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Jonathan
05-31-2007, 11:49 AM
I wrote the following after a frustrating and irritating aikido seminar. I don't feel quite as sharply about it now as I did then.

I'm curious to know if any other aikidoka have had similar experiences and how they chose to respond:

I had an interesting experience a few weekends ago at an aikido seminar. A high-ranked aikidoka (5th or 6th dan) decided in the course of a "discussion" we were having about the themes of the seminar to "check" my tai-no-henka technique. He couldn't prevent me from turning (which I think he thought he'd be able to do), but after I had performed the pivot he would bump me off balance with his hip. I have done this to beginners in aikido to demonstrate that they are too close to uke after their pivot, but no matter the distance I put between me and this higher-ranked aikidoka he continued to bump me off balance. Finally, in the course of demonstrating to me what was "wrong" with my technique, he had me grab him. Of course, I could bump him off balance too, which, out of respect, I did gently. When he realized that I could do to him as he had done to me, he then began to lead me forward out of the tai-no-henka position (and out of position to bump him).

Now, this higher-ranked aikidoka had been trying to emphasize to me the importance of bringing my gripped lead hand right to my center. I already knew keeping my lead hand in front of me was important, which is why I bring my gripped lead hand to the inside of my lead hip before turning. I wasn't placing my hand as directly in front of my center as he was, nor was I tilting foward as he did as I moved past my lead hand to pivot and so, as far as he was concerned, I was doing tai-no-henka wrong. What was further curious to me was that his form wasn't like the form of tai-no-henka performed by the shihan teaching the seminar -- the form I was trying to emulate.

Questions (and answers) began to rise in my mind as this senior aikidoka "straightened me out":

1. If I can bump him out of his stance as easily he did me, what was the point of bumping me in the first place? There was no point, I believe, beyond making me feel that my technique was inadequate and in need of his input.

2. Why, when I performed the tai-no-henka movements precisely as he wanted, did he become so completely (actually inordinately) easy to move? To reinforce the fact that he was right, of course. Again, this was just another (and somewhat deceitful) way of attempting to establish to me that his input was valuable.

3. Since he couldn't prevent me from pivoting easily, fully and stably, and extending my arms with the form of tai-no-henka I was already using, what real benefit was there in adopting his way of doing tai-no-henka? None, I think -- except to make him feel good about himself.

This sort of thing isn't unique to my experience as an aikidoka. I've had other higher-ranked aikidoka over the years block my technique to show me their way is "better" and, until now, I've not challenged them. But, I think I'm done with this nonsense. I've been doing aikido for almost twenty years and, while I'm far from mastery of this art, I'm not completely without skill either. Certainly, I've enough skill to perceive when a person's input on my technique is genuinely useful and when it is not. I can tell now when I'm dealing with a stylistic difference rather than a legitimate mechanical/martial concern. And I can see when ego is motivating someone to "correct" my technique rather than a sincere interest in seeing me improve as an aikdoka.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. If another aikidoka (senior or otherwise) tries to challenge my technique he/she better be up to the same challenge from me (shihan excepted, of course).

Notice served.

Tinyboy344
05-31-2007, 03:45 PM
Mr. Hay,
There's at least one a**h*le at any seminar (regardless what rank he is). I'm suprised for 20 years this was the first time that you encountered one

Steven
05-31-2007, 04:20 PM
Next time, atemi him with the free hand. LOL

Sorry -- couldn't resist :-)

ElizabethCastor
05-31-2007, 06:31 PM
From my experience (which is less than 20 years let me say!) I understand that there are MANY, MANY options available to both parties during a technique. What makes it aikido is the ethical choice not not to take all of the shots that you can. (Congratulations on being the person who practiced aikido in that pair.) I guess that I may have in my frustration beaten him to the hip-check, or some other atemi, after the 3rd demonstration. After all, if he can get you you could get him equally well.

Certainly, I've enough skill to perceive when a person's input ...is genuinely useful and when it is not. I can tell now when I'm dealing with a stylistic difference rather than a legitimate mechanical/martial concern. And I can see when ego is motivating someone to "correct" my technique rather than a sincere interest in seeing me improve as an aikdoka.
It sounds like you've decided that you met up with some stylistic ego differences. I think I agree from the description.

Let this person go. Its not worth your energy.
Enjoy your next seminar

:rolleyes: :o :rolleyes:

xuzen
05-31-2007, 07:30 PM
I wrote the following after a frustrating and irritating aikido seminar. I don't feel quite as sharply about it now as I did then.

I'm curious to know if any other aikidoka have had similar experiences and how they chose to respond:

I had an interesting experience a few weekends ago at an aikido seminar. A high-ranked aikidoka (5th or 6th dan) decided in the course of a "discussion" we were having about the themes of the seminar to "check" my tai-no-henka technique. He couldn't prevent me from turning (which I think he thought he'd be able to do), but after I had performed the pivot he would bump me off balance with his hip. I have done this to beginners in aikido to demonstrate that they are too close to uke after their pivot, but no matter the distance I put between me and this higher-ranked aikidoka he continued to bump me off balance. Finally, in the course of demonstrating to me what was "wrong" with my technique, he had me grab him. Of course, I could bump him off balance too, which, out of respect, I did gently. When he realized that I could do to him as he had done to me, he then began to lead me forward out of the tai-no-henka position (and out of position to bump him).

Now, this higher-ranked aikidoka had been trying to emphasize to me the importance of bringing my gripped lead hand right to my center. I already knew keeping my lead hand in front of me was important, which is why I bring my gripped lead hand to the inside of my lead hip before turning. I wasn't placing my hand as directly in front of my center as he was, nor was I tilting foward as he did as I moved past my lead hand to pivot and so, as far as he was concerned, I was doing tai-no-henka wrong. What was further curious to me was that his form wasn't like the form of tai-no-henka performed by the shihan teaching the seminar -- the form I was trying to emulate.

Questions (and answers) began to rise in my mind as this senior aikidoka "straightened me out":

1. If I can bump him out of his stance as easily he did me, what was the point of bumping me in the first place? There was no point, I believe, beyond making me feel that my technique was inadequate and in need of his input.

2. Why, when I performed the tai-no-henka movements precisely as he wanted, did he become so completely (actually inordinately) easy to move? To reinforce the fact that he was right, of course. Again, this was just another (and somewhat deceitful) way of attempting to establish to me that his input was valuable.

3. Since he couldn't prevent me from pivoting easily, fully and stably, and extending my arms with the form of tai-no-henka I was already using, what real benefit was there in adopting his way of doing tai-no-henka? None, I think -- except to make him feel good about himself.

This sort of thing isn't unique to my experience as an aikidoka. I've had other higher-ranked aikidoka over the years block my technique to show me their way is "better" and, until now, I've not challenged them. But, I think I'm done with this nonsense. I've been doing aikido for almost twenty years and, while I'm far from mastery of this art, I'm not completely without skill either. Certainly, I've enough skill to perceive when a person's input on my technique is genuinely useful and when it is not. I can tell now when I'm dealing with a stylistic difference rather than a legitimate mechanical/martial concern. And I can see when ego is motivating someone to "correct" my technique rather than a sincere interest in seeing me improve as an aikdoka.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. If another aikidoka (senior or otherwise) tries to challenge my technique he/she better be up to the same challenge from me (shihan excepted, of course).

Notice served.

There are two ways of going about this IMO...

1) Let it go.. go with the flow. If he bumps you, take it as an opportunity to practice Ukemi and subsequently tell him how great his atemi errr I mean bump was and laugh it out. Aikido practice is just that practice... don't let ego come into play, your or his.

or just simply....

