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David Humm
09-18-2006, 12:04 PM
Hey all..

Just wanted to canvas your opinions if I may.

I study aikido and teach within a dojo I helped develop in my neck of the woods, since its inception a couple of years ago we've been fortunate to be successful in a modest sort of way. In addition to aikido we also study muso shinden ryu iaido and enjoy exploring the relationship which exist between ken and aiki. Now, all that said I've studied for almost 20 years and like many internet savvy, enjoy populating aikido and martial arts based websites such as this.

I recently came under criticism from a couple of forum members (not here I might add but on another board) who felt that because I choose not to disclose what yudansha grade I hold in aikido (or iaido for that matter)... that my opinion expressed on forums such as these and, my credibility is worthless.

Whilst I don't share that opinion I wondered what you guys feel, on my dojo homepage I don't actually list the grades of either myself or my fellow yudansha instructors, the only person listed with rank is our sensei who is an aikikai shidoin. My own personal opinion with regards to rank is that waaay too much emphasis is placed upon it in the greater picture, IMHO people get too pre-occupied with what it is supposed to represent and, with the differences which exist between individuals never mind those between organisations. I feel that grades and examinations are very personal experiences which only really relate to the student, the instructor and the organisation through which they are legitimised. As such I don't use the grade I hold to "sell" either myself or the club when advertising for membership or through general internet presence.

I think its only fair to elaborate a little on how this criticism came about. I was contributing to a debate (not started by me) about one particular English 8th dan aikidoka who was claiming to hold this grade through the aikikai, I had clarified with the yudansha secretary in Japan that said gentleman was not in possession of such a grade and, along with several posts on this and other aspects of the discussion; was making that point.

During the debate I was asked what my own grade was and, in hindsight, I should have simply presented that information but, I stuck to my opinions and explained my reasoning, this didn't sit too well for one individual who IMO since has an issue with me.

Only very recently in an unrelated discussion on aikido and defence against kicks, the same individual used my previous choice of not publicly disclosing my dan grade as the reason why I had (presumably) in his opinion no credibility, additionally claiming that if people reading my opinions were to take me seriously, my grade had bearing on my credibility.

So what are your thoughts ? Should we be automatically waving our virtual belts in the air in an effort to 'prove' some so called credibility? I don't think so personally but, perhaps I'm being a bit naive. I've never claimed to be anything other than what I can demonstrate (that isn't much by comparison to many in our community) and I don't contribute on internet forums to gain status, I am only a junior dan grade in the great scheme of things so why people, - more to the point one individual, would become so preoccupied with my grades is a bit beyond me.

Regards

Janet Rosen
09-18-2006, 12:15 PM
IMHO the person demanding to know is making no more or less a deal about it than the person who makes a point of refusing to say. If it is no big deal, then why not just say your rank and who granted it?

In terms of websites, yeah, I think it IS important. If I have 2 or 3 dojo to chose from, either to join locally or to visit as a tourist, I'd like to know where I'll be taking class w/ a shodan vs taking class w/ a yondan--it might not be the most important thing (I know several great instructors who, being unafiliated, haven't gone "up" in rank in yrs) but it certainly is afactor in the equation.

DonMagee
09-18-2006, 12:21 PM
I dont belive showing your rank proves credibility. Anymore then me beating someone down in a cage shows I'm better then they are. However, it shows you have nothing to hide about your training. Would you train with an instructor who refused to tell you his rank? Or refused to tell you the name of his teacher? I know I wouldn't.

Martial arts need to stay honest. Freedom of information helps fight bad martial arts and keeps the good martial arts held in good reguards. I would instantly be suspect of anyone who would not tell me his rank. The reason? I have far to long talked with guys who trained with a secret master, or other excuses. So I imediately think that someone who refused to tell me their rank or lineage has something to hide. Is that always the case? No, I'm sure some teachers have asked their students not to use their names, or some people really do what privacy. But then I ask, why did the teacher want to not be assocated with his student? Or why voice your opinon if you do not want the microscope on you?

If I said I beat 5 men in MMA events, I should be ready to give information on when, where, and who to anyone who asks. If I give advice on aikido, I better be ready to give my background in aikido to back up how I came to that conclusion (right or wrong).

Having the rank does not make you right automatically. However, it does give someone a good basis to listen to what you have to say? If I wrote a physics paper that said things most scientists thought was false, they would ask what my credentals and proofs were. Being a PHD would help make them take a more serious look at my work. But not having a PHD does not automatically make me wrong.

So take pride in your rank and teacher. It helps us know who, and how long you have learned. It helps us get a grasp on what you may know in relation to others, and how deterimed and serious you take aikido.

Ellis Amdur
09-18-2006, 12:31 PM
Seems to me that NOT informing others of your rank is making a big deal out of it as well. One might have a concern that others will write you off if your official rank is lower than others. So be it. If you can manifest skills and others can't see them BECAUSE of your rank, they won't be very enjoyable students anyway. What rank am I? Me? Nidan.

Best

David Humm
09-18-2006, 12:33 PM
Thank you for your honest opinions, I appreciate them.

Don't get me wrong though, the only place I really feel strongly about this issue is in relation to the internet. Anyone wishing to join the dojo or train with us as guests only has to ask and we freely and openly provide that information, indeed I have certification available at the dojo for such instances.

It is purely because of the situation with regards to frauds and bullshiters on the internet that I consider my 'credentials' from want of a better descriptive, to be a bit guarded, that said there's no secret to which organisation I belong too or, who my shidoin is..

United Kingdom Aikikai and Mr. Keith Hayward respectively.

I guess I am a bit defensive about things like grades but then what does it all matter at the end of the day?

I'm a nidan BTW. Nothing spectacular about that.

wayneth
09-18-2006, 12:36 PM
Hi Dave
I understand your argument, and see your point 100 %
I personally don't think that we should be waving our grades about, doesn't matter what grade we are. Sometimes the issuing of peoples grades on these sites is inevitable, but people wishes to not broadcast their grade should be their own decision. And shouldn't be "bullied" into telling people what they hold and what they do not hold. Grade shouldn't be an issue on things like these sites, since experience doesn't show in your grade.
I personally can't see why he has something against you because you did not tell him your grade, just because you were trying to sustain the credability of British Aikido (I might be wrong with that one?).
I think you standing to your ground is a very good thing, since it is what you believe in.
I think that it is important that we place a strong emphasis onto what we believe in and no one should "bully" you to get something out of you. Very big for an apparent Aikidoka.
Wayne

David Humm
09-18-2006, 12:48 PM
Hi Wayne..

I can see both sides to this and arguments for and against are naturally very valid; It's fair to say that in one or two quarters of the UK's aikido community, my opinions on the state of a few aikidoka's claims to 8th dan and titles such as Shihan and Koyshi et al are, fairly well lamented however; I don't think this stance - call it political, moral [whatever] has any bearing upon the grade I might hold, surely anyone can ask a question without the prerequisite of holding a dan grade (or indeed a senior one to boot) to justify the legitimacy of the enquiry ?

As far as I'm concerned what we do here on forums such as these isn't aikido, its discussion about aikido, we don't hold grades in 'discussion aikido' and we certainly don't need a yudansha grade to hold an opinion - or indeed express it.

dps
09-18-2006, 12:52 PM
I think that if you are going to comment on Aikido on forums on the Internet you need to provide some point of reference of your knowledge and experience. Your rank, sensies, and affiliations go a long way toward that end and is probably the easiest way to do that. I agree with you that rank does not necessarily mean you know what you are talking about, but rank does show us that at least you are practicing Aikido and what you say will back up your knowledge and experience.

David

DonMagee
09-18-2006, 01:15 PM
I think that if you are going to comment on Aikido on forums on the Internet you need to provide some point of reference of your knowledge and experience. Your rank, sensies, and affiliations go a long way toward that end and is probably the easiest way to do that. I agree with you that rank does not necessarily mean you know what you are talking about, but rank does show us that at least you are practicing Aikido and what you say will back up your knowledge and experience.

David


It is true, on the internet we have no way of proving any one has any skill or knowedge at all. We could all be blowing smoke. Lineage and rank go a long way to helping establish creditiblity. If I know your teacher is a respected lineage with good skill, and you hold a dan rank in that lineage, I can make a good assumption on your skill level by comparing you to the skill level of other dan ranks in your lineage as well as your instructor. I can also make conciderations by comparing you to other non-affilated members of the same rank. Knowing lineage by itself does not help build perspective because even though we may know your teacher is a great aikidoka, we have no way of knowing you are a good student. Even if we have both rank and lineage, we still have no way to pin point your level of skill to a pin point. Perhaps you are a very insightful 2nd kyu, or a very idiotic 5th dan who only got that rank due to politics. However, this bench mark is better than no benchmark at all. Although obviously the only real benchmark is personal interaction (even video evidence is flawed when trying to demonstrate skill).

David Humm
09-18-2006, 01:15 PM
... but rank does show us that at least you are practicing Aikido and what you say will back up your knowledge and experience.Whilst I can fully see what you're saying, I've have to disagree slightly.

Here's a couple of numbers for you.

I've studied continuously for coming up to my 19th year but, I've only ever taken 3 gradings because of several political factors between the instructors of the club I used to train in which, prevented me and many other students from taking examinations. I live in a small area where the highest yudansha is sandan and the nearest rokudan is well over 100 miles away.

Personally, I feel the number of years one has trained is by far the more important figure than how many yudansha certificates one might hold.

Indeed I study MSR Iaido and, because up to this year, my study has always been an additional compliment to aikido, I've never bothered taking a grade in that art but, I've been using nihonto pretty much as often as I do aikido, in excess of the last 10 years, so. I don't agree that one's grade provides a pathway to securing someone else's confidence in opinions expressed. Respectfully I feel those people needing the 'security' of knowing what grade someone holds, for their opinion to have credibility are, missing something important.

I am speaking specifically about interaction such as this through internet forums and not, through direct contact in a dojo environment.

Kind regards and again thank you to everyone thus far for your contribution

dps
09-18-2006, 01:42 PM
I understand.
What it really boils down to is having the faith that what you are telling me is true. If you post enough than I can judge by what you are saying if you have experience and knowledge. If as in your example you hold no rank in a martial art but have practice for a long time then your posts will show what you know . However it is a good starting point to know if you have a rank or not, how long have you practiced, what style and your sensei but not, necessary.

Respectfully,
David

DonMagee
09-18-2006, 01:45 PM
When I say this I mean absolutely no disrespect and by no means am I saying this is your case. One has to wonder how seriously a person takes their studies if they do not strive to take increase their rank. Rank was designed for the sole purpose of allowing us a benchmark in skill. What other purpose does rank serve but to allow us to see how we relate to others on the path. If I meet a blue belt in BJJ, I exactly what to expect from him. If I meet a shodan in aikido, I have a perty good idea where he should be in his training. This is not abosolute, but it is a benchmark, and I can't help but think it was designed for that purpose.

The internet is just means of conversation between many people. In order to have a conversation with any mean we need to be able to know where people's beleifs are coming from.

Let me pose this question.

You see a post on this forum from a person who identifys themselves as a 5th kyu in aikido. They beleive aikido is a waste of time for self defense and is not feasable to spend time studing it for self defense.

How would you respond?

Now, how would you respond if the person was a 8th dan in the aikikai and was a student of O'Sensei or a student of one of his direct students?

Now after you respond to the first person, how would you respond if you found he had been studing for 25 years?

odudog
09-18-2006, 01:45 PM
If you don't want to give out that type of information on the net then don't. If they have a problem with that then that is their problem. You can still contribute your opinion and let it be their job to see if what you had stated makes any sense. Just because a person is of high rank doesn't mean that their statement is the truth.

I've been in a seminar where a Sensei was telling me that the way I was doing a technique on him doesn't work and therefore I should do it his way. The technique that I was doing in fact does work because one of my instructors performed it on me. I however am just poor at doing it. We had a discussion about it and I finally told him that I am not a black-belt and I am not the person to be discussing the ins and outs of the technique and all the philosophy that goes behind it. He understood my point and we went on to other things. No harm no foul.

