Over recent years I have noticed with great interest how Martial Arts practitioners and the Martial Arts press view themselves and how conceptions of ones ability has changed I recently saw in a magazine a guy be interviewed as being a master of his particular Combat Discipline one that was competitive, yet this guy had no competitive experience and had only been involved for 10 years. He was considered an expert? Another example was I recently saw a 40 year old who had done his specific discipline for 20 years being awarded an 8th Dan by his International Body it took me 50 years to get to 8th Dan, many new styles are appearing all claiming to be the ultimate system, kids as young as 6 being awarded Black Belts, I have never graded anyone under the age of 16 to Black belt even then they were competitive Judo grades.
20 years ago I would be angry with this state of affairs but now at 60 years of age I wonder if it that is important, if the person teaching is not harming any body and the people who are participating enjoying themselves , believing they are getting value for money what’s the harm in my opinion none. You could say someone who has reached 8th Dan after just 20 years is not worthy of his grade, in my organisation you would be right but he or she is not in my organisation and therefore the same standards do not apply or maybe I should rephrase that their standards are different to mine. As for the word expert that is one of interpretation someone with 10 years in and no competition experience in my eyes would not be an expert in my eyes but in the eyes of a reporter who has no experience they would be considered an expert.
There are people who shout lets legislate (like they trying to do with Club mark) they would be wrong we live in a free society one that should not allow government to dictate every aspect of our lives, yet I hear you say they could become influential people in major bodies? That is true but that has been happening for years I know many names who now claim to be the Guardians of Martial Arts in high positions who have dubious qualifications but that doesn’t mean they do a bad job. For those of us who are involved in competitive combat disciplines it is very easy to find out the true value of the person by examining his record and his fighting ability, we all know the player who couldn’t compete because he hurt his big toe at 16 if he hadn’t he would have been a World Champion as for other non competitive combat disciplines it is not to easy but soon if they are no good the cracks will show, when they start telling you they can kill with one finger etc just ask yourself “how does he know and when did he do it”
Martin Clarke 8th Dan Judo FIAS Sambo Grandmaster