2) Challenge him to a GONG-SAU aka RAN-DORI, JIYU-WAZA, KUMITE or simply DOJO-BRAWL. Last man standing wins. Simple.

Boon.

xuzen
05-31-2007, 07:46 PM
Addendum:

Although good solid posture or excellent Kihon Dosa is desirable and all, it is not the the end in itself.

That is why, if someone correct me this and that I will just go with the flow. Kihon Dosa is after all just stance which confers to you the most stable position to launch any aikido techniques. And the most stable position is the one you feel most comfortable in. Again, IMO Kihon is a guide, it is not a rigid dogma cast in stone.

For me, my kamae or kihon dosa is the one which gives me the most stable platform to launch an attack or counter-attack. Only I know what is good for me.

I think this trying to make kihon dosa this way or that way is a bit micro-managing things. Rather than say that your hands must be 13.1356" above your waist and your legs must be 89.1165 degrees and 12.5758" apart etc bla bla bla... just ask the student, are you stable?

From my experience with my Sensei, if someone tries to be funny and gives him resistant (moi included) he just simply change the technique and Wham!, Uke still gets planted on the mat (moi included). And BTW, he doesn't even hold kamae anymore... he just ask us yudansha to come and punch him anyway we like. To me, these ability to move freely and achieve instantaneous victory is more desirable than striving for a perfect kamae/kihon dosa etc.

Boon.

Roman Kremianski
05-31-2007, 09:24 PM
1) Let it go.. go with the flow. If he bumps you, take it as an opportunity to practice Ukemi and subsequently tell him how great his atemi errr I mean bump was and laugh it out. Aikido practice is just that practice... don't let ego come into play, your or his.

or just simply....

2) Challenge him to a GONG-SAU aka RAN-DORI, JIYU-WAZA, KUMITE or simply DOJO-BRAWL. Last man standing wins. Simple.

Agreed with 1)
Just go with the flow. If he really wants to "bump", strap on a pair of gloves and see him in the ring. Otherwise just keep practicing.

DonMagee
05-31-2007, 09:35 PM
I actually know exactly how you feel. When I first started aikido, I would get shut down by the higher belts. Everything would not work. Then would then give me advice, usually in a meaningless way (to a begininer) such as extend more, or relax more, or look at the wall, move with your center, etc. I would try my best to do what they asked, and it would work. One day, I had just come from judo, and was very tired and really annoyed for no real reason (probably lack of suger). I should of went home, but instead I got on the mat. I was very absent minded about my techniques, and not really listening to input. One senior student would grab my hand, I would try to move and he would shut me down. He would then give me instructions (which I was ignoring and just really wondering how much longer I had to be there) and I would do the exact same thing I just did, only he would exagerate a nice fall and say "That was much better!".

I realized this after I got home. For the next few months (this is before I stopped aikido to focus on judo) I would "test" this senior rank by never taking his advice. Every single time he would stop me, tell me I'm not doing X, I would do it the exact way I did before, and he would fall and tell me how much better I just got. It really didn't matter what I did the second time, he just wanted to think he was teaching me. I also think in his mind he was "building me up".

It was an extremely frustrating time for me. However now that I only train aikido 1 to 2 times a month, he usually does not give me advice. I have a lot more fun training there now.

kironin
05-31-2007, 09:42 PM
What was further curious to me was that his form wasn't like the form of tai-no-henka performed by the shihan teaching the seminar -- the form I was trying to emulate.

A cardinal sin in martial arts evileyes :

Playing teacher when it's not your time to be teacher instead of being a student.

Shoshin.

Dan Rubin
05-31-2007, 10:32 PM
(shihan excepted, of course).

Why "shihan excepted" but not "5th or 6th dan" excepted?

Edward
05-31-2007, 10:48 PM
Sometimes one is not in a mood for such friendly advice, but I usually try to accept the criticism with an open mind. At least it teaches me what not to do....

Upyu
05-31-2007, 11:38 PM
<snip> my technique he/she better be up to the same challenge from me (shihan excepted, of course).

Notice served.

Why Shihan excepted?? :D

PeterR
06-01-2007, 01:31 AM
No more Mr. Nice Guy. If another aikidoka (senior or otherwise) tries to challenge my technique he/she better be up to the same challenge from me (shihan excepted, of course).

Notice served.
Laughs.

It's one of the things I dislike about large seminars - there is always someone who wants to show you their superior understanding so badly that what the Shihan (ie the person you actually paid to see) does is irrelevant. The good news is that partners change frequently enough so it really doesn't matter.

One would think that Shihan have enough teaching experience to not put themselves in such a silly position but at least here he is doing, by definition, exactly what he was demonstrating (just badly).

In both cases, being the wonderfully polite young man that I am, I would just bite my tongue. However, in the Shihan's case he would loose future custom.

antonis paps
06-01-2007, 02:48 AM
"shihan excepted, of course"

why?

Dazzler
06-01-2007, 04:34 AM
Apart from doing the bump...did you ask him what he was trying to show you?

In these situations - I'll listen. If the answers good I'll say thank you.

If its not I'll say thank you.

Then move on....

Its not important.

Regards

D

SeiserL
06-01-2007, 06:43 AM
Yep, a point I have been trying to make for years, IMHO just because you can get rank and throw people around, doesn't mean you have your ego in check. We all have met a few. I just try hard not to be one, yet know I probably sometimes am.

OTOH, learn from it, what not to do. Just because there is one jerk in (even leading) the seminar, doesn't mean there has to be two. Don't let him take your center and lead you long after the seminar is over.

Yet, I seldom get accused of being a "nice guy".

gdandscompserv
06-01-2007, 07:21 AM
after I had performed the pivot he would bump me off balance with his hip. I have done this to beginners in aikido to demonstrate that they are too close to uke after their pivot, but no matter the distance I put between me and this higher-ranked aikidoka he continued to bump me off balance. Finally, in the course of demonstrating to me what was "wrong" with my technique, he had me grab him. Of course, I could bump him off balance too, which, out of respect, I did gently. When he realized that I could do to him as he had done to me, he then began to lead me forward out of the tai-no-henka position (and out of position to bump him).
Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.
:cool:
Anyway, I was thinking...should we be able to "bump" each other off balance after performing the pivot? I think I'll explore that in class this week. I want to become UN-BUMPABLE baby!
:D

George S. Ledyard
06-01-2007, 08:04 AM
What is it that we are training for? I look at these things as test of my own ability to stay calm and non-reactive. That fact that the other guy is a butt head is simply not my problem. What's the upset here? This guy has some ego issues going on and he's running them on you... It's not your problem until you buy into them. Now you have ego issues going on. You've allowed someone to push your buttons and get you pissed off.

How will you approach the same issues in your life? If your partner in your relationship has a bad day and pushes some of your buttons, will you push back? Most folks do of course so it's no big failure... but then most folks end up divorced as well.

What do you do when it's a co-worker? Get into a pissing match? Management will notice of course... What happens when that guy gets promoted and now he's your boss?

I did some training years ago for some serious juvenile delinquents. These kids were on their last chance before big time adult jail. One of the things I said to them was that Aikido is about freedom. How can you live non-reactively, control your own life... Some of these kids went through life totally reactively. Someone "disses" them and they feel that they have to shoot them in response. I pointed out to them that living this way, you aren't free; you are letting everyone else determine your actions.

I think the first step in ones training is to start acting better than the other guy. That takes some work since it's a lot easier to give in to those impulses when you get disrespected. Later you can shoot for getting to the point at which you don't even get mad. That's harder. Ultimately, why not try for the state at which you don't even notice that the guy is being a butt (that's the real hard one and not many get there)?

