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TokyoZeplin
07-05-2012, 11:15 AM
Before you go at me, I'll first say: I haven't started practicing Aikido yet, still finding my dojo. Second, I'm not overly concerned with getting any particular ranks, this is merely my thoughts on this subject. Third, this applies to practically all Martial Arts, not just Aikido. Fourth, and last, but important: this isn't meant at a stab at anyone, an offense to anyone, or trying to single any person out, again, just my thoughts on this.

So with that said, lets get going!

A natural question that you see pop in almost all Martial Arts discussion forums, is the question "how fast can I get a black belt?". For some, this may seem like a superficial question, and in some cases it is. However, considering that many "newbies" to MA consider a black belt "a master/expert", it's truly a fair enough question: how long will it take me to master this art? It's a valid question, as different martial arts take different amounts of time to learn, to a profeccient level. Some are more difficult, some are easier. For instance, Krav Maga is said to be fairly easy to become profeccient at, it is made to be straight forward and practical, whereas older styles of Kung Fu requires years of training to build up flexibility, "chi/ki", weapon techniques, and so forth.

So it annoys me when I see people getting instantly attacked, on any martial arts forum or discussion, simply for asking this question. It's not nescesarily that they are superficial, and just want that cool black belt (though granted, some surely are), it can be a valid question on the intricacy of the art form.

Second, it's frustrating to often read that "the belt/rank doesn't matter", yet those very same people hold higher ranks in high esteem, lots of respect, can often teach, and so forth. You need to decide: either the rank means nothing, and then treat people the same regardless of their rank (and purely on personal relations or thoughts on their performance), or accept that the rank is a valid way of determining some sort of profeciency level.

Last thing though is my pet peeve in all of this.
If anyone actually gives an answer to this quite valid question, they'll often give a year range. Around 4-7 years seems to be the average in pretty much all MA's. If anyone got it faster, they'll often accuse them (accused by the same people who said the rank didn't matter, then why the rage bro?!) of getting it at a McDojo. In a recent thread here, for example, I remember one person being somewhat appauled / laughing at the idea of a 1-year Shodan.
So why does this annoy me? Because people assume everyone trains with the same intensity, the same amount of hours a week.
The easiest example with this, the 1-year Shodan, is the Senshusei course in Yoshinkan aikido, where complete newbies get their Shodan AND teachers license in 1 years training (if they pass, of course). Why? Because they train a lot more than the average joe.

A simple calculation:
Person A: Lets say that 1 class is 1 hours, and the average joe trains 2 times a week, never taking a vacation. After 7 years, they take their test, and become Shodan (or whatever). That's roughly 1092 hours of training. That's an important number here.

Person B: Now, another person also trains, but does 2 classes a day, 6 days a week. In just a bit over a year, about 13 months, they have trained the same amount as the person above.
Person C: Or in the case of the Senshusei course, which is roughly 6 hours a day, 5 days a week: in a single year, they have practiced 468 hours MORE than the person (Person A) that trained for 7 years. Or put in another way: what would equate to 156 weeks (about 37 months / 3 years) for Person A has been trained EXTRA in in just a year.

The difference? Intensity.

Of course this is a very black and white comparison, set in extremes, but it illustrates the point I want to make (and have made): intensity of training.
This is an aspect I see 100% forgotten in practically every single discussion so far, I have ever read, on this topic.

Now, of course some might add in a (valid) point, about coming to grips with the mentality of the art form, which some might argue (again, a valid point) takes longer. However, to my understanding and from my research in various MA's, such things do not play a role until considerably higher Dan grades.

For instance, in Denmark, a Bachelors degree generally takes 3 years. If someone asks me how long it's going to take to get one, I'd say "the normal time is 3 years", but if someone else says "I took mine in 2 years" (or even a single year), I wouldn't assume they went to a University that just dishes out easy degrees, instead I'd assume they studied their asses off and did multiple classes at the same time, and put in much more effort than the average person.

So perhaps, something to keep in mind next time someone asks you this question. If you decide still to answer with "7 years", perhaps add in a little extra to your answer, and go with "Usually about 7 years, for people taking around 2 classes a week".
And next time, perhaps look into the case a little bit more, before assuming that someone who get a certain grade considerably faster than you, must have gotten it at a place that slacks with their tests - they could just be practicing a lot more than you.
And that's not even taking natural talent and skill into the equation.

That's my little rant here, take from it what you want, or disregard it completely, but I hope you keep it in mind next time.

phitruong
07-05-2012, 11:43 AM
your indignant is noticed. please keep in mind that folks on this forum might have a lot more experienced than you. please keep in mind that these same folks might had gone through various intensive trainings as well. please keep in mind that these folks might actually been there and done it vs folks who have not. please keep in mind that some of these folks are actually head of a system.

since we are speaking in a personal tone, i thought i just throw out my personal opinion. shodan is when you just learned that you actually have a left foot and a right foot, and you actually turn to the right when your teacher told you to go right. i'd admit that my standard is a bit high.

Basia Halliop
07-05-2012, 12:03 PM
" However, considering that many "newbies" to MA consider a black belt "a master/expert", it's truly a fair enough question: how long will it take me to master this art?"

I think there are two basic false assumptions here that lead people to get frustrated by the question (and people ask it a LOT). Anyone who's spent any time in any martial art will usually realize pretty quickly that this is an entirely false assumption (first degree black belt = expert). And secondly, they will also realize that it's a pretty arbitrary scale and anyone giving out belts gets to decide for themselves what level it means (and there are very wide ranging opinions on what's optimal or what it 'should' mean), so there's no reason it can't mean entirely different things in different martial arts/dojos/organizations/countries, which it does.

BTW the literal translation of 'shodan' (aka first degree black belt) is something like 'first step', i.e., it was originally a beginner rank, and generally still is in most arts that I'm aware of, though there's often debate about precisely how beginner it should be (is it enough to not trip over your own feet anymore or should it mean you've got the basics in place or should you be able to start a dojo under supervision, etc). Consider also that many martial arts have sometimes as much as ten different 'black belt' ranks, so the first one often comes pretty early on.

As far as difference in time and intensity of training, of course that makes a difference too, and is another reason why asking people how long they've trained is not usually that helpful (and yet another reason why 'how long does it take to get a black belt' is not easily or meaningfully answerable). But it's also equally common that giving a rank more quickly primarily means that they give it earlier (at a lower 'objective' level), which is perfectly fine, but tends to make it relatively meaningless to use it as any kind of standard or comparison, particularly between different organizations or different martial arts.

I.e., martial arts have very very very little in common with universities.

Basia Halliop
07-05-2012, 12:12 PM
"Second, it's frustrating to often read that "the belt/rank doesn't matter", yet those very same people hold higher ranks in high esteem, lots of respect, can often teach, and so forth."

If you respect someone who has a high rank, it does not necessarily mean it's the rank that you respect, nor that you will respect every person of that rank equally.

TokyoZeplin
07-05-2012, 12:42 PM
Thank you for the replies, though some seem to have misunderstood me a little, and I apologize for not being more clear:

@Phi Truong
You seem to have skipped vital points in my post. I do for instance start off with saying that this is something I see accross all discussions in this, no matter style, no matter place/person. I'm not referring spesifically to people on this forum, which you seem to think.
Second, I'm also quoting the Senshusei program. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is an intense program offered at Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo.
I am a little unsure what exactly you are disagreeing with - you are pretty much just saying "Other people have more experience than you. My standards are high." None of that has anything to do with the point I'm making in this thread.

@Basia Halliop
I should have made it clear that I understand that Shodan is rather a matter of "understanding and proffeciency in all basic parts of the MA", rather than being an expert/master. I was instead trying to point out that since people THINK it means that you mastered the art, it's a valid question from that viewpoint - is it a difficult or easy form to master.

