Morse Grades?

In a recent email from fellow Crusader Matt VK2ACL who is working really hard at being able to read 25wpm comfortably which he considers to be “The Black Belt” of Morse operating. This got me thinking about relating Morse to Martial Arts Grades as my son Rob is a Martial Artist. (Profile Here) He started learning Kung Fu when he was 15 to protect himself as he was too scared to go to our local market town where he was being picked on. Through Determination, Self Sacrifice and Pain he is now well respected in his field and still learning.

How does this relate to Morse? To learn Morse properly you have to be very determined, sacrificing time for daily practice and to go through the pain and frustration of overcoming mental blocks. Having a quick grade of our Crusaders, Matt VK2ACL would be graded as a Brown Belt striving hard for his Black Belt, I would consider myself as Black Belt First Dan and John N5DWI would be graded as Black Belt Fifth Dan (visit John’s site)

Returning to Martial Arts the lower grades have training for fitness, flexibility and defence but don’t do any actual fighting. Could we relate this to Morse and receiving only, the bottom grade trained on receiving only the second grade starting sending with their training program supervised by a Brown or Black Belt. It seems we have achieved two grades to relate to now, Brown being 20wpm and Black being 25wpm and could fill in the other two fighting grades Green at 12wpm and Purple and 15wpm. White Belt could be considered as a non combatant or receive only, Yellow will now know all the Morse characters will now be training on sending and increasing their receive speeds.

I think I have now achieved a grading system and instead of wearing a coloured belt we could all have a Lapel Pin badge in the shape of a Morse key in the colour of our grade and wear it with pride.

Morse Crusader Badges

All we have to do now is work out a training program for White and Yellow to get to Green and as this is the part of the program that can make or break a potential good Morse Operator I think that this should be left to the more experienced operators Brown and Black to work out the program. There is a lot of Yellow badges that are finding it hard to progress because of detrimental initial training and personal training may have to be considered to get them to Green.

Because of computers, self training is possible using software like G4FON’s Morse Trainer which is freely available from his website. This program uses the Koch Method for teaching Morse Code and as this was the way I was trained professionally in the UK Armed Forces I always recommend it, also highly recommended world wide. In the 1980’s computers were not a common household item and I had to make up practice tapes using the Koch Method for my students,  so they could continue their training at home. This was very time consuming for me but worthwhile as I can say that I helped a few people get their 12wpm Morse ticket. Alhough this program will give you a good grounding in Morse it is computer generated Morse which is different from hand sent Morse and it is recommended that you listen to Morse from different sources to give you a wider aspect.

As the Morse Crusaders are dedicated to promoting Morse and stopping bad practices we will be providing Morse Courses and help for operators to progress further and enjoy the hobby.

2 thoughts on “Morse Grades?

  1. Ian,

    Personally, I think there is an obvious break between “grades” at the point around 20 wpm where it becomes very difficult to write down what you are receiving word for word. At that point (the 2nd scariest point in one’s training) you must lay down the pen and begin to “head copy”. At that point I believe you have really elevated your skill from decoding to language.

    I am now, like Matt, trying to increase my sub-20 wpm speed to 25 wpm. I use G4FON’s Koch trainer mainly for this as it can also process text files and has a large number of built-in QSOs and word lists. It’s sort of a meta-Koch method, though obviously one can’t memorize all the words in Morse!


  2. You have made a valid point that has been on my mind when testing candidates at speeds greater than 20wpm. I was a professional so had to copy everything down but used an electric typewriter and I know that I would struggle to copy anything above 20wpm by hand. As you say you progress by taking it in your head and can attain highers speeds, but how does one assess a candidate if he can’t write down a hard copy for you to mark?

    I would say that after the 20wpm test you would have to accept the fact that you are getting better and live with that knowledge that you can enjoy fast Morse even if you don’t have a certificate to prove it.

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