How Old Should a Black Belt Be?

taido is athletic, and you can only expect performance of certain movements in students who are relatively young. i certainly feel that we should continue to encourage young taidoka to reach the goal of black belt. eventually, we are going to have to hand them the reigns all together. i know i can’t keep performing at my level forever, so i want to make sure that there is someone ready to step up and keep creating new taido after i’m too old to eat anything but oatmeal.

Taido is athletic, and you can only expect performance of certain movements in students who are relatively young. I certainly feel that we should continue to encourage young Taidoka to reach the goal of black belt. Eventually, we are going to have to hand them the reigns all together. I know I can’t keep performing at my level forever, so I want to make sure that there is someone ready to step up and keep creating new Taido after I’m too old to eat anything but oatmeal.

But then I hear stuff about four year old black belts and junior high school students making 3dan at some American martial arts schools, and I think “No!!!!! That can’t be right. They’re way too young to be that good. There’s no way they can understand what it means to be a black belt.” But of course, that’s the problem – black belt doesn’t “mean” anything – not objectively.

It isn’t really about meaning though. The black belt is an award, given from teacher to student for meeting certain requirements and achieving a certain level of proficiency in an art. Those certain requirements and levels of proficiency are at the teacher’s discretion. Students have to trust their teachers to use that discretion wisely – in a way that benefits the students.

On the Karate Underground Forums, we’ve had a lot of discussions about what age a student should be in order to obtain a black belt ranking. We also had some discussion over the age requirements for higher degrees. It’s interesting to note a certain consistency here: there is a “tradition” of a year per degree number between levels. This gives support to the two most common markers of sixteen for shodan and thirty for 5dan. At a year per, that matches perfectly: eighteen for 2dan, twenty-one for 3dan, twenty-five for 4dan. These are minimums, kind of.

I remember replying to the initial post about minimum ages, almost without thinking: “sixteen years old.” Only after hitting the “submit” button, I realized that I had not even been that old when I reached shodan.

I wrote that, to me, a black belt is someone who is going to be teaching – even if not immediately. Someone under, say high school age isn’t going to have attained the psychological development to understand the interpersonal relations involved in teaching others. Younger students can be assistant instructors (I was from the time I was twelve), but they are not going to able to feasibly lead large classes or organize a lesson without supervision. Looking at it now, I can see that most of my arguments on that thread were inspired by specific difficulties I had as a young black belt in my dojo.

Other forum members posted various ages. Some suggested that children should not even be allowed to practice martial arts. There was an opinion that fighting ability should be a requisite for black belt, so any black belt should be able to win a fight against any lower belt. Since a child wouldn’t likely be able to defeat an older, larger student, that child should not be allowed to become a black belt. Some folks said that age should not be a factor – if an infant could perform the required techniques with proper form, then nobody had the right to say that infant was any less of a black belt than an older student.

That viewpoint really resonated with me, for obvious reasons. Not the infant part, but the age-as-non-issue part. To a point. I hate to think about what would happen to a twelve year old kid who goes to his first day of junior high school and tells people that he is a third degree black belt. At my school, that kid would have been used as the ball in a game of smear the queer. All the technically-accurate punches and kicks in the world would not do anything to stop the junior varsity basketball team from having their way with any runt who had the audacity to claim such a credential.

Perhaps the designation of black belt may require some level of “maturity.” This was also suggested on the forums, and the flames poured in: “Who has the right to decide when a student is ‘mature’? There are many immature adult black belts,” etc. And then we had a lot of debate about what was meant by maturity. To make a long story short, there was no consensus on much of anything. Come to think of it, there never really seems to be much consensus issues of any significant weight. Maybe that’s what makes it stimulating. Anyway…

As a schoolteacher, I work with lots of children from the ages of about three to fifteen. Let me inform you definitively that there are many differences between children of various ages, and also between physically mature children and adults. Some of my junior high school students are bigger than I am, but there is no question that they are children. They have underdeveloped interpersonal awareness, i.e. they are still selfish. Their cognition struggles with complicated relationships, ie they understand cause and effect, but they still believe that correlation is the same as causation.

Besides physical size, there are other types of maturity to consider. Though they aren’t easy to pin down with a casual analysis, there is more to it than designating someone as either a child or an adult. I can see my students moving through levels of cognitive ability, physical coordination and strength, spacial awareness, interpersonal awareness, and responsibility. Though I couldn’t tell you a specific age at which these characteristics are sure to be fully developed, they all seem to be approaching adult-level by about the end of junior high. There’s still plenty they don’t know, but they are almost grown up, developmentally speaking.