To your second point:
Of course it's completely fine to respect someone who merely happens to have a higher rank - I do mention this in my post. I'm referring to people who on one side says it means nothing, and in another post makes a great deal out of having trained under a 6th Dan (with no other referrence), for instance. Either the rank means nothing, or it does.

Last, I do want to point out, in regards to varying degrees of graduation/testing, that in Aikido, there is actually fairly straight forward rules to the testing. Head over to the Aikikai Hombu Dojo website, and they have a quite detailed list for the amount of training and time needed to take the different tests. The American Aikido Foundation (think it's called that?) also has a similar list, detailed hours of training needed, and skills that need testing for each graduation.

Shadowfax
07-05-2012, 02:09 PM
Last, I do want to point out, in regards to varying degrees of graduation/testing, that in Aikido, there is actually fairly straight forward rules to the testing. Head over to the Aikikai Hombu Dojo website, and they have a quite detailed list for the amount of training and time needed to take the different tests. The American Aikido Foundation (think it's called that?) also has a similar list, detailed hours of training needed, and skills that need testing for each graduation.

The interesting thing here. At least as far as ASU goes. 1 training day= 1 hour no matter how many days of training you actually had that day it still only counts as 1 hour. I could go to a seminar and d 4 hours and still it is 1 hour. I can go to class 3 days a week train 2 hours each day and be credited the same training time as the fellow who comes to class 3 days a week and only trains 1 hour. And by that rule, were that person and I to train for the specified number of hours we would both be eligible to advance at the same time in spite of the fact that I in reality put in twice as much effort.

None of it really matters though if the teachers are not just abiding by the time period/hours trained and are not allowing a student to test until he reaches the appropriate skill level to merit advancement. And that is a bit harder to weigh and measure I think.

Dave de Vos
07-05-2012, 07:05 PM
I understand that answering this question is much harder than asking it. One reason is indeed that the actual training hours would give a more accurate indication than the number of years. Another is that different people learn at different rates. Another is that the criteria for a particular rank vary.

Even in the game of go (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)), where rank criteria don't vary much because they are based on competition results only, this question would be hard to answer. Very few become shodan in a year (training dozens of hours a week for a total of about 1000 - 1500 hours). Many never become shodan, even after training a couple of hours a week for 30 years (for a total of 2000 - 4000 hours).

There's just no way to predict how long it will take for a particular person. Probably he won't become shodan at all.

Walter Martindale
07-05-2012, 08:41 PM
The interesting thing here. At least as far as ASU goes. 1 training day= 1 hour no matter how many days of training you actually had that day it still only counts as 1 hour. I could go to a seminar and d 4 hours and still it is 1 hour. I can go to class 3 days a week train 2 hours each day and be credited the same training time as the fellow who comes to class 3 days a week and only trains 1 hour. And by that rule, were that person and I to train for the specified number of hours we would both be eligible to advance at the same time in spite of the fact that I in reality put in twice as much effort.

None of it really matters though if the teachers are not just abiding by the time period/hours trained and are not allowing a student to test until he reaches the appropriate skill level to merit advancement. And that is a bit harder to weigh and measure I think.

The training day=1 training hour is a way to keep track of official "hours" - however if someone actually spent 6 hours doing rigorous training for every official hour recorded, they'd be a much more robust shodan (or nidan, or whatever) than a member of the same or another dojo, who only put in the actual one hour per session.

As some may recall I coach rowing. One fellow I coach puts in 90 minutes/day sculling (he's 16) as well as 2 weights sessions/week plus usually 3 other non-rowing workouts per week. He's not going to go as fast as the national team guy who, at age 24, is training 3 times/day for between 60 and 90 minutes per session, 6 days/week. The 24 year old who's only training as much as the kid I coach will probably go faster than the 16 year old because of physical maturity, but not as fast as the national team type. (the 16 year-old I coach would do more training but he's not allowed on the water unless a power-boat is on the water for safety cover, and I work at two different rowing clubs, so I'm only available for 1/2 training, and he can't go on the water more often)

Similarly, a shodan candidate who trains an hour a day 6 days a week may be able to do all the techniques called for and survive whatever randori/jiu-waza requirements are part of a shodan "test", but the shodan candidate with 6 hours/day 6 days a week (36 actual training hours/week) is going to be much less stressed by the test and should have a much easier time of it. (and would probably make mincemeat of the one-hour/day person) They'll both have the same number of official hours - which suggests that the ASU system needs some review...
Cheers,
W

Dave de Vos
07-06-2012, 01:29 AM
About people outside of martial arts thinking that shodan = master. Indeed the numbers don't support that.

According to the 10000 hours rule, it takes about 10000 of study/training to become a master in some field. Translating that to education in some subject of higher learning, that would be like a PhD or assistant professor. Translating it to the game of chess, I think it would correspond to USCF Master. Translating it to the game of go, I think it would correspond to EGF 4th dan. In aikido it may correspond to 4th dan as well.

If shodan would require about 1500 hours of training as a guideline, it would be more like a sophomore (a student that has completed the first year of a higher education) than a master. I think in chess it corresponds to USCF class A and in go it would correspond to EGF shodan.

And 10000 is not the end of the scale. In education, you have full professors. In chess and go you have grandmasters. I estimate those people have invested about twice the effort of masters. With that kind of investment, it's just about one's life's work. I think in aikido it corresponds to shihan.

I think these numbers are reasonable guidelines, but talent, youth and teaching quality are important factors. A best case scenario (highly talented young students taught well) can halve these guideline training hours. A worst case scenario (untalented old students taught badly) can multiply them indefinitely.

Carsten Mllering
07-06-2012, 02:52 AM
... just some thoughts - not the "truth" ...

... considering that many "newbies" to MA consider a black belt "a master/expert", it's truly a fair enough question: how long will it take me to master this art?
Referring to the - not only martial - arts I know, I consider it to be an important to point out that there is no "mastering" of the art - be it aikid, chad or just life. And to second this by pointing out that in most systems shodan is the first student-grade. While kyu ranks are considered to be preparatory-grades.
This answer may be a frustrating. But it reflects the process of learning. If this answer is hard to bear, practice will be.

You mention krav maga: Someone who pracitices for some years will smile about what he thought to be proficient after his first one or two years of practice ... Just like someone does who practices "kung fu".

Second, it's frustrating to often read that "the belt/rank doesn't matter", yet those very same people hold higher ranks in high esteem, ...
Driving a car is nothing - except you dont't know how to.
Using a pc is nothing - except you don't know how to.
Binding a bow-knot is nothing - except you don't know how to.
shodan is nothing - except you don't wear one.

Nearly everyone who started aikid at the same time, I did, got shodan since then. (So when I teach my friday classes there are about 6-8 people. Nearly everybody of them practices about 15-20 years. Nearly everyone is shodan.)
Not everyone of my dohai but still a lot of us got nidan then. sandan there are only few. No one of us got yondan until now. These are the ranks you can reach as a student. And you can reach them by yourself: Practicing, doing a test, becoming next-dan.
Godan you cannot reach by your own efforts. Becoming this first teacher grade will be given to you - or will not. You like or dislike this, nevertheless, becoming godan is different.

So there is a pyramide. Becoming shodan is kind of natural in my context after maybe ten - fiftenn years of practice. Becoming yondan is something special. Only very few reach this aim. Becoming godan is kind of an award.

... the Senshusei course in Yoshinkan aikido, ... Why? Because they train a lot more than the average joe.
no

The difference? Intensity. ...intensity of training.
Intensity is just one aspect. I appreciate this very much! I used to practice in the dojo six days a week during my first years. And I practice solo thinges at home every day.

