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shadowedge
07-11-2008, 07:21 AM
Hi all. I'm moving to Japan by next week. But before I leave my home country, I would like to share something that's been troubling me for quite a while.

I come from a remote province in a galaxy far far away. Since I went off to the capital to find work years ago, I've been moving a lot. Changing Jobs, being assigned to different locations etc.

Where ever I ended up, I always looked for the nearest dojo. So since I began training years ago, I've had different sensei and other than the one I studied longest under ~ my training time varied from as little as a week to as long as 2 - 3 months (give or take...)

It never really troubled me to have to step in as a white belt each time I trained at a new place. Although, I was sad because I never stayed anywhere long enough to get past white. I have reached 1st Dan though under my 1st sensei ~ because I trained under him for a little over 3 years. (That's the dojo name I am carrying with me right now).

Here's where things get complicated. My 1st sensei is in his 70's. And he has a small isolated dojo in Marikina. To me he seems more like a private tutor whose ties to the proper Aikido Authorities are obscure. He isn't doing well financially either, but he manages to get by because of private tutorials and small group trainings. I've seen his documents but they seem to be from the 60's.

So basically I feel like a very isolated practitioner whose credentials are somewhat dubious.

Looking forward, Im planning to start training from scratch in the Humbo Dojo once Im good with Nihongo, so at least that way I will get the training and legitimacy I have sought for so long. I was also hoping to help my sensei this way by refreshing his contacts or re-affiliating him with a local Kai.

But for the time being, I can't help but feel like all these years I've been like a wandering student, greatly saddened by my sensei's isolation and cloudy background.

Please share your thoughts.

Many thanks! :)

J

Enrique Antonio Reyes
07-11-2008, 07:55 AM
Hi Rene, the best of luck on your journey.

First point. You are not alone. There are probably thousands of people like you and me that does not have Hombu recognition (even if we associate ourselves with traditional aikido).

Second point. The recognized guys of Hombu aren't recognized in other schools so technically it evens things out.

Third point. I must say that you will be envied by a lot of Aikidokas who long for recognition yet does not have the opportunity. You are now in a different plane where you could validate and refine all the lessons you have gained.

Fourth point. You are not a "Ronin". We are all inspired by O' sensei's teachings so in a sense we always refer to him as our master.

One-Aiki,

Iking

Peter Goldsbury
07-11-2008, 08:19 AM
Hello Rene,

Are you a ronin? Well, if we are going to make full use of the metaphor, the answer depends on how you conceive your own relationship to your aikido 'han' (samurai clan = your original daimyo = your sensei).

First of all, you mentioned the Hombu. There are several 'Hombu' in Tokyo and it is not clear from your post which one you mean. In a general forum like this, you risk upsetting quite a few people if you assume that everyone knows which 'Hombu' you are talking about.

In addition, if by the 'Hombu' you mean the Aikikai, you should abandon any idea that by your own training in the Hombu, you can somehow re-affiliate your sensei to the Aikikai (unless you meant that you thought of re-affiliating him with a local group in the Philippines, regardless of Aikikai affiliation). The Aikikai does not work in this way.

Best wishes,

shadowedge
07-11-2008, 08:30 AM
First of all, you mentioned the Hombu. There are several 'Hombu' in Tokyo and it is not clear from your post which one you mean. In a general forum like this, you risk upsetting quite a few people if you assume that everyone knows which 'Hombu' you are talking about.

Really? Wow, I honestly didn't know. Thanks for the warning. :) But for clarification purposes ~ I was thinking of going to AIKIKAI FOUNDATION Aikido World Headquarters in Shinjuku

unless you meant that you thought of re-affiliating him with a local group in the Philippines, regardless of Aikikai affiliation.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I'm currently trying to get in touch with organization(s) here so as to ask about getting him proper accreditation of some sort.

It definitely wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. :o


Best,

J

Joe McParland
07-11-2008, 11:43 AM
[...] so at least that way I will get the training and legitimacy I have sought for so long. I was also hoping to help my sensei this way by refreshing his contacts or re-affiliating him with a local Kai.

What could be more hurtful or insulting to a respected teacher than his student's shame in him?

And what could bring more shame to a teacher than a student who cannot see beyond distractions such as rank and affiliation to the heart of what he is trying to teach?

crbateman
07-11-2008, 12:21 PM
IMHO, one trains to gain the ability. One learns to gain the knowledge. Neither is about rank or recognition.

jennifer paige smith
07-11-2008, 12:55 PM
" Aikido is for self-correction. Not for the correction of others."

Joe McParland
07-11-2008, 01:47 PM
" Aikido is for self-correction. Not for the correction of others."

