The French, creative as they are in coming up with innovative haute couture from their famous fashion houses, have decided that kohaku belts need some crafty innovations. In future:
- The red-/white panels of a 6th dan kohaku belt will be 20 cm long and carry a roman number VI to indicate the rank + year of promotion
- The red-/white panels of a 7th dan kohaku belt will be 15 cm long and carry a roman number VII to indicate the rank + year of promotion
- The red-/white panels of a 8th dan kohaku belt will be 10 cm long and carry a roman number VIII to indicate the rank + year of promotion
Thus red-/white panels get progressively shorter until none are left and you have deserved a red belt 9th dan). No, this is not a joke. What a circus !
This all serves the purpose of showing seniority. The French are very keen on hierarchy and different privileges with hierarchy. While it is almost impossible to prove, I believe that their pre-French Revolution obsession with hierarchy and their extreme emphasis on it is most likely responsible for the worldwide of obsession with dan-ranks we know to day. This did not exist under Kano, not simply Kawaishi's implementation of colors, but the emphasis of hierarchy screwed up the entire pedagogy behind it. I had a conversation a couple of years back with the vice-president of KLM, a large European airline, which merged with Air France. We discusses the cultural differences and how these had to be taken into account when preparing the successful merger. It was very interesting how the Dutch in doing business were so much more like the Americans: to the point, getting things over, people in a group express their opinion, and may very well be dressed in jeans. With Air France though, negotiations were inefficient, the French lost time with all sorts of extra-curricular stuff that simply had to do with living up to a status of being rich and important, and during conversations with the Board only the person on top would speak unless he instructed someone else to ... often simply addressing him by the last name; indeed a 'him' since virtually no women were included. One may feel that the Japanese society is a hierarchical society too. Sure, few societies have such levels of honorifics in their language and customs, but hierarchy in Japan is far less 'consciously' imposed (more embedded in culture) more 'received' than bluntly enforced. Such generalizations often attract a lot of criticism, but really ... the French have judo that is good enough, so that they do not need even more hierarchical items in their belt system to prove to us or the world how good they really are. In fact, people like Courtine or Rouge do not need to wear any belt to convince us how good they are. We know, we've seen them fight, they are part of history, our judo history.
By the way, Awazu Shōzō-sensei has refused being promoted to 10th dan by the FFJDA now and at any point in future, but was courteous enough not to do bluntly so in public. He has made it clear to the FFJDA he will only accept a 10th dan from the Kodokan. I cannot disagree with the man and the fact that there is still light in darkness makes my respect for him only grow even more. I just hope that he stays with us for another 5-7 years for that to happen.
I shall personally file a motion with the JudoForum to amend Hanon-sensei's black/red-paneled belt with roman number 'M'.
This post has been edited by Cichorei Kano: 23 February 2008 - 09:24 AM