Sunday, January 2, 2011

What Rank Are You?

Stop...don't answer that.

I cannot recall ever asking anyone about their martial arts rank. I did not even like typing the question. When non-practitioners find out I am involved in martial arts, they inevitably ask me if I am a black belt, the style I practice and my rank.

My usual response:

Yes, I am a black belt. I study Okinawa Kenpo and have been training since 1993.


When friends and co-workers find out you practice a martial art, what is their reaction? Do they ask you about your rank? How do you respond to their questions?

10 comments:

Rick said...

I give politely give minimal information and gently change the subject. My practice is an intensely personal thing that I choose not to share with strangers.

Michele said...

Hi Rick: Same here...minimal info and change the subject.

Narda said...

Ditto.

Felicia said...

Funny, but males who are non-martial artists always find some way to insinuate that I could probably kick their butts. Makes me really uncomfortable...

Journeyman said...

I'll usually joke it away at first. Those people who really want to know about training tend to re-visit the topic with you one on one or press the issue respectfully after a gentle brush off. If they seem to genuinely want to know, you can usually tell. For the casual asker, I'll usually just say something like:

"I can't talk about it, us Ninjas are sworn to secrecy"
or,

"You want to know about rank? Well, I'm ranker than some, not as rank as others". Actually, I stole that last one from someone's blog, but I can't remember whose. Gave me a laugh.

The almost automatic question about rank and belts really shows how non martial artists don't really understand the journey that serious study is.

I try to remember that for every knob, there is someone who genuinely wants to know more or make a connection. I try...

Tom said...

I always joke around with my students that when you are a whitebelt people always ask you your rank. When you are a blackbelt then they ask you what rank of blackbelt are you? Probably the most complicated is what style do you study because very few people understand the difference. They think all karate is the same. So when asked I answer traditional "okinawan Kenpo", because there is an Ed Parker "American Kenpo" school and a place that just uses "American Kenpo". I try to let them know there are differences without getting into details. We also have generic karate schools that just use whatever buzz word is in the industry - (the areas leading"xxx" expert) xxxx - insert the following Krav Maga, R.A.D., Tae Bo, Cage Fighting.

T. said...

I just tell them I don't remember.

Michele said...

Felicia: That happens to me too!

Journeyman: You make a good point that people with a true interest will re-visit the topic. If the person is asking for general information, I will talk about the dojo, class times and suggest they stop by for a visit. I listen carefully to the type of questions in order to gauge if there is a genuine interest.

Tom: Agreed. I remember a woman calling the dojo recently for cage fighting lessons for her 10 year old son.

T: :)

Charles Indelicato said...

I try not to answer the question, because I've stepped away from training.

I also find it hard to discuss because styles are so different, as are the requirements.

Michele said...

Charles: Thanks for adding to the discussion!