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Ecosamurai
08-17-2017, 06:10 AM
So, an interesting situation has arisen, the precise details of which I will not post here because I don't wish to cause awkwardness to those concerned. But, a number of people have recently left our aikido organisation and so far as the head of our organisation is concerned they no longer hold the dan ranks they were issued. Their certificates say X dan in X Aikido Organisation, not X Dan in Aikido, an important distinction. The notion is therefore the same as leaving your job title behind when you leave a company. This is the view of the head of our organisation who is Japanese and is in accordance with the Japanese way of dealing with those who have left a Ryu. An example might be O Sensei's Kyōju Dairi certificate in Daito-ryu, that certificate says he's allowed to teach Daito-ryu as a representative of the Daito-ryu headmaster, but if he left the Ryu as he obviously did it means nothing.

That said, there is another way to look at these things, which is to view them as qualifications as you might view a degree from an accredited university. I have a PhD from a British university and they issued me with a certificate that says so. I've left that university but that doesn't mean I don't have a PhD any more. The issuing university does still have the power to rescind my award in the event that they found I'd been in breach of some guideline or something, but the expectation is that I can carry my title of Dr around with me anywhere I go, and that's what I've done.

It's an interesting problem, because those who have left are quite understandably displaying their former rank on promotional materials for seminars etc, and I've just commented on a facebook post to the effect that they don't have that rank any more. Doesn't mean I'm saying they aren't perfectly good people to learn from, nor am I refuting their years of knowledge and experience - at least that was not my intent anyway. I'm merely passing on the views of the man who issued them with the certificate in the first place, as I have some obligation to do being that I'm now one of the senior instructors in the UK.

I genuinely interested in what people's thoughts on the matter are.

grondahl
08-17-2017, 09:06 AM
My view is that rank is only relevant inside an organisation regardless if it´s an aikido organisation, a fraternal order such as the freemasons or the military.

Peter Goldsbury
08-17-2017, 03:29 PM
Hello,

When I began aikido, I discovered with some surprise that my first teacher, whose 3rd dan I had assumed was from the Aikikai, issued kyu grades from a different organization. I never took any grades and in fact my first ever grading examination was for shodan. This was several decades ago and my certificate came from the Aikikai and was signed by Kisshomaru Ueshiba. It was also numbered and later I found my number in the register kept at the Aikikai Hombu. I have remained with the Aikikai ever since.

Much later, my first teacher told me the reason why he issued his kyu grades from a different organization. It had to do with the measure of independence he enjoyed in working out his own way of teaching aikido. If he had wanted to maintain his links with the Aikikai while in the UK, he would have had to become part of the Aikikai organization in Great Britain, which he did not want to do. In fact, after he returned to Japan, the club he started did affiliate to this Aikikai organization.

I think dan ranks in aikido organizations are part of an ‘invented tradition,’ to use Eric Hobsbawm’s phrase. This is one aspect of the creative tension that exists between an organization and the individuals who comprise it. Way back, in 1948, the resurrected Hombu Dojo in Tokyo became a legal entity, but to achieve this, it had to become a democratic organization, with boards of directors and advisers. Doshu sits at the top of the pyramid, but the ranks are numbered in the name of the organization: the Aikikai Foundation.

This whole operation is what the Japanese call a tatemae, which might best be thought of as an operating practice, which the members of the organism responsible for the practice subscribe to in various ways. So, I hold a dan examination in my own dojo and send the paperwork to the Aikikai. After a while, the package arrives containing the diplomas, all bearing the stamp of the Aikikai and of Doshu. The tatemae allows a combination of several factors, all of which have evolved in some sense over time, but all potentially in conflict: Doshu awards the dan rank, but I myself hold the examination and sign all the forms; Doshu awards the rank, but it is issued by the organization.

Another metaphor for describing this practice in the martial arts is iemoto, and the present Doshu sometimes uses this phrase. The tatemae here is that the iemoto (a person) is the living embodiment of all the aspects of the art, but the person also needs the system and the other individuals who support the system.

Both the tatemae, in general, and the iemoto system, in particular, work and are effective because they are part of Japan’s cultural furniture. Those who drop out might well do so for their own reasons, but this is not something that the system really considers. In some sense the dropouts become outlaws, but are allowed to remain outlaws because the system does not need to take the extra step of punishing them. If the outlaws set up their own iemoto system and this becomes generally accepted, there is little that the parent organization can do. It is still there as the parent, but there is now a child: legitimacy is a separate issue.

As far as we know, Morihei Ueshiba did not expel K Tomiki when he devised his system of competitive aikido. Tomiki himself established his own organization and his links with M. Ueshiba and the Aikikai ceased to exist. Similarly, M Ueshiba himself did little to deal with the growing mutual antagonism between Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei within the Aikikai Hombu, but it was Tohei who left; he was never expelled and his 10th dan was never cancelled.

It seems to me that this general practice allows one to break with one’s immediate instructor, but still remain within the general Aikikai, which is what I have done. I am independent, in the sense that I am no longer affiliated to any local aikido organization, but still hold grading examinations and receive diplomas from the Aikikai. However, I was very careful to keep Doshu informed during this process and secure his consent for the steps I took. In fact, it is not so unusual and such fragmentation occurs quite frequently. I never found it necessary even to consider the matter of formally breaking with the Aikikai and giving my own ranks.

Best wishes,

Ecosamurai
08-17-2017, 04:31 PM
Tohei who left; he was never expelled and his 10th dan was never cancelled.

My understanding is that when Tohei left, though his 10th dan wasn't cancelled or rescinded in any way (the Aikikai would acknowledge the grade had been given even to this day), it was no longer of any relevance as he'd created the Ki Society, it was therefore his pleasure to award 10th dan to anyone he liked if that's what he wanted to do, as he was now outside the boundaries of the Aikikai. The legitimacy of any grades he issued would rely solely upon his own reputation.

So here we come back to my question, was Tohei a 10th dan after he resigned from the Aikikai? My understanding was that in the strictest sense he was not, because the 10th dan award was a part of the Aikikai's bureaucracy and he had left.

Put it another way, if the CEO of Apple Inc resigned tomorrow he's no longer entitled to call himself CEO of Apple Inc, and calling himself just CEO is nonsensical, CEO of what?. Nobody is denying he *was* CEO of Apple Inc and his CV/resume would quite rightly reflect that. If he went off and started his own company then I'm sure he'd attract plenty of investors because of his previous position. But if he were speaking somewhere and advertising the event, it's odd to advertise it as Tim Cook Apple CEO, it would surely be advertised as Tim Cook *former* CEO of Apple. Would it not?

robin_jet_alt
08-17-2017, 05:13 PM
That's a tricky situation. I'm probably a bit more familiar with exactly what you are talking about than some of the others here. The way I look at it is that if they claim they are teaching the aikido of your organization, then there is a problem. However, the rank they were awarded when they were with that organization is a part of their resume, and I don't think we can reasonably expect them to pretend that they never had it. So for example, if a person lists their resume as something like the following, then there is no problem.

1990 - Began aikido
2010 - Awarded 4th dan in Yoshinkan
2015 - Left Yoshinkan
2016 - Joined Aikikai

It's if they are relying on that grade as a current qualification that problems would arise.

As for the question about Tohei sensei, I think we view it the same way. A teacher that we both know, who left the Ki Society a while back views it like this, too. When you start a new organization, your rank becomes meaningless. You are the head of the organization, and therefore have no rank. You are the 会主. Like you said, it becomes entirely dependent upon reputation. In spite of that, we all know what rank this person was awarded by Osensei and what rank he was awarded by Tohei sensei. It's certainly not a secret.

Peter Goldsbury
08-17-2017, 06:14 PM
So here we come back to my question, was Tohei a 10th dan after he resigned from the Aikikai? My understanding was that in the strictest sense he was not, because the 10th dan award was a part of the Aikikai's bureaucracy and he had left.

When you talk about the "strictest sense", I think this needs to be defined more clearly. Tohei's 10th dan was given, recorded in the usual way by the Aikikai, and never rescinded. In so far as Aikikai dan ranks do not lapse, it remains on the record, and this is regardless of Tohei's later activities.

Whether its existence needs to be acknowledged after his departure from the Aikikai is another, different, matter. I had a student from Yoshinkan who trained in the dojo. He had kyu ranks in Yoshinkan and I decided that he could test for his Aikikai shodan, even though he did not have any kyu ranks. I consulted the Aikikai and they had no problem with this. I do not know whether his kyu grades were centrally processed, but if he ever goes back to Yoshinkan, for whatever reason, his Aikikai dan rank will remain--and it will be up to Yoshinkan to acknowledge this, or not. His Aikikai dan rank can be cancelled only as a result of a request from me to Doshu M Ueshiba.

robin_jet_alt
08-17-2017, 06:22 PM
If I may interject here, Peter is 100% correct, but is missing part of the context. In this case, we are talking about instructors that run their own dojos, who have specifically resigned from an organization and rejected it. The head of this organization has basically said "good riddance" to them. The question is about whether those people can or should use the rank awarded by the organization they have specifically rejected to promote their dojo.

Peter Goldsbury
08-17-2017, 07:53 PM
If I may interject here, Peter is 100% correct, but is missing part of the context. In this case, we are talking about instructors that run their own dojos, who have specifically resigned from an organization and rejected it. The head of this organization has basically said "good riddance" to them. The question is about whether those people can or should use the rank awarded by the organization they have specifically rejected to promote their dojo.

