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Chris Li
05-06-2012, 07:51 PM
New blog post:

Masters of the Universe, the Aikikai and the Shihan Certification: Who gets it, who doesn't and would you want it anyway?

http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/archive/2012-05-06/masters-of-the-universe-the-aikikai-and-the-shihan-certification

Best,

Chris

Garth Jones
05-07-2012, 08:24 AM
Thanks for the post. A few thoughts come to mind:

1. Since there is no training program or certification required for the title, it has little meaning. The only even vaguely objective criterion is being 6th dan. Because of that it seems reasonable that anybody, regardless of where they are or their nationality, who is promoted to 6th dan, should be able to use the title.

2. There are other oddities in the use of the term. For example, Chiba Sensei (Birankai) has made rather a number of his senior people (there were 10 of them the last time I saw the list) shihan. I have no idea if that was 'officially sanctioned' by Hombu Dojo and/or the IAF, but he has done it.

3. The broader issue here, that a number of other folks have commented on both on this forum and elsewhere, is the question of how relevant any of this is to most of us anyway. Back when all organizations were run by Japanese instructors sent from Hombu and we had this very clearly defined, top down structure (Hombu -> official national organization -> regional organiztion -> local dojo) is long gone. We now have highly skilled instructors with decades of experience all over the world and Hombu Dojo is no longer the epicenter of skill and experience.

4. I think the only thing really holding this system together at the moment is the general desire on the part of aikidoists to still receive officially recognized yudansha rank from Hombu Dojo. If we all ever let go of that, then it's not clear to me what we need Hombu for, other than the as the ceremonial and historical center of aikido. In my case, my teachers are Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei and Mary Heiny Sensei. Further, there are a busload of really great 6th dan instructors within a few hours drive of Pittsburgh. Sure, the current doshu is a fine aikidoka, but he is a long, long way away. If the ASU (again, in my case), started issuing its own yudansha certificates, I don't know that I would give much thought to the state of things at Hombu Dojo unless I happened to find myself in Tokyo.

Anyway, those are my ruminations this morning....

Garth

Chris Li
05-07-2012, 10:22 AM
Thanks for the post. A few thoughts come to mind:

1. Since there is no training program or certification required for the title, it has little meaning. The only even vaguely objective criterion is being 6th dan. Because of that it seems reasonable that anybody, regardless of where they are or their nationality, who is promoted to 6th dan, should be able to use the title.

2. There are other oddities in the use of the term. For example, Chiba Sensei (Birankai) has made rather a number of his senior people (there were 10 of them the last time I saw the list) shihan. I have no idea if that was 'officially sanctioned' by Hombu Dojo and/or the IAF, but he has done it.

3. The broader issue here, that a number of other folks have commented on both on this forum and elsewhere, is the question of how relevant any of this is to most of us anyway. Back when all organizations were run by Japanese instructors sent from Hombu and we had this very clearly defined, top down structure (Hombu -> official national organization -> regional organiztion -> local dojo) is long gone. We now have highly skilled instructors with decades of experience all over the world and Hombu Dojo is no longer the epicenter of skill and experience.

4. I think the only thing really holding this system together at the moment is the general desire on the part of aikidoists to still receive officially recognized yudansha rank from Hombu Dojo. If we all ever let go of that, then it's not clear to me what we need Hombu for, other than the as the ceremonial and historical center of aikido. In my case, my teachers are Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei and Mary Heiny Sensei. Further, there are a busload of really great 6th dan instructors within a few hours drive of Pittsburgh. Sure, the current doshu is a fine aikidoka, but he is a long, long way away. If the ASU (again, in my case), started issuing its own yudansha certificates, I don't know that I would give much thought to the state of things at Hombu Dojo unless I happened to find myself in Tokyo.

Anyway, those are my ruminations this morning....

Garth


Should be - that's the way that it was run in Japan for years, and still is. For some reason that changed for non-Japanese...
As I understand it, Chiba didn't like that Hombu was stalling on the Shihan certifications (initially they were quite slow to come out) and went ahead and issued a bunch on his own. Many (all?) of those folks later got Hombu certification.
Most people still send quite a bit of cash back to Japan - any organization that asks for that kind of support has a responsibility, if you ask me, to treat you fairly or lose that support.
People need to realize that Hombu really provides nothing in the way of support or services for its members. Hombu needs to realize that, to exist as a modern international organization, it must provide a structure that provides something in the way of real benefits for its members. Just like any other professional organization or association.


Best,

Chris

danj
05-07-2012, 05:56 PM
When the hombu promotions were announced/shared on the aikiweb some months back, I got to wondering if anyone had tracked the stats vs. historical demographics of the awards. I suspect it would illuminate somewhat the increasing passing of aikido to west and how things are faring at the proverbial 'glass ceiling'

Speaking from the perspective of a member of an aikido ryu-ha (dare I use that term), there is some attraction to seeing everything become part of the main line lineage, though the path there and cost/benefit(in the wider sense) is unclear.

dan

sakumeikan
05-07-2012, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the post. A few thoughts come to mind:

1. Since there is no training program or certification required for the title, it has little meaning. The only even vaguely objective criterion is being 6th dan. Because of that it seems reasonable that anybody, regardless of where they are or their nationality, who is promoted to 6th dan, should be able to use the title.

2. There are other oddities in the use of the term. For example, Chiba Sensei (Birankai) has made rather a number of his senior people (there were 10 of them the last time I saw the list) shihan. I have no idea if that was 'officially sanctioned' by Hombu Dojo and/or the IAF, but he has done it.

3. The broader issue here, that a number of other folks have commented on both on this forum and elsewhere, is the question of how relevant any of this is to most of us anyway. Back when all organizations were run by Japanese instructors sent from Hombu and we had this very clearly defined, top down structure (Hombu -> official national organization -> regional organiztion -> local dojo) is long gone. We now have highly skilled instructors with decades of experience all over the world and Hombu Dojo is no longer the epicenter of skill and experience.

4. I think the only thing really holding this system together at the moment is the general desire on the part of aikidoists to still receive officially recognized yudansha rank from Hombu Dojo. If we all ever let go of that, then it's not clear to me what we need Hombu for, other than the as the ceremonial and historical center of aikido. In my case, my teachers are Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei and Mary Heiny Sensei. Further, there are a busload of really great 6th dan instructors within a few hours drive of Pittsburgh. Sure, the current doshu is a fine aikidoka, but he is a long, long way away. If the ASU (again, in my case), started issuing its own yudansha certificates, I don't know that I would give much thought to the state of things at Hombu Dojo unless I happened to find myself in Tokyo.

Anyway, those are my ruminations this morning....