But another important aspect simply is time. Everybodie's body needs a certain time to integrate what has been learned. This time depends on the person, on the things to be learned, on the aims to reach.
I only teach basic movements in my class. And I very often say: "Don't care about the outer movement! Everyone of you knows ikkyo omote. ..." But I teach things like using the shoulder blades in a certain way. Or having "the head reaching into heaven and the feet reaching into earth". ... Or to "not do ikkyo with the arms but with the legs". Or whatever.
I takes time to just understand what I mean. Even for me - while teaching it - I takes time to understand. It takes time to test what is meant, to adjust one's body only here and now to what is meant. I takes time to learn it and to be able to reproduce it every time one wants to. I takes time to make it one's own and to naturally use this movement without thinking about it. ...

I read that fascia need at least (!) half a year to grow and to "adjust" to a certain thing that should be learned. The growing time of muscles most people knwo by experience. ...

Whatever the body has to learn inside needs time, a lot of time. No matter how intense your training is. Your body needs time to develop.

... I wouldn't assume they went to a University that just dishes out easy degrees, ...
Unlike the grades in the japanese arts, the requirements of becoming bachelor are mostly standardised. So everybody knows, what someone had to fullfill and can judge him or her by the result.

And that's not even taking natural talent and skill into the equation.
Foremost it does not consider that the requirements of dan grades are not standardised. They are on the contrary very different from federation to federation.

So I think the question how long it takes to get a black belt can be not more than the starting point of a conversation about the learning process of an art.

Mario Tobias
07-06-2012, 03:57 AM
How fast one gets to a proficient level at aikido has probably very low correlation with how hard or how long one has been training.

IMHO, attaining higher rank should be based on a person's increasing ability to understand, recognize and demonstrate the principles and concept of Aiki. The difficult thing is nobody really can describe to you what aiki really is. Training long and hard can only increase the chances of a person understanding aiki but doesn't guarantee it.

Some people are gifted that they recognize it in a few years, some people may be training for several decades and still not understand what it is. Only a highly trained person can recognize and say yes that's aiki or no that's pure muscle.

Another thing is that aiki is not only specific to aikido but in other martial arts as well imo. Other martial artists maybe strongly demonstrating some aiki principles in their art but don't know it. Even these people are deserving to be awarded dan ranking in aikido even though they're not practicing the art.

These are probably some of the reasons why belt doesn't matter because only you can recognize if you are being true to yourself that what you are actually doing is true aikido. Or even starting to recognize/understand aiki is totally beyond measure that it can't be justified by a mere belt color. All of us are white belts in aiki imho.

Basia Halliop
07-06-2012, 03:44 PM
"Last, I do want to point out, in regards to varying degrees of graduation/testing, that in Aikido, there is actually fairly straight forward rules to the testing. Head over to the Aikikai Hombu Dojo website, and they have a quite detailed list for the amount of training and time needed to take the different tests. The American Aikido Foundation (think it's called that?) also has a similar list, detailed hours of training needed, and skills that need testing for each graduation."

If you've looked at both of these (I presume you mean the US Aikido Federation? Unless you meant another one) then you have presumably also noticed that the two are completely different. The techniques are tested at different ranks, and one has less than half the training day requirements as the other (not a small difference), while also requiring people to submit essays.

And I would argue that neither says much at all about what skills or level of proficiency are needed. It's just lists of techniques, and most of those techniques can be done (awkwardly) by a student who has been training for a couple of months. It's up to the examiners to judge if the technique demonstrated in the particular test is being performed at a level they believe to be appropriate for the rank.

Basia Halliop
07-06-2012, 03:47 PM
FWIW, the organizations I know don't even mention or pay attention to hours. They only ever talk about 'days'. If I only go to one 1 hr class, I check off one day in the attendance. If I'm at summer camp and train for eight 1 hr classes, I check off one day in the attendance. It's simply -- did I train that day, or didn't I. Nothing whatsoever to do with hours.

Dave de Vos
07-06-2012, 04:07 PM
I don't think hours are even registered in hour dojo. If the head teacher thinks your're ready for a test he'll let you know. But you probably won't know on which date you will be tested and in which format. That goes for tests up to 3k. After that it becomes more formal. But even then, hours don't seem to matter. Skill is what counts.

dps
07-07-2012, 12:40 AM
Rank means diddly squat and belts are only good for keeping your gi top from flapping open.
Ability comes with a lot of practice and not in the dojo but on your own outside the dojo.
Dojos are for demonstrating what you have been practicing and what more you need to practice on.
Respect is earned by the ability to apply what you have been practicing in a real life situation and not a choreographed practice in a dojo.

O'sensei did not chose Takeda to be his Sensei because of the color of Takeda's belt.

Abasan
07-07-2012, 01:35 AM
No one is going to deny the obvious, that on the physical aspect, someone that does extremely compact and intensive training is going to be much better than the average joe. Yet its unhealthy to keep working in your peak zone for too long. But the other thing we are missing here is understanding. That takes enlightenment and mostly time and experience.

Nevertheless, train more and shut up is a good way to start.

philipsmith
07-08-2012, 03:32 AM
I think up to sandan hours/days trained are important.
Put simply 0 - sandan is almost purely technical i.e. how well can you perform the standard techniques. Thereafter the Aikidoka should begin to show some depth of understanding - then it makes sense to impose a number of years between eligilibity for promotion and a much looser (in some ways more subjective) grading system.

So if we are to apply the above provisos and follow generally accepted sports science guidelines we get around 10,000 hours up to sandan (technical proficiency) and an open-ended time qualification for "higher" ranks

JJF
07-09-2012, 03:42 AM
This question arises on a regular basis in varying forms. We always have to realise that the concept of shodan is not a well defined term across all styles, dojos or persons. Not in terms of hours on the mat, not in amount of techniques practiced, not in level of proficiency (how ever you expect to measure that) etc etc.

Shodan is simply an marker - a concept empty of value until you yourself put into it what you think is right. It will have meaning in the social and organisational context where you are training - and with relevance in other settings varying from zero to something close to your own conceptual idea.

Phillip: you've been asking a lot of questions. I would recommend you leave you computer and go practice. I am a web-junkie myself, but in my point of view all the research and all the thoughts and well formulated posts have no value unless they reflect actual physical training. Get some mat time and start developing your own understanding instead of approaching Aikido from a purely theoretical point of view. It will surely be much more rewarding and better for your mind, body and understanding of this martial art with its many interpretations.

Have fun.

TokyoZeplin
07-09-2012, 04:53 AM
Phillip: you've been asking a lot of questions. I would recommend you leave you computer and go practice. I am a web-junkie myself, but in my point of view all the research and all the thoughts and well formulated posts have no value unless they reflect actual physical training. Get some mat time and start developing your own understanding instead of approaching Aikido from a purely theoretical point of view. It will surely be much more rewarding and better for your mind, body and understanding of this martial art with its many interpretations.

Have fun.

Why does everyone in the world think my name has two L's? :(
That said, I would if I could my man! Sadly, the Yoshinkan dojo (well... only Yoshinkan dojo within 1 hour distance from me) I plan on starting in, is closed for the summer, and starts again September. I'm looking forward to bouncing around looking at different styles and Dojo's in Tokyo, when I head there again in August, which I suppose in the end will end up deciding which is for me.
But I'm a (finishing up) Masters student, I can't help but attack everything theoretically! :p

This thread, however, as I started out saying, isn't necessarily about Aikido, but Martial Arts in general, in which I do have experience :)

TokyoZeplin
07-09-2012, 04:59 AM
The interesting thing here. At least as far as ASU goes. 1 training day= 1 hour no matter how many days of training you actually had that day it still only counts as 1 hour. I could go to a seminar and d 4 hours and still it is 1 hour. I can go to class 3 days a week train 2 hours each day and be credited the same training time as the fellow who comes to class 3 days a week and only trains 1 hour. And by that rule, were that person and I to train for the specified number of hours we would both be eligible to advance at the same time in spite of the fact that I in reality put in twice as much effort.

