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RollingPanda
03-27-2013, 03:36 AM
Hi, I'm from Indonesia. In my Aikido community, we have tests every 6 months. I'm still a 6th kyu, so if I pass each test the first time, I could reach the 1st dan rank within 3 years. I've read in a post here (forgot which one) that in USA you need at least 6-7 years of training to reach that rank.

1. Do you think that my country's system is too fast?

2. Because of the difference in training time required to reach the same rank, does anyone know if for example i move to America, do I have to take these tests again?

PhilMyKi
03-27-2013, 05:31 AM
Is the six monthly grading exclusive of any minimum 'mat time' requirement? Most associations require at least 100 sessions (often more) between first kyu and shodan. Based on this with twice a week training excluding closures for national holidays and shut downs it would be a year between grades. If you can just rock up every six months and pass a grade with minimal practise, I think there are bigger issues here and yes three years to shodan is too fast ... But if you put the time in and are technically ready and mature enough I see no reason why you should not reach shodan in less time than 'the norm'.

In terms of having to re-grade ... depends on the club you come from and where you go.

Just enjoy your training, grades will come along when you are ready.

RollingPanda
03-27-2013, 06:13 AM
The minimum for promotion from 6th to 5th is 30 sessions in my group, and 70 for 1st kyu to shodan. Most students only take 1 or 2 classes a week so they end up taking 4 1/2 to 6 years anyway. However, I'm taking more classes and I'm also a fast learner. I'm not purposely rushing this and i don't feel like I'm going too fast, but I'm a bit worried that I'm learning less.

Another question: when are jo and bokken practice usually introduced in aikido? I'm already being taught the basics by my sensei even though these aren't tested until 4th or 3rd kyu.

PhilMyKi
03-27-2013, 06:23 AM
The minimum for promotion from 6th to 5th is 30 sessions in my group, and 70 for 1st kyu to shodan. Most students only take 1 or 2 classes a week so they end up taking 4 1/2 to 6 years anyway. However, I'm taking more classes and I'm also a fast learner. I'm not purposely rushing this and i don't feel like I'm going too fast, but I'm a bit worried that I'm learning less.

Another question: when are jo and bokken practice usually introduced in aikido? I'm already being taught the basics by my sensei even though these aren't tested until 4th or 3rd kyu.

You will not be learning less, you might get a little frustrated when you get on and see people put in less effort getting equal 'reward'; but even then you will learn a little humility ...

Bokken / Jo: These can be introduced at any point, I know of an association that test from the get go whereas others don't consider this until a lot (read dan grade) later. You should, IMHO, learn a bit of weapons early on as they teach distance, timing, and a multitude of other things ...

barron
03-27-2013, 09:30 AM
The question we always get from beginners is how long does it take to get a black belt. "How long does it take to catch a fish?" is one reply that is used in jest sometimes. Realistically we say between 5 and 7 years depending on the individual, their dedication and "real life" commitments.
(a minimum of 600 days on the mat to get to 1st kyu which works out to 4.5 to 5 years at 2.5 per week and then another 200 mat days till Shodan) At our dojo we have also been advised by our Shihan in Japan that our testing intervals/requirements are too long compared to Japan and we have modified them minimally to maintain the quality we expect and get closer to his. Sometimes it does seem that we are being " More Catholic than the Pope" so to speak, but we believe that this is the tradition of our sensei who passed away a few years ago .
Our Shihan also tells us that Shodan is only a beginners level and after that we start learning aikido. It seems however, that in North America, we put greater expectations and credence on being a “Black Belt” and therefore we expect greater competency and therefore it is difficult to compare/equate one countries levels to the next.
As for weapons our dojo starts with basics at 6th kyu ( Bokken: Standing kamae, Drawing bokken, Putting back bokken, Ken nigiri (gripping sword) Jo: Standing kamae, Stepping in with Jo, Stepping back with Jo, Tsuki kamae, Menuchi kamae) and working the way to the higher ranks with more and complex kata, awaza, Kumijo, Kumitachi etc.
If a student comes form another system or country, especially if they have been training for a number of years we generally accept their ranking but they are expected to take more time before their next advancement as they must learn how we do our basics and the new expectations ,techniques/style of their new dojo.

PhilMyKi
03-27-2013, 09:52 AM
I pretty much concur with Andrew's response in terms of grading and compared to Japanese timing you are not comparing apples with apples ... To add context to my journey to shodan; it took seven and a half years of (pretty much) three (1 1/2 to 2 hour) sessions a week with national holidays off ... so work out that if you wish, but is is a lot. Yes, I know of guys and girls that got there in less time. But, as one of my chums told me a while back 'on the mat your aikido is only as good as it is; a coloured belt does not change that'. I have said in a previous post that I would rather be a bench mark of what a grade is than the baseline ... :)

lbb
03-27-2013, 09:54 AM
I think there's too much variation, not just in the time/hours/training requirements but more importantly in what is expected at different levels, to draw any conclusions about what's typical. Like Andrew's "How long does it take to catch a fish?" question, it all depends on what fish you're trying to catch. A couple of things I would say: 1)It's safest to assume that the dojo down the street will have different standards, never mind the dojo in another country, and 2)being a "fast learner" isn't really an advantage for a beginner, as it turns out that you're usually "learning" some things fairly quickly but missing others that can turn out to be a big struggle later on.

The black belt has such strong (and generally erroneous) associations in popular culture, no wonder it's such a common question of beginners to know how long it will take to get a black belt. If you're asking the question, though, it's worth asking yourself what you'll do when you get there. Food for thought...

RollingPanda
03-27-2013, 12:40 PM
Thanks for the replies, although I need to clear a few things up.

First, I'm not just looking to move up the ranks, although it sounds like my main goal ( I have trouble addressing questions like these, my communication skills aren't very good). I'm saying I COULD reach a dan grade within 3 years, but i'd really rather go through 5 or 6 years if it means mastering the things I learn. One of the reasons I joined aikido is to learn patience.

Also, what I was originally asking is if I reached a certain rank in one place, would it be recognized somewhere else? Or would I have to repeat the examinations? I don't want to be held back for too long just because I moved to a different country.

Side question: I have a balancing problem, which is made even worse since some of the mattresses in my dojo are uneven. I sometimes stumble just doing taisabaki movements. This is because i have very weak ankles, which can't support my heavy body. Are there any exercises you can recommend to train my feet?

Belt_Up
03-27-2013, 03:14 PM
Also, what I was originally asking is if I reached a certain rank in one place, would it be recognized somewhere else? Or would I have to repeat the examinations? I don't want to be held back for too long just because I moved to a different country.

If you are any good, they might recognise you. Or, if they're a different style, you might find yourself having to start again, or change what you do, even if they do recognise your rank. It isn't worth worrying about.

Steven
03-27-2013, 03:41 PM
In the USA, time between grading's vary from every 2-hours to once every 10 years. If you plan on immigrating to the USA, your best bet is to write to the school you are interested in visiting or training at and ask. There are too many groups, styles, affiliations, etc. In the mean-time, don't worry about it and just practice.

Cheers ...

Dan Richards
03-27-2013, 04:43 PM
Hi Jeremy, in answer to your first question, about the three years to shodan in your country, I would say that's just about the right amount of time. It's also in line with Aikikai Hombu. in answer to your second question, it would be similar to other educational institutions - where some may or may not recognize all or some of your previous course work and degrees completed at another school.

Your question about shodan and time, interestingly enough, came up in a recent topic.

I think the time factor - the when - is less important than asking about the what and how. And in that, any organization or teacher should be able to give you a straight and concise answer. It's no different than seeking to enter any kind of educational institution. All colleges are clear in their requirements for degrees - and students going in, at least have an accurate map of what's expected of them to arrive at their destination.

Anywhere you see a much larger amount of required time; it has been slowly and artificially inflated over the years.

While a map is not the territory, it does at least give us reference points. And while there are obvious differences in terms of levels of education at various institutions - a bachelors degree is fairly standard around the world in terms of its requirements.

All these smoke-and-mirror replies, that you'll often find in martial arts, perhaps worked on people who grew up watching the Kung Fu series on TV. But with the generations coming up, that kind of - let's call it sheer goofiness - is not going to fly. People now, and in the coming years, are armed with too many sources of information.

I've heard shihan on video [maybe I'll post one of them] saying things like, "Well, these kids coming up today - they want everything right away. They don't want to listen and they don't want to learn." To that I would say to Mr. Shihan, "What people want is for you to be able to provide them with good, accurate information and instruction, and they don't want to hear your bullshit. And if you can't at least provide a clear answer to a reasonable question, about a shodan degree, then you're probably not going to be clear on a lot of things."

It also sets up an environment for cognitive dissonance within the new student. And that is dangerous, and its abusive, and it takes us right back to the [url=open letter that's a current topic in this forum. And in that topic, one of the things that came even more into focus is the disparage in terms of time and requirements to shodan, not even just within different organizations, but with the same organization over time.

I'll copy a quote here I wrote from the "open letter" topic, because it was precisely beginning to address exactly what Jeremy is not only asking about, but wanting some reasonably straight answers to give him at least some indication of the terrain ahead of him.

Interesting observations, Brian. Perhaps this "inflation" should be examined and held up as part of Ryan's open letter about conduct in the dojo... and the conduct of dojos and organizations.

We're not including grading fees and seminars; just the cost to be on the mat to learn the material:

At Aikikai HQ in Tokyo people train under a plethora of shihan on a daily basis, and as an average student going three times per week, they'll meet shodan requirements in about two years. Current monthly mat fees are about $110; so that's $2640 to train for 24 months. Hombu's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 0%.

