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Kung Fu Liane
08-07-2003, 09:55 AM
heya,

has anyone heard of aikido teachers who give grades to (non-dan grade) students without the student performing a formal grading?

thanx

diesel
08-07-2003, 10:02 AM
Do you mean a situation like.. one night in a normal class your sensei will just say.. "You are now 5th kyu.." ?

I have seen this done before, mainly for deshi though.

Depends on the sensei and the person. I do not beleive there is any formal requirement for kyu ranks saying that there has to be a formal testing board?

Cheers,

Eric

Hanna B
08-07-2003, 03:01 PM
Heard of it, but never seen it happening. Ichimura sensei, who was responsible for aikido in Sweden until he left in -86, was wellknown for giving out grades in the sauna after training etc. Even heard about a grade given to the student by post card! This was before my time, though. Grading procedures are more normal here now.

Joe Jutsu
08-07-2003, 03:50 PM
I doubt that this scenario happens very often. Correct me if I'm wrong, but testing is a way that dojo's or perhaps the greater organization as a whole get's alot of its income. If this isn't the case, then why aren't ranks always awarded without the test and its fees?? I'm sure most sensei's have a good idea of what level their students are at through day to day training, and probably don't recommend that one tests until they know that they are ready. So why not just say "ta daa, you're now kyu or dan number x"?? :freaky:

Joe

Hanna B
08-07-2003, 04:20 PM
I believe the fee is for the grade and not for the test, so skipping the test would not make much of a difference when it comes to costs.

Aristeia
08-07-2003, 07:40 PM
I don't see any real problem with grades being handed out this way. Ideally the teacher should have enough of a handle on the day to day capabilities of a student to know what level they are at. Indeed given some of the gradings I've seen pass I can only assume that their non grading ability has been taken into account. Having said that I've always thought that because (most of us) don't do competition, gradings are the one place we have to see how our technique fares with the nerves/adrenalin pumping.

Bronson
08-08-2003, 01:05 AM
I've always thought that because (most of us) don't do competition, gradings are the one place we have to see how our technique fares with the nerves/adrenalin pumping.

This is what our gradings are for. Sensei wouldn't put you up if he didn't know you were capable of doing it. The test is to see if he can "take your center". He wants to see if you can overcome the nerves and carry on.

Recently we had two people in our dojo promoted to nikyu without a formal grading. The reason they were given their promotions was because they both led aiki-taiso (warm up exercises) at our national summer camp. Sensei and the other high ranks watched them and all agreed that even though they were nervous they got it under control and did a fine job. They had shown they could perform under pressure therefore no need for the test.

Bronson

JJF
08-08-2003, 02:30 AM
Actually grades given by recomandation are in some associations more expencive than those given after a formal test.

My first teacher received both his shodan and his nidan by recomandation. I think perhaps the shodan was by Ichimure sensei and the nidan was by Nishio sensei, but I'm not certain. It was many years before I took up aikido.

In my experience grading by recomandation is often used when a sensei travels far to get to a country where aikido is in the making. In some situations it is used to promote good people with a lot of experience, who for some reason don't want to test.

Of course grading by recomandation is the only real way for political gradings.

Just a few thoughts on the matter

DavidEllard
08-08-2003, 09:12 AM
A Friend of mine got his last grade (nikyu) by being it awarded as oppossed to a grading panel.

We had two senior Swedish (noticing a pattern?) Instructors over for a weekend course and our sensei asked them to have a look at this guy who they were thinking of grading up. So they watched him and, in effect tested him, for the whole weekend.

Then at our next training session he was award the next grade.

I think it was a nice way of doing it (course work over exams as it were) but i think it's probably important to see how people deal with grading pressure by the time they are nearing dan grades.

rachmass
08-08-2003, 09:40 AM
I've had personal experience with this. The first dojo I belonged to had kyu ranks from 7th through 1st, and I double promoted twice. The second dojo (lost all rank mind you and started afresh) I was triple promoted on a test, and just awarded a rank one day (came into the dojo and found people congratulating me on my promotion-odd that was). All were kyu grades; none were expected.

Don't think it is a big deal, or out of the ordinary. If you are training a good deal, your teacher sees you a lot and knows where you are. My teacher seemed to like the element of suprise, and I certainly had to go through the ringer of testing most times (and usually with a good deal of notice). Actually rather like the suprise promotions specially now that I am preparing for my (most likely) final test; and stressing inordinately about it!

paw
08-08-2003, 09:50 AM
Michael, David:

This is off tangent, but I can't resist....
Having said that I've always thought that because (most of us) don't do competition, gradings are the one place we have to see how our technique fares with the nerves/adrenalin pumping.
I think it was a nice way of doing it (course work over exams as it were) but i think it's probably important to see how people deal with grading pressure by the time they are nearing dan grades.

It seems that there is the implication that a grading exam is a stressful situation. It may not be. From personal experience, it has never been for me.

Why would it be, when you think about it --- particularly for kyu grades. The person being tested knows what is expected of them (the requirements), probably knows the attack uke will give and what technique they (the person being tested) will respond with, most likely knows who uke will be (the people they train with daily, or have seen at seminars), and will not be getting a completely uncooperative uke.

Regards,

Paul

Kung Fu Liane
08-08-2003, 03:26 PM
paul,

i find that gradings are stressful, because when i take a grade i do it for my teacher, so i don't want to let them down. aikido gradings are different because i have moved schools now and deon't know the teacher too well, but kung fu gradings are a different kettle of fish

guess it depends on what a grading means to you

-Liane

Aristeia
08-08-2003, 05:10 PM
Paul,

While I certainly agree that a grading doesn't come close to the stress of actual randori or combat, for many organisations it's the closest they get. Many times it's infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with, plus the audience etc. I'm not trying to say it is a valid substitute for the sparring you find in other arts, but if you take as a given that that's not available it does offer some value.

paw
08-08-2003, 06:09 PM
Liane,
i find that gradings are stressful, because when i take a grade i do it for my teacher
Is that why you train? For your teacher?