That is very interesting! Makes you wonder why they would put it in hours to begin with?
I do remember though, that on the Aikikai Hombu website, it's all listed in days, not hours. Though I wonder, if they bother enough to keep track of things like this, why not keep track of lessons, instead of days? Surely that would be a more valid marker for, whether or not someone has had sufficient training or not?

JJF
07-09-2012, 07:19 AM
Philip (this time with one l)

some dojos: 1 lesson is 2 hours with no warmup
other dojos: 1 lesson is 1 hour including warmup.

There is no complete system - just a guideline, and most people tend to have far more hours of practice before a yudansha grading than the minimum requirement (guideline) of for example the hombu dojo.

If you have prior experience from other MA's (as you write) and this goes beyond the first couple of kyu grades, then you must have learned by now that it always vary. Each dojo has its own interpretation of the guidelines, and each sensei have their own reasons for pushing some student ahead and keeping other on a specific grade. Any MA is about personal and technical progression in a varying mix. It is impossible to say exactly how many hours/sessions/days/weeks/months YOU need to practice in order to grow enough in the right ways.

Like getting a drivers license. At least in our country there is a minimum of hours you need to have behind a wheel, but if you are still far away from being able to drive a car, then your driving instructor would surely suggest you postpone the test a while - or you are likely to fail.

I know people who had their body in the dojo for thousands of hours - never really progressing because their head was somewhere else - and i have seen people paying intense attention to every little detail and progressing really fast because they just loved every minute. Good and bad teachers is also a factor. so....

It dosen't really matter. Someone will let you know - or you will know yourself when the time is right. but waiting for having enough hours of training instead of just enjoying the ride would likely kill you enthusiasm.

Now go write you paper ;)

TokyoZeplin
07-09-2012, 11:26 AM
Jrgen, this seems to have really sidetracked from what I originally posted and wanted to point out: that people should stop giving out blanket answers like "if you got it in less than 2 years, must be a mcdojo" or "takes around 7 years", and also to point out, that for a newcomer, it can be a very valid question to ask. Apart from that, I generally agree with everything you said :)

I have 3rd kyu in Shotokan Karate, though it's been quite some years since I trained... always a bit sad I didn't just go with it 1 more years or so, and get Shodan, just to sorta round it off, 3rd kyu is such a weird place to stop. I also trained a bit Jujutsu, though not a whole lot, and was quite decent at a bow and arrow at one point (though not Kyudo, the western type). Looking forward to starting a MA again, my interest never really stopped, just never got around to trying and starting up something new!

chubbycubbysmash
07-09-2012, 12:17 PM
I understand where you're coming from (since the whole Bachelor's degree thing really hit home.) I think it depends both on individual skill level, intensity of training, and the dedication to the actual art.

Also, making a note of the difference between training 1 hour a week for 5 years, and 5 hours a week for 5 years--both are 5 years, but there will obviously be skill differences. (I think that is most definitely why some organizations have minimum amount of hours until certain rankings.)

I tested for 2nd kyu at a year and a half, at the same time someone who had been there for over 4 years. But I went every day, he was once, maybe twice a week.

We have a 1st kyu (just tested for that rank this year) who has been with our dojo for over 20 years... but he practices on average maybe once a month. Have no idea how long it will take him to reach black belt.

I think it's also about how well you fare in comparison to your peers. You can be surrounded by mediocre shodan and be a 1st kyu that blows them all out of the water, but you don't have enough hours and that would be the only difference. That's why I think it's important also to go to seminars and see where you are at your training on a larger scale than it is to go by the black and white of hours.

Hagihara-sensei always says how proud he is that at seminars, whether we're hosting it or we're visiting other dojos, that our students often get used for ukemi. Being recognized outside of your dojo is, I think, a better gauge than just what your numerical rank is.

(On another note, our dojo-cho and Hagihara-sensei's closest student--been with him for 17 years--and last uchi-deshi reached shodan in a little more than 2 and a half years. So it's possible.)

Mary Eastland
07-09-2012, 12:33 PM
I think it's also about how well you fare in comparison to your peers. You can be surrounded by mediocre shodan and be a 1st kyu that blows them all out of the water, but you don't have enough hours and that would be the only difference. That's why I think it's important also to go to seminars and see where you are at your training on a larger scale than it is to go by the black and white of hours.


How would you tell if the 1st dan's are mediocre and the 1st kyu blows them out of the water? What would be the criteria for judgment?

lbb
07-09-2012, 12:38 PM
"Crash programs always fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month."

- Werner von Braun

Jrgen, this seems to have really sidetracked from what I originally posted and wanted to point out: that people should stop giving out blanket answers like "if you got it in less than 2 years, must be a mcdojo" or "takes around 7 years", and also to point out, that for a newcomer, it can be a very valid question to ask.

I don't know, that strikes me as a funny use of the word "valid", but whatever. I think that I would have said, rather, that it's understandable that they'd ask, since to someone with no martial arts background except that given by popular culture, a black belt would seem to be the goal. But what's your beef with "takes about 7 years"? It seems to me that that's the best possible answer that you can give to someone who doesn't want to hear the real answer ("it depends", "it's different for every school", etc.).

I think we all understand about newbie questions; we don't need to be lectured about them. You see them in every possible field: they're the questions that newbies always ask, and that can't be answered in terms that the average newbie can understand (or has the patience to accept). Gear questions are some of the most frequent: Photography: "What's the best digital camera for me?" Backpacking: "What's the best pack for me?" Kayaking: "What's the best kayak for me?" Newbies want a simple answer that doesn't exist, i.e., they want someone to magically tell them (without any of the information needed to make a recommendation) what is going to work for them. They don't want to answer a lot of tiresome questions -- for example, "where and how are you going to use this camera?" or "how much time are you willing to spend developing your kayaking skills?". And they definitely don't want to hear that there isn't a product that provides the optimal solution to many diverse problems (and at a low price, too -- with free shipping!).

So what are the options when faced with a question like that? You can
1)Ignore it...you'd probably consider that rude.
2)Answer it honestly and completely...you seem to consider that rude, too, since someone who does this isn't providing the answer that the questioner wants.
3)Answer it with something that isn't really a complete answer, and could be very wrong in some situations, but that isn't completely off the beam either ("takes about 7 years"). You don't seem to like that one either.

So -- please, I'm truly curious -- in your opinion, what does a "good answer" to such a question look like?

chubbycubbysmash
07-09-2012, 12:46 PM
How would you tell if the 1st dan's are mediocre and the 1st kyu blows them out of the water? What would be the criteria for judgment?

I think it would probably depend on how well the 1st kyu looks/feels as both nage and uke. Physically and visually aesthetically pleasing to both the partners, the teachers, and those who are watching. This is all IMHO of course. I know different people have different ways of judging, but I think that which is beautiful can be observed and appreciated across people.

I guess a bigger question would be how does a teacher judge if he/she would like to use someone often as an uke for demonstration? There has to be something about them they enjoyed, unless they're correcting them.

Although... how exactly does one judge whether or not a technique is done even correctly.

:confused:

Now my brain hurts.

Shadowfax
07-09-2012, 01:00 PM
That is very interesting! Makes you wonder why they would put it in hours to begin with?
I do remember though, that on the Aikikai Hombu website, it's all listed in days, not hours. Though I wonder, if they bother enough to keep track of things like this, why not keep track of lessons, instead of days? Surely that would be a more valid marker for, whether or not someone has had sufficient training or not?

Well...Everyone's motivations are different. I know why I put in the hours and it isn't to gain rank faster. It has been over a year since I have not been in attendance at every class available where I train and that was only because my car was in the shop and I could not fond a way to get there. Very frustrating.

My point was more along the lines of it really is not that important how many hours/days/months/years you train. A good instructor should know when you are ready and when you are not and either promote or hold back a student appropriately.

