View Full Version : Poll: Do you line up by rank in your aikido dojo?

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AikiWeb System
06-02-2002, 01:01 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of June 2, 2002:

Do you line up by rank in your aikido dojo?

I don't do aikido

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=116).

Chuck Clark
06-02-2002, 02:12 PM
At the Jiyushinkan we line up for formal opening and closing of class in order of rank. Some koryu dojo we train in do it in order of seniority in the system (this has nothing to do with "rank").

The person we train with has nothing to do with how we line up. Seniors are expected to train with juniors before they train with each other. Seniors usually take the role of uke first to set the tone of the training.

I, personally, see rank as a sign of skill and leadership responsiblities. In the Jiyushinkai, rank is handled in ways that are similar to our koryu practice. Teachers determine when someone is promoted, not a board of people that do not know the person. Our promotion board is tasked with keeping technical standards at the level they should be throughout the organization. Promotions above sandan must be approved by consensus of the promotion board. We do not do tests. Students give a public demonstration so they show the nature of their practice to everyone. Juniors can see what they need to accomplish for a given rank. This also gives the instructors a way to evaluate what they need to work on to get things across better.

When a student is promoted to dan grade, it really is both recognition of accomplishment and a promise between teacher and student that goes both ways. It is recognized by those that take part in our system. Some people outside our system respect our grading, others do not. It is the way of things.

Rank is like a Zen koan that needs to be worked through. It is important and yet it is not important. Each person has to struggle at different levels with this conundrum.

At some point, what is important is how we view ourself and then how we share that with others.

As Kano Jigoro-sensei said, "Best Use of Energy with Mutual Benefit."


Paul Klembeck
06-02-2002, 08:39 PM
At our dojo, seniormost trains with juniormost. Lining up in rank order simply provides a way of sorting out the pairing easily.

Paul Klembeck

06-02-2002, 09:35 PM
Originally posted by Paul Klembeck
At our dojo, seniormost trains with juniormost. Lining up in rank order simply provides a way of sorting out the pairing easily.

Paul Klembeck

We do - sort of. We have a yudansha line where it is rank order with seniority amoung ranks. There is a line for ikkyu, nikyu and a third line for everyone else. No particular order for the latter two lines and in reallity no big deal is made in the yudansha line. A quick look around hints at about where you should sit and if the exact order is messed up - no big deal.

Same is true for lining up in training. Some attempt is made but often it gets broken down when sensei wants particular pairings or what not. Since one line is usually constantly rotating - everyone trains with everyone.

06-03-2002, 01:22 AM
Hi there!

In our dojos, we do formal line up sorted by grades (we wear colored belts, so it is easy) at the beginning and the end. The yudansha also sort by grade. There is no sorting by seniority.

During practice, everyone is expected to train with everybody. for watching the demonstration, we do kind of a loose row where rank doesn't matter.

Interesting, how this varies throughout the various Aikido dojos.


06-03-2002, 01:49 AM
We only line up by rank at the beginning of class. We don't worry about it when sensei is demonstrating during class...we just try to get back in line as quickly as we can when he claps.


06-03-2002, 09:19 AM
We (Tenshinkai Aikido) bow in and out at the beginning and end of class by rank. Once a beginner learns to fall (first few kyus) they work out with everyone. Before that, the higher ranks (dans) often take turns working with them.

Until again,


06-06-2002, 06:44 AM
We at our dojo line up at the start and end of the lesson, roughly divided in two, hakama and non-hakama.

Normaly new (fresh) students coming in are still a bit timide and often set themselves at the most left part (as viewed from shimoza) of the line. Sometimes not and then they are told where to go.
Line up at start does not have to do with rank, but with experience. As we are taught (and train others) to be responsible for the people training for a shorter time, it is quite handy to have the people you have to care for and watch over on your left side only, especially during aiki taiso and ukemi practise.

With the start of partner training it is quite enjoyable to see the beginner being surprised by the invitation to train from the more experienced aikidoka who got up and crossed the mat in the same time as it took the beginner just to get up.

At the end a same kind of line up is made as at the beginning.

I know rules can seem quite formal, but this rule is observed in such a natural manner that a lot of the people at our dojo dont even realize the rule exists. They just go with flow!

Bruce Baker
06-06-2002, 09:48 AM
Sometimes it takes the realization of an illness, or the vast expense of time to find the respect of seniors and juniors being equal in Seiza.

