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Ivan Lezhnjov Jr.
06-26-2009, 11:13 PM
Hey what's up everybody.

My name's Ivan and I live in Ukraine.This is my first post on AikiWeb and I really need your opinion on a couple of questions I've got.

I've been pondering on starting learning Aikido for years. I'm 24 and I've been very, very interested in it since the childhood when I was doing SAMBO (САМБО). SAMBO is rooted in judo as you might know and it relatively resembles Aikido except I find Aikido even more fascinating for various reasons.

Okay, long story short I'm on the verge of making a decision of joining local dojo and I guess I'd never have to go on-line and ask these questions but the situation I'm in impels me to do it, kind of.

First of all, who's eligible to teach Aikido? I'm really concerned with the probability that there are dishonest people who pursue not the art but some other goals. No, I don't have any premise to think that people teaching Aikido in my town are dishonest and deceive their students. I just want to make sure that someone who says he can teach Aikido is really eligible to do it and is actually teaching Aikido. I hope you see what I mean here...

Then the second question would be like the following. What level a sensei should be to effectively teach Aikido? It's a common sense that a more experienced someone is at something the more effectively he/she will be able to teach you. But really I think I feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone being a teacher while still being actually a student himself.

What I mean here is that most likely in my town the guy who teaches Aikido has 1st, 2nd dan max. This is really the case. The highest rank Aikido practitioner in Ukraine is 5th dan, Kiyv the capital of Ukraine.

I believe 5th dan is a decent achievement and it makes a lot of sense to learn from a person with so much experience.

But hey 1st and 2nd dan... these people are still students themselves, right?

I wonder if it's worth joining dojo and being a student of a student. (I realize this is a philosophical question... everyone is a student but still)

Or is it just me being biased?

So, those are my question and dilemma stopping me from running to dojo and taking lessons just today.

Tell me what you think about it all.

Thanks in advance for your time and effort.

Janet Rosen
06-26-2009, 11:56 PM
It''s not at all a silly question. The answer may not be very simple though: Every student is different and every black belt test is a little different, so any given group of first dans may very in their skill levels. A gifted teacher requires a different skills set from a gifted practitioner: in ANY field there are people who have the ability to teach practically anything and there highly skilled people who cannot teach if their lives depend on it. Because of this, a good teacher need not be that far ahead of his students and a first dan with good teaching skills would be fine for teaching beginners IF he is sometimes training with his own teachers in order to avoid "drift" into bad habits and mistakes.

If the instructor's lineage is good (his teacher, his teacher's teacher) then you should at least visit the dojo!

My two cents; I'm sure others more qualified than me shall also jump in.

aikibudo
06-27-2009, 12:34 AM
I've trained extensively with a guy who has been training in Aikido since 1988 and hes currently only a Shodan, but his 20+ years of experience shows=) I myself dont think that ranks make a person any more or any less qualified to teach! If you are comfortable then train!

Jonathan
06-27-2009, 12:35 AM
Inasmuch as you don't know anything about Aikido, learning about it from a shodan or nidan shouldn't be much of an issue.

More important than high rank is the ability to teach well. I would rather learn Aikido from a nidan who was an effective teacher than from a godan who was not. Also, it is a mistake, I think, to assume that, because one is highly skilled at Aikido, one is necessarily highly skilled at passing on that same ability in Aikido to another. O sensei himself is a good example of what I mean. He founded Aikido but was not particularly successful in replicating his martial ability in his students. As far as I'm aware, none of his students were ever as powerful as he was.

aikibudo
06-27-2009, 12:39 AM
@ Jonathon

How do you mean powerful?

Nafis Zahir
06-27-2009, 01:36 AM
Don't look at the rank, rather look at the technique. You can also research the person by looking online. Also, anyone who is serious about Aikido, will always be a student regardless of what rank they attain.

Michael Varin
06-27-2009, 03:12 AM
Hello Ivan,

Let's get serious here.

