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rob_liberti
07-18-2009, 08:56 AM
So I heard a rumor that non-Japanese cannot become shihan anymore. That sounded odd, so I wanted to read more about it (considering that there are several non-Japanese shihan now).

I was told I could find it on aikiweb, but I can't find anything about it. So apparently I stink at guessing what words to search for. Anyway, if anyone has information about this, I would like to read about it.

Thanks,
Rob

Josh Astridge
07-18-2009, 09:17 AM
Doesn't sound too correct to me,
I mean there are people such as Christian Tissier.
Surely if they're taking this privilege away why not take it from those who earnt it already?

Don_Modesto
07-18-2009, 09:48 AM
What does it even mean to be a shihan?

A name?
Who cares?

Decision making power? Over what?
Who to promote to SHODAN?
Directions aikido will take as decided by a board at Honbu, Tokyo?

Marc Abrams
07-18-2009, 10:06 AM
Damn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was hoping to lead from to GOD-EMPEROR SHIHAN of Aikido. I guess I will just have to continue my struggles as a teacher :D !

Marc Abrams

ps- MY OWN OPINION: Aikikai "Central" seems to be doing a good job at creating a sense of becoming obsolete. I do not know if we really need to assist in this process.

George S. Ledyard
07-18-2009, 01:13 PM
So I heard a rumor that non-Japanese cannot become shihan anymore. That sounded odd, so I wanted to read more about it (considering that there are several non-Japanese shihan now).

I was told I could find it on aikiweb, but I can't find anything about it. So apparently I stink at guessing what words to search for. Anyway, if anyone has information about this, I would like to read about it.

Thanks,
Rob

As Peter G has pointed out "Shihan" overseas and "Shihan" at Hombu are two separate things as far as headquarters is concerned. If they are going to have a double standard about the title, they might as well abolish it for foreigners and stick with Hombu Instructors only being Shihan.

If they keep telling us we don't matter, then I can't see how they continue to matter to us.

Dan Rubin
07-18-2009, 02:12 PM
So I heard a rumor that non-Japanese cannot become shihan anymore.

Dan Harden made the following assertion in a comment to Aikido Journal about George Ledyard's excellent blog, "Does Aikido Exist Anymore?":

"There is a clear hint that there will be no more shihan ranks given out to non Japanese and that they want ONLY shihan from Japan to spread the art and keep it pure."

Again, these were Harden's words, not Ledyard's. Harden said that he based this claim on an AikiWeb post by Peter Goldsbury. I believe he was referring to post #61 in this thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12674&page=3

It's probably best to begin by reading post #59 in that thread, by Ledyard.

Charles Hill
07-18-2009, 04:37 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9yoKv73yH0

This is a clip of Coryl Crane getting a Shihan certificate directly from Doshu. It was posted last year.

MM
07-18-2009, 04:39 PM
Actually, I think post #67 is the key one.

You'll note this important part, "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."

The question is what is the Aikikai doing with those non-Japanese "shihan" titles already conveyed? Did they change the rules and those non-Japanese "shihan" are now covered under new rules? Which means that all non-Japanese "shihan" are now organizational titles only?

So, if I get this correctly, the Aikikai is not conveying "shihan" to non-Japanese and the only "shihan" that transcends organizational boundaries are the ones teaching at Aikikai Honbu.


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.

MM
07-18-2009, 04:44 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9yoKv73yH0

This is a clip of Coryl Crane getting a Shihan certificate directly from Doshu. It was posted last year.

Shihan in the Birankai. But, as Peter pointed out, under the new rules, is she really shihan in the Aikikai? Of course, any organization can give out shihan titles, but quite a few people were under the impression that the Aikikai were also honoring those titles. It appears that is no longer the case -- That the Aikikai only honors that title under each individual organization.

JO
07-18-2009, 06:11 PM
I am willing to bet a loy of money that the Doshu would not have been giving out a Birankai certificate. I heard that the Aikikai has given it's own certificates to all of Chiba's Birankai shihans (Chiba had promoted them within his own organisation first). As far as I know he is still issueing Birankai dan and shihan certificates independently of the Aikikai, but Aikikai dan certificates can be obtained for those who want them and are willing to pay for them.

Considering that the USAF now has more thasn a dozen non-japanese shihans (I have seen Claude Berthiaume's certificate and it is signed by Doshu) and that a majority of these were given this year, I doubt this rumour has any basis to it. The regulations posted on the Aikikai website haven't been changed.

The double standard between Japan and the outside world isn't so clearly pro Japanese anyway. From what I remember it is simply that at some early point in the Aikikai's history in Japan, all 6th dan instructors started being called shihan. This is a cultural practice and no official certificate is awarded. This is true of non-Japanese instructors living in Japan. In comparison, the overseas Shihans are all awarded official certificates in keeping with the Aikikai's international regulations.

Atr any rate, the title doesn't even come with any power. The power to recommend people for Aikikai dan ranks rests with the recognised organisations and not with the individual instructors. The only exceptions I know of are some of the early aikido "missionaries", most if not all direct students of O-sensei.

Over the last couple of years, the USAF has been restructuring itself to follow this mould. The dan tests are now held in front of a panel made of members of the technical committee (as opposed to just Yamada sensei). Interestingly, the result has been that the exams are now harder to pass, probably due to the influence of the non-Japanese shihans having a say.

Ketsan
07-18-2009, 06:16 PM
ps- MY OWN OPINION: Aikikai "Central" seems to be doing a good job at creating a sense of becoming obsolete. I do not know if we really need to assist in this process.

For the past several years the only thing that hombu instructors have taught us is new ways to take ukemi which incidently make tori's job a whole lot easier.

We could throw each other fine beforehand.

Nafis Zahir
07-18-2009, 07:24 PM
As Peter G has pointed out "Shihan" overseas and "Shihan" at Hombu are two separate things as far as headquarters is concerned. If they are going to have a double standard about the title, they might as well abolish it for foreigners and stick with Hombu Instructors only being Shihan.

If they keep telling us we don't matter, then I can't see how they continue to matter to us.

If this is true, then we should separate from them. I say get rid of the ranking system altogether. Too many problems, too much politics.

gdandscompserv
07-18-2009, 07:25 PM
Personally, I train for skill, knowledge, self improvement and enlightenment. As a result this rumor has little bearing on me.

MM
07-18-2009, 07:27 PM
I am willing to bet a loy of money that the Doshu would not have been giving out a Birankai certificate. I heard that the Aikikai has given it's own certificates to all of Chiba's Birankai shihans (Chiba had promoted them within his own organisation first). As far as I know he is still issueing Birankai dan and shihan certificates independently of the Aikikai, but Aikikai dan certificates can be obtained for those who want them and are willing to pay for them.



There are two separate and distinct items here. Shihan and dan certificates. I don't think anyone here is arguing about the dan certificates. Most Aikikai affiliated organizations can get, not only their own dan certificates, but for a bit more money can get an Aikikai dan certificate.

We're talking about shihan status. I may be misunderstanding, but reading Peter's post, I took it that things changed regarding how the Aikikai views shihan status (again, not dan certificates). I also took it that there would be no more non-Japanese shihan in the Aikikai's eyes.

Do you know more about this issue than what Peter posted? If so, I'm very interested to hear it. It would help clear up some of the confusion.

Thanks,
Mark

Peter Goldsbury
07-18-2009, 07:39 PM
I think that (1) the title of the thread is not quite accurate and (2) this whole discussion needs to be placed in a proper context.

(1) As JO states, there are procedures in place for the granting of shihan titles to suitable persons in organizations that have been recognized by the Aikikai. The minimum conditions are that the person must hold 6th dan rank and must have been training and teaching for at least 6 years after this rank was bestowed. I think that a committee meets each year in January, with decisions & diplomas being conveyed to the organizations. Unlike dan promotions, they are not announced anywhere publicly. A practical consequence is that no one can become a shihan unless that person is recommended by the organization.

The real issue here (which I will not discuss) is whether the procedures put in place by the Aikikai are an adequate response to the general issue, long debated, of whether non-Japanese can become Aikikai shihan--and what this means.

(2) It is essential to see the historical context here. First, shihan is still an accepted title in Japan. It is a term in general use, in addition to being used in various arts, besides aikido. In some cases diplomas are issued; in other cases (including the Aikikai) they are not. Secondly, in aikido there are other titles that have far more 'clout' than shihan and these have to do with the organizational structure of aikido in Japan, that began when Onisaburo Deguchi created the wartime Dai Nippon Budo Senyokai, headed by Morihei Ueshiba.

After the war, it was in these remnants of old organizations that aikido restarted and these old dojos eventually became part of the new postwar structure headed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba. A loose territorial network of shibu (支部) was established, headed by a Shibu-cho, consisting of dojos headed by a Dojo-cho. These shibu-cho and dojo-cho were also regarded as shihan, but their authority came from the fact that they were shibu-cho and dojo-cho, not from the fact that they were shihan.

The Japanese pioneers in the US, like Y Yamada, A Tohei, K Chiba and S Sugano, M Saotome, would all have had experience of teaching in such dojos, mainly as a way of helping to create new organizations in Japan. Thus, the Hiroshima Shibu was created by a Hiroshima native, who often trained at the Aikikai where he was younger and who, when he became Shibu-cho, was supported by an Aikikai Hombu group (S Yamaguchi, S Arikawa, H Tada and M Fujita).

Now the US is a vast country and after the pioneers arrived there (I am thinking especially of Y Yamada, A Tohei and M Kanai--K Chiba arrived much later), they eventually set up a mutual-support group, which they called the Shihankai. The name was reasonable enough, but each really functioned as the 'Shibu-cho' in his own territory. Thus, when I trained in the US in 1973 onwards, Yamada Sensei would visit Boston occasionally and Kanai Sensei would visit Canada (Montreal and Toronto). Of course, in those days there were no non-Japanese ranked high enough to be shihan.

This has changed, however, and the maturing of aikido in the US has been paralleled over the years by an increasingly widening gap between the 'thinking' of the Shihankai and the 'thinking' of the Aikikai Hombu. 'Thinking' here covers a wide range of matters, from the 'physico-spiritual' dimensions of actual training and teaching to more mundane issues like shihan titles. The creation of the Birankai is one example of this gap, since K Chiba has in effect created an organization that is parallel to the Aikikai.

I am trying to be even-handed here, since I know well both sides of the issues, but there is much mutual frustration. On the one hand, there is frustration that the 'old ways' of training and teaching seem to be held in scant regard. On the other hand, there is frustration that Doshu is doing his best in circumstances that become more difficult with the passing of the generations and needs more constructive support (and advice) than he is receiving. The other, major, problem is that the way that the traditional Japanese master-student relation is set up, there is no accepted means of fruitful communication.

Finally, it is very clear from the youtube clip that Doshu was giving an Aikikai Shihan diploma.

I hope that this long post has cast more light on the matter. Ultimately, however, the questions raised by Don Modesto in Post #3 remain: the problem is that agreement on the answers is still far off.

Best wishes to all,

raul rodrigo
07-18-2009, 07:43 PM
Tissier seems to be treated by Hombu on par with even the top Hombu shihan. He gets to teach at the IAF congress, beside people like Endo, Yasuno and Doshu, and my impression is that even the Japanese refer to him as a Hombu shihan, not a shihan from his national organization.

He once said: The same year that I was promoted to 6th dan, there was a meeting of European Aikidoka in Stockholm. I wasn't there, but many of the Japanese teachers were. And, of course, one Japanese teacher said, "We need to have a Japanese shihan in France." The French who were there said, "Why do we need your 6th and 7th dan instructors? We have Christian Tissier who has 6th dan from Hombu Dojo." Someone said, "But is Tissier a shihan?" And Fujita Sensei, who was the General Secretary of Hombu Dojo said, "If Tissier is 6th dan from Hombu Dojo, he is a shihan from Hombu Dojo."

Peter Goldsbury
07-18-2009, 08:18 PM
Hello Raul,

You were writing your post as I was writing mine. I need to make a few comments.

Tissier seems to be treated by Hombu on par with even the top Hombu shihan. He gets to teach at the IAF congress, beside people like Endo, Yasuno and Doshu, and my impression is that even the Japanese refer to him as a Hombu shihan, not a shihan from his national organization.
PAG. There is a tatemae/honne aspect here. The tatemae is that the IAF decides who will instruct at the Congress (this means the General Secretary and myself). However, the honne is that Doshu is always consulted and his advice is almost always followed. The accepted rule is that shihans of 7th dan rank and above will be invited to instruct. However, for the last Congress, held in Tanabe, Doshu wanted more non-Japanese shihans (of course, resident abroad) to instruct. Thus one or more 7th dan ranks shihans resident in the US would normally have been invited, but it was not known whether any would be attending the Congress. However, Christian is a shihan from his national organization, not a Hombu Shihan.

He once said: The same year that I was promoted to 6th dan, there was a meeting of European Aikidoka in Stockholm. I wasn't there, but many of the Japanese teachers were. And, of course, one Japanese teacher said, "We need to have a Japanese shihan in France." The French who were there said, "Why do we need your 6th and 7th dan instructors? We have Christian Tissier who has 6th dan from Hombu Dojo." Someone said, "But is Tissier a shihan?" And Fujita Sensei, who was the General Secretary of Hombu Dojo said, "If Tissier is 6th dan from Hombu Dojo, he is a shihan from Hombu Dojo."
PAG. Yes, I was there at the meeting. Of course, there has been a Japanese shihan in France since many years before that meeting in Sweden: Nobuyoshi Tamura. However, at the time there was a major split among the Japanese shihan group between N Tamura and the rest. M Fujita was playing the role of 'honest broker'. The other Japanese refused to participate in the demonstration organized by the Swedish federation, so Fujita Sensei was the only one: I was his uke.

The whole event was a major learning experience for me about tatemae / honne. :)

PAG

raul rodrigo
07-18-2009, 09:04 PM
Thanks for the information. So the whole issue does go back to the question posed by Don. Did Fujita say at that meeting that Tissier was a Hombu shihan, and if he did, why? What is Doshu's attitude toward the creation of Birankai? Since Birankai is supposed to be bequeathed to Chiba's student T. Miyamoto of Hombu dojo, does that ensure that Hombu retains control anyway?

Peter Goldsbury
07-19-2009, 07:47 AM
Hello Raul,

A few more answers and comments.

Thanks for the information. So the whole issue does go back to the question posed by Don. Did Fujita say at that meeting that Tissier was a Hombu shihan, and if he did, why?
PAG. Fujita Sensei knew from bitter experience to choose his words very carefully. And he spoke in Japanese. However, even in English, a "6th Dan from the Hombu", a "Shihan from the Hombu" and a "Hombu Shihan" are quite different.

In your earlier post you quoted Fujita Sensei as stating that Christian T had "a 6th dan from the Hombu". This means what it states: he received his 6th dan from the Aikikai Hombu.

At the time of the meeting in Sweden, when there were no arrangements in place for the authorization of overseas shihan, Fujita Sensei's next statement is also correct: in the normal way of Japanese thinking, a "6th dan from the Hombu" is equivalent to a "shihan from the Hombu" and most shihans understand the rank in this way. But the designation of "Hombu Shihan" is quite different. It is a category over and above that of '6th dans from the Hombu' and 'shihans from the Hombu'.

For example, take Nakao Sensei from the Kobe Seibukan Dojo. He has 6th dan from the Hombu and so he is a shihan 'from the Hombu', in the normal Japanese sense, just like I am (though neither of us has any paper to prove this). however, he is not a 'Hombu Shihan', which is a title (1) indicating the kind of 'Japanese' closeness to O Sensei shared only by his early disciples, or (2) given to the most senior shihan in the Hombu's teaching department.

What is Doshu's attitude toward the creation of Birankai? Since Birankai is supposed to be bequeathed to Chiba's student T. Miyamoto of Hombu Dojo, does that ensure that Hombu retains control anyway?
PAG. What is your evidence for the bequeathing of the Birankai to T Miyamoto Shihan?

As for Doshu's attitude to the creation of the Birankai, he said, 'Hai. Wakarimashita', which is interpreted on the Birankai's website as agreement. What else could he do? I do not think the Hombu wanted to have another dramatic withdrawal by a major shihan, after the pattern of K Tohei.

Please remember that the Hombu, like the government of Japan since the Kamakura period, operates on the basis of power, interpreted in terms of efficiency, numbers, or status. At present, the Birankai has all three, but I would think that the suitability of T Miyamoto to replace K Chiba would be a major question.