Mike,
While I certainly agree that a grading doesn't come close to the stress of actual randori or combat, for many organisations it's the closest they get.
If the most stressful thing a student does doesn't come close to combat, isn't it a dis-service to make any claims towards self-defense?
Many times it's infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with
Why not? Is that some kind of fundamental violation --- sensei and senior students don't train regularly with the "unwashed" kohai?
I'm not trying to say it is a valid substitute for the sparring you find in other arts, but if you take as a given that that's not available

Why is it [sparring] a given it's not available? Was Tomiki wrong?

Is sparring about winning? Most boxers, bjj'ers, judo players and, yes, those Tomiki folks would say "sparring" is about learning.

To return to the issue at hand, and Liane's last question, my own personal opinion are gradings are so subjective, why not just award them without an "exam"? Works for me.

Regards,

Paul

Erik
08-08-2003, 11:02 PM
Why is it [sparring] a given it's not available? Was Tomiki wrong?

Is sparring about winning? Most boxers, bjj'ers, judo players and, yes, those Tomiki folks would say "sparring" is about learning.
As you know Aikidoists are amongst the deadliest of the deadly and sparring would bring about a catastrophe of biblical proportions. The water would run red with blood, plague would be in the streets, the oceans would foam, the sky would darken for the end would be near.

Paul, it's not a given everywhere, well, almost not everywhere. :)

opherdonchin
08-08-2003, 11:53 PM
As you know Aikidoists are amongst the deadliest of the deadly and sparring would bring about a catastrophe of biblical proportions. The water would run red with blood, plague would be in the streets, the oceans would foam, the sky would darken for the end would be near.It's funny that you mention it because that is EXACTLY what happened last time we tried it at our dojo. We though we were doing something wrong, but I guess sparring in Aikido is just like that. Took a hell of a long time to clean up the mats, I can tell you, and we haven't tried it since.
Many times it's infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with
Why not? Is that some kind of fundamental violation --- sensei and senior students don't train regularly with the "unwashed" kohai?I think the idea is that many places, kyu testing is done by a number of dojos together and so there are unfamiliar people on the mat (like at a seminar).

Kung Fu Liane
08-09-2003, 04:47 AM
paul,

no, i train for me, and grade for my teachers.

paw
08-09-2003, 05:27 AM
Erik,
Paul, it's not a given everywhere, well, almost not everywhere.

Exactly the point I was hinting at to Michael.

Opher,
We though we were doing something wrong, <snip>

You were. Period. See for example, Erik's dojo. Or the post on "help with randori/freestyle" (name escapes me) and re-read Peter's posts on the subject.
I think the idea is that many places, kyu testing is done by a number of dojos together and so there are unfamiliar people on the mat (like at a seminar).

LOL! Go to a few seminars and you'll start to see the same people. Even the situation you mention is the same way. The people are familiar, and are trained in the same methods with the same testing criteria ---- they are not greatly dissimilar. And the key points, they are not completely uncooperative ukes, and there is a great deal of "known" structure for much of the test --- ie the attack is specified and the response is specified.

Liane,
no, i train for me, and grade for my teachers
Why not train and grade for you? (That's a retorical question, there's no need to respond)

Regards,

Paul

Erik
08-09-2003, 10:06 AM
You were. Period. See for example, Erik's dojo.

For the record, I'm nomadically challenged.

Aikilove
08-09-2003, 01:44 PM
Liane,

If the most stressful thing a student does doesn't come close to combat, isn't it a dis-service to make any claims towards self-defense?
I had the (un)fortune to be attacked by two guys in full daylight recently (on my birthday at that!!). I must say for me I never was stressed (surprised and later confused yes but not stressed) when it happend. I remained calm and tossed them as they came (the first tried to suckerpunch me, the second kick me) and then called the police. I was actually more worried afterwards that I had hurt them and that they were going to sue me, but they weren't (hurt that is!).

I personaly find the dayly training much more challanging than that event. But that's me. Then again I have since long convinced myself that what I do work and I always see people around me as potentional partners in the dojo (i.e. the world), and so hopefully never have the doubts that could make me freeze when I shouldn't. That time it worked! They were my partners nothing more.

Oops way of topic!

Tim Griffiths
08-10-2003, 12:33 AM
Michael, David:

It seems that there is the implication that a grading exam is a stressful situation...Why would it be, when you think about it --- particularly for kyu grades. The person being tested knows what is expected of them...[snip]
Maybe in some dojos. In mine, there are set techniques that will be asked for, but the sensei will also ask for a lot more, whatever he thinks the student can handle.

The gradings are designed to be stressful, for exactly the reasons given by others.

Tim

Tim Griffiths
08-10-2003, 12:38 AM
I doubt that this scenario happens very often. Correct me if I'm wrong, but testing is a way that dojo's or perhaps the greater organization as a whole get's alot of its income...
You asked...

We don't charge for kyu grades. The dan grades (Aikikai) come with a fee, which goes completely to Japan. There was no fee for my non-aikikai yudansha exams either.

Actually, I think our club should charge a modest fee for kyu grades ($20 or so) - to make a 'mat-repair kitty'.

Tim

paw
08-10-2003, 05:25 AM
Tim,
Maybe in some dojos. In mine, there are set techniques that will be asked for, but the sensei will also ask for a lot more, whatever he thinks the student can handle.

The point is, sensei tells nage what technique to perform and often tells uke what attack to use. The fact that the student can handle techniques that aren't technically on the agenda highlights the cooperative partner.

