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90th Percentile

My two year old granddaughter is at the 90th percentile in height for her age. She is a tall girl.

I started to think. What would the 90th percentile be for Karate? Please go along with the question. I realize that numbers and Karate don't quite mix.

Let's set up the question a little. We will only count adults, not children. And we will only include Karate students who have trained for at least a year. That will eliminate students who start and quit right away, or in just a few months.

So if you take all of the living adult Karate students who have trained for at least one year, what would represent the 90th percentile? Let's ask this in terms of rank -- and I fully realize that rank is a subjective and imperfect thing, but we need something to use as a basis.

What rank would a 90th percentile adult Karate student who has trained for at least one year be? Please keep in mind that this would cover students who have trained from 1 year to nearly a lifetime. What is your answer?

Here is my answer/guess: Shodan (1st degree black belt).

90% only means that you are in the top 10%. If you look at all Karate students, I would say that about 1 in 10 become Shodan -- maybe more, maybe less. But if you have 10 students who train for at least 1 year, it would be pretty good if at least one of them eventually became a Shodan (certainly not in a year, but at some later time).

What would 95% be? Maybe Nidan (2nd degree black belt).

How about 99%? I would guess 4th or 5th dan.

So when you see a 9th or 10th dan, that person probably represents the top 99.99 percent -- like one in a million!

So being at the 90th percentile in Karate is not such an unusual thing. If there are 100 people, you would be among the 10 who have reached this level.

I will come back to this point in a later post. But for now, I think that it is good to appreciate the accomplishment of students who rise to the heights of Karate training as evidenced by their character, skill, conditioning, contributions to the arts, etc., all of which might be represented by their rank (maybe so or maybe not, but hopefully so).

My granddaughter may be at the 90th percentile for height, but she is one in a billion to me!


Charles C. Goodin