Best wishes,

PAG

raul rodrigo
07-19-2009, 08:04 AM
PAG. What is your evidence for the bequeathing of the Birankai to T Miyamoto Shihan?...
Please remember that the Hombu, like the government of Japan since the Kamakura period, operates on the basis of power, interpreted in terms of efficiency, numbers, or status. At present, the Birankai has all three, but I would think that the suitability of T Miyamoto to replace K Chiba would be a major question.

Thanks again for your reply.

A friend of mine who took his shodan exam from Chiba himself in London in 2005 and had trained for some years in one of the Birankai dojos there told me that within the Birankai organization it was assumed that Tsuruzo Miyamoto would succeed Chiba when the time came. So I thought that this was the case.

The more I learn about what Doshu has to deal with, the more I understand why his hair has gone white in the past few years.

best,

RAUL

JO
07-19-2009, 09:56 AM
There are two separate and distinct items here. Shihan and dan certificates. I don't think anyone here is arguing about the dan certificates. Most Aikikai affiliated organizations can get, not only their own dan certificates, but for a bit more money can get an Aikikai dan certificate.

We're talking about shihan status. I may be misunderstanding, but reading Peter's post, I took it that things changed regarding how the Aikikai views shihan status (again, not dan certificates). I also took it that there would be no more non-Japanese shihan in the Aikikai's eyes.

Do you know more about this issue than what Peter posted? If so, I'm very interested to hear it. It would help clear up some of the confusion.

Thanks,
Mark

Actually, from what Peter is writing here, I don't see any recent change in policy. Though it is clear there is a lot going on behind the scenes that he is not telling us.

Here is a post from a few years back on Aikido Journal's bulletin board :
----------------------------------------
[I have recently received two email messages from Masaki Tani Sensei of the Aikikai International Department that provide a detailed explanation of Hombu Dojo's policy with respect to both Japanese and foreign shihan. I have excerpted the relevant portions of his communications. Only minor language and formatting changes have been made. We wish to thank Tani Sensei for placing his confidence in Aikido Journal to disseminate this information. -Ed.]
--------------------
Dear Stanley,

As I mentioned in my previous message, please feel free to use the information in my previous message about Shihan at any place and in any form but presenting my message as it is. You can state that the source of the information is Tani of the Int'l Dept. of Hombu.
--------------------
Recently I read, at the Aikido Journal's site, the debate about "Shihan". Some people are misinformed while other people have correct information and understanding about the matter. Hoping it would be help for you and your fellow Aikidokas and your readers, I would offer the following information relating to this issue.
* In Japan, there are many Shihan not mentioned here, who are professional Aikido instructors holding 6th Dan up allowed to use the title of Shihan according to the traditional rules existed even before the promulgation of Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations.
[snip]
There are four types of Shihan as follows.
1) Japanese Aikido instructors who reside outside Japan with a mission given by Hombu Dojo-Aikido World Headquarters to propagate Aikido at overseas. They are :
(in the U.S.A.)
Seiichi SUGANO (8th Dan)
Kazuo CHIBA (8th Dan)
Yoshimitsu YAMADA (8th Dan)
Mitsuya KANAI (8th Dan)
(in France)
Nobuyoshi TAMURA (8th Dan)
(in Germany)
Katsuaki ASAI (8th Dan)
2) Japanese Aikido instructors who left Japan and reside outside Japan by their own intention and determination to propagate Aikido at overseas. They are :
(in the U.S.A.)
Ichiro SHIBATA (7th Dan)
(in the UK)
Minoru KANETSUKA (7th Dan)
(in Switzerland)
Masatomi IKEDA (7th Dan)
(in Italy)
Yoji FUJIMOTO (7th Dan)
Hideki HOSOKAWA (7th Dan)
(in Spain)
Yasunari KITAURA (7th Dan)
(in Thailand)
Motohiro FUKAKUSA (7th Dan)
(in Malaysia)
Jun YAMADA (7th Dan)
(in Argentina)
Katsutoshi KURATA (7th Dan)
Kenzo MIYAZAWA (7th Dan)
(in Brazil)
Ichitami SHIKANAI (7th Dan)
Reishin KAWAI (8th Dan)
3) Instructors who are the members (incl. ex-members) of Hombu Dojo's Instructors Department. Hombu instructor becomes Shihan when given 6th Dan. They are :
Shigenobu OKUMURA (9th Dan)
Sadateru ARIKAWA (9th Dan)
Hiroshi TADA (9th Dan)
Masatake FUJITA (8th Dan)
Seishiro MASUDA (8th Dan)
Masando SASAKI (8th Dan)
Nobuyuki WATANABE (8th Dan)
Seishiro ENDO (8th Dan)
Masatoshi YASUNO (7th Dan)
Shoji SEKI (7th Dan)
Koichi TORIUMI (7th Dan)
Tsuruzo MIYAMOTO (7th Dan)
Yoshiaki YOKOTA (7th Dan)
Hayato OSAWA (7th Dan)
Yukimitsu KOBAYASHI (6th Dan)
Shigeru SUGAWARA (6th Dan)
Takanori KURIBAYASHI (6th Dan)
Takeshi KANAZAWA (6th Dan)
4) Shihan appointed by Hombu based on the rules set forth in the Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations and Rules for Appointment of Shihan. They are :
Frank DORAN (7th Dan, California Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
Robert NADEAU (7th Dan, California Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
William WITT (7th Dan, Takemusu Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
Christian TISSIER (7th Dan, FFAAA, France)
Paul C. N. LEE (7th Dan, Republic of China Aikido Association)
Kenneth E. COTTIER (6th Dan, British Aikido Federation)
Jan HERMANSSON (6th Dan, Swedish Budo Federation - Aikido Section)
[snip]
M. Tani International Department Hombu Dojo
Notes:
- For 1) and 2) above, a Certificate signed by Doshu has been given to each Shihan. However, no written rules exist for appointment of these Shihan. The arrangement reflects the historical and traditional facts.
- As for 3) above, Hombu Dojo's internal rules are applied.
- For 4) above, a Certificate signed by Doshu has been given to each Shihan.
I would like to add some more remarks about Shihan issue.
- Shihan in Japan : In Japan, before the International Regulations were promulgated about 20 years ago, there already existed many Aikido Dojo. I have heard then Hombu placed a verbal explanation that a professional Aikido instructor who was teaching Aikido in his own Dojo or other place could use the title of Shihan when awarded 6th Dan. Thus, in Japan there are many Shihan. Steven Seagal was one of them when he was running his own Dojo in Osaka. But for these Shihan in Japan, no certificate of Shihan is issued by Hombu.
- Shihan in accordance with the International Regulations and Rules for Appointment of Shihan
- It is prescribed that the Committee for Appointment of Shihan shall be held once in December every year, and the result shall be announced in January of the following year. In December of the last year, the 1st Committee was held and seven persons were appointed as Shihan out of nine candidates. This was announced in January this year, but it does not have anything to do with Kagami Biraki. The timing of the anouncement depended simply on my personal workload.
- Papers/certificates signed by the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu : As per the strong and persistent requests of individuals returning to his/her country completing the practice for several years at Hombu Dojo, the Founder and Kisshomaru Doshu signed in the documents in which it was stated that the holder of said document was a Shihan or allowed to propagate Aikido in his/her country. It was mostly before the International Regulations were promulgated in 1980. When someone mentions such a document, I say "Please keep it as an invaluable souvenir from the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu." The paper is not compatible with the rules of the International Regulations, but we cannot deny the authority of the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu.
- New Doshu's policy : Some people seem to believe that after Moriteru Doshu took his office as new Doshu, the new Doshu's (or Hombu's) policy was changed. But this is not true. For example, the modification to the International Regulations to admit more than one Recognized Organization in one country was already discussed and prepared a couple of years prior to the decease of Kisshomaru Doshu. The International Regulations were established more than 20 years ago as I mentioned above. Since then no policy change was made. The fact is that no effort was made to make the rules of the Regulations well understood by the public (Aikido world) and many of the rules were not applied or implemented.
[snip]
[ November 13, 2002: Message edited by: Editor ]
[ April 18, 2003: Message edited by: Editor ]
----------------------------------------

Nothing from Peter's posts really makes me feel that this situation has changed in any way that will affect me or my instructors.

BTW I doubt "most" aikikai groups give out their own dan certificates. My organisation, the USAF, certainly doesn't. It only awards Aikikai dans. I mentioned the dan ranks along with the shihan certificates, because these are the two certificates which, according to the Aikikai regulations, must be obtained from the Headquarters. The power to give kyu ranks and fukushidoin and shidoin certificates belongs to the various recognised organisations. I think everybody interested in this little bit of politics should ay least read the Aikikai's international regulations :

http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.htm

I have viewed all this as the Aikikai trying to move towards dealing with organisations rather than individuals. In certain countries, there isn't much choice as the governements seem to feel the need to get involved and it becomes hard to have more than one recognised organisation. Here in Noerth America, the governments stay out of it and we are left to come up with our own rules to run the organisations.

Personnally I think the idea of organisations with committees is a good one. In the USAF, we won't have Yamada running the show forever. The technical committee has made it possible to have the next generation to get involved without singleing out one individual. I hope this will make it possible for people like Claude Berthiame, Harvey Konigsberg, Donovan Waite, Peter Bernath, etc., and their students, to be able to work together far into future rather than have each Shihan go and start an independent group.

As far as the new shihan titles being organisation specific, I suppose this might be an issue if a shihan left his organisation to start a new one, but without any official powers associated with any of the teaching certificates, I don't see that it would matter much. For the groups that are recognised, the system should allow fairly smooth transmission as the generation of super-shihan slowly passes. I might be more worried if I was in a non recognised group that gets its rank through a super-shihan as you could be left hanging if that super-shihan dies.

Personally, I would be very interested in hearing the arguments in the debate Peter is caught in the middle of, but that haven't been aired publicly. After all, politics is a great and vicious spectator sport.

George S. Ledyard
07-19-2009, 10:40 AM
Tissier seems to be treated by Hombu on par with even the top Hombu shihan. He gets to teach at the IAF congress, beside people like Endo, Yasuno and Doshu, and my impression is that even the Japanese refer to him as a Hombu shihan, not a shihan from his national organization.

He once said: The same year that I was promoted to 6th dan, there was a meeting of European Aikidoka in Stockholm. I wasn't there, but many of the Japanese teachers were. And, of course, one Japanese teacher said, "We need to have a Japanese shihan in France." The French who were there said, "Why do we need your 6th and 7th dan instructors? We have Christian Tissier who has 6th dan from Hombu Dojo." Someone said, "But is Tissier a shihan?" And Fujita Sensei, who was the General Secretary of Hombu Dojo said, "If Tissier is 6th dan from Hombu Dojo, he is a shihan from Hombu Dojo."

I'll wait until a foreign instructor is asked to teach, even in a guest stin,t at the headquarters dojo. When Tissier sensei has gotten on the mat at Hombu dojo and taught, I'll believe that things have started changing.

George S. Ledyard
07-19-2009, 10:48 AM
BTW I doubt "most" aikikai groups give out their own dan certificates. My organisation, the USAF, certainly doesn't. It only awards Aikikai dans. .

Yudansha certificates of the ASU under Saotome Sensei come from the Aikikai Headquarters. The last round of certificates given by Saotome Sensei himself came when I got 4th dan. After that it's all been from the Aikikai.

Erick Mead
07-19-2009, 01:27 PM
As far as the new shihan titles being organisation specific, I suppose this might be an issue if a shihan left his organisation to start a new one, but without any official powers associated with any of the teaching certificates, I don't see that it would matter much. For the groups that are recognised, the system should allow fairly smooth transmission as the generation of super-shihan slowly passes. I might be more worried if I was in a non recognised group that gets its rank through a super-shihan as you could be left hanging if that super-shihan dies.

Personally, I would be very interested in hearing the arguments in the debate Peter is caught in the middle of, but that haven't been aired publicly. After all, politics is a great and vicious spectator sport. Really, though -- it's all about the beer.

Shihan can be (loosely) translated "Acme War-master." ;)

(Wyle E. is filling out his order as we speak... )

Which is not to detract from the legitimate accomplishments of those who have been granted the title. But it illustrates that this is analogous to a simple matter of brand management and disputes over sub-brands -- as in (what else?) -- beer. This helps take the problem out of the culturally-specific context, into a matter of common interest -- and if you aren't interested in beer, -- well, t'heckwitcha, anyway.

Hombu has a legitimate interest (and in terms of obligations, attending to honor of the inheritance) to exercise some control over the evolution of "aikido" -- as with a brand. I was in Houston this past week and happened to go to a movie, near which was a strip mall dojo with every martial art you can imagine listed on the marquee (save "ninjutsu," notably), but including "aikido". There were no indications of affiliation (and objectively, were not likely to be any), but that would have been my first question had I any inclination for training at the time.

As with beer, "brand" gives some indication that the quality of thing in the bottle comports with the labeling -- for the benefit of those with legitimate interest in it, but less objective knowledge from which to judge. It is not the only thing to be relied on for information, by any means, but in any situation where there is no concrete rule or enforceable objective standard to negate or punish bad quality, "brand" is the among the very clever indicators people have come up with to communicate some consistency of a standard quality.

"Brand" is a means to assure a certain threshold standard -- holding up the bottom end, as it were. Excellence in craft is a wholly different matter -- as the "backwater" microbrew revolution showed -- and the "standard" brands are now following in incorporating and raising the level of the standards.

Beer.

Is there anything it can't teach...? :D

dalen7
07-19-2009, 01:53 PM
I might be more worried if I was in a non recognised group that gets its rank through a super-shihan as you could be left hanging if that super-shihan dies.

If I understand what your saying correctly, from what I recall from Peters response to me along a certain line of questioning, if you have a super-shihan giving you rank, you should be fine.

But then again you are talking about an organization under a super-shihan... though if they all have recognized Dan grades from the AikiKai then I dont think there would be much of an issue with a transition. [though we humans can complicate things] :)

Dont know, at some point a lot of the politics mentioned here seems to show me why many people dont really care if they are affiliated... but everything has its place I suppose. :)

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
speaking of affiliations it really doesnt seem it matters, to the individual, until they test for Shodan.
[seeing that the kyu ranks are tested differently across the globe...]

We have the situation where we have 5 Aikido organizations in Hungary, and from my understanding none of them are recognized by Hombu. Though they are all under Tamura Sensei... So that is kind of awkward, but on a positive note, it should be easy for an individual who transfers to be accepted in an affiliated organization if they have a recognized Dan rank from the likes of Tamura Sensei... [more thinking about myself if I ever move again] :)

gdandscompserv
07-19-2009, 03:40 PM
I see that the list's above have failed to mention one of my favorite Shihan's; Francis Y. Takahashi.
http://www.aikidoacademyusa.com/academy/francis.php

Suru
07-19-2009, 04:17 PM
http://www.aikidonm.org/instructors.html

I trained at Vasquez and Teshiba's dojo when they were based in Miami. He was rokudan and "Shihan." She was godan. They were both excellent instructors in my view, and I got a good vibe from the dojo. I think it's better than a Vegas or Altantic City slot odds to say that Pablo Vasquez is not Japanese. Before I went there long ago, I visited the website and was confused. I had though that each school had one Shihan, as the ASU does (unless Ikeda's label as "successor shihan" also means flat-out shihan). So, I was confused how Yamada Shihan shared that title of master instructor with advanced sensei in his own organization (USAF). Then there's the shidoin label, which I don't understand. Does someone?

Drew

Stefan Stenudd
07-19-2009, 05:18 PM
Yes, I was there at the meeting. Of course, there has been a Japanese shihan in France since many years before that meeting in Sweden: Nobuyoshi Tamura. However, at the time there was a major split among the Japanese shihan group between N Tamura and the rest. M Fujita was playing the role of 'honest broker'. The other Japanese refused to participate in the demonstration organized by the Swedish federation, so Fujita Sensei was the only one: I was his uke.
I was also there, being one of the Swedish organizers. Actually, Iwamoto sensei also made a demonstration. I think he was shihan of Austrian aikido at the time. A wonderful man.
I don't remember exactly what the other Japanese shihans' boycot was about, but it probably had something to do with the fact that we in Sweden declined the offer from Asai sensei to become the new shihan of Sweden after Ichimura sensei had returned to Japan.

Regarding western shihan, I am quite convinced that they are still appointed, although rarely. Just a couple of years ago, Sweden got its second shihan, Ulf Evenås. Our first one was Jan Hermansson, appointed the same year as the first bunch of westerners were officially appointed shihan by the Aikikai Hombu.
Christian Tissier is one of those, as well, and from that moment on he is most definitely regarded as a proper shihan, also by the Hombu.