On another board, a guy emailed my first Aikido instructor for the name of style that he teaches. This guy was trying to find out if the style and Sensei was legitimate. The Sensei emailed him back to not worry about the style name that he teaches and to just train. The guy posted this on the net to find out if anyone else have ever heard of the Sensei. Well obviously I do and I know that the Sensei is good and extremely high ranked in various arts in addition to Aikido. I could have just posted on the net the answer to the guys question, however, if the Sensei didn't want to give the answer directly then who am I go and disregard his wishes.

SmilingNage
09-18-2006, 01:55 PM
I wasnt aware that rank was needed to voice an opinion. All rank is good for is determining who gets to throw 1 st in a line. Rank can mean many things, skill level, devotion to sensei, or flat out time put in, or stench(poor play on words, even poorer attempt at humor. sorry so sorry.)
If rank were needed to express opinions then I should have gagged along time ago. Making alot of people very happy. Next time anyone asks your rank tell 'em to grab your wrist and find out.

Ron Tisdale
09-18-2006, 02:03 PM
I've been away for a while, so am just getting to read this. I'll reply without reading the other responses; hope no one minds.

There is no (I'll make it more clear) NO reason why you must post your yudansha ranking on the net. If your words don't garner credibility on their own, the rank really doesn't add much. I tend to follow the same practice you described...I'll let people know that I am a yudansha, and to which organization I belong, and leave it at that. If it's not good enough for them, tough. Ignore them. This is not to say that people who believe / behave differently are horrible egotistical ogres...they just have a difference of opinion.

Other people can read your words and decide for themselves if they have power or not.

Best,
Ron

David Humm
09-18-2006, 02:25 PM
When I say this I mean absolutely no disrespect and by no means am I saying this is your case. One has to wonder how seriously a person takes their studies if they do not strive to take increase their rank. Firstly I do not take offence to your comments, they are quite legitimate, I would answer your question with one of my own, how serious do you think I've been over the last 18.5 years to have continued to train despite all the political bullshit which saw several very good students fall by the way-side because those, who were at the time, responsible for the development of the club, let their ego get in the way of other people's development ?

As an individual, I travelled an 80 mile round trip to study twice a week with a chap further down the east cost which eventually resulted in my present grade and membership of the UKA, so; I still stand by my sentiments, dedication and seriousness have no direct relationship to grade held. Indeed I could go train with several claimed hachidan in the UK and may be even get graded to godan or something more on par or associated with the length of time I've been training but, in reality, I doubt I'd learn any more than I did from the shodan at the time, running the club 80 miles away from me.

For me, its what we do on the mat which pretty much quantifies what we know (and what we don't). Of course expression of opinion has its way of lending to people's judgement of what others might know but, I'm not so trusting that I'm going to take what some stranger say's to me on an internet forum as absolute. However; to answer your question, I would treat each individual with the same level of courtesy regardless of their expressed opinion. Kyu or Dan both individuals deserve the same level of personal respect and I don't see the level of one's menjo as automatically requiring higher levels of respect or admiration.

If the Doshu himself were to frequent this forum (or this thread) I truly, honestly would not treat him with any difference than you or the next person who takes the time to give their time to this discussion - aren't we all equal at the end of the day ?
...Rank was designed for the sole purpose of allowing us a benchmark in skill. What other purpose does rank serve but to allow us to see how we relate to others on the path. If I meet a blue belt in BJJ, I exactly what to expect from him. If I meet a shodan in aikido, I have a pretty good idea where he should be in his training. This is not absolute, but it is a benchmark, and I can't help but think it was designed for that purpose. Ok I do see what your suggesting however, I know from personal experiences of training with almost all of the aikido organisations just here in the UK alone, that to assume anything with relation to the grade of a person stood before me is very often a lesson in futility. Now I don't want this discussion to drift or indeed degrade in to a bashing session of one organisation vs. another etc but. If you tell me you're a rokudan in [whatever style] aikido, I honestly have no perception of what you had to learn/test to gain that rank, and, neither do you of me. I do of course know all too well what a rokudan in the organisation I belong too has to achieve but that's not a benchmark I can apply to any other rokudan until I've physically trained with them....The internet is just means of conversation between many people. In order to have a conversation with any mean we need to be able to know where people's beliefs are coming from.Agreed however, why does the disclosure of a rank provide any real legitimacy to discussions over a fairly static media? It doesn't, its all perceived by those who IMO need that security.

Example : You already know that I've trained for the largest part of 20 years, I'm a member of an aikikai affiliated organisation and, my shidoin is a rokudan legitimised by hombu dojo, what more information do you honestly really need to know about me as a person for my opinions or expressions on aikido to be worth reading ? I would suggest it would be continued dialogue, and not for the few seconds it takes to type what grade I have.

Kind regards

DonMagee
09-18-2006, 02:43 PM
I guess in my mind every little piece of information helps me. It tells me something about the person I'm talking to. Like I said, it is not an exact benchmark. I can't say 100% that any rank makes you insightful or have special privliges.

One thing I use rank for is to determine how involved in the process a person is. If a person is over a 3rd black in judo, it tells me he is involved or wants to be involved with the political development and future of judo. He is trying to improve his art. If he is a 4th kyu in judo with 20 years exp, it tells me other things, real or imagined.

In a pervious example, someone's instructor would not give his style or rank over email. I would assume that this ment the instructor had something to hide. If I was looking for an instructor, I would not concider this instructor. I would not recomend this instructor. Even if this instructor was the best instructor in the world. This is because I have no way to know this instructor is the best instructor in the world.

To make an informed decision, you need all information you can gather about the subject. I have your years in aikido, your affilation, your teachers rank, and the intelligence and meaning of your written word. This helps me build a good picture of you, however each piece of information I get helps build a better picture. Your rank, previous arts studied and their ranks, a picture of you, video of your techinque, and physical interaction would all build a more complete picture.

For example, one common retort people like to make is that you need to train longer to understand something. If you know someone has 30 years of training, can you still use this excuse? Perhaps you can if he is a 2nd kyu, but it might ring false if he is a 7th dan.

I would like to point out that I make this statement when I myself have very little aikido training. While I have spent over a decade in the martial arts, I have only spent a little under 2 years studing aikido with the last 6 months really a on/off again relationship. I never used to put any stock into rank. Now, I see that rank is a useful tool to proving knowedge, flawed as it may be. My current persuit is to acheive rank in judo and bjj. I want to one day be a teacher, and this is not possible without rank. Face to face or on the internet, rank can tell me something about you, even if it is trival. As long as I remember to take it into context.

And besides, I already know so many other things about you, what is the big deal about giving your rank?

Of course I personally almost never ask for rank, except for when interviewing potential teachers.

ChrisMoses
09-18-2006, 02:53 PM
Whilst I don't share that opinion I wondered what you guys feel, on my dojo homepage I don't actually list the grades of either myself or my fellow yudansha instructors, the only person listed with rank is our sensei who is an aikikai shidoin. My own personal opinion with regards to rank is that waaay too much emphasis is placed upon it in the greater picture, IMHO people get too pre-occupied with what it is supposed to represent and, with the differences which exist between individuals never mind those between organisations. I feel that grades and examinations are very personal experiences which only really relate to the student, the instructor and the organisation through which they are legitimised. As such I don't use the grade I hold to "sell" either myself or the club when advertising for membership or through general internet presence.

I think its only fair to elaborate a little on how this criticism came about. I was contributing to a debate (not started by me) about one particular English 8th dan aikidoka who was claiming to hold this grade through the aikikai, I had clarified with the yudansha secretary in Japan that said gentleman was not in possession of such a grade and, along with several posts on this and other aspects of the discussion; was making that point.

During the debate I was asked what my own grade was and, in hindsight, I should have simply presented that information but, I stuck to my opinions and explained my reasoning, this didn't sit too well for one individual who IMO since has an issue with me.

[snip]

So what are your thoughts ? Should we be automatically waving our virtual belts in the air in an effort to 'prove' some so called credibility? I don't think so personally but, perhaps I'm being a bit naive. I've never claimed to be anything other than what I can demonstrate (that isn't much by comparison to many in our community) and I don't contribute on internet forums to gain status, I am only a junior dan grade in the great scheme of things so why people, - more to the point one individual, would become so preoccupied with my grades is a bit beyond me.

Regards

I think you kind of answered your own question here a bit in that by not being willing to share your rank, you kind of turned it into a big deal (particularly since you were discussing someone else's claimed rank). I think it's possible to be open about your ranks/licenses without using them to sell yourself or your dojo.

Personally I find that I use organizational and rank information to gain context about other forumites who I have never actually trained with. If I know they hold X rank from Y and trained with Z for 10 years then I have a better sense for how they're using terms and what their experiences may have had. I don't think it's good way to determine absolute authority on a subject, but it can help to demonstrate that you have some kind of experience that would make give some weight to your comments. To go too far out of ones way to keep that kind of information private kind of reminds me of the yudansha who make a big deal about how they still wear a whitebelt.

Ron Tisdale
09-18-2006, 02:55 PM
In a pervious example, someone's instructor would not give his style or rank over email. I would assume that this ment the instructor had something to hide.

Why bother making an assumption? Why not toddle on over there and check him out for yourself?

If I was looking for an instructor, I would not concider this instructor. I would not recomend this instructor. Even if this instructor was the best instructor in the world. This is because I have no way to know this instructor is the best instructor in the world.

Again, sure you can find out if they are any good. Just toddle on down the road and check it out.

If an instructor doesn't give out rank on the internet, but is upfront on issues of rank and lineage in person, I have no problems with them. If they don't give that information out in person...then I might have a serious issue with training there.

If they give out their rank on the internet, but won't say who gave them that rank...that I would have an issue with.

Best,
Ron

David Orange
09-18-2006, 02:56 PM
I was contributing to a debate (not started by me) about one particular English 8th dan aikidoka who was claiming to hold this grade through the aikikai, I had clarified with the yudansha secretary in Japan that said gentleman was not in possession of such a grade and, along with several posts on this and other aspects of the discussion; was making that point.

During the debate I was asked what my own grade was and, in hindsight, I should have simply presented that information

Dave,

I think your own statement sums up the situation. If you comment on someone else's rank, then it's only natural to state your own.

I personally find that rank, even within a single organization, is no reliable measure of skill. My first teachers all got their shodan with less than two years of training. I was right behind them, but our curriculum was vastly expanded and I was required to train very hard for seven years before getting shodan in the same organization. Because of things like this, my thinking was heavily influenced by the writings of David Lynch, who, over ten years ago proposed doing entirely away with the dan system.

The dan system really has universal meaning only within judo, where it was originally established and where everyone is on the same page and dealing with the same clearly established principles. When the dan system was transferred to karate and aikido, only the outward forms came with it--the levels of 1-10. There's nothing in karate that really relates to the meanings judo associates with a second dan or a fifth dan. And there's very little in aikido that relates, so these arts had to develop their own logic of what each level means. And there are so many organizations in karate and aikido, each with different purposes, each founded by people of such varying skill, that the ranks have no universal meaning at all. And for that reason, I think Lynch was right to call for abandoning the dankai in aikido.

However, if we are in a dankai and someone asks our dan, it's only natural to give it, especially if we have commented on someone else's dan rank.

And since I've thrown in my two cents, I guess I'll have to say that I was ranked nidan. My experience? 33 years, including five in Japan, 21 months as uchi deshi in Japan to a judan. He wanted to test me for higher rank and I declined for personal reasons. I later left the dankai and promoted myself to "reidan" or "zero degree" for philosophical reasons, but when asked, I give the dan I last held in the dankai. Not that it matters. We'll all be dead eventually and St. Peter is not going to ask.

Best wishes.

David

Ron Tisdale
09-18-2006, 02:58 PM
Which brings up a good point...what rank IS St. Peter???

