Why Hierarchy is Dangerous in Martial Arts • Martial Arts Journey


Many martial arts lean on a system of hierarchy. The desire to receive a black belt, while
should never be the main motivation for training, can give an extra push to some, when they
start lacking the discipline to come to training. Knowing who is what rank can give a better
way to navigate around the dojo or gym, this way realizing the skill level of others, and
ourselves, and knowing of whom to ask for an advice in a new technique. Yet while there are positive sides to hierarchy
in martial arts, there is also a very dark side to it, that is not often addressed. Hi, my name is Rokas, and in this Martial
Arts Journey video we will look at the Dark Side of Hierarchy in Martial Arts. While I will be mainly talking about Aikido,
since it is my main point of reference, after training and teaching it for 14 years, note
that the examples I will give are far from non-existent in various other martial arts,
and I encourage you to consider if the same experience may apply to your practice or organization
as well. Also, I will be sharing some “dark” stories
about Aikido, but that does not mean I did not have positive experiences. I will only focus primarily on the negative,
to convey a point. That being said – let us begin. About a half year of training in Aikido, I
went to my first big Aikido seminar with a high ranking Sensei coming from Japan to teach. I was so excited and happy until one of the
highest ranking Aikido instructors of my country, the head of one of the Aikido organizations,
scolded me for smiling. He told me that Japanese Senseis don’t like
it when someone smiles, and that I have to look more serious. And note, this was not a joke. My negative experience did not stop there. As the seminar started I wanted to jump to
any black belt to partner up and learn from their experience. As soon as I got a hold of one, it became
clear as day how dissatisfied he was for having to train with me, and he took no effort to
hide it from his face. As I trained with him, it was obvious how
irritating for him it was to train with me, as he kept checking the clock when it will
be time to switch partners. He was upset about everything I did and took
the effort to show how terrible I am at all of this. As the seminar progressed, I realized the
same case was pretty much with all black belts. And this type of a relationship was not only
with me, but with all the other white belts. Black belts were quick to grab a hold of each
other, each time we had to switch partners, and forcefully, all white belts were left
to train together. Now, I must point out, there was no rule for
white belts to not “bother” black belts. It was clear that that was the way they were
setting themselves up. Years later I heard rumors that the visiting
Japanese Senseis were upset about this, yet they did not address this, probably because
of their inherent politeness in their culture. To everyone else, this situation seemed to
cause no wonder, as it was never questioned and was seen as the norm by pretty much everyone. Black belts seemed to be happy with this type
of “authority”, and white belts felt guilty for being one and were eager to become one
of the top guys themselves. Yet problems there for me, arose not only
with black belts. While I had no problems training with white
belts myself, almost all of the white belts from other Dojos that I paired up with, were
very quick to tell me what I am doing wrong. Each of them felt superior and were eager
to scold me for my mistakes. I was pretty much not given any space at all
to try the technique the way I understood it, and was forced by them to do it their
way. It was also not uncommon that what these white
belts would tell me to do, would later be corrected by the leading Sensei, since it
would turn out that the corrections imposed upon me were wrong. As I continued to participate in various other
major Aikido seminars in my country, I realized this experience was not an exception, as the
same happened in all of them. Eventually I moved to Switzerland to become
an Aikido live in student in a Dojo. Here my local experience was different, and
while these cases sometimes would appear, they would be very rare since they were addressed
in the Dojo that I trained in. Yet oftentimes various visiting students from
other places still presented the same type of mentality that I experienced back in my country.

100 thoughts on “Why Hierarchy is Dangerous in Martial Arts • Martial Arts Journey

  1. While watching this video I was going to make a comment regarding arts that are “pressure tested” such as BJJ, kickboxing,etc… However, he brought it up himself. I have not seen the dark side of hierarchy in those arts like I have in aikido and similar arts. I trained in aikido for a short time and was bewildered by the worshipping of the instructor. The group went to a Segal retreat and invited the instructor of another art to attend. Upon their return that instructor told me the worshiping of Segal at the retreat was utterly ridiculous!

  2. Hence why I loved combat sambo and sambo in general there re no belt levels only way to tell is to fight with you fellow class mates

  3. I have 4 years training Aikido and I have never experienced nothing like that, even in seminars. After any seminar, we share the table without consider the ranks

  4. This video describes most of my experiences dealing with dojos/gyms where there is any kind of ranking system. I think people can be proud of their achievements without being arrogant, but it often only happens in an environment that constantly challenges them and does not let them get comfortable in their own perceived level of ability or whatever.

  5. No more than Glorified cults, this is what a lot of Traditional Martial arts have become, a way for these so called masters to exalt themselves above the rest and boost their ego, a tool for control and making money instead of genuine love for the Martial Arts.