As far as I understand, a Hombu recognized organization can apply for one of its members to become shihan, if that person is 6 dan since at least 6 years of continued aikido activity. Hombu decides, and the decision is made public at their Kagamibiraki celebration (just like with the grades 5 dan and up). There is a diploma, which is not very elegant in style...

The Hombu expects a shihan to examine and recommend people for dan grades. If that is within his or her organization, no problem. If it is elsewhere, the shihan has to make special arrangements with the Hombu. Still, the Hombu puts great trust in the competence of its shihans, also when it comes to dan gradings.

Anjisan
07-19-2009, 07:49 PM
Actually, from what Peter is writing here, I don't see any recent change in policy. Though it is clear there is a lot going on behind the scenes that he is not telling us.

Here is a post from a few years back on Aikido Journal's bulletin board :
----------------------------------------
[I have recently received two email messages from Masaki Tani Sensei of the Aikikai International Department that provide a detailed explanation of Hombu Dojo's policy with respect to both Japanese and foreign shihan. I have excerpted the relevant portions of his communications. Only minor language and formatting changes have been made. We wish to thank Tani Sensei for placing his confidence in Aikido Journal to disseminate this information. -Ed.]
--------------------
Dear Stanley,

As I mentioned in my previous message, please feel free to use the information in my previous message about Shihan at any place and in any form but presenting my message as it is. You can state that the source of the information is Tani of the Int'l Dept. of Hombu.
--------------------
Recently I read, at the Aikido Journal's site, the debate about "Shihan". Some people are misinformed while other people have correct information and understanding about the matter. Hoping it would be help for you and your fellow Aikidokas and your readers, I would offer the following information relating to this issue.
* In Japan, there are many Shihan not mentioned here, who are professional Aikido instructors holding 6th Dan up allowed to use the title of Shihan according to the traditional rules existed even before the promulgation of Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations.
[snip]
There are four types of Shihan as follows.
1) Japanese Aikido instructors who reside outside Japan with a mission given by Hombu Dojo-Aikido World Headquarters to propagate Aikido at overseas. They are :
(in the U.S.A.)
Seiichi SUGANO (8th Dan)
Kazuo CHIBA (8th Dan)
Yoshimitsu YAMADA (8th Dan)
Mitsuya KANAI (8th Dan)
(in France)
Nobuyoshi TAMURA (8th Dan)
(in Germany)
Katsuaki ASAI (8th Dan)
2) Japanese Aikido instructors who left Japan and reside outside Japan by their own intention and determination to propagate Aikido at overseas. They are :
(in the U.S.A.)
Ichiro SHIBATA (7th Dan)
(in the UK)
Minoru KANETSUKA (7th Dan)
(in Switzerland)
Masatomi IKEDA (7th Dan)
(in Italy)
Yoji FUJIMOTO (7th Dan)
Hideki HOSOKAWA (7th Dan)
(in Spain)
Yasunari KITAURA (7th Dan)
(in Thailand)
Motohiro FUKAKUSA (7th Dan)
(in Malaysia)
Jun YAMADA (7th Dan)
(in Argentina)
Katsutoshi KURATA (7th Dan)
Kenzo MIYAZAWA (7th Dan)
(in Brazil)
Ichitami SHIKANAI (7th Dan)
Reishin KAWAI (8th Dan)
3) Instructors who are the members (incl. ex-members) of Hombu Dojo's Instructors Department. Hombu instructor becomes Shihan when given 6th Dan. They are :
Shigenobu OKUMURA (9th Dan)
Sadateru ARIKAWA (9th Dan)
Hiroshi TADA (9th Dan)
Masatake FUJITA (8th Dan)
Seishiro MASUDA (8th Dan)
Masando SASAKI (8th Dan)
Nobuyuki WATANABE (8th Dan)
Seishiro ENDO (8th Dan)
Masatoshi YASUNO (7th Dan)
Shoji SEKI (7th Dan)
Koichi TORIUMI (7th Dan)
Tsuruzo MIYAMOTO (7th Dan)
Yoshiaki YOKOTA (7th Dan)
Hayato OSAWA (7th Dan)
Yukimitsu KOBAYASHI (6th Dan)
Shigeru SUGAWARA (6th Dan)
Takanori KURIBAYASHI (6th Dan)
Takeshi KANAZAWA (6th Dan)
4) Shihan appointed by Hombu based on the rules set forth in the Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations and Rules for Appointment of Shihan. They are :
Frank DORAN (7th Dan, California Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
Robert NADEAU (7th Dan, California Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
William WITT (7th Dan, Takemusu Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
Christian TISSIER (7th Dan, FFAAA, France)
Paul C. N. LEE (7th Dan, Republic of China Aikido Association)
Kenneth E. COTTIER (6th Dan, British Aikido Federation)
Jan HERMANSSON (6th Dan, Swedish Budo Federation - Aikido Section)
[snip]
M. Tani International Department Hombu Dojo
Notes:
- For 1) and 2) above, a Certificate signed by Doshu has been given to each Shihan. However, no written rules exist for appointment of these Shihan. The arrangement reflects the historical and traditional facts.
- As for 3) above, Hombu Dojo's internal rules are applied.
- For 4) above, a Certificate signed by Doshu has been given to each Shihan.
I would like to add some more remarks about Shihan issue.
- Shihan in Japan : In Japan, before the International Regulations were promulgated about 20 years ago, there already existed many Aikido Dojo. I have heard then Hombu placed a verbal explanation that a professional Aikido instructor who was teaching Aikido in his own Dojo or other place could use the title of Shihan when awarded 6th Dan. Thus, in Japan there are many Shihan. Steven Seagal was one of them when he was running his own Dojo in Osaka. But for these Shihan in Japan, no certificate of Shihan is issued by Hombu.
- Shihan in accordance with the International Regulations and Rules for Appointment of Shihan
- It is prescribed that the Committee for Appointment of Shihan shall be held once in December every year, and the result shall be announced in January of the following year. In December of the last year, the 1st Committee was held and seven persons were appointed as Shihan out of nine candidates. This was announced in January this year, but it does not have anything to do with Kagami Biraki. The timing of the anouncement depended simply on my personal workload.
- Papers/certificates signed by the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu : As per the strong and persistent requests of individuals returning to his/her country completing the practice for several years at Hombu Dojo, the Founder and Kisshomaru Doshu signed in the documents in which it was stated that the holder of said document was a Shihan or allowed to propagate Aikido in his/her country. It was mostly before the International Regulations were promulgated in 1980. When someone mentions such a document, I say "Please keep it as an invaluable souvenir from the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu." The paper is not compatible with the rules of the International Regulations, but we cannot deny the authority of the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu.
- New Doshu's policy : Some people seem to believe that after Moriteru Doshu took his office as new Doshu, the new Doshu's (or Hombu's) policy was changed. But this is not true. For example, the modification to the International Regulations to admit more than one Recognized Organization in one country was already discussed and prepared a couple of years prior to the decease of Kisshomaru Doshu. The International Regulations were established more than 20 years ago as I mentioned above. Since then no policy change was made. The fact is that no effort was made to make the rules of the Regulations well understood by the public (Aikido world) and many of the rules were not applied or implemented.
[snip]
[ November 13, 2002: Message edited by: Editor ]
[ April 18, 2003: Message edited by: Editor ]
----------------------------------------

Nothing from Peter's posts really makes me feel that this situation has changed in any way that will affect me or my instructors.

BTW I doubt "most" aikikai groups give out their own dan certificates. My organisation, the USAF, certainly doesn't. It only awards Aikikai dans. I mentioned the dan ranks along with the shihan certificates, because these are the two certificates which, according to the Aikikai regulations, must be obtained from the Headquarters. The power to give kyu ranks and fukushidoin and shidoin certificates belongs to the various recognised organisations. I think everybody interested in this little bit of politics should ay least read the Aikikai's international regulations :

http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.htm

I have viewed all this as the Aikikai trying to move towards dealing with organisations rather than individuals. In certain countries, there isn't much choice as the governements seem to feel the need to get involved and it becomes hard to have more than one recognised organisation. Here in Noerth America, the governments stay out of it and we are left to come up with our own rules to run the organisations.

Personnally I think the idea of organisations with committees is a good one. In the USAF, we won't have Yamada running the show forever. The technical committee has made it possible to have the next generation to get involved without singleing out one individual. I hope this will make it possible for people like Claude Berthiame, Harvey Konigsberg, Donovan Waite, Peter Bernath, etc., and their students, to be able to work together far into future rather than have each Shihan go and start an independent group.

As far as the new shihan titles being organisation specific, I suppose this might be an issue if a shihan left his organisation to start a new one, but without any official powers associated with any of the teaching certificates, I don't see that it would matter much. For the groups that are recognised, the system should allow fairly smooth transmission as the generation of super-shihan slowly passes. I might be more worried if I was in a non recognised group that gets its rank through a super-shihan as you could be left hanging if that super-shihan dies.

Personally, I would be very interested in hearing the arguments in the debate Peter is caught in the middle of, but that haven't been aired publicly. After all, politics is a great and vicious spectator sport.

What then is the status of Saotome sensei and Seagal sensei? The list was quite extensive so I may have overlooked your answer.

JO
07-19-2009, 09:39 PM
Really, though -- it's all about the beer.

Shihan can be (loosely) translated "Acme War-master." ;)

(Wyle E. is filling out his order as we speak... )

Which is not to detract from the legitimate accomplishments of those who have been granted the title. But it illustrates that this is analogous to a simple matter of brand management and disputes over sub-brands -- as in (what else?) -- beer. This helps take the problem out of the culturally-specific context, into a matter of common interest -- and if you aren't interested in beer, -- well, t'heckwitcha, anyway.

Hombu has a legitimate interest (and in terms of obligations, attending to honor of the inheritance) to exercise some control over the evolution of "aikido" -- as with a brand. I was in Houston this past week and happened to go to a movie, near which was a strip mall dojo with every martial art you can imagine listed on the marquee (save "ninjutsu," notably), but including "aikido". There were no indications of affiliation (and objectively, were not likely to be any), but that would have been my first question had I any inclination for training at the time.

As with beer, "brand" gives some indication that the quality of thing in the bottle comports with the labeling -- for the benefit of those with legitimate interest in it, but less objective knowledge from which to judge. It is not the only thing to be relied on for information, by any means, but in any situation where there is no concrete rule or enforceable objective standard to negate or punish bad quality, "brand" is the among the very clever indicators people have come up with to communicate some consistency of a standard quality.

"Brand" is a means to assure a certain threshold standard -- holding up the bottom end, as it were. Excellence in craft is a wholly different matter -- as the "backwater" microbrew revolution showed -- and the "standard" brands are now following in incorporating and raising the level of the standards.

Beer.

Is there anything it can't teach...? :D

As I sit here drinking a Fin du Monde (one of the best craft beers not only of Quebec, but of the world), I hate to think that I'm caught up in the Budweiser of aikido ;)

JO
07-19-2009, 09:55 PM
If I understand what your saying correctly, from what I recall from Peters response to me along a certain line of questioning, if you have a super-shihan giving you rank, you should be fine.

But then again you are talking about an organization under a super-shihan... though if they all have recognized Dan grades from the AikiKai then I dont think there would be much of an issue with a transition. [though we humans can complicate things] :)

Dont know, at some point a lot of the politics mentioned here seems to show me why many people dont really care if they are affiliated... but everything has its place I suppose. :)

Peace

dAlen

p.s.
speaking of affiliations it really doesnt seem it matters, to the individual, until they test for Shodan.
[seeing that the kyu ranks are tested differently across the globe...]

We have the situation where we have 5 Aikido organizations in Hungary, and from my understanding none of them are recognized by Hombu. Though they are all under Tamura Sensei... So that is kind of awkward, but on a positive note, it should be easy for an individual who transfers to be accepted in an affiliated organization if they have a recognized Dan rank from the likes of Tamura Sensei... [more thinking about myself if I ever move again] :)

Your example kind of makes my point. If Tamura dies tomorrow, your five organisations lose their only direct contact with the Aikikai and have to scramble to build another one. While if Yamada and Sugano were to simultaneously leave us, the USAF would still be a recognised organisation containing several 7th dan shihans and the right to recommend and test people for Aikikai dan ranks.

I'm truly surious how a country the size of Hungary ended up with five independent groups all connected to the same guy. I guess I shouldn't be too surpreised, there are at least three groups in the province of Quebec that get their dans through Yamada:

1) The dojos affiliated to the USAF (Yamada is the chairman of our federation and is listed as the examinerfor my shodan on my Aikikai yudansha booklet)
2) Massimo's group (I may be wrong about this as Massimo may have some other connection, he is 7th dan after all, but he is not a member of an official recognised Aikikai organisation, so who knows)
3) the Quebec dojos in the Canadian Aikido Federation (The CAF is a recognised Aikikai organisation but it doesn't hold any dan examinations in our area, so they usually test at the May seminar in front of the USAF panel and then make out their own paperwork to receive the certificate from the aikikai through the CAF. I remember one friend who used to be in a CAF dojo telling me how surprised he was to see Kawahara's name in his Yudansha booklet since he had tested in front of Yamada and had had very little exposure to Kawahara at all.

JO
07-19-2009, 10:08 PM
http://www.aikidonm.org/instructors.html

I trained at Vasquez and Teshiba's dojo when they were based in Miami. He was rokudan and "Shihan." She was godan. They were both excellent instructors in my view, and I got a good vibe from the dojo. I think it's better than a Vegas or Altantic City slot odds to say that Pablo Vasquez is not Japanese. Before I went there long ago, I visited the website and was confused. I had though that each school had one Shihan, as the ASU does (unless Ikeda's label as "successor shihan" also means flat-out shihan). So, I was confused how Yamada Shihan shared that title of master instructor with advanced sensei in his own organization (USAF). Then there's the shidoin label, which I don't understand. Does someone?

Drew

Shihan has never been synonimous with leader of an organisation. In the USAF we have always had several shihans, even when this was restricted to the senior Japanese instructors. When I first started, the USAF-East had Yamada, Sugano and Kanai. I am personally more a part of Kanai's lineage than Yamada's for that matter.

For a brief explanation of shidoin and shihan, here are the relevant articles from the Aikikai International Regulations :

Article 15 : QUALIFICATIONS OF INSTRUCTORS
1. With respect to an Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition, the qualifications for instructors are as follows:
(1) Shihan
(2) Shidoin
(3) Fukushidoin
2. The titles for instructors' qualification are written in Japanese.
Article 16 : SHIHAN
1. The Hombu examines and appoints Shihan from among persons who are 6th dan or above, and who are proficient in practice and instructing.
2. To the appointed person, a Certificate of Appointment is awarded by the Hombu.
Article 17 : SHIDOIN AND FUKUSHIDOIN
1. An Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition is to have a system for qualifying Shidoin and Fukushidoin.
(1) Shidoin are persons of 4th dan or above
(2) Fukushidoin are persons of 2nd dan or 3rd dan
2. An Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition can issue a Certificate of Appointment to those whom it has appointed Shidoin and Fukushidoin.
3. An Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition must report to the Hombu the name and dan grades of those whom it has appointed Shidoin and Fukushidoin.

JO
07-19-2009, 10:24 PM
What then is the status of Saotome sensei and Seagal sensei? The list was quite extensive so I may have overlooked your answer.

I don't know that much about the history of the ASU, but I think Saotome was a Hombu shihan in Japan but his move to the US was accomapnied by a break with the Aikikai. He was accepted back into the fold sometime shortly after George Ledyard got his 4th dan. (Is this about right George?).

As far as Seagal goes, he was once a "cultural shihan" in Japan due to his rank and status as an instrucor. I don't think he ever received any kind of certification. As far as I know he no longer has an active dojo nor is he part of any aikido organisation (recognised by the Aikikai or not). Some of his former students are still active in the Aikikai. Larry Reynosa's organisation, the Makoto Aikido Kyokai, is a recognised Aikikai organisation.

gdandscompserv
07-19-2009, 10:33 PM
As far as Seagal goes, he was once a "cultural shihan" in Japan due to his rank and status as an instrucor. I don't think he ever received any kind of certification. As far as I know he no longer has an active dojo nor is he part of any aikido organisation (recognised by the Aikikai or not). Some of his former students are still active in the Aikikai. Larry Reynosa's organisation, the Makoto Aikido Kyokai, is a recognised Aikikai organisation.
Don't forget Matsuoka Sensei.