No rank past 3rd dan is actually tested for.

It all becomes political after that level.

Rank is highly overrated and very misunderstood by most beginners (and many non-beginners as well).

Personally, I'd be much more concerned about skill level and the ability to impart that skill to others.

David Maidment
06-27-2009, 04:59 AM
You should also consider that the godan in your capital is also still a student, even if they don't actively have a teacher.

But what are you looking for? Realistically, you need someone who can teach you the basics. All the knowledge and wisdom of a godan won't mean anything if you're only learning kyu-level stuff (broadly speaking; obviously it can be beneficial); a good shodan or even ikkyu teach could guide you perfectly well at the moment. Don't worry about the grade of your instructor; worry about what they can teach you.

Chicko Xerri
06-27-2009, 05:04 AM
Hello Ivan,

Let's get serious here.

No rank past 3rd dan is actually tested for.

It all becomes political after that level.

Rank is highly overrated and very misunderstood by most beginners (and many non-beginners as well).

Personally, I'd be much more concerned about skill level and the ability to impart that skill to others.

You may have something there. I remember some time back reading or perhaps it may have been only a dream, though I recall that O'sensei was the equavilent of ni-dan when he began teaching. One never realy knows where your teacher is comming from and where he may take you untill you are willing to go allong with him / her for a while.

Carsten Möllering
06-27-2009, 06:16 AM
Hi

No rank past 3rd dan is actually tested for.
It depends:
In the aikikai the grades up to yondan are tested, because they are considered to be technical grades. And studen-grades.

It all becomes political after that level.
It depends:
Godan is the first teacher-grade in the traditional nomenclature.
So a godan is a teacher in his own rigtht and he will be redommended by his teacher and appointed by the aikikai.

I myself am a nidan, practicing since 15 years now. I only teach what I learn from my teacher (godan) and his teachers (7th and 8th dan).
My studends can verify my teaching when they train with my teacher or his teachers onseminars.
And from shodan on the gradings are tested by a jury of teachers from all over the country.

So I have to take the responsibility for what I teach.

My first teacher was nidan an had about 15 years of practice, when I asked him to be my teacher and he accepted me. I learned really a lot from him. He laid the foundation of the aikido, I#m dooing now.

It is an old tradition that the sempai teach the kohai. I learn a lot from teaching and it seems, that the students also learn from me.

Greetings,
Carsten

Carsten Möllering
06-27-2009, 06:20 AM
... I recall that O'sensei was the equavilent of ni-dan when he began teaching.
I have never heard of that.
I am quite sure that none of the arts, O sensei studied had a dan-grading-system.

And in Aikido there where no dan gradings before WWII as far as I know?

Greetings,
Carsten

crbateman
06-27-2009, 08:17 AM
Rank is largely subjective. Criteria can vary greatly within a single organization, and even more so between different organizations. And the ability to teach is not a function of rank, although the authority to grade others certainly is.

I have encountered many lower dan grades in my travels, and even some kyu grades, who could teach circles around many high-ranking Aikidoka. The ability to connect and communicate what you know is more of a personal skill than a result of training. Some seem to be born with it, others will never get there.

And the attitude of the student toward learning is also a factor. Good students can go a long way toward bridging a gap.

My personal feeling is that any time two people interact, regardless of their differences, each has something to learn from the other, and each has his own contribution to make. Most of the best teachers I can recall have the attitude that they themselves are still students.

Jason Morgan
06-27-2009, 08:18 AM
If you are worried about a fraud there are a number of things you can do. First ask for his Aikido lineage (who his instructors were and their instructors and where he trained). Aikido is such a relatively new art that we can still trace instructors back to the founder Morihei Ueshiba, also called O'Sensei. Ask which affiliation he is certified through. That should give you enough info to verify his credentials.