It’s really hard to say if age should be a factor in belt promotion. It’s easy to say that the technical requirements should stand on their own, but there is no objective technical requirement. Since everyone has different bodies and capabilities, a rigid testing curriculum is pretty impracticable. As a result, we bring in criteria like age, teaching, and “organizational contribution.” The idea is to “soften up” the requirements a bit to allow for differences between students. The problem is that these things are all so subjective – there’s really no way to say that the requirements for black belt should be any particular way or other.

Looking at things now, I can really understand a lot of what my teacher must have been thinking as I entered my third year as a brown belt. My techniques were very good, and I was more knowledgeable than most of the adult black belts, but I was small and a bit of a know-it-all too. In the end, I had just been a brown belt for too damn long. Ready or not, he had to test me, even though I was only fifteen years old.

As for now, age is certainly a non-issue in american Taido, and I prefer that to having it as a strict requirement. Perhaps some sort of flexible guideline could be developed that would acknowledge the accomplishments of children without setting up false comparisons between older and younger students. And no “junior black belt” ranks, please – that’s just patronizing in all the wrong ways.

What i’d like to see is a flexible system of mentorship wherein older black belts would assist and guide younger black belts and black belt candidates in the transition to adulthood as it pertains to Taido and dojo activities. For all outward purposes, any black belt would be considered a full black belt. Younger black belts wouldn’t be able to become instructors until they were older, but they would be given the same respect as any other black belt. And when they graduate high school, they are considered adults, no questions asked. At this point, all mentoring-type “assistance”, no matter how well-meaning would have to cease.

I don’t know how I would outline such a system, because I think it should operate on a pretty much case-by-case basis, as should initial consideration for promotion to shodan. However, I think it would be workable if the dojo instructors supported it. I like the idea of having young people acknowledged as subject experts after practicing for a sufficient amount of time, but I also hope to save them some of the frustration I had when I was that age, while at the same time protecting the integrity of our art by ensuring that all instructors are highly qualified.

What do you think? How can we be fair to young students without weakening the value of the black belt?

More Thoughts on Young Black Belts

Anyone who has read much of this site knows that I have a lot of opinions about the belt/ranking system and some internal conflicts regarding promotion to black belt – especially at very young ages. This is because I feel that a black belt should understand what Taido is about. While I don’t wish to diminish the accomplishments of younger candidates, the research still stands that humans do not develop their full cognitive abilities (and I’m speaking in a purely neuro-function sense) until they have completed puberty. Younger and younger children are now becoming black belts, even as young at ten or eleven years old.

At the risk of sounding like a conservative, I’m not entirely comfortable with that. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I was doing that much better when I passed shodan. But I was a little older, and I knew a little more about what Taido was meant to accomplish. At test a few years ago, I watched boys and girls do their tentai and tenin hokei (routines I didn’t learn until I was 2dan and 3dan), and I felt nothing. I wasn’t moved one way or the other. It was like watching those mechanical elves at Disney World – you think “Wow! How do they get those machines to move so well?” No offense to the candidates, who I know work very hard and far surpass my own capabilities when I was that age, but hokei is not just a string of movements. It has meaning, and a black belt should know that meaning.

I’m constantly telling my adult students that they have to understand the difference between doing Taido and mimicking the movements of Taido techniques. A monkey (or a small child) can do one of those, but not the other. I’m not picking on young Taido students – if anyone understands their situation, I certainly do. It’s just that wearing a black belt should be a signal to others that you “get it.” It’s psychologically impossible for students that young to truly get it until they pass through a couple of further stages of cognitive development. I remember thinking I had it until I really did get it. I’ve been where these guys are, so I can be sure of this.

And it might upset some people. Oh well. I still teach children (professionally), and I want to support them to continue to grow in Taido, but I don’t want to tell them that they have achieved a level of ability that they have not. Children can sense bullshit. I think the children’s curriculum in Taido is in drastic need of overhaul, because children should not be required to perform poorly at a bastardized version of the adult curriculum – they should have a separate system that teaches them what they are able to learn. I don’t want to hold them back because they are young, I want to give them a better chance to build their skills and understanding in an organic and logical manner that will allow them to eventually be much, much better than the current group of adult black belts.