  6. I encourage people to simply tell their dojos they're not interested in testing for belts. One of the things that attracted me to aikido was the absence of competitions; I think that ranks are just another type of competition. When there are enough of us to show that level has nothing to do with belt color, and that level should not imply hierarchy, there will be a chance for this mentality to somehow fade away.
    (Meanwhile I had to change dojos because the main sensei was giving me attitude for not reacting to his pressure to test)
    – a white belt with 12 years of regular practice –

  7. I also have had issues,I love Aikido ,but certain class members making it difficult for me,Sensei's siding with them and trying to make me feel at fault,plus I have a knee situation waiting for treatment.,so I am out of it for the time being?

  8. 2 Buckminister Fuller quotes come to mind:

    "You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
    To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

    "Don't fight forces, use them."

    How about you just simply implement a sparring program in your Dojo?

  9. I'm amazed a smart guy like you was caught up in such a nonsensical environment like aikido in general. It's strange over 14 years you felt secure in the techniques without any confirmation against a live opponent. You guys aguing over techniques in Aikido is like arguing over whose better at math without ever checking a calculator. How do ANY of you know? Why would you trust senior members without actual proof. Did you ever just resist in training and say see that doesn't work .. idk I'm lost

  10. Sadly I have to agree with everything in this video. Having studied martial arts for many years and aikido for 20 years I have experienced on many occasions elitism. I have studied with many top aikidoka from around the World including the current Doshu, who I might add does not show this elitism that many high grades show. The whole principle of aikido really encourages no ego's. Kyu grades wear white belts regardless of their grade until they reach black belt and this is supposed to promote equality in training but there is more ego in aikido than in any other martial art for the simple reason that you are never challenged to prove anything. I love the idea of aikido and have many good friends and great memories but unfortunately there are those that like to take advantage of the idea of no competition. Aikido in its purist form is a wonderful art but in todays modern world is outdated as an effective form of self defence. That does not mean it does not work, it is just much harder and takes much longer than other martial arts to get to a level where it can be effective and even then I would say it lacks behind more combative martial arts due to the fact there is no competition to stress test the techniques. O'sensei never wanted aikido to be combative and this needs to be remembered but also he wanted equality amongst students which sadly has been lost over the years. When in class there is one teacher. Everyone else is a student who should help each other to perfect what is being shown not enforce their opinion on what they think they know!

  11. I started taking kung fu almost two years ago. It's my first martial art and I feel like I got super lucky. The senior students are all helpful. Everyone is very friendly. It's a generally supportive environment and that's definitely something that keeps me going back. We also do things together as a school outside of class, and there's no weird segregation by rank. New students are made to feel just as welcome as lifelong ones.

    We spar a couple of times a week and that's definitely a time to learn new things, but also realize how little I know compared to people who have been doing it for years. I think the sparring helps keep the senior students in check too, but it also passes on the "culture" of not being an asshole to people who haven't been doing it as long. Also you can often hear them talking to each other (senior student so of the same "rank") and exchanging ideas about techniques. I've never seen it get heated. There's just a great, respectful air. It sounds like that's what aikido (and all TMAs, really) strives for, but for whatever reason, douchebaggery is a little more rampant. That's unfortunate.

    We have some very talented students and I'm super thankful to be in a place where they don't let it go to their head. At least not outwardly.

  12. Dude this happens even to combat sports, I used to do kickboxing and then I turned it to boxing because I changed towns and there wasn't a good kickboxing gym there. Yes I tried both of them and my kicks became worse with their teaching but the one gym had also very good boxing. After about 2 years of boxing I returned to my town and I went to my first gym, there was a guy that we started together and he stayed there and we went together as partners even he was snobing me because he had better legs before. So we start the exercises and he was saying how do I move my hands like this and that it was wrong, then we had a kind of sparing exercise which was each one attacks first one hand and finishes with one leg, I jab him and then I see the opening and I throw let's say a high push kick(I do not know the real name of this) and my foot went right to his mouth, he started asking what's wrong with me and staff like that while I was putting 5% power, technically it was maybe because of the taste. He starts saying to me to it with the "right way". Then we spar, this guy is tall as hell and he has awesome kicks so he starts kicking me and he took me from the one side of the gym to the other, then after a while I managed to find a way to go through the kicks, make a boxing combo and getting out and so on. He started saying that i do not spar well and with this way we do not do work and i was like oh really? When he was giving me kicks like an AK-47 was cool but now he did not like it? He answered that this is his style and staff like that and that i was not doing it right. Like dude, wtf? He was snobing me all the time and when we went to sparing he starts to kick my ass for about half a minute but when i turned the tables he says that i was doing it wrong? Like wtf?