Current time to shodan requirements at NY Aikikai; it appears that the total amount of days would be 1140. An average student going three times per week, 156 days per year, would take 7.3 years - or 87.6 months x $160/mth = $14,016 in mat fees. NY Aikikai's inflation, in time and money to shodan, since the mid-60s appears to be in the range of about 250%.

Parent organization, Aikikai Hombu = 300 days, in 2 years, and roughly $2640 in mat fees.
Branch organization, NY Aikikai = 1140 days; 7.3 years, and roughly $14,000 in mat fees.

lbb
03-27-2013, 04:53 PM
Also, what I was originally asking is if I reached a certain rank in one place, would it be recognized somewhere else? Or would I have to repeat the examinations? I don't want to be held back for too long just because I moved to a different country.

Re: being "held back", is your concern that not having a certain rank will somehow restrict what training is available to you? If so, I wouldn't worry about that. You'll be able to train according to your abilities, whatever they are - it doesn't matter what rank you hold or what color belt you're wearing. If by "held back" you mean "not get a certain rank", well, yeah, that's a possibility. But I think you said that that that's not your concern.

Dan Richards
03-27-2013, 10:39 PM
The question we always get from beginners is how long does it take to get a black belt. "How long does it take to catch a fish?" is one reply that is used in jest sometimes.

Yes, you already have an answer in "jest" to a quite reasonable question from prospective and new students. Do you possibly see a problem with that? If you contacted a university and asked them how long it would take for you to get a bachelors degree - and also, because you were thinking about it - how long it would take to get an accelerated degree - how would you respond if they answered, "How long does it take to catch a fish?" Seriously. Let's not insult the intelligence or the genuineness of people's inquiry. An honest question about a shodan degree shouldn't be a segue for zen koans. Because not only does it insult the person asking; it insults you, your teachers and the school.

And I'm not singling you out, Andrew. Your reply is fairly typical. And I'm not implying any wrong has been done here, but I am proposing that we could rethink and examine even just this one subject, and, perhaps, in the process - enlighten and empower the people asking, ourselves, our teachers, and the school.

Realistically we say between 5 and 7 years depending on the individual, their dedication and "real life" commitments. (a minimum of 600 days on the mat to get to 1st kyu which works out to 4.5 to 5 years at 2.5 per week and then another 200 mat days till Shodan) At our dojo we have also been advised by our Shihan in Japan that our testing intervals/requirements are too long compared to Japan and we have modified them minimally to maintain the quality we expect and get closer to his. Sometimes it does seem that we are being " More Catholic than the Pope" so to speak, but we believe that this is the tradition of our sensei who passed away a few years ago .

Our Shihan also tells us that Shodan is only a beginners level and after that we start learning aikido. It seems however, that in North America, we put greater expectations and credence on being a “Black Belt” and therefore we expect greater competency and therefore it is difficult to compare/equate one countries levels to the next.
Even if there was greater competency - which we can't assume there is - we would think that the greater competency of the school - not the student - would yield higher-quality results in equal to or less time than what is needed for a shodan in the very country where it was founded. We could consider that it actually might point to lesser competency of the school - if they're taking two to three times the time, effort, and money of the student for a shodan degree. That often points in the direction not to a higher-quality school, but, in fact, to one of lesser quality.

North America, in terms of aikido and the establishment of organizations, did not wind up with the higher-quality senseis. They were in fact, the youngest and most inexperienced. And by some accounts, the manner in which the territory was established was, to put it mildly, underhanded. It's as if North America, far from recognizing "greater competency," went ahead and gobbled up the teachers who would barely have been qualified to teach in their own country. This is not to underestimate what they did. They had an uphill battle, and took many risks to establish and grow aikido. And they stuck it out. But they and aikido - even by their own admission - also sacrificed quantity for quality.

But as there's in in yo and yo in in, [ insert cool lighting effects ] there's a great big aikido forest in the Americas, as well as in the rest of the world. And it's arrived at the phase where an informed overview and inventory are being taken, not only concerning the condition of the forest itself, but also to provide methods, standards, and tools to introduce better quality towards future growth. The soil is being tilled and aerated. Forgotten, lost, and previously unknown heirlooms are being incorporated. The bar is being raised, not from the top, but from the bottom.

Jeremy, you have entered the doors of aikido at a time where there should probably be some of those signs posted on construction sites during remodeling work. There are a lot of exposed beams, and things that are coming into focus that are perhaps not so positive, and other things that are shockingly brilliant. The art actually does have all the pieces - lying around in various places. And there are many people, seen and unseen, working towards providing the present and upcoming generations with an environment that is more authentic, responsive and dynamic. In no uncertain terms, aikido itself is going digital - again.

http://www.oshax.org/images/posters/OSHA%20Notice/please_excuse_our_appearance_we_are_remodeling_osha_caution_sign.png

lbb
03-28-2013, 09:05 AM
Yes, you already have an answer in "jest" to a quite reasonable question from prospective and new students. Do you possibly see a problem with that? If you contacted a university and asked them how long it would take for you to get a bachelors degree - and also, because you were thinking about it - how long it would take to get an accelerated degree - how would you respond if they answered, "How long does it take to catch a fish?"

...except that a bachelor's degree program is largely defined in terms of time, under the assumption of successful completion of a certain courseload during that time. You do a standard course load, usually nominally 16 hours per semester, and complete your courses successfully, you get a bachelor's degree in four years. It's the use of common standards that makes a simple answer possible in this case, and the lack of commonly agreed-upon standards that makes a simple (and truthful, and accurate) answer impossible in the case of martial arts - or even a single martial art, like aikido. I think you're talking apples and oranges here.

I understand that this is a major bee in your bonnet, Dan, and I agree that it's possible to hide bullshit behind what you term a "Zen koan". But the fact that some people, somewhere, sometime, have uttered bullshit in response to a question, doesn't mean that the question has a simple and straightforward answer. Could it have a simple and straightforward answer? Sure, but that would require a degree of consensus and cooperation that simply doesn't exist now. The university system has been around for a thousand years, aikido as we know it for less than a hundred - the consensus you need will be some time in the making, I think.

barron
03-28-2013, 12:15 PM
Ah, the wonderful confusing and divergent world of Aikido.

I must always remind myself that my opinions are shaped in my personal experience and that they can, and do change over time and the manner in which we chose our words, and how they are received, can differ at times from the initial intent. We each follow our unique path in life and Aikido . Given this I would like to further comment on this topic, albeit still from my personal framework.

In reference to Dan's umbrage to my flippant remark about "How long does it take to catch a fish" in discussing how long it takes to move through the ranking system. For clarification, if it is used (jokingly), it is never without and is always followed by a discussion on what Aikido is, the expectations of our dojo in technical terms, members comportment , respect, our dojo lineage and traditions , required hours for advancement and how participation in the aikido community is a key aspect that we try to cultivate.

In my circle of friends we have had many discussion about what a "Black Belt" is, should be and can be. My experience with new students is that the ones who remain on the mat and become committed practitioners are the ones who become more interested in the process than the outcome, even if they are initially attracted by the "Black Belt" Holy Grail.

What do the levels of Aikido really mean? While studying in Japan on my last visit one of my sensei, who is a Godan, said to me , "Andrew I'm a Godan now so now I am a master of basics." A Godan … master of basics!

Let us not forget that even at universities, with their detailed requirements and schedules that they are in no way the same or deliver the same education. "D's" still get degrees and that a qualification/degree in any area does in no way guarantee the quality or equality of performance/knowledge. Aikido is no different from the real world.

In most cases serious university students (if my ancient memory serves me correctly and how my children are dealing with it) are more like uchi deshi than your typical aikido student who has a life outside of the dojo. Some students get their degrees within the minimum time requirements (uchi deshi) and others ( soto deshi) take a longer journey; does that make one any better than another.

If aikido were simply based on competency, then I have observed students with obvious skills, body awareness, and perhaps some martial art prior knowledge who should have moved through the ranks in "Hombu time" or faster. This would however not be the tradition of the process, community and discipline that our dojo has decided to follow, as well as what attracted me to Aikido initially.

Each school/dojo should be clear and concise in what they are offering and then allow the student to make the choice of joining or not. Choice of dojo or educational institution, or even career should be based on matching expectations and compatibility.

Dan Richards
04-01-2013, 08:55 AM
Hey Mary and Andrew, I appreciate your replies. I think it's good that people see an overview. I was surprised myself to see some of the differences. But there does seem to be a relative standard for time and requirements to shodan. And in most cases it really is around 300 days. Which an average student can knock out in two to three years.

Schools that are far in excess of that can say they have "higher" standards. Which could be valid. Another valid POV could be that there has been a structure evolving within some organizations that resembles multi-level-marketing.

I would say it's valid that a school that can't train a student to shodan in 3 years needs to seriously take a look at the school and the training methods. And any student who is considering a school that can't train them in that amount of time, should be aware of that fact.

Jeremy mentions about "not wanting to be held back." And I think that's a legitimate concern, and one I've witnessed within aikido. And I think it's something people can be alerted about, even if just for their own information. I've seen politics hold people back. I've seen delayed testing hold people back. I've seen inflated times (which also translates into hugely-inflated costs) and requirements hold people back. I've seen a lack of brown-nosing hold people back.

It's less of a bee in my bonnet, than just information I'm interested in compiling and presenting.

Basia Halliop
04-01-2013, 09:19 AM
I'm curious where this 'most cases' is referring to. I belong to the USAF, which is a pretty huge organisation, and which has a completely different paradigm. 300 days of training AFTER 1st kyu is officially the minimum. If you add up the day requirements, even if someone trained 7 days a week, if would take 3-4 years to get shodan.

