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Fitznutz
09-22-2002, 10:11 AM
Hello all,

I posted about a guy that is in my class just a bit ago and i have another question about something. He aquired his orange belt before he came to our class. A friend of mine said something to sensei about how he got his belt cause this friend of mine and Mr. Orange know about the same amount of stuff, sometimes i think Mr. Orange knows less. Sensei replied " I don't know where he got his belt but i have to respect it." To me this seems wrong. I don't have a single clue about how to attain rank and belts but i was under the impression that you had to have the approval of your sensei and then go to some kinda "official" thing to get it. Maybe i'm wrong but if sensei doesn't think he should have attained orange then i would think others probably would feel the same. What do you all think?

DaveO
09-22-2002, 11:24 AM
To be absolutely blunt, I think that's your Sensei's decision.

Sorry, don't mean to be a jerk, but I'd strongly advise you not to get into the habit of second-guessing your Sensei.

Dave

Fitznutz
09-22-2002, 11:47 AM
oh hell no,

i'm in no way saying my sensei is wrong. I was just curious about the ways of aquireing rank and if sometimes people get rank and others wonder how they got it. I don't know enough to say someone should or shouldn't be a certain rank, i respect rank, you have to or your not going to last long in this world. It just sounded to me that sensei himself wondered if the said person should have aquired it. Is that a common feeling with teachers that get new students with rank?

Remember i'm as new as they come, i'm just curious.

Kenny

Kevin Wilbanks
09-22-2002, 12:01 PM
I don't think that's a very useful reply, Dave. We should not turn off our brains when we enter the dojo, and most of us couldn't even if we wanted to. I have a very curious skeptical mind, and I have a very hard time accepting arguments from authority. I have been willing to suspend disbelief about teachings based on the experience and authority of a martial arts teacher... temporarily, but I expect to one day understand the whys and why nots of any teaching for myself. To me, that's what learning is.

If he finds himself doubting his sensei's decisions to the point of 'habit', he'll probably have to find another sensei. Depending upon the sensei, moving on could be a good thing. What if Ken shows up to class next week and his sensei unfurls a giant Nazi flag and starts lecturing about racial purity? Would you still say 'don't second-guess the sensei'?

Ken,

In this situation, I think you should definitely keep quiet about your doubts around the sensei and fellow students. Also, given the nature of the issue, I'd say you'd be better off not worrying about it and trying to stay focussed on your own training. In my experience, it is not uncommon to have visitors or transferred students, or even people within one's own dojo who seem undeserving of their rank. I've known a woman who got a shodan in 2 years in Japan whose skills were worse than many 4th kyu at our dojo. We had a visitor once who got a Sandan from some place who could barely take ukemi or do ikkyo. In many dojos, people will eventually get promoted just by virtue of having been there for a long time, even if they test poorly. Their rank is not your rank, and only you can decide how important yours is to you.

I decided rank wasn't important to me for most of my time training. Now that I'm more of a free agent, having a disproportionately low rank to my experience is a bit of a pain. Oh well. You make your bed, then you lie in it.

aikido_fudoshin
09-22-2002, 02:41 PM
I know how you feel Ken. Even from the short amount of time that I have been with Aikido I have noticed great differences in ability and rank from dojo to dojo. Unfortunately this whole ranking system is suppose to mark your abilities and is a representation of what you have accomplished in Aikido. I have come to despise the ranking system mainly because of the lack of consistency and the way it pushes people to compare themselves with one another (I even feel the whole sempai/kohai thing is taken a bit to far aswell). For many, this is a difficult thing to look past but I feel the reason one should take Aikido is to work their hardest on improving themselves and try their hardest on bringing the best out of others while not thinking about rank or others abilities.

G DiPierro
09-22-2002, 06:30 PM
As for Ken's original post, I can't understand how someone could say that he doesn't know where the rank came from but that he has to respect it. Why? What if the guy gave himself the rank? Or what if he got it from an unrecognized teacher who is not sanctioned by any organization? Perhaps there is some misunderstanding, but it would be seriously abnormal to accept a rank without validating that it was awarded by a reputable teacher or organization. Even if the student has a rank through an organization, usually a teacher will want to know who, specifically, awarded that rank. Once it has been established that rank comes from a reputable source, the rank will usually be respected as a courtesy to the teacher and organization that awarded it rather than to the student.

Ken, if I were you I would want to know where the student trained and recieved his rank out of curiosity if nothing else. Your teacher should be in a better position than you to assess what this student's actual ranking should be, and he may well feel that the student deserves his rank based on his behavior on the mat. But I would not call this respecting his rank as much as respecting his technique. You should know the difference, and if you are still puzzled about the situation then maybe you should approach your teacher about it in a diplomatic manner.

Choku Tsuki
09-22-2002, 06:50 PM
What my Sensei does is make the new guy re-take the test for the last grade he says he earned.

He gives him all the time he wants.

In the meantime there is a lot more going on than simply waiting for that test to happen.