Hello Robin,

Thank you for the interjection. I have talked with shihans, now no longer with us, who were senior instructors in the Aikikai Hombu at the time when Tohei Sensei left that organization and started his own. He was chief instructor at the time, but the head of the organization, who was Kisshomaru Ueshiba, at no point ever said, "Good riddance" and I think there would have been a major issue if he had done so.

If we apply to Tohei the question you pose about people using the rank of the organization they have rejected, I have no evidence that he did and perhaps he would not have wanted to.

I think the context you refer to can be understood in different ways. I do not think that either Doshu or the Aikikai regard the dan rank as any kind of evidence of membership, which can lapse if the person ceases to be a member, or which can be cancelled for any particular reason. You become a member of the Aikikai through a separate process and, again, membership does not lapse: it stands, and the question of what happens if you start your own organization is not built into any scenario.

So, to my mind, the Aikikai is structured more like a religious organization, like the Omoto religion with which Morihei Ueshiba had strong links. Not far from my house is a branch of Seicho no Ie, which is an indirect offshoot of Omoto: the result of a fragmentation process very similar to what happened in Japan's traditional arts, including martial arts, where there is a break with the mainstream, for whatever reasons. There is no tradition of excommunicating those who break away: the situation is simply left as it is and in some cases the head of the breakaway group needs to emphasize the links with the mainstream, to assure potential believers of the new group's authenticity.

Best wishes,

robin_jet_alt
08-17-2017, 08:03 PM
Hello Robin,

Thank you for the interjection. I have talked with shihans, now no longer with us, who were senior instructors in the Aikikai Hombu at the time when Tohei Sensei left that organization and started his own. He was chief instructor at the time, but the head of the organization, who was Kisshomaru Ueshiba, at no point ever said, "Good riddance" and I think there would have been a major issue if he had done so.


Hi Peter.

Again, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I was merely interjecting because I am familiar with the specific situation that Mike is referring to. It has nothing to do with the Aikikai. I know that the head of the organization has made statements along the lines of "good riddance" and is very unhappy with the thought that these people are using their previous association with him for marketing purposes. I didn't mean to imply that Kisshomaru Ueshiba said any such thing at the time of the big split.

Peter Goldsbury
08-17-2017, 10:23 PM
Hello Robin,

Thank you for your clarifications etc. I continued the discussion really in view of Mike's preoccupation with the 'strict sense' of the continued existence of dan ranks etc.

In Tohei Sensei's case, I think the fact that he received 10th dan -- and that it was the only 10th dan ever to be 'processed' through the Aikikai -- would mean quite a lot, regardless of how he regarded it after his departure from the Aikikai. As you know, there was a vigorous exchange of letters, but Kisshomaru never made any public comment.

Since you are familiar with the specific situation that Mike is referring to, I wonder if it is specifically stated anywhere that if you leave the organization, the ranks awarded to you during the time of your membership cease to be valid. This would really be the 'strictest sense' that Mike has in mind.

Best wishes,

PAG

robin_jet_alt
08-18-2017, 01:11 AM
Hello Robin,

Thank you for your clarifications etc. I continued the discussion really in view of Mike's preoccupation with the 'strict sense' of the continued existence of dan ranks etc.

In Tohei Sensei's case, I think the fact that he received 10th dan -- and that it was the only 10th dan ever to be 'processed' through the Aikikai -- would mean quite a lot, regardless of how he regarded it after his departure from the Aikikai. As you know, there was a vigorous exchange of letters, but Kisshomaru never made any public comment.

Since you are familiar with the specific situation that Mike is referring to, I wonder if it is specifically stated anywhere that if you leave the organization, the ranks awarded to you during the time of your membership cease to be valid. This would really be the 'strictest sense' that Mike has in mind.

Best wishes,

PAG

I see.

It's not stated anywhere as far as I'm aware. In the strictest sense, I don't think the ranks become invalid as such. I think the issue that this person has is when people that have specifically repudiated the organization then use the name of that organization to promote themselves. As far as I'm aware, Tohei sensei never did that when he left Aikikai. His rank with Aikikai was no secret and nobody attempted to deny that he earned it, but once he left, it ceased to be that important. At least that's the way I look at it.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 02:48 AM
in view of Mike's preoccupation with the 'strict sense' of the continued existence of dan ranks etc.

I'm not sure a question honestly asked counts as being preoccupied but that's fine :)

Let me put it in a different context Peter, I believe your rank is 7th dan with the Aikikai (please correct me if I'm wrong). If you decided to leave the Aikikai and create the Goldsbury-kai would you advertise it as being Goldsbury-kai aikido founded by Peter Goldsbury 7th dan, or would you leave the 7th dan bit off?

PS - if Jun is reading this, I've just noticed a typo in the thread title, any chance you could edit it?

john.burn
08-18-2017, 03:33 AM
I think Peter would be entirely entitled to state his 7th dan was awarded by the Aikikai - why wouldn’t he, it was!

The people referred to in this thread, simply mentioned their rank they did not mention the old group they were part of. The group only has 3 dojo's remaining in the UK, perhaps they should look to why so many people are leaving, or have left, rather than trying to deride or tell tales on those who made the decision to go - perhaps it's that they were told they cannot play with others outside the group or perhaps it's to do with the reasons why a certain person was told to either resign or be sacked from the Tohei sensei's group and the reasons for this finally made them leave. Perhaps they also were not happy that if you organise a seminar with the head of the organisation you would be promoted by a few dan levels.

I know all of the parties involved (for the sake of openness) and have zero connection to the main topics of this thread as my dojo is connected to the Aikikai. The poster that brought up the main topic listed a few people by rank and not affiliation. Fred Bloggs (7th dan). This in no way is promoting themselves as being part of their old organisation IMHO.

It would seem that remaining part of this group means following very cult-like behaviours.

John.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 03:49 AM
I think Peter would be entirely entitled to state his 7th dan was awarded by the Aikikai - why wouldn’t he, it was!

The people referred to in this thread, simply mentioned their rank they did not mention the old group they were part of. The group only has 3 dojo's remaining in the UK, perhaps they should look to why so many people are leaving, or have left, rather than trying to deride or tell tales on those who made the decision to go - perhaps it's that they were told they cannot play with others outside the group or perhaps it's to do with the reasons why a certain person was told to either resign or be sacked from the Tohei sensei's group and the reasons for this finally made them leave. Perhaps they also were not happy that if you organise a seminar with the head of the organisation you would be promoted by a few dan levels.

I know all of the parties involved (for the sake of openness) and have zero connection to the main topics of this thread as my dojo is connected to the Aikikai. The poster that brought up the main topic listed a few people by rank and not affiliation. Fred Bloggs (7th dan). This in no way is promoting themselves as being part of their old organisation IMHO.

It would seem that remaining part of this group means following very cult-like behaviours.

John.

Wow. I was trying to be discreet and polite, not naming names because I wanted to get a consensus of opinion on whether I was mistaken to have mentioned it in the first place, because if so I owe certain people an apology, but you go John, spew your poisonous half-truths show us what you really think.

robin_jet_alt
08-18-2017, 03:54 AM
The poster that brought up the main topic listed a few people by rank and not affiliation. Fred Bloggs (7th dan). This in no way is promoting themselves as being part of their old organisation IMHO.



This is where it gets tricky... 7th dan in what? Awarded by whom? The person that you no longer respect and that no longer respects you? What meaning could such a rank have and why would you advertise it? At least that's what I would think if I walked into that dojo. (Any "you" is used here in a general sense and is in no way directed at John.)

I'll ignore the finger-pointing because I don't think it would be helpful to engage with it.

Peter Goldsbury
08-18-2017, 04:07 AM
Let me put it in a different context Peter, I believe your rank is 7th dan with the Aikikai (please correct me if I'm wrong). If you decided to leave the Aikikai and create the Goldsbury-kai would you advertise it as being Goldsbury-kai aikido founded by Peter Goldsbury 7th dan, or would you leave the 7th dan bit off?

I am not trying to evade your question, but, frankly, the possibility is so remote that I do not really know what I would do.

Consider the context. I am retired and run my two dojos as a retirement activity and also to keep me fit as I get older. I am also learning new ways to execute waza, which younger and stronger people might well find difficult. Apart from my links with the Aikikai, I am completely independent of any aikido organization. I do not think the Aikikai would ever expel me, for reasons I have alluded to in earlier posts, and so I assume that you are considering that I would decide to leave unilaterally and found my own organization. Since very little would change from the present situation, I find it hard to imagine such a possibility, compared with giving up aikido altogether in a dojo and simply doing my own private training. Since I am dojo-cho anyway, with shihan rank, and not under the control of any immediate teacher, I see no necessity to create my own organization: I am sufficiently independent as it is.

Anyway, thank you for the discussion.

EDIT. I should add that I have lived in Japan since 1980 and am unaware of the political developments of aikido in the UK outside some of the organizations affiliated to the Aikikai.

john.burn
08-18-2017, 04:20 AM
Wow. I was trying to be discreet and polite, not naming names because I wanted to get a consensus of opinion on whether I was mistaken to have mentioned it in the first place, because if so I owe certain people an apology, but you go John, spew your poisonous half-truths show us what you really think.