So the idea of a 3 year shodan being normal, let alone common or 'the relative standard', is obviously related to some specific context.

However, I find the whole idea of discussing 'how long it takes to get to ____' quite surreal, given that it's a word that's basically completely arbitrary. When I say the word doesn't mean anything even somewhat universal, I'm not intending that as some kind of profound or poetic statement. It just literally doesn't mean anything outside of a specific context.

lbb
04-01-2013, 09:43 AM
I would say it's valid that a school that can't train a student to shodan in 3 years needs to seriously take a look at the school and the training methods. And any student who is considering a school that can't train them in that amount of time, should be aware of that fact.

Hey Dan,

What's "shodan"?

Your whole approach to this subject seems predicated on the assumption that "shodan" means one and only one thing throughout the universe, and anyone who says different is a flat-out fraud and liar. That may sound extreme, but frankly, I see no compromise in your position, so I have no problem paraphrasing it in absolute terms. Show me some flexibility, and I'll be willing to rethink. Until then, I still see that bee in your bonnet.

Basia Halliop
04-01-2013, 09:51 AM
In any case, it would be quite unusual for any student's progress to be held back in any way by questions of rank or paperwork. In every dojo I've ever trained in, all students take the same classes, the teacher helps them all according to what they need at that moment, and progress is individual anyway. Sometimes there's an advanced class that's restricted in some way, but even then admittance is usually not based only only or primarily on rank.

It's not like school where classes are segregated and you need to have some prerequisite courses on your official transcript to be allowed to register for the next course, or to apply to a school. Vs in aikido there are usually literally ZERO consequences to your education to having the 'wrong' rank.

Dan Richards
04-01-2013, 10:21 AM
Basia, "most cases" refers to current Hombu AIkikai requirements, as well as other aikido organizations, two of which I'm adding here. The USAF's numbers were the same in the 60's, and I've shown earlier in this topic how their requirements have hyper-inflated over the years. It's as if USAF is asking people to put in the time and money that in "most cases" around the world would get people into a master's or part way to a PhD, and giving them a bachelor's.

That might have some merit if USAF was turning out remarkable shodans, but they're not. I've had the opportunity to train aikido with many people from many organizations and countries, and I've found - on average - a student that's been in a hakama since 3rd kyu and reaches shodan around the three year mark, has a better overall proficiency and level of understanding of aikido than most USAF shodans I've trained with.

I think the argument could be made, that drawing out the time to shodan - and in some cases, wearing of a hakama - too much can actually stunt growth - often dramatically. And it also turns the idea of a shodan - which is really the beginning of the school - into a much bigger carrot than it should be. Grades and requirements can be used as effective learning instruments and standards, but they can also be misused.

ASU requirements: shodan 39 months, 510 hours
http://bondstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/training_handbook.pdf

Tomiki: shodan 340 hours
http://tomiki.org/standards.html

Basia Halliop
04-01-2013, 11:18 AM
Except that they're getting neither a bachelor NOR a PhD (each of which are internationally recognized and are required for admission to certain professions or further educational programs)... They're getting the right to wear blue pants. It doesn't actually mean anything in terms of consequences, so what does it matter one way or the other? I go along with one grading system because it's the one the teacher I want to train with happens to use - if he picked another grading system or joined a different organisation, I would shrug and go along with that one.

I haven't trained in enough different organisations to know if your comment (Dan's) about relative quality of shodans is true, but assuming it is, are you suggesting it's _because of_ the long time between tests? That it, I don't know, makes students or teachers less motivated or something?

Dan Richards
04-01-2013, 11:23 AM
Hey Dan,

What's "shodan"?

OK, flexibility. I'll give some, but only to a degree. Because the requirements, worldwide, are not that far apart in "most cases." There are "standards." I didn't make them up. AIkido has them. They're in place. I'm totally up for flexibility, and anything anyone wants to add to this topic. Seriously, I'm all ears.

Let's start with what is almost universally required for a bachelor's degree: It's around 120+ course hours - give or take a few. Student must pass required coursework and exams. Students can meet those requirements sooner or later, and on average expect to graduate around 4 years.

Let's start with what it almost universally required for a shodan degree: It's around 300+ days of training - give or take a few. Student must pass required coursework and exams. Students can meet those requirements sooner or later, and on average expect to graduate around 3 years.

I could just add, that a shodan degree is generally seen as a student's acceptance and beginning into the school of aikido - and not at all the level of mastery it's sometimes marketed, or - even through accident - misrepresented as being.

Any college or school that would require students to complete - and pay for - double or triple the standard amount of course hours/time/days, should be considered in that light. And it appears that the dawn of reconsideration may be at hand - even internally from the top brass. I find this highly encouraging.

Yamada's already come out and said he doesn't like the ranking system. http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/

Well, the ranking system in aikido is another headache. I personally disagree with this system. A teaching certificate is okay, a black belt is okay. But after that, no numbers, no shodan, no nidan, etc. People know who is good and who is bad. The dan ranking system creates a competitive mind...

Cliff Judge
04-01-2013, 11:25 AM
OK, flexibility. I'll give some, but only to a degree. Because the requirements, worldwide, are not that far apart in "most cases." There are "standards." I didn't make them up. AIkido has them. They're in place. I'm totally up for flexibility, and anything anyone wants to add to this topic. Seriously, I'm all ears.

Let's start with what is almost universally required for a bachelor's degree: It's around 120+ course hours - give or take a few. Student must pass required coursework and exams. Students can meet those requirements sooner or later, and on average expect to graduate around 4 years.

Let's start with what it almost universally required for a shodan degree: It's around 300+ days of training - give or take a few. Student must pass required coursework and exams. Students can meet those requirements sooner or later, and on average expect to graduate around 3 years.

I could just add, that a shodan degree is generally seen as a student's acceptance and beginning into the school of aikido - and not at all the level of mastery it's sometimes marketed, or - even through accident - misrepresented as being.

Any college or school that would require students to complete - and pay for - double or triple the standard amount of course hours/time/days, should be considered in that light. And it appears that the dawn of reconsideration may be at hand - even internally from the top brass. I find this highly encouraging.

Yamada's already come out and said he doesn't like the ranking system. http://www.aikido-yamada.eu/index.php/sensei/interview/

So you are critical of Most Aikido for not allowing students 300 hours of training within two years?

Dan Richards
04-01-2013, 11:53 AM
So you are critical of Most Aikido for not allowing students 300 hours of training within two years?
Not at all, Cliff. In fact, I think 300 days and three years is healthy. A good pace. And right in line with most organizations. I am pointing out shodan programs that approach near four times that amount need to be examined. At present USAF requires a total of 1140 days.

I think as we move into the future, I, at least, would say that anyone who's having to train over 1000 days for shodan - is having their time and money wasted. A student training 3 days a week would train 156 days a year. In 6.4 years they would accumulate 1000 hours. That really should put someone into a serious solid sandan by then. And a good school should be able to deliver that.

George Ledyard posted in the recent topic, Perhaps the tide is changing (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22197&page=3)

I think at the end of 8 to 10 yrs of training properly, we could end up with someone who currently operates at a fairly high Dan rank. In other words, after 8 - 10 years of training we would have someone who functions at or better than what passes for 6th dan at this point.

Now - and this is forward thinking: A highly-respected shihan is throwing out there that people could be trained - under the right conditions and methods - to a 6th dan level in not much more time than people are currently being trained to a 1st dan level in some organizations.

I actually agree with George. I know people can be trained up better and faster. I've done it. I've seen it.

And I'm less critical about where we are, than I am excited about where we're going. But in order to see where we're going, and create positive, healthy, upgraded methods and expectations; we've got to take an honest look at where we are.

Basia Halliop
04-01-2013, 12:09 PM
I still find the idea of comparing academia and thr world of martial arts to be a big conceptual stretch for me. I just can't really wrap my mind around it, and struggle to see the points of reference.

I studied and am studying engineering, in Canada. First of all, you need a high school diploma and or entrance exams to even be permitted to enter the program. Next, the undergraduate curriculum is accredited by a national organisation, which closely monitors all the engineering programs in the country and every couple of years (I forget how many, but it's at most 5 years) does a pretty detailed audit of the curriculum. As a grad student teaching assistant, I've periodically been asked to submit photocopies of marked student assignments and exams to this body. They look at what courses are offered, what content is covered in those courses, what percentage of the course grade is given in what way (take home assignments vs labs vs in class tests vs exams), and what the actual grading standard is on all items graded.

If a given program does not meet the standards of the accreditation board, they have a brief period of time in which to change their program, otherwise they will lose their accreditation and be unable to give out a B.Eng.

The result is that there is a huge basic uniformity from school to school in engineering in Canada. Some teachers are better at explaining the same thing than others, or better at providing out of class support, but there's not all that much flexibility on WHAT they teach or how they test and grade.

And when it gets international, there's all kinds of scrutiny and sometimes entrance tests to ensure people meet the same objective standard.

It's so far from being simply a requirement in terms of taking a set number of courses...

And of course, a B.Eng. (Or B.A.Sc) is required to become a licensed engineer...

Basia Halliop
04-01-2013, 12:15 PM
I.e., 'bachelor of applied science' and 'bachelor of engineering' have a specific and strictly defined and even legally controlled meaning. I just don't see how the word 'shodan' has any kind of definable meaning comparable to that. It's just a word, and it means whatever one teacher or another is used to it meaning, or decides it would be convenient or useful for it to mean.

The kyu and dan ranks in aikido are like the coloured belts we use in kids' class - they're just a pedagogical tool, with no defined meaning or consequences.