Who knows more about Mr. Orange Belt's background and capabilities? My bet is on your teacher.

--Chuck

rank

noun: relative standing or position

adjective : offensive in odor or flavor

Shoshinsha
09-22-2002, 08:35 PM
I've faced issues of rank (the noun) so many times it makes my head spin. Every dojo is different, but a comment from a sensei like, "I don't know where he got it..." seems rather unprofessional and aloof. In my experience, if a sensei feels that a transfer student is ready for a higher kyu, the sensei will make the student take the test and see what happens. In all other situations, my senseis have bluntly said, you're starting at scratch here if you didn't get tested in our affiliation already (most dojos seem to be like this).

Testing and rank is good for the student and the dojo for a variety of reasons:

- it makes a student focus on more specific elements before moving on

- it allows other students to observe the progress of those around him or her

- it gives a sense of confidence to older students when they work with beginners, both in the sense that beginners trust them more, and that the older students trust themselves more

- it's an additional source of income for the dojo

- it gives the sensei a chance to see what points to focus on in his or her teachings

However, I think that multi-colored belts are tacky and offensive, and I feel that pride deriving from rank is just as equally offensive, but kenshusei deserve their place in the inner circle, because if someone's willing to devote himself or herself to Aikido like that, it is their right to certain additional privileges and classes, for the safety of beginners, and for the continuation of more advanced training. I do not appreciate being treated as an inferior just because someone has a prettier belt than mine, and frankly, people who do so have some major issues to deal with on their own.

On a lighter note, if your sensei is so cavalier about allowing people with pretty belts to wear them in class, get a pretty belt for yourself. They sell them in plenty of supply stores and if not, I'm sure you can find one on-line. You could always try tie-dye!

-Sho

Edward
09-22-2002, 10:38 PM
There are a few guys at my dojo who got their belts for political reasons, while mine has been considerably delayed fror the same reasons. I just destroy the guys on the mats at every opportunity and show them my real abilities.

Jason Tonks
09-23-2002, 02:27 AM
All right Ken. Good topic, the infamous rank subject. I personally think if you start at a new dojo you should ask that Sensei if they accept your rank. If they say yes fine, go ahead and wear that belt, if no then you need to decide whether or not to train there. At our dojo our Sensei always allows practicioners from other dojos to to wear whatever belt they have. If they can practice with the people in our dojo of the same rank at their level and intensity of training there's no problem. It's up to the practicioner to be honest with him/herself. Having said that there's no point fretting over someone elses rank, it's not a race!

All the best Jason T

JJF
09-23-2002, 04:52 AM
There are a few guys at my dojo who got their belts for political reasons, while mine has been considerably delayed fror the same reasons. I just destroy the guys on the mats at every opportunity and show them my real abilities.Destroy ? I'm just guessing here, but maybe that attitude is what keeps you from raising in the grades. It doesn't seem like a very 'aiki' attitude to me.

DaveO
09-23-2002, 05:55 AM
I don't think that's a very useful reply, Dave. We should not turn off our brains when we enter the dojo, and most of us couldn't even if we wanted to. I have a very curious skeptical mind, and I have a very hard time accepting arguments from authority. I have been willing to suspend disbelief about teachings based on the experience and authority of a martial arts teacher... temporarily, but I expect to one day understand the whys and why nots of any teaching for myself. To me, that's what learning is.

If he finds himself doubting his sensei's decisions to the point of 'habit', he'll probably have to find another sensei. Depending upon the sensei, moving on could be a good thing. What if Ken shows up to class next week and his sensei unfurls a giant Nazi flag and starts lecturing about racial purity? Would you still say 'don't second-guess the sensei'?
I'd like to apologise for the surliness of my earlier remark; it's not usually like me to let a REALLY bad night at work come out in what I type. Sorry 'bout that, Ken, and everyone else. Still, I stand by what I said, please let me explain what I meant by it. :freaky:

I believe that there are times; particularly when one begins training in a new area, where one should take things 'as read'. In other words, trust your teacher implicitly, unless real good grounds not to trust him/her are present. Remember, in this case, the Sensei is not only responsible for teaching the Dojo, he's also responsible for running it; managing the organization, that includes seeing to it that all protocols and regulations are properly followed. He's the one in the position to know whether or not to accept 'Mr. Orange Belt's' orange belt, if he has accepted it, he has accepted it for the dojo and all its members. Therefore, what's good enough for him should be good enough for all members of that dojo. If, as stated elsewhere, 'M.O.B.' is demonstrating lack of ability or attitude worthy of the position, then it becomes something one should bring to the Sensei's attention.

Now, if the Sensei does or says something obviously and/or blatantly incorrect or bad, (such as unfurling a big Nazi flag - Kevin, you have to admit that example was a little over-the-top), then question away. But until then, trust your teacher.