If you wanted this to remain discrete perhaps you should have posted this without your name applied all over it. Did you recind your rank when you left your old teachers by the way? A lot of dojo have left your organisation due to being told what they can or cannot do, this is in no way a half-truth. Is it not also true that your were promoted because a 'lowly' 3rd dan isn't of appropriate rank host your teacher?

Should your teacher recind their ranks, presumably he'd also reimburse them for all the money they paid him? That'd only be fair, right?

john.burn
08-18-2017, 04:30 AM
This is where it gets tricky... 7th dan in what? Awarded by whom? The person that you no longer respect and that no longer respects you? What meaning could such a rank have and why would you advertise it? At least that's what I would think if I walked into that dojo. (Any "you" is used here in a general sense and is in no way directed at John.).

Isn't Aikido, Aikido? I dont generally mention my own teacher is affiliated to the Aikikai when creating a poster. A lot of groups are independant in the UK, and they award or recognise their own members as being of a certain rank, as we all know, rank is only relevant in your own group in anycase and I think many of the people posting here had none aikikai or other japanese teacher affiliation way back when.

Does it matter? If you're x dan you are x dan, doesnt matter who gave it to you.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 04:39 AM
You know what? I wasn't going to do this because it never pays to feed trolls but I reckon the above deserves a response because of the rather poisonous insinuations made on a public forum. This will be the last I say on this subject, I really can't be bothered with mud slinging.

The group only has 3 dojo's remaining in the UK, perhaps they should look to why so many people are leaving

Clearly you equate size with success, I don't. More dojos means only that you're good at empire building. Fewer dojos means a chance to focus on better quality of teaching. Just my opinion but I think it's quite a valid one, we don't need lots of dojos we need fewer good ones with good quality teaching. Easier to do that when those whose focus is already elsewhere have left to pursue their own interests rather than our shared ones. So having only 3 dojos is a bit of a plus for me really.

trying to deride or tell tales on those who made the decision to go

I have not now, nor will I ever deride or tells tales on people who have left the organisation (unlike you who has come here to tell tales on a senior aikido teacher - see below), they are welcome to their choices, I respect them and wish them well. I appreciate that querying the dan grade of someone who has left could appear to be an attack on that person but that wasn't my intent. This thread on aikiweb was an attempt to see what the consensus of opinion was because perhaps I owe someone an apology?

told they cannot play with others outside the group

There is zero restriction placed on me that says I can't go and train wherever I like or with whoever I like. The rule you mention is simply a reflection of the idea that you have one teacher who you try to follow as best you can, you cannot serve two masters fully. It was written down because some people were coming in to the dojo and saying "well I went to this guy's seminar and he does ikkyo like this, why don't we do it like that?" or stuff like that. If you say that in my dojo my answer would be "we don't do it like that because of this" if they persisted in asking the same question eventually I'd say "if you don't like what I'm teaching and want to train with someone else, then go, you're not learning anything here". Does that mean I can't go to a seminar with another teacher? Nope. But if I came back and asked my teacher why he didn't do what the other guy was doing that'd make me something of a prick wouldn't it? But people were oblivious to the fact that that was what they were doing and so it had to be written down for them.

a certain person was told to either resign or be sacked from the Tohei sensei's group and the reasons for this finally made them leave

Insinuation and hearsay, you weren't there, blabbing your mouth off on the internet about something you heard from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone doesn't strike me as a particularly grown up thing to do.

if you organise a seminar with the head of the organisation you would be promoted by a few dan levels

I'm interpreting this is a personal attack on me because my promotion to 5th dan loosely coincided with my hosting of a seminar (they were 8 months apart if anyone cares). So yeah it could look like that's why I was promoted, but it's not. I will point out that certain other people got promoted to 7th dan just before they hosted a seminar too, did they get theirs for hosting a seminar? Nope, they didn't either. I just hosted another seminar, but I haven't been promoted to 6th dan. So your point is just more insinuation and frankly, bullshit. I earned my rank, plain and simple. 5th dan is a reasonable rank for someone of 20 years experience if they've trained hard - and I have.

It would seem that remaining part of this group means following very cult-like behaviours.

Frankly, accusations like that are insane, all we want is for people who value what we're doing to sincerely practice it, if they don't want to they are free to use the door and leave as many have. If that's a cult then I'm fine with that. But I think the accusation says more about you than me or anyone else I know.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 04:48 AM
If you wanted this to remain discrete perhaps you should have posted this without your name applied all over it. Did you recind your rank when you left your old teachers by the way? A lot of dojo have left your organisation due to being told what they can or cannot do, this is in no way a half-truth. Is it not also true that your were promoted because a 'lowly' 3rd dan isn't of appropriate rank host your teacher?

Should your teacher recind their ranks, presumably he'd also reimburse them for all the money they paid him? That'd only be fair, right?

You are a ridiculous man. As per my previous post, my rank is nothing to do with my having hosted a seminar, the fact you feel like slinging this shit around on the internet says everything anyone needs to know really. Done with this thread now.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 05:04 AM
I am not trying to evade your question, but, frankly, the possibility is so remote that I do not really know what I would do.

Just a quick thank you for your input Peter, sorry this has degenerated into a slanderous cesspit because someone has an agenda against me personally. I was very interested in what you had to say, as usual.

john.burn
08-18-2017, 05:15 AM
Mike, the point is you mentioned you're one of the senior intructors in this group, it's easy for people to figure out who you're talking about. I didnt mention nor refer to anyone by name.

The genral concensus seemed to be, they have the rank, they never mentioned they were still part of the group. You also mentioned elsewhere you could have a word and have your teacher issue the paperwork to have them removed, but that you dont intend to do that. They'd still have been awarded the rank, I cannot see how this would even work. I mentioned what I did purely to show what the organisation they left is like, they're best out of it I'm sure. Both organisations will continue to exist and grow in their own ways.

I dont list my rank anywhere, I dont feel the need.

john.burn
08-18-2017, 05:22 AM
Just a quick thank you for your input Peter, sorry this has degenerated into a slanderous cesspit because someone has an agenda against me personally. I was very interested in what you had to say, as usual.

I have no agenda against you Mike. I only met you the once, I think. I just happen to know many of the people that used to be in the organisation you're one of the senior teachers in and I know why people decided to leave and not just UK people. I dont think it's approriate you asking what the world thinks of them using their rank (despite them not mentioning any affiliation).

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 05:34 AM
Mike, the point is you mentioned you're one of the senior intructors in this group, it's easy for people to figure out who you're talking about. I didnt mention nor refer to anyone by name.

The genral concensus seemed to be, they have the rank, they never mentioned they were still part of the group. You also mentioned elsewhere you could have a word and have your teacher issue the paperwork to have them removed, but that you dont intend to do that. They'd still have been awarded the rank, I cannot see how this would even work. I mentioned what I did purely to show what the organisation they left is like, they're best out of it I'm sure. Both organisations will continue to exist and grow in their own ways.

I dont list my rank anywhere, I dont feel the need.

The comment about the rank being rescinded was a direct response to your point made on Facebook. My comment was that I had heard it said verbally and that if having it written down was what was needed I'm sure it could be done. But why would I stoop so low just to win a stupid argument on the internet? It's madness.

I have never questioned their abilities, experience or the fact the rank was awarded in the first place. Now maybe I could've handled the question of it still being valid in the way it was being advertised better, I'll hold up my hands on that one. I really could have. I am genuinely interested in this as being one facet of how ranking works in aikido, if you ask me it's yet another example of how utterly stupid the dan system is. Your teacher is Japanese, why don't you ask him if he left the Aikikai would he still consider himself 7th dan?

Instead of doing that however you have jumped into a perfectly pleasant in instructive thread on aikiweb and libelled me personally. I could ask my teacher to write an email to the effect that my rank had nothing to do with having hosted a seminar, I'm sure he'd do it too, and then I could post it here to show your libel for what it is. But he's got better things to do so I won't bother him with it.
The most ridiculous thing about it is that by making that false accusation you've opened up the same bloody point being made about the guys you came here to defend! They too were promoted around the time they hosted a seminar!

This is pointless.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 05:41 AM
I have no agenda against you Mike. I only met you the once, I think. I just happen to know many of the people that used to be in the organisation you're one of the senior teachers in and I know why people decided to leave and not just UK people. I dont think it's approriate you asking what the world thinks of them using their rank (despite them not mentioning any affiliation).

Everything you've written here is a personal attack, so forgive me if I scoff at the idea that you have no agenda against me personally.

john.burn
08-18-2017, 05:45 AM
TYour teacher is Japanese, why don't you ask him if he left the Aikikai would he still consider himself 7th dan?

The most ridiculous thing about it is that by making that false accusation you've opened up the same bloody point being made about the guys you came here to defend! They too were promoted around the time they hosted a seminar!

This is pointless.

I have asked that very question - you are whever rank someone awards you was his response.

And I am aware this happened too, that a promotion seems to be granted in line with seminars being organised. I refused rank from the same group for what it's worth.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 06:18 AM
I refused rank from the same group for what it's worth.

I'm sure your mother is very proud of you.

Janet Rosen
08-18-2017, 07:01 AM
Yes you are
No I'm not
A very enlightening exchange
Not

robin_jet_alt
08-18-2017, 07:08 AM
Does it matter? If you're x dan you are x dan, doesnt matter who gave it to you.

This is where we differ. I think it only matters because of who gave it to you. If you don't respect the person that gave it to you, then it's meaningless.

john.burn
08-18-2017, 07:11 AM
This is where we differ. I think it only matters because of who gave it to you. If you don't respect the person that gave it to you, then it's meaningless.

