Friday, May 17, 2013

Countermeasures to Prevent Corruption in the FMK Rank Structure

I am quite unsatisfied with the result of myself giving away rank to certain individuals before they have truly showed commitment and dedication in their training.  Signs of early corruption in the ranking system are already very apparent.  Certain individuals have been asked to return their badges but they have not been returned.  People feel a sense of ownership over the badge because they paid a fee.  This already corrupts what the badge is meant to represent.  This leads me to make more corrections in the ranking system for the future. 

Fees for badges and apparel will be doubled for all newly ranked Todai’s in the future and will no longer be expected to be returned.  The main source of determination on whether or not a Todai is officially ranked will be the use of the FMK website.  Those who possess the badge does not necessarily mean they are active and official, as already it is clear that when an individual decides to discontinue their training, there is a high probability that the badge and apparel will not be returned, therefore these countermeasures will be put into effect to deter individuals from achieving rank who do not truly wish to represent the school. 

Here is a list of the new changes:
1)   A minimum of 1 year of training at FMK before a Todai can be ranked
2)   A Todai must train a minimum of once per week unless the absence is approved by Shi zu.
3)   Effort must be placed in the part of the Todai to communicate and get to know ranked Todai’s in the kwoon. 
4)   The Todai that wishes to be ranked must have his rank approved by those who are currently ranked. 
5)   Fees for newly ranked Todai’s will be doubled for apparel and badges. 

With these countermeasures put into place, it shall decrease the chances of the FMK ranking structure from becoming corrupted.  


  1. I am sorry if the ranking would get to that point. I definitely will not take advantage of the ranking like that.

  2. Points 3 & 4 are new to me, and sounds intersting!
    hmm...reminds me of pledging, and how we would need a 2/3 vote.

    1. I truly appreciated the pledging process of Tau Phi Sigma and I appreciate the police academy training, I see that this type of discipline should be maintained life long and it is very important to implement this procedure into FMK.

  3. I believe that this is indeed fair to maintain the original intention of each rank which I believe are a spiritual and physical readiness to learn more from Sifu and teach what you have already learned. As for a vote by currently ranked (and official) members of the kwoon, I feel that the vote should in fact be a two thirds vote with Sifu being the deciding vote overall and when there is a tie. It is unfortunate that there is corruption of rank this early and that some are unwilling to cooperate with Sifu regarding disciplinary action, however, Sifu is doing the right thing! Far too many times have I been to schools where there were fat 3rd and 4th degree blackbelts who knew the techniques, but could barely do them themselves... not to mention the total lack of spiritual maturity or involvement with other students/teachers of the school. This is a martial art people. There has to be discipline to maintain order and purity of the kwoon.

    1. I appreciate the feedback. 2/3 vote sounds like a good idea but I see that getting a majority vote should not be too difficult as anybody who votes in the negative should be able to explain why he or she does not feel the Todai is ready to be ranked, this explanation may be valid or it may not, if it is not valid then it may show a personal disliking to the individual which relates to an ego issue. The ranked Todai can then suggest what further steps would be needed for the individual to be accepted. I see it is very important that all Todai's have a liking towards one another and strong respect, as the school grows it will be more difficult but at least in the short term, it may actually be possible to have all Todai's generally positive and respectful towards one another. We these new ideas, we will see how it goes and what may have to be further changed.

  4. This is all very unfortunate to read, as I have met, and have developed both respect and sibling affection for, every ranked Todai of FMK. I would like to believe that with a little encouragement and/or coercion (i.e. having rank rescinded), they would step up their game and return to properly representing their station. I'm saddened to have to face the reality, which is that people will come and go from the Kwoon. Probably the best of the new changes is the temporal expectations, that someone must train at least a year before earning rank. It's disappointing that the badges cannot be collected from those who are not representing their rank appropriately. Even though I'm not pursuing rank myself, I feel like a huge part of the power of the badges is that they are Kwoon property, and that they can be rescinded. It doesn't seem, to me, as important that apparel be returned. But the badges, if they can't be recalled then they lose part of their power. That's not right. Badges are not the same as medals, ribbons, or trophies. Badges signify that you are a representative of a specific station within the Kwoon. If you are not representing that station, you shouldn't have the badge. The payment should not be for the badge, but rather for the development of a your personal page on the FMK website. Very unfortunate, all of this