Regards,

Paul

Adrian Smith
08-10-2003, 07:42 PM
In our dojo Sensei hands out a form we fill in when he feels we're ready for testing. It's from Aikikai Honbu (I don't know if other aikikai-affiliated dojos use the same form so please forgive me if this is old information). On it there's a section marked "Method" (or similar) which has two choices:

o Testing

o Observation

So it looks like our grades can be awarded by observation alone, rather than by testing. I haven't seen it happen yet, though, and I don't know how often (if ever) it does...

-drin

Aristeia
08-11-2003, 12:30 AM
Paul,

I've been off a while so will respond to (I hope) all of your points at once.

It's a given that randori is not availible in many places because the bulk of Aikido dojo don't do it in any formal sense. I'm not saying that's good or bad but it is the reality. Unless you're doing tomiki or some similar variant, aikido simnplydoes not focus on sparring. Which isn't to say it doesn't happen in an "informal" way amongst like minded students. To some people this is Aikido's downfall, to others it's it's selling poing <shrug>. I'd guess the majority of the people on this list do not do much in the way of sparring (in the sense we're talking about) during formal class time - that's why I take it as a given.

Of course there's no rule about the sempai training with the kohai. We operate a satellite dojo, with gradings being performed by our shihan in at our hombu. Some people manage to get to hombu/seminars often, others are more confined to the satellite. For these latter people the hombu instructors and students are unfamiliar.

I understand where you're coming from, as someone who dabbles in BJJ I have come to understand the value of sparring and it's an aspect of my cross training I really enjoy. Whether we should spar in Aikido and if so how that should be set up is another thread and one which I suspect has been done before. My point is simply that given that many many dojos don't spar, grading is all you have left to observe technique in an environment that is more stressful than day to day training.

Bronson
08-11-2003, 02:21 AM
It seems that there is the implication that a grading exam is a stressful situation...Why would it be, when you think about it --- particularly for kyu grades.

I've often wondered this myself. I've talked about this with people in our dojo who have to deal with real life & death stress in their daily lives. Police, emergency room doctors, emergency medical tech. etc. All of them have said that their aikido gradings have been some of their most stressful times. In talking with them, and in my own experiences it really comes down to more of a performance anxiety than any type of physical stress. All of the people I've talked with have gotten themselvs so worked up in the time prior to testing that they fill themselves with self-doubt. It's not like the stress of outside situations where you don't have time to think about what's going on. Before the test you may have days/weeks/months to think about it. Lots of time to think of all the horrible things that could happen to you during the test :D

Bronson

paw
08-11-2003, 05:48 AM
Michael,
I've been off a while so will respond to (I hope) all of your points at once.

Actually, you replied with how things are done in aikido --- which was something I was aware of.

You wrote:

While I certainly agree that a grading doesn't come close to the stress of actual randori or combat, for many organisations it's the closest they get.

I asked:

If the most stressful thing a student does doesn't come close to combat, isn't it a dis-service to make any claims towards self-defense?

You wrote:

Many times it's <testing> infront of a sensei and senior students they don't regularly train with.

A statement you clarifed by writing that not everyone makes it to seminars ergo, they don't know everyone --- which is exactly what Opher wrote. I reply to you as I did to him:

Go to a few seminars and you'll start to see the same people. Even the situation you mention is the same way. The people are familiar, and are trained in the same methods with the same testing criteria ---- they are not greatly dissimilar. And the key points, they are not completely uncooperative ukes, and there is a great deal of "known" structure for much of the test --- ie the attack is specified and the response is specified.
My point is simply that given that many many dojos don't spar, grading is all you have left to observe technique in an environment that is more stressful than day to day training.
Ok. I submit that grading is highly subjective and not particularly dissimilar from regular training. I see no reason why rank cannot be awarded without kyu/dan exams.

Regards,

Paul

paw
08-11-2003, 05:54 AM
Bronson,
I've talked about this with people in our dojo who have to deal with real life & death stress in their daily lives. Police, emergency room doctors, emergency medical tech. etc. All of them have said that their aikido gradings have been some of their most stressful times.
Ok, if that's what they say. But one should get better at something over time --- given an acceptable training method. We could expect that someone's ukemi will be much better after 5 years, than it was in the first year. Seem reasonable?

In the same way, I think it reasonable that if someone feels "performance anxiety" for their first exam, they shouldn't feel the same degree of anxiety for their fifth exam. If they do, I suspect there is a coaching problem.

I would say the same about self-doubt. If the training method doesn't give the student a good indication of what they are capable of, there is a problem with the training method and/or the coaching that is provided to the student.

Are these unreasonable expectations?

Regards,

Paul

Ron Tisdale
08-11-2003, 08:09 AM
Hi Paul,

I haven't read this entire thread yet...I'll go back sometime today and do that. But I did notice the following:
In the same way, I think it reasonable that if someone feels "performance anxiety" for their first exam, they shouldn't feel the same degree of anxiety for their fifth exam. If they do, I suspect there is a coaching problem.
I'm not sure I follow this. Each test should indeed make you more and more comfortable with the testing process in general...but each test should also be progressively harder. More material required, different material required (weapons, paired weapons, more uke, etc.), a higher standard for the techniques, even the shite waza. So, for instance, while the general nervousness of testing itself becomes easier and easier to handle, the amount of specific material and the level of overall difficulty should be increasing enough to keep the preasure on.

In my experience, there were certain tests where a lot of focus was placed on increasing that preasure, just to be sure I was ready for that level. Now, I know that some dojo rarely if ever fail students in the testing environment. That was not the case where I came up...I failed one of my tests, and know many others who did as well. In fact, I was with someone this weekend who failed his shodan exam twice. 'course, he came up under an old school yoshinkan instructor, one who was known for being extremely picky about dan examinations.