I totally agree (assuming it's an organisation not a person that awarded it to you), however, what if you left on good terms but perhaps had a difference of opinion on the organisation direction? Is that any reson to give up on your awarded ranks?

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 07:28 AM
I totally agree (assuming it's an organisation not a person that awarded it to you), however, what if you left on good terms but perhaps had a difference of opinion on the organisation direction? Is that any reson to give up on your awarded ranks?

Let me paint you a picture. You're a former student of the founder of aikido with decades of experience, but you're an old man and you feel that it is your duty to pass on what you have learned before you die. You go around the world teaching what you were taught by O Sensei, you award people ranks commensurate with their experience because they have said they want to join your new organisation and learn the aikido passed to you by O Sensei himself. But when you go to the seminars they organise it's obvious they aren't paying attention, so you patiently explain the same thing you did last time, you come back the next year, same thing happens, they keep saying they're interested in what you are trying to teach but they keep acting differently. Essentially they are ignoring you and just doing what they've always done, only now they've got your name and the name of your organisation to back them up and confer the benefit of your reputation as a former deshi of O Sensei on them and what they do - but they aren't doing what you've been teaching. Now they may be doing this quite unintentionally, they may be good people who mean well but they don't realise what they're doing - or at least how it looks to you.

Would you be a bit irritated by that? Might you not say words to the effect that, well you gave them a rank but that rank doesn't mean anything really because they never tried to do what I have been teaching?

john.burn
08-18-2017, 07:34 AM
Robyn,

I wasnt clear and can't edit my last message. So, for clarification...

If you strongly disagree with an individual I think there *might* be a case for you to not continue to use any rank issued by them to you, but, if we're talking about an organisation, I think its completely acceptable.

My other points remain - if you left on good terms, and wished the group well, what's the issue?

john.burn
08-18-2017, 07:42 AM
Let me paint you a picture. You're a former student of the founder of aikido with decades of experience, but you're an old man and you feel that it is your duty to pass on what you have learned before you die. You go around the world teaching what you were taught by O Sensei, you award people ranks commensurate with their experience because they have said they want to join your new organisation and learn the aikido passed to you by O Sensei himself. But when you go to the seminars they organise it's obvious they aren't paying attention, so you patiently explain the same thing you did last time, you come back the next year, same thing happens, they keep saying they're interested in what you are trying to teach but they keep acting differently. Essentially they are ignoring you and just doing what they've always done, only now they've got your name and the name of your organisation to back them up and confer the benefit of your reputation as a former deshi of O Sensei on them and what they do - but they aren't doing what you've been teaching. Now they may be doing this quite unintentionally, they may be good people who mean well but they don't realise what they're doing - or at least how it looks to you.

Would you be a bit irritated by that? Might you not say words to the effect that, well you gave them a rank but that rank doesn't mean anything really because they never tried to do what I have been teaching?

Well, now you've painted me this picture you may very well be surprised that I wholeheartedly get the point and to an extent agree, I still don’t think it's acceptable to remove rank - I personally would ask someone to leave my dojo who wasn't on board with what I do, I'd also ask them to not refer to themselves as my student. I wouldn't think about taking their rank off them even if I'd issued it personally.

The group we're talking about seemed to be open to people to join and not be constrained to practice a specific style and that changed (I believe). At that stage I'd have left too, but I still don’t think I'd expect someone to hand their rank back.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 07:53 AM
Well, now you've painted me this picture you may very well be surprised that I wholeheartedly get the point and to an extent agree, I still don’t think it's acceptable to remove rank - I personally would ask someone to leave my dojo who wasn't on board with what I do, I'd also ask them to not refer to themselves as my student. I wouldn't think about taking their rank off them even if I'd issued it personally.

The group we're talking about seemed to be open to people to join and not be constrained to practice a specific style and that changed (I believe). At that stage I'd have left too, but I still don’t think I'd expect someone to hand their rank back.

Nobody removed rank. In fact you were the first person to suggest it be officially rescinded. Now, it's probably my fault because elsewhere I said something like "they're technically not 7th dans" well they are and they aren't. From where I'm sitting, they aren't because they haven't been doing sensei's aikido, and I think they themselves would agree with that, yet it's sensei's name on their 7th dan certificates. Does that mean they aren't experienced and worthwhile teachers? It does not. Does that mean they shouldn't advertise themselves as 7th dans, maybe. Which is why I started this thread because I wanted to see what the consensus of opinion on the subject was. I was also trying to pose it in the abstract to avoid specific reference to the people in question because that didn't seem fair.

john.burn
08-18-2017, 08:01 AM
Nobody removed rank. In fact you were the first person to suggest it be officially rescinded. Now, it's probably my fault because elsewhere I said something like "they're technically not 7th dans" well they are and they aren't. From where I'm sitting, they aren't because they haven't been doing sensei's aikido, and I think they themselves would agree with that, yet it's sensei's name on their 7th dan certificates. Does that mean they aren't experienced and worthwhile teachers? It does not. Does that mean they shouldn't advertise themselves as 7th dans, maybe. Which is why I started this thread because I wanted to see what the consensus of opinion on the subject was.

But wasn't the group an open 'multi-style' group at the time they were ranked? I'm pretty sure the blurb stated something about being open and inclusive of all styles of aikido way back when.

I have no issue with them using the rank the group gave them, particularly when they were issued with it.

It seems more like that direction changed or was clarified to not be open to other interpretations. But at one time, they were considered acceptable of that rank and if they never changed before or after, he must have considered them worthy at that time.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 08:18 AM
But wasn't the group an open 'multi-style' group at the time they were ranked? I'm pretty sure the blurb stated something about being open and inclusive of all styles of aikido way back when.

I have no issue with them using the rank the group gave them, particularly when they were issued with it.

It seems more like that direction changed or was clarified to not be open to other interpretations. But at one time, they were considered acceptable of that rank and if they never changed before or after, he must have considered them worthy at that time.

It was never sensei's desire for it to be an open multistyle group, that was the direction it was taken in by others to his increasing dissatisfaction. The ranks were honestly given in expectation they'd be trying to learn what he was teaching. The reality is many people were given a different expectation than that by people other than sensei, not their fault, not sensei's fault either. So here we are, down to fewer dojos than before, but with people honestly trying to practice what sensei is teaching suits us just fine. Those who left don't represent us, they never really have, they've always followed their own path, and that suits us just fine too, good luck to them, may they have every success. But if they stick posters up saying X sensei 7th dan, it is meaningless really, which is what I was trying to talk about.

Mary Eastland
08-18-2017, 09:43 AM
Why is it meaningless? If they put in their time, training and testing and paid the money. Why take that away?

I think that sounds petty and mean.

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 10:45 AM
Why is it meaningless? If they put in their time, training and testing and paid the money. Why take that away?

I think that sounds petty and mean.

I appreciate it could sound petty and mean, and nobody is taking anything away from anybody. I'm saying it doesn't appear to have any value outside its original context. In much the same way that were I to owe you Ł100 but wrote you a cheque from the bank of Lalaland you might question the value of the cheque.

So, was Tohei Sensei a 10th dan when he left the aikikai? Yes, and also no. His rank was never cancelled but it had no currency once he left and formed the Ki Society. Same for Tomiki, same for Shioda. The ranks they went on to award were based solely on their reputation and abilities and are nothing to do with those they were given by the Aikikai. That's all I'm saying really. I know it might sound like someone is trying to strip someone of their rank, that's not it at all. Merely pointing out that they had a poster that said they held the rank of 7th dan on it and I asked what their 7th dan was in, because it wasn't with the organisation who gave it to them any more.

Mary Eastland
08-18-2017, 11:22 AM
Hi Mike:
So are you saying they never achieved the rank of 7th dan while they were with the first organization?

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 12:02 PM
Hi Mike:
So are you saying they never achieved the rank of 7th dan while they were with the first organization?

Absolutely not. They were awarded that rank. I'm saying that the only rank of importance to them now is founder of their organisation.
Put it this way, I've known people who hold ranks in seperate organisations, for example 2nd dan Aikikai, 4th dan yoshinkan. Nobody questions this, but it's supremely odd, because either the yoshinkan recognises the 2nd dan or it doesn't. If it does then they become nidan in yoshinkan and proceed from there. Unless of course they maintain their membership of the Aikikai then they would indeed have two ranks, so let's assume that rather than leave the Aikikai and join yoshinkan they leave and create their own organisation what is their rank then? It's nothing it's just founder of their own organisation, you can say former x dan of the Aikikai of course. But really so what?

Basically I see no reason why the gentlemen in question cannot issue someone with a 10th dan certificate in aikido. It would be legitimate for them to do so, so if anything I suppose my query has the effect of promoting them rather than stripping them of their rank. But to say they are 7th dan in the organisation they left means that the legitimacy of any rank they issue ultimately stems from a rank they no longer have any need to hold.

Does that make sense?

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 12:46 PM
So to continue from my previous post, here's a hypothetical situation: Jane Doe trains with the Aikikai and achieves the rank of nidan, she then decides that the yoshinkan is better and jumps ship, the yoshinkan are feeling welcoming today so they recognise her rank of nidan and she trains hard with them until reaching the rank of yondan. However she now feels like she's made a mistake, she asks to rejoin the Aikikai and they say ok but you're a nidan not yondan says so on the certificate we issued you a few years back. Jane doesn't wish to throw away the recognition for all her hard work so she decides not to rejoin the Aikikai and instead strikes out on her own and creates the Jane Doe Kai school of aikido.