Basia Halliop
04-01-2013, 12:29 PM
Just to understand the criticism better, are people proposing that:

1) There's a pedagogical benefit to frequent testing, and longer periods with no test literally limit or slow down the learning opportunities?

Or

2) Long periods to a given grade are sometimes used, by teachers or students, to excuse unecessarily slow skill development caused by something else? I.e., instead of improving their teaching (or for students, their training) so students progress faster, they just extend the time?

Another question that inevitably comes up is whether pretty much anyone who joins should be capable of reaching a given rank (and in a given time) or whether only some people will. That's a big part of what makes standards in academia possible - entrance requirements, failures, and drop-outs.

Cliff Judge
04-01-2013, 01:00 PM
Not at all, Cliff. In fact, I think 300 days and three years is healthy. A good pace. And right in line with most organizations. I am pointing out shodan programs that approach near four times that amount need to be examined. At present USAF requires a total of 1140 days.

I think as we move into the future, I, at least, would say that anyone who's having to train over 1000 days for shodan - is having their time and money wasted. A student training 3 days a week would train 156 days a year. In 6.4 years they would accumulate 1000 hours. That really should put someone into a serious solid sandan by then. And a good school should be able to deliver that.


Are you criticizing the organizations for delaying awarding a certificate past a timeframe that you think is appropriate? Or are you saying that these organizations aren't offering decent training, such that a trainee can go longer than 300 hours over three years and still not be up to some level?

if the former...I am not sure what the substance of that criticism actually is. You are basically saying some organizations sandbag and turn out yudansha with higher levels of skill than other organizations. Big whoop? In BJJ a blackbelt is equivalent to a sandan or yondan in Japanese gendai art terms.

If the latter, then I think that's a very different discussion than the one we are actually having. It would involve proposing what makes a shodan, analyzing or even just speculating on what different organizations emphasize in their training, talking about what qualities that are entirely separate from mastery of the art go into being a yudansha in different organizations (personal qualities, whether they show up for seminars, whether they are on a track to be an instructor, how frequently they show up on volunteer days to clean the dojo, etc).

It seems like you are arguing over whether or not a piece of paper is handed out without articulating an opinion as to what the piece of paper can or should mean.

lbb
04-01-2013, 01:06 PM
OK, flexibility. I'll give some, but only to a degree. Because the requirements, worldwide, are not that far apart in "most cases." There are "standards." I didn't make them up. AIkido has them. They're in place. I'm totally up for flexibility, and anything anyone wants to add to this topic. Seriously, I'm all ears.

Well, I'm not sure how we're going to proceed at all, because you seem to me to be firmly stuck on a couple of points that basically preclude a useful discussion. The first is your insistence that the "requirement" are "not that far apart" in "most cases". As long as you avoid defining what you mean by "requirements", "not that far apart" and "most cases", there's really no basis for discussion: sure, Mr. Humpty Dumpty, "requirements" means "hours of attendance", and "not that far apart" means "within two orders of magnitude", and "most cases" means "in two examples that I can think of, and let's ignore the two counter-examples staring me in the face", you're absolutely right. As, indeed, you will be in any argument where you define the terms. I don't recommend it as a method of arriving at consensus, much less truth, but to each his own.

The second point is your insistence that aikido ranks and academic degrees are analogous. They are not, and as long as you insist on using this analogy, the conversation will simply run on the rocks.

Let's start with what it almost universally required for a shodan degree: It's around 300+ days of training - give or take a few.

No, let's not. Let's start by having you substantiate your assertion that this is "almost universally required". If your assertion is correct, this should be trivial. Well, not trivial - "almost universally required" is a very, very big assertion, but then, you made it, not me. So I think it's on you to show that this 300 hours you claim is, in fact, "almost universally required".

By the way, before you disappear completely down this rabbit hole -- remember, I'm not the one who claims that all of this matters. You are. So, since the entire basis of this argument about which you are so passionate rests on these premises, you must first establish your givens before you can advance your proof.

As an alternative, perhaps you could explain just why you care. Because some organizations require far more than 300 hours for this thing called "shodan", which you have not defined? Go train with a different organization, then - one that will give you a "shodan" in 300 hours. Or go online and buy yourself a black belt and award yourself a "shodan", and you can have it tomorrow with next-day delivery from Amazon. Why even spend the 300 hours?

Carsten Möllering
04-02-2013, 03:03 AM
Hi Dan

Mary asked: "What's a shodan?"
I asked in another thread: "How do you define 'shodan level'?"

You did not answer me.
Your did not answer Mary.

" There are "standards." I didn't make them up. AIkido has them. They're in place.

In my country there are two big federations connected to aikikai via Japanese shihan. Standards and requirements of shodan grading are clearly different.

We also have two other big federations here, which are not longer connected to aikikai, but originally come from this root. Again: What each of them requires for shodan is totally different: Different from each other and different from what each of the aikikai - affiliated federation require.

So at a seminar here you can have four people who wear a black belt. But on very different levels each.

So: What's a shodan?
What are those standards, you mention?
What are the requirements for shodan in your eyes?
What are we talking about?

tenshinaikidoka
04-02-2013, 03:14 PM
Well I know in my dojo it would take 5 or more years to obtain a ShoDan. Guess if a class was offered 5 days a week 3 hours a day it could be done in less time, but the more time you spend working the basics and techniques up to your current level the better you will be at them. My humble opinion only.

Dan Richards
04-02-2013, 05:16 PM
Hey, some of this is just like randori. Fun! Keep those shomenuchis and tsukis coming! Weapons attacks are welcome as well.

lbb
04-02-2013, 08:27 PM
Hey, some of this is just like randori. Fun! Keep those shomenuchis and tsukis coming! Weapons attacks are welcome as well.

Nah, don't think so. I've said my piece as clearly as it's possible to say it, and if it still doesn't make any sense to you, repeating myself won't change things. And if you view it as an attack, well, then there's really no more to be said.

Walter Martindale
04-02-2013, 10:11 PM
I'll agree with Mary.. It took me longer to get my shodan (but that's partly because I switched dojo a lot) than it did to get both my degrees.
Degree granting universities have standards that are fairly strictly controlled. Professional associations also have pretty strict standards.
Different organizations can set up a "dan" grading system that's fairly arbitrary. What I've noticed is that "shodan" in Japan is usually something you finish high school with, and higher ranks come after (particularly in judo). Most of the time (mentioned elsewhere) shodan is merely an indication that your sensei and/or shihan figures you know enough about the activity to be really worth teaching. In North America the shodan are usually a lot harder and more physically mature than Japanese shodan, it seems to even out at nidan, and then a Japanese-trained sandan plays with a North American sandan like they were children - unless the NA sandan was also trained and earned the rank in Japan.
That's my observation in judo, primarily, but even the Aikikai sandan I see trained in Japan GENERALLY (there are always exceptions) move more quickly, and have to think less about what they're doing, than "we" do. It could be because, when they're developing from shodan to nidan to sandan, they're surrounded by other shodan, nidan, sandan, yondan, and godan with whom to practice, and have access to that up to 7 days/week, whereas in Canada (can't speak for the US) it's harder to find a concentration of experienced black belts with whom to train, and train hard. - part of that is because a lot of the higher ranked Canucks are getting old. Back to judo, a Japanese sandan is usually a third or fourth year university student - young, very strong, very tough, very skilled, and (my observation) ready to work til he drops, and not so worried about getting injured because - well - they're judoka, and fear doesn't enter the equation.

So - Aikido ranking standards? They're published by most federations, but the results depend on the judgement of the examiner.

All that's missing is the panel of judges with their number cards "award for technical merit, 5.5, 6.0, 3.4 (oh, the judge from that dojo is being harsh, but the bottom score gets thrown out along with the high score), 5.7, 4.9; Award for artistic interpretation, 3.9, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 4.2 - oh, the judges punished this candidate for being a little rough around the edges and slamming his uke to the mats instead of having flowery movements - I think this one's going to fail his test."

Most sensei I've dealt with have considered a grading test to be more a test of the teaching than of the student going through the test. I've seen Kawahara turn to a sensei and ask who the hell taught the student to do "that" (whatever it was), was that you? What are you doing in this dojo? That was one of the fun things about the late shihan. Very soft spoken, but one "What are you doing?" had various sensei trembling.

Oh, sorry, off topic ramble..
W

Janet Rosen
04-03-2013, 12:03 AM
I notice the OP hasn't come back in...and you know...his OP said that the dojo does testing every six months. A LOT OF DOJOS "do testing" every six months but that doesn't mean everybody qualifies to test every six months - it means there is a schedule for when they are offered to folks who qualify. I wonder if his silence meant he stayed at the dojo long enough to learn this applies where he trains and had a "oh, never mind..." moment ???

Carsten Möllering
04-03-2013, 03:39 AM
Hey, some of this is just like randori. Fun! Keep those shomenuchis and tsukis coming! Weapons attacks are welcome as well.
I don't understand this comment.
I would apreciate very much if woud explain to me why you don't answer my questions.

They were meant seriously.
I didn't mean to be impolite, ot offend or even attack you.
I was interested in getting your point.

ChrisMikk
04-03-2013, 07:09 AM
I'm just a beginner in aikido, but I did shotokan karate previously. My take on the belt system is that it is a big mistake to compare it with academic achievement. Better to go back to what preceded it--the menkyo certification, which was based on ability level and understanding of the underlying principles of the system. Shodan is not equivalent to menkyo, but the principle that it is based on ability and understanding should still apply. This won't be a popular view because we don't use ability-based systems in education in modern democracies. However, it is the most sensible system.