Garth
Dear Garth,
Your points in item one are not exactly correct.There are certain criteria which has to be met by any 6th Dan Aikikai member .If it were simply a case of Aikikai foundation awarding Shihan title to officially registered Aikikai 6th Dan grade holders, this would be a in my view a step in the right direction.As it exists right now Hombu are either unable /unwilling to take this on board.Frankly I cannot see this happening.Politics both internal /external cloud the issue.Cheers, Joe.

sakumeikan
05-07-2012, 11:40 PM
Dear all,
In Birankai International there have been a total number of of 27 Birankai Shihan titles awarded by Chiba Sensei.These include seventeen in U.S.A., five in the U.K..one in Japan and three in Europe.This number includes some who are deceased[Nobuo Iseri/Mick Holloway] some who may not be currently Birankai members .As far as I am aware most if not all are recognised by Hombu.I believe the above figures to be accurate at time of print.Cheers, Joe.

sakumeikan
05-08-2012, 03:38 AM
Dear All,
If one takes the time to read Hombu Regulations in relation to Fukushidoin/Shidoin /Shihan certification and recognition of status you will see that' rules' as laid down by Hombu/Aikikai Foundation state that the candidtes have to be at a certain level of proficiency/a minimum age/and a member of a recognised Hombu affilliated organization.For Fukushidoin /Shidoin promotion this can be granted by the persons own group.Hombu is not involved here assuming the candidate fulfills the basic criteria.
However Article 16 clearly spells it out in respect of Shihan.The candidate again has to be a certain age, minimum 6th Dan [with appropriate time served] and be an recognised instructor eg Shidoin, in the affiliated parent body of the candidate.Should the candidate be suitable??[what is the definition of suitable here.I ask myself]a Certificate of Approval is given .
Now this raises questions here, does this mean that any 6th Dan with the correct credentials as listed by Article /s of Hombu dojo is eligible to be tested by Hombu dojo to check his /her
command and understanding of Aikido?
If this is the case why does Hombu apparently fail to keep to the regulations?I am sure that among our fraternity some people may well be missing this opportunity.How does Hombu select these potential candidates?Since Hombu /Aikikai Foundation issues all OFFICIAL certs of persons grade etc why is there not a automatic reminder to Hombu that some person somewhere needs to be verified as a Shihan ?Could there be more to this than meets the eye?Perhaps Hombu wants [despite the many talented , long serving Aikidoka throughout the world as stated by others on this Forum] to keep the status of Shihan primarily for the Japanese?I would like to think that this is not the case , but can we rule this factor out?
As someone else has also stated there are at least in the U.K more non affiliated Aikikai Foundation groups than ones who are affiliated.These groups see no problem in relation to promotions up to and including 8th Dan /Shihan status.
In my mind anyone who who holds the rank of 6th Dan/is a qualified Shidoin/and has spent decades supporting and practicing this art with competent instructors should be automatically granted
Shihan status.May i also state that tjis article/blog in general is almost a taboo subject?Lets all stop hiding or being selective on what we want to discuss openly.Lets open up every can of worms, whether its in this area or not.A big Thank You to the guy who started this blog.He has bottle[courage ].Cheers, Joe.
P

JJF
05-08-2012, 06:42 AM
For arguments sake I will - in this post - just talk about aikikai hombu dojo affiliated dojos here. The others can pretty much do what they want anyway disregarding what hombu dojo thinks.. which pretty much is the reason they broke away anyway.

Assuming 'shihan' means something along the line of 'Model instructor' it would be clear that a 6th dan and the title of Shidoin for a period of time are not the only elements necessary for the title to be issued. In my limited understanding of Japanese line of thought things are just not put together by that type of causality thinking.

First of all the whole concept of kyu and dan ranking is a very versatile system. There are a set curriculum for hombu dojo but everybody know that the national organisations and even local dojos more often than not have their own interpretations. Also the way we practice a given technique is far from uniform between each dojo, organisation or country. So.. therefore a shodan is not a shodan in the form of a 'template' that we need to fit completely, and that goes for all the other levels as well. Some grades are given for extraordinary effort in the organisation (partially) - some are given for other reasons.

The hombu dojo is basically a dojo like every other dojo in the sense that they have a number of teachers who each embodies aikido in their own way. It just happens to also be the place where we keep the records of all dan grades issued, but apart from those based on gradings within the same building, they all rely on the national, regional and local organisations. For such a trust to be earned you need to have people in each organisation / country that have demonstrated a personality and a level of aikido which will enable them to be the local representatives from hombu dojo. Dan levels have been used as a guide towards what needs to be fulfilled for an organisation to be able to perform their own gradings to a certain level, but again - a dan grade is a somewhat flexible concept.

The same goes for the title of shihan. Hombu dojo can issue this title to a person who has made himself visible as a 'model instructor'. That is - somebody who can teach aikido and pass it on to others in a good way and with a clear and understandable vision of how to develop aikido (this may vary a lot). Now - asking for the shihan title would probably disqualify you immediately. You need to be someone that somebody with the right level will see and recognize as shihan material. Of course you will be more likely to get this attention if you are close to those who make these decisions. For example by going to hombu dojo all the time, or by going to a lot of seminars and develop a close relationship to influential senseis/shihans. Of course such things as personal likes / dislikes matters - not to mention pure luck and the ability to be a the right place at the right time. This will favor japanese senseis who teach at hombu dojo, or who go there on a regular basis.

Some might think that this makes the system less than perfect. Especially if you have an 'organizational mindset' where you believe that people earn merits by doing chores within a system that records all activities. That is just not the japanese way.. nor do I believe the budo way.

Personally I prefer the title to be something given as a recognition for an extraordinary effort combined with at gift for teaching and transforming aikido. That - in my book - are the features of a 'model instructor'. If the title was handed out to anybody at a special age and with enough hours on the mat, then it would just be the same as say 6th dan. It has to be something special.

Just my thoughts on the matter...

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 10:22 AM
Personally I prefer the title to be something given as a recognition for an extraordinary effort combined with at gift for teaching and transforming aikido. That - in my book - are the features of a 'model instructor'. If the title was handed out to anybody at a special age and with enough hours on the mat, then it would just be the same as say 6th dan. It has to be something special.

Just my thoughts on the matter...

What standards ought to be required is kind of a red herring.

The real problem isn't what qualifications are required, the real problem (IMO) is that there are two standards.

Anyone who lives in Japan is automatically shihan at 6th dan.

Everybody else has to go through the qualifying process and is not shihan without special certification, whether they're 6th, 7th or even 8th dan (if we start to see foreigners promoted to 8th dan).

It sets up a division that is clearly discriminatory along racial lines.

Now, there is a strong cultural assumption in Japan that Japanese are "unique", and that may have crept into the decision making process - but that's really not acceptable in an international organization that is asking for our financial support.

At one time almost everybody was tied to hombu through their instructors, or the instructors that headed their organizations.

But those times are passing - the old instructors are passing away, and many of the current senior instructors have never even been to hombu and Doshu wouldn't remember their name if he met them on the street.

Time for a new model - and the Aikikai has to realize that in order to remain relevant.

Best,

Chris

philipsmith
05-08-2012, 11:40 AM
OK my experience.

My principal instructor asked Hombu what the procedure was and from my end it went something like this.

I had to send my Aikido CV to the Hombu dojo. During the next year a Hombu Shihan observed me teach (at Summer School) and sit on a grading panel (up to Sandan). I then got a nice certificate and letter following the next Kigami Biraki ceremony.

So I guess there is some kind of quality control. As I see it if you join the club (Hombu) then you play by the rules.

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 11:52 AM
OK my experience.

My principal instructor asked Hombu what the procedure was and from my end it went something like this.

I had to send my Aikido CV to the Hombu dojo. During the next year a Hombu Shihan observed me teach (at Summer School) and sit on a grading panel (up to Sandan). I then got a nice certificate and letter following the next Kigami Biraki ceremony.

