Waiting for a promotion

By Joe Sensei May 2012

How long should you wait before asking why you haven’t been promoted to a higher belt? Some martial arts schools have been accused of waiting until a student is about to quit before offering a promotion. Others have been accused of promoting too soon. There is no set time for every school or class to promote any student. I have read that some students waited a year for their fist belt and as long as fifteen years for a black belt. Does it take so long to learn the material? Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-two Jigoro Kano mastered more than one Jujitsu style and formulated Judo! I think two or three months is sufficient time to learn enough material and have enough experience to warrant a promotion for ranks below Shodan. As an advanced student one is expected to set an example and to help the lower ranked students learn their rank requirements. The advanced belts should require a longer time in grade as the ranks get higher because the material is harder to master. Of course a student of age eight will not progress at the same rate as one of age eighteen, so we address this by setting up more ranks for the younger students. Everyone needs some incentive to continue any activity that takes hard work to learn. Promotion in rank shows the student that his or her progress and commitment have been recognized. What if you just can’t pass the test? If you fail to pass a rank examination when you have exceeded the required time in grade, then it is time to change teachers or maybe even clubs. A promotion examination should be no more than a demonstration to show your classmates your improved skills. If you don’t have any improved skills then why does your teacher recommend you for the test? There have been students who were unable to do martial arts. In traditional martial arts it is considered improper to ask for a promotion. The teacher is expected to know when you are ready. Examine your practice and contest record; if you meet all of the requirements and feel you have been passed over for promotion, you need to ask why or just move on to another teacher or club.

You may decide to train alone or with just one other person. If you find yourself in this situation, we do offer examination by video recording for registered members.