Hi Dan
Mary asked: "What's a shodan?"
I asked in another thread: "How do you define 'shodan level'?"


The belt ranking system was adopted by the Butokukai of Japan for standardizing martial arts. I don't know what their original rationale was for shodan rankings. However, the original belt system was from Kodokan Judo, where the black belt was meant to indicate a student to whom beginners could address questions--one who had adequate understanding of the techniques. This is still how I think of it.

JP3
04-06-2013, 07:15 PM
I've found that not only each country, but each association can have a different time in grade requirement for their rank progression. For example, it has appeared to me that reaching shodan, or 1st degree black belt is a quicker progress in my own Tomiki brand, than it seems to be in Aikkikai schools I've visited, by a rather significant ratio. However, what the shodan seems to represent are also different in concept. In Tomiki, we generally look at shodan as sort of the beginning, "OK, now you know the basics." In other systems, I understand it is different.

The slowest I've seen ever is what the BJJ guys do, most averaging something like a decade to progress from beginner to black with steady practice.

Tore Eriksson
04-07-2013, 06:50 PM
The fastest I've seen was the university Shorinji kenpo club I spent some time with. They did one dan rank every year, reaching 4th dan when they graduated. They trained a lot though.

ChrisMikk
04-08-2013, 05:26 AM
The fastest I've seen was the university Shorinji kenpo club I spent some time with. They did one dan rank every year, reaching 4th dan when they graduated. They trained a lot though.

If I remember correctly, the shotokan karate club at Takushoku University in the mid-20th century would take you to 2nd-dan in four years if you trained regularly.

Dan Richards
04-09-2013, 09:56 AM
I'm a bit at a loss at the resistance to the idea of the comparison of aikido and educational systems. Post-war aikido was established, along with all the other martial ways in Japan, as part of the educational system. In the outer-form school of aikido, how does one advance? By attending X amount of courses, understanding and being able to demonstrate X number of skills and techniques, by proceeding from one degree to the next, by putting in X amount of time, and passing X number of examinations.

What other model does that point to other than education? There is the model of fiefdom, which we could consider here or in another topic. But we could also argue that fiefdom is at the heart of institutional education.

There are many other models of participation and advancement that post-war aikido does not include. Boxing, tennis, and other competitive sports allow for an unfettered rise - as well as fall - in rank and status based purely on end results. The business world is often similar.

The world of art, music, and literature, within the open market can certainly have a broader range of expression and opportunity. JK Rawlings didn't need a PhD or a 7th dan to be given permission to write and succeed. She was actually on welfare.

I'm open to any other input of reasonably comparable models to aikido. But up until now, all I'm really seeing is institutionalized education. And in some respects, there's even an indentured framework. Stefan Stenudd made an astute observation that with the ranking system, in his blog The Gordian Knot of Grading (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22277), I've always felt rather ambiguous about grades. They take you back to school, where grades are primarily a measure of one's conformity. I'd add, that even outside of grading, the structured and often rigid classes that is so predominant within post-war aikido, smacks of a continuous classroom environment.

Dan Richards
04-09-2013, 11:15 AM
There's another interesting topic that's intersecting with this one, as well as the recent open letter (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22471) topic.

dominance hierarchies and crossing the line (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=325617#post325617) contains a stunningly declarative quote:
I am sick and tired of the unhealthy co-dependent relationships that seem to develop in sports and dojos that alot of folks accept as acceptable adult behavior, but in other areas of their lives would be seen as a perversion and unhealthy.

Carsten Möllering
04-10-2013, 01:05 AM
I'm a bit at a loss at the resistance to the idea of the comparison of aikido and educational systems.
In his Tenshin shoden katori shinto ryu budo kyohan Sugino Yoshio has a separate chapter named: "budō as part of the educational system" where he emphasizes that the purpose of true budō is not "to advance". (i.e. "... attending X amount of courses, understanding and being able to demonstrate X number of skills and techniques, by proceeding from one degree to the next, by putting in X amount of time, and passing X number of examinations.").
This was written 1941.

And I share his opinion. Being part of the educational system as a "school"-teacher and being part of the transmission of aikido by teaching aikidō, I see a fundamental difference of the main purpses:

The educational system (Kindergarten, School, University as it is here) try to build the knowledge, the culture of a person.
The keiko, renshu, ... (there ist no translation of "learning" in those words but some meanings of doing, repeating ... ) of aikidō tries to build the person itself.

Brian Beach
04-10-2013, 06:43 AM
I'm a bit at a loss at the resistance to the idea of the comparison of aikido and educational systems.

Piggybacking on Carsten's post. The practice is goal not a means to a goal. Tests and rank aren't why I attend class. I attend so I can practice. The act of practice is what is enjoyable and fulfilling.

Although they have advanced in rank over the years there are multiple people in the dojo I attend that have been there 20+ years. They aren't trying to "graduate", they just like the practice.

lbb
04-10-2013, 07:56 AM
I'm a bit at a loss at the resistance to the idea of the comparison of aikido and educational systems. Post-war aikido was established, along with all the other martial ways in Japan, as part of the educational system. In the outer-form school of aikido,

Then was then, and now it's now. I'm at a loss to understand your resistance to THAT idea. Once all fruits were apples, and so easy to compare, and then someone invented sailing ships, and now we have these pesky orange things. You seem to be in complete denial of the facts on the ground, and want to know why we're not judging all fruit alike, since hey, it's all fruit, right?

Dan Richards
04-10-2013, 10:12 AM
This topic isn't about whether or not anyone thinks ranking is important. There are other topics for that, or we can fire one up. This topic is about ranking systems.

Brian, you used the word "class." Where do we have classes? In schools.

I do agree, as Carsten stated, that even the ultimate purpose of education is not to "advance," but to enrich the life of the student.

Look at other enriching activities, such as skateboarding, skiing, tennis, etc.. People might take initial classes to get them started, but after that they're left to their own devices. Of course, being around people who are more "advanced" (there's that word) can certainly help them learn. But most of their participation is on their own time, and they freely enjoy the activity, and progress as they go along.

The way most people train aikido are in scheduled classes, dressed in regulation uniforms, the students sitting in a classroom formation, the teacher in the front demonstrating. The students, during the class, are told when to stand up, when to sit, when to stop, etc.. Most people do test and rank. Most people do find it important. And those who don't could be said to be doing a sort of "auditing" of the classes.

How many people here [obviously who might be reading this] regularly "play aikido?" Not "practice" aikido. But just get together with other people, whether on the mat, in their house, outside in the park - and just play around - like getting together to surf, or hike, or cook together. Where there's no "instructor," no "students" - just people enjoying the activity together. It could even be playing around with people from other martial arts.

Have you ever played around with your art in a business suit? A dress and high heels? While buzzed a bit on a nice wine or beer?

How many people freely enjoy the activity of aikido and martial arts outside of a scheduled classroom setting? Outside of the quasi-military, rank-and-file, structured educational system of aikido.

Dan Richards
04-10-2013, 10:31 AM
Then was then, and now it's now. I'm at a loss to understand your resistance to THAT idea. Once all fruits were apples, and so easy to compare, and then someone invented sailing ships, and now we have these pesky orange things. You seem to be in complete denial of the facts on the ground, and want to know why we're not judging all fruit alike, since hey, it's all fruit, right?
Mary, I agree now is now. You're preaching to the choir.

The aikido that most people participate in and are taught is still based on the post-war model that was essentially slapped together ad hoc, and run within the Japanese educational system - including the issuing of degrees/ranks - which puts us in this topic.

The model is tired, outdated, archaic, inefficient, top-heavy, uninspiring, competitive, manipulative, abusive, conformist, red-taped, non-advancing, non-innovating... sort of like a barrel of bad apples.

Brian Beach
04-10-2013, 11:14 AM
How many people here [obviously who might be reading this] regularly "play aikido?" Not "practice" aikido.

My wife told me to cut it out in public.

I do get what you saying though. There is the trap of Aikido in the dojo but not out here. It's kind of missing the point imo. It is the actual practice that's important. Like playing music. Jamming is awesome but if you have a regular group, you start to know the same songs and the opportunity to get deeper in to the music and take it interesting places opens up. The waza are the songs we all know, playing around within the structure of the waza is the fun part imo. You don't graduate from art. You learn the techniques and then you play with them. It carries into the other parts of your life and you see the world through that lens.

I can't recall any social gathering of Aikido practitioners that someone wasn't grabbed by the wrist. It's a shared interest, it's going to come up.

lbb
04-10-2013, 11:53 AM
Mary, I agree now is now. You're preaching to the choir.

The aikido that most people participate in and are taught is still based on the post-war model that was essentially slapped together ad hoc, and run within the Japanese educational system - including the issuing of degrees/ranks - which puts us in this topic.

It's long since become your topic, not OP's question. I'd think you should start your own thread. And here, once again, we have another unproven assertion about how "most people" practice. As long as you will not even make a token attempt at substantiating your assertions, this is a farce, not a discussion.

lbb
04-10-2013, 11:56 AM
Look at other enriching activities, such as skateboarding, skiing, tennis, etc.. People might take initial classes to get them started, but after that they're left to their own devices. Of course, being around people who are more "advanced" (there's that word) can certainly help them learn. But most of their participation is on their own time, and they freely enjoy the activity, and progress as they go along.

Dan, are you speaking from an extensive background in skateboarding, skiing, tennis and et cetera? How do you know that people in these activities are "left to their own devices"? For that matter, how do you know that they don't have ranking systems?