Of course, I realize that the “junior black belt” is a new development and an experimental one at that. That’s cool. I would have suggested some different ways to do it, but I doubt anyone would have listened. My ideas on teaching children Taido are a little radical, and though children cope easily, radical change tends to be uncomfortable to most instructors and parents. I guess that’s OK, but the current (new) system is going to open up problems in addition to the ones we used to have (and still do). Personally, I’m fine with giving anyone whatever belt color they think looks nice (Bryan has a tie-dyed belt), but the reality is that people judge a school on the quality of its black belt students. If it were my personal reputation as an instructor and manager on the line (as it is at Tech), I would be very selective about graduating students to shodan and above.

At any rate, I wish these new, young (and not so young) black belts the best and hope to assist their development in any way I can. It will be very interesting to watch them grow up as Taido black belts. To any of them or their parents who may happen to be reading this: don’t take any of this the wrong way – I want you to do well. I’ll be watching, and I’ll help if you let me. Good luck.

Written Tests for Belt Promotions

It’s potentially interesting to note that there have been no written examinations for black belt promotions in America for several years.

I believe that Taido requires intellectual understanding as well as physical ability, and as a result, have always taught in a manner that I feel provides both. When Bryan and I began discussing the possibility of promoting students to black belt, we had no doubts as the quality of our teaching, but we were concerned about the quality of the evaluation.

To that end, we decided that we would require a written examination and essay/creative component in addition to the physical test administered by the american headquarters. I’ve discussed the hokei assignment previously. In writing the theory exam, I wanted to be careful that the questions were actually testing the things I hope to have taught. For those of you with no experience at test-writing, i’ll let you know right now that it is difficult to write a good test – this from someone whose job requires him to do it often.

I feel pretty strongly that rote is awful pedagogy, so I wanted to avoid a test that would allow a passing score by simple memorization. The idea was to attempt to test not knowledge, but understanding of Taido’s theory. Understanding combined with practice leads to mastery (says I). I put this exam together carefully, attempting to focus on open-ended prompts rather than questions with one-word answers. I did include some simple vocabulary, but there was no memorization required.

Instead, I made a provision that candidates could consult reference materials to a certain degree (though they still had to work within a time limit) rather than force them to memorize anything. The catch is that they had to convince me in their answers that they actually understand the concept. I felt pretty confident to judge this because I have read just about everything ever written about Taido in english – at least all of it that has been made publicly available. Besides that, knowing the candidates well gives me an advantage to determine their grok-level.

On the black belt written test I took, I had to write word-for-word the Taido 5jokun. I had to memorize all of the unsoku jigata patterns. I had to know the doko5kai in japanese and be able to explain it in english. Understanding these things has helped me immensely, but memorizing them has done little for my Taido. On this exam, I told the candidates to look up the answers and interpret their own meanings.

The acid test for each prompt I included on this exam was “Will answering this question demonstrate potential for mastery?” In some places it may not be so obvious how that stipulation was met, but as I mentioned, knowing the candidates allows me to extrapolate meaning from the manner in which they responded. Lexical and syntactic decisions betray a lot about the level of a person’s familiarity with a subject (provided you know how to decode that meaning – and I spent a good deal of university study developing just that capacity).

It was interesting to me to read the responses and think to myself “OK, that comes from my article on Taido/Blog”, or “that comes from a pamphlet I printed up a few years ago,” or “that’s straight from Alvar’s .pdf.” I did deduct points in places where I felt that the candidate seemed to value a “correct” answer over their own answer, but usually, I was very impressed to find that, even in cases in which I could see a particular influence, the candidates gave serious thought to the prompts and responded with a Taido answer to the best of their present levels of understanding.

And so that’s how it went. I’m glad we did this test, and will be making similar exams for future black belt candidates from my clubs.

Belt/Rank Meaning

Ok. So if you know me at all, or have read many of the things I’ve written, you know that one of my serious gripes about Asian martial arts (and their western copies) is the custom of “ranking” or awarding level-markers to practitioners. I’m not going to spend too much space in this article discussing the carrot-on-a-stick principle, the love of rankings as a japanese cultural phenomenon, or my opinions about the mental health of those who place too much importance on what belt they wear. I do plan to discuss a particular philosophy of meaning as it applies to martial arts ranks.

Before I get on a roll here, I would like to direct your attention to this belt-related article at 24fc.