I didn't choose my teacher based on the color of his belt or his rank. I had the choice of several dojo in the area. Instructors in the other two choices at that time hold higher ranks. I chose him because I felt that this person was teaching what I want to learn and doing it in a way that would make a good learning environment for me and my particular needs. After three years training there I am quite sure I made the right choice. :)

NagaBaba
07-09-2012, 02:16 PM
[B]
That's my little rant here, take from it what you want, or disregard it completely, but I hope you keep it in mind next time.
I think you dont really understand what for Founder created aikido. He didnt create aikido so people can reach a shodan in 1 year of very intense practice or in 7 years of medium effort practice. In fact he didnt care at all about ranks and was giving them as candies, to whoever asked him for. Ranks in aikido are used to motivate the will of practice. Particularly to those people who have a weak spirit.

Aikido practice is about to purify and polish your body/spirit, so it can reflect the reality in more and more perfect way and the techniques are the tools used in this process. With perfected mind you take more accurate decisions and actions. When you progress on this path, your life become happier, as well as everybodys life around you. Looking from that perspective, the speed of reaching the ranks is irrelevant.

Of course as you are not practicing aikido, this explanation may look like nonsense for the moment.

phitruong
07-09-2012, 02:24 PM
Physically and visually aesthetically pleasing to both the partners, the teachers, and those who are watching.

this might be a problem for some of us who are not that physically and/or visually pleasing; not that i am worry, since i am naturally sexy in my cross dressing skirt. :)

Janet Rosen
07-09-2012, 02:36 PM
Physically and visually aesthetically pleasing to both the partners, the teachers, and those who are watching.


I am sure I and many of my middle aged cohorts do very little that is "visually aesthetically pleasing."
But I trust my skilled partners to reflect honestly what I am/not doing and my instructors to know by watching whether or not I am meeting their criteria.

ken king
07-09-2012, 03:14 PM
That said, I would if I could my man! Sadly, the Yoshinkan dojo (well... only Yoshinkan dojo within 1 hour distance from me) I plan on starting in, is closed for the summer, and starts again September. I'm looking forward to bouncing around looking at different styles and Dojo's in Tokyo, when I head there again in August, which I suppose in the end will end up deciding which is for me.


Hey Philip,

Doesn't matter, get on the mat at any dojo. If you only have that small amount of time you can start learning ukemi at the very least. That way you will be able to skip the awkward crappy rolling phase once you find a dojo you want to train at in Tokyo! Take care and good luck to you.

chubbycubbysmash
07-09-2012, 03:15 PM
LOL! Crossdressing! Oh my goodness, I'd pay to see everyone cross dressed on the mat!

When I say beauty I don't mean... pretty in the sense of the physical appearance of the person, but that their movements and what they do are beautiful--which also incorporates their passion and their love for the art as well as how fast or flowy their movements are. I find some of our older members, with their wonderfully soft but firm style to be very beautiful to me. Just as I find some of our younger members hard, technical, fast styles to also be beautiful, and vice versa for the age thing. Even the beginners who are trying their best are pretty to me.

Precision maybe? Sincerity? What is most pleasing to the eye in terms of how a body naturally moves and is positioned? How much respect one has for their partner? How much love and respect they have for the art and themselves? (For example, slouching is not pretty to me.)

Ack, the more I think about it the more it confuses me. I just KNOW it looks pretty, like something in my head says: ooh, watch that one. Or warms my heart. Or something. v___v

TokyoZeplin
07-09-2012, 03:34 PM
Hey Philip,

Doesn't matter, get on the mat at any dojo. If you only have that small amount of time you can start learning ukemi at the very least. That way you will be able to skip the awkward crappy rolling phase once you find a dojo you want to train at in Tokyo! Take care and good luck to you.

Solid advice all around!
But in Denmark, at least for the dojos around me, you have to pay an registration fee and 1-3 months tuition when starting, so I'm afraid it's an economic plunge I'm not quite willing to take, for less than a months training (I'm heading off to Tokyo in just less than a month).
That said, I already started practising ukemi! From the get-go, I wanted to eliminate some of the "non-essential" tasks (things that aren't really "special" to the art, or require personal teaching to get: I've also started having a look at kamae, to have a rough idea of how I should stand, just to prepare), and I already learned how to roll when I did Jujutsu many years back, so it's just a matter of re-training myself - though I might add that a hard dry garden is not a comfortable place to practice! :P

LOL! Crossdressing! Oh my goodness, I'd pay to see everyone cross dressed on the mat!

When I say beauty I don't mean... pretty in the sense of the physical appearance of the person, but that their movements and what they do are beautiful--which also incorporates their passion and their love for the art as well as how fast or flowy their movements are. I find some of our older members, with their wonderfully soft but firm style to be very beautiful to me. Just as I find some of our younger members hard, technical, fast styles to also be beautiful, and vice versa for the age thing. Even the beginners who are trying their best are pretty to me.

Precision maybe? Sincerity? What is most pleasing to the eye in terms of how a body naturally moves and is positioned? How much respect one has for their partner? How much love and respect they have for the art and themselves? (For example, slouching is not pretty to me.)

Ack, the more I think about it the more it confuses me. I just KNOW it looks pretty, like something in my head says: ooh, watch that one. Or warms my heart. Or something. v___v

Wouldn't that change drastically between styles though? I can see Iwama and Ki being beautiful, but from all I've seen, Tomiki and Yoshinkan is considerably less wavey, smaller, and more to the point. In all demonstrations I've seen, I would never describe Tomiki as "beautiful", especially not during competitions!

Mary Eastland
07-09-2012, 05:23 PM
I think it would probably depend on how well the 1st kyu looks/feels as both nage and uke. Physically and visually aesthetically pleasing to both the partners, the teachers, and those who are watching. This is all IMHO of course. I know different people have different ways of judging, but I think that which is beautiful can be observed and appreciated across people.

I guess a bigger question would be how does a teacher judge if he/she would like to use someone often as an uke for demonstration? There has to be something about them they enjoyed, unless they're correcting them.

Although... how exactly does one judge whether or not a technique is done even correctly.

:confused:

Now my brain hurts.

Thank you. I understand what you mean. :)

chubbycubbysmash
07-09-2012, 05:53 PM
Wouldn't that change drastically between styles though? I can see Iwama and Ki being beautiful, but from all I've seen, Tomiki and Yoshinkan is considerably less wavey, smaller, and more to the point. In all demonstrations I've seen, I would never describe Tomiki as "beautiful", especially not during competitions!

I guess it would also depend on your ideals of what beauty is? I'm not so familiar with Tomiki or Yoshinkan, but they do seem to have more of the practical and competitive nature. Some of the practitioners are still beautiful to me. When you see someone with that look of concentration, doing what they love, and on top of that, doing it well, sincerely, and as someone said before, honestly, I think that's quite beautiful too. Of course, it they can do it with cold cut precision, there's admiration for that too.

There is beauty in a lion taking down an antelope, IMHO. It can be messy, and sometimes awkward, but it is life--it does take lots of skill and practice but the movements are like... a part of nature... and now I sound like a hippie. But, I think my point is if you're always looking to improve--your stance, your technique, how you look and feel, and how much you give when you're doing it, you'll not only look beautiful, but you'll excel too.

To me... it's sort of like... the amount beauty is parallel to your mental and physical improvement, not just an optional incidental benefit to getting better in Aikido. Which is why I use it to "judge" whether someone is really good or not. I don't know who said it, but the most beautiful things in nature are often the deadliest and most efficient... although beauty seems to be a sole human concept.

Can a person who doesn't have an artistic bone in their body still appreciate beautiful art? Can a person who does sumi-e professionally still appreciate the technique of someone who does watercolor professionally? That's sort of what I see when I look at other styles.

Or something like that. o_o;;;

PeterR
07-09-2012, 05:58 PM
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A perfect gedan-ate in shiai is gorgeous to watch.