Dan Richards
04-10-2013, 12:51 PM
Like playing music. Jamming is awesome but if you have a regular group, you start to know the same songs and the opportunity to get deeper in to the music and take it interesting places opens up. The waza are the songs we all know, playing around within the structure of the waza is the fun part imo. You don't graduate from art. You learn the techniques and then you play with them. It carries into the other parts of your life and you see the world through that lens.

Brian, that's interesting you mention music. I took lessons on multiple instruments, and participated bands. I also took a recording classes, and interned at a recording studio. I haven't been a student in any formal class setting involving music or recording since the mid 80's - which overall had me taking about 10 years of various kinds of instruction prior to that -with, in most cases, highly-qualified instructors. And even in those ten years, I often freely got together with other musicians outside of any structured class setting - and it's probably during those times that I actually deepened my understanding most of the craft and art of music.

I agree that we don't graduate from art. But we do go through levels of understanding and abilities within the craft of whatever artform we're expressing ourselves. Learning the craft is like the shu stage of learning - under others more advanced. Writing, aikido, music, etc. all have a craft within the art. And before the art can truly be expressed, the craft needs to be mastered to a degree. A commonly accepted time frame for mastery is 10,000 hours. I tend to think that's about right.

In aikido, shodan gets people to the basic level of understanding of techniques. Nidan focuses more on pulling all that together in application. Sandan marks what is really the end of learning the "craft" aspect of aikido. Yondan is the beginning of the expression of the artform - and entering the ha stage. Godan more so - with hints of the ri stage beginning to come into the picture. Rokudan and up is all ri. Of course there is shu within ha, and shu within ri, and ha within shu, and ri within shu...

Dan, are you speaking from an extensive background in skateboarding, skiing, tennis and et cetera? How do you know that people in these activities are "left to their own devices"? For that matter, how do you know that they don't have ranking systems?

I can speak from an extensive background in numerous fields.

And while there are not "ranks" per se, I would agree that there are levels. Just as there are levels within martial arts, regardless of whether one is ranked.

If all the endeavors and passions of mine required that I entered a classroom with an instructor - in perpetuity - in order to participate, progress, and enjoy the activities - I would have dropped them long ago.

In most endeavors, studies, and activities the "structure" does not come from a self-imposed outer hierarchy. The structure, learning, progress, and enjoyment - and sometimes toil and sweat - is contained within the activity itself.

Brian Beach
04-10-2013, 02:50 PM
A commonly accepted time frame for mastery is 10,000 hours. I tend to think that's about right.

I'm not sure what you are arguing for or against. 10,000 hours is 10,000 hours. You have to put in your time regardless if it's class, play or solo.

What ever the waza is for the structured class I still get to work on the principle that is my pet project at the time. To extend the music analogy, just because I'm choosing to practice a piece that someone else has chosen doesn't mean I still can't work on tone or color etc. It's Aikido much easier to practice with others. I can go home and do sword cuts and Funekogi Undo, just like I can go home and practice scales.

You seem to see the hierarchy as a yoke that you are forced to labor under, my experience has been people offering a hand up. I guess we both must realize that our experience isn't universal.

Dan Richards
04-10-2013, 03:59 PM
I'm not sure what you are arguing for or against. 10,000 hours is 10,000 hours. You have to put in your time regardless if it's class, play or solo.
I'm agreeing with the 10,000 hours. What I question is when that 10,000 hours has to occur within a structured class setting. I'm not saying it does, but since we're in a topic about ranking in aikido - which does require so many days between "ranking" - and does not, if rarely accept, time spent outside of the formal structure as training that goes towards ranking - there again, is why I'm playing with the educational model in post-war aikido.

In pre-war aikido, and even early post-war, students with prior martial arts experience was taken into account. And most all of the top students continued learning and progressing outside of what was offered in the aikido dojo. And what they learned was, in many cases, applied within aikido, and ranks were awarded with that in consideration as well.

What about now? We've been through this. There are numbers all over this, and other threads. You go to class, put in your time, pay your dues, take your tests... You stay in perpetual school. How long would you expect people to train like this and have it be constructive for them and even the art of aikido?

I do agree that it, ultimately, is not about rank. But we're in a topic about ranking, and within that scope, it can be important.


You seem to see the hierarchy as a yoke that you are forced to labor under, my experience has been people offering a hand up. I guess we both must realize that our experience isn't universal. I don't have a problem with the hierarchy at all. The hierarchy has become a yoke on its own shoulders, not mine. I was in it while it was useful, and I've been outside it for years. I was probably inside it for 10,000 hours. I think it's absolutely useful - until students get a handle on the craft. From there, it will depend on their individual situation and journey as to where their training leads them.

And I agree that everyone's experience is not universal by any means. And there are a growing number of people as they reach 20+ years of training aikido who are finding that the structure that may have once served them and the art itself, isn't doing that anymore. Training and teaching methods need to be examined and revised. Grading and ranking need to be reconsidered. How classes are conducted and scheduled - and if that's necessary at all or in part - needs to be tweaked. How people can continue to play, learn, discover, experiment, innovate, and make contributions to aikido - of which there are many more possibilities than there were even 20 years ago.

Aikido's overhaul and evolution is already underway.

Brian Beach
04-10-2013, 04:39 PM
I still don't agree with your critique.

If mastery is the "goal" wherever you spend the 10,000 hours is time well spent. If you never take a test in your life you can achieve skill and depth.

If rank is the goal, then time in the system is the only time that matters because the rank is reflective of time spent in the system.

To use your education model. You can gain the knowledge without gaining the degree. You can't get the degree without following the protocol.

Skill is worked for and rank is given. The skill is yours, the rank belongs the organization.

Reading between the lines it sounds as if you are frustrated between a disconnect between your idea of your skill level and your official rank.

Again, not universal but my experience is (not a commercial Dojo) the money I pay is so I have place to practice with has lights, heat, bathrooms etc. More of a co-op fee than a perpetual tuition, imo. I was in class Sat. with three 5th dans as fellow students as well as first month newbies. They all were having fun, working on stuff and contributing to the same bills that I am. We all need someone to practice with and a place to do it.

Dan Richards
04-10-2013, 05:24 PM
Hey Brian, I didn't say mastery had to be a goal, I was just noting an amount of time spent on a pursuit until a level of mastery is reached.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2012/11/08/beyond-10000-hours-the-constant-pursuit-of-mastery/

I'm not any more frustrated by any ranking I may have been given in the past, than I am by the fact that I didn't continue on in college to receive a degree in music. I've been playing, and writing, and recording music for years, and I've never showed up anywhere, or released any music, and had people ask me about my degree or rank in music or recording or music production.

In fact, my being unconcerned with rank, and hierarchy in recent years has afforded me a huge amount of freedom to discover and explore aikido, to question and refine teaching and training methods, and to be open to contributions I can make to the evolution of the art. I've found ways of training and teaching outside of structured classes and schedules. It works for me and the people I train with. And at present, we look at it as more of a "lab" than anything else - with the overview that what we're discovering can be shared with a wider audience. To me it's actually more of an "old school" purist approach. Something along the lines of how people like Takeda and Ueshiba often trained.

I've also, consistently, welcomed people into aikido, in the real-world and online, and offered that the most important thing - when it's all said and done - it to just train. That philosophy - and reminder - has gotten me through 25 years of training and teaching in different countries, states, and within and outside of various organizations.

I'm glad you have a good situation to train that works for you. And so do I. So, here we are - two people in this boat called aikido - with, at present, very different approaches that still work respectively for us. Look, I commend anyone who continues on with their passions, whether it be aikido, music, cooking... whatever. It's part of what makes life grand.

Brian Beach
04-10-2013, 05:35 PM
I still don't know what the point is, in this thread, you are trying to make.

Glad you are enjoying your journey. It's all you can ask for.

Carsten Möllering
04-11-2013, 03:52 AM
A commonly accepted time frame for mastery is 10,000 hoursWhat context do you refer to as "commonly"?
As far as I know the amount of 10,000 hours in old Japanese and Chinese texts means: The whole life - plus one hour more. Wich noone can accomplish ...

In aikido, shodan gets people to the basic level of understanding of techniques. Nidan focuses more on pulling all that together in application. Sandan marks what is really the end of learning the "craft" aspect of aikido. Yondan is the beginning of the expression of the artform - and entering the ha stage.Thank you very much: This simply is what I was asking for.
I don't really want to start this debate anew. Just let me say that this "requirements" or "standards" are clearly different in some points from what we have in our aikikai federation in Germany and also different from the criteria, Endo sensei sets.

phitruong
04-11-2013, 08:02 AM
As far as I know the amount of 10,000 hours in old Japanese and Chinese texts means: The whole life - plus one hour more. Wich noone can accomplish ...
.

of course you can. the chinese and japanese believed in reincarnation. the extra hour just goes toward the next life. didn't you know that i am the reintarnation of Ip Man? you can call me Jp Dude! :D

hughrbeyer
04-11-2013, 08:57 AM
Actually, the references to 10,000 hours I've seen have been from western research into how long it really takes to master a skill, including such things as playing a musical instrument.

PeterR
04-11-2013, 09:19 AM
Actually, the references to 10,000 hours I've seen have been from western research into how long it really takes to master a skill, including such things as playing a musical instrument.

Well assuming 1 hour a day practice that comes to 27.4 years - hardly a lifetime.

1 hour a day is a good weekly average for those of us who do it for pleasure.

lbb
04-11-2013, 10:24 AM
Well assuming 1 hour a day practice that comes to 27.4 years - hardly a lifetime.

Not many people start training from infancy or childhood and stay with it for 27.4 years.

Conrad Gus
04-11-2013, 11:50 AM
I think you are taking the 10000 hours thing a little too literally. It comes from Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" book, but it is hardly a scientific fact.

