Ask Master Dan
We have been getting questions regarding our striping procedures lately. We would strongly recommend going to http://strykermartialarts.com_area2.htm as many of the common questions can be answered there. Having said that, the information below explains how the system came about and the ideas behind it.
What is the purpose of earning stripes after each class?
We hand out stripes after every class for a couple of reasons.
First, it is a mini-reward for students and lets them stay focused on the goal of achieving their next rank. The process of achieving a greater goal – like achieving your Black Belt – is simple. Start by breaking it down into smaller parts, achieve those smaller parts and eventually you will achieve the larger aim. So, we have taken care of this process for you through stripes and belts. By looking at stripes and belts, a student could actually plan out their entire martial arts training to Black Belt. They could easily determine the month they would achieve their Black Belt.
Secondly, it eliminates instructor discretion. We used to only give 3 stripes per rank. These stripes were handed out based on the opinion of the instructors and if the student met the intended requirements of skill in order to progress. While this was a very effective system, it created many problems with parents. Too many parents want their kids to receive all the rewards and awards as fast as they can for fear that someone may realize their child is less than perfect (most people have been qualifying this as entitlement but it is inaccurate). It’s just fear. Fear that their child/children weren’t born with incredible martial arts skill or basketball skill or even scholastic skill. And that some things their kids are simply going to have to work on and even practice in order to get better.
Therefore, when a child was told to work on something and make it better before they received a stripe, many parents would begin arguing with instructors. They would get scared that their fear was becoming a reality. Whereas, we were simply talking about reality – that practice makes things better. I understand it, but wasn’t willing to fight this illusion.
For adults, we went to daily stripes to eliminate a similar headache. Many adults come into the martial arts in their 30’s, 40’s, and even 50’s. At this point, they have usually developed one or more ailments. Often times their bodies have tightened up and their flexibility has suffered. They need to overcome different obstacles in order to achieve a level of proficiency in the martial arts. Every time they were told to wait, they too got scared. Scared that this ailment, physical or otherwise, was going to negatively impact the rest of their life. The lack of receiving the stripe pointed to this and they got upset. Again, all we were saying was, work on a specific thing and you will receive the stripe. What they heard was, “I will never make it.” Again, I understand. Therefore, we eliminated that system and replaced it with daily stripes
Now it is up to parents and students to take an honest look in the mirror and determine the student’s actual level of skill and proficiency rather than the instructors telling them. This has led to a secondary problem where students, parents, and even grandparents are putting the responsibility for the student’s performance on the instructor rather than on the student themselves. It is an interesting problem that I haven’t figured out yet. The best I can do is to tell you that if you or your child aren’t performing, take responsibility and change it. Don’t think that the instructors have the responsibility because we don’t. All we can do is show you the way.
“Why do Bo-Blacks get monthly stripes?”
This is simply common sense. If we gave them a stripe for every class, in 6 months their belt would be nothing but tape. Having said that, we also do it because after training for 2 years in our program (and earning their bo-black), children should be able to wait 30 days before needing a “pat on the back” and a reward. We have found this to be true and the system works beautifully. Where problems arise with this system is not actually with the kids, but again with the parents thinking that their kids are entitled to more rewards more often. What they fail to realize is that the more rewards you give, it dilutes the reward. Hence the reward has less impact on the positive side. And it has less motivation associated with it if you were to use it to attempt to modify behavior. The best advice I can give parents is simply to trust that we know what we are doing. That we have been doing this for a long time and our program works.
A special note to parents: If you have grandparents bringing your kids to karate, please share this and all information with them. We are finding that they have become the worst perpetrators of thinking they know how to run a martial arts program. Many of their comments to staff are inappropriate and come from a lack of education as to why we do what we do. There is a wealth of information at http://strykermartialarts.com/student_area2.htm. This problem can easily be solved by having them review the information on this site. I would suggest you send them there to review our program before they come to your child’s next class.
Finally, the best way to understand why we do what we do is to get on the mat yourself. We have a family class on Wednesday that is free to you and an added benefit of participating in our program. Or you could become a martial arts student and experience our program for yourself. If you are interested, simply email Kailen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she can get you started on our beginner program.
* If you have a question for Master Dan, email it to us at: email@example.com.