Best,
Ron

David Humm
09-18-2006, 03:04 PM
Hi Don,

Thanks for your continued discussion :)

I guess in my mind every little piece of information helps me. It tells me something about the person I'm talking to. Like I said, it is not an exact benchmark. I can't say 100% that any rank makes you insightful or have special privliges.Ok, fair comment, I wouldn't argue.

quote]One thing I use rank for is to determine how involved in the process a person is.... // ..... it tells me other things, real or imagined.[/quote]Right this is where you and I differ in our opinions, I try not to judge people based on where we're doing right now. IMO if we being to form biased opinions based upon what we consider to be OUR own benchmark, I feel we're running the risk of being quite unfair to people we've never actually met, basically what I'm saying is take people on 'face' value until they do, or in our case write something with pretty much illustrates their true colours.

In a pervious example, someone's instructor would not give his style or rank over email. I would assume that this ment the instructor had something to hide. If I was looking for an instructor, I would not concider this instructor. I would not recomend this instructor. Even if this instructor was the best instructor in the world. This is because I have no way to know this instructor is the best instructor in the world.and... I tend to agree with you but, lets make a clear differentiation here; I'm not talking about and entire refusal to disclose important/relevant information especially when its in connection to a potential new student or it is directly related to the running of the dojo I help to maintain; I am simply asking if our dan grades (or any grade) should form part of the information needed to be considered credible in what we present about.. in this case Aikido.

...To make an informed decision, you need all information you can gather about the subject. I have your years in aikido, your affiliation, your teachers rank, and the intelligence and meaning of your written word. This helps me build a good picture of you, however each piece of information I get helps build a better picture. Your rank, previous arts studied and their ranks, a picture of you, video of your techinque, and physical interaction would all build a more complete picture.Yup I again empathise in what your driving at and, I'd be a liar if I didn't pretty much think in some similar way however; I've been a member of this forum since 2001, I'm a member of two other MA related sites and I've yet to actually ask another member what their rank is in order to quantify their opinions with any more regard.. It just simply doesn't enter my head to do so.

For example, one common retort people like to make is that you need to train longer to understand something. If you know someone has 30 years of training, can you still use this excuse? Perhaps you can if he is a 2nd kyu, but it might ring false if he is a 7th dan.well I suppose I can't argue with that point because it pretty much academic however, if the 7th dan is talking a load of crap who's to actually say they really do have those 30 years? who's saying they actually have that 7th dan?

...But, in a dojo environment where the 2nd kyu and 7th dan are on the same mat its very easy to see who has what.. And if there's clearly a miss-match between who’s claiming what, I think the question of rank and all the other paraphernalia is quite legitimate; would you agree ?

Kind regards as always

DonMagee
09-18-2006, 03:05 PM
Why bother making an assumption? Why not toddle on over there and check him out for yourself?



Again, sure you can find out if they are any good. Just toddle on down the road and check it out.

If an instructor doesn't give out rank on the internet, but is upfront on issues of rank and lineage in person, I have no problems with them. If they don't give that information out in person...then I might have a serious issue with training there.

If they give out their rank on the internet, but won't say who gave them that rank...that I would have an issue with.

Best,
Ron

If they won't tell me their rank by internet, is phone ok? How about written letter? Why does it have to be in person?

To me the internet is a form of communication. I use it like a phone, postal mail, store front, dictionary, etc. I have precious little time in my life to drive to a school to get info which may be less than satisfactory. I guess my question is, what is so different about the internet? I simply can't see how giving rank on the internet is different then giving rank in person? I can only come up with two reasons.
1) They don't want to field questions from people they may never have physical contact with. If this is the case, I would suggest not having an internet presence.
2) They have something to hide. To me saying "I dont give that information out on the internet" is the same as saying "i was sworn to secrecy when I learned the ancient art of ninja in the mountains of china".

For such a simple thing to answer, and for something so many people profess tells us nothing about their skill, they are very hesitant to give it out. Is it really that private and secret? Are you that afraid it will change a persons persepctive about you? If that is the case, they we have just proven its imprtantance. Otherwise we have proven people are too lazy to type 4th dan.

David Humm
09-18-2006, 03:28 PM
Dave,

I think your own statement sums up the situation. If you comment on someone else's rank, then it's only natural to state your own.

Hi David, I always enjoy reading you posts mate.. very informative.. Not that I'm suggesting everyone else's aren't worth reading.. Unless of course they hold 6th dan or above lol ;)

With regards to questioning someone else's grade from a fraudulent perspective and then being asked to disclose one's own grade. I don't see how that has any bearing on the question being posed to the suspected fraud, indeed I have seen this line of smoke-screening before where the Dai-soke-wannabie-ejjit 10th dan uses the time old tradition of "who are you to question me?... you're only a shodan (or whatever)" .. as if the person doing the questioning actually need an equivalent rank to be seen as able to do the very questioning. Again, this comes back to the issue of credibility based pretty much on what rank a person holds. The reality of course is that credibility stems from factual data.

I've done a hell of a lot of research in to the origins of British aikido. Ok so the study of aikido brought me to do the research however, do I need a dan grade to interview the people involved in aikido in the early 1950's (not thus far) and I don't need said grade to question the individuals who make absurd claims. (according to the yes !!) I think facts speak for themselves and don't need a dan grade to make them all the more credible.

Kind regards

mriehle
09-18-2006, 03:31 PM
Rank is a benchmark. Like any benchmark, it's value and/or accuracy is open to debate. It is, nonetheless, a benchmark.

Being ranked is not necessary to express an opinion. But expressing an opinion and expecting it to be respected are different. If you are unranked, your opinion will be judged in that context, like it or not. If your rank is suspect, your opinion is likely to be less well regarded, IME, than if you are simply unranked. If your rank is respected, your opinion is likely to be as well.

Being unwilling to disclose your rank makes your claims of rank suspect. It's a perception thing. It raises the question in some peoples' minds what your motive for not being forthcoming could be. Are you, perhaps, lying? It doesn't matter whether you are or not, the question is raised.

As for the relative value of rank, well, it depends. It depends on a lot of factors besides the raw rank. But that doesn't (or shouldn't) devalue rank itself overall. A shodan is a shodan. Maybe you don't respect a shodan for organization Foo, but you do from organization Fum. It's still a shodan.

The person hiding behind the "rank doesn't matter" mantra is making a bigger deal of rank than the person who just says, "I'm a nidan" and considers it a point of reference. It's just as much of a "big deal" as the guy who says, "Because I am nidan you must listen to all I say and worship me.".

Ron Tisdale
09-18-2006, 03:38 PM
I can come up with other reasons...for one:

They consider their rank an issue between themselves, their teacher, and their students. Not for casual perusal and critism by outsiders. (seems a little cult-like, but not entirely unreasonble)

If they are willing to discuss these issue in person, they obviously don't have anything to hide...they may simply not want a semi-permanent record in the bit bucket.

And I would have to question the seriousness of any student who can't take the time to drop in, talk to the instructors in person, try out a class on the mat, etc. If you can't do that once, what would make me think they could train for any reasonable length of time? But I think phone or letter would be fine. Hey, I'd even go for email...it's still internet, but it's to one person.

So, if they don't have a website, but they do post, does this count as an "internet presense"?

Personally I don't teach...so I have no reason to care if someone would like to know my rank. They can go with years of experience, mudansha / yudansha, who my teacher is, etc. Now, IF I taught, I would post my rank IF I had a website. But especially for non-teachers, I see no reason what so ever for the rank issue to be a problem. And the context of the original post was (I believe) to validate what someone says online...not to select a teacher.

All that said, I can think of one instance where I definately asked the rank question online...I'm sure some of you remember our dear Mr. Bruce B. I must admit...that interaction pretty much drove me to my limits. And I'm not proud of it.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
09-18-2006, 03:47 PM
Are you, perhaps, lying?

If you don't say what your rank is, what exactly can you be lying about?

Best,
Ron

mriehle
09-18-2006, 04:03 PM
If you don't say what your rank is, what exactly can you be lying about?

Your knowledge of the subject. Claiming authority where you have none.

Really, I think it can be summed up like this:

Not volunteering your rank should not be considered significant in any way. Not volunteering information is often (though not always) a Good Policy, IMO. Sometimes the act of volunteering information can come across as the arrogant I-have-this-rank-so-you-must-listen-to-me sort of thing. It shouldn't, really, but sometimes it can.

Refusing to answer the question for something as basic as rank and/or qualifications seems evasive and raises questions that don't really need to be raised.

That being said, there are times when the question should be asked and times when it shouldn't. Really, the only time the question is warranted is when someone is claiming some sort of authority. In that case, it's valid to ask where they derive their claimed authority from. But simply challenging someone to be argumentative is at least as bad as the person who is evasive about answering such a question.

David Orange
09-18-2006, 04:03 PM
I've been a member of this forum since 2001, I'm a member of two other MA related sites and I've yet to actually ask another member what their rank is in order to quantify their opinions with any more regard.

I have asked people how long they have trained, where and with whom. I haven't considered rank to be a big deal. One of the greatest martial artists I've ever known told me he was a sandan in judo. He was about 70 years old and had been training since 1918, as I understood the stats. I never saw anyone stand up against him. He made them all fly.

On the other hand, if someone is coming over with lots of big opinions that just don't ring right, and then you find out they've gotten all their knowledge from books, that has to influence your idea of what they say.

Best wishes.

David

David Orange
09-18-2006, 04:04 PM
Which brings up a good point...what rank IS St. Peter???

If I should ever meet him, I doubt I will remember to ask that. :)

David

David Humm
09-18-2006, 04:12 PM
If you don't say what your rank is, what exactly can you be lying about?

Best,
Ron!!!!!!! EXACTLY !!!!!!!

I worked as a Prison Officer within Cat A (Maximum Security) Prisons, yet, I've never been asked to quantify those experiences with academic qualifications, just to add credibility to the perception of my statements. Indeed it was working in this environment which lead me to study aikido in the first place.

I've served in the armed forces (Both British Army and Royal Air Force) during domestic and foreign theatre of operations, I've never disclosed or indeed been asked my rank on discharge despite discussing aspects of my experiences relating to martial arts. Why ? Because I guess the people I communicated with have no conception of what rank means in relation to this service, it means little to them, my opinions however remained the same. Its just people's own perceptions of which they then try to apply to other people.

All in all I think we place tooo much emphasis on grade and what its supposed to represent. That is of course just my opinion.

David Orange
09-18-2006, 04:12 PM
Hi David, I always enjoy reading you posts mate..

Thanks, Dave. Same here.

With regards to questioning someone else's grade from a fraudulent perspective and then being asked to disclose one's own grade. I don't see how that has any bearing on the question being posed to the suspected fraud, indeed I have seen this line of smoke-screening before where the Dai-soke-wannabie-ejjit 10th dan uses the time old tradition of "who are you to question me?... you're only a shodan (or whatever)"

I think we've all seen that at some time or other. But you can then say, "Well, I did earn it. I do have that much of a foundation and I know enough about the art to know which questions to ask and what the answers mean when I hear them."

The reality of course is that credibility stems from factual data.

Yeah. The rank can mean very, very little. And it can come off like cutting cards. "Oh? You're hachidan? Well I am NIDAN!" Doesn't get you very far. And even if you try to make it more humble, as above, the lofty master can twist it around, so it does become pointless. And to me, rank is pointless, but as long as the dankai exists it will always factor in. It is a shame. The Chinese seem to get along fine without one.

Best to you,

David

David Humm
09-18-2006, 04:21 PM
..as long as the dankai exists it will always factor in. The really daft thing is Dave, the people who criticised me for not disclosing my grade were pointed to sources on the internet where my grade is listed and, given the name and email address of my Shidoin for him to verify my grade to them directly. Neither of them followed that up to my knowledge. :rolleyes:

David Orange
09-18-2006, 04:43 PM
The really daft thing is Dave, the people who criticised me for not disclosing my grade were pointed to sources on the internet where my grade is listed and, given the name and email address of my Shidoin for him to verify my grade to them directly. Neither of them followed that up to my knowledge. :rolleyes:

I guess if someone doesn't want to respect you, they just won't, no matter what.

Best to you.

David

gdandscompserv
09-18-2006, 07:34 PM
As far as I'm concerned what we do here on forums such as these isn't aikido, its discussion about aikido, we don't hold grades in 'discussion aikido' and we certainly don't need a yudansha grade to hold an opinion - or indeed express it.
I am in agreement with this. "Dicussion aikido" is very different from aikido.