There is the veiw point that the instructor shouldn't put the student up unless they know they will pass...but somehow that (to me) lets the student off the hook a bit.

Ron

happysod
08-11-2003, 09:25 AM
Ron, "There is the veiw point that the instructor shouldn't put the student up unless they know they will pass...but somehow that (to me) lets the student off the hook a bit."

I'd prefer to put it as,"we don't put people in for a grading until we know they should pass", failing is always an option as people can perform badly on the day.

Paul, I can only offer my sincere admiration to a man who has never felt more pressured in grading than when just practicing. I can only assume either your dojo is normally pyschologically brutal :eek: or you have untapped skills we should all learn...

Yes, coaching plays a part, but a grading should never be something you can take for granted or feel as though you're going through the motions on.

Ron Tisdale
08-11-2003, 09:50 AM
Hi Ian,

I know what you are saying...but here is an example. I have heard many times on these boards that a student going up for an exam and failing reflects badly on the instructor. I also seem to hear intimations that people generally don't fail tests. To me this suggests a little too much of a rubber stamp. If its a test, I should fail if I don't meet the instructor's standard for me. I can go with the standard for me being just that...a personalized test for me relative to a combination of the overall dojo standard and the improvement my instructor wants to see from my last test. But there should indeed be some standard, and if I don't meet it, I should fail. And the failure (at least in my mind) and how I deal with it would simply be a part of my training.

Ron

paw
08-11-2003, 10:15 AM
Ian,
Paul, I can only offer my sincere admiration to a man who has never felt more pressured in grading than when just practicing. I can only assume either your dojo is normally pyschologically brutal or you have untapped skills we should all learn...

Whatever....

It's a test, it's not that big a deal. I've never asked to test, I've always been "politely told" to test, so it's accurate to say that I don't care about rank, and could have tested much sooner than I did, but never did. (But, one should note, I did test....so I do care about rank on some level)

Besides, it's just like class. There's you, there's someone else and there's someone dictating what technique to do. Want to see me nervous...shiai. There's you, there's someone else who has been training as hard as you, who's as conditioned as you are athletically, who you have no idea about (what they are good at, their setups, their strategies) and will, to the best of their ability kick/punch/throw or submit you .... as hard and as fast as they can --- and in some cases with no concern about your health and welfare in the process.

Ron,

I'll respond when I get a chance....

Regards,

Paul

happysod
08-11-2003, 10:39 AM
Ron, thanks for the explanation, totally agree with you.

Paul, if you really can take your tests with the same aplomb as in normal practice, I'd say that you're not being graded properly - whether it's because your experience in other areas makes the test too "mickey mouse" or because it's too structured for you. I'd even go as far as saying you were being slightly cheated by your dojo in this area because, as you say yourself, you do have some investment in the ranking system. Surely they should give you a chance to feel you've earned the rank?

Alfonso
08-11-2003, 10:46 AM
I would imagine that it may be boring after a while to notice that there's nothing left to improve in your Aikido; did this happen at a kyu level, or later on during the yudansha period?

I thought the operating principle in aikido was masakatsu-agatsu. My tests have been more of a struggle with myself than with ukes; and hopefully they become less than that with time. At my 4kyu test I almost took my partners wrist off when I felt him slip from a nikyo; At my 1kyu no one was hurt:-)

What about those who chose Aikido and are not competitively built? At the last shodan grading I saw, I was really amazed at the differences I saw remembering this guy who would fold under the least heat a few years ago and nowadays is solid and skilled..

If he'd started his first years testing by combat he wouldn't have made it I'm sure; a little later maybe; now I'd say he can.

And testing has been stressful for me too, since I haven't usually waited to be told but sought to test usually when I feel i'm not quite ready.. one day I'll really screw up, but the situation becomes a challenge.

ok you can feel sorry for me now.

akiy
08-11-2003, 11:41 AM
Surely they should give you a chance to feel you've earned the rank?
Personally, I believe my "rank" was earned through the results of my daily practice -- not through the results of my last "exam"...

-- Jun

paw
08-11-2003, 12:05 PM
Ian,

See Jun's response. He captures my feeling exactly.

Alfonso,
What about those who chose Aikido and are not competitively built?

What about them? I'm afraid I don't see the point you're trying to make.

Regards,

Paul

Ron Tisdale
08-11-2003, 12:30 PM
I think his question is "do they have a right to a non-competitive practise that does have a ranking structure". I believe they do have a right to such a practise.

Ron

paw
08-11-2003, 12:37 PM
I think his question is "do they have a right to a non-competitive practise that does have a ranking structure". I believe they do have a right to such a practise.

I agree. Was anyone arguing the contrary?

Regards,

Paul

Alfonso
08-11-2003, 12:45 PM
Paul,



my point is that testing, as it is in Aikido, where progress is not measured "objectively" in trial by competition , allows people who are not "warrior material" to practice a physical discipline where they do in fact get to progress in that direction. Their ranks might not be meaningful to others, but to them they are proof of their effort and recognition for their prpgress, in the eyes of people who have been with them along that progression.

On the other hand, maybe there should be a right to engage in competitive training without risking being labeled a heretic or a bad influence, or just plain smelly :D.

It seems to me Ron, that the situation that exists already favors the first group.

What if there were formal competition aikido ..but for yudansha only?

Ron Tisdale
08-11-2003, 01:01 PM
It seems to me Ron, that the situation that exists already favors the first group.
Well, the second group already exists in at least one tradition (shodokan). I say if someone wants to introduce it somewhere else...go for it.

I believe judo has two ranking structures...one for kata, and one for randori.

