering if there are schools that do this.

    thanks for replies,

  2. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    In my Kenpo school you enter as a white belt...the one school in my area that requires one earn a white belt only has very basic requirements that can be done in a month or so. Basic stances and a kata or two, nothing much.
  3. Capt Ann

    Capt Ann Valued Member

    Yes, same here. Students enter without a belt and earn one in 2 to 4 weeks, depending on how often they come and how quickly they pick up some basics. Basics taught are stances, basic punching, basic blocking, and basic kicking. This allows the new student to earn the first belt, have it awarded in class, grow in a little self-confidence and success, and know enough to function in the regular class and participate in drills.
  4. ginx10k

    ginx10k New Member

    alright, thx for the responses guys, really helpful.

  5. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    My 94 year old grandmother is technically a white belt. It seems like a way for them to make money on tests.
  6. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    We also have some very basic requirements for white belt (but no fee):

    have to memorize the 5 animals and the attributes they represent; you have to memorize the 5 principles of conduct and their definitions; you have to learn the basic ettiquette of the dojo (bowing on entry to the training floor, etc)

    dragon - wisdom and flexibility
    tiger - strength and courage
    leapoard - speed and coordination
    crane - balance and grace
    snake - internal strength and deceptive movment

    effort - always try your hardest
    ettiquette - have good manners
    sincerity - always be honest
    self-control- control your mind, body and spirit
    character - strive for moral excellence.

    You should hear the stuff the 5-year-olds come up with for "character" considering none of them usually know the words "strive" "moral" or "excellence" LOL a great oportunity for vocabulary expansion hahaha

    Most adults can do this in their second class, if they try.

    Most kids take a week or 2.
  7. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    Now, in an effort to not sound disrespectful or anything, learning animals and principles does sound to me like the most incredible waste of time it makes me chuckle a little...I realize that does, in fact, sound disrespectful but it's not intended I am more interested in learning why any of that matters than picking an argument.

    I have a friend in some other art that has to learn to count to ten in japanese, which sounds like an equally big waste of time...how on earth does learning that stuff help one fight?

    I seriously don't understand that at all...I mean, it sounds cute for a kid to learn the priciples and all that, but hardly useful.
  8. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    It's an honest question, taken well :)

    We think that learning martial arts is about more than fighting. It's about becoming a better person. So the 5 principles teach kids some important things that can help them to do so. Some parents may already be teaching their kids these things - the value of always doing their best, being polite and honest, having self control and good charater - but many do not. It helped my 5 yr old daughter, who at the beginnig of the school year was acting up and being disrespectful to her teacher, and now has made a comeplte turn around. When she starts to act up, we only have to say "self-control" and she knows what we mean.

    We set the exepctations with all our studetns that they will be expeted to: always try their hardest, be honest, maintain self control, etc. Aren't those things important at your school? We just make it explicit.

    The animals are a vehicle for us to "codify" 10 attributes of a good fighter. They also help me to organize class sometimes (as ass't instructor I am responsible for a kids' class each week). For example I will setup drills and exercises that are about balance and grace, or strength and courage...

    Finally, learning how to learn stuff is a good skill for young kids to master as early as possible. It's trivial for the adults to do, so what have they lost, 15 minutes of their time?

    I suppose if your style was taught using lots of Japanese terms and traditions it might be useful to learn to count in japanese... but I think Ed Parker had it right when he dumped all the foreign terminology.

    Here's a trivia question for you: Parker kept ONE japanese word in his system, do you know what it is?????

    take care db :)

  9. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    Well, since I pay little attention to Parker, I'd have to say I don't know, but I would venture a guess and say the one Japanese word would be "Kenpo".

    I do understand the value of teaching such things to kids, regarding the principles, and even some adults, but, hopefully adults already have a system, code or principles they live by...I started at 37 and really had no desire to learn any "code" or principles, I already have them, fortunately, I found a school that concentrates on the art itself rather than the other stuff, though those same positive principles of life are still taught to the kids.

    Thanks for the answer and for taking my question in the spirit it was intended. :)
  10. dianhsuhe

    dianhsuhe Co-Founder: Glow-Do


    Is it "Kenpo"?

    We do not require beginners to earn their white belt either but I see nothing wrong with those that do---

    To me White belt signifies purity so it is both the highest and lowest rank possible ;) Besides when folks get their gi it usually comes with the white belt so do you take it from them, then give it back to them later when they learn whatever?

    As for the Japanese terms, animals, character traits etc. It sounds like it is a benefit- we just have a Creed to memorize and the stuff on our patch students should learn about...