I know that "Real Aikido" or "Realnog Aikidoa" can be found in that part of the world. Though it includes similar techniques to Aikido I can not find any connection to O'Sensei (if anyone has information contradicting this could you please provide a reference). It appears to me what the "Real Aikido" practitioners do is effective technique, but I can't say for sure without having practiced with them. Make sure you are getting something that can be traced back to O'Sensei.

Personally if they are at Black Belt level be it shodan or godan I wouldn't see a problem training under them. But the real test is to watch their students. Can their students do the techniques well? Do they continuously make mistakes that never get corrected?

Ask if they give a free tryout class. Most good schools are willing to give a free class or two so that you may see if you are interested in the art. During this class pay attention to how he teaches his students. Is it a teaching method that you are comfortable with? When you are uke do they take your balance and then apply a technique? The Aikido techniques will be very different from what you are used to in Sambo but when you feel them you'll know if its effective or not (I came into Aikido from Judo).

Based on my own training I can recommend Iwama style if you can find it or anyone that can trace their teaching through Morihiro Saito Sensei or Shoji Nishio Sensei.

JO
06-27-2009, 08:20 AM
The Aikikai gives minimum ranks for all three levels of certified instructors. Fukushidoin are 2nd or 3rd dan, shidoin are 4th dan or above and shihan are at least 6th dan.

So to be a certified instructor one would have to be at least nidan. There are however many circumstances that could lead to someone of lower rank instructing. Personnally I would avoid learning from a low ranked instructor unless they had a good active relationship with someone of higher, preferably shihan level ability. Even with high ranked instructors (lets say the 5th and 6th dan shidoin and the shihan), I consider it a good sign if they are actively still going out to seminars to interact with others of greater or equal rank. It's a good sign that they are still keeping their aikido "fresh" and working to improve.

Peter Goldsbury
06-27-2009, 09:05 AM
Hello Mr Lezhnjov,

You have received some very good advice in this forum, but you need to relate the advice to the situation you are in.

The USA is a very mature country, as far as aikido is concerned. There are many Japanese teachers, nearly all directly connected to the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba, and these teachers, with their senior American students, many of whom are now Shihan in their own right, have created a huge population of practitioners. These practitioners have a vast range of choice: of belonging to organizations, or not; of training with independent teachers of a high technical level. So it is relatively easy for a prospective beginner to go to a dojo, watch training, talk to the shihan and satisfy herself/himself of the quality of the training and teaching. It is a buyer's market.

And so it should be. Because of the war, the US, the UK and mainland Europe were especially favored by the Aikikai in the number and quality of the Japanese shihans who were sent to these countries. Eastern Europe and the old Soviet Union were not at all favored: in fact they were pretty much ignored completely.

I myself was present at a meeting in the Aikikai Hombu, about 25 years ago, when the question arose of whether and how to spread aikido in the former Soviet Union. It was clear to me at this meeting that the Hombu did not have the faintest clue about what to do. They were not being stupid, of course: simply, the Hombu had never learned to think 'outside the box', in respect of aikido outside Japan. For the Hombu, aikido outside Japan was--and still is--a more unusual, mysterious, and sometimes unpredictable version of aikido inside Japan. Of course, there was no Japanese shihan the Hombu could send to reside in Russia and train a hard core of committed students, as O Sensei had done in Japan and had happened after the war in the US and Europe. A Russian student had come to Japan and had trained at the Aikikai Hombu. He returned home with a medium dan rank and became the head of the Russian organization covering the entire continent--with disastrous results.

Seeing the chaos in Russia (for the Russian yakuza had also discovered that running aikido dojos was a profitable activity), a group of friends in western Europe (Netherlands, Germany, Italy) decided to spread aikido in Eastern Europe. They enlisted the support of a Japanese shihan, named Masatake Fujita. Fujita Sensei is an 8th dan shihan and he regularly visited eastern Europe, usually from the Netherlands. The organizers of these trips, A H (Peter) Bacas and Giorgio Veneri, were both close friends of mine. They tried to fulfill a need that the Hombu had previously met, but could no longer do, and created fledgling groups all over eastern Europe, including the Ukraine.

