Friday, July 02, 2010
Promotions, skill sets, and gender equality.
First, if you haven't read Steve's really, really well-written post on getting your mind out of the belt and back on the mat, you should go read that right now. As he says, go on, I'll wait.
Now, back to my friend's question in this previous post. Here's her question to me, interspersed with my comments back (with the ***s in front):
"I wanted to ask your opinion about promotions as a female. From what I’ve read, I know quite a few females who have received their blue belts relatively quickly, 8 months or less.
*** Yeah, like me, 4 months. Ridiculous.
And then I know of several girls that have been white belts unusually long bc of being the only female at the academy or their instructor holding them at a higher standard. One possible reason is that they want girls to do well at competition
*** I don't agree with this as a requirement. I can understand it, but more important should be how you do against women your size at home on the mats. If there aren't any women at your academy, then the comments of your teammates should be given more weight.
and another might be to hold girls to a higher standard so that it is not questioned as much by the guys.
*** Anyone "questioning" someone else's rank is a much more serious problem for the instructor in general and will not be solved by overcooking girls at whitebelt.
Part of me understands the thinking, but part of me thinks its crap to be held to different standards for being a girl.
I think it sucks that when a girl gets their blue belt under this line of thinking, the other guys getting their blue belts will be getting theirs faster than the girl because they are guys, and when they get theirs the girl will have already been at their level for some time. I don’t know if that makes sense, sorry for all the rambling. Anyways I just wanted to get your take on it.
*** I'm with you. I am in kind of the opposite position personally-- I think I have been promoted faster than the guys, and promoted before I have been ready or merited the promotion. Mainly this is because I can pull off wins in tournaments so on paper I look good-- but if you watch me against guys my size and level, it's apparent I'm not as skilled as they are. So I get stripes for winning tournaments, then brand new blues at home school me.
***I think promotions should be on the basis of skill on the mats, tempered with some small handicapping to account for size disparities, physical challenges etc."
Now back to just Georgette's rambling.. this is an issue of interest to me lately, not just because of my crying jag. I've been told by people at other schools about promotions that seem overdue, promotions that seem unmerited if merit is equated to skills on the mat, and then my friend's question about promotions varying by gender.
Go ahead, disagree with me (I think these debates are excellent food for thought) but I don't think people should be promoted simply because they've put in enough time attending class. I don't think promotions should happen because someone does well in a tournament. I think the only thing that makes the wonderfully supportive comments from the last couple of days true is the underlying assumption that your instructor knows how you're rolling and your rank is given because you deserve it for your skill set. [Possible exception being the carrot and stick concept, of motivating a student by withholding or granting a promotion... but I think that's gotta be for the penumbra student who is on the edge of the next belt.]
In other words:
1. Your instructor must have adequate personal experience of your skills to promote you. If your instructor doesn't roll with you on a semi-regular basis, or at the very least, doesn't consult with upper belts who do roll with you, and doesn't watch you rolling, then they have no business promoting you because you have punched your ticket a requisite number of times (McDojo anyone?) or because you won a tournament. Because what if you're not absorbing and executing? What if the people you beat in the tournament just weren't very good?
2. Promotions should be directly related to only THAT INDIVIDUAL'S skills, and not the reactions of others. In other words, don't hold the chicas back from promotions their skills merit, just because you want them to be better than boys of the same rank. Don't hold gals back because you worry that the guys will question your decision. Don't make promotion decisions in general on the basis of what people will say. That's just nonsense. If you believe they roll like a purple belt, then they're a purple. If your students are so immature and out of control that you have to protect women and smaller men by underranking them, that's a serious problem.
Okay. I'm ready for the flamewar. I know, I'm not a school owner, I'm not a black belt, I don't make promotion decisions, and maybe if I did then I'd feel differently.
Tell me what you think.