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No Mention of Rank

For several years, one of my senior friend's students has visited from the mainland. My friend usually invites me to lunch when his student visits and I have looked forward to seeing him each year to observe his progress in training and to just talk about Karate. This year I realized that I did not know the student's rank, which is not an important thing, but was sort of unusual because I had met the student several times over the years.

So this year, I asked him about his dan level. The student answered and I was surprised to learn that he was ranked pretty high. Actually, we are only one dan level apart from each other.

I should say that I was surprised and pleased. Too often, people cannot wait to tell me that they were a green belt 10 years ago, or that they are a 9th dan in this or that organization. But this student had never mentioned his rank and only did so because I asked.

Since I am friends with his Sensei, he probably had to answer my question ( a student usually treats his Sensei's friends with the same respect he shows to his Sensei). Otherwise, I am certain that he would have never mentioned it at all.

To find someone who just concentrates on training and improving himself is refreshing, and makes me think, "Hey, there are serious Karate students out there!" They may be rare, but they exist!

Last night, one of my sons asked me what rank his brother was (in our own dojo). It is pretty good when brothers who train together all the time do not even know each other's rank. It becomes so irrelevant. What you can do is more important than a subjective rank.

Here is a joke.

A Karate student told his friend, "Today I was promoted to 8th degree black belt!"

"But I thought you were a 3rd degree black belt," said the friend. "How did you get promoted to 8th?"

"They were having a 2 for 1 sale!" explained the friend. Instead of 4th dan, he was promoted to 8th dan.

Your rank is something that is best not mentioned, unless you are asked.


Charles C. Goodin