Time in grade is only a mechanism to control the hour counters. No matter what is put in place there still will be people not ready and those more than ready.

lbb
07-09-2012, 08:38 PM
That said, I already started practising ukemi! From the get-go, I wanted to eliminate some of the "non-essential" tasks (things that aren't really "special" to the art, or require personal teaching to get

Ukemi? Non-essential?

robin_jet_alt
07-09-2012, 09:47 PM
Ukemi? Non-essential?

I think he means not essential in the sense that they don't form the essence of aikido, and therefore can be learned on his own.

PeterR
07-09-2012, 10:06 PM
Ukemi? Non-essential?

I don't think he said that.

I would take more exception to the

From the get-go, I wanted to eliminate some of the "non-essential" tasks (things that aren't really "special" to the art, or require personal teaching to get.

Both Kamae and Ukemi can be very specific to dogo/teacher. One of the most difficult parts of dojo hoping (or just visiting local dojos during your travels) is Kamae.

Tomiki famously does not have it, Yoshinkan can be very specific and very different from Aikikai. In my opinion is not something you pick up from looking at the pictures.

Ukemi also varies tremendously. With slapping and without, backwards ukemi or no backwards ukemi. Same hand as foot leading, different, etc.

In Japan the best training I found was always physically exhausting. I felt it (during my returns, especially in summer) and I saw it with every visitor even with those who already train in Aikido. Legs are the worst.

What I would do is take the month and start running. Run at least 1 hour mixing in sprinting, backwards running, sideways running, frog hopping at particular points. Then when you get to Japan look at everything fresh. Empty glass on all that.

JJF
07-10-2012, 02:33 AM
what Mary just said...

Philip: I have a 3rd kyu in Shotokan as well - also many years back. No regrets though for stopping.. it wasn't the right budo for me, and it took me a few years to realize. I enjoyed the kata and the kihon, but the sparring wasn't what I was looking for.

Now I have found Aikido - and a style that I enjoy very much. I also spend quite a bit of time pondering when I would get that black belt that i had my eyes on during both karate, kendo, iaido and aikido. I made (as I guess you also do) excel sheets with possible grading dates, and did the math on how long time it would take me to gather enough hours etc etc.. once I stopped doing that things became more fun though.. :)

When do I get a hakama - when will I have a black belt - when will i be able to fall like him/her...It is all very valid questions. But.. as Mary said... there is no way to answer them that will truly satisfy the both of us.

To quote my former sensei: "It helps to practice".

Jrgen Jakob (with two names in my first name)

Malicat
07-10-2012, 04:46 AM
I am sure I and many of my middle aged cohorts do very little that is "visually aesthetically pleasing."

I seriously doubt that Janet. :) But my view of aesthetically pleasing is a well executed technique particularly in response to a surprise move by the uke. I had the opportunity to watch dan testing in our organization a few weeks ago, and some of the most beautiful things I witnessed were some very exhausted yudansha pulling off some incredible waza in randori while being physically and emotionally exhausted. That being said, I'm not entirely certain my dojo cho agreed with the "gorgeous" compliment I gave him after his test.

--Ashley

TokyoZeplin
07-10-2012, 08:21 AM
Maybe I explained myself badly, when I said "non-essential" (though I do think I explained what I meant by that, right after?).
Obviously Ukemi is quite essential to the practice of Aikido, I mean that it's not something special just to Aikido, or something that can only be explained by your Sensei. Of course, once I start, there will likely be changes that have to be made, variations that has to be learned, and so forth, but I see no reason why I can't start the basic practice myself :)
With Kamae, again, I do not expect to "perfect" that by myself, in any way, but again, it can't hurt to get the basics down. I do plan on practising Yoshinkan, which is lucky in this case, since (as far as I've been able to see) the style is very strict on posture, so chances are there won't be too much of a difference in what I can learn from watching/reading, and what I'll learn in the dojo.

On fitness, I'm currently working out 4-5 days a week as it is, mainly cardiovascular exercises with Kettlebells, but also some resistance training :)

People focus a lot on the fact that I plan to "dojo hop", but seem to have missed why I said I was going to. The reason is that I plan on taking (another) year in Tokyo, once I finish my Masters degree. Naturally, I will have to find a different dojo there, than the one I train at in Denmark. Not much of a choice, unless I don't go. It's not like I plan on jumping between dojo's just for the heck of it! :D

lbb
07-10-2012, 08:30 AM
Obviously Ukemi is quite essential to the practice of Aikido, I mean that it's not something special just to Aikido, or something that can only be explained by your Sensei. Of course, once I start, there will likely be changes that have to be made, variations that has to be learned, and so forth, but I see no reason why I can't start the basic practice myself :)

Of course you can -- you might find it counterproductive, is all. Ukemi and kamae are foundational skills, and there are differences in how they're done in different aikido dojos, let alone between aikido and other martial arts (we had a fella come to train with us with a background in jujutsu, so he said, and not only was his ukemi different, for our purposes it was almost nonexistent). It can be very, very hard to change the way you do a basic skill once you've learned it one way, which is a good argument for waiting to learn it from your Sensei rather than trying to teach yourself. Rather than trying to teach yourself any aikido skill (only to learn on day one, most likely, that you have to change it), I'd work on the conditioning that will make acquisition of such skills easier. But that doesn't seem to be what you want, so suit yourself.

dps
07-10-2012, 09:06 AM
Maybe I explained myself badly, when I said "non-essential" (though I do think I explained what I meant by that, right after?).
Obviously Ukemi is quite essential to the practice of Aikido, I mean that it's not something special just to Aikido, or something that can only be explained by your Sensei. Of course, once I start, there will likely be changes that have to be made, variations that has to be learned, and so forth, but I see no reason why I can't start the basic practice myself :)
With Kamae, again, I do not expect to "perfect" that by myself, in any way, but again, it can't hurt to get the basics down.:D

Kamae is not just basic it is essential to executing proper technique. Kamae or posture is not just about which foot is forward or not, it is about proper body alignment and maintaining balance not just at the beginning or ending or a movement but also during the movement. It is probably the hardest thing for a beginner to understand or learn to do. A good sensei spends a lot of time showing, testing and correcting your posture. You may be able to practice standing with one foot forward and arms extended but you need a partner to test if you are maintaining your alignment and balance throughout your movement.

dps

dps
07-10-2012, 09:31 AM
On fitness, I'm currently working out 4-5 days a week as it is, mainly cardiovascular exercises with Kettlebells, but also some resistance training :)



The best fundamental exercise to do for Aikido is from a standing position, sitting down in seiza and standing up from seiza.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIQO7y1rEqc

Do this for 15 minutes or longer 4-5 days a week.

dps

dps
07-10-2012, 09:56 AM
I think you don't really understand what for Founder created aikido. He didn't create aikido so people can reach a shodan in 1 year of very intense practice or in 7 years of medium effort practice. In fact he didn't care at all about ranks and was giving them as candies, to whoever asked him for. Ranks in aikido are used to motivate the will of practice. Particularly to those people who have a weak spirit.

Aikido practice is about to purify and polish your body/spirit, so it can reflect the reality in more and more perfect way and the techniques are the tools used in this process. With perfected mind you take more accurate decisions and actions. When you progress on this path, your life become happier, as well as everybody's life around you. Looking from that perspective, the speed of reaching the ranks is irrelevant.

Of course as you are not practicing aikido, this explanation may look like nonsense for the moment.

I agree with the wise words from the sage of The Wild, deep, deadly North.

dps

JJF
07-10-2012, 09:57 AM
Kamae is not just basic it is essential to executing proper technique. Kamae or posture is not just about which foot is forward or not, it is about proper body alignment and maintaining balance not just at the beginning or ending or a movement but also during the movement. It is probably the hardest thing for a beginner to understand or learn to do. A good sensei spends a lot of time showing, testing and correcting your posture. You may be able to practice standing with one foot forward and arms extended but you need a partner to test if you are maintaining your alignment and balance throughout your movement.

dps

I feel compelled to underline the fact that posture and Kamae is not - as far i see it - the same thing. Actually the first can exist without the second, Also it is not all Aikido senseis that put much emphasize on Kamae.