Dave

Edward
09-23-2002, 07:56 AM
Destroy ? I'm just guessing here, but maybe that attitude is what keeps you from raising in the grades. It doesn't seem like a very 'aiki' attitude to me.
It's more like trashing, if you like. And, no, I don't have a very aiki attitude. Can you describe aiki attitude please? Does it mean love and peace? And no again, this is not the reason keeping me from raising in the grades.

James Trueman
09-23-2002, 08:25 AM
Many years ago I proposed a related question to members of an Aikido organisation I belonged to, 'who recognises our grades?', the reply I received contributed to my current view and response. Aikido is not in the belt or dependant on who awarded it, Aikido is on the tatami, is in our technique, however variable between the many styles and schools. A belt is a superficial representation of where we are, but as with many things, representation is open to interpretation - techniques may vary, but if they are strong, effective and appropriate what matter what we wear around our waist.

Ken, in saying the above ultimately your sensei is responsible for the safety of his class, the belt system can help us ensure that appropriate grades train together if needed, but it is not foolproof, as others have cited - the belt system is applied differently. Your sensei may make a choice based on safety or perhaps on technique, if Mr Orange wants to work within the teaching system used in your club, then he may have to fit into that system, that is up to him and your sensei - it's your job to learn Aikido and help everyone you train with to learn to the best of your ability. Don't stop thinking or questioning - it's what keeps us alive.

JJF
09-23-2002, 08:30 AM
It's more like trashing, if you like. And, no, I don't have a very aiki attitude. Can you describe aiki attitude please? Does it mean love and peace? And no again, this is not the reason keeping me from raising in the grades.Hi Edward!

You got me cornered here since I'm not really sure what the difference is between 'destroying' and 'trashing'. Anyway both words implies in my ears a lack of care for your training partner, which I believe to be at least a part of what I call 'Aiki attitude'. And no! I am not one of these 'aikido is a dance' or 'embrace the world through love' type of aikidoka but I do believe it to be essential that one treats ones trainingpartners with respect and care for them - even if they are total pinheads :D

Mind you this is my conception of what would be ideal - not the way I practice. I still have a long way to go before I can say my attitude is 'aiki'

Edward
09-23-2002, 10:29 AM
Hi Edward!

You got me cornered here since I'm not really sure what the difference is between 'destroying' and 'trashing'. Anyway both words implies in my ears a lack of care for your training partner, which I believe to be at least a part of what I call 'Aiki attitude'. And no! I am not one of these 'aikido is a dance' or 'embrace the world through love' type of aikidoka but I do believe it to be essential that one treats ones trainingpartners with respect and care for them - even if they are total pinheads :D

Mind you this is my conception of what would be ideal - not the way I practice. I still have a long way to go before I can say my attitude is 'aiki'
Well, actually this kind of treatment is reserved to those who get their ranks by lobbying the instructor (a Thai lady) responsible for accepting and rejecting grading applications. Lobbying includes wining and dining, a** kissing, occasional financial contributions, and total submission and servility to her needs and demands.

Rest assured, I do trash them with (undeserved) respect and care, and I have never injured anyone in aikido so far. They just might feel a little dizzy and confused after practicing a few techniques with me.

(Actually they refuse to practice with me for a while now :))

Bruce Baker
09-23-2002, 11:41 AM
I have seen some pretty smug attitudes from people who do other arts, and have yet to go through the colored belts, and for my money they should scrap the whole thing, but it has not only become a firm money maker but a measurement for level of achievment.

Personally, I think it is very obtuse and petty to judge anyones ability on or off the mat, unless you have a narrow mind?

I understand how we think the recognition our peers, our accomplishments in our lives will mark the significance of our being alive, and our level of acomplishments, but who cares?

A hundred years from now, who really will care if we were slightly better than this person, or not as good as that person? You put too much weight in the justification of marks of training, when indeed, the training is the thing that gives you the insight of skill, forsight of thought, and humility of character that will mark your importance to others.

Stop worrying about what sensei says, or if he/she recognizes a colored belt that seems to be hollow in your judgement. You should worry about why you are judgeing others to be inferior, and look to your own house of morality.

Let the money scheme of colored belts take care of itself, your training, your understanding of practice, and your ability to grow in application of Aikido along with your polishing the spirit is in jeopardy with this type of judgemental thinking ... let it go.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to practice at the highest level of your skill, but try not to use anger, or injure the new guy, huh? It will all come out in the wash ... with time.

SeiserL
09-23-2002, 11:47 AM
IMHO, whoever gives the rank, is sanctioned to give or accep the rank, or own the school I want to study at, has the right to give and accept on whatever criteria they see fit. I must trucst my Snesei to know what he his doing. Even though I would not have promoted me, personally. I guess I would suggest that we take other people's ranks less seriously and personally than we do our own. And, I would suggest we don't take our own rank too seriously or personally.