I'm working on a longer piece with my thoughts on this topic...if and when I ever get it finished, I'll post it.

Ron

Erik
08-11-2003, 01:36 PM
On the other hand, maybe there should be a right to engage in competitive training without risking being labeled a heretic or a bad influence, or just plain smelly :D.

I like being a heretic and a bad influence. :)

By the way, I don't think Paul is talking about competition. It is interesting how people react to this sort of discussion though.

Alfonso
08-11-2003, 01:50 PM
oh, I think I got confused; I thought this was about testing in Aikido , vs what testing "should" be in Aikido.

In re-reading it seems to me Paul is arguing about the results of said testing, or not?

Aristeia
08-11-2003, 01:52 PM
Paul,

As I beleive I said in my original post, I too have no particular problems with rank being awarded without exam. In fact has some have hinted at, often (too often for me) by the time the testee steps on the grading mat the certificate is practically printed. In otherwords allowing someone to grade is effectively awarding the grade.

Having said that though I return to my ancillary point that in an environment without formal competition (which *many* aikidoka train in) gradings are useful barometers of how we adjust to stress. You say you've never found a grading even a little stressful? Good for you, you must realise this puts you in a minority. Everyone I know feels differently. We can argue back and forth about how much stress is involved or if there is a better way to generate it but it's irrelevant. Unless I want to abandon my organisation (and I don't)this is the tool I have. And it's useful. I know this because in the past I've felt my technique was not my best in a grading, and I've watched my students techniques deteriorate at a grading. Which makes for a useful teaching tool.

Erik
08-11-2003, 02:13 PM
oh, I think I got confused; I thought this was about testing in Aikido , vs what testing "should" be in Aikido.

In re-reading it seems to me Paul is arguing about the results of said testing, or not?
Or, maybe I'm confused and I agree that we are talking about tests.

The thing is I see the word competition used a number of times in this thread but I don't see Paul using it. Maybe I missed the post?

If I understand the BJJ ranking process it's not competitive-based, rather, it's application-based and skill-based. They aren't the same thing although we tend to see them as the same thing.

Admittedly I'm playing around with the words, a little bit, but it's interesting how quickly we interpret them in a certain specific way.

Ron Tisdale
08-11-2003, 02:26 PM
Paul used words such as "sparring", "completely uncooperative uke", and "shiai" (japanese for competition). I don't think it strange that some might think he has a bias toward that format. I also don't think shiai should be a "dirty word" in aikido. But that's just me.

Ron (now, I also might be influenced by previous conversations with Paul, good ones too)

paw
08-11-2003, 02:34 PM
Michael,

Bottom line:

You said a grading exam isn't as stressful as competition or combat. My question was simply: Then isn't it a bit of a disservice to make any combative claims if the student never experiences anything close to combat?

Forget the rest, answer the question.
I know this because in the past I've felt my technique was not my best in a grading, and I've watched my students techniques deteriorate at a grading.

The myth of peak performance. Some days you're the windshield and some days you're the bug. If this is a common occurance for students during anything (testing, a particular drill, a particular technique) that would indicate to me that there is a coaching issue that needs to be addressed. (For example, I guarantee the same thing will happen with students that are fatigued.... as an instructor, what does that suggest to you?)

Alfonso,

I submit that grading in aikido is so subjective with criteria varying so much among different instructors, different dojos, different organizations, etc... that cross-comparision isn't possible. With such great diversity, all rank is subjective, and however it is awarded (or not) is perfectly fine with me.

Like Erik, I am a heretic with regards to rank (and other issues) ......

Regards,

Paul

Aristeia
08-11-2003, 03:12 PM
Paul

I have purposely stayed away from your question, "isn't it a bit of a disservice to make any combative claims if the student never experiences anything close to combat?" Why? Because it's not what this thread was about, and I really don't want to get into a discussion about whether aikido is effective for self defence. It's been done so often in so many places I am simply bored by it, and I very much doubt anything new would come out if we were to go round and round on it (assuming of course that we disagree)

You think it's a coaching issue that waza changes under stress? I guess it's a matter of how much it changes but it's pretty much common sense that you are going to perform differently in optimum conditions than you are otherwise.

Alfonso
08-11-2003, 03:39 PM
well I guess everyone has good points.

LOL, one of the other most beaten to death topics is ranking in Aikido (testing included)

.. so let's drag Steven Seagal into this one and make it complete.

Aristeia
08-11-2003, 03:42 PM
And the bullet dodging. Never forget the bullet dodging...

Erik
08-11-2003, 03:45 PM
Paul used words such as "sparring", "completely uncooperative uke", and "shiai" (japanese for competition). I don't think it strange that some might think he has a bias toward that format. I also don't think shiai should be a "dirty word" in aikido. But that's just me.
Why is a 'completely uncooperative uke' a competitive uke? Why is sparring competitive? Neither of those are inherently competitive acts or states. Even a contest can be used as a measure of one's ability rather than as a competitive act. They can be, and they often are, but they don't have to be.

I can be pretty uncooperative as an uke, and competitive, at times :), but at least some of the time when I'm uncooperative it's because what they are doing wouldn't produce the result they think it would. I know that I appreciate that sort of thing, at least some of the time :). You can also spar with someone and use it as a way to expose openings or improve timing.

We tend to paint with a really broad brush when we start using the C-Word and it puts us in a really narrow place regarding what our practice is, or more importantly, isn't.

Aristeia
08-11-2003, 03:58 PM
You may be right Erik that people are using sparring and competition interchangeably. It's a natural progression though, once you start sparring it's a small step to make it competitively. Hell, I've never entered a BJJ competition but when I'm sparring I'm damn well competing. (or not so well as the case may be) And again I'm not saying competition in Aikido is necessarily a bad thing, but you can see why people equate sparring with competition.

paw
08-11-2003, 04:22 PM
Michael,
Because it's not what this thread was about, and I really don't want to get into a discussion about whether aikido is effective for self defence.