  5. Sifu, reading ryan's comment on this made me think of an idea. Perhaps, the badges and the apparel can be separated in this way. First you train for a year before you can earn a red shirt, then you must meet the physical and spiritual requirements to then earn the badge within that rank?

    so the flow of rank with this system would look like this:

    White Shirt

    Red Shirt
    train for a year, have met the physical requirements and spiritual maturity to earn this rank.

    Badge (red shirt level)
    Continued to maintain the red shirt standard of fitness and spiritual maturity. Trained for an additional 6 months to a year after reaching the red rank.
    .. and the system would continue in that way for Blue rank and Black rank. What do you guys think?

    1. That seems to be a very good idea. The badge should be earned after the colored tanktops. So basically, you are testing the todai whether or not he is trustworthy of the badges. In other words, is she/he disciplined and responsible enough? Good suggestions Charlie.

    2. The time requirements can be a double-edged sword... good in that they ensure that Todai demonstrate diligence in training... bad in that it can lead to expectations that rank will be awarded merely on this merit, without fully embodying the skills expected of the rank

  6. Shi zu, I do not understand your monetary re-valuation of the badges. Then again, I don't really understand money.
    I do appreciate the extra time commitment (which requires monthly fees, which involves money, but this I get), because I am starting to understand that the spiritual component of what you intend to teach comes only with time. This extension is valuable to all concerned. I also think it's wise to involve the other ranking Todai in conferring rank to a new candidate; it helps you to see how the leaders you are training handle another's growth, promotion, and recognition.

    I just don't get why those badges are so expensive when all someone is doing is "renting" it. Like I said, however, I am not a fan of money, and I've only trained here for two months. I have had little reason to raise any concerns that you haven't already weighed or decided without good consideration.

    1. I think the idea here is that the more you have to invest in it - both financially and in terms of training - the more significant it will be to you, and (hopefully) the more likely you will be to embrace the responsibilities entailed. An aspect of this strategy is that it can serve to separate those who are seriously interested in embodying the rank from those who may not be. I don't agree with framing this as a 'rental' situation. I'd look at it more as that the badges are family property, they belong to the Kwoon as a collective, and you are not paying for either their purchase or rental, or anything material at all. You're donating financially to the Kwoon as a demonstration of your appreciation for being recognized as having achieved a certain position in the family, one that is based on abilities and demonstrations of commitment, and that entails certain responsibilities. However, if you're not living up to those responsibilities, or you lose your abilities, or you cease demonstrating diligence in your training, the rank may be rescinded. This is not a punishment, but simply a recognition that you are not presently fulfilling that role

    2. Todai Ryan's reply is a very good explanation of my views on this. Another aspect is that these badges and uniforms required a few thousand of dollars invested to establish this system. The less people that are ranked, the more each ranked Todai will have to contribute towards this ranking system. Approximately $5000 has been invested towards this ranking system, now if there are less people ranked, they will have to contribute more towards this system. The more effort that is required to obtain rank, the less people that will be ranked. The less people that are ranked, the more it will be valued. A few hundred dollars expected from the Todai is nothing compared to the few thousand. Nobody will be pushed towards rank, it is a personal decision, those that choose this path, it will require both time and money. Nobody forces anybody to purchase a BMW over a Ford Focus, those who wish to obtain a BMW will have to put in the time and money to obtain it, and even when they do obtain it, the vehicle will eventually break down and they will have to buy another one. If you get to rank and your body, mind, or spirit breaks down, you will have to rebuild it in order to get it back. If BMW's were "cheap" they would not be set a part from the Ford Focus, they need to hold a higher value in order to be placed at another category. The recent changes are meant to increase the value of the red rank from where it was previously in order for it to hold greater significance in this kwoon. I chose to invest a few thousand into these badges and uniforms to have FMK represent a higher quality than a cheap $2 black belt. There are cheap swords avaialable for under $100 and then there are swords that are close to $1000 or more. The difference in quality will be drastic. We need to aim towards representing a higher quality within FMK. This may be a little difficult to understand in the beginning but through time, you may start to understand.