Until again,

Lynn

rgfox5
09-23-2002, 12:19 PM
An interesting note: According to the sensei at a Steven Seagal (Taka sensei) dojo I visited, Taka sensei requires that any yudansha that didn't get his shodan from him retake that test before being allowed to wear their black belt at a Seagal dojo. By the way I saw Seagal sensei's Path Beyond Thought video and once more was astounded by the man's speed and ability. I could have done without all the comments by his students though, they took up video time which could have been used to show more of Seagal in action.

giriasis
09-23-2002, 01:28 PM
Mr. Orange's rank represents the level and ability his previous dojo gives to "orange". That's it. What "orange" means in your school is obviously different. Your sensei may recognize his "orange" rank, but I'm sure Mr. Orange will have to meet your sensei's qualifications for the next rank. So don't worry about it.

With that said, rank only tells you where you generally are in your particular dojo. I was ranked 5th kyu at my old dojo. When I changed schools, I realized that I was not really at a 5th kyu level at my new school. So, I decided to just start over from the beginning. I was only 5th kyu at my old school not my new one. Three years later, I'm really glad I did start over. All the people I used to train with at my old school are now "black belts." Well, they are the level of black belts for that organziation. If I stuck around, I would be a black belt, too. Yet at my present school, I'm gladly and proudly a 3rd kyu and still have a very long way to go before I'm a black belt. There is just so much more to learn where I'm at now.

Everything is relative. Even ranks from dojo to dojo are relative. I use it to give myself a measure as where and what I need to work on and learn to be better. Outside of that, even comparing my rank to others in the school, rank is useless.

opherdonchin
09-23-2002, 02:10 PM
There are a lot of ways that rank is both interesting and useful, as a phenomenon within the aikido world. There are a lot of ways that it gets in the way and can even be problematic.

One of the ways in which I've found it interesting is precisely in the way it brought me to wrestle with my own goals and aspirations and desires as I progressed in AiKiDo. I started out feeling strongly that rank didn't matter to me. I remember avoiding my 5th kyu test for a long time. At some point I realized that avoiding the test was a way of showing how much it mattered to me. Later, I had to wrestle with feling like I deserved rank that I hadn't yet received. These sorts of opportunities to question myself and look deeper into my own attitudes towards my art, my sensei, my place in the art have always been really helpful to me and to my AiKiDo. They are one of the most important things about rank to me.

ajbarron
09-23-2002, 03:40 PM
I have had the opportunity to visit dojos in Canada and the U.S. I have seen all colors of belts and many different styles of aikido. I have seen shodans who seemed 5th kyu and 5th kyu's who could have been shodans.

I aspire to improve. I test to test myself. I pressure myself on most tests because it brings out the best in me.

This weekend we had a shodan party for a new black belt. The new black belt sponsored the party to thank all those in the dojo ( beginners to our teacher) for helping him achieve his rank, by either improving his skills, or by him teaching them, which helped them to improve and for him to better understand his own by helping others.

I don't begrudge the yellow belt or shodan from another dojo who has recievd there rank through a different system. Hopefully they can teach me to be a better aikido practitioner and I them.

When I earn my shodan I will finally begin to really learn aikido.

Young-In Park
09-23-2002, 03:59 PM
When I earn my shodan I will finally begin to really learn aikido.

Why do people have to wait until shodan to "really learn aikido"? How come kyu-ranked people can't "really learn" it right now?

YoungIn Park

Jermaine Alley
09-23-2002, 05:26 PM
Oh Yeah,

i am definitely of the opinion that you shouldn't be concerned about another persons rank.

In our dojo, rank is only questioned around testing time, to decide what you are going to test for next and who is leading classes.

Correct me if I am wrong, but historically, whether it be chinese wushu, or budo, rank was never an issue. There weren't "ranking systems" the way that there are now. There were white belts and black belts. The "western ranking system" was brought about, because us westerners needed to see smome kind of sign of progression.

I am definitely a novice in martial arts compared to most of you, but I think there is just too much attention put on issues of rank. There are definitely too many ego's out there in different colored belts looking for more "rank" to boost up an inflated ego.

When i train, i take everyones' opinion and experience in to help my waza. In other words, i always try to keep my cup empty.

jermaine

akiy
09-23-2002, 05:35 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but historically, whether it be chinese wushu, or budo, rank was never an issue. There weren't "ranking systems" the way that there are now. There were white belts and black belts. The "western ranking system" was brought about, because us westerners needed to see smome kind of sign of progression.
Actually, the belt colors distinction (including the white/black belts) was popularized by Jigoro Kano sensei, the creator of judo. Before then, most koryu used scrolls to denote the "level" attained by its students.

(And, yes, the "white belt gets darker as one trains because it gets dirtier" is an oft-repeated urban legend as well.)

-- Jun

Erik
09-23-2002, 06:07 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but historically, whether it be chinese wushu, or budo, rank was never an issue. There weren't "ranking systems" the way that there are now. There were white belts and black belts. The "western ranking system" was brought about, because us westerners needed to see smome kind of sign of progression.
I'm not sure it was for Westerners. I think it was an attempt by Kano to do what we always accuse ourselves (the heathen Westerners) of doing with the Japanese. I believe he wanted a way of showing progress or differentiating students. I believe it even had a motivational intent as well.

