By Shala Howell, May 15, 2013
We interrupt our regularly scheduled Wordless Wednesday with this important news update. The Six-Year-Old has earned her first yellow stripe in karate. Congratulations, The Six-Year-Old!
That is great work. Tell the 6 year old congratulations for me.
Clearly now, you’ve gotten the point it’s to keep kids (and adults?) in the program, as it keeps their interest up. Many pine for the days when there were only a few colored belts before black, and grouse that these half-step, fruit stripe, slurpee, or fruit rollups – whatever you wanna call them – are in proliferation. They can be used as well as abused. By having more belts, kids stay longer. Although one argues about having kids in martial arts at all, it’s because of kids that we have them. And the greatest martial artists in the world started when they were kids. So clearly, kids need to be wooed into joining and staying, and with the outbreak of ADD and ADHD and other related things becoming so rampant, there really needs to be a way to keep them. Even those without such disorders, they still have to compete for baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey, tennis, gymnastics, and swimming. Not to mention the usual after-school, church, Scout, and civic programs out there. I don’t recall having such competition when I was younger. So they are there to keep kids’ interest up; this means there is possibility to be abused – you stay longer and you pay for each test. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the fees are modest. A local school has their children wear the white belt exclusively with the colored strip in the middle. They test all the way up to black stripe, and their next test places them in the mainstream color cycle. So they test for 2-3 years to get to black stripe, then another 4-5 years to get to black belt. A 10 year old will get to black in 6 to 8 years, whereas otherwise, they would get there in 4-5 years. They could have used the mainstream color system, but just stayed there longer. But if they had, they’d just get bored and leave. So to me, this makes sense – as long as the practice isn’t abused. I just wish it was standardized – even with mainstream colors.
Sorry for the delay in responding to this. WordPress flagged it as spam for reasons I’m not clear on. But yes, you’re right the striping system is an obvious ploy to keep kids interested. I’m ok with it, because at least in our case, there was no extra cost associated with testing for the stripe itself. It was just what you did on the last day of class. And because I want my daughter to keep up with karate for at least a couple of years. Given the way she’s wired, for better or for worse, incentives are useful. Particularly yellow ones as yellow is still her favorite color.
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