Is she still a 4th dan? Well, yes, she's got the certificate after all, nobody can deny that, but also no because what possible use is it to her in the Jane Doe Kai? If she's 4th dan then what happens when one of her students gets to 3rd dan? could she then promote them to the rank she holds? How about if they merited a 5th dan? Or is 4th dan the highest grade available in the Jane Doe Kai? The only solution is for her to be outside of the grading system and hold no rank herself.

To top it all off, what she's teaching bears no resemblance to yoshinkan aikido anyway, so the yoshinkan can quite legitimately say 'what you are doing is not yoshinkan aikido', that's not the same as saying we're taking away your 4th dan is it?

The people who have left the organisation to which I belong have never used the syllabus given by our organisation's founder (to the best of my knowledge), and I know for a fact that what they teach is technically different from what he teaches, more than that, they have differing philosophies from the man who issued their rank certificates. It is therefore perfectly reasonable for him, and for me as one of his senior students in this country to say, what you're doing is not our aikido, it is not representative of us.
Nobody is denying the rank they were awarded in good faith, nor am I questioning the validity of what they do, their ability, or their experience, in fact I would recommend people train with them because I always had a positive experience when I did so, I merely queried what it meant for them to use the rank they were issued in an advert for a seminar. Because to my mind it makes little sense to do so.

Mary Eastland
08-18-2017, 01:14 PM
As a 7th dan who was promoted by my teacher and husband who was a 4th dan when we left Kokikai, I can tell you that my rank is legitimate to me. I really don't care what anyone thinks. I know how much I am on the mat and I know what aikido means to Ron and to me.

If people want to know our pedigree we are very open about it. Certificates don't make a person a good teacher or a good student. An open welcoming dojo where students can learn how to defend themselves and become more aware is our goal. And of course, being able to train till we are dead. ;)

Ecosamurai
08-18-2017, 01:29 PM
As a 7th dan who was promoted by my teacher and husband who was a 4th dan when we left Kokikai, I can tell you that my rank is legitimate to me. I really don't care what anyone thinks. I know how much I am on the mat and I know what aikido means to Ron and to me.

If people want to know our pedigree we are very open about it. Certificates don't make a person a good teacher or a good student. An open welcoming dojo where students can learn how to defend themselves and become more aware is our goal. And of course, being able to train till we are dead. ;)

I'd say we're in agreement then. So I'm guessing he's not been advertising seminars by listing his rank as 4th dan for a while, because it would serve no purpose. If someone from the previous association says 'you're not really a 4th dan any more are you?' The only real answer is 'of course not'.

My interest in starting this thread was to try to discuss whether an aikido rank is analogous to a position in a company which expires if you leave, or more like a qualification such as a degree issued from a university, which you carry with you no matter where you go. I believe it's more like the former than the latter myself.

Michael Hackett
08-18-2017, 03:02 PM
Lessee, the head of an aikido organization in the UK trained and promoted some students to the rank of 7th Dan. But, according to Mr. Haft, they didn't really perform aikido as taught by the sensei in charge of the organization, but he promoted them anyway.

For some reason some of these people have left the organization and are continuing to teach aikido even in seminars.

As part of their seminar marketing they list that they are 7th Dan without making a claim to the organization or sensei who awarded the rank and Mr. Haft doesn't believe they should do that and doesn't believe that they still hold the rank even though he knows that it has not been revoked.

Since Mr. Haft wanted to know how others felt about the issue, my view is opposite his. I feel that these individuals remain 7th Dan and are entitled to call themselves that. If asked, I would expect them to state what organization awarded the rank. I certainly don't believe that they should claim their seminars are "My Former Organization Seminars" since they are no longer members of that group, but just aikido seminars taught by these individuals. An awful lot of people would not attend a seminar conducted by someone with no rank (assuming they don't know him by name and reputation), but would consider attending the teaching of a 7th Dan. That is just advertising based on something they apparently earned and paid for.

This whole debate makes me wonder about who and what group teaches passive-aggressive behavior as part of aikido training......

Hellis
08-18-2017, 04:44 PM
I don't think it is wise to post something on a forum such as Akiweb if you don't expect to hear something you don't wish to hear or agree with.
I have been involved in British Aikido from its inception in the 1950s, during those 62 years I have never rejected a grade from another teacher, neither have I rescinded a grade of a student.
In my opinion once you are graded, that is your grade. I have graded a couple of students over the past 62 years that I now regret, but I graded them, and it stands.

I agree with much of what has been posted by highly respected Aikidoka such as Prof: P A Goldsbury and Sensei P Burns along with Sensei M Hackett . Once you are graded, that is what you are.
I believe that It is disgraceful to ask a student of many years to be regraded to join another organisation.

I remember in 1960 (?) Sensei Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei on the instructions of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei regraded all the dan grades at the once famous Hut Dojo, all our grades were accepted except one, his name was Eric Dollimore, Eric was the first UK second dan, he was demoted to first dan, Nakazono stated " necessary sell your gi while prices are high " - I am sure it was meant in humour, it did in fact destroy one of the best Aikidoka ever in the UK. Sadly Eric never recovered from that humiliation.
Eric Dollimore was about 5ft 3in tall, he is one of the very few that ever took me apart in the old days when we tested Aikido for real.

Henry Ellis Co-author of `Positive Aikido`.
http://britishaikido.blogspot.com/
http://henryellis-aikido.blogspot.com/
http://kenshiroabbe.blogspot.com/

Hellis
08-18-2017, 04:51 PM
I don't think it is wise to post something on a forum such as Akiweb if you don't expect to hear something you don't wish to hear or agree with.
I have been involved in British Aikido from its inception in the 1950s, during those 62 years I have never rejected a grade from another teacher, neither have I rescinded a grade of a student.
In my opinion once you are graded, that is your grade. I have graded a couple of students over the past 62 years that I now regret, but I graded them, and it stands.

I agree with much of what has been posted by highly respected Aikidoka such as Prof: P A Goldsbury and Sensei P Burns along with Sensei M Hackett . Once you are graded, that is what you are.
I believe that It is disgraceful to ask a student of many years to be regraded to join another organisation.

I remember in 1960 (?) Sensei Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei on the instructions of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei regraded all the dan grades at the once famous Hut Dojo, all our grades were accepted except one, his name was Eric Dollimore, Eris was the first UK second dan, he was demoted to first dan, Nakazono stated " necessary sell your gi while prices are high " - I am sure it was meant in humour, it did in fact destroy one of the best Aikidoka ever in the UK. Sadly Eric never recovered from that humiliation.

Henry Ellis Co-author of `Positive Aikido`.
http://britishaikido.blogspot.com/
http://henryellis-aikido.blogspot.com/
http://kenshiroabbe.blogspot.com/

Ecosamurai
08-19-2017, 02:43 AM
This whole debate makes me wonder about who and what group teaches passive-aggressive behavior as part of aikido training......

If you think they earned it and are entitled to it that's fair, I only really wanted to see what people thought after all.
I do however object to your suggestion that this is passive aggressive behaviour. Passive aggressive has a particular meaning and definition, none of which apply to what's going on here. It appears you've only added it to the end of your post out of a desire to say something negative about someone you disagree with.

Ecosamurai
08-19-2017, 03:12 AM
I don't think it is wise to post something on a forum such as Akiweb if you don't expect to hear something you don't wish to hear or agree with.

Indeed, the nature of debate requires opposing points of view. I came here with the express intention of having a well mannered discussion, hoping people would disagree with me and explain why. So far, all that's happened is that people who have disagreed with my point have't really come up with a solid reason to justify it other than it's their personal opinion. Fair enough, but if that's all it is I'll ask again how it's meant to work? If I leave and get to keep my 5th dan, do all my students then get 4th dan as their highest possible rank? If they do then sure I'm a 5th dan after I leave, if they don't, well then, I'm not am I? At no point have I suggested the rank wasn't awarded or earned, nor have I denied they have it at all. Just saying what does it mean? Unfortunately there's not really a way to talk about this without it potentially being construed as a negative comment on those who've left, not my intention but, well...

It's all nonsense at the end of the day anyway, one of my sempai likes to talk about a sea kayaker who has a high level proficiency certificate in sea kayaking. As he's being overwhelmed by a huge wave he holds out his certificate and says "but look, I've got this certificate!" The certificate is only as good as you are at the end of the day.

Carsten Möllering
08-19-2017, 03:55 AM
My interest in starting this thread was to try to discuss whether an aikido rank is analogous to a position in a company which expires if you leave, or more like a qualification such as a degree issued from a university, which you carry with you no matter where you go.A position in company corresponds the different functions you can have in a ryű I think. I.e. shihan or shidoin, dôjô chô and so on. Titles like that name your function or position within a certain ryű. And if you leave the ryű you also leave the function and it's title behind.

dan is no title and you are not addressing someone with it. It is "Endô shihan" for instance, but never ever Endô hachidan. dan is a certificate that states your qualification in regard to the requirements of a certain ryű. (In my federation these requirements are actually written down. You can look them up and measure me by them.) The dan certificate corresponds the mokuroku or other certificates given out in koryű. So it just says, that you have acquired certain qualities. Just like a degree from a university.

Point may be that these qualities you reached don't match the requirements of a different ryű. So maybe you will want to start anew, alltough having reached a certain graduation in another ryű ...