On these "pecking order" issues, I always remember Funakoshi's statement that "if it's not important enough to die over, you shouldn't be fighting". All this pushing and pushing back etc is just incipient fighting. Might as well practice letting it be beneath your notice.

Mark Uttech
06-01-2007, 08:07 AM
The Buddha handled this by saying, "If someone hands you some filth on a silver tray, and you do not accept it, who has it? It is left to the one trying to hand it to you."

In gassho,

Mark

antonis paps
06-01-2007, 08:54 AM
Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.
:cool:
Anyway, I was thinking...should we be able to "bump" each other off balance after performing the pivot? I think I'll explore that in class this week. I want to become UN-BUMPABLE baby!
:D

tai sabaki:D :D

jonreading
06-01-2007, 11:06 AM
My dad says, "if you learn from mistakes, even an idiot can teach you something." It's a shame conduct is not better in seminars, but at least the guy was trying to help you. I have also seen yudansha injure students trying to to correct their aikido. If I pay money to attend a seminar, it's because I feel the seminar instructor is worth the money. I don't like my seminar time dominated by someone else trying to peddle their aikido. I look for a partner who can help me figure out what the instructor demonstrates. As a partner, I view my job is to help my partner figure out what the instructor demonstrates.

Sometimes we get stuck with people who do not view training the same way and we are trapped for minutes of our life. Be polite, thank him (or her) for his (or her) assistance and find someone else with whom to train. If everyone reacted to poor partners in this manner, bad uke would become sore spots on the mat that could be identified from miles away - they would not have a partner with whom to train.

Jonathan
06-01-2007, 12:19 PM
I understand the "ignore the jerk" attitude. I've practiced it many times over the twenty years I've been doing aikido. I just got a little fed up, y'know? The instance I wrote about was one in a recent series of such events. I'll have visiting aikidoka at my dojo who will try to instruct my students and even myself about the "right" way to do aikido. I've tried to be open and take these times as opportunities to investigate other kinds of aikido, but I'm feeling a little saturated with people trying to impose their version of aikido on me.

I think my problem is that I'm way too diplomatic, way too accommodating in dealing with these people. George L.'s advice to "start acting better than the other guy" is something I've always done -- especially with obnoxious higher-ranked aikidoka -- but doing so, it seems, often only encourages their obnoxiousness. I'm thinking now that, with certain individuals, giving as good as I'm getting is more appropriate than turning the other cheek.

NagaBaba
06-01-2007, 02:20 PM
Notice served.
I like you post. LOL
Aikido practice in good spirit must be well balanced. Doesn't matter you practice with 6th dan or 6 kyu. I other words, if someone shut down your technique, you must do exactly the same to him, not more, not less. It is not you problem if he can handle your response or not.

When I was young and beatiful, I learned that way many most important things. It is very natural for un aikidoka to be able to reestablish good balance. O sensei did it many times, shihans also -- even if was perceived as contrary to aikido "philosophy" ;)

In the other hand, if aikido should lead you to create the rightest response spontanously, I'm a bit surprised after 20 years you have some doubts how to react in such simple situation. :D

aikidoc
06-01-2007, 03:33 PM
sounds to me like his ukemi is not good. If it was, he would help lead you as a junior student into the appropriate position rather than knock you over. If you could do it to him, I'd reciprocate since he set the standard. I don't allow my students to stop someone unless they are demonstrating a really poor posture habit. It's easy to stop someone if you know how they are going to move.

James Davis
06-01-2007, 03:37 PM
Maybe you could post rules on the dojo wall, including a rule that there is only one instructor at a time.

Aw, crap.:o There I go trying to tell you how to run your dojo!:D

Jonathan
06-01-2007, 09:55 PM
Actually, I have recently posted a sign in the dojo which reads:

"When in Rome do as the Romans do."

PeterR
06-01-2007, 10:07 PM
Yeah but you are in Winnipeg. :D

PeterR
06-01-2007, 10:32 PM
Seriously - if we can't use aikiweb to vent where can we. Dealing with the problem doesn't mean we have to be happy about it or not look for other solutions. Good thread topic.

More disturbing to me (in seminars its almost expected) are visitors to your dojo assuming they have something to teach without being asked. Even worse are those that try to impose their training parameters on your club. Besides being totally annoying there are obvious safety concerns.

Both these situations happened to me in my first year of teaching in Quebec and never happened while I was teaching in Japan. I would like to think it was my experience and not the culture and I base that on the fact my students a about 50% non-Japanese and my experienced visitors about 70% non-Japanese. I am still as polite and accommodating as ever (at least I like to think so) and run a pretty relaxed class but perhaps I am more capable of projecting the limitations of patience.

The only real advice I can offer for the dojo situation is practice the "School marm look of death". It works wonders.

Pauliina Lievonen
06-02-2007, 04:36 AM
I think there's a balance that can be found between getting outright aggressive and being too diplomatic. I've told my partners at seminars "We obviously don't agree, so just let me practice my way, ok?" and usually that works. People might be left thinking that I'm stupid for not accepting their wisdom but so far no one has actually started to argue about it. :)

The thing about people who like to stop your technique in a passive aggressive way seems to be, they don't really like to do it "out in the open" so when I say something about it, they stop.

On the other hand, when people are genuinely trying to help, if I say something, they'll explain what they were after, and then I can either decide to try it their way, or we agree to disagree.

kvaak
Pauliina

Mark Uttech
06-02-2007, 05:34 AM
Aikido classes, and aikido seminars create excited windows of 'power' opportunity. Some of us focus on our own practice and forget about others. Some of us focus on the practice of others and forget about ourself. There's a natural principle that occurred to me early on in life; watch others to see what you can learn. A student has many teachers, a teacher has one student.

In gassho,

Mark

Jonathan
06-02-2007, 10:56 AM
"When in Winnipeg, do as the Winnipegers do."

Ah...no. Doesn't have the same classic ring to it. "Winnipegers" just sounds kinda' silly.:crazy:

I am still as polite and accommodating as ever (at least I like to think so) and run a pretty relaxed class but perhaps I am more capable of projecting the limitations of patience.

Well, as I've said, I think I have not expressed the limitations of my patience very well. I guess this is sort of my point. I haven't had good balance about this and am realizing it now more than I have in the past.

"School marm look of death"? Do I need half glasses and my hair in a bun for this one? :D

In the other hand, if aikido should lead you to create the rightest response spontanously, I'm a bit surprised after 20 years you have some doubts how to react in such simple situation.

Oh, I can adapt my aikido on the fly pretty well now. The problem is that sometimes I'm a little too polite to do it. :)

Karen Wolek
06-02-2007, 01:50 PM
The only real advice I can offer for the dojo situation is practice the "School marm look of death". It works wonders.

I call it the SSOD. Sensei Stare Of Doom. My sensei is VERY good at it.

Very. evileyes

Janet Rosen
06-02-2007, 01:52 PM
I call it the SSOD. Sensei Stare Of Doom. My sensei is VERY good at it.

Very. evileyes
Yeah but I'll never be a sensei....and I perfected the schoolmarm stare of death before I ever bowed onto a mat!

gdandscompserv
06-02-2007, 02:06 PM
Yeah but I'll never be a sensei....and I perfected the schoolmarm stare of death before I ever bowed onto a mat!
Yes, but it is instictive for the female of the species.;)

RoyK
06-03-2007, 04:30 AM
If I pay money to attend a seminar, it's because I feel the seminar instructor is worth the money. I don't like my seminar time dominated by someone else trying to peddle their aikido. I look for a partner who can help me figure out what the instructor demonstrates. As a partner, I view my job is to help my partner figure out what the instructor demonstrates.