It's not about aikido's effectiveness, it's about honesty and measurement. Hear me out....

If I had a friend that came to me wanting to be able to shoot a firearm, specifically, a shotgun, there are hundreds of people and places I could point out. If they mentioned they wanted to go hunting with their shotgun, there are dozens of places I could point out. If, after many months of demonstrated performance with sporting clays, my friend told me they were effective for using a shotgun for self-defense, I'd call out "nonsense"!

Why? Not because firearms aren't effective for self-defense (clearly, they are), but because their demonstrated performance is so greatly different from self-defense that there's very little skill transfer. (Sporting clays, no matter how stressful, don't seek cover, return fire, or attack without warning) For use of a shotgun in self-defense, I'd recommend they investigate a handful of places I've heard of, none of which are located in the state I live.

This is the same reasoning and argument I'd make to any martial artist who only engages in kata training, regardless of style, disciple, or experience in their art.

My point is simply this: a rank exam in aikido differs significantly that one's performance during one cannot be an accurate indication of one's performance in a self-defense situation. In short, a rank exam doesn't measure that. It's not about aikido's effectiveness --- of which I have no doubt provided it is properly trained.

Does that help you see where I'm coming from?

Oh, and dodging bullets! Can't forget about that! ;)
Why is a 'completely uncooperative uke' a competitive uke? Why is sparring competitive? Neither of those are inherently competitive acts or states. Even a contest can be used as a measure of one's ability rather than as a competitive act. They can be, and they often are, but they don't have to be.

Exactly. I complete agree.

As I mentioned previously, with the great variation in aikido ranking exams I honestly, sincerely, have no idea what a rank exam objectively measures. I therefore, have no problem with however aikido rank is assigned (or not) by those empowered to do so.

Regards,

Paul

Aristeia
08-11-2003, 04:45 PM
Paul,

I know exactly where you're coming from, and don't disagree. I think we have to be very careful how we portray what we do. Anyone claiming that an Aikdido blackbelt will automatically be an ass kicking machine is being misleading. I'm careful not to send that message.

I think most people (I hope) are pretty clear that performance in a grading is seperate to performance in a self defence scenario. In fact we often hear the words "do this in the grading, it's kihon, on the street you may want to consider this variation..." and train both.

PeterR
08-11-2003, 07:46 PM
I'll chime in being one of the Shodokan people which does have shiai.

Our kyu grades - it's all kata and I do think there is a place for testing in the progression in the system. Like Paul I am not nervous when I test - I did find it offensive that someone would suggest that somehow the test was lacking. Until randori is introduced (see below) testing is putting it on the line. The lack of nervousness is more of a can do attitude which is fostered and learnt. In other words - you should be progressively less nervous as you move up the kyu ranks. Sure you could fail (I have) but at the moment you do the business.

I think for most people regular training (in a non-compeptive environment) which is what it is for our kyu grades you need an external reference - the test.

In Judo where it was essentially all randori and shiai performance - there is no need for testing.

With respect to Shodokan beyond kyu grades.

Shodan - tanto kakarigeiko and tanto hikitategeiko are introduced. The former is like juyuwaza. The former has only some resistance (ie. if the technique is reasonable uke will go down).

Nidan and above - tanto randori (the full resistance stuff). But the thing is there is an out. Age, infirmity, even sex (hey its Japan-but even so I've never seen a young women opt out) have other options.

How good you perform in shiai has nothing to do with rank although top level shiai players are often very good at kata and are the source of Nariyama's deshi. These guys tend to be pretty young yondans when they finish their tenure.

People are doing randori from the moment they feel comfortable with it - some much quicker than others. Shiai is usually reserved for yudansha although we have mechanisms in place for mudansha to partake.

Chuck Clark
08-11-2003, 08:13 PM
I'd like to add something small to this discussion.

Properly done, no one should "give grades".

When merited, kyu classes and dan grades should be recognized and awarded for what the person has achieved. Nothing should be "given." This may seem to be splitting semantic hairs, but there's a difference.

Thanks,

happysod
08-12-2003, 02:38 AM
Jun, "Personally, I believe my "rank" was earned through the results of my daily practice -- not through the results of my last "exam"...

I'd be surprised if this wasn't the case. However, you were probably awarded the rank through a test and you would only have been "worthy" of taking that test through your daily practice.

One of the areas we look for in our grading "exams" is how well the person reacts under stress. Do they keep centred? Are they still attempting to act in a clam and controlled manner with full respect for their ukes? etc.

While it's normal to engender these areas in everyday practice, the grading should take this one stage further. If you have a very able, combat trained student, you take this into account with their testing requirements. After all, most people are happy with the idea you work round injuries and disabilities within the grading framework, why not extend that to those with excess ability? Increase the precision required for the techniques, reduce the area they have to perform the technique. No matter who is grading, they must have a chance at failing if they don't put their all into it.

Final point on the grading/award - grading keeps things not only clean, but seen to be clean in terms of who has what grade, which is normally important to those going for kyu grades. This can become especially important in larger associations where disparity in awarding/grading can lead to underlying resentment.

paw
08-12-2003, 04:48 AM
Ian,
While it's normal to engender these areas in everyday practice, the grading should take this one stage further. If you have a very able, combat trained student, you take this into account with their testing requirements. After all, most people are happy with the idea you work round injuries and disabilities within the grading framework, why not extend that to those with excess ability?

So, you're suggesting that those with more ability be given more demanding exams?

Would that not mean that not all X kyus are created equal? Would that not decisively prove that rank is subjective and relative? What ever happened to "fair"? How would this not cause resentment?

