Take a walk around Singapore and you’ll find lots of wushu groups in training. You’ll find lots of differences in the training styles and attire of the wushu groups. Some groups have a main coach with lots of junior coaches helping out. Some groups only have one coach, period. Some are highly regimental, others adopt a more casual attitude. Some groups are rigid about uniforms and belt systems, while others only simply require ‘appropriately dressed’ attire.
Today SingaporeWushu.com will be zooming in into belt systems of wushu. Why belt systems? Simply because we feel belt systems inherently impose a psychological influence on authority in any group. This article aims to explore the impact of belt systems on wushu groups and hopes to lead a discussion on the efficacy of belt systems.
Let’s first take a look at the pros of having a belt system.
1) Belt systems are a source of motivation for budding practitioners. In any sports, goals are a very important motivation source. A belt system gives the practitioner a sense of purpose, and also a sense of achievement after each progressive level. When coupled with skill tests to determine if a person can attain a certain belt level, belt systems can create a competitive and motivate team culture.
2) Belt systems have a deeper underlying meaning. For example, the colour of white represents purity and innocence and it is usually meant for beginners. It indicates to the wearer that he/she is only scrapping the very surface and has much to learn. Red is the colour of anger. It serves to remind the wearer that he is to master his temper and use his skills with controlled emotions. Belt systems can help to develop excellent belief systems and character, but only if the coach lives by these principles and makes it known to his students.
And now the cons.
1) Belt systems may encourage egoism and politics. In any organisation with a hierarchy, politics are bound to appear, even if it is minute. Belt systems may encourage political games within wushu training groups, as members start to form little cliques with more senior members playing vital roles. Senior members may also become more egoist, believing that being better in skills are somehow equivalent to being a better person.
2) Belt systems may discourage learning. Sometimes, a younger member may find it intimidating to seek advice from a senior member. More especially so if the belt system shows that the senior member is many levels above the junior.
3) Belt systems may cause the ‘collector syndrome’. While the belt system may encourage a practitioner to achieve a certain level in order to get a coloured belt, it can be easily forgotten that the standard of skills have to be maintained and polished. The belts then only serve to become collectors’ items, or as I like to say, ‘conveyor belts’ which are used to convey one’s rank. This may create superficial seniors with no substance.
All in all, there are definitely benefits and consequences to using a belt system. In the end what matters the most isn’t whether a group uses the belt system, but rather how the group deals with the belt system or the lack of one. The belt system is only a means to an end, a tool to achieve results. Nothing more, nothing less.
If you’ve more opinions on this! Do share!!!