I'm attending a three days seminar with Suganuma Sensei (8th dan) starting tomorrow, and this is the mind frame I'm going to try to adopt for it, thank you!

Regarding the main post: Since I'm just a 4th kyu and train in a mostly black belts group, I feel like I have a black belt in dealing with such behaviors. I'm a little depressed to hear that this is not something that goes away with time.

George S. Ledyard
06-03-2007, 07:31 AM
I think my problem is that I'm way too diplomatic, way too accommodating in dealing with these people. George L.'s advice to "start acting better than the other guy" is something I've always done -- especially with obnoxious higher-ranked aikidoka -- but doing so, it seems, often only encourages their obnoxiousness. I'm thinking now that, with certain individuals, giving as good as I'm getting is more appropriate than turning the other cheek.

Ok, so taking the "high" road isn't very enjoyable. It's fairly obvious from looking at the world in general that "goodness is it's own reward" and "crime doesn't pay" don't operate much in reality.

If you are really getting frustrated there may be some satisfaction in dropping your obnoxious partner like a stone. Or go ahead and shut him down, show him that he isn't as good as he thinks he is.

All of this can be quite satisfying, I'd be the last one to say it isn't. When I first started Aikido there was a yudansha who pretty much dominated me and everyone else in the dojo. I don't think I ever threw him without him first making it apparent that he could have stopped me. I was terrified of him and spent a lot of time trying to be on the other end of the mat. Then he went away for a while during which he had an operation. When he came back he wasn't as strong as he had been but he wanted to resume the previous relationship in which I was clearly subservient. But he was weaker and i had gotten better... One night we were doing shihonage. He went to shut me down, as usual, but I suddenly realized that I had it. It wasn't pretty but I did have it. He couldn't let go of his need to be the dominant partner and wouldn't take the fall but I completed it anyway and ripped his arm out and put him off the mat for another six weeks. After that he didn't screw around with me any more. I never felt the least bit guilty about it because he was light years better than I was and could have chosen to take the fall at any instant but his ego wouldn't let him. As far as i was concerned, he hurt himself. Anyway, it was a useful lesson for me. But it isn't my "default", I have to get pushed pretty far before you are going to see that side of me.

So possibly, it's part of your training, as Sczepan points out, to learn to stick up for yourself. But I have to say, after all these years, that it seldom improves your position much ( as much as it feels good to dish out what you are getting). Pointing out to seniors that they aren't as good as they'd like to think can actually be dangerous. They are apt to get you back by hurting you to show how superior they are (this applies even more to some teachers). It almost never improves their attitude. It also doesn't usually improve your position with the teacher who, after all, gave them the rank in the first place. So how much fun is it to go to the dojo each night knowing it's going to be a pissing contest to see who can be Alpha dog?

Best thing is to:
a) avoid training with butt heads as much as possible; if there are too many, well maybe that says something about the dojo and you should consider leaving... and
b) rather than point out that other folks aren't as good as they think by acting as badly as they are, train until they can't stop you, which is of course, what you are really there for. Train more and train harder. The problem then takes care of itself. Not only do people stop screwing around with you but this approach will enhance your place in the dojo and with your teacher.

Janet Rosen
06-03-2007, 11:22 AM
I always feel that "tit for tat" just reinforces their world view. I'd rather undermine it with a smile.

Jonathan
06-03-2007, 05:10 PM
George L.:

Thanks for the comments. The event I shared at the beginning of this thread didn't occur at my dojo, but at a seminar in another city.

I run my own dojo and so don't have to fuss with "pissing contests"...much. There have been a few instances over the years, in and out of my dojo, where aikidoka have tested my technique. Fortunately, I can count on one hand all the people who have. Unfortunately, they all got hurt, which is in large part why I'm so reluctant to "stick up for myself."

Nonetheless, there do seem to be times when "tit for tat", as Janet R. puts it, is necessary. I think the trick for me will be deciding exactly when that is. I'm not a temperamental guy, so its not my "default setting" to flash off at some boob trying to make him/herself look good at my expense. I think my present "default setting" is too far on the other end of the spectrum. Really, I guess I'm trying to find a balance in my response to jerks on the mat that hasn't been there. I think being far too nice is, in it's own way, as bad as being far too mean. And so, I'm going to adjust to a more even "setting."

Mark Uttech
06-03-2007, 05:38 PM
George Ledyard"s comments are spot on. It is a good part of practice to be surprised and to practice being surprised Nothing works more on your spirit than the unknown. So these are rightly called: training lessons.

In gassho,

mark

Nick P.
06-03-2007, 08:42 PM
On these "pecking order" issues, I always remember Funakoshi's statement that "if it's not important enough to die over, you shouldn't be fighting".

Thanks for that one.
Sigged (as in, now my signature).


When I was young and beatiful,....
You mean youger and more beautiful.
Sorry, could not resist. ;)

mathewjgano
06-05-2007, 02:24 PM
I think my problem is that I'm way too diplomatic, way too accommodating in dealing with these people. George L.'s advice to "start acting better than the other guy" is something I've always done -- especially with obnoxious higher-ranked aikidoka -- but doing so, it seems, often only encourages their obnoxiousness. I'm thinking now that, with certain individuals, giving as good as I'm getting is more appropriate than turning the other cheek.

I've often been described as "too diplomatic," the implication (as I take it) is that folks like that are too docile...the proverbial last-place finishers in life. I disagree with that assumption, though I do understand there's a grain of truth to it. In my opinion, it seems that if you're starting to be affected by things like this more than in the past, yeah a new approach is probably needed. Personally, I'm a big fan of transcending the "problem", but that doesn't mean ignoring it, like so many people seem to think...in fact my "understanding" of Aikido is essentially that we transcend a given problem by connecting with it directly. We institute change upon a situation when it's unhealthy or otherwise incorrect...again, per my "understanding." Of course, I'm sure the other fellow felt he was doing just that.
All that said, in my opinion, the way to best handle situations like that is transient. In the education field we often talk about the concept of "teachable moments." Usually it's meant to describe a diversion from the issue at hand to teach something tangential, but important in and of itself. However, I think it includes the implication that there are times which are not good to teach, even if it directly relates to the topic at hand, and that we must strive to understand these situational relationships if we desire to actually teach something meaningful.
I'm reminded of a story a sempai told me where he was training with a karateka who had come to a seminar. They were doing munetsuki sumiotoshi but the karateka kept pulling his punches so the technique wouldn't work properly. Sempai told the karateka to punch with more sincerity and he did...apparently with the intent of teaching sempai a lesson, but sempai "corner dropped" him and, while the karateka was shaken up by the experience, i'm sure he learned something useful; which was to his benefit as much as to my sempai's, if not more so. Now, I've experienced a couple situations where I've been taught in a less than pleasurable manner, and I gotta say, for a person like me who is quick to let go of most things, it took me a while to enjoy training with those personalities again, even if they were making a valid point. It's all in how you handle it I guess.
Take care,
Matt

xuzen
06-06-2007, 03:15 AM
Actually I am curious, if this problem an aikido only problem or is this problem universal in the budo world? I too have had been in similar predicament. Higher ranking belts totally shut down my techniques.

However, after taking up Judo, I do not see such problem there. You know, if in fact the higher belts will go easy on the lower belts to help them develop the flow of the technique first (think uchi-komi). I mean, they know when resistant is require (e.g. in RAN-DORI) and when 'flow with the go" is the name of the game (as in nage-komi).