  13. You are so right I went through that when I took karate for a bit then aikido myself. I felt Unwelcome there cause I came from a millitary outfit and had prior trainning. In karate I learned but the black belt there had such an ego that he was right in everything including close quarter combat which he had no experience. He wanted to spar me and I was force to fend for myself with him and put him down when he was getting frustrated.

    I also taugh taekwondo as well and got my 3rd dan. I felt that it was no big deal really it meant I can learn more but some of the other black belts had ego’s I kept my instructions simple, easy to follow and followed the KISS method expecially for self defence. I was criticized a lot for it but at the end my students had confidence and control at the end and could apply what they learned on the street etc and never relayed on fancy kicks in tournments.

  14. This seems to be a common trait across disciplines. I've seen it in Aikido, CrossFit, Kettlebell training, Krav Maga, Tai Kwon Do, and Kung Fu. The kettlebell guys were probably the worst. If you weren't snatching in exactly the same body pattern as they were, you were cheating the movement and therefore an idiot – never mind that leverages and timing of technique will vary from person to person. I like hitting a heavy bag, it's technique critique is very honest.

  15. my sifu always impressed upon us that the role of a senior student no matter the rank has the responsibility to pass on his or her knowledge and experience to junior students because no matter the rank you hold there is always at least 1 person who knows more than you and you should always humble yourself to further your journey and learn different methods to achieve the same goal because people react differently in similar situations…thank sir for this lesson

  16. Great video! Martial Arts is all about integration and inclusivity.
    Not the SJW type you see nowadays, no, what I meant was that it's a fully inclusive-meritocratic system, meaning that all can join, whoever you are, and earn your respect through hard work. This whole idea of Blackbelts-only (or anything else) is cancer to martial arts. All belts should be together, in any situation. Heck, imagine if you want to host a party with your team. How well would that go with this Toxic Hierarchy system?

  17. I am blessed to have had 2 TKD instructors and many black belts the last 12 years who train hard, cultivate mutual respect, and are honest learners.

  18. Aikido is a form of some kind of martial art that chills down fighters and limits their violence very much…this might be a good thing for short term but a bad one for long time…And the worst to come is indeed the so-called hierarchy that is commercialized in such a level that if u put your mind to think a little it will make u sick because of following reasons: for reaching the so-called degrees there is an exam as it is only logic, but worst part is yet to come: the higher u get in belts and after black one in the number of dan's the cost of the exam rise exponentialy, so if for blue or yellow belt is around 20-30$, for black with 1dan is around 250$ for 2dan is 500$ and after 2 dan the 3rd one can be done only with the boss of the dojo wich is the headquarter in the country and it will eas'u'p by 1000$ and after this only in japan u can gain more 'autentic' degrees that will coast over 2000$ another one this so-called seminars are so expansive that even for a average incomer is at least disturbing cause the cheapest one is 25$ for maximum 3 stages that means 4-5 hours in witch being so crowded in general u have little chance to work freely in the matter…so is a nice business right??!

  19. Ironically, I trained in Aikido 20 years ago and also had a very negative experience. I left the art because of it and assumed it only this one specific dojo. I salute you for opening your mind to other systems. I too went through this introspective journey. It's only a positive thing and will benefit you as a martial artist.

  20. you should check out anarchism. which is the idea that we should organize without unnecessary hierarchy. anarchism has many critiques of hierarchy which you seem to actually mirror to some degree here.

  21. If you started training in 2004, that'll be 2 years before I started.

    I first did tai chi, but someone gave me a book on karate and decided to give the katas a go.

  22. The most I had was to respect the opinion of the higher belt on their knowledge. It really just came down to we had to pass on and teach each other. So there definitely was an opportunity to have an ego but to me, it was just passing on training informally.
    I think the nature of the training method of teaching each other creates this ego risk. Because when I took MMA classes we all got trained by the instructor and would only get help in explaining things by other students.

  23. Haha this reminds me of my karate centre but it doesn't just happen between black belts and Kyu belts but also between the Kyu belt grades or between the black belt grades. When we grade from 2nd kyu to 1st Kyu in our centre we go through a slightly more rigorous process, supposedly to prove we are ready to begin training for our black belt (as 1st Kyu in our centre we are eligible to attend black belt preparation classes). But I have seen many 1st Kyu in our centre end up growing big heads because as far as the Kyu belts go they are now the top of the chain… I call it "1st Kyu syndrome". They suddenly begin to act like they are better than all the other coloured belts and even some of the other 1st Kyu. I am a 1st Kyu by the way and am hoping to challenge for my black belt next year. But I like working with junior belts because it tests my own knowledge when I need to explain something to someone else. I think it's a test of how well you really know something when you try and teach it. I love seeing junior belts (11th, 10th and 9th Kyu in particular who are just starting their journey) have those light bulb moments too. It's pretty great.