So I guess there is some kind of quality control. As I see it if you join the club (Hombu) then you play by the rules.

Sure, but the rules are not the same for everybody.

Then the question becomes - why join a club that treats you unfairly? Are there really any benefits?

Best,

Chris

Conrad Gus
05-08-2012, 11:56 AM
I think you're making way too much of this.

The title is acquired in the traditional way within the Japanese aikido community in order to respect the traditions and all of the instructors that have been allowed to use the title over the years. This tradition within Japan doesn't cause damage to the international aikido community. The only exception I can think of is if there were a non-Japanese 6 dan who wanted the title but didn't get it, but I would question that person's motives and also question how they got into that situation in the first place.

The tone of this post debate sounds a little bit like, "It's not fair that they have something and we don't!". I would like to point out that the international aikido community and the Japanese aikido community are not in competition with each other.

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 01:49 PM
I think you're making way too much of this.

The title is acquired in the traditional way within the Japanese aikido community in order to respect the traditions and all of the instructors that have been allowed to use the title over the years. This tradition within Japan doesn't cause damage to the international aikido community. The only exception I can think of is if there were a non-Japanese 6 dan who wanted the title but didn't get it, but I would question that person's motives and also question how they got into that situation in the first place.

The tone of this post debate sounds a little bit like, "It's not fair that they have something and we don't!". I would like to point out that the international aikido community and the Japanese aikido community are not in competition with each other.

I can think of a number of examples of 6th and 7th dans outside of Japan who wanted the title (god knows why) but weren't given it.

"It's not fair that they have something and we don't!"

That's exactly it, why support an organization that doesn't treat you equitably?

Best,

Chris

sakumeikan
05-08-2012, 03:08 PM
I think you're making way too much of this.

The title is acquired in the traditional way within the Japanese aikido community in order to respect the traditions and all of the instructors that have been allowed to use the title over the years. This tradition within Japan doesn't cause damage to the international aikido community. The only exception I can think of is if there were a non-Japanese 6 dan who wanted the title but didn't get it, but I would question that person's motives and also question how they got into that situation in the first place.

The tone of this post debate sounds a little bit like, "It's not fair that they have something and we don't!". I would like to point out that the international aikido community and the Japanese aikido community are not in competition with each other.

Dear Conrad,
No one is in competition with anyone else.The question that is being asked by some is this . namely Is everybody starting from a position of a level playing field.As far as wanting titles are concerned personally I never sought office or grades within the three organizations that I have been involved in over the last 41 years.I just trained and tried to work for the benefit of the members of our group and as a diligent servant to my teacher.Of course everyone I would suggest would like to
aspire to higher things.This is in my book a pretty natural thing.Nothing to be ashamed of.For example , you might like to be considered by your workforce as being a competent person you line of business and you may have aspirations to develop your talents and secure some managerial position.Should you or anybody in that scenario feel guilty about having such aspirations?I think not, especially if you have served your time and you know your subject.
However in this world you do not always get what you wish for.Thats life I suppose.
All I think is this , more transparency and openness is required by the Aikido community and by Hombu dojo to resolve issues like this subject and any other subject that causes concern .
I am however p;eased that you and a few others have responded to the initial blog.I do hope this mail finds you well, Cheers, Joe.

Carl Thompson
05-08-2012, 04:42 PM
Hello Chris

Maybe I'm missing something here... I can't find a Japan-only grading system on the Aikikai website.

You linked to the 合気会とその活動 (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/jpn/aikikai.htm#%E8%A6%8F%E7%A8%8B) page in your blog for what you described as one of the " two standards". However this is the page for "Aikikai Activity", not the regulations page. It contains the yearly plans and gives a brief outline of the purpose of the Aikikai.

The Japanese version of the regulations page only lists the international regulations.

Why would they only list these regulations if they don't even apply within Japan?

Also, there do appear to be some Japanese 6th dans who do not hold the title of shihan.

Regards

Carl

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.
http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/regulation/international.htm

師範)
第十六条
一、 師範は、稽古、指導共に熟達した六段以上の者の中より本部が審議し認定する。
二、師範として認定された者には、本部より認定証が授与される。
http://www.aikikai.or.jp/jpn/regulation/international.htm

Conrad Gus
05-08-2012, 04:58 PM
Dear Conrad,
No one is in competition with anyone else.The question that is being asked by some is this . namely Is everybody starting from a position of a level playing field.As far as wanting titles are concerned personally I never sought office or grades within the three organizations that I have been involved in over the last 41 years.I just trained and tried to work for the benefit of the members of our group and as a diligent servant to my teacher.Of course everyone I would suggest would like to
aspire to higher things.This is in my book a pretty natural thing.Nothing to be ashamed of.For example , you might like to be considered by your workforce as being a competent person you line of business and you may have aspirations to develop your talents and secure some managerial position.Should you or anybody in that scenario feel guilty about having such aspirations?I think not, especially if you have served your time and you know your subject.
However in this world you do not always get what you wish for.Thats life I suppose.
All I think is this , more transparency and openness is required by the Aikido community and by Hombu dojo to resolve issues like this subject and any other subject that causes concern .
I am however p;eased that you and a few others have responded to the initial blog.I do hope this mail finds you well, Cheers, Joe.

Why do you need a level playing field? Only if you are playing something competitive that requires even starting conditions (which is where the expression comes from). Is the North American (or European, or African, etc.) teacher competing for students? Seminar invitations? Youtube hits?

I just don't see why it is so important that the process inside Japan and the process outside Japan have to be exactly the same (and "fair").

If we apply the same principles, then it shouldn't take so long to get a black belt outside of Japan. It took me 6 years to get to shodan in North America. In Japan, I've heard that it can be done in two! It doesn't matter to me, it's just different, that's all. In fact, internationally, a North American rank might be more highly respected than a Japanese person's because people know that the standards are applied differently. Same title, different application, different meaning. Thank Yamada Sensei I suppose!

I think we agree that the intrinsic benefits of training, testing, teaching, or running a dojo are more valuable than the external recognition that may or may not be bestowed. Still, I see your point that if you have an ambition to receive the title and deserve it, but are unfairly denied, it would be frustrating and perhaps discriminatory. I just don't see evidence that this is what is going on.

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 05:03 PM
Hello Chris

Maybe I'm missing something here... I can't find a Japan-only grading system on the Aikikai website.

You linked to the 合気会とその活動 (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/jpn/aikikai.htm#%E8%A6%8F%E7%A8%8B) page in your blog for what you described as one of the " two standards". However this is the page for "Aikikai Activity", not the regulations page. It contains the yearly plans and gives a brief outline of the purpose of the Aikikai.

The Japanese version of the regulations page only lists the international regulations.

Why would they only list these regulations if they don't even apply within Japan?

Also, there do appear to be some Japanese 6th dans who do not hold the title of shihan.

Regards

Carl

http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/regulation/international.htm

http://www.aikikai.or.jp/jpn/regulation/international.htm

If you look at the Japanese page they have a link for the International Regulations with a link for the Domestic Regulations below that.

On the Domestic page they have the rules for the recognition of organizations, but not for fukushidoin/shidoin/shihan.

It doesn't contain the fukushidoin/shidoin/shihan regulations - because there are none, really, for Japan.