As far as colors they were instituted in Europe sometime in the 30's or 40's if I remember correctly.

My thoughts are not terribly coherent right this second. I'll see if I can find a link on it.

j0nharris
09-23-2002, 06:36 PM
I'm not sure it was for Westerners. I think it was an attempt by Kano to do what we always accuse ourselves (the heathen Westerners) of doing with the Japanese. I believe he wanted a way of showing progress or differentiating students. I believe it even had a motivational intent as well.

As far as colors they were instituted in Europe sometime in the 30's or 40's if I remember correctly.

My thoughts are not terribly coherent right this second. I'll see if I can find a link on it.
From what I have read, Jigaro Kano started the colored belts for his children's classes, to give them rewards for achievement.

As for recognizing rank, everyone in our dojo pays fees to join the Aikikai, and has the card to show at any dojo we may go to. While not an absolute measure of rank, it does at least show recognition from Aikikai Hombu.

Just my two cents....

AlanWardroper
09-23-2002, 07:09 PM
Why do people have to wait until shodan to "really learn aikido"? How come kyu-ranked people can't "really learn" it right now?

YoungIn Park
Really, all this fuss over an orange belt? What's the real difference between an orange or a blue or a pink belt?

The literal translation of Shodan is beginner level. Kyu grades are just a lead-in. The whole concept of becoming a "black belt" as a goal is pretty strange in Japan, where you'd be disappointed to learn it's generally quite easy to get to shodan in many martial arts. (I've seen people do it in a year or two.) All it means is they have a grounding in the basics, don't fall over too much, and are ready to begin learning.

Just my 2JPY worth :)

MaylandL
09-23-2002, 08:27 PM
IMHO, I think that the ranking system is over emphasised. I think what is important is our journey for improvement in our aikido and what we do to improve our practice of aikido.

That is not to say that ranks do not have a place. They do but not as a way of comparison with other aikidoka but as a means of measuring your own progress against a standard. Comparisons are not going to be possible unless the same syllabus and grading requirements are used. I'm not sure that comparing myself to other people is that useful. That said I have often said to myself " I would like to know how this person does what he/she does because they do that really well".

On a more personal note I regularly train at two dojos. Initially I joined the second dojo on a casual basis to get some extra mat time. After two years, I joined as a full member and the shidoin and sensei at the second dojo accepted my ranking given to me at my first dojo, though I had no expectations that I would have the same rank.

As to the safety question as an argument for the ranking system, I think its a valid concern. IMHO, as responsible aikidoka, we need to take personal responsibility to train safely and take care of Uke regardless of their experience. When I visit another dojo to learn a different way of doing aikido I contact the shidoin or sensei to ask if I can train with them and to provide a little of my aikido experience and the lineage of the Senseis that I train under and ask them a few questions regarding etiquette for visitors. I dont tell them my rank unless they ask me because the grading standards I went through is likely to be different to their grading standards.

In addition, their way of aikido is likely to be different so I'm going to be a "beginner" all over again. Its the diferences that I am interested in learning when I visit another dojo.

Happy training all :)

Erik
09-23-2002, 08:51 PM
Don't know the legitimacy of any of these but they agreed with me and that's what counts. :)

Please note that there's a better article than these out there but I didn't bookmark it and can't find it right this second.

http://www.shuyokan.com/home/mararts/genjitsu/historybb/historybb.htm

http://www.24fightingchickens.com/shotokan/belts/rankhistory.html

Conrad Gus
09-23-2002, 09:26 PM
Hi all,

I wanted to relay a personal story related to the original post.

I moved to a new city about a year and a half ago. I left an excellent club and joined an equally excellent club in my new city. Both clubs are Aikikai, but the new club is under a different Shihan, so there are some style differences.

My new Sensei and fellow students, recognized my rank at the time (ikkyu) which was an honor considering the circumstances, which I will explain. Differences in training method and technique details were enough to really throw me off. I felt fairly comfortable and confident in my old dojo but now found myself making mistakes and even fouling up some of the fairly basic dojo etiquette.

My point is that it is not easy to change from one dojo to another, and your friend the Orange belt is not having an easy time. He needs understanding training partners and senior students to get through the transition. Would it be better to retest for his current rank? As others have pointed out, that is for Sensei to decide. Sensei is most likely taking into account all that this student is going through. Perhaps in time things will get easier for him.

Conrad

G DiPierro
09-23-2002, 09:31 PM
Thanks for posting those links, Erik, they were very informative. I had not heard before that the intermediate colors originated in Europe. Can anyone else confirm this? Perhaps this may be the reason why intermediate colors are generally not used in Aikido.