  11. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    Everything we do is in Japanese, all the technique names, counting, addressing the sensei before and after training. You will be required to understand this in time, but not your first grading. The reason has nothing to do with fighting; just that it is a Japanese art and that it is taught in 30 countries around the world. We need to have a single syllabus in one language so that no matter where you go you can train and understand what is going on. Seeing that it is a Japanese art, Japanese language makes sense. It is sort of like Fencing using French as its common language.
  12. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    Our new students wear a white belt but they hold no grade until their first grading, until then they are minerai.
  13. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    I know that m and n are not differentiated between in either hiragana or katakana, but when verbalised they do make different sounds depending on the grammatical context. In this case the romaji rendering of kempo is with a m sound, not an n. So I’m not sure that kenpo is a Japanese word. ;)
  14. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    I have never been told from any other source that it's not, everything I have been told or red says Kenpo is a Japanese word meaning "Fist Law".
  15. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    It has been mistakenly translated as kenpo in the past. This has come from incorrectly hearing the way a native speaker pronounces it. While there is no difference in the Japanese writing between n and m there is a difference in the way they pronounce it. If the word ends with an n it is pronounced as an n, if it is part of a word and proceeded by a p it is pronounced as an m. This can be demonstrated by seeing how the Japanese romanise their language. Shorinji Kempo being a Japanese art uses m as do other Japanese forms of kempo, while kendo, another Japanese art uses n.

    From discussions with other kenpo people I have been informed that that Mitose had a typographical error in his book and it was not picked up. Since then many of American systems have stayed with kenpo as a way to express their own identity.

    I prefer the translation as fist method although there is nothing wrong with fist law, both are accurate. I just think the concept of po is can be a little less confusing for some people when expressed as method. In a similar way the kanji for do, as in karatedo or aikido can also be read as michi or pathway. This can make more sense to some people than using the reading of way. Which gives you a better or clearer mental image, the way of karate or the pathway of karate?

    If you need a more concise understanding you may like to wander over to budoseek and look up Tony Kehoe, he has lived in Japan the past 10 years and makes his living as a translator in the business sector, he has also translated a number of Japanese books for various publishers. I’m sure he could explain this more accurately than me.
  16. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    I like Fist Law better...it sounds more tough :cool: But yes, I have heard quite a few different reasons for the change in name and such...but I think they should be different. I had a couple guys from a Kempo school come into our Kenpo school and we talked and compared beofre and after class and the arts are actually very different. Kempo, based on what I saw, seems like much more of a traditional martial art, hard and rigid, whereas the kenpo I am learning is much more loose and fluid. Not saying either is superior, just different.

    The way I look at all this eastern tradition and stuff is if I wanted to learn Japanese, I'd take a class, I don't take martial arts to learn a culture or language, I take it to learn fighting skills. Obviously plenty of others feel differently, and that's all well and good, but for me and my family, if our only choice was a traditional MA school with all that eastern stuff, we wouldn't be taking it...but maybe thats just me.
  17. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    "Kenpo" is a good answer but not rally the one I was thinking of!!! i will definately be taking that back to the guy who first posed thsi question :)

    The answer I was looking for was "kiai"

    And yes the uniforms do coem with a whte belt in the bag, when we get a shipment in I ahve to go through all the bags and take the belts out LOL

    I agree most adults already have the principles in place (or something similar, whether they know it or not). But memorizing them makes it clear what we expect from them. Kids have to learn to "always try their hardest", and hopefully that carries with them outside the dojo. Adults should already know it, we are telling them they need to be that way in the dojo. It's a trivial exercise for most adults, just a guideline that sets expectations. I don't think I would want an adult in the school who did not already understand these 5 principles. :)
  18. dbmasters

    dbmasters Valued Member

    So I guess our big sign over the door going into the gym that says "Train hard or stay off the mat" covers one of those principles... :)

    Stating them as expectations is a valid point, and really, the principles wasn't my main question, I just lumped it in there, mostly it was the animals thing that I was most curious about, which you also covered, I can see making exercises that pertain to each animal trait...kind of a cool idea for kids..."Hey, mom, I was the tiger today...grrrrr"...kinda cool.

    I guess I am just used to my less "traditional" form of training, so all the tradition, imagery, bowing and all that is just strange to me...I am just a cave man fighter, all your tradition scares me... :D

    if an adult doesn't know and value those principles, odds are you don't want them training in your gym ;)

    er, I mean, dojo...
  19. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    sure does!

    exactly! I like to put down them on hands and feet (no knees), head up looking forward, and have them race across the floor and back. When they get to the finish they have to growl like a tiger. (This is just for the 4-5 yr old class)
  20. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    The problem with kempo/kenpo is that it has come to identify a certain fighting style. This is wrong. Kempo was just the Japanese translation of chaunfa, and as such not style oriented but rather identifying something as a system of self defence. If you look at the old koryu systems that have been around for centuries you may notice that even styles of jujutsu describe themselves as kempo.

    Kempo can vary greatly and separating them by spelling doesn’t really hold true. To be honest I don’t know much about the American systems but they seem to be much harder than Shorinji Kempo, so I don’t think you could say that kempo is harder than kenpo. All that you can say is that we are vastly different to each other. In America there is probably more links to systems than elsewhere as there seems to be so much related history but it is only related to what is happening there, not everywhere.

    Much of Shorinji Kempo is the study of philosophy and this doesn’t suit everyone. Personally I have gained greater practical benefits from the study of philosophy than the martial arts, but I also recognise that many people don’t care about this. That’s fine there are plenty of options available, but if you want to study Shorinji Kempo then you will have to study the philosophy too. At this point I would like to clarify that philosophy is not the religious side, that is separate again and can only be studied at a doin not dojo.

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