Let me also point out that the irony of me downplaying the importance of belt rank in an article I have written about that very subject does not escape me (and for the record, I have yet to make any claims to mental health on this web site). I think belt ranks have exactly the meaning and importance that we ascribe to them. I tend to take a semiotic view of meaning and a transactional view of value, so don’t expect for a second that this article is going to try and analyze the concept of ranking in some sort of rational vacuum.

Martial arts are founded in competition – they are about combat (internal and external). Anyone who tries to tell you differently is trying to get you to enroll your child in his McDojo. Competitiveness is pervasive in the martial arts world. The kinds of people who do this sort of thing (develop and test their physical abilities against opposing parties) are competitive by nature, though some may deny it. I used to believe that I was not competitive, but I have since realized that I was merely fooling myself. I am competitive – just not when it comes to fighting ability or belt rank.

I can jump and shout all day long that belts are not a big deal, but the fact is very clear that a great many martial artists care a great deal about the issues surrounding belts and rankings. Thus, belt rank is an issue of great importance, by definition.

So belt rank is important. There is no denying it. It may not be very important to you, or you may not want anybody to know how important it really is to you, but it is important, and understanding this does matter to you. With that out of the way, we can turn to what belt ranks actually mean. This will be a much more difficult exploration.

Belt Equivalence Concepts

One popular notion of the meanings of various belts is the idea that the rank of shodan is akin to a bachelor’s degree from a university. The argument goes that the four years of traditional post-secondary education are thought of as preparation for entering the workforce. This is supposed to be roughly equivalent to the idea that a shodan will have basically learned the technical curriculum of a martial art.

I have also seen the comparison stretched to suggest that higher degrees of black belt may be likened to graduate studies. I can only hope that this is intended as a joke. Though I have yet to participate in any graduate-level studies in university, I know a lot of extremely “educated” people, and I do not consider my relatively high rank in Taido to be any kind of match-up to that level.

Though martial art grading syllabi often require “research” or some kind of “thesis,” close examination reveals that the actual requirements are very light. For shodan and 2dan, the world-standard Taido examination requires the applicant to answer 5 fill-in-the-blank questions. For 3dan, the requirement is a 3 to 5 page paper on the topic of “Taido.” I wrote five page papers on more specific topics in high school. Yet, this “academic requirement” is one justification for exalting higher belt ranks.

I would suggest that, if one were truly serious about drawing a comparison between martial arts education and standard western academia, the analogy receive a thorough overhaul. I say that reaching shodan does not require anywhere near the amount of work or learning we expect of college graduates. I would place shodan as a high school graduate.

We could look at it this way:

White belt is like kindergarten. You learn the rules. You get indoctrinated into the group. You figure out what is expected. You move around a little bit, but you still can’t really read or work with numbers too well.

Purple belt would be the primary school of martial art education. You learn the basics and simple combinations. You build vocabulary. You gain core competencies and study skills.

Green belt is junior high. Here you start to have a little more autonomy in your training, but more is expected of you. There is more sense of competition among classmates. Classes are harder. Tests are harder. You realize that it is very possible to fail your next grading.

In high school, you have to demonstrate that you have learned all the stuff the school system has told you to learn. Brown belts must do the same if they wish to reach black belt level. Upon graduation, many students get jobs at the video store. Upon reaching shodan, many martial artists cease to practice.

I’ll suggest that shodan is like freshman year of college in that students have to learn how to teach themselves. Perhaps 2dan and 3dan could be seen to represent the remaining three university years, such that reaching 4dan would equal a college degree (in a very figurative sense). If actual research were presented, I would have no problem calling 5dan a master’s and 7dan a doctorate in that martial art.

Actually, scratch that

Looking back over those last few paragraphs, I still believe the comparison to be really, really limp. An academic education requires codified and objective standards to be met. Furthermore, grades are awarded. Graduating high school with a 2.0 average does not guarantee admission to college. Graduating college with a BA in comparative religion will not do much to land a steady job (nor will a PhD in astrophysics, in case you were curious).

In the martial arts, a black belt is a black belt. We don’t qualify black belts based on their grades at the time of promotion (though perhaps we should). Would it be ridiculous to suggest that a 2dan with a 4.0 outranks a 4dan that barely passed his last exam with a D? Maybe it would, but we could easily see a student failing to reach brown belt because he couldn’t pass punching.