Peter Goldsbury
09-18-2006, 09:32 PM
Hello Dave,

I have just read through this thread.

I agree with your remarks in your first post about too much being made of rank in aikido, but I also agree that you were wrong not to disclose your own rank when asked. I agree with Ellis that by not doing so, you made a bigger deal than perhaps you intended to.

I also have some opinions about UK 8th dan aikidouka, especially those who claim (falsely) that these ranks are Aikikai ranks.

As for posting one's rank on the dojo website, I think the issue depends partly on the information culture in which one is placed.

The Aikikai lists all the ranks of those who instruct in the Hombu Dojo, even those who are not shihan. In the last few years the Aikikai has come to see the importance of the Internet as an essential component of the information culture here in Japan.

With my own dojo in Hiroshima, my own rank (& brief training history) and those of my instructor colleagues are posted clearly in English and Japanese. I think this is important especially for prospective Japanese students who are considering training here, (though, in fact, most of these students come because they have heard about the dojo by word of mouth).

With your own dojo, the fact that your chief instructor is Keith Hayward is enough for me, since I know him and used to train with him when I was in the UK. For others, who do not know him, the link with the UKA might be important. For those who have never heard of the UKA, however, not to list your rank might be seen as a problem.

Best wishes,

David Humm
09-19-2006, 01:27 AM
Hello Peter, always good to chat to you.

Hello Dave,

I have just read through this thread.

I agree with your remarks in your first post about too much being made of rank in aikido, but I also agree that you were wrong not to disclose your own rank when asked. I agree with Ellis that by not doing so, you made a bigger deal than perhaps you intended to.And I'm tending to agree with you and others who've suggested the same. I guess I need to compromise a little on the issue of disclosure of grade in relation to internet discussions.I also have some opinions about UK 8th dan aikidouka, especially those who claim (falsely) that these ranks are Aikikai ranks.I would like to read your thoughts on this subject but perhaps this is topic for another time and place.

..//..

With your own dojo, the fact that your chief instructor is Keith Hayward is enough for me, since I know him and used to train with him when I was in the UK. For others, who do not know him, the link with the UKA might be important. For those who have never heard of the UKA, however, not to list your rank might be seen as a problem.Like your good self most of the students who train with us have come to know about the dojo though word of mouth (and a little advertising on local press) Mr. Hayward is our instructor and thus his rank is the one which is IMO most important, although I may teach in the dojo he is after all the senior and I'm the junior.

All that said, this thread has been very interesting and given me several things to consider with regards to my own opinions on this subject, may I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their contributions.

Kind regards to all.

Bridge
09-19-2006, 03:21 AM
Just a lowly Aikikai 4th kyu here!

Just my opinion, but you don't have to say what grade you are on these forums and I don't think it necessary. After witnessing some of my fellow karateka from the same association as me posting up on a certain popular website, I have learnt that you can tell who the experienced ones are. They are generally the ones who are less sure of themselves and are more willing to discuss an idea openly.

You can also recognise the ones who don't really know that much as they are the ones being argumentative just for the sake of argument and it doesn't matter what grade they are.

In fact it's probably better not to say what your grade and association is, especially if you have a potentially embarassing opinion that you'd like to push. I may well be embarassing my Sensei as I type!

Peter Goldsbury
09-19-2006, 03:34 AM
Just a lowly Aikikai 4th kyu here!

Just my opinion, but you don't have to say what grade you are on these forums and I don't think it necessary. After witnessing some of my fellow karateka from the same association as me posting up on a certain popular website, I have learnt that you can tell who the experienced ones are. They are generally the ones who are less sure of themselves and are more willing to discuss an idea openly.

You can also recognise the ones who don't really know that much as they are the ones being argumentative just for the sake of argument and it doesn't matter what grade they are.

In fact it's probably better not to say what your grade and association is, especially if you have a potentially embarassing opinion that you'd like to push. I may well be embarassing my Sensei as I type!

Hello,

If your teacher does not agree with your opinion here, well, all he/she has to do is to come on here and say so, or, alternatively, contact you privately. I agree that it is not necessary to give your rank or organization. However, the Internet being what it is, if you give your real name, it is relatively easy to find both. I think that in the UK aikido world, everybody knows who Dave Humm is. Even I do and I do not live there.

Best wishes,

David Humm
09-19-2006, 05:03 AM
...However, the Internet being what it is, if you give your real name, it is relatively easy to find both. I think that in the UK aikido world, everybody knows who Dave Humm is. Even I do and I do not live there. (LOL) The main reason why I'm fairly well known, in the UK at least, is because I've been very outspoken in the past about the state of some quarters of aikido in the UK. Its never been my intention to be "well known" for any particular reason however; I don't suffer liars particularly well and through the research I've done regarding British Aikido, I've presently encountered 6 (if my memory serves me correctly) who've laid claims to aikikai certification, trained with people such as Abbe Kenshiro and or Chiba Kazuo Sensei, when they actually haven't and, the obvious embellishment of grades up to and including hachidan, which, are fairly abundant amongst those who seem to want to "keep up with the Jones's"

Of course that's a bed I've made for myself and I'm quite able to live with whatever labels people within our community may want to stick on me as a result. I've spent most of my adult life in one uniform or another and maybe I'm a little too stuck in my ways to tolerate individuals who bullshit to satisfy their ego. Sometimes my non-diplomacy in such matters has rubbed a number of people up the wrong way, C'est la Vie. I guess I'll never be asked to work with the Governing Body ;)

Anyway that's all another story, sorry to have digressed :)

Kind regards

DonMagee
09-19-2006, 07:01 AM
I can come up with other reasons...for one:

They consider their rank an issue between themselves, their teacher, and their students. Not for casual perusal and critism by outsiders. (seems a little cult-like, but not entirely unreasonble)

If they are willing to discuss these issue in person, they obviously don't have anything to hide...they may simply not want a semi-permanent record in the bit bucket.

This last reason doesn't really fly. I don't want a record where someone could find my rank? Sounds like I have something to hide about my rank.


And I would have to question the seriousness of any student who can't take the time to drop in, talk to the instructors in person, try out a class on the mat, etc. If you can't do that once, what would make me think they could train for any reasonable length of time? But I think phone or letter would be fine. Hey, I'd even go for email...it's still internet, but it's to one person.

Who is to say I wouldn't do that, AFTER I establish they are a qualified instructor. See, I've been burned before.


So, if they don't have a website, but they do post, does this count as an "internet presense"?

If you are going to make comments on a subject, you should have no problem verifiying your credentals in said subject. Rank is one of those things that helps verify it.


Personally I don't teach...so I have no reason to care if someone would like to know my rank. They can go with years of experience, mudansha / yudansha, who my teacher is, etc. Now, IF I taught, I would post my rank IF I had a website. But especially for non-teachers, I see no reason what so ever for the rank issue to be a problem. And the context of the original post was (I believe) to validate what someone says online...not to select a teacher.

All that said, I can think of one instance where I definately asked the rank question online...I'm sure some of you remember our dear Mr. Bruce B. I must admit...that interaction pretty much drove me to my limits. And I'm not proud of it.

Best,
Ron


I guess my point is that if you put yourself out there in any reguards you shouldn't be bothered if someone questions your authority on the subject. When I talk on programing forums, if someone asks how I learned my knowedge I tell them. I dont say, well I trained with professor X at blah college, but I'm not going to tell you my major. It's just silly and arrogant. It's like saying "I am above rank". I willing tell anyone who asks about my history and qualifications to talk about computer programming. Martial arts to me are the same thing.

I'm not saying we should be forced to post rank. I simply think it is ridiculous to refuse to give it.

Can anyone give me an answer about why they care if someone knows their rank? I've seen speculation on why, but I havn't seen anyone say "I dont give out my rank because of X". Is it the fear of being judged? Is it the fear of being inadequate? Is it the fear your rank is not valid?

There are some posts about a guy never being asked about his prison work or military rank. I think I would ask about those if a person was using them to qualify a statement or certify themselves as a teacher. If a guy said "I used to be special forces and we trained this way and this is how I would teach you." I would ask for proof he was special forces, and his qualifcations to teach this special forces training. Again, I've been burned before by liars.

Rank is like any other certification you can get. It is just a paper, it doesn't tell us anything, but at the same time it can be useful in establishing a background on a subject. If I had a linux+ certification. Does this mean I know more about linux then other uncertified admins? No, but it does mean I cared enough about presenting and proving my knowedge and improving others views on my employer to go get this certification. This reveals a lot about my character and background even if it doesn't qualify skill.

David Humm
09-19-2006, 07:41 AM
There are some posts about a guy never being asked about his prison work or military rank. I think I would ask about those if a person was using them to qualify a statement or certify themselves as a teacher. If a guy said "I used to be special forces and we trained this way and this is how I would teach you." I would ask for proof he was special forces, and his qualifcations to teach this special forces training. Again, I've been burned before by liars. .. that would be me.

Army Service No. 24691069 RoD Class 1 Private
2nd Btn Light Infantry Regiment
Demobbed - Winchester

RAF Service No. L2647426 RoD Cpl.
2Sqn RAF Regiment (amongst several other sqns)
Demobbed - RAF Waddington

I enlisted just after I left full time education '82 and demobbed '96 but my military service has no bearing on my martial arts experience or ability to teach them. Unless you want to do rifle bayonet drills :p

The point I was making when I mentioned my previous occupations was, that no one has ever asked me to quantify from a credibility point of view, the things I was stating in relation to my military service. Indeed I've spent more time in the Prison Service employing active control and restraint on individuals than I ever did patrolling the Streets of Northern Ireland, again, no one has seen fit to ask me to quantify aspects on these experiences when they've been discussed in aiki related threads yet; my grade in aikido seems to be such an important thing to some people.

I'd just rather be judged on the legitimacy of what I write and, in the dojo, what I do; rather than be superficially judged on how many dan grades I might have.

Kind regards as always

Ron Tisdale
09-19-2006, 08:11 AM
Nice post Don. But again, your post points to seeking a teacher, and verifiying their credentials. We've already agreed on that point.

Best,
Ron

David Humm
09-19-2006, 09:41 AM
Rank is like any other certification you can get. It is just a paper, it doesn't tell us anything, but at the same time it can be useful in establishing a background on a subject.Superficially yes, but the problem is that one person's perception of another person's "background" can and often will be quite different based upon one's own standards and what they are measured against.

Unfortunately there's no single authority on the subject of aikido thus; one person's perception of a black-belt may well be seen as another person's kyu, the variables on this subject are so vast and often politically charged, that I do not believe that one should consider adding credibility to what someone might express because of the grade they hold. ...If I had a linux+ certification. Does this mean I know more about linux then other uncertified admins? No, but it does mean I cared enough about presenting and proving my knowedge and improving others views on my employer to go get this certification. This reveals a lot about my character and background even if it doesn't qualify skill.Again... only superficially because If I tell you I hold a godan in aikido, a bit of paper does not directly quantify experience, skill or credibility. Google "soke 10th dan" for examples.

I presently work for the second largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world and operate in an environment with several PhD Chemists working on different projects, I dunno about you but, my experience with these people are that they are highly intelligent, often creative thinking people, however; very few of them have common sense to spare. No disrespect intended to PhD holders reading this. Whilst I can't argue with them on the subject of pharmaceutical manufacture, I sometimes wonder how they get to work each day, credibility has many layers.

Remember those numbers I posted earlier in this thread, nearly 20 years continuous training but only holding nidan. Lets compare that to say half the time training but double the grade, which is the more credible ?

Actually neither and both, because one of the many variables involved may be how often a person has trained over their respective periods of time and, with whom they trained; grade is a weak benchmark when applied to a discussion forum. IMO all that matters are the opinions of those expressing them, it matters not if they are rokkyu or rokudan - as far as I'm concerned we're all equals in this world, of course what we do in it as human beings sets us apart, but that has little to do with status.


Kind regards

ChrisMoses
09-19-2006, 11:21 AM
Remember those numbers I posted earlier in this thread, nearly 20 years continuous training but only holding nidan. Lets compare that to say half the time training but double the grade, which is the more credible ?