Anyone 6th dan and above and instructing in Japan can be called a shihan, and no special certifications are issued - as per Mr. Tani's clarification.

The title doesn't really mean much in Japan - but it doesn't mean much abroad with the special certificate either, so why create this convoluted double standard?

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 05:09 PM
Why do you need a level playing field? Only if you are playing something competitive that requires even starting conditions (which is where the expression comes from). Is the North American (or European, or African, etc.) teacher competing for students? Seminar invitations? Youtube hits?

I just don't see why it is so important that the process inside Japan and the process outside Japan have to be exactly the same (and "fair").

If we apply the same principles, then it shouldn't take so long to get a black belt outside of Japan. It took me 6 years to get to shodan in North America. In Japan, I've heard that it can be done in two! It doesn't matter to me, it's just different, that's all. In fact, internationally, a North American rank might be more highly respected than a Japanese person's because people know that the standards are applied differently. Same title, different application, different meaning. Thank Yamada Sensei I suppose!

I think we agree that the intrinsic benefits of training, testing, teaching, or running a dojo are more valuable than the external recognition that may or may not be bestowed. Still, I see your point that if you have an ambition to receive the title and deserve it, but are unfairly denied, it would be frustrating and perhaps discriminatory. I just don't see evidence that this is what is going on.

As I said, I have a bunch of examples - but I'm not going to list names here.

In any case, if you're content with an organization that treats Japanese and non-Japanese differently then that's fine - but many people are not.

I'd note that the long time to shodan in North America isn't mandated by Aikikai hombu - that's a decision by the local North American instructors.

Best,

Chris

Conrad Gus
05-08-2012, 05:16 PM
The title doesn't really mean much in Japan


I'm not sure this is true. Just because any 6 dan in Japan is allowed to call themselves "shihan", it doesn't mean that they do. It may be something that is culturally regulated (like so much else in Japanese culture). Does anyone know if all the 6 dans at Hombu call themselves "shihan"? My understanding is that in Japan you can make it to 6 dan without ever teaching a class, which would probably make a person think twice about declaring themselves "master teacher".

When my (Japanese) sensei received 6 dan (1996 I think?), I seem to remember he was given permission by his teacher to use the title (no formal certificate though). Granted, it's not a perfect test case because he was living and teaching in Canada instead of Japan, so he may have fallen into a grey zone with the rules. I did get the feeling that he wouldn't have busted out new business cards the week after the promotion without some kind of blessing.

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 05:26 PM
I'm not sure this is true. Just because any 6 dan in Japan is allowed to call themselves "shihan", it doesn't mean that they do. It may be something that is culturally regulated (like so much else in Japanese culture). Does anyone know if all the 6 dans at Hombu call themselves "shihan"? My understanding is that in Japan you can make it to 6 dan without ever teaching a class, which would probably make a person think twice about declaring themselves "master teacher".

When my (Japanese) sensei received 6 dan (1996 I think?), I seem to remember he was given permission by his teacher to use the title (no formal certificate though). Granted, it's not a perfect test case because he was living and teaching in Canada instead of Japan, so he may have fallen into a grey zone with the rules. I did get the feeling that he wouldn't have busted out new business cards the week after the promotion without some kind of blessing.

Here's an interesting comment (http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/2005/2/index.shtml) by Yoshimitsu Yamada.

Strictly speaking, your teacher in Canda was not a shihan according to the Aikikai hombu regulations, whatever he was told. This is a symptom of the problem - the Aikikai's inclarity and inconsistency.

You're right, I should have said "any sixth dan teaching in Japan". That doesn't remove the basic problem, though.

Best,

Chris

Conrad Gus
05-08-2012, 05:27 PM
As I said, I have a bunch of examples - but I'm not going to list names here.

In any case, if you're content with an organization that treats Japanese and non-Japanese differently then that's fine - but many people are not.

I'd note that the long time to shodan in North America isn't mandated by Aikikai hombu - that's a decision by the local North American instructors.

Best,

Chris

Sorry, I missed it when you mentioned you had a bunch of examples of people being clearly discriminated against. If I knew first-hand of some kind of unfair treatment, I suppose I would be more passionate about the issue.

I don't expect names (obviously), but I'm curious if these are examples where the people in question clearly deserve the title but are denied it for some kind of personal or political reason that you know of.

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 05:31 PM
BTW, by "The title doesn't really mean much in Japan" I meant that, as in the US, it conveys no extra powers or responsibilities, no extra privileges over a plain dan ranking. Mainly it's just bragging rights - a more important way of saying "teacher".

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 05:32 PM
I don't expect names (obviously), but I'm curious if these are examples where the people in question clearly deserve the title but are denied it for some kind of personal or political reason that you know of.

They're not Japanese. If they were living in Japan they would be accepted as shihan without question.

Best,

Chris

Conrad Gus
05-08-2012, 05:51 PM
They're not Japanese. If they were living in Japan they would be accepted as shihan without question.


I get that. I was wondering if they were non-Japanese who had been unfairly denied the honorific for some reason other than lack of merit.

Here's an interesting comment (http://www.aikidoeast.com/aikidoeast/2005/2/index.shtml) by Yoshimitsu Yamada.


Interesting read. Thanks.


Strictly speaking, your teacher in Canda was not a shihan according to the Aikikai hombu regulations, whatever he was told. This is a symptom of the problem - the Aikikai's inclarity and inconsistency.


Yeah, he was obviously grandfathered in under the Japanese system rather than the international one. It was 1996, so before the 2000 regulations were created.

Conrad Gus
05-08-2012, 05:53 PM
In the end, it doesn't matter as long as the evil of Skeletor is never again permitted to violate Castle Greyskull!

:D

sakumeikan
05-08-2012, 06:12 PM
BTW, by "The title doesn't really mean much in Japan" I meant that, as in the US, it conveys no extra powers or responsibilities, no extra privileges over a plain dan ranking. Mainly it's just bragging rights - a more important way of saying "teacher".

Best,

Chris

Dear Chris,
It may well be the case that in the U.S.A the title of Shihan conveys no extra powers or responsibilities and no extra privileges.In the U.K .this is not the case.Cheers, Joe.

Chris Li
05-08-2012, 06:17 PM
Dear Chris,
It may well be the case that in the U.S.A the title of Shihan conveys no extra powers or responsibilities and no extra privileges.In the U.K .this is not the case.Cheers, Joe.

Must be a U.K. thing - around here people just want to be a "Master of the Universe". ;)

Best,

Chris

john.burn
05-09-2012, 05:01 AM
Must be a U.K. thing - around here people just want to be a "Master of the Universe". ;)

Best,

Chris

Hi Chris,

Don't forget we suffer quite a bit from Shihan Syndrome in the UK... Generally it's a self inflicted / self inflated condition ;)

Eva Antonia
05-09-2012, 06:26 AM
Dear all,

here in Belgium we have two shihans (in the francophone foundation; we maybe don't have shihan politics, but then we have language politics...), I don't know how it is in the Dutch speaking foundation. Both were awarded their rank by Tissier shihan; I was present at the seminar when Louis van Tieghem got his shihan certificate :), and the certificates came from the Japanese aikikai.