My personal thought: Kihon is just a learning tools to get the correct technique. It is pointless to shut down a learner/students' progress. If you want to really test tori's technique, do it during RAN-DORI, SHIAI or JIYU-WAZA.

Back to Judo, even in RAN-DORI, it is quite difficult to launch into your favourite throw directly especially fighting someone who is more experience then oneself. You have to set it up some minor techniques or feints; what more in KATA when both partner already know each other's intention in advance.

So, in conclusion... success in shutting down tori's technique during KATA training is just plainly an EGO boosting attempt. It serves no other purpose.

Boon.

SeiserL
06-06-2007, 05:44 AM
Kihon is just a learning tools to get the correct technique. It is pointless to shut down a learner/students' progress. If you want to really test tori's technique, do it during RAN-DORI, SHIAI or JIYU-WAZA.
...
So, in conclusion... success in shutting down tori's technique during KATA training is just plainly an EGO boosting attempt. It serves no other purpose.
IMHO, it depends the degree you shut it down and for what intent. I would agree that kihon is a learning tool, but at all levels.

If a sempai is offering resistance (shutting down) than it may be to bring kohai to the next level. Just giving the technique, other than the first few levels, does no help one learn it. There should be just enough resistance (shut down) to make them work the technique, but not enough to prevent them from finding the next level.

If it is just ego on sempai's part, then yes, I would agree it is incorrect.

Just because someone has rank (or none) and some degree (or none) of physical ability, does not mean they are right (or wrong) or have worked on themselves psychologically, philosophically, or spiritually.

Whether you agree with what some one does (or not) is not nearly as important as what you do.

Some times being "nice" isn't, and some times being a "jerk" isn't.

Dazzler
06-06-2007, 06:44 AM
Some times being "nice" isn't, and some times being a "jerk" isn't.

Very true Lynn.

I've heard our top man say many times that an uke that just falls over no matter how badly you do a technique "is not your friend".

It comes down to uke either refusing to accept bad technique and offering constructive feedback either verbally or simply by physically not accepting the throw.

This is usually positive as long as it does not become blocking simply to prove that you are better than tori.

If anyone deploys this tactic then remember a bit of explanation should help even the newest of the new appreciate that you are trying to help and not just being awkward.

Cheers

D

jennifer paige smith
06-06-2007, 08:01 AM
Very true Lynn.

I've heard our top man say many times that an uke that just falls over no matter how badly you do a technique "is not your friend".

It comes down to uke either refusing to accept bad technique and offering constructive feedback either verbally or simply by physically not accepting the throw.

This is usually positive as long as it does not become blocking simply to prove that you are better than tori.

If anyone deploys this tactic then remember a bit of explanation should help even the newest of the new appreciate that you are trying to help and not just being awkward.

Cheers

D

"Uke brings your death."
(i.e. death does not 'just fall over' )

Ego death, technical death, or the death of a dream. Either way, you get to wake up. Thank you, uke.

Dan Rubin
06-06-2007, 01:16 PM
No more Mr. Nice Guy. If another aikidoka (senior or otherwise) tries to challenge my technique he/she better be up to the same challenge from me (shihan excepted, of course).

Jonathan

Earlier in this thread I asked why you would return a challenge from a 5th or 6th dan, but not from a shihan. I wasn't trying to ask a snide question (although, admittedly, I can be snide without trying). I remain curious.

Is the distinction really a distinction between the instructor and a fellow student? I can understand that (although a seminar instructor might be a 5th or 6th dan).

Or is the distinction about having greater respect for a shihan? Even though a shihan might be a 6th dan?

I guess that my curiosity is really about respect and etiquette, and how you -- and I and everyone else -- decide what lines to draw and where.

Dan

George S. Ledyard
06-06-2007, 04:11 PM
Or is the distinction about having greater respect for a shihan? Even though a shihan might be a 6th dan?

I guess that my curiosity is really about respect and etiquette, and how you -- and I and everyone else -- decide what lines to draw and where.

Dan
What is really being said here is... don't mess with the Japanese instructors...

PeterR
06-06-2007, 08:11 PM
What is really being said here is... don't mess with the Japanese instructors...

Or not - considering that there are non-Japanese Shihan.

Frankly I don't make the distinction either with respect to title or race and would never assume that someone else who made the distinction on the former, really meant the latter.

Aikibu
06-06-2007, 09:51 PM
Poor me...I always seem to attract these types. I think it's because I am a big guy with a strong center and when you show me up You look really good! LOL No worries...Just smile and let them have thier fun with you. What goes around comes around :D

This one guy a very good Aikidoka spent a few years picking on me at seminars He thought it would establish him as the Alpha male on the mat. Over time the opportunity presented itself for me to show him what that really meant and after I put him on his back he just laughed at the realization of what his mindset had achived.

We have been good bros ever since.:)

Sensei Ledyard and Smith hit the nail on the head. :)

Budo is the ACT of not using the destructive ACTION even though you want to.

William Hazen Still a Nice Guy. :)

George S. Ledyard
06-06-2007, 11:09 PM
Or not - considering that there are non-Japanese Shihan.

Frankly I don't make the distinction either with respect to title or race and would never assume that someone else who made the distinction on the former, really meant the latter.

Hi Peter,
I am certainly aware that there are non-Japanese Shihan. I just thought it was a bit strange that someone who didn't seem to have back-off about giving a 6th Dan a hard time, would turn around and say he wouldn't give a Shihan a hard time. What changed? The next Dan rank changes how you treat the person?

The fact is that Western Shihan are still rare, depending on ones organization. The Federation folks have been very good about putting their people forward so they quite few Shihan. In my organization there are no non-Japanese Shihan. I suspect that is more the norm. Many organization don't use the system at all, so the only folks called Shihan are the Japanese instructors.

Anyway, as far as I was concerned this was the only the comment seemed to make sense. Otherwise he was saying that he'd give someone like Harvey Konigsberg Sensei a hard time at 6th Dan, maybe even still give him a hard time at 7th Dan, but would stop doing so when he got his Shihan papers? I don't really believe that this was what was being implied. That's all.

Walter Martindale
06-07-2007, 02:33 PM
"When in Winnipeg, do as the Winnipegers do."

Ah...no. Doesn't have the same classic ring to it. "Winnipegers" just sounds kinda' silly.:crazy:



Yeah, John...there's two "g" in Winnipegger... There's the whole problem...
Walter - former Winnipegger

jennifer paige smith
06-08-2007, 08:56 AM
Yeah, John...there's two "g" in Winnipegger... There's the whole problem...
Walter - former Winnipegger

Here a peg, there a peg, everywhere a peg, peg...ole macdonald had a dojo eeyi, eeyi, ohhhhh.

From a family of 'Kokyu Hosers:) ', jen

Mato-san
06-09-2007, 08:30 AM
I did some training years ago for some serious juvenile delinquents. These kids were on their last chance before big time adult jail. One of the things I said to them was that Aikido is about freedom. How can you live non-reactively, control your own life... Some of these kids went through life totally reactively. Someone "disses" them and they feel that they have to shoot them in response. I pointed out to them that living this way, you aren't free; you are letting everyone else determine your actions.