If you aware of where they'd trained however those two scenarios would give you a LOT of context to understand where they're coming from. On another forum for example, someone not too long ago was talking about their 30 some odd years of martial arts experience, but was failing to mention that they hadn't trained at a dojo for the last 10 of those years, or ever received a dan rank from anyone. Putting those two things together creates a very different spin on their comments than "my 30 years of martial arts experience." I received my shodan pretty quickly, but I trained seven days a week for several years and occasionally two times a day. But that was my only experience with budo. So knowing that would have offered a very good context for my beleifs and comments at that point. Again, I'm not saying that rank and time should be the *only* thing that determines the authority behind someone's posts, but they can factor into how ones comments are read. Remember that trainwreck Mark Tennenhouse over on AJ a while back? A lot of his early comments were in keeping with my own observations, but when his feet hit the mat (or was that his face, George? :D ) he really wasn't in a position to back up his claims.

mriehle
09-19-2006, 12:05 PM
It's important to remember that when you are trying to put a data point in perspective that it may not be correct to discount the data point altogether. It's a data point. There are probably others that matter, but that doesn't negate the value of that one data point.

Also: just because some people put more weight on a data point than it deserves doesn't mean everybody does.

Moreover: refusing to supply the data point can appear to mean that you place more weight on the value of that data point than you do or than it deserves.

This has been said many times, many ways in this same thread.

DonMagee
09-19-2006, 12:11 PM
It's important to remember that when you are trying to put a data point in perspective that it may not be correct to discount the data point altogether. It's a data point. There are probably others that matter, but that doesn't negate the value of that one data point.

Also: just because some people put more weight on a data point than it deserves doesn't mean everybody does.

Moreover: refusing to supply the data point can appear to mean that you place more weight on the value of that data point than you do or than it deserves.

This has been said many times, many ways in this same thread.


Quoted for truth.

jonreading
09-19-2006, 12:21 PM
Writing is not about you, it about communicating with others. You know your rank and you don't believe it is a valuable piece of information, but others don't know your rank and they may believe your rank is a valuable piece of information. You're not writing for your own edification, to are writing to educate others.

The purpose of a website, or any written material, is to provide relevant content to the reader. Without the interaction of a question, you have to guess about what information a reader may be interested. Excluding content essentially says, "this information is not important." Good websites often provide a wealth of knowledge to the reader in a manner easy to navigate.

Post your rank, school of aikido and other information about your training and school. It's good etiquette to provide relevant background information for website readers. Let your readers decide if the content you publish is important or not.

David Humm
09-19-2006, 03:47 PM
Post your rank, school of aikido and other information about your training and school. It's good etiquette to provide relevant background information for website readers. Let your readers decide if the content you publish is important or not.
Hi Jon,

Thanks for your input but, whilst I see the providence of your comments I think you've strayed wide of the point.

Firstly; I don't presume to educate anyone other than those students who attend my classes, I participate in forums such as these for the enjoyment of interacting with a much wider audience.

Whilst I do agree that resources such as Aikiweb and other MA sites are a means of expanding knowledge on a given subject, anyone placing too much emphasis on the legitimacy of OPINION expressed by strangers, is open to being conned. Unless of course you already know and trust the source.. But then the issue of rank for credibility wouldn't be an issue.

With regards to my specific details...

See:

www.eastcoastaikikai.co.uk Take a look at the instructors page, hover your mouse pointer over first two images of the bottom row instructors. Also note that I am not the most senior graded aikidoka in the club.

See:

www.teshinkai.co.uk Take a look at the instructors page, specifically the "Higashi Kaigan Dojo" entry. My details are likewise listed there.

See:

www.ukaonline.co.uk Specifically the entry for Lincolnshire, some of the information on this particular list of UKA dojo is out of date but then I have no control over that as I don't admin it.

You will see that I am not refusing to disclose my grades, lineage or instructor on websites where it has relevance to students or potential students of the dojo in which I teach/train.

I am however questioning if, to participate in forums such as these, we need to be using our 'grades' to provide a means of credibility.

Kind regards

Ron Tisdale
09-19-2006, 03:51 PM
Important distinction, that...

B,
R

Aristeia
09-19-2006, 04:45 PM
haven't read every reply but here's my take. Whatever your views on the value of rank, in internet discussion it is only relevent in specific contexts.

For example, if you were discussing how you have evidence that someone has falsified their rank or their history, your rank is completely irrelevent. It does not address the discussion one way or another. While I may not have refused to answer, thus making it a big deal, I may well have pointed out that the question itself was at best a distraction, and maybe an intentional diversion.

For the most part I agree that rank doesn't have much of a role to play in internet discussion. People are judged on the merits of the arguments they put forward. It's only when people are appealing to experience that rank plays a part.

I've been posting on Aikiweb from time to time for a good few years - and I believe I've only ever mentioned my rank once. In that situation (a grappling vs aikido discussion) it was for a very specific reason- to show I had experience in both sides of the discussion, wheras some others seemed to have strong opinions having only experienced one side of the coin. The point being it was spcifically relevent to the discusssion.

As an aside I'm not sure I agree with "how long have you studied" as a replacement for "what rank are you". There's plenty of people that have studied "for 10 years" - which could mean 10 years dedicated daily practice, but could also mean on and off, once a week, a few months off here and there, never really progressing - but of course "I would have graded but there were political issues/I'm above such things/ didn't want to pay the fee" etc etc.

George S. Ledyard
09-19-2006, 08:47 PM
You got rank, right? It came from somewhere, was given by someone. The rank was meant to mark your relative position in relation to some other folks. That is what rank is, a relative marker. If rank were meant to be secret, your teacher wouldn't have needed to give out rank. If rank were some big secret people wouldn't discuss whether some rank or another was bogus.

Face it, rank is fundamentally public. You didn't need it to know how good you are and your teacher didn't need give it to know that either. You both know. So rank has no function other than for other people. Everybody at this point realizes that it has no fundamental meaning. If one knows a particular teacher, knows other people who have trained with him, then they might have some idea what a given rank might mean but probably not. You have it, just state it. What's the big deal? Do you think that your rank, as whatever Dan, puts you at a disadvantage in a discussion with someone with a 6th Dan? Then explain how being secretive helps that in any way. If you state your opinion and its a good one, folks will simply say, that guy knows a lot for a Shodan (or whatever). If your opinion is stupid no Dan rank can save you. Being secretive just distracts from the discussion and makes people think you have something to hide.

I believe that the last guy who posted quite a bit on Aikido Journal who wouldn't state his rank was Tennenhouse and he didn't turn out well at all. Better to be up front.

xuzen
09-20-2006, 12:57 AM
Me Rank:
YoshiOrge Black Level +1;
Str: +30;
Spd: +18;
Dex: +22;
Int: + 5; Exp: 5,600, next level up 6,400

There, full disclosure.

Boon The YoshiOrge (TM)

David Humm
09-20-2006, 01:15 AM
Me Rank:
YoshiOrge Black Level +1;
Str: +30;
Spd: +18;
Dex: +22;
Int: + 5; Exp: 5,600, next level up 6,400

There, full disclosure.

Boon The YoshiOrge (TM)You've completely lost me with all that?

hapkidoike
09-20-2006, 01:24 AM
Me Rank:
YoshiOrge Black Level +1;
Str: +30;
Spd: +18;
Dex: +22;
Int: + 5; Exp: 5,600, next level up 6,400

There, full disclosure.

Boon The YoshiOrge (TM)

you rock man. Watchout for Bugbears and Gibberlings

happysod
09-20-2006, 03:34 AM
Do you think that your rank, as whatever Dan, puts you at a disadvantage in a discussion with someone with a 6th Dan? Valid point, but we've also had the opposite happen here where the fact that the person was a high rank was somehow seen as allowing them to post their meanderings "in an ever so humble manner" without either censure or any sort of peer review. I think at that time (after a brief flurry of the usual heart felt "more in sorrow than anger" swan songs) the consensus was that rank had no real place in internet discussions unless it was contributory to the point in question.

In my usual long-winded way, getting back to the original thread topic the rank of the person questioning the validity of someones grade wasn't in any way part of the original discussion. In fact I'd go further to say that the request for Dave's rank was merely a smokescreen and (if I was annoyed at the time) I'd probably tell them to stick it and find out themselves in a similar situation.

On the more general issue of "disclosing rank" I'd go along with normal good manners - if the request was reasonable with respect to the discussion, for example if I'd used my rank/experience to bolster my argument, asking for details would be sensible. If the request was out of the blue I'd take it as merely impolite and reply in kind.

For those wishing to know my rank - "I'm no better than I ought to be and certainly worse that I should be" should cover most of my sins of ineptitude.

OT: XU, shouldn't it be dwarfs and numbers greater than 2 that you should avoid?

xuzen
09-20-2006, 03:35 AM
you rock man. Watchout for Bugbears and Gibberlings

Thank you, Sir! Obviously some are more nimble minded than others.

Boon.

David Humm
09-20-2006, 04:39 AM
.... the rank of the person questioning the validity of someones grade wasn't in any way part of the original discussion. In fact I'd go further to say that the request for Dave's rank was merely a smokescreen and (if I was annoyed at the time) I'd probably tell them to stick it and find out themselves in a similar situation.I wasn't so much "annoyed" but reinforcing the point that my grade held no validity in the actual discussion, indeed the facts about the individual in question spoke for themselves (which one of two people two exception too). Indeed on the very same forum where this all occurred earlier this year I got, just yesterday, a PM from one of the individuals stating that in his opinion, my so called "high graded instructor" referring to Keith Hayward hadn't done me so well, given the fact that I was still a junior dan grade after almost 20 years. Just shows that people really are pre-occupied with the grades I have.

Just for clarification on this point;

Life is never as clear cut as it appears and, to stem any 'wonderings' people may have of their own.. Politics and ego played a great part in the first 10 years of my study, both of the only two instructors operating in my region at the time were egotistic and held-back many of their students from natural academic progression, I can only surmise this was because they themselves didn't want other yudansha around them.

I then began training with another instructor (John Andrews) which involved travelling 110 miles (Grimsby to Skegness round trip) twice a week and through this instructor I was introduced to my present organisation (UKA) I remained with that instructor until his work took him away from the area where, I continued to train back in my own home town and eventually within a dojo I jointly helped to establish under Keith Hayward Sensei. I have already discussed my present 'grade' with my instructor and was offered the opportunity to test this year whilst at summer school. I declined this opportunity because I didn't feel I was physically fit enough to do the examination justice, and my fitness issues are born from receiving treatment for a series of stomach ulcers which resulted from watching my mother die from a fairly lengthy cancer illness. Whilst Aikido has been a great source of strength for me, especially during my mother's illness, my priorities were not focused on attaining further yudansha certification.

Anyway sorry to have off-loaded that on you guys but, if people feel that disclosing grades adds credibility to opinions which are expressed in forums such as these, perhaps I should also be adding why I hold a junior grade after almost 20 years of training.

Kind regards as always

jonreading
09-20-2006, 11:52 AM
I understand your question, but my point is still the same. Whether your reader is a current student or a distant user, you publish information for them to consume. You already know your rank, but others don't.

Creditentials will always add ethos to the name. Who would you prefer to perform an operation, a medical doctor, or a BS graduate? Would you rather have a PhD or a BA? Would you rather a lawyer (JD) defend you or a philosophy major? There's a reason we work so dang hard to add initials after our names.

Do I think rank should add to credibility? Absolutely. Do I think a couple of bums that couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag have black belts? Absolutely. Do I think those bums should influence the credibility of a ranking system? Absolutely not. Rank is designed to provide a general backround instantly, giving the consumer additional historical knowledge about the individual. It's not the systems's fault that people screwed it up. When I see, "MD," I instantly assume the individual has the training and knowledge to care for my body. From that historical background, I can make a more informed choise about the quality of care I can expect from that individual.

By admitting that rank is unimportant, you discredit the entire ranking system. There will always be poor representation of a credential. You can't let that negate the hard work and effort required to achieve such a goal as a black belt.