Another thing we don’t do is specify someone as a 3dan in sparring or a shodan in basics. Martial art belt ranks are supposed to be comprehensive (though they seldom are) in the scope of expertise they signify. I often hear martial artists talking about their senior instructors in terms of being good at one aspect but not another. Why don’t we just go ahead and specify the rank to a particular skill? My guess is because it would destroy the hierarchy our egos demand.

For the above reasons, I have to say the analogy to any real educational system (designed by trained educators and tested by objective third-parties such as prospective employers) is seriously lacking. However, I wouldn’t mind using a system that made use of letter grades, subject concentrations, objective standards, and verifiable research. Under such a system, my transcript might look something like this:

  • Date passed 4dan: 10/2004
  • Cumulative Grade Point Average: 3.3
  • Major course of study: Education, with concentration in Taido Theory
  • Minor course of study: Hokei

Of course, this transcript doesn’t show that I barely passed my sparring requirement, still can’t do shajogeri worth a damn, have a knack for pissing off my instructor, was the founder and head instructor of my own Taido club, and have participated in several “study abroad” programs. Nor does it include a list of publications or shit-lists I’ve landed in, but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about – somehow, I doubt if the majority of the Taido community is going to go for this system.

What is involved?

I feel we should attempt to relate the meaning of each level to the kinds of things we expect of people at those levels, or possibly to the kinds of things we expect of people prior to achieving that level. This means we will look at what students do at a particular belt rank. As one of my poetry professors once told me: adjectives describe reality; verbs define it.

Shu, Ha, Ri

The traditional Japanese view of the educational process works through three stages:

  • Obey (shu) – beginner-level.
  • Adapt (ha) – advanced-student level.
  • Break (ri) – mastery.

Shu, ha, and ri are said to mean obedience, divergence, and transcendence, respectively. A more accurate translation would be: follow, break, separate. For an in-depth discussion of shu, ha, and ri, see (once again) 24fc.

In a nutshell, the idea is that a student begins by doing as the instructor says to do. Eventually, he knows enough to make small adjustments for his own purposes. He goes from copying to adapting. Beyond a certain level, the student will have have learned all he is capable of learning from someone else, and he will have to teach himself. At this point, the student leaves his instructor and goes off to learn the lessons that will make him a master in his own right.

“Shu, ha, and ri” sounds nice and poetic. It would be great if things actually worked that way. After spending three years as a school teacher in Japan and as a member of a Japanese Taido dojo, let me give you a better description of the process:

obey, copy, obey, copy…

it goes on like that for a very long time. Eventually, a small percentage of students get to a point where they may: think, and try something new. The student will then: seek approval from his instructors. If they do approve, he will continue to obey. If they do not, the student has the option to: leave. Whichever path the student takes at this point, there is a good likelihood that he will then: teach, either as a representative of his own teacher (whom he will continue to obey), or as the leader of a new organization. In either case, he will expect his own students to obey and copy him.

Traditional Western Approach

In the west, we have a different terms for this process: indoctrination, memorization, practice, application, which would be roughly equivalent to the school analogy I gave above (primary, junior, secondary, university). I mention it again only for the purpose of comparison to the shu, ha, ri idea. Though focussing on what the student actually does at each level this time around, I still don’t see this way of looking at belt ranks as holding much water unless some very concrete changes are made to the way we administer gradings.

The Meaning of Meaning (or, what meaning means to me)

To come back to my earlier statement about value being transactional, my belief is that personal meaning of an object is tied to what one does to acquire that object. If one would willingly trade $10,000 for a Rolex, that watch means $10,000 to that person. If one believes that having a Rolex will allow him to sleep with beautiful women and impress other men, that watch means sex and power. The important questions surrounding meaning are:

  1. What would you do to acquire the thing?
  2. How do you expect to benefit by acquisition of the thing?

These two vital questions are just as true for objects (or situations) that we do not believe we are capable of acquiring, as well as those we have long-since acquired. With regard to belt ranking, we could sum it up by asking:

What are the requirements, responsibilities, and privileges associated with this level?

Looking at these factors scientifically would perhaps allow us greater understanding of why so many martial artists get their proverbial panties in a wad over belts. (Un?)fortunately for us, such subjective questions are outside the realm of science. The best we can hope to do is keep these subjective factors in mind when we think about belt rank issues, realizing that objective comparisons are not going to be attainable.