Also it is maybe necessary to point out that ukemi is - at least - two different things. The way we fall - and the way we give an attack for the person executing the technique. The first you can practice by yourself. The latter is not something I believe can be trained solo.

Just my thoughts on the matter

dps
07-10-2012, 09:59 AM
Although... how exactly does one judge whether or not a technique is done even correctly.

.

By increasing the speed and intensity of the attack.

dps

dps
07-10-2012, 10:21 AM
I feel compelled to underline the fact that posture and Kamae is not - as far i see it - the same thing. Actually the first can exist without the second, Also it is not all Aikido senseis that put much emphasize on Kamae.



http://shindai.com/japanese-terms/
Kamae: A posture or stance of readiness. In each kamae there are different positions for the hands or weapon. Jodan – high position; Chudan – middle position; Gedan – lower position.

http://www.west.net/~aikido/aikido/vocab.html
Kamae
A posture or stance either with or without a weapon. kamae may also connote proper distance (ma ai) with respect to one's partner. Although ``kamae'' generally refers to a physical stance, there is an important parallel in aikido between one's physical and one's psychological bearing. Adopting a strong physical stance helps to promote the correlative adoption of a strong psychological attitude. It is important to try so far as possible to maintain a positive and strong mental bearing in aikido.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamae
Kamae
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kamae
Japanese name
Kanji: 構え
Hiragana: かまえ
[show]Transliterations

Kamae (構え?) is a Japanese term used in martial arts and traditional theater. It translates approximately to "posture". The Kanji of this word means "base".

Kamae is to be differentiated from the word tachi (立ち?), used in Japanese martial arts to mean stance. While tachi (pronounced dachi when used in a compound) refers to the position of the body from the waist down, kamae refers to the posture of the entire body, as well as encompassing one's mental posture (i.e., one's attitude). These connected mental and physical aspects of readiness may be referred to individually as kokoro-gamae (心構え?) and mi-gamae (身構え?), respectively.

dps

lbb
07-10-2012, 11:18 AM
By increasing the speed and intensity of the attack.

Indeed. As my sensei says, "You can speed up a good thing."

Rob Watson
07-10-2012, 12:40 PM
The best fundamental exercise to do for Aikido is from a standing position, sitting down in seiza and standing up from seiza.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIQO7y1rEqc

Do this for 15 minutes or longer 4-5 days a week.

dps

My one and only seminar with Tamura sensei I recall he made a big deal out of being able to 'rise like smoke' from seiza. It takes a long time to come to appreciate seiza.

Chris Li
07-10-2012, 03:03 PM
http://shindai.com/japanese-terms/
Kamae: A posture or stance of readiness. In each kamae there are different positions for the hands or weapon. Jodan – high position; Chudan – middle position; Gedan – lower position.

http://www.west.net/~aikido/aikido/vocab.html
Kamae
A posture or stance either with or without a weapon. kamae may also connote proper distance (ma ai) with respect to one's partner. Although ``kamae'' generally refers to a physical stance, there is an important parallel in aikido between one's physical and one's psychological bearing. Adopting a strong physical stance helps to promote the correlative adoption of a strong psychological attitude. It is important to try so far as possible to maintain a positive and strong mental bearing in aikido.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamae
Kamae
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kamae
Japanese name
Kanji: 構え
Hiragana: かまえ
[show]Transliterations

Kamae (構え?) is a Japanese term used in martial arts and traditional theater. It translates approximately to "posture". The Kanji of this word means "base".

Kamae is to be differentiated from the word tachi (立ち?), used in Japanese martial arts to mean stance. While tachi (pronounced dachi when used in a compound) refers to the position of the body from the waist down, kamae refers to the posture of the entire body, as well as encompassing one's mental posture (i.e., one's attitude). These connected mental and physical aspects of readiness may be referred to individually as kokoro-gamae (心構え?) and mi-gamae (身構え?), respectively.

dps

Well, you can use "kamae" in the sense of "posture" if the sense of the usage is "take an aggressive posture" - "take an aggressive stance".

OTOH, you wouldn't normally use it in the sense of the shape of your back or "I have lousy posture".

They're not interchangeable.

Best,

Chris

dps
07-11-2012, 11:28 PM
Well, you can use "kamae" in the sense of "posture" if the sense of the usage is "take an aggressive posture" - "take an aggressive stance".

Kamae does not have to be aggressive.

OTOH, you wouldn't normally use it in the sense of the shape of your back or "I have lousy posture".

They're not interchangeable.

Best,

Chris
Yes you would, the shape of your back could be bad kamae.

Janet Rosen
07-12-2012, 12:23 AM
David, I think you are misunderstanding. Chris' use of "aggressive posture" is not to say kamae is aggressive but as a usage example that the term kamae refers to a specific English usage of the word posture, which does encompass multiple meanings - in this case assuming a stance.

Posture also refers to an inherent structure - when I am in kamae, when I sit at my desk or walk down the street there is how everything hangs together - the stuff I'm working on changing my getting Rolfed.

Theoretically one can have lovely posture and lousy kamae and vice versa (having in mind a skilled martial artist with a skeletal defect).

Chris Li
07-12-2012, 01:51 AM
Kamae does not have to be aggressive.

Yes you would, the shape of your back could be bad kamae.

Janet got it - it's just an example of usage.

Anyway, as I said, "kamae" and "posture" (姿勢) are not interchangeable in Japanese, even though there are usages where they cross over.

Best,

Chris

JJF
07-12-2012, 02:25 AM
http://shindai.com/japanese-terms/
Kamae: A posture or stance of readiness. In each kamae there are different positions for the hands or weapon. Jodan high position; Chudan middle position; Gedan lower position.

http://www.west.net/~aikido/aikido/vocab.html
Kamae
A posture or stance either with or without a weapon. kamae may also connote proper distance (ma ai) with respect to one's partner. Although ``kamae'' generally refers to a physical stance, there is an important parallel in aikido between one's physical and one's psychological bearing. Adopting a strong physical stance helps to promote the correlative adoption of a strong psychological attitude. It is important to try so far as possible to maintain a positive and strong mental bearing in aikido.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamae
Kamae
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Kamae
Japanese name
Kanji: 構え
Hiragana: かまえ
[show]Transliterations

Kamae (構え?) is a Japanese term used in martial arts and traditional theater. It translates approximately to "posture". The Kanji of this word means "base".

Kamae is to be differentiated from the word tachi (立ち?), used in Japanese martial arts to mean stance. While tachi (pronounced dachi when used in a compound) refers to the position of the body from the waist down, kamae refers to the posture of the entire body, as well as encompassing one's mental posture (i.e., one's attitude). These connected mental and physical aspects of readiness may be referred to individually as kokoro-gamae (心構え?) and mi-gamae (身構え?), respectively.

dps

David: I think I understand what you are writing here. It seems you want to point out that I am not clear in my distinction of the difference between kamae and stance. Thanks for pointing it out. I think we see things closer than what I first realised. What made me misunderstand your post was what Philip wrote. It seemed to me he wants to practice standing in kamae by himself in order to prepare for aikido class... and my comment was more to him than to you I guess.

What I tried to express is, that kamae sometimes is used as a term for 'physical stance' more than as a word for the state of physical readiness and mental preparedness. Also the way I use the word 'posture' in my post was ment to be long along the lines of 'the way we carry ourselves and our body'.. Including the notion of kokyo in our walk and the grounded sensation in each step. I guess that's what you explained in a different way as being an integral part of the term Kamae.