SmilingNage
07-20-2009, 12:33 AM
"There is a third way in which Birankai International will protect the unity of purpose Sensei wishes it to have. That is in the establishment of shihan title. For many years, the shihan of the North American Continental Shihankai have been negotiating with Hombu Dojo to allow for the recognition of non-Japanese teachers as shihan. In order for Aikido to truly take root outside Japan, it must develop, support, and honor teachers native to the countries where it is practiced. Unfortunately, over time, it has become apparent that the issuance of shihan title to non-Japanese must be resolved without the direct assistance of Hombu Dojo. Therefore, Chiba Sensei has given shihan title to three of the senior teachers in Birankai International US."

Well you see Chiba Sensei's intent when he formed Birankai. That passage is from Birankai's home page. This has been an issue for some time. And its clear, that non Japanese will not be getting Shihan titles from Hombu. In essence it is more power plays coming from the current Doshu to re-align the aikido world under him. He knows the original dechi of O' Sensei are getting old now , So the current Doshu is moving to reign in all the organizations under those original Deshi. You saw it earlier with the squashing of Saito at Iwama, bringing the end of the so called "Iwama style" So there would be just one recognized so called style for both Hombu and Iwama.

And now the current Doshu, after solidifying japan, takes aim at all us helpless Gajin. This is nothing more than a play to control rank. The way I see, in simplest terms, once all the 8 th dans die, hombu will start a rank "squeeze" so to speak. Since you can't promote yourself, and you can only( in theory mind you) award rank to 1 dan level below you, Hombu intends to squeeze the ranks out of the foreign organizations, in a sense forcing foreign orgs to take a "shihan" from Hombu, so new ranks can be given.

I am sure there other reasons,and maybe I paint with to broad of a stroke, but in pure simple terms its consolidation of power.

Buck
07-20-2009, 12:33 AM
I know there are Shi-hans that are not Japanese, and the contention of that in this discussion. Maybe understanding why there is more non-Japanese Shi-hans might have a deep rooted cause reflected by this story. Things may not be intentional, but result from an attitude long held by the Japanese they are not aware of.

A Woman and the Bell of Miidera

In the ancient monastery of Miidera there was a great bronze bell. It rang out every morning and evening, a clear, rich note, and its surface shone like sparkling dew. The priests would not allow any woman to strike it, because they thought that such an action would pollute and dull the metal, as well as bring calamity upon them.

When a certain pretty woman who lived in Kyoto heard this, she grew extremely inquisitive, and at last, unable to restrain her curiosity, she said: "I will go and see this wonderful bell of Miidera. I will make it send forth a soft note, and in its shining surface, bigger and brighter than a thousand mirrors, I will paint and powder my face and dress my hair."

At length this vain and irreverent woman reached the belfry in which the great bell was suspended, at a time when all were absorbed in their sacred duties. She looked into the gleaming bell and saw her pretty eyes, flushed cheeks, and laughing dimples. Presently she stretched forth her little fingers, lightly touched the shining metal, and prayed that she might have as great and splendid a mirror for her own. When the bell felt this woman's fingers, the bronze that she touched shrank, leaving a little hollow, and losing at the same time all its exquisite polish.

From, F. Hadland Davis, Myths and Legends of Japan (London: George G. Harrap and Company, 1917), pp. 141-142.

Maybe they feel parts of Aikido as a martial art, as a cultural thing are very sacred that if Aikido is full of non-Japanese Shi-hans if touched would diminish, leaving Aikido a little hollow, and and losing all its exquisite polish.

And as unfair as it seems, no where does it say in Aikido they have to adopt affirmative action. I don't think O'Sensei opened up Aikido to the world thinking any body, but Japanese where going to run it. He did follow traditional Japanese martial art hierarchical ways pasting the art on to his son, who passed Aikido on to his son. And for Japanese the governing body of Aikido is pretty liberal in this sense. I think that should be taken in consideration when taking Aikido which is a Japanese art. I mean I don't ever see a Japanese born national ever being the President. And I don't ever see a non-Japanese ruling Japan (unless by force) as Emperor of Japan no matter how many non-Japanese live in Japan. These things have to be consider part of the territory at that level of Aikido. Most people, will never be or want such a level as Shi-han. It makes me wonder though why some do.

Chris Li
07-20-2009, 12:57 AM
Well you see Chiba Sensei's intent when he formed Birankai. That passage is from Birankai's home page. This has been an issue for some time. And its clear, that non Japanese will not be getting Shihan titles from Hombu.

The Birankai was formed some time ago, and quite a few Shihan titles have flowed out of Hombu to non-Japanese since then, up to and including this year. So how is it clear that non-Japanese will not be getting Shihan titles from Hombu?

Best,

Chris

Carl Thompson
07-20-2009, 03:01 AM
I think that (1) the title of the thread is not quite accurate and (2) this whole discussion needs to be placed in a proper context.

I think Professor Goldsbury nailed some important flaws in this discussion here.

As has been pointed out, the idea that foreigners flat-out cannot become shihan in the Aikikai is at blatant odds with recent events. I hope it is unnecessary to add more names to the list of foreign shihan's getting recognised recently. This discussion seems to be more concerned with the difficulties (not impossibility) people outside of Japan (I would leave race/nationality out of it for now) face in getting their status recognised.

You saw it earlier with the squashing of Saito at Iwama, bringing the end of the so called "Iwama style" So there would be just one recognized so called style for both Hombu and Iwama.

The Aikikai is the founder's organisation, not a style of aikido. When referred to as a style, people usually mean whatever style they are most familiar with within that organisation. The "squashing" of Saito sensei is another debate, but do you really think that the Aikikai wants to impose a uniform style across the organisation?

Eva Antonia
07-20-2009, 03:42 AM
Hi all,

in Belgium we have since last year Dany Leclerre as shihan; he is a 7th dan but not on the list...

Best regards,

Eva

dalen7
07-20-2009, 05:46 AM
Your example kind of makes my point. If Tamura dies tomorrow, your five organisations lose their only direct contact with the Aikikai and have to scramble to build another one.

I'm truly surious how a country the size of Hungary ended up with five independent groups all connected to the same guy.

- Totally got the picture now... your right, it would be a mess.

- as for the second bit, I could be wrong, but it does appear that Tamura Sensei is the only Japanese Shihan that is connected to Hungary directly.

Aside from that, there is no connection to Hombu, as none of the five organizations are officially recognized by the Aikikai.

Apparently its a political rift between the organizations preventing this from happening... and why there are so many organizations as well. [Im not sure what is currently happening to bridge the gap, but I suppose we will see with time what happens.]

Part of the problem, which Peter had pointed out elsewhere, is that originally Central & Eastern Europe did not have a Shihan sent to it... So in a way we dont even have an official Shihan that was dedicated to us as it were, but Tamura Sensei took us under his wing. [seeing he is one of the super-shihans who can give rank anywhere.]

It would be nice to see this resolved, but things are not that simple as we see with the thread at hand - the rest of the world is struggling with its own issues in regards to who is what in this whole chain... [therefore some people throwing up their hands, and rightfully so, saying, "who cares, just train." ;)

While the above statement is true, it would be nice to see harmony within Aikidos organizational framework as well - :)

Peace

dAlen

CitoMaramba
07-20-2009, 05:53 AM
I would not be too concerned if there is an Aikido Teacher whom you "know" to be a "Shihan" that is not on the list that was posted previously. First of all, that list is from a bulletin board posting that was made on Nov 13, 2002, nearly seven years ago! Clearly, a lot of teachers have been appointed as Shihan of their own Aikikai affiliated organization since then.
Also please read again the portion marked by a * which I quote below:
* In Japan, there are many Shihan not mentioned here, who are professional Aikido instructors holding 6th Dan up allowed to use the title of Shihan according to the traditional rules existed even before the promulgation of Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations.

This would explain the absence of people like Saotome Sensei, Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei, Hiroshi Kato Sensei, Shoji Nishio Sensei, et al from the list.

For reference, one can read the original post made in 2002 and the ensuing discussion here:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4361

CitoMaramba
07-20-2009, 06:02 AM
I have posted this before, but perhaps it is time to bring it out again.
These are the rules for the appointment of Shihan as promulgated by the Aikikai Hombu:
Rules for Appointment of Shihan

1. Rules for Appointment of Shihan

These Rules for Appointment of Shihan have been developed based on the provisions of Paragraph 15 and 16 of the Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations, and are intended to supplement the said International Regulations.

2. Shihan

Shihan is the title of Aikido instructor defined in Paragraph 15 and 16 of the International Regulations.

3. Appointment of Shihan

The Hombu appoints Shihan at its discretion pursuant to Paragraph 16 of the International Regulations.

4. Recommendation for Title Shihan

(1) An Aikido organization which has been given Official Recognition by the Hombu can recommend any of its instructors who meets the qualifications as a candidate for Shihan.
(2) To be qualified as a candidate for Shihan, he or she must fulfill the following conditions.
- In principle, have more than six years of experience teaching Aikido in his or her organization after obtaining 6th dan.
- Be proficient in the practice and instruction of Aikido.
- Be of good personal character.
(3) An individual person cannot recommend himself or herself. The recommendation should come from the person responsible for the relevant organization and be in written form. Recommendations can be submitted at any time of the year.
(4) For recommendation of a candidate, the form attached to these Rules must be used.
(5) The Hombu shall notify the relevant organization upon receipt of the recommendation, and inform the organization of the schedule for the examination of the document submitted. Upon immediate review of the submitted documents, the Hombu may judge a candidate as not qualified at this time for being considered for the title of Shihan, and in this case will notify the relevant organization accordingly.

5. Examination and Examination Committee for Appointment of the Title of Shihan.

(1) The examination of candidates based on the document submitted shall be conducted once every year at the Hombu. The date of the examination will be determined by the Hombu. The examination shall be comprised of a review of the submitted documents and a personal interview, if necessary.
(2) The Examination Committee for Appointment of Shihan shall be established by the Hombu.

6. Notification and Certificate of Appointment

After the examination, the Hombu shall notify, in written form, the relevant organization of the result of the examination. To the person appointed as Shihan, the Hombu will send a Certificate of Appointment.

The complete rules can be read here http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/greetings/rules_for_appointment_of_shihan.html
(http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/greetings/rules_for_appointment_of_shihan.html)

MM
07-20-2009, 06:44 AM
The Birankai was formed some time ago, and quite a few Shihan titles have flowed out of Hombu to non-Japanese since then, up to and including this year. So how is it clear that non-Japanese will not be getting Shihan titles from Hombu?

Best,

Chris

I think this is of importance here:


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.


So, yes, the Aikikai Honbu can award a "shihan" certificate. However, as I understand it, that "shihan" status is *only* granted within that one organization. It does not cover the Aikikai or other organizations.

Say what you will, but if that's true, then all those non-Japanese that were awarded "shihan" status, well, really weren't. Someone changed the rules on them and now they're "shihan", but sort of on a leash, if you will. Sure, sure, you're shihan with an Aikikai stamp of approval on a piece of paper, but only in your organization. You aren't "shihan" like an Aikikai teaching staff shihan who transcends organizations. Why is that?

How would you like it if you're given this nice certificate from Doshu stating that you're a shihan, but found out that really, you're not like the shihan teaching at the Aikikai? You only have that status within your organization while the teaching staff shihan are shihan over all Aikikai organizations. The question then becomes, how many non-Japanese have a "shihan" status that is equal to the Aikikai teaching staff shihan?

I never thought about what William Oakes posted, but it makes sense. I'd hate to think it's true, though. Especially considering that there is a movement here to, er, strengthen the aiki in aikido. That kind of move that William Oakes describes could backfire on the Aikikai in a very bad way. Again, I sincerely hope it isn't what's really happening.

JO
07-20-2009, 07:24 AM
And now the current Doshu, after solidifying japan, takes aim at all us helpless Gajin. This is nothing more than a play to control rank. The way I see, in simplest terms, once all the 8 th dans die, hombu will start a rank "squeeze" so to speak. Since you can't promote yourself, and you can only( in theory mind you) award rank to 1 dan level below you, Hombu intends to squeeze the ranks out of the foreign organizations, in a sense forcing foreign orgs to take a "shihan" from Hombu, so new ranks can be given.

I am sure there other reasons,and maybe I paint with to broad of a stroke, but in pure simple terms its consolidation of power.

This seems pretty paranoid to me. The simple fact is that the title of shihan and the right to recommend and test for dan ranks is unrelated. The regulations are clear that all recognised Aikikai organisations can test people for dan rank. The ranks they can promote people to is related to the rank (not the shihan status) of the person in charge (presumably the highest ranked person in the organisation).

Here are the rules form the Aikikai web site :

Article 9 : QUALIFICATIONS FOR CONDUCTING EXAMINATIONS AND MAKING RECOMMENDATIONS
1. An Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition, when its Person in Charge is 6th dan or above, may conduct examinations from 1st dan to 4th dan. When the Person in Charge is 4th dan or 5th dan, it may conduct examinations from 1st dan to 3rd dan. In the case of a 4th dan examination, an application to Hombu must be made. and the examination will be conducted by the Hombu or a person delegated by the Hombu.
2. With respect to 5th dan and 6th dan, decisions will be made by the Hombu. However, if the Person in Charge of an Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition is 6th dan, an application for recommendation up to 5th dan can be made to the Hombu . If Person in Charge is 7th dan, application for recommendation up to 6th dan can be made.
3. Discussions relating to 7th dan or above are settled separately.

So for my organisation, the loss of the 8th dan Japanese shihans shouldn't really change anything. We have plenty of non-Japanese seventh dans and should therefore be able to continue to test and recommend people just as we can now under Yamada.

There are currently several organisations run by non-Japanese that test and recommend people for Aikikai dans (Tissier's organisation and the California group run by Nadeau and Doran come to mind). Just because the ranks of 7th dan and above are "settled seperately", that doesn't mean they are never given out. Many 7th dans have been given, and not just to people working directly under a Japanese shihan.

From what I remember Peter mentioning on previous threads, the Hombu has pretty much decided that it will no longer send out Japanese shihans to run organisations overseas, which is the opposite of the scenario you are painting.

JO
07-20-2009, 07:54 AM
I'm not sure why people are surprised and annoyed that the headquarters tries to maintain some level of control. Isn't that the role of a headquarters? Maybe the question should be, why are there no non-Japanese instructors on the Hombu staff given it's international role?

Is it racism? Is it an expectation that a sufficiently proficient foreigner should go back to his homeland to spread the word?

It would also be interesting to know how the non-Japanese "people in charge" of Aikikai organisations feel they are being treated. I don't know of any major defections by such organisations, so maybe it isn't so bad. I'm sure there are some gripes as no organisation the size of the Aikikai could possibly keep everybody happy all the time.

MM
07-20-2009, 08:31 AM
I'm not sure why people are surprised and annoyed that the headquarters tries to maintain some level of control. Isn't that the role of a headquarters? Maybe the question should be, why are there no non-Japanese instructors on the Hombu staff given it's international role?

Is it racism? Is it an expectation that a sufficiently proficient foreigner should go back to his homeland to spread the word?

It would also be interesting to know how the non-Japanese "people in charge" of Aikikai organisations feel they are being treated. I don't know of any major defections by such organisations, so maybe it isn't so bad. I'm sure there are some gripes as no organisation the size of the Aikikai could possibly keep everybody happy all the time.

I don't think surprise or annoyed is, perhaps, the right descriptors. If I recall correctly, there was a time when there were no non-Japanese 6th dans. After some amount of ... I guess your words aren't so bad after all :) ... surprise and annoyance, Aikikai Honbu changed things.

But, that created another problem -- shihan status. 6th dans thought that they would have automatic shihan status (at some point while being a 6th dan), but then, that, too, didn't really pan out. Surprise and annoyance and Aikikai are issuing shihan certificates. Which still didn't solve the initial shihan problem for the Aikikai.

Until now, we're at another moment of surprise and annoyance. That, seemingly, there are two shihan variations. One for those outside the Aikikai teaching staff and one for the Aikikai teaching staff. It would appear that the definition of shihan has changed. Now, it will be interesting to see if there is enough surprise and annoyance to get things changed ... again.

I wonder how long it will take before shihan is redefined such that those outside of Japan with shihan status can be recognized as shihan in all Aikikai Organizations outside of Japan, while shihan remains the same inside of Japan and at Aikikai Honbu. Or if considered, why it was not implemented?

And how in the world does Aikikai Honbu view a 7th dan shihan from outside of Japan that will likely have to defer (or rather entirely drop their shihan status and just be a 7th dan) to a newly appointed Aikikai Honbu training staff 6th dan shihan?

ruthmc
07-20-2009, 08:37 AM
For a brief explanation of shidoin and shihan, here are the relevant articles from the Aikikai International Regulations :

Article 15 : QUALIFICATIONS OF INSTRUCTORS
1. With respect to an Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition, the qualifications for instructors are as follows:
(1) Shihan
(2) Shidoin
(3) Fukushidoin

In this context, Shihan means "head instructor" Shidoin means "senior instructor" and Fukushidoin means "assistant instructor".

