March 11, 2021, Israel
As a rule ranks in our system are like grades in our high schools; it is a private matter between teacher, student and parents. This means the rank is about the relationship you have with your instructor. It is your instructor's' valuation of your progress. If you want to share this with others, you may, that is your choice. The outside world will not understand the rank. As I have written many times, the ranks are individual. No two black belts are of exactly the same ability or skill. As I have learned from my valued instructors and role models there is a great deal that goes into awarding a rank, physical ability is only part of it. Personal circumstances play a large part. I will not expect a 77 year old black belt to wrestle with a 20 year-old black belt. So do not expect to see this. Nor would I expect the 20 year-old to have the wisdom of the older man.
To your students, you are a black belt. Period. During all the years I have been teaching locally, I doubt that 10% of my students knew or cared to know about my rank. It does not matter what level black belt you are, you are their teacher, and that is all that matters. The rank is between you and your teacher, that is me. And more importantly the ranks is between you and yourself. This is your personal achievement. The final conversation I had with my dear father concerned attending special training and going for my 4th dan black belt. I was wondering if the rank was all that important, and worth the cost. My dear father pointed out that it was very important. I said, but what difference does it make to the world if I am a 3rd dan black belt or 4th can black belt? My father responded, "You will the difference, and that is all that matters. On all my resume's I always added Brooklyn Boys Scouts - Eagle Scout. It made no difference to my employers in the financial sector but it was important to me. To this day I am a Brooklyn Eagle scout!" And that was indeed his final day with us. A few hours later he passed, unexpectedly and without warning. But he delivered his final lesson to me. He was an Brooklyn Eagle Scout to the end.
The rank is important. You carry your rank in your heart.
IKI Instructor Ranks
When a rabbi becomes ordained, he is a rabbi. He is certainly encouraged to seek the wisdom and guidance of more experienced rabbis, but yet his decisions are binding. He has the authority to teach and make decisions. No student my go over his head and go to his teacher. and yet, if his teacher is present, he may never publicly contradict his teacher. Respect, Honor, Integrity.
With IKI once you are certified as an Apprentice Instructor, you are an instructor, Period.
With IKI once you are certified as an Apprentice Instructor, you are an instructor, period. You may seek employment as a Krav Maga instructor. You do not need to use the word "apprentice", that is between me and you. As far as the world is concerned you are a certified IKI Krav Maga instructor. If you need a letter I will back you up with an official letter on IKI stationary. It will not say Joe Smith is an Apprentice Instructor. It will say, (and I have written countless such letters), Joe Smith is a fully qualified IKI Krav Maga instructor, and I, Moshe Katz, fully endorse him. There are no "ifs" or "buts" about it. You are an instructor, period.
Relationships between Instructors - One instructor should never publicly insult, mock, criticize, or belittle another instructor in any way. One should never say - I am a Full instructor but he is only an Apprentice Instructor. This should be obvious. One should also never publicly mention another organization, as in, Joe Smith used to be affiliated with Krav Maga IKWZ and therefore his techniques are somewhat shabby.
Special Cases: Special cases involve an IKI instructor certifying (with my approval) one of his students as an instructor. In this case the new instructor is an instructor but remains a student of the instructor who trained him. The respect is still owed and should always be there. As far as teaching is concerned, that will depend upon the rules and agreements they decide between them. I.e. perhaps the new instructor will work for their teacher, as in Joe Smith is opening a new school, a new location, and his student, Mary Jones, will be the new instructor, the one operating the new school. The financial arraignment between them will be exactly that; between them. I do not get involved in these matters nor in any disputes that may emerge between the parties. You are all adults.
Now as long as the this teacher/student relationship remains, I will not promote the student/instructor without the blessing and approval of their direct local instructor. If they choose to teach a class together certainly mutual respect should be shown while the senior instructor is acknowledged. However if two local instructors, of independent schools, choose to conduct a class together, one instructor should be introduced as a junior but as a collogue. Of course respect should be shown to the senior instructor. The point is that no one should be disrespected.
Gatherings - Traditionally, where there are instructor/black belt gatherings/training sessions, the participants will sit, or line up, according to rank, or seniority in the system. Again, this is an "inner" matter, respect between students, this has nothing to do with your own local students or clients.
IKI Ranks - One point that I need to address; we in the IKI system, use the IKI ranks (diplomas). If you promote your own students with "Joe Smith Krav Maga" diplomas, fine, but don't expect me to recognize this ranks. If a student contacts me, and I have never met them or ranked/graded them, and they claim a brown belt or black belt with IKI, but they have no diploma signed by me, printed in Israel, then they have no IKI rank. I will need to rest them.
One more final Point - As the IKI website CLEARLY states, IKI is an independent Krav Maga association, we not affiliate with any other organizations. AS the old saying goes...You can't dance at two weddings at the same time. In Yiddish mist Mit eyn tockhes nit tanstsn af tsvey Khasenes.
IKI is a fiercely independent organization, we are not affiliate with any other organizations and we do not join other umbrellas associations. As such we politely turn down invitations to join international associations of any kind.
We do promote friendship with all organizations.
And one final point: Beware of organizations that are actively trying to recruit you, that offer you ranks or "prestige", status, or "honor". Remember, it is a business. They are trying to get a foothold in your region, they want to plant their flag wherever they can, with any school that is willing to cooperate with them. As a rule it is the weak schools that jump at these "tempting" offers. I have seen it again and again, the association hoppers, one day it is IKMP, next it is KMWV, next it is AAWA, then WWWF etc. Stick with one association and grow my them. My friend Adam trained with Arthur Cohen for 37 years , until death did them part. Now that is a true martial artist.