This is Not a Competition

So, let’s all get over ourselves. Martial arts are inherently individual sports. There is a social aspect to being a member of a dojo, but the actual practice is personal. In order to get the most out of our practice, I believe that we all need to spend less time comparing ourselves to others and a lot more time exploring our own experiences. Competition is an inherent part of that process, but the overall goal is not competitive in and of itself.

Instead of all this focus on requirements, responsibilities, and privileges (ranking and what they mean to us), we could all benefit from viewing our practice as a gateway to greater self-awareness and actualization. The irony is that, as we improve ourselves and our abilities form the inside out, we meet all of the external signifiers naturally and effortlessly. We also find greater joy in what we do. Finding this peace makes it difficult to be concerned with what other people say and do.

Looking at things this way, I suggest that ,if we’re not going to be rigorous about it, let’s just drop the belts. There’s nothing to be afraid of. People can still tell who’s good and who knows what he or she is talking about. Bullshit stinks in any form, but people will always know the genuine article when they see it. Talented martial artists and skillful teachers needn’t fear a lack of credential. Only the charlatans have anything to lose by relinquishing their fancy uniforms, titles, and stripy belts.

As instructors, the only thing we really have to lose is our integrity.

Hokei Assignment

This year will mark the completion of ten continuous years of operation for the Taido club at Georgia Tech. We are the first group to have successfully administered a Taido program in the United States outside of the honbu dojo. We are also the only non-commercial Taido practice group in the country. This year, we will promote our first three black belts, as announced here.

Over the years, black belt tests in American Taido have come to be little more than a formality that occurs after a few years of training. While we aren’t suggesting that the physical black belt test is all that big a deal, Bryan and I have long thought that it should be the final step in a process of black belt candidacy that is at least somewhat transformative to the student. This process should require growth and demonstration of competence in the core areas of Taido practice and philosophy.

Since we see our club as an extended experiment in Taido practice and teaching, we decided long ago that when the time came for our students to test for shodan, we would do things a little differently than they are usually done. Bryan and I have been working for over a year now on a new method of testing students for black belt. I will be gradually releasing the details of our test process on this website as the students work towards their physical examination (date, TBA).

Upon learning of their candidacy for shodan, the three students were informed that they would be required to create a new and unique Taido hokei and write a paper defending it. Here are the guidelines I sent them in an e-mail earlier today:

Your Hokei

Create your own hokei based on the following criteria:

  1. Base your hokei on any one or two (no more) of Taido’s sotai (sen, un, hen, nen, ten). You may use other techniques, but focus on one or two types of movement.
  2. You may use a standard enbusen (layout) from an existing hokei or create a new one.
  3. Performance must last between 2 and 3 minutes in duration.
  4. Your hokei must fit in the space of a standard Taido court.
  5. You must return to genten.
  6. The use of new or interesting technique combinations is desirable.
  7. All strikes must have a clearly targeted opponent.
  8. You must prescribe breathing methods for your hokei.
  9. Your hokei must show understanding of the 10 hokei performance guidelines (ex. You need to have slow parts as well as fast, relaxed parts as well as tense).
  10. Your hokei must also demonstrate your understanding of the doko 5 kai for the sotai you chose.

Your Paper

You must also prepare a paper explaining the thinking that informs your hokei design. here the the paper guidelines:

  1. Successful papers will explain the decisions involved in creating a new routine and how you went about making them in a manner that demonstrates your understanding of Taido.
  2. You should be able to explain: how many opponents you are facing; why you chose certain techniques and combinations; why you breathe when and how you do; and any other pertinent information.
  3. Please do not describe your routine, we will see it for ourselves when you perform it.
  4. Papers will be as long as they need to be to explain the routine. A more straight-forward routine will require less explanation than one that uses a lot of complicated combinations.
  5. Please spell-check and try to follow grammatical conventions.
  6. Be consistent in your spelling of japanese words – it’s OK to be incorrect because you don’t speak Japanese, but please choose one spelling per word and stick with it.
  7. Format your paper in a manner that lends itself to easy evaluation. For example, eight pages about a routine built on hengi will make it difficult to reference your second ebigeri. Use section headings and typographic cues to direct navigation of your paper.
  8. Papers will be submitted to andy and bryan via e-mail in a word format no later than two weeks prior to your physical examination.
  9. Papers, along with our comments, will be posted on the website no later than one week prior to your physical examination.

Your creativity and ability to defend your decisions are the primary evaluation points for this assignment. Have fun.