I really hope I misunderstood.

Regards,

Paul

happysod
08-12-2003, 05:15 AM
Paul, no you didn't misunderstand, but then I've never been a fan of making things fair. To me, a grading should test the person taking the grading. Now in the case your making regarding all X kyu grades being the same, no, I agree they're not. Even if you don't modify the grading exam, you're going to get some people scraping through, others passing with flying colours.

I believe the gradings should reflect two areas. Firstly, a simple threshold for the association as a whole in that it should test technical ability and knowlege. The test should also be aimed at the individual to show them their own personal development. For this you have to take into account the persons abilities or lack thereof. With someone very capabale, we'd probably just miss some of the intermediate Kyu grades to ensure they are tested.

Your favoured approach seems to be testing via combat. I agree, this is the only real system for sorting out your combat capabilities, but often unworkable/undesireable for many at the lower grades. Instead, I'd prefer to tweak the grading system so that it is always a test as I do want to see how they handle pressure. If the grading doesn't cause pressure, how do you assess this?

Does this approach cause resentment? Haven't met this so far, but we do explain what we're doing and why, so a harder test has normally been seen as a "merit badge" rather than a cause for resentment. However, I haven't hit a real outlier, so I'd have to get back to you if I do.

paw
08-12-2003, 06:37 AM
Ian,
Your favoured approach seems to be testing via combat.

Actually it isn't, necessarily. First, one would have to determine what "rank" measures. Then one could devise a manner of testing it. I strongly believe that any dynamic method with an uncooperative opponent (randori, shiai) is better indication of ability than a contextual demonstration with a cooperative uke. But that that doesn't mean that I favor rank via combat.
If the grading doesn't cause pressure, how do you assess this?
I'm not sure it's possible to easily measure pressure or duress of someone in this situation (imagine trying to perform technique with a myriad of wires attached to one's body....) So, I'm inclined to suggest not even to try.
Does this approach cause resentment?

It would for me, and I don't believe I care much about rank. If I, because of my age, atheticism and familiarity with other arts have a more demanding exam than someone else, and we both receive the same grade....yeah, that would be a problem.

Regards,

Paul

happysod
08-12-2003, 07:38 AM
Paul, "But that that doesn't mean that I favor rank via combat", apologies, I seem to have misinterpreted you, thanks for the clarification. Agree totally about uncooperative ukes and randori - an area I'm still arguing about with some of our higher grades.

Not engendering pressure? Think on this one we'll have to agree to disagree as I do think a test should cause pressure. If it doesn't, I'll happily join you in the "just award the damn thing" camp. You'd be more of a toughy as you don't have much emotional investment in rank (partly through your other ma experiences I presume).

Resentment? Tricky one, how well you did in your last grading will also affect time between gradings, so this is a factor. Also, as I said previously, we would look at skipping grades. Some couldn't be skipped as part of the reason behind the grading is to know our syllabus, but normally we'd try to work something out. However, I still have difficulty fully seeing the problem. I've seen gradings modified to take account of injuries and disabilities before - would you resent them? Possibly one bit of info which I didn't explicitly mention would help - if we are going to modify any grading (up or down) this is discussed with the person going for the grade prior to doing it - not imposed by fiat, we don't work that way.

Alfonso
08-12-2003, 10:10 AM
so a harder test has normally been seen as a "merit badge" rather than a cause for resentment.

As far as I can tell (I'm not on the testing board) this is pretty much how it goes on our tests. What's the point of comparing anyway? you've trained with these people for years in most cases; you probably know where you are in relation to them.

Another of my sempai is(was) OPD, ranked in other arts, instructed officers there in unarmed combat (currently visitng the middle east courtesy of the USAF).

Life being as it is , I tested 1kyu a week before he did, though when I started he was a couple of ranks ahead of me. ( let's see; he'd got married, had a child in between , had been sent out to the previous trouble in Afghanistan, etc etc).

I would be a fool to say that we're equals in ability, or that I'm similarly talented or worse. Fact is, I'm walking on my own road, making my own milestones at my own pace. I'm honored to be ablet o train with this person when he's around, that's about it.

should it happen that I grade before him again, do you think he'll care?

FWIW, both his and my tests ended with us exhausted; difference it took about 20 more minutes in his test, and he was still going strong on his randori at 5 uke (i think 6 was enough).

And yes, I saw sensei coming up with more and more stuff just to get him tired. somehow he was still happy after that test even though he must have noticed that mine was "easier"

paw
08-12-2003, 02:33 PM
Ian, Alfonso,

If a seminar was being given by a 5th dan at the same time as a seminar being given by a 5th kyu which would be more heavily attended, assuming the cost, distance to the seminar, facility, etc... were identical?

I'm willing to say the 5th dan's seminar. There is an assumption that higher rank = higher skill, a better instructor, or both.

I think it's fair to say from the responses on this and other ranking threads, that there is some correlation for most people between ability in something and someone's rank.
I've seen gradings modified to take account of injuries and disabilities before - would you resent them?

Possibly. If rank is an indication of ability, then, yes I would --- baring no other distinctions. Does that mean that not everyone can achieve a certain rank? It very well may, and I'm ok with that. Let's be honest....at some point gradings stop and rank is awarded by other considerations, so there is a limit for most of us, regardless of how skilled we may be.
What's the point of comparing anyway? you've trained with these people for years in most cases; you probably know where you are in relation to them.

Then why have rank? What does it measure and what purpose does it serve?

How does any measurement that divides a group of individuals help reconcile a world?

Regards,

Paul

jxa127
08-12-2003, 03:05 PM
Then why have rank? What does it measure and what purpose does it serve?