Therefore, each individual organisation has one Shihan (head instructor), a handful of Shidoin (the more senior ranked yudansha who teach locally and nationally, occasionally internationally) and under each Shidoin a group of Fukushidoin (junior ranked yudansha who teach the regular local classes).

None of these titles are a rank in their own right.

That's the way the UKA seem to understand it anyway!

Chris Li
07-20-2009, 09:36 AM
So, yes, the Aikikai Honbu can award a "shihan" certificate. However, as I understand it, that "shihan" status is *only* granted within that one organization. It does not cover the Aikikai or other organizations.

Say what you will, but if that's true, then all those non-Japanese that were awarded "shihan" status, well, really weren't. Someone changed the rules on them and now they're "shihan", but sort of on a leash, if you will. Sure, sure, you're shihan with an Aikikai stamp of approval on a piece of paper, but only in your organization. You aren't "shihan" like an Aikikai teaching staff shihan who transcends organizations. Why is that?

There really weren't any formal rules - that's what the regulations were intended to address, and that's clear from what Tani says in his statement. I'm fine with that, the only problem I have is that the regulations ought to be applied inside Japan as well.

Best,

Chris

Craig Allen Jr
07-20-2009, 10:44 AM
So, yes, the Aikikai Honbu can award a "shihan" certificate. However, as I understand it, that "shihan" status is *only* granted within that one organization. It does not cover the Aikikai or other organizations.
.

That brings up an interesting question then- what if a person who gain shihan status in his/her organization (not Hombu) later leaves that organization? Is there such a thing as a non-Japanese "independent" shihan?

Scott Stahurski
07-20-2009, 12:17 PM
I was hoping to lead from to GOD-EMPEROR SHIHAN of Aikido.

If you mail me 100 bucks, I'll print up a certificate for that if you want....

ninjaqutie
07-20-2009, 12:40 PM
This whole topic is a bit confusing for me. Haha. My sensei has the title of shihan and went to Japan to receive it. He is a student of Chiba Sensei. His name wasn't on the list above... so now I am confused as to what he would be considered. It really doesn't matter to me because he is still a great teacher and the title really doesn't mean that much to me. Just curious now. :)

JO
07-20-2009, 12:43 PM
This whole topic is a bit confusing for me. Haha. My sensei has the title of shihan and went to Japan to receive it. He is a student of Chiba Sensei. His name wasn't on the list above... so now I am confused as to what he would be considered. It really doesn't matter to me because he is still a great teacher and the title really doesn't mean that much to me. Just curious now. :)

The list was compiled in 2002, there have been a lot of shihans appointed since then.

dalen7
07-20-2009, 04:45 PM
This whole topic is a bit confusing for me. Haha. My sensei has the title of shihan and went to Japan to receive it. He is a student of Chiba Sensei. His name wasn't on the list above... so now I am confused as to what he would be considered. It really doesn't matter to me because he is still a great teacher and the title really doesn't mean that much to me. Just curious now. :)

Totally can relate to your curiosity.

On one hand, however, you have the fact that a person trained with someone who would be deemed reputable.

On another hand its about what you feel you get out of the person you train with.

So overall the politics of it plays less importance, though it does cease to amaze me how tangled things get. :)

To some extent its really about limiting numbers. You could have someone who is not a Shihan who technically speaking is better than a Shihan. Im not sure that Shihan necessarily equates to 'talent' per say, [not saying its not], but I believe the emphasis is more of a respect for time and energy [which talent would seem to be involved] for ones time spent.

Again, its more of a courtesy alongside of keeping the pyramid shaped as a pyramid less everything blur into a singularity as it were. ;)

Anyway... at the end of the day, most people wont have to worry about being a Shihan as the current status would take approx 20+ years to get there... :)

Peace

dAlen

Peter Goldsbury
07-21-2009, 01:45 AM
Actually, I am surprised that this topic has generated such interest, given the robust attitude of some AikiWeb members towards organizations. :D

There really weren't any formal rules - that's what the regulations were intended to address, and that's clear from what Tani says in his statement. I'm fine with that, the only problem I have is that the regulations ought to be applied inside Japan as well.

Best,

Chris

I think there would be major problems with applying the international regulations to Japan. The organizational structure of the Aikikai in Japan is far more fluid and contentious than is commonly acknowledged. People overseas might have the image of a smoothly running organizational machine, presided over by Doshu, and the annual jamboree known as the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration might seem strong evidence of such an image. However, the reality is somewhat different.

The All-Japan Aikido Federation is a very ghostly organization. As I was once told, and by an Hombu official, no less, this organization has no real substance. My own dojos, for example, are not members. In fact, we are functioning quite happily without belonging to any organizations at all. We are independent with a direct line to the Aikikai Hombu. So I myself do not belong to any of Mr Tani's four categories of 'official' shihan and this is just fine.

Chris Li
07-21-2009, 01:49 AM
I think there would be major problems with applying the international regulations to Japan. The organizational structure of the Aikikai in Japan is far more fluid and contentious than is commonly acknowledged. People overseas might have the image of a smoothly running organizational machine, presided over by Doshu, and the annual jamboree known as the All-Japan Aikido Demonstration might seem strong evidence of such an image. However, the reality is somewhat different.

The All-Japan Aikido Federation is a very ghostly organization. As I was once told, and by an Hombu official, no less, this organization has no real substance. My own dojos, for example, are not members. In fact, we are functioning quite happily without belonging to any organizations at all. We are independent with a direct line to the Aikikai Hombu. So I myself do not belong to any of Mr Tani's four categories of 'official' shihan and this is just fine.

Of course, that's the major catch. Even outside Japan, the Aikikai has, in reality, very little leverage that is not given to them by the organizations themselves. Still, once they put things like this out there it is inevitable that people start to question the fairness of the policy.

Best,

Chris

Alex Megann
07-21-2009, 06:52 AM
And how in the world does Aikikai Honbu view a 7th dan shihan from outside of Japan that will likely have to defer (or rather entirely drop their shihan status and just be a 7th dan) to a newly appointed Aikikai Honbu training staff 6th dan shihan?

As Mark has said, there are at least three categories here, not just two. There are those Japanese-born teachers who were trained in Japan and have been awarded shihan status. Most are still in Japan, but some are living and teaching outside Japan: for instance Chiba, Yamada and Saotome. However, a small subset of these are Aikikai Hombu Shihan, who have been trained up at the heart at the system by the Ueshiba family and senior teachers there, and are currently on the full-time teaching roll at Hombu Dojo.

Kanetsuka Sensei has talked about the status of Hombu Shihan: although we have had relatively young 6th Dans from Hombu as guest instructors at the BAF Summer School in recent years, he says that "Hombu Shihan" is a separate category to any other, including his own shihan status, since they are full-time teachers at the world headquarters dojo, and so are official representatives of the Aikikai and Doshu. In terms of relative status in reality, however, I suspect that the concept of honne-tatemae might be appropriate in this context...

As has already been mentioned, there is a growing number of non-Japanese shihan, with their title conferred by Hombu Dojo, and I have heard nothing to suggest that the Aikikai has stopped awarding these. In the UK there are around ten of these, including Terry Ezra (now 7th Dan), Matthew Holland, Gordon Jones and others.

Alex

salim
07-21-2009, 07:52 AM
It's time for Aikido in America to take over it's own destiny. The United States Aikido Federation should remove itself from the shackles of All-Japan Aikido Federation. We have enough structure and Shihan to promote and control our own organizations.

Josh Reyer
07-21-2009, 07:53 AM
In all seriousness, I'm puzzled. Let me see if I have this straight. People belonging to satellite organizations connected to Hombu Dojo are upset because their shihans don't have same universal status in other organizations as the Hombu Shihans. Is this correct?

Alex Megann
07-21-2009, 08:42 AM
In all seriousness, I'm puzzled. Let me see if I have this straight. People belonging to satellite organizations connected to Hombu Dojo are upset because their shihans don't have same universal status in other organizations as the Hombu Shihans. Is this correct?

I don't think anyone implied that any organisation was "upset" by this situation (I certainly didn't!).

In practice, many shihan (I'm thinking of Yamada, Chiba and Tamura in particular) have enough standing to be able to do what they like anyway.

Alex

C. David Henderson
07-21-2009, 09:53 AM
I don't think anyone implied that any organisation was "upset" by this situation (I certainly didn't!).
Alex

Neither does the post you quote. It asks whether people in those organizations are upset. I think that's a fair inference from the tone of a number of the posts here. And it's worth pointing out, IMO, because its not the situation suggested by the thread title.

ninjaqutie
07-21-2009, 11:36 AM
Just did a bit of research. Sensei got his 6th degree in 1996 and was awarded the title of Shihan in 2002. :)

Also found this on aikiweb. Not sure how up to date this Birankai list is either.
http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/Birankai?wiki_session=35072add728e9fb3c57de83d9bea8eec

Since his was awarded in 2002, I wouldn't even say that 2002 list was even up to date in 2002. Go figure. :)

Nafis Zahir
07-22-2009, 01:23 AM
It's time for Aikido in America to take over it's own destiny. The United States Aikido Federation should remove itself from the shackles of All-Japan Aikido Federation. We have enough structure and Shihan to promote and control our own organizations.

It sounds good and may offer a short period of peace. But, many feel that once the Japanese Shihan who have started to award Shihan status to American instructors pass away, all chaos will eventually breakout and we'll start to see more splits and then more topics like this one. It has already happened once that I know about.

philipsmith
07-22-2009, 03:14 AM
I've been following the topic with some interest and, dare I say amusement.

It all hinges on how important you consider the title of Shihan.

As Ruth said earlier in the UKA we just consider it as a teaching title, which for sure invests the holder with some responsibilities but in itself does not confer rank.

If you like our Shihan is the "first amongst equals" in that virtually all decisions are made collectively by the Shidoin;gradings and teaching is shared out as equally as possible.

As far as Hombu Shihan being somewhat different - well of course. They are in direct contact with more advanced practice than most of us could dream of as well as being charged with transmitting the latest Aikido developments.

Seems to work for us.

CitoMaramba
07-22-2009, 05:32 AM
I found this article by Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, written in 2005, to be very enlightening:

http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/2005/2/index.shtml

In particular, these paragraphs:
You might notice after reading the Rules that the regulations are not very clear or well defined. It also shows that the title or name, Shihan, itself is uncertain and I'd like to explain why I say that. First of all, when this regulation was handed to us several years ago, we, the Shihans, decided to wait to adapt this system because it was very questionable. For instance, it used to say in #4.2 that you have to wait 10 years after 6th dan to qualify. Headquarters has since changed it to 6 years. But also around the same time Headquarters appointed some American Aikido instructors not related to the USAF as Shihan without letting us know.

Just recently we changed our minds and adapted this system so I had no hesitation to apply for some qualified instructors from the USAF for Shihan. In the future, the numbers will increase.

Now let me explain what Shihan means in my culture. Please understand that I am not trying to make Shihan seem unimportant, but I must express it in the terms that the Japanese people use the word and what it actually means to us. Shihan is simply another way of saying Sensei. As a matter of fact, it says in the Japanese dictionary that Shihan is used to call the teacher in a particular field or profession such as martial artist or cultural leader. For instance, you call a school teacher in Japan Sensei and you call a teacher of martial arts Shihan. When I make an application for an official document it's proper for me to write Aikido Shihan rather than Aikido Sensei.

I hope that shed more light rather than generate heat..

gdandscompserv
07-22-2009, 07:33 AM
So who's in charge of Daito-ryu?;)

DH
07-22-2009, 08:21 AM
So who's in charge of Daito-ryu?;)
Interesting question. Not because of DR but rather to examine other modes of transmission in the more traditional Japanese arts as well.
In Koryu what you teach and even who you are allowed to teach is usually tightly controlled.
Once someone reaches the level of Menkyo kaiden (different titles for different arts) they are allowed to teach who they want and or to change the art any way they see fit- as if it is now a separate art. Let the chips fall where they may.
In any given art in any generation you might have several branches-with teachers adding a flavor to the central expression. It was not uncommon for some of those" flavors" to actually be BETTER than the central branch of any given art. That said there was no way to regain or rest control of the art back from those licensed to teach.
Since there is no Menkyo system in modern arts-to include Aikido; there is no completion or graduation set up in those arts. Therefore at any point the Aikikai could pull the rank of anyone. I am not making a judgment of whether or not a Shihan would care if the Hombu did that; just that it remains that they could. It seems aikido is interested in regaining more control of the art. The question remains whether it ever lost control to begin with.

I think folks have missed some central issues and have yet to ask some very clear administrative questions of their official representatives.

I think in all the emotion on the thread the central question remains unanswered. The original question was not about what happened in the past, (Tissier and others) but rather about Peters post about the new model and where the Aikikai is headed.
So
1. Will there be any issuance of shihan rank to anyone of any race in any branch that will be recognized by hombu...OTHER than Japanese people trained at the hombu.
In other words
2. Is the future...again future- going to see ONLY Japanese teachers from hombu as recognized shihan by the aikikai? Will western teachers trained at the aikikai to 6th dan in Japan be recognized as shihan? In other words clearing up issues of race over affiliation.
Those are narrow and specific parameters.

If that is so, can the IAF address the issue in a more formal way? Isn't part of it's mandate to explain and interpret the Japanese honne for us unaware westerners in a clear manner?
3. Will the current 6th dans see their 7th dan rank and possible 8th dan recognized by the aikikai but never be recognized as a shihan by the aikikai? They get one- but never the other?
4. Do you think their teachers lets say Saotome should just promote them to Shihan anyway even though it will be virtually meaningless outside of the ASU?
5. If the Aikikai removes its support from various Japanese Shihan abroad, thus limit their teaching creds, then isn't the aikikai inviting students to leave those teachers and re-align with aikikai approved super teachers.
6. Under what conditions did does a Japanese teacher training under a Japanese teacher -like Ikeda under Saotome -get to be recognized as a Shihan but not Gleason, or Ledyard?

Other than translating and interpreting for us, does the IAF have the capacity to interject in decisions? Lacking that, can it clear up a rather ambiguous state of affairs and answer pointed questions?

In the "No more Mr. nice guy" thread here, Peter stated many were less than satisfied with the IAF role in their response to the Aikikai. Has any action, input, opinion, or stance been taken since that time (aprox. 2007) to respond to those Western practitioners unhappy with the decisions of the Aikikai? Or is it a case that the opinions are not necessarily "unrepresented," but rather that they are just "meaningless" in the long run?
Cheers
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
07-22-2009, 09:38 AM
Hello Inocencio,

Do you know who made the original international regulations?

Step forward K Chiba, when he was head of the fledgling Hombu international department. This was in the mid 1970s, after he left the UK and returned to Japan. The international department was created at much the same time as the IAF was founded and the one was meant to be a sort of mirror image of the other. K Chiba was head of the international department and was also the main activator of the IAF. (I think that Ellis has some stories about how K Chiba ran the inaugural IAF meeting in Tokyo in 1976.)

I suspect you have no idea of the internal machinations going on within the Hombu at the time, over how to deal with the vexed question of international aikido organizations--as organizations, not as the personal dojos or fiefdoms of individual teachers.

Remember also that K Chiba committed the unpardonable sin of resigning his overseas commission in the UK and returning to Japan. So he had to rebuild his standing within the Hombu. As a result, the original international regulations were a 'committee' document, full of subtle ambiguities designed to appease the concerns of a particular Sensei or faction within the Hombu. (How do I know this? Well, when the regulations were revised in 1988, I was asked to make a new English translation, with the changes incorporated. So I had the job of translating the ambiguities of Japanese into clear, sharp, legal, English.)

Yamada Sensei was happily rolling along in the US (I know, because I was there at the tine), when suddenly, overseas teachers were asked to approve these new international regulations. The Americans were not very happy at all and were even less happy with having to create an organization, to be called the USAF, which would then join this new super-organization, to be called the IAF.

So I think there is no wonder that neither the Hombu's international regulations, nor the Rules for Shihan (which, by the way, no longer appear on the Aikikai's website) are very clearly expressed, as Yamada Sensei states.

Best wishes,

PAG

I found this article by Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei, written in 2005, to be very enlightening:

http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/2005/2/index.shtml

In particular, these paragraphs:

I hope that shed more light rather than generate heat..