    My sister recently got her black belt in our style and she seems to be experiencing issues with the hierarchy even among the yudansha. More senior black belts (say nidan and sandan) don't like to be bothered by the shodan-ho (the most junior black belts) and prefer to be paired with one another in black belt classes. Often this can cause issues having two shodan-ho who don't quite understand the new more advanced techniques trying to work through it together while the senior belts who get it are only wanting to be with one another. Not only does it not give the junior students an opportunity to learn from the seniors, but in a way the seniors are shying away from the responsibility of being a "Sensei", a teacher…

    Anyway I love your videos Rokas and since watching many of them I have been beginning to explore and examine aspects of my own martial arts journey. Thank you. Keep being super inspiring!!

  24. I did Aikido and did not have that experience, insted in the dojo I attended black belts there where so happy to see me and train w me.

  25. I don't acknowledge rank. Awareness ofThe truth is the highest level one can achieve in martial arts. True martial art is of the mind heart and spirit not in the waist.

  26. reality is, some people are just better than others at certain things.
    But there are some really good videos on you tube that will help anyone avoid being hurt.
    Most of the skill for avoiding fights and therefore possibly getting hurt involves psychology.
    I have trained in many styles of martial arts, but only to learn how people act when wanting to fight.

  27. I have actually always had the exact opposite experience from my dojo (karate)
    Well, we've always had a system for partnering up, where we either change partners in such a way that everyone tries stuff with everyone, or where high level people are put together with low level people (for the most part). This ensures more learning for the beginners and more pressure on the higher level people, to know their stuff, and encurages them to think about it in a new way, since they effectively have to teach a lot.
    Also, sparring with a big difference in level can be interesting, since beginners will have to fight a lot more with their fear, than if the person in front of them was another beginner. Higher level people can find it as a good situation to test out new ideas, on someone who isn't so used to fighting yet, that experimentation becomes too difficult.

    One big thing that got me very frustrated about a year ago (I recently quit karate because of all kinds of built up grievances, due to changes in how training was done) that is linked to the hierarchy problems, was that someone I know who had recently gotten a black belt, insisted that only black belts were allowed to use open hands in blocking and parrying.

    It was in a sparring drill situation, where we use a fixed horse stance and use only the upper body to fight. This is of course all done at close range, where you can never get away from your opponent. The point of it is to learn how to take a hit, not get stressed out at close range combat, get better at reading your opponent with your hands, and to get better at blocking and parrying.
    This person (a slightly chubby woman who is very bad at the martial part of martial arts) got very upset, because she was sparring with someone I had taught for a long time.
    He had the AUDACITY to use open hands for parrying and blocking.
    She insisted that only black belts could do that, and everyone below black belt, had to use tight fists. I argued a bit with her about it, because in all honesty, I was the best person at the dojo at the time at close range combat, and this is how I was taught. A tight fist is slow, and is only good for if you want to give the other person bruises.
    In the end it turned out that it was a new rule that had just been made, so I told the people I had trained to go along with it when sparring with her, but to use open hands with me.
    The results were obvious.
    When using hard clenched fists, they got hit constantly because they were to slow to block, and the black belt woman's arms were black and blue after training.

    This was actually the final straw that made me quit (after 12 years of training). It was following a long line of changes, where all levels of contact had slowly been removed from the style, and all emphasis had changed to point scoring (no contact) and kata (with no contact). Basically it was breeding a dojo full of people who could not take a hit, and couldn't block a strike that had intention behind it. And even worse, the top had made it more important to separate the beginners from the higher ups, so it became EXTREMELY important that no one knew kata above what they were "allowed" to know, and that you only trained with people of your own belt color.
    This meant that I was constantly paired with small, frail women. Not only could I not practice anything where contact was involved, I also couldn't practice throws properly, and distances never matched up when doing forms.
    When I started doing karate, we used full contact to the body, and light contact to the head. Whenever we would do partner exercises, the main rule was always to find someone of about the same height and build as yourself, so you had someone in your own weightclass to train with.

    ……and now I was basically doing no-contact "martial arts", with tiny girls, where form seemed to be more important than function -_-

    Sorry, that turned into a rant ^^;

  28. When i started martial arts (Hoi jeon moo sool) (Korean art of making money), i thought that black belts were next to god. After 2 years i learned that belts dont mean anything, aaaanything.