Ecosamurai
08-19-2017, 04:37 AM
A position in company corresponds the different functions you can have in a ryű I think. I.e. shihan or shidoin, dôjô chô and so on. Titles like that name your function or position within a certain ryű. And if you leave the ryű you also leave the function and it's title behind.

dan is no title and you are not addressing someone with it. It is "Endô shihan" for instance, but never ever Endô hachidan. dan is a certificate that states your qualification in regard to the requirements of a certain ryű. (In my federation these requirements are actually written down. You can look them up and measure me by them.) The dan certificate corresponds the mokuroku or other certificates given out in koryű. So it just says, that you have acquired certain qualities. Just like a degree from a university.

Point may be that these qualities you reached don't match the requirements of a different ryű. So maybe you will want to start anew, alltough having reached a certain graduation in another ryű ...

Thanks!

I think I pretty much agree, but one more question I'd have would be. What if a dan grade was given with the intention of reflecting a position within a school? Rather than as a measure of having acquired certain qualities? In our specific example, ranks were given in good faith based on the level of experience of the people in question, they were given to help facilitate the creation of an organisation, with the expectation that those receiving them would then seek to acquire the qualities they were meant to represent, by doing things like adopting the founder's syllabus, attending his seminars, and generally trying to practice and work on what he teaches. In many cases that didn't happen - for reasons I shan't go into, but those reasons aren't the fault of either party, it just worked out that way - and those people have now left, which is quite understandable. Under these circumstances I'd say the rank they held doesn't reflect their abilities in the school at all, something I think they themselves would agree with. At best it could act as a rough guide to their length of time practising and teaching aikido, so it might well be fair for them to use it to promote themselves in that regard but I'm not sure what it really means.

Mary Eastland
08-19-2017, 06:51 AM
An expectation is a premeditated resentment.

rugwithlegs
08-19-2017, 09:48 AM
I trained in the Canadian Aikido Federation, and obtained shodan. I moved for work, and the only dojo in that city was a dojo that had broken away from the Ki Society. My rank was not acknowledged, neither was the nidan rank for another visiting physician.

The organization has the ability to decide whose previous training and rank they will honor. I went back to white belt. I didn't care much at first, I did just want to train and learn. I had done the same when I went to a Yoshinkan dojo, and I have done the same since ata Tomiki dojo. I have no problem saying I do not have a shodan level of understanding of the teaching method in these organizations.

Where it got weird this time is that I was actively helping students get ready for grading in short order. One local student started the same time as me, and was congratulated for doing variations that the head of the organization had never seen before (I had taught him those variations). He was given two kyu ranks at once for being so "creative." He lapped up that praise, as did the local teacher. Then, the whole room was given an extended lecture on why all other schools of Aikido suck so hard and so badly. I never disavowed my previous teacher or organization, and after 18 months and several seminars I never was given the chance to test for the lowest kyu rank. I practice the method, I claim no lineage in Ki Aikido.

Around New Years, an Aikikai Hombu fourth Dan was charged with a sexual assault or something like that, and I understand he lost his teaching position. His skills were not lost, and I assume his rank is intact. I have known other people who kept rank despite criminal behavior or unethical behavior. I find this a difficult concept as Aikido makes claims of being an ethical art. A nurse can lose their license for unethical behavior as can a lawyer. But, the skills are still there.

People can genuinely lose their skills through injuries and lose their knowledge through strokes or brain tumors; usually the ranks are left intact in my experience. While the rank stays, the actual instructor duties in the dojo at the local level might have to change temporarily if not permanently.

I have met a few who were given rank for other reasons than their skills. In other arts, being promoted in this fashion is noted on the rank certificate. Stanley Pranin had advocated this should be done with Aikido ranks but to my understanding it is not.

The only punishable offense at the organizational level seems to be disloyalty. One of the benefits of the Aikikai is that the group is so large that a student can find someone else to be aligned to, or they can work directly with the mother organization. Fractures in a dojo or a small area do not affect the larger group or training opportunities. IME, smaller organizations can be much more easily affected.

I took a decade getting to nidan, and as I approach my 30th year in Aikido I am sandan. I cannot clearly say what sandan means though.

Janet Rosen
08-19-2017, 06:05 PM
Lessee, the head of an aikido organization in the UK trained and promoted some students to the rank of 7th Dan. But, according to Mr. Haft, they didn't really perform aikido as taught by the sensei in charge of the organization, but he promoted them anyway.

For some reason some of these people have left the organization and are continuing to teach aikido even in seminars.

As part of their seminar marketing they list that they are 7th Dan without making a claim to the organization or sensei who awarded the rank and Mr. Haft doesn't believe they should do that and doesn't believe that they still hold the rank even though he knows that it has not been revoked.

Since Mr. Haft wanted to know how others felt about the issue, my view is opposite his. I feel that these individuals remain 7th Dan and are entitled to call themselves that. If asked, I would expect them to state what organization awarded the rank. I certainly don't believe that they should claim their seminars are "My Former Organization Seminars" since they are no longer members of that group, but just aikido seminars taught by these individuals. An awful lot of people would not attend a seminar conducted by someone with no rank (assuming they don't know him by name and reputation), but would consider attending the teaching of a 7th Dan. That is just advertising based on something they apparently earned and paid for.

This whole debate makes me wonder about who and what group teaches passive-aggressive behavior as part of aikido training......

yep, pretty much my take on it

Currawong
08-20-2017, 12:05 AM
In our specific example, ranks were given in good faith based on the level of experience of the people in question, they were given to help facilitate the creation of an organisation, with the expectation that those receiving them would then seek to acquire the qualities they were meant to represent, by doing things like adopting the founder's syllabus, attending his seminars, and generally trying to practice and work on what he teaches.

From what you describe, I'd suggest that your founding teacher has made some bad decisions when it comes to promoting people, and likely other matters.

I have met a few who were given rank for other reasons than their skills. In other arts, being promoted in this fashion is noted on the rank certificate. Stanley Pranin had advocated this should be done with Aikido ranks but to my understanding it is not.

In Japan people are either "shidoin" or honorarily ranked. Everyone knows who is who. As a consequence of the culture, people with an honorary rank never allow anyone to call them "sensei", even if they have 6th or 7th dan. Many of the people here with 5th to 7th dan are honorary -- "old boys" and "old girls" who have been training for 40+ years and are given rank depending on their seniority relative to each other, ie: who started earlier or later. They respect their teacher so highly and behave with such a high degree of propriety that they will not visit another dojo outside the organisation without the Dojo Cho's permission. I agree that such a system would not work outside Japan unless the ranks were indeed very publicly marked as honorary only.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about issues of rank over the last few years and I've decide that my rank only means two things: Firstly whatever it means to me personally. I'd be lying if I said that I thought rank was unimportant to me personally -- of course it is! I am really happy that a student of O'Sensei feels that I have attained the level that I have. Secondly, however, it means only what it does in the organisation I am in. If I go overseas and visit a dojo in, say, the USA (which I've done) someone of the same rank as me may have a different balance of abilities for the same rank, such as with weapons or particular techniques and/or ways of executing them.

When I re-started Aikido here in Japan, I reflexively did techniques the way I remembered and was often told "We do that technique this way here." until I adapted. If, for some reason I moved to another location and had to join another group, even within the Aikikai, as part of my introduction I'd probably say something like "I trained for X years under [my sensei] and apologies if I mistakenly do techniques the way I'm used to and don't copy your way of doing things so well at first." With all the drama in organisations, I can very much understand why foreign students of my own sensei, when they returned to their own country, decided to start their dojo instead of join the local organisation.

Rupert Atkinson
08-20-2017, 04:07 AM
At one extreme - one of my first instructors insisted that anyone who got a shodan in any style must wear his black belt when training - even not an Aikido BB. At the other, I have seen Aikido BBs told they need to regrade when joining a new style. I have also seen senior grades tell junior grades they are not worth their BBs even within their own style. In the UK there were various associations of marital arts that would accept anyone - so lots of hyper inflated grades. At the end of the day - grading is just hierarchical BS. If you are good at something, others will look for and notice skill and say, 'teach me'. If you have a BB cert, others will 'assume' you have skill and say, 'teach me', and often, they have no skill. The BB cert blinds some people. And sometimes they have a BB cert but little skill, so bad that everyone notices it. There are all sorts out there. Then as in this thread - some BBs rescinded for various reasons - some good ... some bad. An org can and will do whatever it wants. If the church kicks out a priest he is no longer a priest. If the police kick out a cop, he is no longer a cop. If a teacher is sacked for bad behaviour etc., he is no longer a teacher. He may still have the knowledge, but he can't teach. But they are big orgs. Aikido orgs are small - so it's all word of mouth. If you are out you are out - for better or for worse. If you don't let the kid with the ball in the team, there will be no game. It's all just human relations. If you find yourself out in the cold ... join a new org and show them your skill. If you have skill ... no problemo. Orgs will always be suspicious of new members if they claim high grades since grades = power in orgs.
Me - 2nd Dan for 27 years. When I had a club in Korea we had many visitors. Anytime there was someone of a higher grade - I let them teach, no matter the style. My first teacher was right!

robin_jet_alt
08-20-2017, 05:23 AM
I totally agree (assuming it's an organisation not a person that awarded it to you), however, what if you left on good terms but perhaps had a difference of opinion on the organisation direction? Is that any reson to give up on your awarded ranks?