PS. Since I wrote this post, I see that Dan has posted some questions. Since he mentions me in his post, I will attempt to answer his questions and this might also throw more light on some of the issues raised by Yamada Sensei.

salim
07-22-2009, 10:06 AM
It sounds good and may offer a short period of peace. But, many feel that once the Japanese Shihan who have started to award Shihan status to American instructors pass away, all chaos will eventually breakout and we'll start to see more splits and then more topics like this one. It has already happened once that I know about.

Splits from other organizations is not always a bad thing. It really depends on the level of respect and honesty among the various organizations. Being shackled, ostracized for not being Japanese, is clearly an agenda for keeping things pure for the sake of Japanese people. A nationalistic, almost racist mindset that we don't need in America today. It does more harm, than it does promoting unity or goodwill among other Aikiodist. Let's control our own destiny. Leave nationalism to dictatorial societies.

We will always see splits in American organizations. It's part of our culture. It's also human nature. This can be promoted respectfully and with dignity.

Fred Little
07-22-2009, 10:08 AM
4. Do you think their teachers lets say Saotome should just promote them to Shihan anyway even though it will be virtually meaningless outside of the ASU?
5. If the Aikikai removes its support from various Japanese Shihan abroad, thus limit their teaching creds, then isn't the aikikai inviting students to leave those teachers and re-align with aikikai approved super teachers.

Cheers
Dan

Dan,

I thought these were interesting questions, each of which contains an implicit assumption or three that could be questioned.

4. Is it not the case that the title of Shihan conferred on students of Chiba and Yamada is virtually meaningless outside the Birankai and the USAF? More broadly, Is it not the case that -- aside from a koryu menkyo kaiden -- virtually all Japanese martial art ranks and titles are meaningless outside the context of a continuing relationship with the instructor who awarded them?

5. Does a significant proportion of the ma student population sign up with particular martial arts instructors on the grounds of franchise brand identification? Or is it more typically location, art, quality, and affiliation -- in that order? In over twenty years, I have not had a single individual train with me because of my affiliation, though I have had a number of individuals who have trained with me (or allowed me to train with them) in spite of my affiliations. Your recent experiment in opening up your barn seems to suggest a corollary: Is it not the case that the arts have matured to the extent that more and more discerning practitioners are looking beyond the three questions of location, art, and affiliation, and will cross state,art,and organizational lines in order to find quality?

The upshot? I think Hombu and the IAF have a window of opportunity that is rapidly closing. Unless these organizations are seen as adding value -- either in terms of maintaining and improving technical standards, or in terms of prestige enhancement for those who are actually doing so -- the reasons for continued engagement with them become increasingly unclear, and the matter will play itself out as the organizations which are currently centered on individual shihan undergo the next phase of division and reproduction, a process which is already well underway in every organization in the United States.

Regards,

Fred Little

DH
07-22-2009, 10:09 AM
Hello Inocencio,

Do you know who made the original international regulations?
Step forward K Chiba, when he was head of the fledgling Hombu international department. This was in the mid 1970s, after he left the UK and returned to Japan. The international department was created at much the same time as the IAF was founded and the one was meant to be a sort of mirror image of the other. K Chiba was head of the international department and was also the main activator of the IAF. (I think that Ellis has some stories about how K Chiba ran the inaugural IAF meeting in Tokyo in 1976.)

I suspect you have no idea of the internal machinations going on within the Hombu at the time, over how to deal with the vexed question of international aikido organizations--as organizations, not as the personal dojos or fiefdoms of individual teachers.

Remember also that K Chiba committed the unpardonable sin of resigning his overseas commission in the UK and returning to Japan. So he had to rebuild his standing within the Hombu. As a result, the original international regulations were a 'committee' document, full of subtle ambiguities designed to appease the concerns of a particular Sensei or faction within the Hombu. (How do I know this? Well, when the regulations were revised in 1988, I was asked to make a new English translation, with the changes incorporated. So I had the job of translating the ambiguities of Japanese into clear, sharp, legal, English.)

Yamada Sensei was happily rolling along in the US (I know, because I was there at the tine), when suddenly, overseas teachers were asked to approve these new international regulations. The Americans were not very happy at all and were even less happy with having to create an organization, to be called the USAF, which would then join this new super-organization, to be called the IAF.

So I think there is no wonder that neither the Hombu's international regulations, nor the Rules for Shihan (which, by the way, no longer appear on the Aikikai's website) are very clearly expressed, as Yamada Sensei states.

Best wishes,

PAG

PS. Since I wrote this post, I see that Dan has posted some questions. Since he mentions me in his post, I will attempt to answer his questions and this might also throw more light on some of the issues raised by Yamada Sensei.

Oy!! How have you survived this long? Bless you Peter.
After saying "hello" it sounds like everything they say is any bodies guess as to true meaning and intent.
I was hoping in your reply that you let your hair down as much as you can and offer some opinions on the state of affiars.
Where and how you think the situsation may be in flux.
Whether they are truly listening to feedback or repercussions.
How it is being aborbed in Japan etc.

I think all will beneift from your views on things -more than just the statements from the IAF-where you may be free to offer them. Of course I realize many are talking privately-which is the best venue-but a certain public feel might be beneficial to a broader group.
Cheers
Dan

ramenboy
07-22-2009, 11:14 AM
It's time for Aikido in America to take over it's own destiny. The United States Aikido Federation should remove itself from the shackles of All-Japan Aikido Federation. We have enough structure and Shihan to promote and control our own organizations.

i agree with nafis. seems ok in the short run... but down the line, it could be crazy. alot of people with a sense of entitlement try to take over, split, then split again...and you have no quality control.

then what happens is you get inundated with the likes of whats-is-name premru and the broken ricebowl crazy.

personally, i like being able to trace my lineage directly to hombu.

but to get back on topic we have to remember that shihan is another word for teacher. like sensei. or kyoshi. or renshi. and thank the kami that doshu doesn't kick those last 2 around... a whole new can of worms

George S. Ledyard
07-22-2009, 11:33 AM
Oy!! How have you survived this long? Bless you Peter.
After saying "hello" it sounds like everything they say is any bodies guess as to true meaning and intent.
I was hoping in your reply that you let your hair down as much as you can and offer some opinions on the state of affiars.
Where and how you think the situsation may be in flux.
Whether they are truly listening to feedback or repercussions.
How it is being aborbed in Japan etc.

I think all will beneift from your views on things -more than just the statements from the IAF-where you may be free to offer them. Of course I realize many are talking privately-which is the best venue-but a certain public feel might be beneficial to a broader group.
Cheers
Dan

Peter's insights here are priceless as far as I am concerned... The one aspect of this that I have begun to understand is that, in the minds of the Japanese Shihan who were uchi deshi, there is a complete distinction between Hombu Dojo and the organization of which it is headquarters and the Ueshiba family. I think that Saotome Sensei feels a deep sense of loyalty to the family and the Doshu as the head of the family. I do not think that he has any particular investment in the organization.

So, for all of us this is an important distinction. What does Hombu Dojo represent to us? Is it an organization that we feel a connection with or is it more a personal connection with the Ueshiba family and the Doshu as the grandson of the Founder? Or maybe you don't feel strongly about either. Personally, I need a reason to care about an organization... which would usually have something to do with an organization caring for me. But I have some sense of connection to the family. The Nidai Doshu was extremely kind to me when I visited Japan. It is a sense of personal relationship. Now, the current Doshu would have no idea who I am. This is certainly completely my own doing as I have not taken the trouble to go back to Japan. I was broke when Saotome Sensei went back with a group so I have never had a chance to meet the current Doshu. But I loved his father. I think he was an old school gentleman, a totally classy fellow. So I feel at least some direct relationship with the family, especially as my teacher has stressed to us that we are in a direct line of transmission from O-Sensei, through himself to us. But this is all personal and doesn't have much to do with organization.

Lyle Bogin
07-22-2009, 11:49 AM
We are still in a transition period. It's clear that one no longer has to go to Japan for top level instruction. Soon we won't be able to find any of the original pioneers to study with, and more non-Japanese will become the top tier.

The old guard loves to complain about complications and cultural necessities. On some points I often agree (like bowing, and uniforms, and sempai/kohai stuff). But I hope they realize it's gonna be ok, even if the smelly, awkward, foreigners start to dominate the market. There will always be Kill Bill watching otaku orientalists who will assume that if it's Japanese, it must be good. Used to be one myself :).

dps
07-22-2009, 12:04 PM
So, for all of us this is an important distinction. What does Hombu Dojo represent to us? Is it an organization that we feel a connection with or is it more a personal connection with the Ueshiba family and the Doshu as the grandson of the Founder? Or maybe you don't feel strongly about either.

This is something that I never thought of before. I have practiced Aikido under three different organizations and it has always been O'Sensei and O'Sensei's deshi that were more important to my learning than the organization I belonged to.

Thank You George.

David

CitoMaramba
07-22-2009, 02:21 PM
Dear Professor Goldsbury,
Thank you for that illuminating account of the history behind the International Regulations. You are right of course, I would have no idea of the internal machinations going on at Aikikai Hombu at the time that the Regulations were formulated.

I am looking forward to more of your answers to questions about the future of Aikikai Hombu and the organisations that are recognised / affiliated with the Aikikai.

All the best,

Cito

Phil Van Treese
07-22-2009, 03:14 PM
Shihan is nice to have but rank doesn't back up your knowledge----knowledge backs up rank. Who cares about a title?? Whether or not someone is a shihan means nothing. The skill (s)he has is what matters and what you learn is what matters. If any black belt out there put on a white belt, how much would that affect his skill? Not one bit so you keep the title and I'll take the skill. Shihan Phil (hahaha)

ninjaqutie
07-22-2009, 03:27 PM
Hey Phil. We actually have a black belt who often wears a white belt under his hakama. I saw him when I first started and then he came back after a two month hiatus. I could of swore he was a black belt, but figured I remembered wrong or saw his hakama ties instead. He just felt like a black belt in his techniques. Turns out I remembered correctly. He is a black belt (3rd dan actually I believe)

Peter Goldsbury
07-22-2009, 07:35 PM
Hello Fred,

I think you are basing your comments on the situation in the USA, and so your comments also contain an implicit assumption or three that could be questioned.

Outside the USA, things are somewhat different, since national governments and olympic/sports committees take a strong interest in martial arts organizations within their national boundaries. The Aikikai is aware of this and so is happy to have the IAF as a sort of 'international democratic aikido buffer zone', dealing with such committees.

It is a curious fact that the USAF withdrew from the IAF for a while--the dudgeon level was quite high--and I am certain that the withdrawal was connected with my activities as General Secretary. However, the USAF rejoined a few years later and the present IAF General Secretary resides in Boulder, Colorado. Yamada Sensei takes his position as a member of the IAF Superior Council very seriously. Of course, now that he is 70, he wants to retire--but I keep telling him he can't--not just yet. :)

Best,

PAG

Dan,

I thought these were interesting questions, each of which contains an implicit assumption or three that could be questioned.

4. Is it not the case that the title of Shihan conferred on students of Chiba and Yamada is virtually meaningless outside the Birankai and the USAF? More broadly, Is it not the case that -- aside from a koryu menkyo kaiden -- virtually all Japanese martial art ranks and titles are meaningless outside the context of a continuing relationship with the instructor who awarded them?

5. Does a significant proportion of the ma student population sign up with particular martial arts instructors on the grounds of franchise brand identification? Or is it more typically location, art, quality, and affiliation -- in that order? In over twenty years, I have not had a single individual train with me because of my affiliation, though I have had a number of individuals who have trained with me (or allowed me to train with them) in spite of my affiliations. Your recent experiment in opening up your barn seems to suggest a corollary: Is it not the case that the arts have matured to the extent that more and more discerning practitioners are looking beyond the three questions of location, art, and affiliation, and will cross state,art,and organizational lines in order to find quality?

The upshot? I think Hombu and the IAF have a window of opportunity that is rapidly closing. Unless these organizations are seen as adding value -- either in terms of maintaining and improving technical standards, or in terms of prestige enhancement for those who are actually doing so -- the reasons for continued engagement with them become increasingly unclear, and the matter will play itself out as the organizations which are currently centered on individual shihan undergo the next phase of division and reproduction, a process which is already well underway in every organization in the United States.

Regards,

Fred Little

Craig Allen Jr
07-23-2009, 11:05 AM
Hey Phil. We actually have a black belt who often wears a white belt under his hakama. I saw him when I first started and then he came back after a two month hiatus. I could of swore he was a black belt, but figured I remembered wrong or saw his hakama ties instead. He just felt like a black belt in his techniques. Turns out I remembered correctly. He is a black belt (3rd dan actually I believe)

Ashley, you might find that a lot of Birnakai yudansha wear white belts. Even some of the shihan. Then again, they're not the kind of white that you'd want for a Tide commercial.

So if yudansha have white belts, some mudansha have hakama, and shihans may or may not *really* be shihan...guess it just comes down to how good one's aikido is.

Anjisan
07-23-2009, 11:08 PM
I believe that Osensei said that Aikido was for the world. It would seem that the "world" forgot to read the small print so to speak.

Peter Goldsbury
07-24-2009, 04:47 AM
Hello Dan,

This is a first stab at a response. Apologies, but this will be a long post. Comments are marked PAG.

Interesting question. Not because of DR but rather to examine other modes of transmission in the more traditional Japanese arts as well.
In Koryu what you teach and even who you are allowed to teach is usually tightly controlled.
Once someone reaches the level of Menkyo kaiden (different titles for different arts) they are allowed to teach who they want and or to change the art any way they see fit- as if it is now a separate art. Let the chips fall where they may.
In any given art in any generation you might have several branches-with teachers adding a flavor to the central expression. It was not uncommon for some of those" flavors" to actually be BETTER than the central branch of any given art. That said there was no way to regain or rest control of the art back from those licensed to teach.
Since there is no Menkyo system in modern arts-to include Aikido; there is no completion or graduation set up in those arts. Therefore at any point the Aikikai could pull the rank of anyone. I am not making a judgment of whether or not a Shihan would care if the Hombu did that; just that it remains that they could. It seems aikido is interested in regaining more control of the art. The question remains whether it ever lost control to begin with.
PAG. If you set side-by-side the autonomy and independence offered by a full-blown menkyo system and the Aikikai, considered as a monolith, with the dan given under conditions of continued good behavior, I suppose the differences would be very striking. However, this has never been my own experience with the Aikikai. It seems to me that the Aikikai, like a Japanese koryu, operates on the understanding that once you give someone some responsibility: to run a department or a dojo, for example, then you also trust that person to use his best judgment within a very broad framework of rules—considered as customs with desirable outcomes, rather than as Kantian deontological imperatives. This point is so fundamental to Japanese culture that it is often missed: it is ‘hidden in plain sight'.
I have just checked on the Aikikai's website and find that I am one of the very few non-Japanese to run a dojo here. In addition, though it took some time to do so, I formally split from my old teacher and my dojo is now independent of any organization. Of course, I have a direct connection to the Aikikai and deliver kyu and dan ranks that are recognized by the Aikikai, but I have complete independence to teach aikido how I wish. I could, for example, invite M Akuzawa here on a regular basis and incorporate all of his training exercises into our aikido syllabus. So, in some sense my dojo is going against the trend overseas and I think the reason for this is, well, that aikido in Japan is considered ‘different' from aikido overseas, and also that I happened to have the clout to badger Doshu directly into giving me independence, for it would never have happened without his approval.
I also know the few people who at present run the Aikikai's international department. They work very hard and have Doshu's broad approval to run the department as they think fit. I am not certain when the new model originated, but I am reasonably certain that it was a reaction to squabbles among Japanese shihan in Europe and a response to calls for a network of continental ‘Hombu' outside Japan. The immediate occasion was a response to the abolition of the old one-country-one-organization model.

I think folks have missed some central issues and have yet to ask some very clear administrative questions of their official representatives.