  29. I am an instructor in ATA Taekwondo, and I just want to say that the respect you show for all martial arts and martial artists, while speaking those truths, is inspiring. I like watching these videos, because then I know what to be careful of in building my school. Thank you

  30. I currently practice boxing but at my old muay thai gym they had an amazing system. The system was based on the colour of muay thai shorts you were given. Beginners and casual practioners: Yellow Shorts. More experienced and serious practioners: Blue Shorts (this required you to be tested by the instructors in a 4 hour test). and black or red shorts were typically the fighter class (serious competitors or instructors). The system was great because there was only 3 levels of seperation and anyone who was on the same level as you would be a fair sparring or drill partner.

  31. I've been guilty of the ego power trip as a kid when practicing kickboxing :/ As a teenager and in my early 20s trying out muay thai, bjj and mma ego was never an issue as it was beaten out of me 😛

  32. I'm a white belt in aikido and I get other white belts telling me how to do stuff😎. I don't get too worried as they sometimes have had a lot more experience than me. They do seem to have a bit of arrogance about if but that is their own character flaw. I only do aikido for the fitness it gives me. I also did bjj for a year while living away from my family. The experience was much different in bjj for me. I really liked the sparring except when you were up against some guy 30 kg heavier than you. The higher belt guys were better in my experience. Mainly because they knew how to let me try out a few things and to put holds on me without doing damage. Some white belts we're dangerous. A leg bar almost did my knee in. I switched to aikido because a friend of mine was doing it. And because bjj is popular and expensive. Funny thing is I've never been into fighting even though opportunities have cropped up on sports field occasions and at parties when I was younger. Sometimes the best defense is to walk away. What have I got to prove? If your loved ones are in danger or your property , then that might be reason enough to fight or if you get jumped maybe. Otherwise turn the other cheek.

  33. As always, it depends on the Dojo. I've been to one Dojo where the instructor always made it clear that you had to greet him first, you had to sit according to your rank during the greetings, it was a no go to show up late, etc. Then I switched to another Dojo, where it was much more relaxed and less bound on 'the rules'. Naturally, I learned faster, progressed and I've been there ever since. So I wouldn't say that the grading system or the tradition per se is the problem, but the personal vanity of some masters who think that it's about tradition and hierarchy only.

    However, I don't think that it's much different in non-traditional fighting sports. The problem is that many martial arts practicioners will always defend "their" sport to the point of dissing everything else. As an Aikidoka, you'll often get haters who say that it's too soft, impractical, basically just Yoga etc. From my experience, the worst of all are the MMA people, who usually say that everything else apart from their stuff is shit. What these guys don't understand that most of the people who practice defensive styles like Aikido or Krav Maga are mostly interested in learning self-defense and less in competitive fighting.

  34. I've trained TKD for about 12yrs and even though I'm a black belt, I got low ranking middle aged men and women telling me how to kick when I'm far better than them. It happens with the middle aged blackbelts somewhat, but I think it's mostly an age thing – many very young students won't do this.

    I am always very friendly and positive to people and train with people I like regardless of rank, but some people will give that inch and other take a mile.

  35. Am a bjj practitioner, and one thing i noticed is higher belts enjoy rolling with lower belts because going with a higher belt sometimes is just to much of a bother and as such the lower belts get to roll worth higher belts a lot

  36. You did not just describe the culture of Aikido but the culture of Japan itself (and perhaps some other east Asian countries) where by being older even just by few months, grants you an unquestionable authority and respect above others instead of actually earning respect through the content of your character and achievements.

  37. It is when you think you are the best and dont need to learn any more and think you dont shall train with white belt, thats when your finished, because you let your ego get the best of you.

    Always keep an open mind and have fun while training.
    Fun can be harsh training too 😉

  38. I have kendo experience. i've been practising for 5 years. wiht out a belt system but a hierachy still in place we are advised by my instructor to not correct others on their form unless we know them and we are familiar with them and we outrank them and defently not while training as that is the reason the visiting sensei is there for. yet it still happens. it might be that only my instructor gives us those directions.

  39. 17 years ago i inrolled my sel to a karate class i herd so much about. I met the asst. Instructor Master Hi. Ibegan training with him all was cool later i net another intructor wich name i wont mention and he was a dick i felt at times even rasist. One saturday be wanted to sparr but he wanted the short chubby black puertorican guy thats me. What he did not know was i had experiance in other karate styles like shotokan abd TKD. LOng story short i wupt his but. Kmow 17 years later im a 4th degree in the same dojo. I treat my students defrent. Thats,my story

  40. Trained aikido for a number of years. I was so lucky that our club was run by an amazing instructor with multiple black belts leading to a more laid back atmosphere and imo a harder aikido. But doing seminars like you said was hell for me as I didn't like the philosophy side of aikido and for it to be shoved down my throat by people that I personally thought couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag made me go and train bjj.