Now we have some seventh dans who are NOT shihan, we have a sixth dan shihan and lots of sixth dans who are not, but to us footfolk this does not matter very much. We go to their seminars because they teach well, not because they have this title. I never thought people would be entitled to the shihan title, I always thought it was awarded for special merits in further developing and teaching aikido. No matter if you are Japanese, European, male, female, etc.

All the best,

Eva

Carl Thompson
05-09-2012, 09:50 AM
If you look at the Japanese page they have a link for the International Regulations with a link for the Domestic Regulations below that.
Yes, but the link to the internal regulations page doesn't actually go to an "internal regulations" page. It goes to an "Aikikai Activities" page which has a load of yearly plans, subsidiary aid reports and information on registering dojos and even forms on how to fill in the forms etc. It isn't a section that explains rules for obtaining any rank or instructor qualification.
The title doesn't really mean much in Japan - but it doesn't mean much abroad with the special certificate either, so why create this convoluted double standard?
I don't think the absence of an internal rules page at the end of the link and interviews/statements from 10-20 years ago (during which the system has changed) prove that there is a double standard now. Note that dan and kyu grades are in the same situation as the instructor qualifications: there are no internal regulations listed for them either, because the link just goes to "activities". Does this mean that there are double standards for kyu grades and yudansha too then?

How about asking Mr Tani what the situation is now and if the only rules shown (the international ones) apply to everyone? Regarding the value of the rank, as with Aikikai recognition for dojos, the official position is pretty clear:

Hombu Recognition does not have any political implication. It is a vertical relation between Hombu and each Aikido organization for the purpose of instruction and grading of Aikido.

Obviously simple recognition for these purposes will mean different things to different people but is it necessary that the labels come with special privileges or powers?

Carl

Chris Li
05-09-2012, 10:28 AM
Yes, but the link to the internal regulations page doesn't actually go to an "internal regulations" page. It goes to an "Aikikai Activities" page which has a load of yearly plans, subsidiary aid reports and information on registering dojos and even forms on how to fill in the forms etc. It isn't a section that explains rules for obtaining any rank or instructor qualification.

That's right, and you're seeing the difference between the Japanese conception of what "regulations" should include (which are usually, relatively speaking, extremely non-specific) and the non-Japanese conception. Of course, this is part of the problem.


I don't think the absence of an internal rules page at the end of the link and interviews/statements from 10-20 years ago (during which the system has changed) prove that there is a double standard now. Note that dan and kyu grades are in the same situation as the instructor qualifications: there are no internal regulations listed for them either, because the link just goes to "activities". Does this mean that there are double standards for kyu grades and yudansha too then?


The Tani statement is somewhat more recent than that (although I can't remember what year) - but this is also based on more recent discussions that are not open to public posting.

There are actually...no standards for kyu and yudansha grades, anywhere (this is probably another discussion). Even the time requirements are guidelines and not hard requirements.

Obviously simple recognition for these purposes will mean different things to different people but is it necessary that the labels come with special privileges or powers?

Carl

No - but if it doesn't mean anything, then why give it out? And if it's handed out without restriction to one class of people, why would you restrict it for another?

Best,

Chris

sakumeikan
05-09-2012, 12:21 PM
OK my experience.

My principal instructor asked Hombu what the procedure was and from my end it went something like this.

I had to send my Aikido CV to the Hombu dojo. During the next year a Hombu Shihan observed me teach (at Summer School) and sit on a grading panel (up to Sandan). I then got a nice certificate and letter following the next Kigami Biraki ceremony.

So I guess there is some kind of quality control. As I see it if you join the club (Hombu) then you play by the rules.

Dear Philip,
You and I share a common background.You will remember the days when you could have been a Ist kyu for a million years[or so it seemed]..Even when you went for testing in the case of a certain shihan , you could be asked to show more waza than even O Sensei could do.The long 40 mins test.
Now I think we both agree that certain standards should be maintained.It would also suggest to me that the mindset of the group you are in does have some bearing here.It would appear that your Principal,used common sense , influence and in due course you and the other guys received
your Shihan title.Obviously , your principal felt you merited the award.You had the opportunity, you gave your cv, you tested,You were deemed competent, and you received the Certification,
Just goes to show your Principal is more forward thinking than some. I do hope you and your family are well,Please let them know we [Jenny/myself ] send our best regards, Cheers, Joe.

Alex Megann
05-09-2012, 02:55 PM
Dear Chris,
It may well be the case that in the U.S.A the title of Shihan conveys no extra powers or responsibilities and no extra privileges.In the U.K .this is not the case.Cheers, Joe.

Hi Joe,

I'm not sure what extra privileges shihan have over here - they definitely don't tell us commoners about them...

Alex

Peter Goldsbury
05-09-2012, 05:25 PM
Yes, but the link to the internal regulations page doesn't actually go to an "internal regulations" page. It goes to an "Aikikai Activities" page which has a load of yearly plans, subsidiary aid reports and information on registering dojos and even forms on how to fill in the forms etc. It isn't a section that explains rules for obtaining any rank or instructor qualification.

I don't think the absence of an internal rules page at the end of the link and interviews/statements from 10-20 years ago (during which the system has changed) prove that there is a double standard now. Note that dan and kyu grades are in the same situation as the instructor qualifications: there are no internal regulations listed for them either, because the link just goes to "activities". Does this mean that there are double standards for kyu grades and yudansha too then?

How about asking Mr Tani what the situation is now and if the only rules shown (the international ones) apply to everyone? Regarding the value of the rank, as with Aikikai recognition for dojos, the official position is pretty clear:

Obviously simple recognition for these purposes will mean different things to different people but is it necessary that the labels come with special privileges or powers?

Carl

Hello Carl,

Much of what appears on the Aikikai's Japanese web page in the bottom group under the heading 「合気会とその活動」 is in response to recent change in Japanese law concerning tax free foundations. There are no longer any branch dojos (支部) of the Aikikai (except the Iwama Dojo, which is the Ibaraki shibu) and each dojo/group has to apply for 登録 and or 公認. If the dojo is on the list appearing on the Aikikai's Japanese website, it already has 登録. Kounin 公認 is supposed to be an 'added value' title and can be part of the dojo name, rather like Japanese driving schools.

Apart from the requirements of the change of law, I think all this represents an attempt to tidy up a chaotic organization in Japan and give some flesh to the phantom existence of the All-Japan Aikido Federation. My understanding is that in all of the 47 prefectures a prefectural federation (県合気道連盟) is established and all the 公認 dojos in a prefecture belong to this organization. All the prefectural federations will be members of the All-Japan Aikido Federation.

As you are aware, nothing at all is mentioned on the Aikikai's Japanese website about teaching ranks. Only the minimum dan ranks are specified. However, if you have a large organization like the All-Japan Aikido Federation, with branches all over Japan, then you can establish proper teaching titles, like shihan and shidoin, and also criteria for the award of such teaching titles. At present, the ranks of 6th dan and 8th dan in aikido appear to correspond to the ranks of mokuroku and menkyou-kaiden in traditional Japanese arts. So all my Japanese neighbours know that if you have 6th dan, you are a shihan. This is a situation that the Aikikai would love to regulate.

Best wishes,

Chris Li
05-09-2012, 05:31 PM
This is a situation that the Aikikai would love to regulate.