I think that aikido currently has a problem with ranking black belts that do not meet the standards that many of us would place on a black belt rank. I also think many aikidoka omit their training history to open doors of opportunity that would not necessarily be open otherwise. I think holding rank, testing, and publishing rank are important steps to maintaining a healthy rank system. We have all attended seminars and overheard, "that guy is a black belt?" or "that girl is a sandan?" The incredibility of the statement is the expectation of skill did not match the historical background of the individual.

Shouldn't we look to make credible black belts rather than make incredible statements? I belive we should, and that starts by supporting the ranking system.

Ron Tisdale
09-20-2006, 12:02 PM
But what does supporting the ranking system (all good points) have to do with using rank as a mark of credibility in a discussion on the web?

Best,
Ron (methinks nothing at all)

David Humm
09-20-2006, 12:35 PM
I understand your question, but my point is still the same. Whether your reader is a current student or a distant user, you publish information for them to consume. You already know your rank, but others don't. so.. then.. by your reasoning, we should include in our signatures (for all to see at all times) our current grades because, for what you've just said to be true, our grade must be easily seen by anyone reading material we post.Creditentials will always add ethos to the name. Who would you prefer to perform an operation, a medical doctor, or a BS graduate? Would you rather have a PhD or a BA? Would you rather a lawyer (JD) defend you or a philosophy major? There's a reason we work so dang hard to add initials after our names.Really, that's an absolute then.. everyone holding a grade in aikido has earned it or worked damn hard for it .. Google "soke 10th dan" and see why your reasoning is flawed. A person holding a martial arts grade which may well have been bought or issued from [god only knows where] cannot be compared to someone who has gained a PhD from a recognised educational issuing authority.When I see, "MD," I instantly assume the individual has the training and knowledge to care for my body. From that historical background, I can make a more informed choise about the quality of care I can expect from that individual.I guess then that every I see "Soke 10th dan" written at the end of a person's name I should assume they've earned the title and rank.By admitting that rank is unimportant, you discredit the entire ranking system. There will always be poor representation of a credential. You can't let that negate the hard work and effort required to achieve such a goal as a black belt.Feel free to illustrate where I've either said or intimated as much. Frankly you're accusing me of discrediting something which I actually BELIEVE in.I think that aikido currently has a problem with ranking black belts that do not meet the standards that many of us would place on a black belt rank.If that is indeed the case, how in god's name can you say that disclosing one's grade in internet discussions such as this adds credibility ?

Jon, forgive me but, without re-reading the entire thread, have you told me what your grade is ? Not that I'm actually interested but; you're expressing an opinion about diclosure of grade in terms of credibility however, where in your last post for instance did you quantify your credibility to me with the number of grades you hold ?


Kind regards as always

DonMagee
09-20-2006, 01:13 PM
I guess the point I see against posting rank is this.

"Rank is meaningless so posting it only hurts my position."

"There is no reason to qualify anything I might say, because there is no way possible to determine if I have any experiance in what I am talking about"

That is really the core issue. We assume that if someone is well spoken they know there stuff. Really however, we only assume they know there stuff if they are saying things we agree with the majority of the time. If you are attempting to bring into question someone elses trainning (as the parent thread that created this thread was doing) you should expect the same thing to be done to you. If you are attempting to educate someone, you should expect your credentals brought into the conversation when someone doesn't agree with you. Even if you think rank is worthless, even if it is scamed by Soke's, you still have to admit it is a credental. As a credental, I don't see why it should be excluded. It can't hurt your argument, it can only help your argument. The people who will look down on your rank would look down on you if you never posted it. All hiding a silly little fact like rank does is create questions on what you have to hide.

Look at it this way. Nohthing you can say or do can prove to me any of you guys know anything. Seriously, lets go though the list of things you can post as credentals.

"I have trained for X number of years." - Have you learned anything, are you physically incapable of doing aikido? Are you a bad student? Time is meaningless.
"I trained under X instructor." - Again, your instructor could be great, he could suck, I dont know. Even if I did know you could be a bad student and have no skill.
"I have a 5th dan." - Ok, so what, again maybe you bought your way to rank, or worked your way up the friends list.
"*you post conversation that sounds insightful*" - Maybe you are toting the party line. Maybe you just tell us what we want to here. Just because you are well spoke means nothing about your aikido ablilty. How do we even know you believe what you are saying? How do we know you even train at all? Maybe you are a larper who makes up how you train just to entertain yourself at work.
"* you post video of your skills *" - Is that even you? How do we know it is you? How do we know you are really doing those techniques and you dont just have a great uke making you look good. How do we know you have proper form? Is that arm really unbendable or is your uke just pretending to be locked out?

As you can see NOTHING you can tell us can help us establish your level of skill. However, we do have some faith and gernalizations that we can use to help us get a handle on your experiance. For example. All of these examples are under a reputable org. IF the org is not reputable, then again rank tells us even less.

If you trained for 1 year and were 5th kyu - It is safe to say you might not have a good insight into aikido techniques, but you are learning and are developing your own ideas.
If you trained for 20 years and are still 3rd kyu - It is safe to say you either don't rank for a personal reason, or you have some kind of inablity to develop the skill you need to rank. Perhaps you 'trained' for 20 years 1 night a week for a half hour.
If you trained for 20 years with high dan rank - It is safe to say you play politics a little to get where you are, Have good/great aikido skills, and probably make a good teacher.
If you trained for 20 years with low dan rank - It's safe to say you don't like politcs. You belive shodan is the goal in martial arts training and that rank after that is mostly politics, and you can be just as insightful and just as good of a teacher.
If you have a 10th dan and are not affiliated with a major org - Its safe to say 9 out of 10 times you are a ego driven man who may have any degree of aikido skill, but his ego forces him to be only the best. This could range from a person with a 3rd -4th dan skill level in aikido to an absolute fraud. Of course we can't rule out that rare genius that really is doing something new. I mean O'Sensei did it.

It is not definitive, but it can give us an IDEA. Which is better then nothing. Again, it can't hurt your argument. So if someone asks, just give it to them. It will either shut them up and let the conversation progress, or it will show you that they are not worth talking too.

I almost never ask for rank or proof of experiance. But there are places where I would ask. For me, I tipically ask to expose frauds.

Again, you dont need to tell people your grade, but there is no reason to keep it a secret when someone asks. I have yet to hear a single good argument on why you should go out of your way to not answer the question.

mriehle
09-20-2006, 02:05 PM
I'm going to suggest that everyone participating in this discussion go back and re-read Sensei Ledyard's comments. Then read them again. After that, read them one more time.

gdandscompserv
09-20-2006, 02:18 PM
I'm going to suggest that everyone participating in this discussion go back and re-read Sensei Ledyard's comments. Then read them again. After that, read them one more time.
Done.
I'm even going to try to make it to his seminar in Redlands next weekend. :D
Regarding posting rank, I think everyone should include it in their avatar like me. :p
Actually, I don't take too much of this stuff I read in these forums seriously. In my opinion, real aikido is on the mat. Everything else is just for fun.

Enslin
09-20-2006, 02:24 PM
Logical, objective arguments should be the criteria. There are many people that find validation in what this or that sensei said or what rank the particular person has. It is as if the heavens only hold the answer and rank makes you some deity and thus justifies your reasoning. Way too much emphasis is placed on rank. Certainly, in the dojo we respect it, as we must. These are the rules. Your opinion off the tatami is your opinion no matter whom you are arguing with.

happysod
09-21-2006, 03:43 AM
I'm going to suggest that everyone participating in this discussion go back and re-read Sensei Ledyard's comments. Then read them again. After that, read them one more time. And this post is an excellent example in why ignoring rank on a internet web-forum can help rather than hinder discussion...

1. He has a name (and surely George isn't too bad a name after all) and just to be pedantic, please put the sensei in its proper position when using it as an honorific.

2. I currently do not know anything more about your views on the thread other than you think George's post is wonderful. Why do you agree with him? What in your own view supports both Georges and your own view on this subject, do you have any examples you'd like to share?

A blanket statement of support made in a manner where the rank of the person being supported is highlighted (either implicitly or explicitly) adds very little and often comes across as a mere "look, sensei said so". It's akin to using a quote or web-link with no supporting argument or viewpoint.

Mike Grant
09-21-2006, 05:51 AM
Another personal view: It's incredibly pompous to refer to yourself as 'sensei' on a forum like this. (I know George Ladyard didn't do this, but plenty have). There's far too much use of the honorific 'sensei' in aikido anyway. I think it's quite ridiculous and especially on some websites where there seems to be page after page of 'sensies', seemingly anybody from shodan upwards. I've even seen a third kyu listed as an instructor and referred to as Mr X sempai!

Before anybody asks, I've been training ten years and I'm a shodan. If anyone at the very traditional dojo where I train referred to the instructor (a yondan) as 'sensei' he'd probably think they'd taken leave of their senses.

David Humm
09-21-2006, 07:25 AM
Of course this is a slightly different debate however, when I was training at Yamada Sensei's dojo in New York, I was told that regardless of whom might be teaching - shidoin or fuku-shidoin, there was only one sensei within that dojo; either Yamada Y. or Sugano S. Whichever was teaching at the time.

Peter Goldsbury
09-21-2006, 07:45 AM
Of course this is a slightly different debate however, when I was training at Yamada Sensei's dojo in New York, I was told that regardless of whom might be teaching - shidoin or fuku-shidoin, there was only one sensei within that dojo; either Yamada Y. or Sugano S. Whichever was teaching at the time.

Dave,

I think you are skating on thin ice here. Sensei is simply a title, given in Japan to doctors, politicians, gangsters and martial arts instructors. The title indicates precisely nothing about the technical expertise, bona fides, or morals of the holder: only that he/she has 'experience', commensurate with someone who has 'lived before'.

Yamada Sensei gave me my shodan at a memorable training course held in the West Midlands. The other recipients were Matthew Holland and Ken Marsden. They are not in the UKA, but I think you might know them. Of course, he is a sensei, but in Japan he would be 'Dojo-Cho'.

This is one area where Japanese names have been exported, but the culture and usage relevant to the correct use of the name has not been exported.

Best wishes,

wayneth
09-21-2006, 10:39 AM
Grade should not be a relevant matter in a forum like this, maybe if asked you could give it; but shouldn't be the number 1 factor to somebodies ability to add a post, and for people to really take it in. I mean we don't always believe what we read, so why would a 5th Dan make a difference in that area. If you can understand what I am saying, it sounds right in my head anyway.
If somebody is teaching me, whether it is my own Sensei or it is Kanetsuka Sensei; I still refer to them as Sensei. I understand the term Sensei as being teacher, which to me is anyone who is teaching me at that given time. When I am at courses given by visiting Senseis, my own instructor is simply known as Don, and not as Sensei; since he isn't directly teaching me at the time.
Wayne

Mike Grant
09-21-2006, 11:23 AM
There's a big difference between calling the person who happens to be teaching 'sensei' on the mat and awarding the title to all and sundry to use and abuse as they see fit.

I don't think that 'sensei' is added to the individual names in the list of instructors at the Aikikai Hombu dojo-even though some of them are extremely senior in rank. I'm also told that at the old Iwama dojo there were only three 'sensei's', Saito the elder, his son and Nemoto-who was formally given that title one evening before practice. The impression I get is that the general use of 'sensei' in its honorific form is considered to be more than a little old fashioned by the younger generation of instructors in Japan.

Fast forward to, say, the Iwama ryu GB website where I have been thinking of offering a prize to anyone who can count the total number of 'senseis' mentioned. (Clue; there are a hell of a lot...). Or the two Iwama Ryu seventh dans in Europe who continually refer to themselves as 'shihan'. Maybe there's nothing wrong in that, but if Saito the elder was happy with a simple 'sensei' then it does make you wonder about the whole thing.

(I'm not trying to pick on iwama Ryu GB by the way, their website just struck me as being particularly over the top in this respect)

mriehle
09-21-2006, 12:00 PM
And this post is an excellent example in why ignoring rank on a internet web-forum can help rather than hinder discussion...

Well, that is certainly true if you are placing more weight on the rank than it deserves.

Okay, one more time: I mostly don't care what your rank is. But if someone asks, not answering the question appears evasive and gives the impression that you see rank as being of overriding importance.