  41. This is more than a martian art hierarchy problem, is education an moral values. I practice traditional GOJU Ryu Karate in Puerto Rico. Here we are very humble and love to train and help students. We are really lake a big family. But that's how we are at everything, not just martial arts.

  42. You bring up some great examples! I think these issues also come up in work places, churches, gyms, and so on. People are competitive.

    Once there was a good video of a BJJ black belt entering a new school disguised as a white belt. Everyone felt so embarrassed they were being beaten so easily that they felt like giving up, which showed them they liked BJJ more only when they felt superior.

    These negative elements can be mitigated by thinking in terms of building a good community. Hierarchy is still important, though it should be balanced with good community.

  43. At my dojang we are often partnered with junior students and there are some very good people who have lower belts

  44. It is a shame that you have such a bad time with your superiors. I feel sad for you. Maybe now that you are a black belt and have your own dojo of Aikido you can make things better for the beginners under your wing.

  45. I love all the places I have trained. However, in Kung Fu training, I remember a particular incident where an orange belt came up to me ( a yellow belt) saying ' Lower belts pick stuff up!". I thought this was a very arrogant attitude. I have noticed as I train in Krav Maga that we don't seem to have this issue, maybe because we don't have belts or patches, and the more advanced students are training in the same classes as I am. I know if I ever have my own school, we will all be cleaning up! Even me!

  46. I train Judo and I never recognised something similar. I train in a group with many people who are better than me and although sometimes I or my partner are a bit frustrated because I make some mistakes I just try to do it better I manage to do so most of the time.
    I also recognised how much I can learn from people who are higher in hierarchy.A few years ago I probably searched for a partner who is not as good as me now I want a partner who is better because I learn so much more.On the hand when I have a less experienced partner to train with I try to explain as good as others explained it to me.

  47. Agreed. Hierarchy without performance testing is nonsense. So many fat out of shape egomaniac “senseis” out there. No belts in Sambo or wrestling and none needed. You know who the best guys are based on what they do.

  48. I have trained in Kyokushin Karate for 37 years I have trained in BJJ I have done Muay Thai… I have never experienced any of what you expressed… Perhaps is should say instead Why hierarchy is dangerous in Aikido…. Not to be a smart ass but dang if anyone ever said that to one of my students I would have corrected them BUT quick and let them know how ignorant they were.

  49. There are belts in Kyokushin but if you train under that art they aren’t as uptight. At least from what I know. Some can be. But not all.
    My friends experience was different and since I trained under him it makes sense. I’m glad I didn’t go by belt system. Cuz I have enough skill to prove myself.

  50. I remember on my very first day training jiu-jitsu, I rolled with a purple belt; he was a total dick! He acted like the black belt you mentioned, displeased about everything I did, he literally told me "what are you doing?! Everything you're doing is wrong, your weight distribution is wrong, your balance is wrong!" I didn't say anything, just that it was my first day… I didn't give up, I'm a blue belt now and I always try to show the white belts and new comers how to roll. And I used to hate the bullying of higher belts it was so demotivating, and the toxic thing is that the head professor cannot be bothered to address this issue like this is the norm and should be perpetuated. I try my best now to deconstruct this dojo toxicity.

  51. Your experiences don't mirror mine with Taekwondo, with higher ranking instructors, or seminars. I have felt it a bit in Hapkido. Also, in BJJ I had negative hierarchy experiences with at times, depending on the club. I don't think hierarchy itself is negative. It's not necessarily negative in the military either. A lot of TMA was meant to mirror military culture.

    I feel the openmindedness of individual people to different styles, and what works overall, is the most important thing. I'm very impressed, for example, with the openmindedness of the BJJ instructors that you currently feature in your videos, they seem like great guys. That must make your current experience awesome.

    In terms of everyone thinking they are right about everything…I feel that is like…EVERYONE nowadays. Try talking to people about anything at all, and see if they know better than you? Sometimes, it's even worse for someone who has an open curious mind, as you do, because as soon as you ask even one question, it's almost to these overconfident (for no reason) people, as though you are showing uncertainty, or weakness, when you are simply trying to expand your knowledge base. Quite unfortunate.