But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we'll not fail. :D

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
05-09-2012, 10:42 PM
If you haven't seen it - Stan added it as a recommended link on Aikido Journal:

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2012/05/08/masters-of-the-universe-the-aikikai-and-the-shihan-certification-by-christopher-li/

Best,

Chris

sakumeikan
05-10-2012, 03:47 AM
Why do you need a level playing field? Only if you are playing something competitive that requires even starting conditions (which is where the expression comes from). Is the North American (or European, or African, etc.) teacher competing for students? Seminar invitations? Youtube hits?

I just don't see why it is so important that the process inside Japan and the process outside Japan have to be exactly the same (and "fair").

If we apply the same principles, then it shouldn't take so long to get a black belt outside of Japan. It took me 6 years to get to shodan in North America. In Japan, I've heard that it can be done in two! It doesn't matter to me, it's just different, that's all. In fact, internationally, a North American rank might be more highly respected than a Japanese person's because people know that the standards are applied differently. Same title, different application, different meaning. Thank Yamada Sensei I suppose!

I think we agree that the intrinsic benefits of training, testing, teaching, or running a dojo are more valuable than the external recognition that may or may not be bestowed. Still, I see your point that if you have an ambition to receive the title and deserve it, but are unfairly denied, it would be frustrating and perhaps discriminatory. I just don't see evidence that this is what is going on.

Dear Conrad,
Do you think that there should be one set of rules for the Japanese and another set of rules for others?I believe in a system which has equal rights for all.Regarding a Japanese student getting a shodan in two years,while you took six, does this imply the Japanese person is somehow superior to you and other non Japanese?This is a nonsense.In my time I have seen people with grades of 1st , right up to 5th Dan holding their respective grades for years [not just one or two ].I have also seen guys being fast tracked, where somebody is promoted very quickly.I think politics, the friends in high places syndrome etc comes into this situation.Aikido i.m.o.mirrors real life.
What I would like to see is a system based on merit , whereby all Aikikai 6th Dans or &th Dans who are not currently Shihan are given the same opportunity to be considered for Shihan perhaps using the method of Shihan application and the testing as laid out by and written on this Forum by Philip Smith? Mr Smith painted a picture which was simple to implement and was clear and concise.
Cheers, Joe.

sakumeikan
05-10-2012, 04:07 AM
Dear all.
Having read my good friend Prof.Petr Goldsbury's comments regarding Shihan title,wherein he states that all his neighbours consider any person who holds 6th Dan or over is called a Shihan.
Seems to me that this is a less complicated and a more efficient way to distinguish who can use the title of Shihan and who cannot.Any one with 6th Dan and above Yes, anyone below 6th Dan No. Simple!!!Joe.

JJF
05-10-2012, 04:38 AM
You're right, I should have said "any sixth dan teaching in Japan". That doesn't remove the basic problem, though.


well.. just looking at the list of teachers at the hombu dojo I can see two 6th dans that are not titled shihan (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/hombu/instructor.htm).. so it's not AUTOMATICALLY given to anyone who reaches 6th dan. I know of a few other examples as well.

The main influence in Denmark right now is our annual visit from Arisou sensei. He's a 7th dan and - at least to my knowledge - he has never been given the title of Shihan. In my book it dosen't matter. He's a great guy and I can certainly learn a lot from him.

So.. I don't see it as so much of a problem - maybe because I'm not in any imminent danger of becomming a 6th dan any time soon anyway. I guess if I had friends being 'held back' for no other reason than being non-japanese I would also be annoyed, but I know of no such cases. In my book being 6th dan and being sour for not getting Shihan is a puzzle. At that level I would expect an aikidoist to be less driven by the titles and grades than by the pleasure of doing aikido.

In my point of view it's more of a shame when people start their own styles and liniage in order to hand out titles and dan-levels to themselves. It seems so vain and full-of-yourself-ish, and cutting corners is just not very 'aiki' if you ask me.

If you want to start you own thing then by all means - but why then adopt the japanese system of kyu/dan and certifications and titles anyway?

So.. I guess we just have to agree to disagree. I see it of far less of a problem, and I don't perceive the relationship between aikidoists around the world and aikikai as a business relation. It's just how the world is. Sure there are probably misunderstandings and favourism some places in our world-organisation. This happens everywhere. The good thing is that I believe it is being less of a problem with each generation.

Peace

Jrgen Jakob

Chris Li
05-10-2012, 10:21 AM
well.. just looking at the list of teachers at the hombu dojo I can see two 6th dans that are not titled shihan (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/hombu/instructor.htm).. so it's not AUTOMATICALLY given to anyone who reaches 6th dan. I know of a few other examples as well.

You can see in Tani's note that he makes a distinction between the title as used internally in hombu and outside of hombu.

This is the problem - the discriminatory effect occurs, in large part, because the Aikikai does not implement clear system wide policies.


The main influence in Denmark right now is our annual visit from Arisou sensei. He's a 7th dan and - at least to my knowledge - he has never been given the title of Shihan. In my book it dosen't matter. He's a great guy and I can certainly learn a lot from him.

Since he's teaching in Japan he's considered to be a shihan automatically - he doesn't need to be given anything, which is just the point.



In my point of view it's more of a shame when people start their own styles and liniage in order to hand out titles and dan-levels to themselves. It seems so vain and full-of-yourself-ish, and cutting corners is just not very 'aiki' if you ask me.

If you want to start you own thing then by all means - but why then adopt the japanese system of kyu/dan and certifications and titles anyway?

Nobody said anything about handing anything out on their own....but I'd point out that the above is just exactly what Morihei Ueshiba did.


So.. I guess we just have to agree to disagree. I see it of far less of a problem, and I don't perceive the relationship between aikidoists around the world and aikikai as a business relation. It's just how the world is. Sure there are probably misunderstandings and favourism some places in our world-organisation. This happens everywhere. The good thing is that I believe it is being less of a problem with each generation.

It's not about business, it's about fairness - which ought to apply in most relationships.

Best,

Chris

john.burn
05-10-2012, 10:57 AM
Slightly off topic but possibly related...

Hombu dojo seems on the whole to be there to make (or take) a lot of money for not very much. Unless I'm mistaken, in my own position, if I were to suddenly join Hombu dojo I'd have to pay for all of my dan grades again... Erm, why? My last 2 are ratified by a direct student of the founder. Ka Ching me thinks.

Do the Shihan certs cost money from Hombu like the dan certs? Ouch if so...

Chris Li
05-10-2012, 11:26 AM
Slightly off topic but possibly related...

Hombu dojo seems on the whole to be there to make (or take) a lot of money for not very much. Unless I'm mistaken, in my own position, if I were to suddenly join Hombu dojo I'd have to pay for all of my dan grades again... Erm, why? My last 2 are ratified by a direct student of the founder. Ka Ching me thinks.

Do the Shihan certs cost money from Hombu like the dan certs? Ouch if so...

No charge, AFAIK.

If you break down promotion fees and average them out over years of practice you tend to get something similar to the membership fees in a professional organization. The question becomes, though, whether or not that organization is returning anything tangible in the way of benefits or resources.

IMO, for the Aikikai to be relevant in the coming years, these are issues that they will have to consider.

Best,

Chris

john.burn
05-10-2012, 11:40 AM
No charge, AFAIK.

If you break down promotion fees and average them out over years of practice you tend to get something similar to the membership fees in a professional organization. The question becomes, though, whether or not that organization is returning anything tangible in the way of benefits or resources.