That's a great hypothetical. If the organization is happy for you to retain the rank then that seems fair. I don't think this is the case, however.

My opinion is not legal, nor technical in any way. It is simply that personally, I would not want to claim a rank from an organization that I do not respect and has specifically asked me not to. Similarly, I would not respect somebody that did such a thing, and I would not want to join their dojo.

Peter Goldsbury
08-20-2017, 07:01 AM
Hello John,

I have already made my contributions to this thread, but I think your post deserves some extended comments, which are marked ‘PAG’.

To my mind, the various points you make underline the major structural problems with the dan system, as it exists in aikido. It seems generally accepted that Morihei Ueshiba began to use dan, as a way of personally recognizing skill levels of his students, after meeting Jigoro Kano, who used it in judo. It also seems to be the case that M Ueshiba was very liberal about awarding dan and that it was Kisshomaru who eventually established the system: the regulations that govern the Aikikai grading system today.
The regulations effectively tied the dan system to an organization and it therefore ceased to be something with the personal gift of the founder of the art. However, I believe that this process was gradual and is still evolving.
(The only thing that the present Doshu seems to have done is to stop giving the very high grades of 9th dan and 10th dan.)
The shihan title has also ceased to be something that comes automatically with rank, whether dan or menkyo, and is now awarded as a result of an application from the candidate’s organization.

I trained in the Canadian Aikido Federation, and obtained shodan. I moved for work, and the only dojo in that city was a dojo that had broken away from the Ki Society. My rank was not acknowledged, neither was the nidan rank for another visiting physician.
PAG: I assume this was a blanket policy. You do not give any dates, but I assumed from reading your post that this might have been at the time when memories of the previous splits—and therefore splits in general, were still raw. Personally, I would consider such a blanket policy unwise and have never practiced it in my own dojos.

The organization has the ability to decide whose previous training and rank they will honor. I went back to white belt. I didn't care much at first, I did just want to train and learn. I had done the same when I went to a Yoshinkan dojo, and I have done the same since at a Tomiki dojo. I have no problem saying I do not have a shodan level of understanding of the teaching method in these organizations.
PAG: You mention an ‘organization’ and ‘they’, then mention training at a couple of dojo (Yoshinkan and Tomiki), but the next paragraph suggests that it is the ‘head’ of the organization who makes the decisions.

Where it got weird this time is that I was actively helping students get ready for grading in short order.
PAG: How come? Were the ‘organization’ or ‘head’ aware of the new skills you brought to the dojo?

One local student started the same time as me, and was congratulated for doing variations that the head of the organization had never seen before (I had taught him those variations). He was given two kyu ranks at once for being so "creative." He lapped up that praise, as did the local teacher. Then, the whole room was given an extended lecture on why all other schools of Aikido suck so hard and so badly. I never disavowed my previous teacher or organization, and after 18 months and several seminars I never was given the chance to test for the lowest kyu rank. I practice the method, I claim no lineage in Ki Aikido.
PAG: Were the variations you were doing such that it was likely that the ‘head’ of an organization—and therefore someone reasonably proficient—would not have seen them?

Around New Years, an Aikikai Hombu fourth Dan was charged with a sexual assault or something like that, and I understand he lost his teaching position. His skills were not lost, and I assume his rank is intact. I have known other people who kept rank despite criminal behavior or unethical behavior. I find this a difficult concept as Aikido makes claims of being an ethical art. A nurse can lose their license for unethical behavior as can a lawyer. But, the skills are still there.
PAG: I have found over the years I have been training and teaching that the concept of aikido as an ‘ethical’ art needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt, if not a whole carton. The basis of my thinking this is the linguistic and philosophical training I received as a student. The argument is that you cannot logically derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ without extra premises allowing you to do this. It was Locke, Hume and the English empiricists who established this, but the original problem has existed ever since the ‘practical syllogism’ of Aristotle, who wanted to incorporate ethical and unethical propositions, which were supposed to lead to actions as a logical consequence, into his general logical structure. Aristotle was a scientist and took logic very seriously.
A whole philosophy of action has developed on the basis of Aristotle’s dilemma, with intentional actions being distinguished from movements and given an ethical dimension. However, the ethical dimension of an action derives from the action itself only within the a-priori moral and ethical framework in which it is set. This is why I do not believe that aikido is necessarily an ‘ethical’ art in the sense that you have suggested. Doshu and the Aikikai assume (they probably have to assume) that aikido skills will always be used in an ethical manner, that is, always ordered to the ‘good’ of the enemy or opponent (in this context, usually termed a ‘partner’). Even the interpretation of the name BU [武] has a ‘good’ (i.e., peaceful) interpretation.
However, it is a further step—and one not logically justified—to argue that the ethical manner (always in a ‘good’ sense; never in a ‘bad’ sense) of using these skills is intrinsic to the techniques of the art themselves.
I practiced marathon running for many years before my knee problems arose and I think this is a useful comparison. To run 26 miles over varied terrain requires a good level of stamina—and you also have to learn how to do it, especially how to pace yourself and regulate your breathing. So, the skill level is certainly there. You can, of course, compete, but I always did it as a solitary activity, even when I ran with friends. Someone set the pace, but the activity was still basically solitary. Much has been written about the ‘mystical’ aspects of marathon running, but there is no ethical dimension at all, such as is argued to exist in aikido practice. You simply get changed and set off—and the rest of the time it is you versus the ground. I came to aikido from marathon running and I approached the art as requiring an analogous set of skills, except that you had to deal with opponents. I then trained with K Chiba and this experience more or less set the tone of my future training.

People can genuinely lose their skills through injuries and lose their knowledge through strokes or brain tumors; usually the ranks are left intact in my experience. While the rank stays, the actual instructor duties in the dojo at the local level might have to change temporarily if not permanently.
PAG: Agreed.

I have met a few who were given rank for other reasons than their skills. In other arts, being promoted in this fashion is noted on the rank certificate. Stanley Pranin had advocated this should be done with Aikido ranks but to my understanding it is not.
PAG: In Japanese there is the term 名窯. So 名窯教授 is a title given to retired professors. The usual English equivalent is emeritus professor, and I myself was given this title when I retired. It is awarded, so it is not automatic, and is given on the basis of a continued record of research, publications, and administrative tasks (‘skill’ in other words: in my case devising examination questions for university entrance) after becoming a professor. I believe there is such a category in the Aikikai, but I do not think it is evident from the diplomas given. I am aware of this because I am considering giving such a dan to a student of mine. The student has been training for many years and has skills well beyond the level of shodan, but has always avoided ranks of any kind. He trains with his young adolescent son, who is moving up though the kyu grades and will eventually become a yudansha. Japan’s is still a ‘face’/shame culture and this is the reason why I suggested to his father that he obtain his black belt.

The only punishable offense at the organizational level seems to be disloyalty. One of the benefits of the Aikikai is that the group is so large that a student can find someone else to be aligned to, or they can work directly with the mother organization. Fractures in a dojo or a small area do not affect the larger group or training opportunities. IME, smaller organizations can be much more easily affected.
PAG: In Japan, apart from the cataclysmic conflicts that affected the entire organization, such as Tohei Sensei’s withdrawal, organizations always have to deal with factions and factionalism.
The dojo in Hiroshima where I trained for 25 years was created through a split with another group and this other group also had to split because a section became a front for a violent gangster (yakuza) group. Factions and splits are everyday facts of life here, probably due to the essentially vertical structure of the teaching and training system. Young students are introduced to sempai and kohai when they are at junior high school and this is something that they will encounter for the rest of their lives. This is generally known and I think one reason why the Aikikai has survived in one piece after Tohei’s departure was that Kisshomaru allowed a large measure of independence to the senior students of his father: after all, he had been one of them. So the ‘factions’ were allowed to survive within the larger organization. This is now changing, to the extent that very few of these senior students are left and the personal transmission from the Founder himself has to be replaced with another ‘ideology’, to replace the ‘collective memory’ of this personal training.

I took a decade getting to nidan, and as I approach my 30th year in Aikido I am sandan. I cannot clearly say what sandan means though.
PAG: In the present Aikikai dan system, there is a broad division between dans one to four, and five to eight. The latter diplomas are larger and the wording in Japanese is slightly different. In my case, I was told that I had to go to the Aikikai to receive the diploma from Doshu personally, but I do not think this always happens with those who live outside Japan. As for your final statement, why would you need to? To convince yourself that you have the requisite skill level?

I had better stop here, since I have just become aware of the length of this post.

Michael Hackett
08-20-2017, 02:59 PM
Mr. Haft,

You are correct. You asked for thoughts from others and several have shared them. Some have essentially agreed with you and others, myself included, have disagreed. These are opinions as best I can tell and it doesn't seem that there are any known rules, laws, principles, or theories that specifically address the issue, so you received opinions and nothing more refined than that.

I did add the negative comment because I believe it truly described your narrative. I didn't add it for the shear joy of being negative, I just "call 'em as I see 'em". You are obviously a very bright and articulate individual and surely you know that when someone begins describing an issue of such magnitude on this site, that others will clearly know what organization and which individuals are being discussed without being named. If this discussion causes the people involved discomfort and humiliation you can always and truly assert that you did not name or identify them. That sir, is what I identified as passive-aggressive behavior. If it was not, then I am wrong. That has happened before.