  52. I've seen this in some aikido organizations it did not bother me that much I've been practicing Aikido for almost 30 years my Sensei Fumio Tyoda Shihan in Chicago but most my experience was with Imaizumi who is one of the few who served under O Sensei I've train with Yamada Sensei for many years in Manhattan New York also with Bookmen Sensei from Seattle also Akim Lucman Sensei from Morocco I was a physically Strong I was pretty imposing guy. I started as beginning student so I'm very conscience of this. So i do not mind working with beginning student because I was once was and still am ☺

  53. I trained in Aikido around the world (America, Japan and Australia) and found this problem is in every dojo I have been to. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Despite having a shodan myself and enjoying the art form, I'll never go back. I found it toxic and the lack of competition in Aikido seems to allow the passive agression to fester in its students. Spot on video.

  54. The more i learn about belts, the happier I am that MMA doesn't have them. I don't see what is needed beyond a win-loss record.

  55. Coming main from a wrestling and thia boxing background. When I took up karate, my 3 year experience in both has been drilled into me as wrong. This has made me a less confident fighter as a result.

  56. You are right about ego I have a sensei and seen a look of Instructors do what you said I was invited to a restaurant where it was only senseis only and yodansha I was confronted I Said that I was invited by one of the other black belts and I have seen how that happens it’s true there is a lot of ego that’s why I don’t train in that art anymore

  57. Hierarchy is not a bad thing as long as were all genuine and were honest with ourselves about potentail problems it might cause.

  58. Consider that the BBs who were taking this seminar wanted the opportunity to train themselves and with each other rather than having to teach a white belt with the limited time they had. I think it is common for similar ranks to pair up and not at all inappropriate.

  59. In kendo there is a strong respect on level but no one are elite and training iss felt good regardless the level of the other, if you can't get "nutrition" from keilo si why YOU are crappy , this maybe why in kendo if you are hit you are hit, you can't hide

    I think you must give a try to kendo, there are some similarities regarding ashisabaki and tai sabaki of aikido but with a lot of intense pressure testing

  60. True….Remember starting in Aikido and no Black Belts would talk to me until years later when I got my black belt…Toxic system.Hombu Aikido headquarters in Tokyo Shihans think they are royalty, and as the numbers of students joining aikido gets  less they don't seemed to be concerned….The founder would not be happy with the state of todays Aikido……I spent over 20 years in Aikido until I got out and started BJJ

  61. Let me ask this, what if u use a belt structure as a skill level/grade indicator but shy away from the power trip bs and have a more relax social atmosphere in class?

  62. I tried Akido for a week and its the only art i have quit lol I hope all my enemies only study Akido….. No really!

  63. My long time experience with BJJ, I ate at Cracker Barrel with Master Pedro Sauer, got a hard lesson from Jeff Curran, lived and trained with Soneca Morreria for a short time. Never once did they act superior. Same with Sambo advice from my grandpa or Vlad Koloukiv

  64. very simply, Martial Arts are not being thought any more, only in very rare Dojo, and most likely what you practice is not Martial Arts either, because being upset by Hierarchy should not bother anybody unless their EGO enters the fray. It is part of the culture of Martial Arts that one must achieve a status so they may live at that level. It is part of ones development, you learn to crawl before you can walk, everybody should know there place. Has liberalism infiltrated your Dojo maybe. Martial Art is Martial Art, Kill or be Killed, there is no place for complacency. Honor and Respect first. Politeness no courtesy yes. Its not about words its actions, and acceptance of your position in the here and now. That is how you develop standards from within, by how you behave without.

  65. Dear Rokas, Greetings from Mexico, I know you moved to BJJ and MMA, and you had the courage to test your aikido, I would have wish to met an Aikido Sensei as good as you in my life, this is my hotror story about Aikido, I am 32 years old and i am a semi profesional bóxer. I started in my teens, as many other kids in Mexico in the middle 80s and early 90s i wanted to learn any martial art, I tried to learn NInjutsu but that end as a scam… so my uncle said you want to learn something try boxing Will be good for you, and i started. One day, a group of Aikido practioners and their Master give a very beutiful presentation in my boxing gym, the boxing gym, was not only for boxing but also for wrestling , and general fitness, but the fame was their wrestling and boxing, So after the presentation, the owner told us their will give clases, let tell you that their Master the guy using a black hakama just went to the gym for the presentation only and never returned, instead three guys with blue hakamas start to give clases in a very odd and very violent way, now when i say i don't mean the drills you see on on a normal class, first we were 8 people with nothing of knowladge of aikido beside Steven Seagal movies, then we would not any kind of warming or resistance traning , nor the falling and Rolling drils you see in a normal class, they would start saying to use that we nned to throw them haymakers and haymakers only then smash on concrete refusing to use the mats of the wrestling class..saying we neded to leanr to fall, and learn humility and disciplina and that we would learn it from falling in raw concrete, one day my boxing couches told the aikido that i nned a brake cause i would had an importantboxing tounamet, the guy just saw me and told that was boxing was crap and everyone could beat a bóxer specailly haykido he made give a haymaker as he told me not a real jab or a left cross or left hoa cheap haymaker, this guy actually with intention did not stop when i hit the ground and broke two of my fingers with clear intention, my mother saw that, and the owner and even a lawyer that was one of the 8 people trining aikido, with me… and we stop it i had to went to the hospital, the owner and the lawyer maanged to sued the aikido school and then in court, we leanr that the trhee guys that use to go to beat the crap of us were not masters at akido but just some students with a blue hakama that their master never give permission to teach aikido, ad the reason they o this was cause they wanted extra money and thought would be a good idea…that is my true experience with aikido, yes i am a bit bitter with aikido, actualy this experince made me bitter , and be careful, i now a day keep fcousing just in boxing and catch wrestling, i had a sparring once with a male friend in college that was suposed to be black hakama aikidoka but did not end well, lets be honest for a mexican i am pretty tall i am 1.80 meters, and weight 72 kilograms , now at my 32 i still remembr that day, but i am far trust worthy of my boxing and my wrestling maybe one day i will try bjj or karate or something still i have the dream of enarning a black belt before i die, thanks to listen to my story, kisses from Mexico