It takes as long as it takes, depending on many, many factors. Practice is important, but there is no magic formula to calculate the number of hours required.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121114-gladwells-10000-hour-rule-myth

Dan Richards
04-11-2013, 12:09 PM
Conrad, it's just something to play around with. Scientific "facts" change with the wind as science changes. We're just using this as a point of discussion. And I agree, don't take it too literally.

And as someone who cooks, plays music, records music, writes, trains aikido... I think it's about right. I've put in 10,000 hours into cooking and food shopping and wine tasting, and putting meals together. Finding just the right dishes, wooded spoons, wine glasses. In the initial stages I spent hours every day cooking, experimenting, shopping, etc. An average of 20 hours per week spent practicing on an activity would get us to 10,000 in about 10 years.

I started taking a hardcore interest in cooking in '91, and I think when I look back, sometime around '01 I could say I'd gotten enough of a good basis that I would have entered the mastery stages of cooking around then. Of course, I'm still in it, and it just grows more and more fascinating and deepens as I continue.

Something that was interesting about my learning to cook, is that after the initial months of really diving into it, what I learned from cooking - about balance, and the bottom, middle, and top in flavors, also changed my approach and increased my ability to work and mix music in a recording studio. It also changed my perception of aikido.

And the idea that Gladwell puts across is that mastery is earned - not rewarded. And it's also a continuous pursuit, not a goal. Just like many have commented on the idea that shodan should not be a goal to one's training. Merely a signpost along the way.

Conrad Gus
04-11-2013, 12:23 PM
And the idea that Gladwell puts across is that mastery is earned - not rewarded. And it's also a continuous pursuit, not a goal. Just like many have commented on the idea that shodan should not be a goal to one's training. Merely a signpost along the way.

I agree with that completely.

Walter Martindale
04-11-2013, 03:31 PM
The 10,000 hour thing is also a bit of an average. Someone who's really talented can "master" something in a shorter time, and some people never "master" something no matter how hard they work, for how long.

I know people who have won Olympic Gold in 7 years, the first 3 of which were in part-time training, the last four years were full-time training - three sessions a day 5 days a week, 2 sessions on the sixth, and one day off. As a coach, a person like that may come along once or twice in a coaching career. It just happened that three of them started training at different locations all in the same year (1985) and won two olympic golds each in 1992. Two of THEM switched disciplines in 1994 and won another gold in 1996 (and a Bronze). I had the honour of coaching one of these people for the first year and a half of her career, helping her learn effective skills early on. (Some believe, as I do, that the skills you learn earliest are the hardest to extinguish, and the more times you practice it the better you get at doing it - whether it's a "good" skill or a "bad" skill - you get very good at doing it..)

The (average) 10,000 hours of practice has to be "deliberate" practice, in which the person practicing has to be fully engaged in what he or she is doing. There has to be a purpose to the practice, rather than (say) putting in bulk mileage. If you're slogging away at something, it's not deliberate practice. If you're paying attention to what you're doing, what your training partner(s) is/are doing, and stay switched on, mentally, the 10,000 hours may be 9,000, or 8,000, or in rare occasions 6,000.

Basia Halliop
04-12-2013, 09:01 AM
My impression when I read Gladwell talking about his observation of 10,000 hours to what he called mastery was that it was far more an order-of-magnitude estimate than an actual precise number of hours.

I.e., the point was he found it tended to be around 10,000 or 5,000, not 100s of hours and not 100,000 hours (closer to a lifetime full time).

Part of the context was in debunking the idea of the prodigy who effortlessly learns, by pointing out (using famous musicians, athletes, and chess players as examples) that most people who are unusually skilled at a young age put in a large number of hours of careful practice at a young age, and that the early work of eventual masters is amateurish.

JP3
04-14-2013, 08:33 PM
I know you guys were talking in a "different direction," so to speak, but I am very impressed with the imagery of the following gstatement, taken by itself.

"You seem to see the hierarchy as a yoke that you are forced to labor under, my experience has been people offering a hand up."

I jus tlike that. Apologies for dragging the thread sideways on a philisophical tangent.

On a more numerical bent, let's take a good, close, analytical look at the whole 10,000 hours thing and put it in perspective. I've heard very good doctorate-level physical education teachers say that it takes 10,000 repetitions of a movement to make that muscle movement the most automatic, most relaxed, most efficient that it can be, as it is the 10,000 repititions that moves the physical movement from the conscious control to the unconscious.

OK, so average class is 2 hours (nice place to play). You, because you are hard-core, go 5 times a week (to make the math easier, and because you are hard-core). That = 10 hours a week.

10,000 hours / 10 hours/week = 1,000 weeks

Ouch. 1,000 weeks?! So, there's 52 weeks/year, so that's 19.23 years, at 5 days a week!

OK, so let's say we are a "real world" dedicated aikido practitioner, who goes to the dojo for practice an average of 2.5 times/week, including the occasional seminar when there's a big bump in hours,... then the period is nigh-on 40 years.

Do-able? Yes. Perhaps a philisophical "in the next lifetime" by medieval Japan standards, also perhaps?

Let's just say, nobody we know "masters" this stuff, but we do know people personally who get really, really dang good at it, eh?

lbb
04-15-2013, 08:49 AM
Ouch. 1,000 weeks?! So, there's 52 weeks/year, so that's 19.23 years, at 5 days a week!

OK, so let's say we are a "real world" dedicated aikido practitioner, who goes to the dojo for practice an average of 2.5 times/week, including the occasional seminar when there's a big bump in hours,... then the period is nigh-on 40 years.

Do-able? Yes. Perhaps a philisophical "in the next lifetime" by medieval Japan standards, also perhaps?

Let's just say, nobody we know "masters" this stuff, but we do know people personally who get really, really dang good at it, eh?

Well, let's just say that mastery is not common, and you probably can't do it, for a generic value of "you". That's what sticks in most people's craws. They really don't like that truth. This feeling seems to arise out of a bizarre paradoxical belief in a meritocracy in which the standards of merit are unfair, somehow, when they're just too hard. It's illogical, it's no different than the infatuation over the black belt, but there you have it. That's what mastery means, and most of us will never get there -- circumstances dictate that, if character failings don't. And if you need to believe that mastery will happen if you train for a really long time (like, I don't know, three years), feel free, but you're humpty-dumptying with what "mastery" means when you do so. Better to ask the question about why you need the title of "master" (or the black belt), though. Ultimately, lasting happiness can't be based on illusion.

Carsten Möllering
04-16-2013, 01:40 AM
... so that's 19.23 years ...
Well, that made me sit up:

I'm practicing for 19 years, 12 weeks and 5 days now to the day.

I had 7 years with 5-6 days in the dōjō. One day was 2,5 hours. I count 5 times/week.
=> 4550 h

12 years with 3 days, 2-2,5 hours. I count 2 hours.
=> 3744 hours

I'm attending seminars about once a month. Mostly Friday-Sunday, one class 2-2,5 hours plus about two times a year a five day long seminar. I did not attend a seminar during my first year.
I count 17 years,10 seminars each year, 8 hours of practice each seminar. (I think this gives a minimum value.)
=> 1360 hours

I do not count the solo practice (bodywork and qi things) of about 1,5 hours each day.

This sums up to 9654 hours of practice.

Only 346 hours to go until I reach mastery!
Even if I don't attend any seminar with my teacher or our shihan anymore I will reach mastery in about 1.11 years!

john2054
04-22-2013, 04:45 PM
Despite only ranking for yellow belt in Aikido recently, I have however been thrashing the stupid BBCs PCs gameboys playstation 2s and xbox360s pretty much since they first came out. This has given me, an average of just about 10-000 gaming hours over my lifetime in my opinion. Or a lot by any means. That isn't to say that I am any good at any one particular game (even though I still cite beating final fantasy 7 with both hidden elder dragons, and clocking final fantasy nine including completing the skipping game in it with 100% score) as definitely something of a pinnacle of my gaming career. These kind of achievements take what over 1000 hours at the game in and as of themselves, which if not proving for a very blooded and single minded endeavor I don't know what is. Now a days I alternate between elder scrolls 4, tekken tag 2 and just dance 3 to get my kicks. Which if anyone on here knows the foggiest about games, will probably tell you a lot about the kind of person I am! Oh well. I don't suppose that helps much? John.

JP3
04-22-2013, 07:47 PM
Ms. Mary, that was very well stated. Carsten, I agree totally with you.

I put in a LOT of early time in on kick-punch arts, and it is relatively easy (that in itself) is a "relative" statement) to reach a level of physical mastery on skillsets such as the boxing jab, front snap-kick, hook, uppercut, and even skills such as a spinning hook kick, etc., primarily because they are "uni-body," meaning, I can go "over there" and practice them by myself.

I can get in front of a heavy bag, and if I am conscious of my technique, work the jab-cross-hook combination into the bag over-and-over-and-over-andover ad nauseum until my shoulders ache with it, and maybe get a 1,000 reps in really quickly, in the grand scheme of things. Do that ten times, and wallah! Mastery of the jab-croos-hook combination, delivered from a particular stance to a particularly "still" opponent (I've yet to meet that guy by the way...).

Compare that with any standard aikido waza. Opponents approach, technique is exchanged, someone falls/is locked or is otherwise dealt with. Then reset. Time? 15 seconds?

In that same 15 seconds, I might have, if I'm awesome enough, practiced the combination punch 15 times.

The time ratio is skewed.

And oh by the way, Tekken 2 was the best overall Tekken game ever. Just sayin'.

LOL Loves me some Tekken, all of 'em!