Rank is, by definition, a public thing. A relative yardstick.

If you refuse to reveal your rank, it appears you have something to hide. Honestly, the yonkyu who is upfront about his rank and training is a lot more credible - to me - than the yondan who tries to evade the question.

1. He has a name (and surely George isn't too bad a name after all) and just to be pedantic, please put the sensei in its proper position when using it as an honorific.

English: Title comes first.

Japanese: Title comes last.

Not interested in the argument, really. But here's a thought for you:

My last name is pronounced "real", even though it's spelled "Riehle". On the mat, my students call me Sensei Riehle. Off th mat, most of the adults call my "Michael" (the kids just call me Sensei, and that's fine with me).

Turn it around the Japanese way. It could certainly be good for a laugh. Except I've heard the joke and variations on it a couple too many times.

2. I currently do not know anything more about your views on the thread other than you think George's post is wonderful. Why do you agree with him? What in your own view supports both Georges and your own view on this subject, do you have any examples you'd like to share?

Clearly, you've not read the rest of the thread. I've only stated my views repeatedly.

But okay, one more time:

Not volunteering your rank means nothing to me. Not answering the question when you are asked appears evasive and is more damaging to your credibility than whatever your rank happens to be. This is true even if the person asking doesn't have a particularly good reason for asking.

A blanket statement of support made in a manner where the rank of the person being supported is highlighted (either implicitly or explicitly) adds very little and often comes across as a mere "look, sensei said so". It's akin to using a quote or web-link with no supporting argument or viewpoint.

Okay George Ledyard happens to teach. I happen to know this. I also teach. So, as a professional courtesy I refer to him as "Sensei Ledyard". Maybe it should have been "Ledyard Sensei". Still, the emphasis on rank was something you read into my comments. I would do the same for anyone I happen to know is a teacher as a matter of course.

Or maybe I should have just called him "That Ledyard Guy". I suspect it wouldn't matter all that much to him, but it matters to me.

FWIW: While I feel compelled to extend the courtesy, I would not insist on it from others. I would appreciate it when extended, but never presume to insist upon it.

AND: I have to ask, did you actually read his post? My endorsement had a great deal to do with what he said and very little to do with who he is (although, I will admit, I tend to respect his opinions in general).

MOREOVER: There are times when "assuming" a title is more than appropriate. Titles are meant to communicate. In the case of "Sensei", it's meant to communicate that this person is teaching or is a teacher. Shoving that in someone's face is out of line. But refusing to accept the title (and use it when appropriate!) is as presumptious as declaring yourself "Super Grand Soke of All Soke's in Foo Bar Ryu Aikido".

happysod
09-21-2006, 12:21 PM
Clearly, you've not read the rest of the thread. I've only stated my views repeatedly You're correct, I was overly harsh here - using a single response from you without regard to your other posts was impolite, for that you have my apologies. However, I would still suggest you quote then expand, even when you've done so before as I personally find "read this it states my view" very annoying and bordering on patronizing - blame the academic in me for hating to run down references.

The rest of my rant was more in keeping with Ron's rather succinct point But what does supporting the ranking system (all good points) have to do with using rank as a mark of credibility in a discussion on the web? which ties in nicely with your views on professional courtesy. Now if this was a different type of site which dealt with, say official missives and communication of a single organization etc. I would expect such honorifics to be used as a matter of course.

However, in a free wheeling, hopefully open discussion of aikido and it's relative merits/demerits I firmly believe that the use of rank hinders discussion rather than aids it. Even when it is used as a mark of common respect it can easily engender sacred cows who no-one questions or, more problematically, reduces a senior practitioners input because it removes them from the common herd and frustrates their ability to get into a nice down and dirty e-slug fest.

A quick way to see this is to find some forums where moderators always post as moderators and compare with others where their identity as a moderators is separate to their posting identity - very rarely will rank be disputed (I always hope Jun has a dummy account so he can play in aikiweb properly).

Anyway - only my take on this, no doubt we'll continue to differ.

PS - yes, I did read it and agreed with it in part

jonreading
09-21-2006, 12:31 PM
My main point is providing additional information about yourself helps consumers make better informed decisions about you: your posts, your comments, your training methods. This is true for your dojo website, aikiweb, anywhere you participate in publishing information that will be consumed. I checked my profile here and noticed that while my dojo, website and some general information is published for any member to review, my rank is not a field in my profile. For those of you wondering, I am a nidan. I edited my profile and within a few minutes altered my biography.

I often view profiles of posters as a reference when I read their posts. Some posters have gained respect from me based on their posts and profile information, some posters have lost respect from me for the same reasons. If historical information is available I will consume it: websites, organizational newlsetters, personal introduction. All of these tools help me to create a reference by which to evaluate a person.

David Humm
09-21-2006, 04:56 PM
Dave,

I think you are skating on thin ice here. Sensei is simply a title, given in Japan to doctors, politicians, gangsters and martial arts instructors. The title indicates precisely nothing about the technical expertise, bona fides, or morals of the holder: only that he/she has 'experience', commensurate with someone who has 'lived before'.

Yamada Sensei gave me my shodan at a memorable training course held in the West Midlands. The other recipients were Matthew Holland and Ken Marsden. They are not in the UKA, but I think you might know them. Of course, he is a sensei, but in Japan he would be 'Dojo-Cho'.

This is one area where Japanese names have been exported, but the culture and usage relevant to the correct use of the name has not been exported.

Best wishes,Hi Peter,

Yes I know both Ken Marsden having trained at his dojo in Leeds several times, I do know of Mathew Holland, He was in Scotland if my memory is correct ? I've taken his classes at Chester Seminars with the BAF.

With regards to my comments earlier, I was merely repeating what I was told by a NYA student. I was training with one of their sandan and I referred to him as "Sensei" he was very quick to point out that .... (see my last statements) I do of course understand the meaning of the term Sensei and how it so often misused because it is equally misunderstood.

Kind regards as always

George S. Ledyard
09-21-2006, 08:55 PM
I'm going to suggest that everyone participating in this discussion go back and re-read Sensei Ledyard's comments. Then read them again. After that, read them one more time.
I suspect that once was enough for folks to get what i was saying...

Mike Grant
09-22-2006, 04:01 AM
Peter Goldsbury said: Quote ".... Sensei is simply a title, given in Japan to doctors, politicians, gangsters and martial arts instructors..." Unquote.

This is an insult to doctors, gangsters and martial arts instructors. I demand an immediate apology!

James Davis
09-22-2006, 11:50 AM
This is an insult to doctors, gangsters and martial arts instructors. I demand an immediate apology!
Uh, which one are you? :confused:

:D

mriehle
09-22-2006, 03:14 PM
I suspect that once was enough for folks to get what i was saying...

Apparently not, though.

I'm not saying anything here, I'm just saying...

Ron Tisdale
09-22-2006, 03:32 PM
You do account for the possibility that we get, and respect what George is saying...and that doesn't mean we have to completely agree with it? I mean, you can't be so all fired sure of yourself that the possibility of simply having a different viewpoint doesn't exist, right?

Best,
Ron

David Humm
09-22-2006, 03:39 PM
Apparently not, though.

I'm not saying anything here, I'm just saying...I find your comment mildly arrogant and also mildly insulting actually.

What is it that your are "just saying"

mriehle
09-22-2006, 04:09 PM
Sorry, guys, I shot my mouth off too quickly.

Very few things in online discussions irritate me anymore, but some of the responses here seemed to actively avoid the point that was made over and over and over and over and over and over again by multiple people: whether you believe rank is important or not, others will and avoiding answering the question gives the (possibly false) impression that you are hiding something.

My recommendation of Ledyard Sensei's post prompted not discussion of his points, but attacks on my recommendation.

Nevertheless, I should have toned down my response to Ledyard Sensei. I usually don't let this stuff get to me. It's only an internet discussion after all. (And, actually, I was being a little fascetious, I didn't actually intend it to come across as hostile as it did.)

FWIW: The two people who took offense are two who I actually believe did get the point long before Ledyard Sensei made it...again.

Chris Li
09-22-2006, 06:51 PM
There's a big difference between calling the person who happens to be teaching 'sensei' on the mat and awarding the title to all and sundry to use and abuse as they see fit.

It's not a title, in the sense that you are given a "title" as a sign of achievement or level. It's really just a designator of function or place. In Japan first preference when addressing or speaking about someone is generally given to a designator of function or place - "wife" "section head" "manager", or "teacher". Anyone who teaches anything, from pre-school to card tricks to university classes would be called "sensei" as long as they're teaching. It really has little to do with what level they are.


I don't think that 'sensei' is added to the individual names in the list of instructors at the Aikikai Hombu dojo-even though some of them are extremely senior in rank.

Not surprising in a simple list - all of the instructors on that list, however, are called "sensei" in their day to day hombu lives. Also, if you look around the Japanese web you'll see that attaching "sensei" to even relatively low ranking instructors names is quite common - probably similar to what you see on the English web.


Fast forward to, say, the Iwama ryu GB website where I have been thinking of offering a prize to anyone who can count the total number of 'senseis' mentioned. (Clue; there are a hell of a lot...). Or the two Iwama Ryu seventh dans in Europe who continually refer to themselves as 'shihan'. Maybe there's nothing wrong in that, but if Saito the elder was happy with a simple 'sensei' then it does make you wonder about the whole thing.

I didn't see much odd on the Iwama ryu GB website, except for that ungrammatical placing of "sensei" before the name, but that's a common enough mistake for non-Japanese speakers.

As I understand it, those two Iwama Ryu seventh dans in Europe were appointed as shihan by Morihiro Saito, so I don't know if that really qualifies as "referring to yourself as". In any case, I saw Morihiro Saito give many public demonstrations in Japan where he was announced, and referred to, as "shihan".

Best,

Chris

Mike Grant
09-24-2006, 07:05 PM
Quote: (From the guy a couple of posts back): "Uh, which one are you?" Unquote.

Sorry, it's too late and I can't remember. It strikes me that the 'sensei' thing is as much about politics as martial arts though.

There's a great story in one of Ellis Amdur's books about the time he became an uchi deshi in Japan and asked whether or not he should call the dojo cho sensei. Apparently, he was told not and to 'find his sensei elsewhere'. George Ledyard's post stands or falls on it's own merits without having to morph him into 'Ledyard sensei' whose words are delivered straight from the mountain top in tablets of stone to be read three times over by mere mortals.

There's more than enough b*ll in the world of martial arts as it is-or that's the message I took away from the Amdur story (I think it's in Duelling with O Sensei).

Sorry for the lack of a detailed reply Chris. I'm sure you're right in everything you say...

mriehle
09-25-2006, 11:11 AM
At the risk of sounding (one again) argumentative:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=154080

The whole "use of sensei" discussion is, really, a distraction.

Although it's possible, I think, that the original discussion has run it's course.

That being said, my lapse of judgement above caused me to consider something that I think we've all been ignoring:

We're all trying to rationalize a response that is not rational. In some cases it appears that people are trying to force rationality onto a fundamentally irrational human reaction.

Humans ain't always rational. A truly irrational response is to respond to an irrational response by trying to insist that the person in question be rational. Or maybe the word I should be using is "reasonable", since there can be considerable disagreement, IME, about whether an emotional response is rational or not.

In my mind, the answer is yes, but that's a completely emotional response which some will see as unreasonable.

I really think the whole "credibility of rank" thing has a lot to do with this. We want rank to mean something even if we don't really believe that it does. We want some kind of yardstick for measurement of someones credibility when all other things are equal. Sometimes we're even looking for a good reason to refute a position that seems well reasoned by undermining it using the authority of rank, or the converse in shoring up a weak position.

But, sometimes (often, IMO) we are just trying to get a better perspective on the whole thing.

George S. Ledyard
09-25-2006, 07:39 PM
I really think the whole "credibility of rank" thing has a lot to do with this. We want rank to mean something even if we don't really believe that it does. We want some kind of yardstick for measurement of someones credibility when all other things are equal. Sometimes we're even looking for a good reason to refute a position that seems well reasoned by undermining it using the authority of rank, or the converse in shoring up a weak position.