As to the subject of rank being such a big deal, I personally believe that this is precisely the reason why it takes so long to receive shodan in this country compared to Japan. I have read the theories about the Japanese prefering that they have higher ranks than Westerners, and there may be some truth to them, but I can't help thinking that if Americans did not generally think that wearing a black belt means so much that it would not take so long to receive the rank usually required to wear one in Aikido.

In traditional arts, the color of a belt is considered no more significant than the color of a gi or hakama. Iaidoka obviously wear obi to keep their swords in place, but in many arts, such as kendo, belts, per se, are often not even worn.

Although the issues of rank and dress are frequently considered the be the same thing, it should be clear that they are not. Even when using the modern dan-i ranking system rather than the traditional makimono system it is by no means required that the there must be some sort of dress code that corresponds to ranking. Again, kendo and iaido are good examples of this. Quite frankly, I find that the almost religious conviction within the mainstream martial arts community in the West that there must be such a relationship is childish and somewhat militaristic and I believe that it has no place within a serious study of budo.

AlanWardroper
09-24-2002, 12:41 AM
<SNIP>I just destroy the guys on the mats at every opportunity and show them my real abilities.
正勝吾勝

御親心に

合気して

すくい活かすは

おのか身魂ぞ

True victory is self victory...?

Ben_t_shodan
09-24-2002, 12:49 AM
Hello all,

What do you all think?
Lets keep the situation the same:confused:, but change it a bit. Lets pretend that you are a clerk at a gas station. You are low on the totem pole so you get to stack shelves. Another guy gets transferred from another store, they say that he has experience so he gets to be the “pump attendant.” one step above your job. He is just crappy at it!!!:eek: Who will get their next promotion first?

He mite be higher rank, but how long will it be before your sensei thinks he is ready to test?

Your Uke

Ben

P.S. I hope I didn’t just confuse everyone, if so just ignore me!:D

Tadhg Bird
09-24-2002, 01:38 AM
As to the subject of rank being such a big deal, I personally believe that this is precisely the reason why it takes so long to receive shodan in this country compared to Japan. I have read the theories about the Japanese prefering that they have higher ranks than Westerners, and there may be some truth to them, but I can't help thinking that if Americans did not generally think that wearing a black belt means so much that it would not take so long to receive the rank usually required to wear one in Aikido.
I had it related to me that the quality of an American shodan is usually better than that of hir Japanese counterpart. The theory being that a Shodan ranking is so much more a BIG DEAL to the American that they equate it with excellence par none, where the Japanese see the aquisition of a dan rank as a routine starting point. After all, you can get a dan ranking in sake drinking, so what's the big deal? As the legend was told to me, I guess that however the Japanese Nidan, Sandan, Yondan ... is considered better quality than thier American counterparts.

All things being relative, YMMV.

Smooth Roads,

tadhg

Abasan
09-24-2002, 02:35 AM
At my old dojo, an orange belt was for 4th kyu. So when I first joined my new dojo, i wore that belt on the first day... kinda hoping that I didn't have to start from the beginning. Everyone was staring, but I didn't care. It didn't affect me at all.

Till later I found out that they weren't really bothered that I already had a kyu grade. To them, the test of that is on the mat. They just found it funny that I was wearing a child level belt (8th kyu) for their dojo, and some of the children later told me that i looked really old for a kid.

I was told all this when I retook my 5th kyu again, by sensei with a real straight face.

Moral of the story: Go to new dojo, put on white belt.

G DiPierro
09-24-2002, 03:31 AM
the Japanese see the aquisition of a dan rank as a routine starting point.
Right, as Alan pointed out, the literal translation of shodan is "beginner's level." The character for sho in shodan is the same as in shoshin, "beginner's mind."

If it was meant to mean "first level," you would think they would have used ichidan instead. My translation program lists the translations for ichidan as "more, much more, still more, all the more." Which sounds exactly like the amount of training required for shodan in the US. Strange.
After all, you can get a dan ranking in sake drinking
I hope you are joking.
As the legend was told to me, I guess that however the Japanese Nidan, Sandan, Yondan ... is considered better quality than thier American counterparts.
I don't see how this follows. The last version of Hombu dojo promotion requirements that I have seen enable a student to reach sandan or yondan in the time it takes a USAF student to reach shodan. I don't see how they would all of sudden catch up with us and overtake us when it takes them less practice days to reach each rank. A senior American instructor who spent a good deal of time training in Japan stated that in his opinion American aikido is much better than Japanese. I think he was speaking in general terms about all ranks, and I am inclined to give some weight to his opinion.

JJF
09-24-2002, 03:45 AM
Well, actually this kind of treatment is reserved to those who get their ranks by lobbying the instructor (a Thai lady) responsible for accepting and rejecting grading applications. Lobbying includes wining and dining, a** kissing, occasional financial contributions, and total submission and servility to her needs and demands.

Rest assured, I do trash them with (undeserved) respect and care, and I have never injured anyone in aikido so far. They just might feel a little dizzy and confused after practicing a few techniques with me.