Fortunately, quotes about aikido are admissible for the correction of others. I'm sure I saw it in the bylaws somewhere... ;)

jennifer paige smith
07-11-2008, 01:51 PM
Fortunately, quotes about aikido are admissible for the correction of others. I'm sure I saw it in the bylaws somewhere... ;)

Just a poem. Just a poem.
It hangs on my dojo wall. It hangs here.

lifeafter2am
07-11-2008, 02:16 PM
IMHO, one trains to gain the ability. One learns to gain the knowledge. Neither is about rank or recognition.

I agree 100%!
:D

Unless one wants to start a Dojo at one point or another though, then one would need some kind of rank .... at least I would think so.

gdandscompserv
07-11-2008, 03:57 PM
I agree 100%!
:D

Unless one wants to start a Dojo at one point or another though, then one would need some kind of rank .... at least I would think so.
I dunno. I heard Dan Harden has a hell-of-a-dojo and I'm not sure anyone knows or cares about his rank.

Kevin Leavitt
07-11-2008, 07:05 PM
Rank doesn't matter, it is what you can do. It is natural to want social legitimacy and validation, but in the big scheme of things it doesn't really matter.

I train today for the sake of training and I do what I love to do. I stopped worrying about it and let go. Know I have a whole new world that can be approached everyday with beginners mind.

shadowedge
07-11-2008, 11:11 PM
Alright, a lot of good points taken up. Thanks for the input, its exactly what I needed to help me understand things.

But, I'd like to clarify a few things:

What could be more hurtful or insulting to a respected teacher than his student's shame in him?

And what could bring more shame to a teacher than a student who cannot see beyond distractions such as rank and affiliation to the heart of what he is trying to teach?

First off when I said:

But for the time being, I can't help but feel like all these years I've been like a wandering student, greatly saddened by my sensei's isolation and cloudy background.

I really meant: ~ The truth is I'm not at all ashamed in my sensei or his cloudy background. You see, teaching Aikido was is currently his only means of livelihood. And it hurts me to see his credibility undermined here in the country because of issues like his documents are old and such. Trust me it happens a lot here. Dojo's and senseis get scrutinized a lot here by other goups / individuals / affiliations and so on, because of a lack of backing. In fact my main intention for putting this forward is because I was hoping to get some advice from more experienced people here. Besides, I'm leaving the country next week, if I manage to help my sensei before I go, this will not profit me in any way at all. I just feel that this is something I should to do for him.

It never really troubled me to have to step in as a white belt each time I trained at a new place.

Just to reiterate ~ so please let it be known, that I'm not doing this at all for the rank or the recognition. I guess I really just wasn't careful with my choice of words. My Bad. :o

Anyway, still I will take all your points to heart. I really really love Aikido. I think Enrique put it really well in his fourth point, that no matter where we are, or who we are, "We are all inspired by O' sensei's teachings so in a sense we always refer to him as our master. "

Best,

J

Peter Goldsbury
07-11-2008, 11:27 PM
Hello Rene,

Do you plan to stay in Japan permanently or for the next few years?

Hiroshima is a very long way from Tokyo, but if you need any help, please feel free to contact me. You can do so via PM from this website.

Best wishes,

nagoyajoe
07-11-2008, 11:29 PM
Looking forward, Im planning to start training from scratch in the Humbo Dojo once Im good with Nihongo, so at least that way I will get the training and legitimacy I have sought for so long.J

Don't wait to learn Japanese! Just jump right in! You can do it! And if you are ever in Nagoya, drop me an email and you can train with us here.

Best of luck!

Joe McParland
07-11-2008, 11:34 PM
I really meant: ~ The truth is I'm not at all ashamed in my sensei or his cloudy background. You see, teaching Aikido was is currently his only means of livelihood. And it hurts me to see his credibility undermined here in the country because of issues like his documents are old and such. Trust me it happens a lot here.

Forgive me, Rene - I'm known to give a cruel slap to present an alternate point of view. Let me present this differently:

It's clear you have absolute respect and sincere compassion for your first teacher---I know this feeling, even though my own first sensei and I have been separate for so long. Certainly any of your desires and actions are rooted in the best intentions.

My concern, though, is that you might have to consider this from your sensei's point of view. Does he believe the sames things that you feel are important are important to him? Many aikido (and other martial art) practitioners eventually move beyond concern for rank and affiliation, and some even develop disdain for them. Some people prefer a simple life as an ascetic, or even prefer to live in simple poverty with basic needs meant.

Do you two believe that you are both of one mind in this regard? The only difference between a gift and an insult, sometimes, is perspective.

Best regards always!

Shannon Frye
07-11-2008, 11:39 PM
IMHO,

Too many people are so worried about the paperwork that they have in their folder, and whose stamp is on it. As I tell my own students - organizations may turn their nose up at your rank from outside 'their' organization or club, but technique speaks for itself. As long as you have not just a knowledge of the techniques, but an understanding of them - no one can take that away from you. Unless you are trying to gain stature, or make a name for yourself, or be a 'somebody', students should worry more about ability and understanding of the principals of the art - and not ' who signed my certificate'.