Actually Fujita Sensei is just one out of a large number of Japanese shihans who have visited eastern Europe over the years. However, they were all visitors, who relied on their local students to create the same types of organization that the shihans in the USA have created--but without the years of tears and sweat that the latter had to endure.

The point of all this explanation is that aikido has not yet 'matured' in the Ukraine. I do not intend to be condescending or arrogant when I say this. I am simply stating that aikido has not been around long enough in the Ukraine to ensure the level of 'consumer choice' that exists in the USA.

So, I come back to the question in your OP of whether the person in your town is (1) eligible to teach aikido and (2) can really do so.

(1) Is the person eligible?
Well, this depends on a number of factors. In the US, I believe that anyone can open a dojo and teach aikido. The rule here is caveat emptor; buyer beware.
In the UK, teaching aikido in a municipal facility is impossible unless the organization has third-party insurance, which entails membership of the government-sponsored British Aikido Board (BAB).
The question of lineage is also important here. The person in your town might have been allowed, or commissioned, by his/her own teacher to open a dojo and teach students as part of of the training process. But this local teacher should be able to trace a lineage to someone directly trained by the Founder.

(2) Can the person really teach aikido?
I suppose this will depend in the person's technical ability and teaching ability: the two are not the same. This is something you have to judge for yourself, from attending the classes.

Your second general question: what level should a sensei be to effectively teach aikido. The explanation you give after your question reveals (to me) that you see a major gap between 'learning' and 'teaching'. Of course, you 'fluff' the question with remarks about 'philosophical' etc, but I believe that you are uneasy about entrusting your aikido training to someone who is only 2nd dan.

The Aikikai sets a general rule that the leader of an organization has to have the rank of 4th dan. So the person of 5th dan rank technically clears this condition. However, this a 'paper' condition. I myself know Fujita Sensei very well. I have taken ukemi from him for about 20 years and can see the technical quality of his senior students. I do not know the 5th dan in Kiyv, so I cannot form a judgment.

Apologies for the length of this post, but I hope it goes some way to answering your questions. I shall meet Doshu on June 30 and will relay your concerns to him directly.

Best wishes,

Suru
06-27-2009, 11:37 AM
I taught a great group of highschoolers some basics, and I feel that my main goal was probably achieved. Taking them from, "What's Aikido?" to them having a fundamental concept and knowledge of the art, hopefully will lead to a couple of them checking out a dojo someday. Now, I am a yonkyu who has missed some tests. So, maybe I could pass the sankyu or even nikkyu tests (I'd probably have to brush up on koshi and ushiro first). I guess what I've realized is, an Aikidoka, even a mudansha, can teach much to those who know much less. If I tried to train yudansha, I might not do much good on a whole. I also feel I usually did an okay job teaching at my dojo on days when Sensei couldn't make it.

Drew

Ivan Lezhnjov Jr.
06-27-2009, 12:14 PM
Thanks everyone for your replies and some good thinking on the questions raised.

It both helped me realize and reminded all at the same time (since I was really oblivious of the fact) that one should be flexible and not judge someone solely by their exterior characteristics such as a rank; rather look deeper into what a person has really to offer and how that correlates with such subjective, formal characteristic as a rank.

I believe a high rank is a desirable characteristic a sensei should have but not necessarily mandatory.

Personally I often find myself teaching someone something I've gained a profound understanding of even though I'm far from a master and would never really call myself even an expert in the field. Nevertheless, people benefit from me sharing my knowledge and experience and it seems to be working for them.

So, yeah right being a student of a student doesn't sound that bad after all given a person teaching you can do that well.

It makes perfect sense. Thanks for helping me to get a grip on this one.

Jason Morgan, thanks for a good piece of advice on checking up a sensei's credentials. Much appreciated.

I know that "Real Aikido" or "Realnog Aikidoa" can be found in that part of the world.

Never heard of neither of those. Also, I'm not really sure what part of the world were you referring to exactly?