IMO, for the Aikikai to be relevant in the coming years, these are issues that they will have to consider.

Best,

Chris

At least they're not charging for the Shihan certificate. However if I subscribe to National Geographic for 10 years and then want to change to subscribe to Nature Magazine then don't usually ask me to backdate my subscription by 10 years ;).

The costs for the certificates are what they are - they all charge a similar amount. It's the backdating thing that gets me. Probably should be in another topic / thread tho.

Sorry for taking it off topic :)

Conrad Gus
05-10-2012, 01:29 PM
well.. just looking at the list of teachers at the hombu dojo I can see two 6th dans that are not titled shihan (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/hombu/instructor.htm).. so it's not AUTOMATICALLY given to anyone who reaches 6th dan. I know of a few other examples as well.

The main influence in Denmark right now is our annual visit from Arisou sensei. He's a 7th dan and - at least to my knowledge - he has never been given the title of Shihan. In my book it dosen't matter. He's a great guy and I can certainly learn a lot from him.

So.. I don't see it as so much of a problem - maybe because I'm not in any imminent danger of becomming a 6th dan any time soon anyway. I guess if I had friends being 'held back' for no other reason than being non-japanese I would also be annoyed, but I know of no such cases. In my book being 6th dan and being sour for not getting Shihan is a puzzle. At that level I would expect an aikidoist to be less driven by the titles and grades than by the pleasure of doing aikido.

In my point of view it's more of a shame when people start their own styles and liniage in order to hand out titles and dan-levels to themselves. It seems so vain and full-of-yourself-ish, and cutting corners is just not very 'aiki' if you ask me.

If you want to start you own thing then by all means - but why then adopt the japanese system of kyu/dan and certifications and titles anyway?

So.. I guess we just have to agree to disagree. I see it of far less of a problem, and I don't perceive the relationship between aikidoists around the world and aikikai as a business relation. It's just how the world is. Sure there are probably misunderstandings and favourism some places in our world-organisation. This happens everywhere. The good thing is that I believe it is being less of a problem with each generation.

Peace

Jrgen Jakob

This is kind of what I was trying to say as well. In Japan, where the aikikai people know everybody at least indirectly or by reputation, the title is awarded by means of an informal process. Outside of Japan, the aikikai decided that they needed to formalize the process.

Of course they could change the meaning to be synonymous with "6 dan", but then it devalues it for the people who are already using it legitimately, which is insulting to them. Even in Japan, 6 dan does not equal shihan - you have to be a professional teacher running your own dojo according to the article referenced by OP, and, as with any informal process, there are probably other subtle criteria which apply as well. From my understanding of Japanese culture, there are usually a lot of unwritten rules for how things are done - rules which would not make sense or apply taken out of context.

Agree to disagree indeed, but I would add that looking for fairness in all situations usually leads to disappointment.

Chris Li
05-10-2012, 01:43 PM
From my understanding of Japanese culture, there are usually a lot of unwritten rules for how things are done - rules which would not make sense or apply taken out of context.

That's fine, as long as you are only in Japan. It's when you go international that the problems start.

The vast majority of Aikido students and instructors are not in Japan, are not Japanese, and will probably never go anywhere near Aikikai hombu.

Of course, the Aikikai is free to do as they wish - but so is everybody else. As a matter of practicality, it behooves them to consider these issues if they wish to remain relevant.

It used to be that people were tied to the Aikikai through their instructors. Now, even most senior instructors have little or no time training at hombu, and very few ties there. For most people, their sole contact with hombu now comes in the form of a very expensive piece of paper that's filled out by a secretary in the hombu office.

These are things that the Aikikai really should consider for the future.

Note that I'm not calling for people to walk out - I like the idea of the Aikikai or an Aikikai-like organization that acts as a general umbrella. But every relationship is a two way street that needs to be maintained.

Best,

Chris

Conrad Gus
05-10-2012, 01:52 PM
That's fine, as long as you are only in Japan. It's when you go international that the problems start.
Chris

I would argue that this was the reason they needed to formalize the process for the international community. I don't believe that having two different processes is necessarily a problem.

I agree, however, that the existing process internationally is not transparent or clearly defined, which has the potential to create problems, abuse, and situations that appear discriminatory.

Carl Thompson
05-10-2012, 05:12 PM
That's right, and you're seeing the difference between the Japanese conception of what "regulations" should include (which are usually, relatively speaking, extremely non-specific) and the non-Japanese conception. Of course, this is part of the problem.


Chris, I realise this is probably not your intended meaning...

How is an inherent factor such as being Japanese a problem here?

That's a losing hand if you're playing a race card that has the hypocrisy of a particular ethnicity/nationality being somehow less able to conceive something as its value.

The Tani statement is somewhat more recent than that (although I can't remember what year) - but this is also based on more recent discussions that are not open to public posting.


You can't remember what year, but you wrote "2000" (twelve years ago) in your blog?

You actually seem to refer to two statements by Mr Tani, although it is the same one used twice for two different times.

First reference:

"this statement by Masaki Tani of the Aikikai Hombu International department appeared in an interview with Aikido Journal in 2000:"

Second reference:

"Apparently, there was still some confusion, and this was addressed in a statement which appeared on the Aikido Journal website some years ago, again from Masaki Tani. If you read through the statement you'll find some interesting omissions (Mitsugi Saotome doesn't appear on Tani's list, for example), but I don't think that it was meant to be an exhaustive, formal statement, just an informal clarification."

That second link goes to the same article again as if it is more recent and viewed as such, I suppose it was at least edited in 2002 (10 years ago).

In any case, the article refers to procedures that existed in Japan for awarding titles from "20 years ago" among its content. So a decade ago they were trying to figure out how to formalise a system that included verbal awards and an informal tradition for equivalency of ranks that didn't exist overseas.

You'll understand if this doesn't look very strong as evidence of a current policy of discrimination a decade or so later in 2012. Even back then, it just looks like an ongoing process of fixing the problem of regulation.

As I said before, why not contact Mr Tani for the current policy? If there is something amiss, you could be doing us all a favour.

Carl

Chris Li
05-10-2012, 05:23 PM
Chris, I realise this is probably not your intended meaning...

How is an inherent factor such as being Japanese a problem here?

That's a losing hand if you're playing a race card that has the hypocrisy of a particular ethnicity/nationality being somehow less able to conceive something as its value.

I didn't say "being a Japanese", I said the "Japanese conception" which is somewhat different. Meaning, that Japanese cultural practices don't always translate outside of Japan, and since the Aikikai is an international organization this becomes a source of certain problems.


You actually seem to refer to two statements by Mr Tani, although it is the same one used twice for two different times.


Yes, the first one was an interview (as stated) and the second one was a separate email (that should be evident if you read the text of the email).


You'll understand if this doesn't look very strong as evidence of a current policy of discrimination a decade or so later in 2012. Even back then, it just looks like an ongoing process of fixing the problem of regulation.

As I said - that the issue continues is based on other discussions that are not postable. There are also other issues that are related, but that I won't get into - the root, I think is a lack of transparency and clarity.

The fact that there is still so much confusion over what should be such a simple thing after 10 years is just symptomatic of the problem.