If a beggar taught you the 'perfect' ikkyo technique, in exchange for a pair of shoes, would that make your knowledge any less effective?

just my thoughts -

Shannon

shadowedge
07-11-2008, 11:52 PM
Hello Rene,

Do you plan to stay in Japan permanently or for the next few years?

Hiroshima is a very long way from Tokyo, but if you need any help, please feel free to contact me.

Yeah, permanently I hope. Ill be living in Kokubunji, just a 1 hour ride from Shinjuku. I haven't particularly decided where to train yet, but eventually I will want to go around, and make friends where I go. hehe, now I'm really starting to feel like a ronin. :D

Don't wait to learn Japanese! Just jump right in! You can do it! And if you are ever in Nagoya, drop me an email and you can train with us here.

How far is Nagoya from Tokyo? :)

Forgive me, Rene - I'm known to give a cruel slap to present an alternate point of view. Let me present this differently:

Joe, ~ no problem ~ its all good. Love and Peace! :)

Do you two believe that you are both of one mind in this regard? The only difference between a gift and an insult, sometimes, is perspective.

Yeah, I hope he's available for a session tomorrow. If he is I will take it up with him. I really hope so, because it might just be the last time I will train with him in a while.

Best..

J

Bryan Sproles
07-17-2008, 07:43 AM
I can't say that I know the requirements of testing for Shodan at the Aikikai Hombu dojo, but you said you *are* shodan with your first sensei.

If your technique is good, perhaps they'll let you test for shodan after you've been training with them for awhile. (No disrespect meant if this is just not the way Aikikai runs its testing procedures.)

Wishing you good luck to find a new dojo in what will be your new hometown :)

-Bryan

shadowedge
07-17-2008, 08:22 AM
Thanks for the encouragement Bryan :)

-------

Talking with sesnei was really awesome. I got a peek at the somewhat colorful history of how Aikido came to this country from the perspective of 2 different senei (There was a fellow sensei present when we met last Sunday) .

He appreciated my intentions, but told me that I can put my endeavor to rest, as he'd prefer to continue teaching privately.

-----

Moving forward, I'm glad with how things are turning out. And I'm thinking I'd like to continue studying in one dojo, while at the same time visit and try out in others. :)

Paulo Barreto
07-18-2008, 05:15 AM
Best of luck with the trip and the adaptation period.

Cyrijl
07-18-2008, 07:45 AM
What if your sensei never held rank or certification? Would that make what he teaches you any less valid? I am just curious as to how you would feel if you ended up finding out the opposite of what you were searching for.

As hokey as it might sound (especially coming from me), I think that a teacher should show you some techniques to enlighten a path, not show techniques as an end unto themselves. A great many great teachers have been surpassed by their students.

Alot of the discussion here on Aikiweb seems to see this as an impossibility. But, why would you teach someone something if you didn't want them to do it at least as good as you if not better?

crbateman
07-18-2008, 09:54 AM
I think it is one of the marks of a good teacher to inspire and encourage the students to exceed him/her; to reach for their own limitations, and to continue to seek knowledge even when there is little more that the teacher can impart. Certainly, not all teachers subscribe to this theory...

jennifer paige smith
07-18-2008, 11:45 AM
What if your sensei never held rank or certification? Would that make what he teaches you any less valid? I am just curious as to how you would feel if you ended up finding out the opposite of what you were searching for.

As hokey as it might sound (especially coming from me), I think that a teacher should show you some techniques to enlighten a path, not show techniques as an end unto themselves. A great many great teachers have been surpassed by their students.

Alot of the discussion here on Aikiweb seems to see this as an impossibility. But, why would you teach someone something if you didn't want them to do it at least as good as you if not better?

This isn't the slightest bit hokey. It is really a shadow of the shadow of ranking systems that clog the pores of so much good martial arts and training relationships. One of my teachers emphatically deplores us to" pass him. look past him. get better than me." what better legacy or proof of the effaciacy of ones training than to see people going on after oneself. Conversely, can you imagine how sad it is for generous teachers to give and give and see no one carrying what they value into the future?If only he had a piece of paper?

Lyle Bogin
07-18-2008, 11:46 AM
No one can ever surpass their sensei. If they have, they've lost something.

Or their just so totally freakin' AWESOME!!!

Cyrijl
07-18-2008, 02:39 PM
No one can ever surpass their sensei. If they have, they've lost something.

I hope you say this in jest. Otherwise everything everyone is learning is just a degredation of soemthing that went before. It is neither evolution or devolution, just merely decay.

Shannon Frye
07-20-2008, 05:03 PM
My first sensei (way back in 1982) told his students that he had only one request of us - that we surpass him. I was only 12, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

Shannon

I think it is one of the marks of a good teacher to inspire and encourage the students to exceed him/her; to reach for their own limitations, and to continue to seek knowledge even when there is little more that the teacher can impart. Certainly, not all teachers subscribe to this theory...