Peter A Goldsbury, hey you made a typo when you wrote my name! Wait did you know that it should be Lezhnjov instead of Lehznjov since that's how my last name is actually spelled (I made a typo when I was entering registration information for my AikiWeb account.... for the first time in my life actually... I'll send admins a message and ask them to correct it :] )?


The point of all this explanation is that aikido has not yet 'matured' in the Ukraine. I do not intend to be condescending or arrogant when I say this. I am simply stating that aikido has not been around long enough in the Ukraine to ensure the level of 'consumer choice' that exists in the USA.

FIrst off, this is a great explanation and an insight you gave. I'm with you on the opinion that aikido awareness and it's maturity level is pretty low in Ukraine.

This is particularly frustrating for me. It's not about aikido only, I feel constrained living in Ukraine actually if you see what I mean. Don't get me wrong I love my own country and people, I just wish it was more developed and people had higher standards... just for themselves.

I digress.

You hit the bullseye pointing out and saying that Aikido in Ukraine isn't mature enough. This is exactly what concerns me personally and that's exactly why I have raised the question of verifying eligibility of someone to teach Aikido.

I'm not really enthusiastic about studying a modified, localized version of Aikido. I want to experience the true Aikido. And it seems I have very low chance of meeting my goal in Ukraine.

So, I guess I'll think twice before joining a local dojo.

Your second general question: what level should a sensei be to effectively teach aikido. The explanation you give after your question reveals (to me) that you see a major gap between 'learning' and 'teaching'. Of course, you 'fluff' the question with remarks about 'philosophical' etc, but I believe that you are uneasy about entrusting your aikido training to someone who is only 2nd dan.

Assuming that "the higher the rank the better teacher someone is" holds true, yes. But that's not really the case as so many people have already pointed out. I guess I just have never given it a thorough thought before asking my question.

Apologies for the length of this post, but I hope it goes some way to answering your questions.

Apologies? Peter, your post was most informative, interesting and to the point. I loved it and it surely went a great way to answering my questions.

I feel like truly thanking you for such an interesting perspective.

Ivan Lezhnjov Jr.
06-27-2009, 12:18 PM
Peter A Goldsbury, hey you made a typo when you wrote my name! Wait did you know that it should be Lezhnjov instead of Lehznjov since that's how my last name is actually spelled (I made a typo when I was entering registration information for my AikiWeb account.... for the first time in my life actually... I'll send admins a message and ask them to correct it :] )?

Alright, I now see that a blue colored link to a user profile is actually a correct transliteration of my name but a "Username" field has a typo.

I just thought both had an incorrect transliteration and you somehow guessed the correct one.

Mark Mueller
06-27-2009, 04:43 PM
Hello Ivan,

Let's get serious here.

No rank past 3rd dan is actually tested for.

It all becomes political after that level.

Rank is highly overrated and very misunderstood by most beginners (and many non-beginners as well).

Personally, I'd be much more concerned about skill level and the ability to impart that skill to others.

So are you saying that rank after this level is unearned? That is certainly unflattering to a lot of skilled martial artists.

Michael Varin
06-27-2009, 06:20 PM
Regarding rank past sandan:
So are you saying that rank after this level is unearned? That is certainly unflattering to a lot of skilled martial artists.
Not unearned, just earned in a different way.

A way that has practically nothing to do with martial ability or even depth of understanding. It has much more to do with who you know/associate with and what you are doing or have done to promote aikido.

I don't necessarily have a problem with this, and I don't know why it would be unflattering. Anyone who has been around aikido for a long time should have recognized it.

Personally, I see this as a deficiency of the dan ranking system not any individual martial artist.

JO
06-27-2009, 07:35 PM
Ivan,

Being in a place where the aikido scene is less mature isn't the end of the world. It may not be as easy to get the highest level of instruction, but even in a country where aikido has been around for a long time, not everybody lives anywhere near a good dojo.