  7. I liked the comments so far. I wouldn’t say the Sidai rank is corrupted as I would say it’s a tad disorganized. The changes are pretty good, but I honestly can say that last one just leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth. I’m thinking like a todai who just started. I have train for a year if I want rank – that’s fine. Then if I get rank I have to pay roughly $360 for a uniform if I want to be certified. I think that from the outside looking in it looks like the school is trying to make a lot of money from uniforms. Especially if the badge isn’t considered personal property. There are several other ways you can achieve the effect of getting the badges and shirts back without charging a lot upfront. The reason why I say the badge and shirt should be returned is because regardless if we don’t want to recycle them, they are part of the FMK ranked uniform.

    You could keep the shirts and badges at cost – the price is still pretty substantial to be valued.

    In terms of making sure the rank is respected and items are returned you can charge a $50 ranking fee. That is, in order to be eligible for testing and certification you pay that fee. You can test as much as you want and once you achieve rank you have the option of purchasing the uniform that includes the shirt and badge. The uniform will be the property of FMK because it bears the logo on it and can only be worn by authorized personnel. You can have ranked individuals sign a waiver agreeing to return such materials within 48 hours of resignation or they will be charged a $100 fee per week their badges and shirt are not returned. You can get CC information and include that in the waiver.

    This way everyone is happy. Todais don’t have to pay out the wazoo for the FMK unform and FMK has an way of insuring the items get returned.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. To contain the uniforms with the logo will be very difficult as many shirts have been sold for promotional shirts, mainly the white shirts. Limiting the amount of shirts out in the public has the negative effect of hindering promotion but has the positive of what you stated. Todai Ryan orders shirts on his own while respecting the rank structure. He can only purchase shirts of any color other than red, blue, and black. He orders directly from the vender himself, the vender is the one who charges a lot of money, not the kwoon. If you order a higher quality product, you will have to pay more money. You can get a cheap cotton shirt for $20 if you order one, but if you want a high quality shirt, that is screen printed, like the one we have, you have to order a minimum of 6 at the cost of $30 a piece. If you don't have people serious about achieving rank and upholding its standards, the cost for shirts alone is substantial.

      The idea I have is that all Todai's can order shirts from whatever vender they wish to order from and they can order directly from the vender just like what Todai Ryan is doing. Only rule they have to adhere to is to respect the rank colors of red, blue, and black and not order those colors until they have reached that respective rank.

      What you order is what you pay for, they can feel that they own the shirt, and if they ever quit, then the shirt that is out there will serve to be a promotion to the school and can actually benefit the school.

      Todai's who achieve rank and wish to receive a badge can conduct their own research on finding out how much money it would cost to create a custom made badge with the kwoon's logo. They can purchase their own badge if they like.

      I see that it is best to keep all badges within the kwoon from now on, as they are not serving to enhance the school as far as promotion is concerned. Nobody is really going to approach you and ask about training at the kwoon because they see your badge, the badge is too small to serve as a promotional tool.

      Rank can still be achieved without the badge. Those who want the badge will have to pay the cost of the badge, which at the moment is $500. If a Todai can find a vender who sells it at a lower price, the price can be matched. All badges that already have been ordered, will be held for use in the future. The Red Badge will signify 5 years of training at the kwoon, the Blue Badge will signify 10 yrs of training and the Black badge will signify 15 years of training at the kwoon. Requirements will still be expected to be met but when that 5 year anniversery hits, the badge will be given to the Todai, he will not be charged, the badge belongs to the kwoon and should be returned if standards are not being met, but because they have stayed with the kwoon for 5 years, the trust has been established to have the Todai respect these rules.


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