Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rank Information Update

Rank Information Update

I have thought long & hard on developing different paths within FMK to accommodate for a larger majority of the public.  There is a delicate balance between informal & formal training & between structure & creativity.  After much reflection, I have discovered a practical way for the kwoon towards this balance. 

Todai’s of FMK are those who choose to participate in practicing Zen Martial Arts.  As a Todai, you have the option of striving towards rank within FMK (meeting my expectations) or creating your own path in the Martial Arts (setting your own goals).  No uniform purchase is required, all uniforms are optional.  Todai’s with unique talents & skills may be asked to participate in FMK promotional videos. 

FMK rank tank tops & badges are designed to identify Todai’s who have reached certain basic rank standards within the kwoon.  The investment towards FMK rank tank tops & badges signify a greater commitment from the Todai towards the kwoon than the Todai who fulfills the rank standards but does not invest towards any FMK apparel or accessories. 

Todai’s who fulfill the basic rank standards within the kwoon may be asked to participate in FMK promotional videos.  Todai’s who invest towards rank badges will have a FMK ranked Todai informational page developed on the FMK website & a YouTube page signifying that they are official & currently ranked within FMK.  Todai’s who invest towards rank badges will be required to retest in the basic fitness standards for their rank every year in order to keep their badges. 

Online Todai’s & Todai’s who relocate to other States & countries can still remain connected to the kwoon via internet & stay current with their rank via video submission.  All badges & FMK rank apparel are expected to be returned if Todai’s decide to discontinue their training with the kwoon.  Monies collected from the badges & rank apparel are not refundable as the monies paid only cover the cost of the items & any excess monies goes towards the time required to create & maintain public rank notifications via the FMK website & FMK YouTube.


  1. Sifu, if I can respond, at least in regard to myself...

    The request I made to train and practice ZMA without FMK rank is not symbolic, at least in my mind, of a lesser dedication to the kwoon. For me, it is an artistic expression, and simultaneously an experiment that I think we can (and are) learn(ing) from. To be dedicated to a kwoon and yet not seek rank is an opportunity I've never encountered before anywhere else. As you know, it is the video you posted, where you originally discussed doing away with rank, which ultimately compelled me to contact you with my request, though I had been giving it much consideration anyway.

    As you have noted, for many people, it may be beneficial to have a rank system available - as a motivational factor, as a way of maintaining standards, and as a psychological anchorage to the kwoon/ family. Yet, I still view the option of no-rank as an important chance to, in a sense, purify one's practice by purging it of external symbols of status and reward. This, as it turns out, may be easier idealized than actualized in the mind. Or at least, this is part of what I'm sensing in myself and in your post this morning. If the no-rank path becomes reduced to a category of training where the practitioner is simply self-interested, or considered to be less dedicated to or representative of the kwoon, that is no good. The way I'm approaching it, the no-rank path actually symbolizes something quite opposite of this. Part of my interest in in expressing the value of being motivated by pure joy in the practice, rather than status symbols and rewards. My understanding is that this is a value promoted by our kwoon. I think that different todai will seek to express themselves in ways that promote other core FMK values. Those seeking rank are indeed expressing something important about their relationship with you, and their dedication to the kwoon. But this does not have to be interpreted as in opposition to those of us who may chose the no-rank path. My opinion is that we should strive to express different values without having to diminish someone else's expression. This is a big part of the definition of self-actualization, a person who feel confident in his own self-expression, but doesn't need to put others down or compete with them in order to achieve that.

    As far as the business side of things go, I definitely see the benefit of displaying FMK symbols in all promotional videos. Have you considered developing any training apparel that can be purchased for those who chose the no-rank path, and who also want to help promote the kwoon?

    As regards fitness standards within FMK, there too I can certainly see the benefit of what you have set up within the ranking system. Speaking for myself, I am not at all adverse to the challenge of meeting and maintaining physical standards, even though I'm on the no-rank path. Yes, I do want to set goals for myself. But this doesn't mean that I am asking for no challenges to be put to me by yourself, as Sifu of this family. Rather, I am interested in meeting and exceeding your minimal standards of excellence within this kwoon, and simultaneously meeting and exceeding my own training objectives. The real difference is, there is no external symbol to display those achievements. It has to be on the honour system, that as a martial artist one will be dedicated to constantly striving for excellent fitness. Again, my understanding is that this is another core value of our kwoon, and a principle... real martial artists are physically fit. There's no reason that todai on the no-rank path should be considered as exceptions to this standard

  2. All I can say is just keep doing what you are doing. Training, sharing, & expressing. The time you put into sharing videos & expressing yourself on this blog shows your dedication & commitment to this kwoon. I understand that the ranking system can be a demotivation for people like you, so pay no attention to it, the path is for those who see a benefit in it. If you are interested in FMK apparel, the white tanktops are for sale at $20/each plus shipping. Understand that you are at a different stage of development that is beyond all these ego games, as for the others, as long as we know it is a game & we enjoy playing the game, there is nothing wrong in doing so. I have created more videos to expand on this, be on the lookout.

  3. Okay, thanks Sifu. I just wanted you to know that the choice, at least for my part, is not something diminishing my commitment or dedication to this kwoon. I'll look out for those new videos this evening

  4. I love hearing the cicadas in the background. I've never experienced that humm first-hand

  5. Sifu, if i may respond for myself as well. As I have mentioned to you, martial arts is something that I know I will be studying for a lifetime. for me, rank is given from sifu to todai based on the sifu's expectations and the personal/physical/spiritual growth of the todai. I will not ask for rank, however, if you feel that as I train with you that i have grown and want to bestow a rank upon me based on my achievements, i will gladly accept. my level of commitment to the kwoon and to the martial arts will never change. I will continue to train with the maximum effort that i have been and will put forward now and in the time to come.


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