I would at least go and check out the local dojo. If you are lucky, that shodan or nidan teaching in your town is one of the young aikido fanatics that are out there travelling to every seminar they can and going the extra mile to make contact with some impressive aikidoka. That kind of sensei could be very motivating, even if his personal level is not that great yet. Sometimes, when things are a little harder and you have to really work at them, you get more out of it.

I guess I'm saying, don't give up before you've even tried.

Suru
06-27-2009, 08:38 PM
Jonathan, I agree with you about finding an enthusiastic sensei, but that sensei may not be able to afford or physically handle the hardcore training exercised in traveling to seminars and the intense training that often occurs at them. So, I'm certainly not contradicting you, but please be aware that there are excellent "low" dan ranking sensei full of spirit, excellent technique, excellent leadership ability, and kindness, even if they have had to limit themselves to teaching what they do know (often much) with some repetition over the years. This repetition may be boring to some, while other students view it as a powerful means of honing their techniques.

Drew

Suru
06-27-2009, 09:44 PM
Through humor, some of the funniest TV moments I've ever seen, I am reminded not to take rank=level-of-wisdom on pure faith, even though it quite often has worked out that way for me. Here are a couple clips from when I was in junior high. They still survive on YouTube, and I'd like to share them:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g_arzPICEA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ao2bIg5kTY

Drew

Michael Varin
06-28-2009, 04:13 AM
I gotta be honest.

Drew, I have no idea where you were going with that one, but that was a great show.

It looks like we are about the same age.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2u1GKJ3csE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Icb_tRTnA4g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yvfa54j4T0

And last but not least. . .
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v02Mvz05z8I

jss
06-28-2009, 05:53 AM
I'm not really enthusiastic about studying a modified, localized version of Aikido. I want to experience the true Aikido. And it seems I have very low chance of meeting my goal in Ukraine.
I understand what you're saying, but the only way to experience the true aikido would be to have been a Japanese uchi deshi under O-sensei. All his students (and their students) modified aikido, so it wouldn't be true. And (imho) you would need to be Japanese as to not miss lots of the implicit and explicit cultural references made by O-sensei. (Forgetting for a moment that apparently even the Japanese uchi deshi often didn't understand.;) )

So basically, I'd say see if the 2nd dan is any good, if he's actively trying to improve, check his lineage, see if his students are any good, if the atmosphere in his dojo is good and then make a decision. I mean, you can also see this as an opportunity to help mature aikido in Ukraine.

NagaBaba
06-28-2009, 07:58 AM
I'm not really enthusiastic about studying a modified, localized version of Aikido. I want to experience the true Aikido. And it seems I have very low chance of meeting my goal in Ukraine.

So, I guess I'll think twice before joining a local dojo.
One option will be move to the country where you can find an aikido shihan. Other option will be do frequent travel to Japan to learn aikido directly from a shihan.

So you can experience 'true aikido' :D If you have high level in Sambo, you don't have too many choices I'm afraid....

Suru
06-28-2009, 09:22 AM
I gotta be honest.

Drew, I have no idea where you were going with that one

The idea is simple; his rank is fire marshal, teaching safety, but he does more harm than good. Ergo, his rank cannot be taken seriously.

Drew

Ivan Lezhnjov Jr.
06-28-2009, 10:28 AM
One option will be move to the country where you can find an aikido shihan. Other option will be do frequent travel to Japan to learn aikido directly from a shihan.

So you can experience 'true aikido' :D If you have high level in Sambo, you don't have too many choices I'm afraid....

That is something I've also been considering lately. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that if I have a high level in SAMBO (which is not really the case) then I don't have too many choices though.

gdandscompserv
06-28-2009, 03:53 PM
That is something I've also been considering lately. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that if I have a high level in SAMBO (which is not really the case) then I don't have too many choices though.
Don't worry, Mr. S can be quite ambiguous at times. I don't know what he meant either.