I was one of these guys....not guided by GS.L but none the less been through a big mill that none of you could begin to understand..but then again you have your own mill. Anyhow GS.L made another point about harmony in the work place...this is funny for me and fantasic at the same time! I had been working solid in a place for a while and being pushed around by a senior in the work place....I was given a chance by the top dog to completely turn the tables on this guy and completely rob him of a job and a life..instead my choice was harmony and it is paying off big time...I left and made better things happen .
A thought on this topic (even if the guy has seniority, if your choice is harmony you will always win...be it the form of verbal, spiritual...pin, throw, aikido OYO HENKA ...etc many forms) make it happen through harmony the philosiphy works well...nice thread and I would love to do some work with some kids like GS.L has done...I was one of them.

jennifer paige smith
06-10-2007, 10:26 PM
I was one of those kids, too. This is what I did.
www.santacruz.k12.ca.us/alt_ed/bodymindspirit07.html

Hanna B
06-11-2007, 06:05 AM
What is it that we are training for? I look at these things as test of my own ability to stay calm and non-reactive. That fact that the other guy is a butt head is simply not my problem. What's the upset here? This guy has some ego issues going on and he's running them on you... It's not your problem until you buy into them. Now you have ego issues going on. You've allowed someone to push your buttons and get you pissed off.

How will you approach the same issues in your life? If your partner in your relationship has a bad day and pushes some of your buttons, will you push back? Most folks do of course so it's no big failure... but then most folks end up divorced as well.

We are not talking about a beginner her getting mad at a stupid fellow aikidoka att his first seminar. We are talking about this guy

This sort of thing isn't unique to my experience as an aikidoka. I've had other higher-ranked aikidoka over the years block my technique to show me their way is "better" and, until now, I've not challenged them. But, I think I'm done with this nonsense. I've been doing aikido for almost twenty years and, while I'm far from mastery of this art, I'm not completely without skill either. Certainly, I've enough skill to perceive when a person's input on my technique is genuinely useful and when it is not. I can tell now when I'm dealing with a stylistic difference rather than a legitimate mechanical/martial concern. And I can see when ego is motivating someone to "correct" my technique rather than a sincere interest in seeing me improve as an aikdoka.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. If another aikidoka (senior or otherwise) tries to challenge my technique he/she better be up to the same challenge from me

It sounds like you've reached a conclusion you needed to reach. I came there much much earlier than you did. Answering challenge with challenge is not always the best response IMHO but yupps, there is something to deal with here.

Aikibu
06-11-2007, 11:10 AM
I was one of those kids, too. This is what I did.
www.santacruz.k12.ca.us/alt_ed/bodymindspirit07.html

Excellent body of work. I was one of those kids as well and have been sharing the principles of Aikido with at risk kids for over 16 years now mostly within the California Youth Authority System and in Recovery Centers.

I suppose I should start documenting this so when sceptics ask why learn Aikido... I could point them toward what you, Ellis, and George have done among others.

Thanks for sharing everyone. :)

William Hazen

One of the highest principles of Aikido IMHO is to be a nice guy. :)

I for one know what is is like to be a not a nice guy and I like to sleep at night.

Don_Modesto
06-11-2007, 02:17 PM
....The Federation folks have been very good about putting their people forward so they quite few Shihan. In my organization there are no non-Japanese Shihan. I suspect that is more the norm. Many organization don't use the system at all, so the only folks called Shihan are the Japanese instructors.Hi, George,

Curious, this.

Have you talked with Saotome about his understanding of the term/title "SHIHAN"? That carving at the entrance to his house does say something like SHIHAN University, right? No one's graduated?! Or is it just assumed at some cut off rank (which would be...what?)

Thanks.

Peter Goldsbury
06-11-2007, 03:23 PM
Hi, George,

Curious, this.

Have you talked with Saotome about his understanding of the term/title "SHIHAN"? That carving at the entrance to his house does say something like SHIHAN University, right? No one's graduated?! Or is it just assumed at some cut off rank (which would be...what?)

Thanks.

Don,

What is the actual wording (in the sense that in Japanese shihan gakkou does not mean a school for shihan)?

Best wishes,

George S. Ledyard
06-11-2007, 04:45 PM
Hi, George,

Curious, this.

Have you talked with Saotome about his understanding of the term/title "SHIHAN"? That carving at the entrance to his house does say something like SHIHAN University, right? No one's graduated?! Or is it just assumed at some cut off rank (which would be...what?)

Thanks.

Saotome Sensei has always used the more traditional usage... as far as he is concerned, his 6th Dans are "shihan". But in the sense that the term is used by the Aikkai, with whom we are associated, none of us are "officially" Shihan in the sense that we do not have any certificates from Honbu dojo stating that we are. When I started Aikido it seemed to be accepted that 6th Dan and up was considered "Shihan". Of course, at that time the senior Americans in Aikido were 4th Dans. Later, when their were a number of foreign 6th Dans, the bar seemed to get raised and "Shihan" seemed to be associated with 7th Dan. Of course, since the Dan ranks are finite, raising the bar every few years couldn't go on forever, so now that there are foreign 7th Dans, there are finally, foreign Shihan, complete with certificates. However, the last I checked, if you went to the Hombu dojo website and looked under their list of overseas instructors, you wouldn't find any of these foreign Shihan listed. In my opinion the real meaning of this title is in the process of being defined over time by the membership rather than the organization which issues the certificates.

antonis paps
06-11-2007, 07:32 PM
Here a peg, there a peg, everywhere a peg, peg...ole macdonald had a dojo eeyi, eeyi, ohhhhh.

From a family of 'Kokyu Hosers:) ', jen

Oh I laughed so much with this one:D ;)

Peter Goldsbury
06-11-2007, 09:54 PM
But in the sense that the term is used by the Aikkai, with whom we are associated, none of us are "officially" Shihan in the sense that we do not have any certificates from Honbu dojo stating that we are. When I started Aikido it seemed to be accepted that 6th Dan and up was considered "Shihan". Of course, at that time the senior Americans in Aikido were 4th Dans. Later, when their were a number of foreign 6th Dans, the bar seemed to get raised and "Shihan" seemed to be associated with 7th Dan. Of course, since the Dan ranks are finite, raising the bar every few years couldn't go on forever, so now that there are foreign 7th Dans, there are finally, foreign Shihan, complete with certificates. However, the last I checked, if you went to the Hombu dojo website and looked under their list of overseas instructors, you wouldn't find any of these foreign Shihan listed. In my opinion the real meaning of this title is in the process of being defined over time by the membership rather than the organization which issues the certificates.

Hello George,

There are interesting reasons why no foreign shihan are listed on the Aikikai website, the primary reason being that the title is official but confined entirely to the organization in which they are a shihan.

In Paris last March at the IAF meeting, several of us had a very interesting conversation with Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei. He was surprised to know that he was a sort of super-shihan, able to award dan grades to anyone in the world, regardless of organization. Yamada-shi was one of the first group of shihans who went overseas at the request of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. There is a second group, also on the Aikikai website, but not distinguished from the first group, comprising those shihans whose activities are confined to a particular country. The third group are the foreign shihans who can give rank only within their organizations.

The ASU has no shihans in this third group because it is not an organization officially recognized by the Aikikai. If you look on the English section of the Aikikai website, you will see a list of organizations in the US officially recognized by the Aikikai, but the ASU is not on this list. I asked the present Doshu about this once and his answer was that all the grades were handled though Saotome Sensei personally, who, in effect is the only shihan within the ASU (though Hiroshi Ikeda might qualify, since he is Japanese and was Mr Saotome's deshi in Japan). And this leaves all the other people in Japan who are, or who are regarded as, shihans but have nothing to prove it.

As you can imagine, this is a labyrinth even for the Japanese...

Anyway, there is some pressure on the IAF to stop being a Mr Nice Guy to the Aikikai Hombu.