  66. Yes! So spot on! Another thing I noticed, when I (very briefly) switched to taekwondo was how the instructor literally idolized Master Whoo who ever the hell. Character and ethics were not held high, winning and idolatry were.

  67. I'm sorry but dude you are soft. I noticed you are part of this generation of Pudding Pops. You have a underlying hate to Akido and speak as if BJJ is your knight in shining armor. First Akido was a path away from the violence of fighting arts,so why do you compare fighting arts to internal arts.you need to find what your missing on your own

  68. Years ago, when I spent a few years cross training in Aikido, one of the higher ranks was pretty condescending because I was a white belt. I found that techniques that worked really well on peers, even people larger and stronger, for some reason didn't work him. At the time I thought the flaw was in me, so I kept working to improve. What I discovered was that he was deliberately failing to provide the correct trigger and reaction, and would actively resist when with any lower rank, not just me. This is one of the reasons I had quickly begun to distrust of Aikido as an art. Kotegaeshi seemed doomed to fail when someone actively resists. So I started using some other locks on them and when I applied standing Americana, Kimura, and chokes on them in Randori, he would get mad at me.

    Overall, as someone who has trained in multiple martial arts, I have only rarely seen this. Most schools, even the no gi styles, have a pecking order that people kind of figure out on their own. It seems that the higher up the ladder you climb, the more people tend to be aware of their limitations. Almost everyone I've ever trained with of a higher rank thought little of the rank itself. I know for my own ranks, it is really exciting in the work up to the rank, exciting the day of the test, and then 2 weeks later, my attitude sort of falls into "meh, whatever" regarding my rank, as I'm more focused on the training. I try to tell my students that this is why the journey to get to the rank is so much more enjoyable than the rank itself. Most other long time martial artists seem to have this attitude.

  69. Fact checking or any constructive argument about our style or techniques was shot down immediately by the black belts I have trained with. Cross training was one of their most hated topics.

  70. Even a vietnamese without a black belt can take down you black belt easy. I look down on my own Vietnamese martial art and I had to pay a huge price for that.

  71. I've never learned martial arts but this really turns me off forever. I've never understood the hero worship of the founder and sensei. I've heard a story of a Japanese sensei visiting an italian dojo. He felt he was not given enough respect on arrival. He took their money and left. Naturally there was some language and cultural misunderstandings. Both parties could have tried to meet somewhere in the middle. White belts who know everything??? WTF?

  72. I spent 20 years in the Bujinkan and this kind of behaviour was also present ( not with all persons and teachers ) but it was there mostly seminars and Tai-Kai’s. There would be lots of unspoken rivalry between clubs and instructors and students. Over the years I put this down to peoples insecurity. I went on to train Krav Maga and MMA, MMA has an image that it is full of thugs and meat heads ( I found out this was NOT case) training MMA And Krav a like I met the friendliest must humble people you could ever meet. But you knew what you and everybody was training was effective ( there’s was no bullshit or ranks) besides beating the crap out of each other there was mutual respect and learning. 😅👍🏻

  73. I actually don't see this too much in my circles. I train Aikido from an uchi deshi of O'sensei and also travel much of the year teaching karate in the US and Europe. I'm sure this attitude exists but the majority of the time I see encouragement offered to beginning students and a strong sense of community for all. Of course that is how I present myself and perhaps it sets a tone for the encounters and a filter of my perceptions.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.