Best,

Chris

Carl Thompson
05-11-2012, 10:45 AM
I didn't say "being a Japanese", I said the "Japanese conception" which is somewhat different. Meaning, that Japanese cultural practices don't always translate outside of Japan, and since the Aikikai is an international organization this becomes a source of certain problems.
Pardon the JK Rowling use of upper case to indicate LOUD WORDS but...

I did NOT quote you as saying "being a Japanese". I did not quote you AT ALL, but you are attributing a miss-quote to me which is of your own devising.

LOOK:
That's right, and you're seeing the difference between the Japanese conception of what "regulations" should include (which are usually, relatively speaking, extremely non-specific) and the non-Japanese conception. Of course, this is part of the problem.
Chris, I realise this is probably not your intended meaning...

How are inherent factors such as ethnicity or nationality a problem here?

That's a losing hand if you're playing a race card that has the hypocrisy of a particular race being somehow less able to conceive something as its value.
You used "Japanese conception" as a correction of my alleged misquote of you saying "being a Japanese" (where?) when all I did was respond to your specific use of "the Japanese conception" in reference to a problem which I put in a conditional sentence using "if". I didn't even use the adjective "Japanese" but rather went for the broader concept of what words like "Japanese" represent (their connection to an ethnicity or nation). I was also careful to point out to you that I understood your intended meaning was probably different. I'd consider it nitpicking if it weren't for your putting "regulations" in inverted commas and this context of a discussion about a blog that features a Jim Crow Law picture and talk of sitting at the back of the bus etc.

I do wonder if you would cite the Japanese conception of "regulations" as a problem so freely in your own country or elsewhere internationally. Or is this use of the Japanese conception of "regulations" in connection with problems only for Japan?

Like I said, I don't believe this is your intended meaning. I'm pointing out how it can read, not what I think you think.
The fact that there is still so much confusion over what should be such a simple thing after 10 years is just symptomatic of the problem.
How is it a simple thing?

You are complaining about lack of clarity, but you are not even able to prove that there is a problem or explain your lack of evidence clearly yourself. You have an interview and email exchange from a decade or more ago in one pdf document which is referenced twice for two different points in time, neither of which is within a decade of the present day situation you are alleging. You now seem to be saying your main evidence is actually based upon interviews that you do not seem to mention in the blog and which you cannot post. For someone demanding clarity, you sure make muddy waters.

Pictures of children's macho toy characters may make it look like some kind of joke, but if there is a problem of an actual policy of racial discrimination it is a serious thing. Being made to sit at the back of the bus or pass literary tests to vote due to race are serious situations, but you appear to be drawing grossly disproportionate comparisons to them with no current evidence that is available to the public. You may have good reasons not to publish any evidence, but why not say so from the start? Who is being convoluted here?

If something is going on and you care about it, you could help us. No need for He-Man. Have you contacted Mr Tani for something that could be published about the present day situation?

Carl

Chris Li
05-11-2012, 11:31 AM
I do wonder if you would cite the Japanese conception of "regulations" as a problem so freely in your own country or elsewhere internationally. Or is this use of the Japanese conception of "regulations" in connection with problems only for Japan?

What I was saying was that the conception of these kind of guidelines can be different in Japan than it can be abroad. If you're dealing on an international rather than a domestic scale - things change. Ishihara Shintaro wrote some interesting things about these kinds of problems - the difficulty of the Japanese mindset in its application to international relations, maybe twenty years ago.

Like I said, I don't believe this is your intended meaning. I'm pointing out how it can read, not what I think you think.


How is it a simple thing?


Because a clear set of regulations applied across the board (which is what you would normally expect) would solve the problem


Pictures of children's macho toy characters may make it look like some kind of joke, but if there is a problem of an actual policy of racial discrimination it is a serious thing.

Well...the first graphic was meant to jab a little at the folks scrambling for the rank.

As I said - whatever the intention - the effect is what matters here. I never said it was a policy of racial discrimination. But I did say that was the effect.

You know - nothing in the blog post is new (although some people seem to think it is). The original post by Tani was made because of similar discussions here and on Aikido Journal, and the topic has resurfaced periodically in both those forums. At those times I've said - pretty much the same thing. Unfortunately, no further public comment has been forthcoming.

Best,

Chris

Carl Thompson
05-12-2012, 08:57 AM
Chris,

I appreciate your continued efforts to explain things to me. Just a couple more points...
You know - nothing in the blog post is new (although some people seem to think it is). The original post by Tani was made because of similar discussions here and on Aikido Journal, and the topic has resurfaced periodically in both those forums. At those times I've said - pretty much the same thing. Unfortunately, no further public comment has been forthcoming.
Of course I know that nothing in the blog post is new. It was me that pointed out that your references are a decade or more out of date. The only reason for public comment is in an alleged email correspondence that you can't share. That is why I am advising you to contact Mr Tani directly. At the moment your communication method looks like that of taking it to the extreme of publicly suggesting an international NPO with world harmony ambitions can be compared with the oppressors of millions of African Americans. You understand Japanese and are capable of explaining your case privately in Mr Tani's native tongue. Why the preference for negative PR in the Anglophone blogosphere?

Because a clear set of regulations applied across the board (which is what you would normally expect) would solve the problem

Your attempt to clarify your statement on the different concepts of regulation doesn't make this look like a simple thing. You haven't even proven that across the board regulation is not the case now.

The process of regulating this kind of thing appears just as complicated and nuanced as any other kind of international/cross-cultural diplomacy.

Carl

Chris Li
05-12-2012, 11:43 AM
At the moment your communication method looks like that of taking it to the extreme of publicly suggesting an international NPO with world harmony ambitions can be compared with the oppressors of millions of African Americans.

Well, yes, it's meant to be somewhat satirical. Would a post that starts with He-man be otherwise?

I really think that you're asking for it to be more than it was meant to be. If it starts some conversation (and it has, the "Benefits of the Aikikai" thread, which seems, IMO, more interesting) then that's enough for me.


Your attempt to clarify your statement on the different concepts of regulation doesn't make this look like a simple thing. You haven't even proven that across the board regulation is not the case now.

The process of regulating this kind of thing appears just as complicated and nuanced as any other kind of international/cross-cultural diplomacy.

Carl

I don't know what part of "everybody follows the same rules" is complicated. It's not five-country talks on nuclear arms.

Even from the little that's available on the Aikikai website (http://aikikai.or.jp/jpn/aikikai.htm#%E8%A6%8F%E7%A8%8B) you can see that the rules for establishing an organization are somewhat different on the domestic side (http://aikikai.or.jp/jpn/file/torokuguide.pdf) (quite a bit looser for forming an organization - see the section on 登録条件) than on the international side (http://aikikai.or.jp/eng/regulation/international.htm).

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
04-27-2014, 12:30 PM
Updated the article "Masters of the Universe, the Aikikai and the Shihan Certification: Who gets it, who doesn't and would you want it anyway? (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/masters-universe-aikikai-shihan-certification/)". The original article (in a slightly shorter version) also appeared on the Aikido Journal website with this introduction from Stan Pranin:

"One of our readers kindly sent a link to a very interesting article written by Christoper Li of the Aikido Sangenkai. It has to do with the title of “Shihan” and the differing standards for referring to oneself as Shihan within the Aikikai system. I highly recommend that you read this piece."

Enjoy,

Chris