Best wishes,

raul rodrigo
06-12-2007, 03:19 AM
In Paris last March at the IAF meeting, several of us had a very interesting conversation with Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei. He was surprised to know that he was a sort of super-shihan, able to award dan grades to anyone in the world, regardless of organization. Yamada-shi was one of the first group of shihans who went overseas at the request of Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

SIR:

Who else qualifies as the same kind of super-shihan as Yamada? He is visiting my country in November and giving dan exams. It was helpful to me to learn that he has a kind of cross-border authority to award dan ranks. Also I was wondering why you said he was surprised to learn about this.

R

George S. Ledyard
06-12-2007, 07:19 AM
There are interesting reasons why no foreign shihan are listed on the Aikikai website, the primary reason being that the title is official but confined entirely to the organization in which they are a shihan.

Peter,

Thanks for the explanation. I am amazed at how you navigate this mine field... You know you're in trouble when the explanation leaves you more confused than you were before.

So, are you saying that Doran Sensei is an official Shihan of the organization of which he is one of the principles but that technically, he isn't a Shihan as far as the USAF is concerned? Or that when he travels back to Japan, he isn't a Shihan there? I hope that's not what I am hearing because that would make the real utility of the title fairly questionable, I would say. I mean, at least your Dan Ranking travels across borders... I'm a 6th Dan at Hombu and if I moved over to the USAF for some purely hypothetical reason, I would be a 6th Dan there.

I think I liked it better when it was simply a matter of "Because Sensei said so..."

Peter Goldsbury
06-12-2007, 07:54 AM
SIR:

Who else qualifies as the same kind of super-shihan as Yamada? He is visiting my country in November and giving dan exams. It was helpful to me to learn that he has a kind of cross-border authority to award dan ranks. Also I was wondering why you said he was surprised to learn about this.

R

Hello Raul,

Well I am not the Hombu, but I think that Hiroshi Tada, Nobuyoshi Tamura, Kazuo Chiba, the late Tohei Akira and Mitsunari Kanai, Seiichi Sugano and Katsuaki Asai qualify. Yamada Sensei was surprised to learn about this because he never knew: he had never been told until recently.

Dennis Hooker
06-12-2007, 08:01 AM
Peter,

I think I liked it better when it was simply a matter of "Because Sensei said so..."

George it still is!!! Regarding Aikido the only opinion I care about is that of my sensei. Of course I'm old fashioned, old and broke down and old and in my dotage but hell the rest don't much matter to me. I am older and I think I have been doing Aikido under a Shihan’s tutelage longer that most of the teachers at Hombu Dojo so its hard to care what they think.

Where is my Metamucil,

George S. Ledyard
06-12-2007, 08:18 AM
George it still is!!! Regarding Aikido the only opinion I care about is that of my sensei. Of course I'm old fashioned, old and broke down and old and in my dotage but hell the rest don't much matter to me. I am older and I think I have been doing Aikido under a Shihan's tutelage longer that most of the teachers at Hombu Dojo so its hard to care what they think.

Where is my Metamucil,

Of course, that's the bottom line. But in the interest of moving through a world which seems increasingly smaller, having some common reference points are nice. I wouldn't mind playing by the rules if the rules made any sense...

The fact is, that amongst the folks who know, both here and in Japan, the first question they ask is "Who is your teacher and how long have you trained?" In our case that is enough, no further questions even get asked. But that isn't the case for everyone so it would be nice to understand what what the rules actually are. As near as I can tell, there are different sets of rules for folks who think they are playing the same game.

Peter Goldsbury
06-12-2007, 08:21 AM
Peter,

Thanks for the explanation. I am amazed at how you navigate this mine field... You know you're in trouble when the explanation leaves you more confused than you were before.

So, are you saying that Doran Sensei is an official Shihan of the organization of which he is one of the principles but that technically, he isn't a Shihan as far as the USAF is concerned? Or that when he travels back to Japan, he isn't a Shihan there? I hope that's not what I am hearing because that would make the real utility of the title fairly questionable, I would say. I mean, at least your Dan Ranking travels across borders... I'm a 6th Dan at Hombu and if I moved over to the USAF for some purely hypothetical reason, I would be a 6th Dan there.

I think I liked it better when it was simply a matter of "Because Sensei said so..."

George,

The organizations recognized by the Aikikai are:

1. Aikido Association of Northern California 114 Dexter Avenue Redwood City CA 94063-3617 U.S.A
2. Aikido Tenshinkai Federation http://www.tenshinkai.com/
3. California Aikido Association http://www.ai-ki-do.org/
4. Makoto Aikido Kyokai lreynosa@makotodojo.com
5. Takemusu Aikido Association 3809 Carlson Circle Palo Alto, CA94306 USA
6. United States Aikido Federation http://usaikifed.com/

The AANC is centered around Robert Nadeau, Frank Doran and Bill Witt, so Frank's Shihan title comes from his relationship with this organization, not from having been related to the ASU. Thus, he has the title, but his powers as shihan extend only within the AANC. He is certainly not a shihan in the USAF. Of course he has the title, but it is only a title.

As you suggest, one could indeed argue that it makes the utility of the title fairly questionable, but in my opinion this is a consequence of the new shihan rules. The title is exclusively tied to the organization within which one is a shihan and the only shihan who can transcend such organizational boundaries are the older deshi like Yamada and Saotome, who will soon disappear, and the members of the teaching staff of the Aikikai Honbu. Some older deshi have the title of Hombu Shihan, like Tada and Isoyama, but the shihan of the Hombu teaching staff are Honbu Shidoubu Shiban and the Aikikai newspaper is very careful about this.

Best wishes,

PS. I will eventually get round to issues like this in the Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation columns when we discuss issues like the value of aikido organizations.

PPS. Many apologies to the original poster for the thread drift.

jennifer paige smith
06-12-2007, 08:29 AM
George it still is!!! Regarding Aikido the only opinion I care about is that of my sensei. Of course I'm old fashioned, old and broke down and old and in my dotage but hell the rest don't much matter to me. I am older and I think I have been doing Aikido under a Shihan's tutelage longer that most of the teachers at Hombu Dojo so its hard to care what they think.

Where is my Metamucil,

I've been reading your writing for years, Dennis.You had written a story related to an illness that you suffering from and how aikido was your present friend (my words). I am again in agreement and inspiration with your words. I couldn't care less either. For similar and different reasons.
As a woman I've had to accept glass ceilings for a long time. How long will it take for Honbu to award me a shihan certificate, should I deserve one? Based on ethnicity, politics, and gender, I'd say, I'm not holding my breath. Does that mean I'm not a Sensei? No. Does it mean my teacher isn't a shihan, no? It simply means I have to be satisfied with my life and training exactly for what it is in my life. I let my students and friends decide. Ironically, that realizaton is what happens to help me deal with this reoccuring issue as a woman in a modern world. My dance with this issue has created an incredibly powerful independence in my personal movement and has erased a lot of illusion in me and my colleagues.

George S. Ledyard
06-12-2007, 08:55 AM
I've been reading your writing for years, Dennis.You had written a story related to an illness that you suffering from and how aikido was your present friend (my words). I am again in agreement and inspiration with your words. I couldn't care less either. For similar and different reasons.
As a woman I've had to accept glass ceilings for a long time. How long will it take for Honbu to award me a shihan certificate, should I deserve one? Based on ethnicity, politics, and gender, I'd say, I'm not holding my breath. Does that mean I'm not a Sensei? No. Does it mean my teacher isn't a shihan, no? It simply means I have to be satisfied with my life and training exactly for what it is in my life. I let my students and friends decide. Ironically, that realizaton is what happens to help me deal with this reoccuring issue as a woman in a modern world. My dance with this issue has created an incredibly powerful independence in my personal movement and has erased a lot of illusion in me and my colleagues.
I'm sorry other people have to deal with this on other levels, also.