I agree. People always want a handle. In a larger sense this has to do with the fact that most people are followers, not leaders. Good leadership must be provided to folks or they WILL find bad leaders and follow them.

Just look at the way that political figures have learned to repeat whatever untruths they wish to perpetuate oevr and over with complete certainty despite all sorts of factual information to the contrary. A significant number of people still believe that Iraq had something to do with 9-11. It doesn't matter how many reports have come out saying there was none...

Rank had meaning in a day when training was very formalized and everyone knew the schools and the teachers. This could be done in a small society like Japan. It can't be done now. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a Tenth Dan, Grandmaster, Soke. Anyone who can't or won't go the distance is a Founder now.

This is supposed to be Budo. It's about ones personal sense of honor. It's my job to give my own rank meaning by living up to it and never having anyone be able to say that I fall short of what that rank should mean. I was given my rank by my teacher happens to be one the great Aikido practitioners. I feel bound to live up to that honor. In other words it is my job to MAKE my rank mean something since rank in general seems not to any more.

Chris Li
09-25-2006, 08:21 PM
Rank had meaning in a day when training was very formalized and everyone knew the schools and the teachers. This could be done in a small society like Japan. It can't be done now. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a Tenth Dan, Grandmaster, Soke. Anyone who can't or won't go the distance is a Founder now.

Actually, the whole ranking system in Aikido (or any martial art, if we're talking about dan/kyu) is only a couple of years older in Japan than it is in the US - around 10 years in the case of Aikido, so the days aren't that far apart.

As far as I can tell, they've had much the same kinds of disputes and disagreements over rank/certification in Japan since martial arts started to get semi-organized - maybe 500 years or so, including Japanese Aikido post-war (which is really the only time that they had ranks at all).

Best,

Chris

George S. Ledyard
09-25-2006, 10:00 PM
Actually, the whole ranking system in Aikido (or any martial art, if we're talking about dan/kyu) is only a couple of years older in Japan than it is in the US - around 10 years in the case of Aikido, so the days aren't that far apart.

As far as I can tell, they've had much the same kinds of disputes and disagreements over rank/certification in Japan since martial arts started to get semi-organized - maybe 500 years or so, including Japanese Aikido post-war (which is really the only time that they had ranks at all).

Best,

Chris
You are right of course... even in the old days there were guys who stole their certification scrolls or made counterfits. Of course the consequences of being caught out in such a sham were a bit greater than they are currently ("stop what you are doing or I will taunt you once more" on E-Budo).

I am sure there have always been frauds. But in Japan the system was somewhat self policing in that, if you set yourself up as a teacher, someone was likely to come through the door and check you out. If you got beaten up in front of your students it could close your school because the students didn't want to train with someone who couldn't perform as advertised.

It's just that, in the West, the average person has no idea what is real and what is not. The most outrageous stuff goes on. I mean, that fellow at the Expo who so sadly met his demise actually had students! That is a truly frightening prospect and not one that I think would happen in Japan. Too many people have at least done some Judo or Kendo in school. they at least have the foundation of an understanding of what skill is about.

Basia Halliop
09-26-2006, 09:08 AM
FWIW, although I can see how refusing can make it a big deal, I can also understand why someone would not want to share their rank in a discussion where it's not relevent. I do often see people irrationally hanging on the words of people with rank (even when what they're talking about isn't directly related to their expertise), or patronizing lower ranked people, and it is not much of a stretch to me to imagine someone asking "what's your rank" for the sole purpose of dismissing them from then on if their rank is "too low."

There are times when it's obvious it's not being asked out of innocent curiosity or to decide if you want to train with them, but for the exact purpose of finding out if you can use it to put someone down.

Isn't it kind of like asking people what university degrees they have when you're having an argument with them about something else? If you're discussing a specific technical detail related to their education, it might be relevent, but if you aren't, it can be obvious sometimes that the question itself is meant for the sole purpose of irrelevent judging, snobbery, or subtle insults. In which case, not answering may be setting yourself up, but really so is answering.

gdandscompserv
09-26-2006, 09:45 AM
Nicely done Basia.

David Humm
09-26-2006, 11:10 AM
...If you're discussing a specific technical detail related to their education, it might be relevent, but if you aren't, it can be obvious sometimes that the question itself is meant for the sole purpose of irrelevent judging, snobbery, or subtle insults. In which case, not answering may be setting yourself up, but really so is answering.I always believe that eventually all things go full circle and this debate is no exception. What Basia described in the quotation above is exactly why I didn't disclose my rank at the time to the parties demanding it.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions, really appreciated and enjoyed the discussion.

Kind regards

Ron Tisdale
09-26-2006, 11:17 AM
I really think the whole "credibility of rank" thing has a lot to do with this. We want rank to mean something even if we don't really believe that it does. We want some kind of yardstick for measurement of someones credibility when all other things are equal. Sometimes we're even looking for a good reason to refute a position that seems well reasoned by undermining it using the authority of rank, or the converse in shoring up a weak position.

Michael, you just made my case for me better than I made it for myself! :)

Thanks,
Ron (yeah, the circle probably is complete...)

mriehle
09-26-2006, 12:54 PM
Michael, you just made my case for me better than I made it for myself! :)

Thanks,
Ron (yeah, the circle probably is complete...)

No, actually, I didn't.

But that's okay.

The explanation "why" relies on acceptance of the irrational nature of humans.

Mike Grant
09-27-2006, 08:45 AM
Agreed, the use of sensei debate has probably gone as far as it can, but I liked the Amdur story. He stayed at that particular dojo for six years, but the instructor obviously didn't set much store by b*llsh*t titles.

By the way, I'm a diving instructor/dive master. There's no special title for any of this though and nobody's ever called me 'Dive-Master Grant' on the boat. Why should aikido be different?

David Humm
09-27-2006, 11:59 AM
By the way, I'm a diving instructor/dive master. There's no special title for any of this though and nobody's ever called me 'Dive-Master Grant' on the boat. Why should aikido be different?I hold mixed gas diving quals from TDI (Technical Diving International) and I've met some guys with serious ego (dive deeper, longer, safer than others) these guys however aren't looking for an exterior rub of their ego from someone else, instead they satisfy their own ego by DIR (Doing It Right). Stands to reason fellow divers come to respect and have a measured degree of admiration for those who plan and execute technically based high risk diving and do so safely.

Aikido on the other hand is an entirely different animal, walk in to any martial arts shop buy your kit and off you go.. Six months later and magically 'soke 10th dan' and no one to officially challenge it. This is where these people desire others to stoke their ego. These sorts of people wouldn't survive a single DECO stop or bother to find out what PPo2 is or why breathing 100% o2 is fatal at depth.

Regards

DonMagee
09-27-2006, 01:38 PM
I hold mixed gas diving quals from TDI (Technical Diving International) and I've met some guys with serious ego (dive deeper, longer, safer than others) these guys however aren't looking for an exterior rub of their ego from someone else, instead they satisfy their own ego by DIR (Doing It Right). Stands to reason fellow divers come to respect and have a measured degree of admiration for those who plan and execute technically based high risk diving and do so safely.

Aikido on the other hand is an entirely different animal, walk in to any martial arts shop buy your kit and off you go.. Six months later and magically 'soke 10th dan' and no one to officially challenge it. This is where these people desire others to stoke their ego. These sorts of people wouldn't survive a single DECO stop or bother to find out what PPo2 is or why breathing 100% o2 is fatal at depth.

Regards

That is one of the things that makes competitive martial arts so interesting to me. You can't fake it. Well you can, but not well. Your students are going to notice the first time they compete that something is wrong. Plus you can always ask for a competition record, lineage, teachers record, or even a sparing match to find out where the teacher stands. I wouldn't train judo or bjj with a teacher I didn't concider a serious threat on the mat.

David Humm
09-27-2006, 01:58 PM
That is one of the things that makes competitive martial arts so interesting to me. You can't fake it. Well you can, but not well. Your students are going to notice the first time they compete that something is wrong. Plus you can always ask for a competition record, lineage, teachers record, or even a sparing match to find out where the teacher stands. I wouldn't train judo or bjj with a teacher I didn't concider a serious threat on the mat.I know we're digressing slightly but it's all relevant.

Don't get me wrong; there are friggin' eejits in any sport or discipline. Only last year I rescued a guy from Stoney Cove (slack water dive centre in the UK) who had serious issues with his dry suit, when I had him dry-side and quizzed him on what was happening, he told me this was his first dive in dry suit, looking at him a but "off" I asked who trained him in the use thereof and he replied that all he'd done was a PADI basic warm water course on holiday in Cyprus a few months back, when back in the UK he's just walked in to his local dive shop and bought a drysuit and thought the buoyancy characteristics would be the same as a shortie and a stab-jacket. His mistake could have cost him his life.

His so called buddy was about 15 mtrs below him when all this happened and wasn't in a position to assist in any way.

You can't account for lack of common sense. :crazy:

Mike Grant
09-27-2006, 05:08 PM
Hi again Dave,

I hold mixed gas and rebreather qualifications too. I like your comment on the DIR brigade and they certainly have their counterparts in the aikido world.

The strange thing about diving is how often it's actually safer to go against the orthodox view. The PADI position is that you always have a buddy, but personally I think I'm safer on my own than with the kind of diver that you describe in the dry suit story-but that attitude sends the PADI/BSAC guys nuts and most of the time you wouldn't even be allowed to get on the boat with it let alone actually do a solo dive.

I did a lot of diving at a particular centre abroad about five or six years ago where there were some serious record attempts going on at around the 160-200 metre mark and at one point two or three divers a year were getting killed out of that one centre. I never saw this as an an ego thing, people had the qualifications and knew the risks and they were willing to pay the price if things went wrong for the sake of testing their skills and the spirit of exploration. But others were quick to pass judgment.

The relevence to aikido for me is that, at some point, you have to make the techniques your own and step outside orthodoxy. Some of us never reach that point I guess because it seems to take a hell of a long time, but far too many people expect their 'sensei' and/or organisation to do it all for them and for the pieces of paper on their own to be sufficient.

That said, the fakes are a pain. I wasted a year training under one the UK 'eighth dans' until somebody put me right.

David Humm
09-27-2006, 07:16 PM
Hi Mike,

Great to chat with a fellow "techi"

My dive instructor (Dennis Vessy) is a rebreather instructor and although I understand the for's and against's I just can't seem to let go of my trusty twinset (lol) That said I really don't do enough deep water to justify the costs even if I really wanted.

I got into technical diving mainly because of the additional safety, redundancy and ethos that self reliance and sufficiency is by far the best. I too have dived (PADI, SAA and BSAC) club events and rolled my eyes at the things these people sometimes do. I think most of the time its complacency.

Anyway getting back to aikido, although not entirely to do with this thread, what part of the UK do you hail from ? I'm fairly 'up' on our run of bogus hachidan so I'm fairly confident I'll guess which one by where you live.

If you're ever passing my neck of the woods (Lincolnshire) for a dive gimme a shout - dave-humm@ntlworld.com

That aside mate.. Dive safe !

Regards

Mike Grant
09-28-2006, 05:30 AM
I'm in London and looking forward to your guess as to identity of the 'hachidan'. Wont give you any more clues at this stage as I'm interested to see who you think it is.

The CCR is great-until it goes wrong at which point all your carefully grooved safety drills on open circuit go out of the window and the more experienced you are (on open circuit) the more danger you're in to a large extent. SCR is easier to use and I knew a guy who rigged up his own switchable unit and got to 100 metres on (effectively) two dolphins plumbed in together with a different mix in each. A nice solution if you have the cash.

My point on the diving is that there's a strong streak of political correctness involved-to a much greater extent than, for example, mountaineering. Aikido is even worse. Political correctness is rampant and manifest in obsession with rank and excessive use of meaningless (and sometimes even made up) titles such as 'sensei'. Personally, I don't understand people who don't test or do the gradings (in my view that's an incredibly arrogant position to take) but on the other hand rank is only really good in your own dojo. The TDI philosophy is good for diving and good for aikido too I think-take responsibility for your own training and your own life.

David Humm
09-28-2006, 06:13 AM
Mike, you have mail ! (PM)