My point was that the part of kamae which I call posture is important just like you describe it. Keep you balance and move in a way where you don't loose your center or contact to uke. The mental readiness part of kamae I would also expect to be a very central part of the teaching of all senseis.

On the other hand the part of Kamae being 'a beginning stance' is of less importance in some dojos/styles than in others.

I hope I explained the details a little better this time :)

JJ

PeterR
07-12-2012, 05:32 AM
What I tried to express is, that kamae sometimes is used as a term for 'physical stance' more than as a word for the state of physical readiness and mental preparedness. Also the way I use the word 'posture' in my post was ment to be long along the lines of 'the way we carry ourselves and our body'.. Including the notion of kokyo in our walk and the grounded sensation in each step. I guess that's what you explained in a different way as being an integral part of the term Kamae.


I would use the term Zanshin for that.

I was once talking to an Aikikai Shihan I admire about the fact that in Shodokan there is no kamae per se rather shizentai (natural posture). His comment was that kamae is really beginners practice and eventually we are supposed to move away from it. Different teaching methods but one of the problems with assuming a particular kamae is that you limit your responses.

Not sure what this has to do with time in rank but there you go.

James Sawers
07-12-2012, 03:23 PM
I understand your frustration with the answers you were getting to your questions. I may have contributed to that myself on another thread when I questioned getting a black-belt in about a year. I had completely forgotten about the senshusei program in Yoshinkan aikido. I've even read the book "Angry White Pajamas", I think it was called. Though I admit I did have some questions about a participant achieving a black-belt and teaching certificate after only a year. Personally, I would not want that person as my teacher. But with that said, I think you may have already answered your own question with the research you did on the various websites you visited. They each, I believe, you said, listed the hours/days required to achieve certain rankings, including black-belt. As was mentioned by others, these hours/days are usually guidelines. With these acquired hours/days, you will usually need your sensei's consent/approval to test as well. That's the simple answer, but it does, I think answer your question as to how long it will take to get a black-belt in aikido. Your point about intensity is also well taken. The intensity of training can make a difference, but whatever system you eventually try, the minimum hours/days are usually declared for each ranking. So, if you have those hours/days and your sensei's consent, you can test (if your sensei gives consent, he/she usually has confidence that you will pass).

I think that part of the frustration you may have perceived in some of the answers you received is that, as you train, more and more, you realize that it is not always that simple. But, you gotta start somewhere.....

TokyoZeplin
07-17-2012, 06:55 PM
I understand your frustration with the answers you were getting to your questions. I may have contributed to that myself on another thread when I questioned getting a black-belt in about a year. I had completely forgotten about the senshusei program in Yoshinkan aikido. I've even read the book "Angry White Pajamas", I think it was called. Though I admit I did have some questions about a participant achieving a black-belt and teaching certificate after only a year. Personally, I would not want that person as my teacher. But with that said, I think you may have already answered your own question with the research you did on the various websites you visited. They each, I believe, you said, listed the hours/days required to achieve certain rankings, including black-belt. As was mentioned by others, these hours/days are usually guidelines. With these acquired hours/days, you will usually need your sensei's consent/approval to test as well. That's the simple answer, but it does, I think answer your question as to how long it will take to get a black-belt in aikido. Your point about intensity is also well taken. The intensity of training can make a difference, but whatever system you eventually try, the minimum hours/days are usually declared for each ranking. So, if you have those hours/days and your sensei's consent, you can test (if your sensei gives consent, he/she usually has confidence that you will pass).

I think that part of the frustration you may have perceived in some of the answers you received is that, as you train, more and more, you realize that it is not always that simple. But, you gotta start somewhere.....

Man, this thread has derailed so much! And even though I felt I made such a clear point in my opening post, that this was NOT something restricted to this forum or Aikido, people seem to have taken it as such. Then this evolved into what type of training I should do before starting Aikido (where did THAT come from?), and then evolved into yet again assuming that I just want a black belt - something to this day I still don't know where people are getting from.

And yes, the book is called Angry White Pyjamas. So far I have decided not to read it, since I have lived in Tokyo before (and have become somewhat of a "foreign civil rights" activist on YouTube, in some ways). I read the book also dealt with how he viewed Japan as a newcomer, and I think that particular aspect would just end up annoying me. But I think I'll get around to it at some point.

Yes, I agree that a teaching certificate shouldn't be the same as Shodan. Certainly, being able to efficiently teach something to a student, and being able to perform it flawlessly yourself, is two different things.

One reason I have asked about how ranks transfers between dojos and organisations, is not because I'm fixated on "holding a big rank" between jumps. Rather (and I have pointed this out in the past), I want to avoid unnecessary problems in teaching for different things and grades and ranks.

robin_jet_alt
07-17-2012, 08:00 PM
One reason I have asked about how ranks transfers between dojos and organisations, is not because I'm fixated on "holding a big rank" between jumps. Rather (and I have pointed this out in the past), I want to avoid unnecessary problems in teaching for different things and grades and ranks.

I think this is where most of the confusion arises. In every dojo I have trained in (4 styles, 2 countries) there is no distinction between what is taught to people at different ranks. The higher ranks are just better at it, that's all.

TokyoZeplin
07-17-2012, 08:27 PM
I think this is where most of the confusion arises. In every dojo I have trained in (4 styles, 2 countries) there is no distinction between what is taught to people at different ranks. The higher ranks are just better at it, that's all.

If that is indeed the case for the average Aikido dojo, that would certainly explain a lot of the miscommunication (and I'd be grumpy no one told me before now! LOL :freaky: ). When I was training Shotokan Karate, for instance, it was very much divided up into teaching you what you were expected to get at your specific rank. For each new belt, a new kata was added, for instance. You wouldn't train that before you reached the appropriate rank. Same with some kicks and punches. So if your rank didn't transfer between different dojos, that could cause some annoying "retraining" of techniques and katas you would already have done for ages, and in some cases were no longer of any real use to you.

But correct me if I'm wrong, isn't Yoshinkan set up this way too? I thought one of the main reasons Yoshinkan became, well, Yoshinkan, was that they more specifically divided the training up into segments?

robin_jet_alt
07-17-2012, 08:43 PM
If that is indeed the case for the average Aikido dojo, that would certainly explain a lot of the miscommunication (and I'd be grumpy no one told me before now! LOL :freaky: ). When I was training Shotokan Karate, for instance, it was very much divided up into teaching you what you were expected to get at your specific rank. For each new belt, a new kata was added, for instance. You wouldn't train that before you reached the appropriate rank. Same with some kicks and punches. So if your rank didn't transfer between different dojos, that could cause some annoying "retraining" of techniques and katas you would already have done for ages, and in some cases were no longer of any real use to you.

But correct me if I'm wrong, isn't Yoshinkan set up this way too? I thought one of the main reasons Yoshinkan became, well, Yoshinkan, was that they more specifically divided the training up into segments?

Well, unfortunately Yoshinkan is one of the few styles I haven't trained in. I know that they are a lot more organised in their approach, but I'm not sure if they go to the extent of the Shotokan dojo you mentioned.

Belt_Up
07-18-2012, 05:48 AM
since I have lived in Tokyo before (and have become somewhat of a "foreign civil rights" activist on YouTube, in some ways).

?

I read the book also dealt with how he viewed Japan as a newcomer, and I think that particular aspect would just end up annoying me.

Why? If you're not Japanese, this is what everyone does. You've done it, if you've been to Japan. No-one turns up in a foreign country with a different culture and is instantly familiar with it all.

Basia Halliop
07-19-2012, 12:15 PM
I think this is where most of the confusion arises. In every dojo I have trained in (4 styles, 2 countries) there is no distinction between what is taught to people at different ranks. The higher ranks are just better at it, that's all.

Yeah, every dojo I've been at has been like that, too.

Personally, it never would have occurred to me to say anything about that because never having trained in any other martial art, I had no idea that was different in other arts!