I think in all the emotion on the thread the central question remains unanswered. The original question was not about what happened in the past, (Tissier and others) but rather about Peter's post about the new model and where the Aikikai is headed.
So
PAG. I think at the outset that this has to be stated quite clearly. The effect of the new model is that teaching titles (including shihan) make sense only within the organizations within which they have validity, whether these are individual dojo (in Japan), or overseas organizations, like the USAF, or the Aikikai as a whole.
The new model must also be seen in relation to the old model that it replaces. The old model was centered around individual direct disciples of the Founder, like Y Yamada and N Tamura (Mr Tani's first category), who lived and taught abroad and who ran their territories like aikido daimyo (after the established Hombu model in Japan). However, the new model effectively abolishes aikido daimyo shihan in the first category and severely limits the scope of shihan in the remaining categories. For the new model focuses entirely on aikido organizations, serviced from a ‘super-organization' in Japan. (The only problem with this model is the one I alluded to earlier in this post: the emphasis in Japan is on individuals, caused by a vertically structured organizational pattern.)
I think that K Chiba's Birankai is a response to the Hombu's new model. It is the model of an organization that is vertically structured and gives a degree of authority to a sub-class of students. (Some background: Way back in the 1980s I used to have arguments with Chiba Sensei about the structure of aikido organizations. At that time, he appeared to believe that aikido was essentially anarchic: the possibilities could never be constrained within an organizational structure. Aikido was essentially Thatcherite and there were no aikido social structures. The problem for me was that, while this might be true, aikido has been structured as an organization ever since O Sensei created the Kobukan. So the Birankai is first and foremost an organization. I think it depends on where you draw the line between the organization and the individual power of those who run the organizations.)

An alternative model seems to be the one favored at times by Sokaku Takeda: of a teacher with no home base, but with a core of committed disciples, who are trained in intensive bursts by a teacher who constantly moves from place to place. However, I think Daito-ryu abandoned this model quite early on.

Secondly, though it is out of date (in terms of who is in each category and was out of date as soon as it was issued), the general framework of M Tani's classification of shihan into four general internal categories is unlikely to change, since it is based on some clear political decisions made within the Hombu. The Aikikai still need to maintain the official status of super-shihans like N Tamura and Y Yamada, whose deshi relationship with O Sensei and Kisshomaru Doshu is the reason for this status. On the other hand, there will soon be no one left with this close deshi relationship and it remains to be seen whether the Aikikai will award the status of Hombu Shihan to those who have an analogous relationship with the present Doshu. As for the other categories in Mr Tani's list, there is no sign that the appointment of shihan will end, so long as there are people around to fill these categories, and people in Japan will still popularly be regarded as shihan when they reach 6th dan, even there are no official pieces of paper.


1. Will there be any issuance of shihan rank to anyone of any race in any branch that will be recognized by hombu...OTHER than Japanese people trained at the hombu.
PAG. There is nothing in the system to prevent this, but I think that it is extremely unlikely that the imbalance of Japanese/non-Japanese in Mr Tani's four shihan categories will change any time soon. It is built into the system that the first two categories of shihan are Japanese—and this is actually quite unfair to Christian Tissier, who did his time in the Hombu and should really be included in the second category. However, this appears not to be an issue for the French.
There is also a very high possibility that members of the third category will be Japanese, since they need to function as ‘internal' members of the Aikikai Hombu. As far as I know, there is only one non-Japanese, Anthony Hind, who has been training as a deshi in the Hombu long enough to have reasonable rank, but he is no longer there. I also know very well from my own experience outside aikido in Japan that the playing field is rarely level and that the goalposts can change unexpectedly.


2. Is the future...again future- going to see ONLY Japanese teachers from hombu as recognized shihan by the aikikai? Will western teachers trained at the aikikai to 6th dan in Japan be recognized as shihan? In other words clearing up issues of race over affiliation.
Those are narrow and specific parameters.
PAG. For this to happen, I think you would need to see an influx of foreign members of the Hombu Teaching Department and I think this is extremely unlikely to happen. As I stated above, Anthony Hind is the only recent long-term foreign deshi I know of. Other foreigners have trained—and lived—in the Hombu for a limited period of time, but have returned home. My reason for thinking in this way is my experience in the Japanese national university system—which, like the Hombu, is bound by the shackles of traditional Japanese thinking. I was the first fully tenured foreign professor in my university, but the reason why I was reasonably successful is that I was able to function fully as a Japanese—attending and chairing committees, standing up in meetings and giving largely meaningless allocutions in fluent Japanese, but also able to function as a native speaker of English where necessary (such as composing university entrance examination questions of such difficulty that my Japanese colleagues could not answer them: this was never held against me).


If that is so, can the IAF address the issue in a more formal way? Isn't part of it's mandate to explain and interpret the Japanese honne for us unaware westerners in a clear manner?
PAG. No, this is not part of the IAF's mandate. Interpreting the Japanese honne for the folks on AikiWeb is something that I myself have been doing ever since I attended the first Aiki Expo. I have been doing it as someone who has lived in Japan for longer than most non-Japanese aikidoka—and as someone who also happens to be Chairman of the IAF. It is an interesting coincidence that two contributors of Jun's monthly AikiWeb columns happen to be to the two most senior elected officials in the IAF. I am Chairman and Stefan Stenudd is Vice-Chairman. I cannot speak for Stefan, but I do not see any conflict of interest in being a good Chairman and looking after the interests of IAF members and also contributing to Aikiweb. However, my successor could be someone who does not live here, or whose knowledge of the Japanese honne extends no further than his/her own local training.


3. Will the current 6th dans see their 7th dan rank and possible 8th dan recognized by the Aikikai but never be recognized as a shihan by the Aikikai? They get one- but never the other?
PAG. This is quite possible. In fact I know a number of Japanese with 7th dan rank who have not been recognized as shihan in Japan. Mr Tani himself is one such person and he is right inside the Hombu.


4. Do you think their teachers lets say Saotome should just promote them to Shihan anyway even though it will be virtually meaningless outside of the ASU?
PAG. I am sure this could happen. The USAF has taken it upon itself to promote as many shihan as possible. In some respects, this is a response to K Chiba's creation of the Birankai, where he gives his own shihan titles and also his own dan ranks. I have had some very interesting conversations with Doshu about this.


5. If the Aikikai removes its support from various Japanese Shihan abroad, thus limit their teaching creds, then isn't the aikikai inviting students to leave those teachers and re-align with aikikai approved super teachers.
PAG. This could happen in the short term, but I think it is unlikely. The tendency is that there soon will be no more Aikikai approved super teachers.


6. Under what conditions did does a Japanese teacher training under a Japanese teacher -like Ikeda under Saotome -get to be recognized as a Shihan but not Gleason, or Ledyard?
PAG. I think that in this discussion the ASU is an anomaly. As far as I know, Hiroshi Ikeda is M Saotome's anointed successor as head of the ASU, but he does not appear anywhere on M Tani's list. Actually, I wonder whether there are any shihan at all in the ASU (apart from M Saotome himself, who is popularly regarded as a ‘Hombu Super Shihan' by default). As I stated before, when I once asked Doshu why the ASU was not on the Aikikai's list of recognized organizations in the US, his response was that everything was handled via M Saotome. However, this is not really a matter for the IAF to be concerned with.


Other than translating and interpreting for us, does the IAF have the capacity to interject in decisions? Lacking that, can it clear up a rather ambiguous state of affairs and answer pointed questions?
PAG. Well, although the IAF is part of the Aikikai's organizational structure, it is not the Aikikai Hombu. As such, it does not have the structural capacity to interject in Hombu decision-making. However, it does have a ‘non-structural' capacity and it does interject. Actually, the last time it did interject was at the request of Yamada Sensei.


Has any action, input, opinion, or stance been taken since that time (aprox. 2007) to respond to those Western practitioners unhappy with the decisions of the Aikikai? Or is it a case that the opinions are not necessarily "unrepresented," but rather that they are just "meaningless" in the long run?
PAG. Yes, I think so. However, this has been taken by individual officers and not by the IAF as a whole, at a Congress, for example.


Cheers
Dan
PAG. And best wishes to you, too. I went to the barbers yesterday, so I do not have much hair to let down, but I hope I have let it down long enough.

However, I am sure that you will get back to me if I haven't.

PAG

joacir
08-04-2009, 03:32 PM
It in not true that just japanese can become shihan.
As a proof I can testemony that here in Brazil the organization that I belong the Brazil Aikikai Confederation it´s technical director, Wagner Bull Sensei , in last january, received the title of Shihan issued by Aikikai Hombu Dojo and I saw the paper. Anyone interested to see the certificate can look and the link :

http://www.aikikai.org.br/wagner.html

Joacir Junior

rob_liberti
08-04-2009, 11:23 PM
I believe the question was:
Can non-Japanese become shihan anymore?

The fact that it happened before is not really an answer. And I'm not sure I understand Peter's "answers" either. But I've been thinking about it...

Rob

Nafis Zahir
08-05-2009, 12:20 AM
Shihan is nice to have but rank doesn't back up your knowledge----knowledge backs up rank. Who cares about a title?? Whether or not someone is a shihan means nothing. The skill (s)he has is what matters and what you learn is what matters. If any black belt out there put on a white belt, how much would that affect his skill? Not one bit so you keep the title and I'll take the skill. Shihan Phil (hahaha)

Excellent post! I agree with you 100%! This is has gotten out of hand. Just because Japan says you are Shihan doesn't mean anything. They award the title based on someone's recommendation.Unless they see it for themselves, how much can it really mean. This whole rank and title stuff has gotten really out of hand.

Chris Li
08-05-2009, 01:38 AM
I believe the question was:
Can non-Japanese become shihan anymore?

The fact that it happened before is not really an answer. And I'm not sure I understand Peter's "answers" either. But I've been thinking about it...

Rob

Well it only happens once a year, and it has already happened this year. Conversely, what reason is there to believe that it won't happen next year as usual?

Best,

Chris

rob_liberti
08-05-2009, 08:02 AM
Hi Chris,

Well I'm looking at the long-term vision. I think the time is coming when people will stop looking to the *mystical* orient for the goods. As I understand it, the situation is currently that instead of letting all people who achieve martial power/ability equal to or surpassing that of the super shihan become super shihan themselves - the best they can hope for is an internal title. And you might not think it matters, but as George Ledyard explained, he makes his living teaching aikido, and he is just not going to get the same exposure as someone with the big title.

Also, the shihan are the people who get the money when the 1.5 million people in aikido pay dues and pay for testing. Seems like Japan is trying to ensure that the money continues flowing in their direction. I suppose it just seems like we could think this all through and potentially come up a long term vision of our own that you know keeps US dollars in the US. But maybe I'm thinking a bit too much about the schools closing down in Detroit right now and it's coloring my through process.

Rob

Chris Li
08-05-2009, 09:50 AM
Hi Chris,

Well I'm looking at the long-term vision. I think the time is coming when people will stop looking to the *mystical* orient for the goods. As I understand it, the situation is currently that instead of letting all people who achieve martial power/ability equal to or surpassing that of the super shihan become super shihan themselves - the best they can hope for is an internal title. And you might not think it matters, but as George Ledyard explained, he makes his living teaching aikido, and he is just not going to get the same exposure as someone with the big title.

Also, the shihan are the people who get the money when the 1.5 million people in aikido pay dues and pay for testing. Seems like Japan is trying to ensure that the money continues flowing in their direction. I suppose it just seems like we could think this all through and potentially come up a long term vision of our own that you know keeps US dollars in the US. But maybe I'm thinking a bit too much about the schools closing down in Detroit right now and it's coloring my through process.

Rob

The people at the top of any organization are the ones who get the money - does the shihan certification really have anything to do with that?

Tani seems to say that there are no more "super shihan" because those were a special category of direct students of the founder. A hombu dojo "shihan" is also an internal title to the hombu teaching staff. As I said, my only real problem is the uneven handling of the legacy issue in Japan.

Best,

Chris

rob_liberti
08-05-2009, 09:52 AM
The people at the top of any organization are the ones who get the money - does the shihan certification really have anything to do with that?

I'm shocked that we are not connecting on this point. I'll assume it is me. I guess when I consider a typical life expectancy it does matter, right?

Chris Li
08-05-2009, 11:57 AM
I'm shocked that we are not connecting on this point. I'll assume it is me. I guess when I consider a typical life expectancy it does matter, right?

OK, now I'm really lost...

Anyway, Saotome (for example) has been calling his folks "shihan" for years without any approval (or interference) from hombu. I suppose that it's an internal title, but does it matter?

Best,

Chris

rob_liberti
08-05-2009, 12:09 PM
I'm not particularly concerned right now. My question (one of them anyway) is something more like, after Saotome sensei and Ikeda sensei die, who will be the shihan where the money for testing goes? Just people in the ASU who are 6th+ dan?

MM
08-05-2009, 12:21 PM
OK, now I'm really lost...

Anyway, Saotome (for example) has been calling his folks "shihan" for years without any approval (or interference) from hombu. I suppose that it's an internal title, but does it matter?

Best,

Chris

Here is the disconnect for me and I'm trying to get clarification.

1. Shihan in Saotome's ASU are internal and do not cross into other organizations.

2. Shihan in Aikikai Honbu are internal also, but do cross into other organizations.

If that is true then it doesn't exactly seem, well, fair.

If that is true, then does the Aikikai recognize Wagner Bull as a shihan across organizations? Or just a shihan in his organization?

Mark

Josh Reyer
08-05-2009, 04:10 PM
Here is the disconnect for me and I'm trying to get clarification.

1. Shihan in Saotome's ASU are internal and do not cross into other organizations.

2. Shihan in Aikikai Honbu are internal also, but do cross into other organizations.

If that is true then it doesn't exactly seem, well, fair.The only reason Hombu Shihan cross into other organizations is because the organizations want a connection to Hombu, and not with each other. There's nothing preventing Organization A and Organization B from recognizing each other's shihan. But because both A and B want to be affiliated with the Hombu, naturally Hombu Shihan will be recognized by both. It's the result of the cultural and historical cachet that Hombu Dojo has, not any rigging of the system by the Aikikai.

If that is true, then does the Aikikai recognize Wagner Bull as a shihan across organizations? Or just a shihan in his organization?If Wagner Bull was doing a seminar for an ASU dojo, would the ASU dojo call him "shihan"? My guess is, yes they would. So what exactly is the issue here?

MM
08-05-2009, 04:53 PM
The only reason Hombu Shihan cross into other organizations is because the organizations want a connection to Hombu, and not with each other. There's nothing preventing Organization A and Organization B from recognizing each other's shihan. But because both A and B want to be affiliated with the Hombu, naturally Hombu Shihan will be recognized by both. It's the result of the cultural and historical cachet that Hombu Dojo has, not any rigging of the system by the Aikikai.

If Wagner Bull was doing a seminar for an ASU dojo, would the ASU dojo call him "shihan"? My guess is, yes they would. So what exactly is the issue here?

If each organization was issuing their own shihan certificate, it wouldn't be such an issue. But they don't. The Aikikai issues the shihan certificate. That's the disconnect for me.

If the Aikikai issues shihan certificates for an organization and that status is only recognized within that organization and then if the Aikikai issues shihan certificates to its own Aikikai Honbu training staff and that status crosses over to all organizations affiliated with the Aikikai, then there is a higher status granted to Aikikai shihans as compared to other organizational shihans.

If that's true, then the Aikikai isn't really recognizing "shihan" status to people in organizations at all. If it did, then those people in other organizations would have the same status as Aikikai honbu shihan.

Again, if that isn't what's happening, I certainly hope someone will correct me.

Chris Li
08-05-2009, 10:01 PM
I'm not particularly concerned right now. My question (one of them anyway) is something more like, after Saotome sensei and Ikeda sensei die, who will be the shihan where the money for testing goes? Just people in the ASU who are 6th+ dan?

Sure, that's what happens in plenty of places, including where I am right now - not a Japanese shihan in sight...

Best,

Chris

Josh Reyer
08-05-2009, 11:55 PM
If each organization was issuing their own shihan certificate, it wouldn't be such an issue. But they don't. The Aikikai issues the shihan certificate. That's the disconnect for me.

If the Aikikai issues shihan certificates for an organization and that status is only recognized within that organization and then if the Aikikai issues shihan certificates to its own Aikikai Honbu training staff and that status crosses over to all organizations affiliated with the Aikikai, then there is a higher status granted to Aikikai shihans as compared to other organizational shihans.

If that's true, then the Aikikai isn't really recognizing "shihan" status to people in organizations at all. If it did, then those people in other organizations would have the same status as Aikikai honbu shihan.

Again, if that isn't what's happening, I certainly hope someone will correct me.

What "status" are you talking about? What perks, duties, responsibilities and duties do you believe the Hombu Shihan group have over the certified Shihan in other organizations? Grading? Anything else?

Nafis Zahir
08-06-2009, 01:40 AM
If each organization was issuing their own shihan certificate, it wouldn't be such an issue. But they don't. The Aikikai issues the shihan certificate. That's the disconnect for me.

If the Aikikai issues shihan certificates for an organization and that status is only recognized within that organization and then if the Aikikai issues shihan certificates to its own Aikikai Honbu training staff and that status crosses over to all organizations affiliated with the Aikikai, then there is a higher status granted to Aikikai shihans as compared to other organizational shihans.