Malicat
04-22-2013, 09:06 PM
Despite only ranking for yellow belt in Aikido recently, I have however been thrashing the stupid BBCs PCs gameboys playstation 2s and xbox360s pretty much since they first came out. This has given me, an average of just about 10-000 gaming hours over my lifetime in my opinion. Or a lot by any means. That isn't to say that I am any good at any one particular game (even though I still cite beating final fantasy 7 with both hidden elder dragons, and clocking final fantasy nine including completing the skipping game in it with 100% score) as definitely something of a pinnacle of my gaming career. These kind of achievements take what over 1000 hours at the game in and as of themselves, which if not proving for a very blooded and single minded endeavor I don't know what is. Now a days I alternate between elder scrolls 4, tekken tag 2 and just dance 3 to get my kicks. Which if anyone on here knows the foggiest about games, will probably tell you a lot about the kind of person I am! Oh well. I don't suppose that helps much? John.

Elder Scrolls 4? Why on earth aren't you playing Skyrim!??!?!? Silly monkey, clearly you are no master!

--Ashley

john2054
05-05-2013, 02:50 AM
Hi Ashley, yeah i meant 5 skyrim. I couldn't get on with number 4 at all truth be told. That was a typo.

Malicat
05-05-2013, 01:26 PM
Hi Ashley, yeah i meant 5 skyrim. I couldn't get on with number 4 at all truth be told. That was a typo.

Good job then John. I was worried about you for a second. Although, I will say that we lost 2 of our Aikido students after Skyrim came out. It became a running joke in our dojo. :)

--Ashley

danj
05-05-2013, 08:26 PM
The interesting thing about 10,000 hrs is that what you spend that 10,000 on is what you end up mastering. And while repetition might seem the fastest way to racking up the hours repetion or 'blocked learning' is useful only to a point, beyond that it actually inhibits learning by giving false confidence and learning can go backward. Fortunately in the traditional arts there are all the ingredients to avoid this through variety, stress testing, as well as blocked learning drills.
One of my favourites teachers, David Brown said most of the time in the dojo is wasted which he then wen on to say with bowing in, exercises you don't need, talking, wasting time with an uke that doesn't get it , wasting time with a teacher that doesn't get it, paining up etc... adn when you cut class time back the parts where you are learning can be pretty small.

best

john2054
05-12-2013, 03:01 PM
Good job then John. I was worried about you for a second. Although, I will say that we lost 2 of our Aikido students after Skyrim came out. It became a running joke in our dojo. :)

--Ashley

First of all i want to say to Ashley that i am now up to level 113 in Skyrim, and have input about 180 hours on it so far. Which is pretty not bad going thanks.

john2054
05-12-2013, 03:06 PM
The interesting thing about 10,000 hrs is that what you spend that 10,000 on is what you end up mastering. And while repetition might seem the fastest way to racking up the hours repetion or 'blocked learning' is useful only to a point, beyond that it actually inhibits learning by giving false confidence and learning can go backward. Fortunately in the traditional arts there are all the ingredients to avoid this through variety, stress testing, as well as blocked learning drills.
One of my favourites teachers, David Brown said most of the time in the dojo is wasted which he then wen on to say with bowing in, exercises you don't need, talking, wasting time with an uke that doesn't get it , wasting time with a teacher that doesn't get it, paining up etc... adn when you cut class time back the parts where you are learning can be pretty small.

best

Next I want to say to Daniel, that the whole idea that the time spent talking in a dojo is wasted, is the biggest load of baloney i have ever heard. The whole idea that training with a uke who (doesn't get it) or a sensei who doesn't neither, what exactly is it supposed to be that they are supposed to be getting? Your style of martial art? Well maybe not. But the aiki-do is the way of the real ninja, and it takes determination, commitment and engagement. Things which cannot be learned over night, and take many months and years even to get down to a tee. Anyone who somehow believes that the ritual bowing in and out, or even colloquial discussions in and around classes, can be skipped over for some 'better' style, needs to have their head examined if you ask me!

grondahl
05-24-2013, 01:07 AM
Talent, it´s back! https://www.msu.edu/~ema/HambrickEtAl13.pdf

"The second myth is that it requires at least ten years, or 10,000 hours,
of deliberate practice to reach an elite level of performance..... But the data indicate that there is an enormous amount of variability in deliberate practice—even in elite performers.
One player in Gobet and Campitelli's (2007) chess sample took 26 years of serious involvement in chess to reach a master level, while another player took less than 2 years to reach this level."

lbb
05-24-2013, 07:49 AM
Talent, it´s back! https://www.msu.edu/~ema/HambrickEtAl13.pdf

"The second myth is that it requires at least ten years, or 10,000 hours,
of deliberate practice to reach an elite level of performance..... But the data indicate that there is an enormous amount of variability in deliberate practice—even in elite performers.
One player in Gobet and Campitelli's (2007) chess sample took 26 years of serious involvement in chess to reach a master level, while another player took less than 2 years to reach this level."

Summary:

Q: "How long will it take me to get a black belt?"
A: "Can't tell you."

...and we're right back at the beginning.

Phil Van Treese
05-24-2013, 02:43 PM
How long does it take to be promoted??? Doesn't matter what system you are in but when your skill level reaches the level of the rank you are going for, then you should be promoted after you are tested. How long it takes is entirely up to you.

danj
05-24-2013, 06:51 PM
Talent, it´s back! https://www.msu.edu/~ema/HambrickEtAl13.pdf

"The second myth is that it requires at least ten years, or 10,000 hours,
of deliberate practice to reach an elite level of performance..... But the data indicate that there is an enormous amount of variability in deliberate practice—even in elite performers.
One player in Gobet and Campitelli's (2007) chess sample took 26 years of serious involvement in chess to reach a master level, while another player took less than 2 years to reach this level."

This is a nice article, but important to consider that cognitive skill development such as in a chess player is quite different to acquisition of a physical motor skill which might account for the difference. Also must be careful to seperate out individual case studies vs large scale data.
Sometimes though apparent outliers ( could almost segway to the gladwell book here) have a vast background in other , but related activities. Its a whole can of worms. The paper gives a good treatment.

Violin, as a fine motor skill skill is probably a reasonable comparision with aiki. Not that learning violin in my youth seemed to help my aiki in a tangable way- other than appreciation of delayed gratification, discipline etc..

John - sorry for the fuzz just wanted to put a thought out there

Dan

PaulF
06-06-2013, 08:44 AM
Summary:

Q: "How long will it take me to get a black belt?"
A: "Can't tell you."

...and we're right back at the beginning.

:)

Grading isn't based on talent though, as far as I can work it out it comes down to a combination of time, commitment, knowledge, aptitude and attitude in varying proportions depending on the society, sensei and student.

Whenever I've heard one of our society's instructors being asked the question the answer is always "it depends, but rarely less than four years and sometimes quite a bit longer"; everyone tends to be quite matter of fact and perhaps they're conscious that if a starter got an analytical or mystical response they might get switched off.

We don't have fixed requirements for time on the mat, we grade when sensei says we're ready to grade. I accept this at face value, it's certainly not my place to question his judgement on these matters even if I might feel a few more weeks intensive practice on one kata or another would be nice. I'll get that practice in the long run since my home class sees a steady influx of starters.

There's a core syllabus requirement for each grade (built around the 9 arts of Shihonage Iriminage Kotegaeshi Kaitenage Tenchinage Ikkyo Nikyo Sankyo Yonkyo up to 1st kyu) but beyond that a lot of discretion is allowed to local sensei. Some of our dojos bring in weapons, randori and koshi from 6th kyu so people don't get intimidated by the things that can cause issues later on. Some have formal 6th kyu grading, others do it combined with 5th kyu, etc.

Yep, grades don't matter much and it's enjoying the practice and the journey for their own sakes that's most important. However, I think a key aspect of grading in a non-competitive art like ours is that it allows us to test our mettle under sustained mental and physical pressure.

Dan's cost comparison on page one got me thinking. I've long suspected it's all about love not money in our society since I was able to compare with a tai chi/kung fu school that I was involved in for a bit which was more than twice as costly (it was the money-grabbing vibe that led me to find another tai chi class) but it seems we really are at the bargain end of the market :)

Parent organization, Aikikai Hombu = 300 days, in 2 years, and roughly $2640 in mat fees.
Branch organization, NY Aikikai = 1140 days; 7.3 years, and roughly $14,000 in mat fees.
Our organisation: (not Aikikai affiliated since 2001) = 384 days, 4 years, $2224 in mat fees + $93 to cover membership/insurance and $440 for 16 shihan taught courses (seminars)

That's based on training twice a week for 48 weeks in a year (pay as you go) at today's rate of 1.54$ to the £. I tend to do more courses than that and summer school as well but this is probably a reasonable representation of a fairly typical path to shodan. Let's just not mention the fuel costs to drive over the mountain to our 2nd class each week. :rolleyes:

Annnnyyywayyyyy, it's all aikido :)

mastermeindl
06-08-2013, 02:36 AM
Going back to the original question of whether one would have to retake the tests if he were to move from, for example, Indonesia to the United States...

For the kyu grades, I'm sure that it's at the discretion of the dojo whether or not to recognize the level one has obtained. Having some form of documentation will help, no doubt.

For example, in Spain, I was provided a booklet to document the tests I had passed and the seminars I had attended. Each test/level and seminar was signed and dated by the head Sensei in the booklet. When I moved to the U.S., I provided this documentation to the head Sensei at the new dojo. He was happy to acknowledge the level I'd attained.

And in his words, "When your skill reaches the next level, provided the time requirements have been met, you can test for the next level."

But again, deciding whether or not to recognize your kyu level is really going to be up to the Sensei at the new dojo.