Hi Jennifer,
On the one hand, I am with you and Dennis on this. But on the other, it does effect me. I am a professional instructor. This is how I make my living. Now once I get a chance to work with someone, my stuff will either speak to them or not. But until I get "access" people will hang on to whatever is floating around to place me in their conceptual universe.

It's very bizarre what makes a difference. People have treated me completely differently since the first Aiki Expo, for instance. It took me out of being an obscure student of a well known teacher to having some standing in my own right. Ranks and Titles are how people who don't know make decisions about things. Folks at some dojo will invite shihan to teach over someone who doesn't have one unless they are given some more tangible reasons not to.

So it's that matter of access... once you are in and people see what you can do in person, those ranks and titles mean very little. But for folks who make their living teaching, it does make a difference in how widely you get to teach. If it didn't make any difference at all, people and organizations wouldn't use the titles, but they do. So we do have some reason to care because it can effect getting equal access. This is the risk associated with following teachers who do not follow the political mainstream and are themselves less known. Once they are gone and you are on your own, no one cares where you came from. It's nice to have some tangible form of recognition which cuts across the lines.

You and Dennis and I don't really have to worry. We've been blessed to train with some of the finest teachers there are. For us, that is really enough. But I am 55, I just saw one of my fellow ASU seniors pass away, so I am sensitive to the issue of what will my students be able to say? When they tell people 25 years from now that they trained with George Ledyard, will that mean anything or will it not?

It's not that a Shihan certificate really means much but if there are no female Shihan, that does end up meaning something. It can be the fact that someone has one who has no more qualifications than you do but you do not have one that can be meaningful.

Our teachers will always be our teachers. But we need to carry on after they are gone and these issues can effect that ability.

jennifer paige smith
06-25-2007, 04:05 PM
Hi Jennifer,
On the one hand, I am with you and Dennis on this. But on the other, it does effect me. I am a professional instructor. This is how I make my living. Now once I get a chance to work with someone, my stuff will either speak to them or not. But until I get "access" people will hang on to whatever is floating around to place me in their conceptual universe.

It's very bizarre what makes a difference. People have treated me completely differently since the first Aiki Expo, for instance. It took me out of being an obscure student of a well known teacher to having some standing in my own right. Ranks and Titles are how people who don't know make decisions about things. Folks at some dojo will invite shihan to teach over someone who doesn't have one unless they are given some more tangible reasons not to.

So it's that matter of access... once you are in and people see what you can do in person, those ranks and titles mean very little. But for folks who make their living teaching, it does make a difference in how widely you get to teach. If it didn't make any difference at all, people and organizations wouldn't use the titles, but they do. So we do have some reason to care because it can effect getting equal access. This is the risk associated with following teachers who do not follow the political mainstream and are themselves less known. Once they are gone and you are on your own, no one cares where you came from. It's nice to have some tangible form of recognition which cuts across the lines.

You and Dennis and I don't really have to worry. We've been blessed to train with some of the finest teachers there are. For us, that is really enough. But I am 55, I just saw one of my fellow ASU seniors pass away, so I am sensitive to the issue of what will my students be able to say? When they tell people 25 years from now that they trained with George Ledyard, will that mean anything or will it not?

It's not that a Shihan certificate really means much but if there are no female Shihan, that does end up meaning something. It can be the fact that someone has one who has no more qualifications than you do but you do not have one that can be meaningful.

Our teachers will always be our teachers. But we need to carry on after they are gone and these issues can effect that ability.

I completely agree with everything you just said. The difference is how I imagine myself going about getting access for all the correct reasons. The reasons you yourself outlined above. But my life is short, just as yours, and the number of years I have left to fight the fight for equality are numbered. And even more numbered is the amount of energy I have to put in any one direction to effect. I fought as a young girl to achieve the right to play first string catcher on a baseball little league team before title 9, even though I was hands down the most skilled, practiced, dedicated and talented person on the team (if I may say so myself ). I fought, the commission said 'maybe later'. i fought more and they said 'yes'. I essentially had to shame them into it; as a 10 yr. old. Now other girls enjoy the rights I fought for, yet I gave up baseball at 13 because the politics were so much more entrenched in Pony League; I knew which battle to leave. I'm proud and pleased to have helped other young women enjoy the freedom they have to play sports today.But aikido is a longer hill up than the issues with baseball. And that is just with American sexism isssues. Now add on to that cultural bias and you can see how much work that becomes. Yet, I'm sure you've noticed by now, I'm no quitter. But being this far behind the eight ball in this game would take me a lifetime to change, if at all. I'd rather not.
What do I do then, if not fight the system? Well, I'm glad you asked;) , I establish independent value by valuing all of the many things that Japan doesn't as well as what it does value. I value my elders and I show it openly. I value my students, and I show it openly. I value public education, and I show it openly. I value people with integrity who sometimes get sidelined because of it, and I show it openly. I value good hard hands on work, and I show it openly. I value the right to be yourself, and I show it openly. I value the least of my brothers, and I show it openly.I know you do to. I've read it in your posts.
It may not be in the Aikido community that I gain the recognition and the exposure that I definitely deserve, but it is because of Aikido that I can show it, and I let everyone know. I have found my teaching home in alternative education sites. But a man like you, Sir, has a lot more chance of making a dent in this operation
from the inside than a girl like me. I completely support you in doing that and I would actively support you if I could ever make a difference.

I'm a professional instructor also. I'm well respected for my training, my teaching, and my heart, mostly by the shihan with whom I have practiced But I can not hope for the access that many people feel they need to make their machines run. I also wonder if people will recognize the value of my gifts when I am gone, even though I know them to be tried and true and authentic to O'Sensei's teaching. Even though I know them to be different, if not more important, than what a lot of people are saying in aikido classes and teaching. But adversity creates creativity in creative people, and that I am. And so I proudly go about my work, training my path, and looking for the thread that leads me to a place where I can share this remarkable gift that Jesus ( and O'Sensei, and my parents and my teachers ) left for me. I've had to find the value of my work in a different place than many of my training partners have had. The traditional ones just aren't available to me; and that's alright now that I have found another way. I had to knock on unusual doors to gain any access at all.

I hope I can help others find their ways through this maze, too. And I hope you keep fighing the good fight, as they say. I know we could all use the help.

I alway enjoy your conversation and the authenticity of your voice. Thanks.

gdandscompserv
06-25-2007, 04:23 PM
George,

The organizations recognized by the Aikikai are:

1. Aikido Association of Northern California 114 Dexter Avenue Redwood City CA 94063-3617 U.S.A
2. Aikido Tenshinkai Federation http://www.tenshinkai.com/
3. California Aikido Association http://www.ai-ki-do.org/
4. Makoto Aikido Kyokai lreynosa@makotodojo.com
5. Takemusu Aikido Association 3809 Carlson Circle Palo Alto, CA94306 USA
6. United States Aikido Federation http://usaikifed.com/

Peter,
What about Aikikai Associates - West Coast?
http://www.aikidoacademysocal.com/indexbb.html

Peter Goldsbury
06-25-2007, 05:18 PM
Peter,
What about Aikikai Associates - West Coast?
http://www.aikidoacademysocal.com/indexbb.html

Ricky,

The list is here: http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.htm
Click on Overseas Organizations (bottom left).

PAG

arderljohn
06-26-2007, 11:14 PM
that was very informative message to us....I hope, we should understand the meaning of "humbleness". to avoid those circumstances.

have a very Aikiday!