Pauliina Lievonen
06-29-2009, 05:07 AM
I think before you think of such a drastic step as moving to another country, it would be quite a sensible thing to study aikido at the local dojo at whatever level they offer instruction...

kvaak
Pauliina

Ivan Lezhnjov Jr.
06-29-2009, 08:11 AM
I think before you think of such a drastic step as moving to another country, it would be quite a sensible thing to study aikido at the local dojo at whatever level they offer instruction...

kvaak
Pauliina

Sure but the point is that it is not ONLY aikido that attracts me in another country and it's not very likely I'd move only because of it. I have many reasons to contemplate moving to another country and aikido is only one of them.

NagaBaba
06-29-2009, 10:48 AM
That is something I've also been considering lately. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that if I have a high level in SAMBO (which is not really the case) then I don't have too many choices though.

Having a good level in some MA sets your requirement very high for the quality of instruction in aikido. As a consequence, you can't study with instructor that has a low quality of skills. You can judge well his level because of your previous training. If you judge that the quality is too low in your local dojo, the only options you have, is to traveling to Japan or move to another country.

There is an old saying from Himalaya: the most important part of MA training is to find the right teacher.

*If you consider moving to another country, Montreal should be your first choice :) Excellent aikido teaching there.

Suru
06-30-2009, 03:49 PM
"No matter where you go, people are people, and the sky is the sky."

--Jubei, "Ninja Scroll" (one of the sequels)

Drew

batemanb
07-02-2009, 01:53 AM
The Aikikai sets a general rule that the leader of an organization has to have the rank of 4th dan. So the person of 5th dan rank technically clears this condition. However, this a 'paper' condition. I myself know Fujita Sensei very well. I have taken ukemi from him for about 20 years and can see the technical quality of his senior students. I do not know the 5th dan in Kiyv, so I cannot form a judgment.

Hi Peter,
It's been a while, hope you are well. I was down in Hiroshima for 1 night over Easter, but unfortunately didn't have time to stop by:( Did visit a very nice onsen down near Miyajima though, and did get two weeks with Nakao Sensei in Kobe :)

With regards to the question here, in addition to the Aikikai requirement that Peter mentions regarding the leader of an association being a minimum of 4th Dan (awarded by the Aikikai). They also state that "The relevant Aikido organization has more than one holder of 2nd dan of Aikido or above, who will assist the Person in Charge in establishing the committees for instructing and dan/kyu grading examination."

It can therefore be deemed that 2nd Dan is eligible to teach under Aikikai guides.

Having said that, there are many independant dojo's not affiliated to the Aikikai that have their own rules, and as previously mentioned above, I believe it's more to do with the instructors experience and ability to communicate the teaching, not what dan grade he has.

philipsmith
07-02-2009, 06:26 AM
Aikido is essentially a voyage of self-discovery so in one sense the rank of the sensei doesn't matter.

As long as you can learn basic movements and then develop them you're on the right path IMHO.

I'm rather long in tooth now (in Aikido terms) and remember a small group of us training on our own supplemented with as frequent visits as possible to a high ranked instructor, returning to the dojo and trying to perfect what he had taught over the next few months.

It maybe takes longer to become proficient (however you define that) but you get there in the end.

Scott Stahurski
07-02-2009, 11:20 AM
I think teaching boils down to three things.

1. The proficiency of the techniques they are going to teach.
2. The ability to teach...some people just dont feel comfortable in front of groups.
3. The willingness to teach. They may be 'X' rank, but if they dont want to teach class is going to stink.

Now proficiency is a double edged sword. The instructor may have seen or learned something at a seminar and would want to explore it further....so they are themselves learning. Exploring new ideas are always a part of aikido. Not everyone does a technique the same....how many times have we all encountered different shihonage?

Teaching is a part of learning. Plain and simple. When helping another person with a technique, how much insight have you learned by doing this?

I'm not sure a 2 dan is the right rubric for teaching....how many different 2 dan promotion requirements are out there? USAF to Hombu are greatly different in terms of hours.