If that's true, then the Aikikai isn't really recognizing "shihan" status to people in organizations at all. If it did, then those people in other organizations would have the same status as Aikikai honbu shihan.

Again, if that isn't what's happening, I certainly hope someone will correct me.

What difference does it make who recognizes whose title? What should matter is if they recognize their TECHNIQUE!

joacir
08-06-2009, 03:54 PM
Here is the disconnect for me and I'm trying to get clarification.

1. Shihan in Saotome's ASU are internal and do not cross into other organizations.

2. Shihan in Aikikai Honbu are internal also, but do cross into other organizations.

If that is true then it doesn't exactly seem, well, fair.

If that is true, then does the Aikikai recognize Wagner Bull as a shihan across organizations? Or just a shihan in his organization?

Mark

Mark,

see:

http://www.aikikai.org.br/imagens/diploma%20de%20shihan.jpg

rob_liberti
08-06-2009, 06:20 PM
Cool, now where is my version of photo-shop... :)

Rob

joacir
08-07-2009, 10:12 AM
hummm....you can ask to Hombu DOJO ;)

Suru
08-08-2009, 11:56 AM
I'm not sure why people are surprised and annoyed that the headquarters tries to maintain some level of control. Isn't that the role of a headquarters? Maybe the question should be, why are there no non-Japanese instructors on the Hombu staff given it's international role?

Is it racism? Is it an expectation that a sufficiently proficient foreigner should go back to his homeland to spread the word?

I think there are two basics that I'll briefly expand on:

1. Aikido originated and took root in Japan
2. Aikido hasn't been around long

It seems to me that the Japanese people simply got a sizable head start of sorts, so it's only natural that most or all the people at headquarters are Japanese. I believe in time, there will be people of other nationalities and ethnicities making decisions at headquarters. As for now, however, it seems normal to me.

Drew

Mannix Moya
01-02-2010, 04:47 AM
my head ached catching up on this thread.


i guess titles matter because there is an organizational structure behind it. but why does it have to be complicated?

Melchizedek
01-03-2010, 02:16 AM
IMHO let them earn the high ranks 6th kyu is ranking private in the Arm Forces and 10th dan is 5 star in AF.

its just protocols as long as your in the Mission and vision of AIKIDO your an AIKIDOKA.

You can be better at your white belt than the one who is in the rank of 10th dan, just be respectful co`z its our Camaraderie.

gumagalang.

George S. Ledyard
01-03-2010, 09:13 AM
OK, now I'm really lost...

Anyway, Saotome (for example) has been calling his folks "shihan" for years without any approval (or interference) from hombu. I suppose that it's an internal title, but does it matter?

Best,

Chris

When I started Aikido back in the 70's, Saotome Sensei told us that 6th Dan was the same as Shihan. In the sense that he has used the term, it was interchangeable with "master instructor". He has, upon occasion, referred to me as a Shihan. But we have no certificates and it is not any type of "official" title. We do not use the Fukushidoin, Shidoin, Shihan teaching certificate system used by the Federation. I have a Shidoin certificate from the days when I ran a dojo that was under Chiba Sensei back in the 80's but has never had any meaning within our organization.

The whole point of teaching certificates is to recognize that people will get Dan Ranking as a result of time in grade. If you look at Judo they have Hanshi, Renshi, and Kyoshi certifications for teaching which are a separate issue from Dan Rank.

I can tell folks that the titles do matter. Most dojos are affiliated with an organization of some type. The members within such an organization naturally give priority to attending seminars with whomever is the head of that organization. After that, they tend to flock towards the teachers who are perceived to be the closest in relationship to that teacher. It can have little to do with actual teaching ability. There can be highly skilled teachers who exist on the periphery because they have not been "anointed" by the "big guy". Titles and ranks are a sign that a certain teacher is "in favor" with the powers that be and the members of that organization consequently invest in that teacher far more than they do any other teachers.

I believe that the entire structure of American Aikido will change when the current generation of uchi deshi passes away. That process has already started. When they are no longer presiding over the art here, it will be the senior American students who will take the reins. It will matter greatly what their ranks and titles are when they begin to assume central leadership roles. I do not think, however, that it will matter one iota whether those ranks and titles are recognized in Japan as long as they were conferred by someone with recognized authority here.

Ranks and titles just give one "access". Folks are impressed by them whether it makes sense or not. So it can get you in the door so to speak. But once someone invites you to teach or attends one of your classes, you better be able to deliver the goods. That is true now and it will be more true when the current leadership passes on and my generation is left on its own. But the ranks and titles are what gives you your shot at reaching the students in the first place.

aikishihan
01-03-2010, 05:27 PM
First of all, Kudos to all who willingly and generously contribute to the Aiki Web Forums. Your participation is invaluable and uplifting!

I unconditionally consider George Ledyard as a true Shihan. His amazing insights, his proven skills and production, and his unabashed support for both the Founder and his mentor, are guideposts for all of us to admire and to learn from.

I am privileged and honored to call him brother, friend and mentor.

He, like most of those with 6th dan or higher, may never be given the status of "Aikikai Shihan", an arbitrary decision at best by Aikikai.

Does it matter? Only if you believe that it does.

I do not. Titles or numbers do not define anyone. Only consistent behavior and faithful adherence to Aiki Principles can come close.

I too, was told by Senseis Kobayashi Yasuo, Kanai Mitsunari, Fujita Masatake, and others, that the traditional understanding was similar to what Leyard Shihan alluded to. Anyone who was in good standing with Aikikai, was actively teaching the Founder's Aikido, and was awarded 6th dan, were automatically considered "Shihan".

There were no separate certificates, no special announcements, and there was no need to maintain a formal hierachical classification that gave favored status to one individual or nationality over another.

The current position of the Aikikai's Foreign Department is what it is, and one can be bothered by it, or simply focus on the real reasons why one trains in Ueshiba Aiki to begin with. After all, we have always been free to develop our own appreciation for the Founder's gift, in our own way, with our own standards, and our own discoveries.

Just give me serious and focused students of Ueshiba Aiki to train with, and I am a happy man! Yup, I am a happy man!

In Oneness,

Peter Goldsbury
01-03-2010, 07:37 PM
When I started Aikido back in the 70's, Saotome Sensei told us that 6th Dan was the same as Shihan. In the sense that he has used the term, it was interchangeable with "master instructor". He has, upon occasion, referred to me as a Shihan. But we have no certificates and it is not any type of "official" title. We do not use the Fukushidoin, Shidoin, Shihan teaching certificate system used by the Federation. I have a Shidoin certificate from the days when I ran a dojo that was under Chiba Sensei back in the 80's but has never had any meaning within our organization.

The whole point of teaching certificates is to recognize that people will get Dan Ranking as a result of time in grade. If you look at Judo they have Hanshi, Renshi, and Kyoshi certifications for teaching which are a separate issue from Dan Rank.

I can tell folks that the titles do matter. Most dojos are affiliated with an organization of some type. The members within such an organization naturally give priority to attending seminars with whomever is the head of that organization. After that, they tend to flock towards the teachers who are perceived to be the closest in relationship to that teacher. It can have little to do with actual teaching ability. There can be highly skilled teachers who exist on the periphery because they have not been "anointed" by the "big guy". Titles and ranks are a sign that a certain teacher is "in favor" with the powers that be and the members of that organization consequently invest in that teacher far more than they do any other teachers.

I believe that the entire structure of American Aikido will change when the current generation of uchi deshi passes away. That process has already started. When they are no longer presiding over the art here, it will be the senior American students who will take the reins. It will matter greatly what their ranks and titles are when they begin to assume central leadership roles. I do not think, however, that it will matter one iota whether those ranks and titles are recognized in Japan as long as they were conferred by someone with recognized authority here.

Ranks and titles just give one "access". Folks are impressed by them whether it makes sense or not. So it can get you in the door so to speak. But once someone invites you to teach or attends one of your classes, you better be able to deliver the goods. That is true now and it will be more true when the current leadership passes on and my generation is left on its own. But the ranks and titles are what gives you your shot at reaching the students in the first place.

Hello George,

Happy New Year, or, as the Japanese say, おめでとうございます.

I think that Francis Takahashi summed up matters precisely.

Someone complained that things were complicated. Well, I can assure the poster that we did not make things complicated. The complications arose when the Aikikai had to consider the question whether and how to make foreign aikidoka who had received 6th Shihan.

I think it would have been straightforward for the Aikikai to declare that anyone, anywhere, with 6th dan and above awarded by Doshu through the Aikikai was automatically Shihan, but this is not what was decided.

What was decided was four categories of Shihan: Super-Shihan, Ordinary Shihan, Shihan who are instructors in the Hombu Dojo, and Foreign Shihan, who have to be recommended by their organizations to receive the title.

Saotome Sensei has bypassed all this and made a direct relationship with the Hombu. So the ASU is not on the list of organizations in the US that are recognized by the Aikikai (which is a condition for giving shihan ranks to 6th dan holders in these organizations). Similarly, my own dojos here are not members of the recognized organizations listed on the Aikikai's website.

Best wishes,

PAG

George S. Ledyard
01-03-2010, 08:55 PM
Hello George,

Happy New Year, or, as the Japanese say, おめでとうございます.

I think that Francis Takahashi summed up matters precisely.

Someone complained that things were complicated. Well, I can assure the poster that we did not make things complicated. The complications arose when the Aikikai had to consider the question whether and how to make foreign aikidoka who had received 6th Shihan.

I think it would have been straightforward for the Aikikai to declare that anyone, anywhere, with 6th dan and above awarded by Doshu through the Aikikai was automatically Shihan, but this is not what was decided.

What was decided was four categories of Shihan: Super-Shihan, Ordinary Shihan, Shihan who are instructors in the Hombu Dojo, and Foreign Shihan, who have to be recommended by their organizations to receive the title.

Saotome Sensei has bypassed all this and made a direct relationship with the Hombu. So the ASU is not on the list of organizations in the US that are recognized by the Aikikai (which is a condition for giving shihan ranks to 6th dan holders in these organizations). Similarly, my own dojos here are not members of the recognized organizations listed on the Aikikai's website.

Best wishes,

PAG

Hi Peter,
Happy New Year! It has been far too long since I've been able to sit and chat with you...

I think I should simply start a new organization... let's call it the World Shihanship Council. Anyone feeling he or she has been unfairly neglected by existing organizations may, accompanied by a hefty fee, apply for a Shihan Certification. Black tie dinners will be held at various venues around the country (usually near an airport) so that the illustrious recipients can get together and assure each other of their special importance. If successful, I could probably make enough money to come visit you in Japan (at least as long as I got there before Sensei killed me).

Thanks for all your time explaining the arcana of ranks, titles, and certifications to all of us. I hope we'll cross paths again before too many years have past...

- George

Chris Li
01-03-2010, 10:42 PM
What was decided was four categories of Shihan: Super-Shihan, Ordinary Shihan, Shihan who are instructors in the Hombu Dojo, and Foreign Shihan, who have to be recommended by their organizations to receive the title.


It's not that I dislike the back of the bus, it's just that it would be nice not to be required to sit there.

Best,

Chris

iron horse
01-04-2010, 03:07 AM
Time to go back to the old ways perhaps. Next time you see a Japanese Shihan, challenge him, see if he is worth it. And if you land him on his arse, well, what will you make of Shihan then? (I'm not good enough to do it yet, but it could be a worthwhile aim).

Melchizedek
01-04-2010, 06:50 AM
Time to go back to the old ways perhaps. Next time you see a Japanese Shihan, challenge him, see if he is worth it. And if you land him on his arse, well, what will you make of Shihan then? (I'm not good enough to do it yet, but it could be a worthwhile aim).

Interesting!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I

CitoMaramba
01-04-2010, 07:09 AM
Interesting!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I

Ryukerin was not given a Shihan Certificate from Aikikai Hombu Dojo. As a matter of fact, he is not even an Aikido practitioner.

Carsten Möllering
01-04-2010, 08:06 AM
Interesting!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEDaCIDvj6I
Why?

And what has this to do with aikido?

Carsten

Mannix Moya
01-04-2010, 07:48 PM
It's not that I dislike the back of the bus, it's just that it would be nice not to be required to sit there.

Best,

Chris

+1 , where is the harmony in that?

gdandscompserv
01-04-2010, 07:50 PM
Just give me serious and focused students of Ueshiba Aiki to train with, and I am a happy man! Yup, I am a happy man!
Me too Sensei.
:D

Carl Thompson
01-04-2010, 09:25 PM
Am I right in thinking that the conclusion of this thread is that non-Japanese can in fact become shihan (supported by the recent promotions of Wagnar Bull Sensei etc), but that there are different classes of shihan which are limited by nationality? If so, could we have more details on that alleged limitation? For example, is this just a common opinion or is it official policy?

Thanks

Carl

Michael Fitzgerald
01-07-2010, 03:39 AM
Am I right in thinking that the conclusion of this thread is that non-Japanese can in fact become shihan (supported by the recent promotions of Wagnar Bull Sensei etc), but that there are different classes of shihan which are limited by nationality? If so, could we have more details on that alleged limitation? For example, is this just a common opinion or is it official policy?

Thanks

Carl
Hey Carl,
from Prof. Goldsbury's post I would say itseems like it is policy.
I am thinking he would probably know.

Peter Goldsbury
01-07-2010, 05:09 AM
Am I right in thinking that the conclusion of this thread is that non-Japanese can in fact become shihan (supported by the recent promotions of Wagnar Bull Sensei etc), but that there are different classes of shihan which are limited by nationality? If so, could we have more details on that alleged limitation? For example, is this just a common opinion or is it official policy?

Thanks

Carl

Hello Carl,

Conclusion? I thought the thread had been concluded several pages back, but it keeps coming back to life.

The only body that can specify the Hombu's official policy is the Hombu, certainly not me. However, I am pretty sure that the Hombu would strongly deny that it has ever had a policy of limiting classes of shihans by nationality and that it had such a policy now.

Critics could argue that the Hombu's actions actually consitute a de facto policy, but I think this would be very difficult to prove.

Best eishes,

PAG

Michael Fitzgerald
01-07-2010, 05:22 AM
I guess I read too much into that. Not to worry! much to learn.

Carl Thompson
01-07-2010, 09:26 AM
Conclusion? I thought the thread had been concluded several pages back, but it keeps coming back to life.

I also thought the issue got resolved a while ago, but the thread has a provocative title. I hope my question (and your considerate answer) helped clarify things.

yankeechick
01-17-2010, 05:46 PM
Well,

Ledyard Sensei is accurate. Titles do matter, even if we don't want them to, it's a fact of life. At the very least they get one in the door. Are they an accurate barometer of skill and ability? No..experience is closer to that..but it is what it is.

This comes from someone who is a third kyu and I had to stay on my sensei for that. My ability is there, but he hemmed and hawed for months before acknowledging my former experience. For six months I had to deal with students who couldn't make their own technique work, tell me how to perform technique. but enough complaining LOL...

I would have found it strange if Hombu Dojo did not confer the Shihan title to Saotome Sensei, particularly given that he is an Uchi-deshi of O-Sensei..I don't think I would be alone in that type of surprise.

I suspect that there are quite a bit of politics and maybe an old fashioned Samari (LOL) fight going on within the upper ranks of Aikido, for international recognition and the "right" to claim authenticity in Aikido. So many styles, so many senior practitioners, so many non-japanese, etc...

I further suspect that many of the "traditional" techniques of the Japanese have not been taught to westerners.

One can never prove a negative, so it may not be proven that there is an unspoken policy of who gets Shihan ranking and who doesn't. If I really wanted to start some stuff, I'd ask why there aren't any female Shihan and why are the women still relegated to the lower levels of Aikido? BUT, I won't do that LMAO...

But such is life and human nature. Just let me train seriously and exchange/interact with someone who wants to train and interact as well. The rest will come...

Dan Rubin
01-17-2010, 06:08 PM
If I really wanted to start some stuff, I'd ask why there aren't any female Shihan and why are the women still relegated to the lower levels of Aikido? BUT, I won't do that LMAO

This thread lists several female shihan and many more highly ranked female aikidoka.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14139

yankeechick
01-17-2010, 06:35 PM
This thread lists several female shihan and many more highly ranked female aikidoka.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14139

Thanks for the info. I've read that thread before.

I guess I should be more specific, within the USAF (I don't believe Micheline Tissier is confered as Shihan within the Aikikai) and I suspect Hombu dojo....The organizations listed here - are they recognized by hombu dojo?

But i guess we could discuss that on another thread....

Again, thanks for the info...