Ecosamurai
08-20-2017, 04:40 PM
If this discussion causes the people involved discomfort and humiliation you can always and truly assert that you did not name or identify them. That sir, is what I identified as passive-aggressive behavior. If it was not, then I am wrong. That has happened before.

Ah, ok, I can see that now. Yup that could look passive aggressive. However I'd ask for the benefit of the doubt there. I've not waded knee deep into the digital sewer of online discussion for many years, I'm out of practice at getting my point across politely and without ambiguity - text based conversations by their nature are devoid of the body language and tone of voice that make meaning clear, so they can easily be received differently than intended. It genuinely didn't occur to me just how negative what I was talking about might sound online. So, my bad on that one.

James Sawers
08-20-2017, 05:29 PM
Can I get in here with the original question, 'cause it seems interesting to me. My rank is registered with my organization and with Hombu Dojo in Japan. If I thought of it at all, I always thought my rank traveled with me, as with the PhD mentioned earlier. If I wanted to start my own dojo, I would, I think, need to show my lineage to perspective students, to show my credentials, so to speak. Other than that, I would not indicate my former alliance with my old system, except as needed to show that I am not some overnight (well, not at my age, anyway) MASTER.

James Sawers
08-20-2017, 05:50 PM
As a PS: I would add that if I were to formally join another organization to train with, I would not automatically assume that they would recognize my former rank.

James Sawers
08-20-2017, 06:29 PM
And another PS: After reading more of these posts, a question was posed about the rank of someone who would start their own aikido organization. Would they have no rank? If they were, say, a 3rd or 4th dan, could they promote past their own rank?

Just curious.....

Ecosamurai
08-21-2017, 03:12 AM
And another PS: After reading more of these posts, a question was posed about the rank of someone who would start their own aikido organization. Would they have no rank? If they were, say, a 3rd or 4th dan, could they promote past their own rank?

Just curious.....

In every case where I've known someone who has started up on their own they've said they had no rank. In the case of my first teacher his last awarded grade was 2nd dan (his teacher died). But he awarded grades higher than this by virtue of having begun his own organisation. He never claimed to have been graded higher than nidan, and never hid that he was issuing grades higher than that. One of the difficult questions we had was when advertising seminars we had no way of knowing what grade to put on them because clearly he wasn't a nidan so far as his abilities went. So we just left the grade off, save for one occasion where somehow the rank of 8th dan got put down on a poster - I don't recall why now - only time I heard anyone ask who gave him the 8th dan or question what he was teaching was that particular seminar, and that was because of what had been put on the poster.

ninjedi
08-21-2017, 09:31 AM
For some reason some of these people have left the organization and are continuing to teach aikido even in seminars.


Here's my question: Who is attending these seminars? Is it members of the same organization that these people have left? If the answer is yes, then I do think there is a level of extreme dishonesty going on.

Otherwise I am very confused. Where I am from it is pretty uncommon for someone affiliated with one organization to attend a seminar hosted by someone affiliated with another (or no) organization.

:confused:

john.burn
08-22-2017, 04:12 AM
In every case where I've known someone who has started up on their own they've said they had no rank. In the case of my first teacher his last awarded grade was 2nd dan (his teacher died). But he awarded grades higher than this by virtue of having begun his own organisation. He never claimed to have been graded higher than nidan, and never hid that he was issuing grades higher than that. One of the difficult questions we had was when advertising seminars we had no way of knowing what grade to put on them because clearly he wasn't a nidan so far as his abilities went. So we just left the grade off, save for one occasion where somehow the rank of 8th dan got put down on a poster - I don't recall why now - only time I heard anyone ask who gave him the 8th dan or question what he was teaching was that particular seminar, and that was because of what had been put on the poster.

Did you ask your original teacher to remove his 7th dan btw? He claims 7th dan on his own website. Old as the info may be, you're name checked on there and the mention of 19 dojo in the UK. On the thread on e-budo it's claimed his 7th dan came from Maruyama sensei, directly by you, and i quote "His 7th Dan was awarded him in 2004 by Koretoshi Maruyama who was himself an uchideshi of O Sensei and formerly the Chief instructor of the Ki Society."

http://www.in2networks.eclipse.co.uk/links.htm

This also has the Yuishinkai name all over it, however, the people mentioned in the original query don't. Did you report your first teacher on here?

john.burn
08-22-2017, 05:02 AM
Actually, Mike, on his latest website for his new martial art (Yeshua-do - the way of Jesus??) - he claims
"8th Dan (Black Belt) and Shihan, affiliated w/ K.Maruyama Yuishinkai International, and Koichi Tohei Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido"

Surely this is far worse than someone stating rank but not stating affiliation nor any existing connection to your teacher?

http://www.yeshuado.com/geoffrey-flather.php

EDIT: Yeshua-Do might not be his invention, his 8th dan is signed from canada.

john.burn
08-22-2017, 06:04 AM
Here's my question: Who is attending these seminars? Is it members of the same organization that these people have left? If the answer is yes, then I do think there is a level of extreme dishonesty going on.

Otherwise I am very confused. Where I am from it is pretty uncommon for someone affiliated with one organization to attend a seminar hosted by someone affiliated with another (or no) organization.

:confused:

It's an open seminar, anyone can attend. If members of the old organisation attend (if they're allowed) then that is not the issue of the organising teachers. One more time, they have not advertised themselves as having any present affiliation to the group they left.

If I was part of an organisation that restricted who I can play with or who's seminars I could attend I would be leaving them in a heart beat.

robin_jet_alt
08-22-2017, 07:27 AM
Actually, Mike, on his latest website for his new martial art (Yeshua-do - the way of Jesus??) - he claims
"8th Dan (Black Belt) and Shihan, affiliated w/ K.Maruyama Yuishinkai International, and Koichi Tohei Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido"

Surely this is far worse than someone stating rank but not stating affiliation nor any existing connection to your teacher?

http://www.yeshuado.com/geoffrey-flather.php

EDIT: Yeshua-Do might not be his invention, his 8th dan is signed from canada.

I'm not sure that a specific person was referenced. I think it's easy enough to put two and two together, but to be honest, there are quite a few people that are in the situation that was initially referred to. The person you just brought up is another one of them, and I'll agree with you that this seems dodgy as hell and worse than the other situation. I'm not sure why you are getting quite so hung up about this one person, though. Just because someone else is worse, does not make the first person's actions any less bad.

john.burn
08-22-2017, 07:55 AM
I'm not sure that a specific person was referenced. I think it's easy enough to put two and two together, but to be honest, there are quite a few people that are in the situation that was initially referred to. The person you just brought up is another one of them, and I'll agree with you that this seems dodgy as hell and worse than the other situation. I'm not sure why you are getting quite so hung up about this one person, though. Just because someone else is worse, does not make the first person's actions any less bad.

Because this is the first teacher of the originator of this thread, he stated above about him being a 2nd dan but then also a few years back clearly knew he was also given a 7th dan from the same teacher but unlike the poster guys, his first teacher still lists himself as being connected to Maruyama sensei and his group.

This is worse, begs the question, if this was done out of his duty to his current teacher or being a senior UK teacher then why'd he not use this as the example? This is worse than original subjects and the consensus would appear the original example is acceptable behaviour.

I think this particular example (the first teacher) is in no way acceptable, other than, he was given a 7th and can claim to have been given one. Obviously he has since been promoted to 8th dan by yet another group. But his assertions to be still connected to the Yuishinkai are clearly not correct as worded and might have been more unversally accepted as not an ok thing to state.

ninjedi
08-22-2017, 08:14 AM
If I was part of an organisation that restricted who I can play with or who's seminars I could attend I would be leaving them in a heart beat.

Not even remotely close to what I said.

Don't put words in my mouth, thanks.

Ecosamurai
08-22-2017, 03:55 PM
Because this is the first teacher of the originator of this thread, he stated above about him being a 2nd dan but then also a few years back clearly knew he was also given a 7th dan from the same teacher but unlike the poster guys, his first teacher still lists himself as being connected to Maruyama sensei and his group.

This is worse, begs the question, if this was done out of his duty to his current teacher or being a senior UK teacher then why'd he not use this as the example? This is worse than original subjects and the consensus would appear the original example is acceptable behaviour.

I think this particular example (the first teacher) is in no way acceptable, other than, he was given a 7th and can claim to have been given one. Obviously he has since been promoted to 8th dan by yet another group. But his assertions to be still connected to the Yuishinkai are clearly not correct as worded and might have been more unversally accepted as not an ok thing to state.

I'm far away from a keyboard other than my phone so I'll be brief. I made an error in not posting this thread on aikiweb anonymously to properly shield those concerned and allow this discussion to be had entirely in the abstract as was my intention. I want to here and now offer my most sincere apologies to everyone involved for that mistake. It never occurred to me to think people would be singled out and discussed on the internet like this.

Scott Harrington
08-25-2017, 03:58 PM
1. Does EcoSamurai have special powers that allow he / her to post without a name attached?

2. How large is the axe that Ecosamurai has to grind with someone? Pretty large.

3. Is Ecosamurai thin skinned? Yes. Ssssshhhhh! Passive Aggression monster around corner.

4. If they don't accept the rank, then just move on without putting money in their bank.

5. You bought, you keep it. (Time, money, sweat)

6. Trying to do Japanese things without being Japanese ain't gonna happen. You break 5 'unwritten' rules just walking in the door.

7. This discussion moved Aikido how much further? Yeah.

Scott Harrington