By Sigung Elias
Suppose you randomly collect 50 Kajukenbo 1st degree black belts from around the country. Would they all be evenly matched in a free-for-all, being that they all hold the same rank? Of course not. You would have skill levels ranging from mildly adequate to downright deadly. That’s the way it is in any system. Even within ones own school you will have lower ranking students with greater skill levels than their higher ranking peers. So then why is there a ranking system? Shouldn’t students be ranked in terms of their ability to fight?
RANK, I would suggest, is a marker of time, hard work, and personal improvement. It’s an acknowledgment of ones loyalty and dedication to the school. Kajukenbo and all martial arts are based on the tradition of honor. Honor of ones elders and teachers. That tradition we must respect.
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t any piss-poor black belts that are undeserving of their rank. There will always be black belts who shouldn’t be wearing one. But it’s not my place to judge (except in my own dojo).
I would say this: Anyone who gets their black belt should reasonably be able to defend themselves if attacked on the street. (This does not include junior grade black belts).
SKILL on other hand is one own personal effort combined with their God-given physical attributes. Some people are ‘naturals’ others need to work harder. When it comes down to it Martial Arts IS about fighting and you have to have the goods to deliver. That’s the Martial. And I know a lot of older, smaller black belts that can tear it up and I would NOT mess with. It comes from decades of blood, sweat and more blood. That’s the Art.
So don’t fret if you think that you’re ‘better’ than someone with a higher rank. Pay respect, do the work and you’ll get there.