(Actually they refuse to practice with me for a while now :))
Hmmmm... in that case I can easily understand why you would make that nikkyo just a wee bit 'tighter' :D I would probably do exactly the same ;)

I have seen dan-grades handed out for political reasons, but luckily enough the Aikikai in Denmark might be influenced by politics and ambitions, but it is of little importance in our every-day training. I hope you wont let yourself become discouraged and that things will start to improve for you.

Steven
09-24-2002, 04:13 PM
Ranks aquired at other places

My issue with this is not the ranks themselves, rather the person who shows up at the dojo, makes it perfectly clear they want to attain shodan with no thought about etiquette, tradition, principles, etc, and insists on shoving their certificates in my face to prove they were worthy.

I had this happen twice within 3 months. Two students, seeking shodan. Neither belong to an organization that could be traced back to any major group or instructor. Watching them take ukemi was painful and one could not even make nikajo work on 14 year old. But yet they both wanted me to grade them to shodan. Neither would take advise or instruction and refused to do things in our manner, thus putting our students in a dangerous situation.

One boasted about how great his ukemi was. Not a good thing as I but that to the test. Needless to say, he crashed and burned then complained about how hard I through him and barked even louder for making him tap out of my osae waza. Too funny!

On the other side of this of this, I had a nidan from the Aikikai train with me for a while and his only desire was to learn. To me it doesn't matter as long as the person respects our customs and makes an effort to learn our ways.

That's my nickles worth anyway ...

tittle
09-24-2002, 05:30 PM
There are a lot of ways that rank is both interesting and useful, as a phenomenon within the aikido world. There are a lot of ways that it gets in the way and can even be problematic.
Yes, I'd agree. I started out in another dojo (in a galaxy far away, etc) in which I attained 2nd kyu rank. Last year I started Aikido again. The first dojo had been independent, this dojo is Aikikai affiliated, so after some discussion, I agreed to start over. [Practically speaking, since none of my ranks had been registered (?) at hombu, it would have been difficult for him to recognize any ranks for me.] It was quickly apparent to me that what had been 2nd kyu work at my old dojo was more equivalent to 5th or 4th kyu at this one anyway.

So...I've learned to drop rank itself from consideration and look at the actual ability of my ukes when working with them. I adjust this way, not to their actual rank (though of course for purposes of who starts when we pair off, etc I have to keep it in mind). It's helped by everyone just wearing white belts until shodan (took me some time to get used to, we had different colored belts at my old dojo). I find I prefer this now.

Anyway, back to the OP's initial post, it may be that if this orange belt guy's rank is registered somewhere, the sensei is respecting that. Although I've found it interesting some of the other commetns on having "transfer" students retest at their claimed level. What happens if they don't pass? Wait and try that test again later?

--Cindy

Jermaine Alley
09-24-2002, 09:22 PM
Jun,

you see there..that is why this website is so important...information. To rid us of "urban legends" and the such.

Thanks alot for your insight..

jermaine

JJF
09-25-2002, 04:58 AM
Hi Cindy!

I know this makes me look like a pedant, but as far as I know Hombu dojo has never registred any kyu grades - at least not any achieved outside Japan.

giriasis
09-25-2002, 01:25 PM
Yes, but at least in the USAF they are registered with the USAF. I'm assuming that is like this in other organizations as well.

I have seen my sensei accept kyu ranks across organizations. We had a visitor for about 6 months from South Korea and my sensei recognized his third kyu. (He was very good btw and we all loved training with him.) Although, his school in South Korea is affiliated with the Aikikai Hombu.

batemanb
09-25-2002, 07:17 PM
Hi Cindy!

I know this makes me look like a pedant, but as far as I know Hombu dojo has never registred any kyu grades - at least not any achieved outside Japan.

The certificates given for adult kyu grades at our dojo`s are all given in Doshu`s name and signed with his seal. There is also a half seal on them, the other half of the seal on another paper held at Hombu for verification. Kyu grade certificates for the kids are issued by our Kaicho, in his name.

We are in Japan though.

G DiPierro
09-25-2002, 09:49 PM
In the US, kyu grades they are typically issued by the national organization only. However, my understanding is that a student who requests it can also have the grade registered through Hombu. This would seem to be what it is meant by Article 11 of the Hombu International Regulations (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/Eng/InternationalRegulations.htm), which states that "All practitioners of Aikido must become members of the Hombu at the time of the registration of the 1st dan grade or earlier. [emphasis added]"

I beleive that registering a kyu rank with Hombu also entitles one to a "yukyusha book," the kyu grade equivalent of the Hombu yudansha book. Of course, you should contact your national organziation if you have any questions on its specific policies.