Many times, both in class, and in seminars, the senior black belt, who are instructors or teachers, will invite juniors to fill in the front line ... not because they are juniors, but to understand the equality we all share when we give our respect and appreciation for what we learn in Aikido classes and sometime into our private lives.

The way I was taught to look at the journey to higher ranks in martial arts was that when you finally attain the highest rank, 10th dan, you have completed the circle to white belt to begin the journey again ... white belt. With this ideal, your personality will always be humble, caring, and respectfull of all things, and all beings, even though your knowledge is immense.

I have seen, and been a part of the colored belt system, but in many cases the students mistook it for seniority and not a case of bookmarking the knowledge given to the student. Colored belts should be no more than the accomlished practice of knowledge given, no more and no less. It should not be a status symbol, or banner to waived in an overlording manner.

So, if asked how important the colored belts are, Black and white is all we should need.

If asked how effective is Aikido training your answer should be found in your practice, not in the colored belt, or the seniority of lining up for practice ... unless we are becoming a neo-military unit?

By the way, did you ever notice how many Sensei who visit, or attend seminars line up in the back rows for practice?

It doesn't seem to make a difference to people who are comfortable with themselves and Aikido practice.

Ali B
06-06-2002, 09:58 AM
:) We donīt have any order at line up but everyone in my club wears a white belt and it is a very small club. I am grateful for this as I have no grade, although I have some experience and would not know where I fit into the lineup.

How can we judge? Isnīt it a matter of ego that we display our ranks and want to sit higher up the line than someone else?

Love and light,

Chuck Clark
06-06-2002, 10:20 AM
Human beings form a "pecking order" in everything they do. Its part of our nature to compare. Whether the hierachical system is natural or artificial isn't important.

If we do have an artificial system (rank) then it should reflect the natural pecking order as much as possible.

As far as ego goes, it seems to me that trying to do away with things that might cause ego problems could be the very height of a problematic ego.

For instance, if we use rank (and all of its trappings) as a paradoxical problem (Zen koan, for example) and go through the various levels of experience we can come to an understanding of it that leaves us without real attachement to the rank and all it entails except possibly (hopefully), the resposibility that should go along with rank.


06-06-2002, 12:36 PM
For instance, if we use rank (and all of its trappings) as a paradoxical problem (Zen koan, for example) and go through the various levels of experience we can come to an understanding of it that leaves us without real attachement to the rank and all it entails except possibly (hopefully), the resposibility that should go along with rank

Hey Chuck, I like this--thanks.

small story: Just after I had tested for shodan a friend of mine was asking about the test (he had done TKD for several years). He asked what new techniques I'd get to learn now that I was a black belt. I told him none. The only thing we really got with more rank was more responsibility and work. He seemed confused and asked "you don't get any new kata or techniques that are only for black belts?....that sucks!" I just smiled :p


Bruce Baker
06-07-2002, 01:10 PM
The trapping of the quasi military protocol, along with social graces of civilized society do indeed get tangled in the wonderful world of Martial Arts and Aikido.

If just shouldn't matter if the more senior or less senior practitioners of Aikido are in the first line or the last. What is important is understanding that your obligation to acknowledge those who have come before you and those who come after you is from the sincerity of your heart and not the ego in your head.

Our ceremony of bowing in, practice, and bowing out is not some game of military protocol, even though it is derived from it, but the individuals search for finding a gentle way to deal with the emotional turmoil and physical violence of life that causes disharmony in the self.

If by awarding colored belts you think to create harmony, that is the harmony of your mind, not mine. I tend to see the struggle of each person, even if my intuition tells me to not like, or avoid a person, I try to see the equality of all students of aikido, both new and very old, more experience students who have become teachers.

Our EQUALITY may not be so apparent as line up in some dojo's, but nonetheless, we all struggle to find mastery of our practice in Aikido which becomes an ever widening field of vision as we progress in days, months, and years. I am a student of having all people play the game no matter their ability. Maybe because it is the fun of playing, such as Aikido practice, that makes it more than a game, and less than a pitched battle of war?

Indeed, we are playing at being warriors.

Indeed, we are not seeking to become warriors, at least most of us are not, for we do not seek the means to kill as most warriors do.

Still ... with the harmony of our practice, it is expected to show as much humility, patience, and respect as we would have others show to us.

So, by this measure ... it might be thoughtful to not line up by rank and experience now and then, just as it might thoughtful for those who do not to line up by rank and experience now and then.

If you only know how to do things one way, how will you ever know another way?


Maybe, but to see what is in the world, sometimes you have step outside your door, not just look thru the window.