So I leave it up to the person to decide what works for them for a class setting. If they can learn better from a 5th Kyu than a 2 dan, then I'm all for it....and hopefully the 'bad' instructors weed themselves out.

mathewjgano
07-02-2009, 01:55 PM
I've been pondering on starting learning Aikido for years. I'm 24 and I've been very, very interested in it since the childhood when I was doing SAMBO (САМБО). SAMBO is rooted in judo as you might know and it relatively resembles Aikido except I find Aikido even more fascinating for various reasons.

First of all, who's eligible to teach Aikido? I'm really concerned with the probability that there are dishonest people who pursue not the art but some other goals. No, I don't have any premise to think that people teaching Aikido in my town are dishonest and deceive their students. I just want to make sure that someone who says he can teach Aikido is really eligible to do it and is actually teaching Aikido. I hope you see what I mean here...
Hi Ivan! Nice to make your aquaintance. My personal view on qualifications for teaching is that there is no real way to be sure. You can check out a teacher's lineage, but that doesn't always mean anything unless you've already got familiarity with the lineage itself. Also, there's no guarentee that the individual teacher reflects the strengths and weaknesses of that lineage. I think that because you have some prior experience in a martial art it can help you since you have something to reference it with. Then again, that could also potentially give a bias which makes it harder to appreciate the lessons you might learn. So I guess I'm left with repeating, "it's hard to say for sure."

What level a sensei should be to effectively teach Aikido? It's a common sense that a more experienced someone is at something the more effectively he/she will be able to teach you. But really I think I feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone being a teacher while still being actually a student himself.
I would argue the best teachers are devout students, but my answer is that there is a gradiant involved here. I am basically not very good at Aikido, but I can teach some basic form and simple ukemi principles. One of the things I really like about my experiences learning Aikido is that the other students serve as quasi-instructors. I remember getting a variety of pointers from a variety of other students and it was great because I could compare them and internalize what seemed to work best for me. Of course, I always deferred to sensei's instruction, but each partner I trained with provided a sort of case-study for me to consider and I believe it is that individual consideration which really allows a person to learn best. That is to say, how you internalize the lesson and make it a part of your personal learning process is what I think is most important.

What I mean here is that most likely in my town the guy who teaches Aikido has 1st, 2nd dan max. This is really the case. The highest rank Aikido practitioner in Ukraine is 5th dan, Kiyv the capital of Ukraine.
One school's shodan is another school's nidan. In my short experience with Shodokan I was taught by a nidan and sandan (2nd and 3rd degree). They were both truly great teachers in my opinion.
I hope that helped somewhat.
Take care and good luck!
Matt

dalen7
07-08-2009, 04:58 PM
Well Peter gave a pretty good assessment in regards to your actual situation. [he has helped me as well get a better feel for the structure of things where I live here in Hungary...]

Here is my experience, which is not to far from yours due to some of the facts that Peter brought up in his post.

When I started my instructor was 1st kyu.
Last April, I believe, he received his shodan.

While I have read many comments questioning the ability for someone to teach at Shodan, I can say that Im sure my instructor could pass as a belt or 2 higher if he were to go stateside, etc.
[he has been at this approx. 11+ years, so that is one reason] :)

Also, our Sensei, Imre Marton, appears to have been given his 5th Dan recently from what I understand. Since his dojo is quite far away, I only get to train with him at seminars... [which one starts tomorrow.]

Point is, actually a couple of things, of which people have already pointed out:

- some may have the skill but not the teaching abilities
- you need to see for yourself what you think, in the end its up to you whether you feel you are getting anything from it or not.

As far as the organizational bit goes... sounds a bit rough, but I understand your concerns. As of now, I do not believe there is a Hungarian organization linked to the AikiKai [political reasons from how I understand it...], but it appears all of the shodans and above are linked to Tamura sensei. [which helps]

Anyway, whatever you do, enjoy. :)

Peace

dAlen