Edward
09-30-2002, 02:44 AM
Hmmmm... in that case I can easily understand why you would make that nikkyo just a wee bit 'tighter' :D I would probably do exactly the same ;)

I have seen dan-grades handed out for political reasons, but luckily enough the Aikikai in Denmark might be influenced by politics and ambitions, but it is of little importance in our every-day training. I hope you wont let yourself become discouraged and that things will start to improve for you.
Thanks for the advice. Of course I continue to train as hard as ever. I do believe that rank should be achieved through training and training only. But maybe that's too old-fashioned now.

ai_chiron
10-01-2002, 02:34 PM
Don't know the legitimacy of any of these but they agreed with me and that's what counts. :)

Please note that there's a better article than these out there but I didn't bookmark it and can't find it right this second.

http://www.shuyokan.com/home/mararts/genjitsu/historybb/historybb.htm

http://www.24fightingchickens.com/shotokan/belts/rankhistory.html
Here are two URLs I have bookmarked about the subject. Both agree that colored belts for were introduced in Europe.

http://www.judoinfo.com/obi.htm

- on the "Judo Information Site"; states that "Sensei Mikonosuke Kaiwashi introduced various colored belts in Europe in 1935 when he started to teach judo in Paris".

http://www.concentric.net/~Budokai/articles/belts.htm

- on the articles section of "Budo Kai", a web site belonging to Fox Valley Martial Arts. This article is written by the Chief Instructor, Don Cunningham. This is the most complete article about Kano Sensei and belt colors I've stumbled across on the web. Scholarly, with footnotes and everything, and cites personal correspondence with Meik Skoss when speculating about Dr. Kano's reasons for creating the kyu/dan system in the first place.

Interesting observation: the concept of kyu/dan existed before anyone ever wore belts to publicly indicate their rank. Other, non-martial occupations have kyu/dan ranks as well. Go is a good example.

leh

blackburnaj
10-01-2002, 06:14 PM
I have often comtemplated this very subject. I think for me, as some have already written, it is more on what you actually bring to the mat. Aikido for me should be oriented around self defense. The perks are the great philosophies and people associated. So as far as what rank you have aquired in your life means nothing when confronted in real life. So personally, I train to be effective. When your technique gets proficient, the rank will come. Fortunately for us, we train in an art that does not require a certain level before given more advance ranks.

I have also had problems with the whole rank structures and changing dojos. I trained for a time in the military where I tested for my 5th kyu, in Iwama style Aikido. When I got out and started at my current dojo, I was unsure what to do. I eventually took my 3rd kyu test. (After asking for the opinion of my sensei. ) People came up to me with nice comments on my 2nd kyu test. So again it does not matter what rank. I do believe in focus and rank structure but it should be secondary. I have gone to some dojos where things are drastically different. They told me after walking in the door how long it would take to reach shodan. They also wore hakimas at all ranks. Although I definately don't discount what they had to teach, I was uncomfortable. I have training with much zest, not as many years as most, but I want to put on my hakama while being a shodan. People worry to much... and I am long winded. Back to the mat for me.

peace and jokes, aj

Erik
10-01-2002, 11:48 PM
http://www.concentric.net/~Budokai/articles/belts.htm
This is the link I was looking for. Thanks for posting.

JJF
10-02-2002, 03:56 AM
The certificates given for adult kyu grades at our dojo`s are all given in Doshu`s name and signed with his seal. There is also a half seal on them, the other half of the seal on another paper held at Hombu for verification. Kyu grade certificates for the kids are issued by our Kaicho, in his name.

We are in Japan though. I stand corrected (as so often before... :D). No wonder Doshu is so busy that dan-certificates takes up to more than a year to arrive with his signature. Maybe it's time to appoint a 'vice-doshu' who can take care of kyu-certificates... ;)

MattRice
10-02-2002, 10:07 AM
I feel that someone else's rank is someone else's problem. I've enough to worry about just trying to get through the day. It's Sensei's responsibility to assess ranks and all that rot, not mine...thank goodness!

HOWEVER: I could see it becoming a problem if someone came in, claiming a certain rank and then hurt someone cuz they didn't know what they were doing...this would be a most unfortunate situation, and again would be Sensei's responsibility

siwilson
10-02-2002, 04:24 PM
I have had many students come to my dojo with various ranks gained elsewhere. I respect that they have attained these ranks and I welcome them wearing their belts in class.

Training is done (normally) with anyone, reguardless of rank, at their level. When it comes to practicing the techniques required for testing, they practice those for promotion from white belt to yellow belt (7th Kyu). On their first exam they wear a white belt and then wear their attained belt in our school there-after. Basically, they are tret as would be a visitor until their first exam. Most put on a white belt shortly after joining though.

I have had karate students come on the mat and wear their belts - coloured belts and black belts - and I have never had a problem with that, as long as the class is aware of who they are training with.

As far as Aikido black belts are concerned, if they are deserving of the standard of our school, then they remain wearing their black belt until they have passed all the gradings up to shodan. Personally I don't believe they should wear hakama, as I think it is vital to see students feet and legs.

My late Master told me 2 things relevant to this thread:

"The belt is there to hold you trousers up!"

&

"Show your true colour!"