Toward the end of every year I take a look back at my attendance logs, promotion records, and disciplinary records to evaluate all of our students. These aren’t face-to-face evaluations, they’re simply for my knowledge.
This is also the time of year that I purge the rolls of those who have quit or become inactive for whatever reason they may have offered.
For some, it’s work; for some, illness/injury that has since healed, yet the student hasn’t returned to training.
My personal policy is to purge students from the rolls who have been inactive for 12 months, and have not communicated the desire to return to training for 3 months.
From time to time, I’ll hear “I haven’t quit training, Sensei, I’m still a student and I’m coming back.”
No, that isn’t accurate, sorry to break it to you. If you take a semester off from college, you’re taking a break. If you miss a couple of semesters, you are a dropout. You’re no longer an active student, no matter what your intentions may be, no matter if you are still studying at home. If you aren’t enrolled, attending classes, and making progress, then you are no longer a student.
Sadly, this year’s purge will place many student’s on the ‘former student’ list. When students are purged from the rolls, their name is also removed from the nafuda-kake (name boards) on the wall of the training floor. Some are offended when they find their name has been removed, yet this is only because they don’t understand that it is a space reserved for those dedicated students that are currently training and growing.
No one wants to admit that they are a quitter or a dropout; it’s easier to say “I’m taking a break.” Usually it’s their ego, or subconsciously not wanting to admit failure; everyone of us commonly associates quitting or giving up with failure.
In my dojo we call it The Green Belt Curse because students at the green belt (6-kyu/5-kyu) level are the most common dropouts. I even go so far as to warn newly promoted 6-kyu students about the ‘green belt curse’ yet, it still happens. Some drop out at yellow belt, and have even had a few drop out at the brown belt and black belt level, but by far the dreaded green belt curse still reigns supreme.
Why the purge? Is it really necessary? To me, yes it is necessary. Those who are inactive for long periods of time have grown stagnant. Stagnancy is the opposite of growth, therefore, the two cannot logically co-exist in a productive manner. However, it doesn’t have to be permanent. Those who are inactive and have left on good terms will always find an open door and space on the mat to train, when they are truly committed to training once again.