How does any measurement that divides a group of individuals help reconcile a world?
Hi Paul,

I realize that this was not directed at me, but I hope you're being sarcastic.

"Reconciling the world," or "bringing harmony out of discord," or any of the metaphors that we use have nothing to do with getting rid of the differences among people! Rank doesn't divide people, their time spent training and overall ability divides them. Rank is a recognition of those differences.

More importantly, rank carries with it a lot of responsibility. Lower ranked students are told to look up to the higher ranked students for guidance. The tests ensure that everyone who holds a certain rank has a minimum level of proficiency within the AAA curriculum (in the case of my dojo).

It seems to me that you're focusing on what the rank means or does not mean to you, but ignoring what it means in an organizational context. The way we look at it, the rank is not really for the person holding it, it's for the dojo as a whole.

Could we do without rank and testing? Sure. In fact, we only test once a year on average. We don't really emphasize it. But, even if we did away with ranks and testing, we would still have people with different levels of skill, and different levels of responsibility in the dojo. Why not recognize those differences?

I'm glad I'm at a dojo that tests. I feel they're a valuable part of my training. I have found them stressful, but not overly so. I also feel that I'm held to basically the same standard as everyone else. I've always felt after each test that there were some things I did better than others, and some things that I did worse and needed to work on.

Anyway, my main point is that harmony, reconciliation, etc. have nothing to do with making everyone the same. Divisions occur with every group, and I view aikido as a way of dealing with those divisions/conflicts, not a way of ignoring them.

Regards,

-Drew

happysod
08-13-2003, 03:08 AM
Paul, I agree with the spirit of what you said in your last post (suprised?). However, I think you've extend the awarding rank and discussion on grading beyond what I was adressing in that I was specifically discussing Kyu grades, not shodan or above.

My own association "awards" rank after 3rd dan, many other associations I know do something similar. I have no problems with this, but I still feel testing for the kyu grades is needed for a number of reasons - many starting martial arts need milestones to motivate and aid in their training and appreciation of where they are within the wider context of the association (and aikido). However, kyu gradings should also address the individuals involved in taking the test and without going down the hideous "tag" system of some ma, changing the testing is one way of dealing with this issue.

Black belts and above? I'll go with Drew on this, the grades are mainly for the association rather than the person, so the award/grade issue is less clear. Why have rank at all? Sometimes I just don't know either (for this reason I ducked my last grading for over eight years - I couldn't see the point), but it does seem to work. The only time I had any contact with an association which went for the award rather than rank, they seemed to be more focussed on being noticed by those who could award rank than actually practicing the martial art.

paw
08-13-2003, 05:11 AM
Drew, Ian,
I realize that this was not directed at me, but I hope you're being sarcastic.
I was mostly trolling to set a hook. Namely, grading is needed for organizational reasons. I disagree for a couple of reasons.

1. The grading exam does not measure anything that indicates leadership potential, or leadership ability. Nor does it measure accounting skill, organizational skill, well...I think you get the picture. If there is some sort of connection between a grading exam and some type of necessarily ability needed to run an organization, I fail to see it.

2. There are alternative ways to run an organization that do not require rank. They may require some type of hierarchy, but rank is not needed for this.

Then there's this observation:
Lower ranked students are told to look up to the higher ranked students for guidance.
They are aren't they. Hang around an aikido forum or talk to living breathing aikidoists and you'll hear a number of appeals to authority (ie "My sensei said", "My instructor's instructor said", "Doshu said", "O Sensei said/wrote"). Why is that? Hang around a bjj forum or talk to bjj'ers and that rarely occurs. The same is true of the boxers and wrestlers I've known. Is there something inherent in the way rank is viewed in aikido that results in aikidoists appealing to authority? Is such a tendency or attitude concerning?

Honestly, I don't know.

Finally, as for new students needing motivation. I find that increasingly harder to subscribe to, particularly in these United States. Ultimately, I feel we are all self-motivated. We either find some reason to commit to something, or we do not. I really do think it's that simple.

In the United States, I suspect we want the appearance without the performance. Performance is hard --- and it waxes and wanes. But appearance, especially that of mastery, this can be easy to get. See your local McDojo --- they have rank exams every two weeks and training 3 times a week, you'll be a shodan in two years. I can find a 1/2 dozen such places within biking distance from where I live, and they are packed with students. I'd happily glove up and spar with anyone in the school and not worry about it. Take me to boxing gym, and I won't spar with anyone training longer than 3 months (because they'll beat the stuffing out of me) The boxing gym awards no rank --- none, yet consistently produces better athletes and better fighters.

Regards,

Paul

happysod
08-13-2003, 05:51 AM
Hi Paul, I'm getting flashbacks from our last threads which was "why use rank", but I'll join in again until the rest of aikiweb tell us we're being boring.

1. Rank for association purposes: I don't think I ever claimed inherent teaching skills for higher ranks (some threads have implied the opposite). However, as a competative sparring system isn't normally used in aikido and once an organisation gets beyond a certain size, some sort of structure is needed, why not ranking? I'm in favour of gradings rather than awards as it reduces (note: not stops)the possibility of favoritism and keeps everyone singing more-or-less in tune. Ideally, it should accurately reflect your ability in that associations aikido (whether this includes sparring etc. etc., doesn't matter, as long as you're consistent). The only differences within rank should be caused by the practitioner's personal circumstances (grading shy wee nef like myself, time off for family etc.)

2. Self motivation: agree, this is needed for any martial artist, whatever the grade. However, most training systems have shown you also perform best with attainable goals, ideally in measurable time increments. Yes, some people may be better with a single golden chalice at the end of a long road, but intermediate grades often provide a much needed pat on the back.

3. Sensei says...: agree, this one's naff, don't like it either and should be ridiculed at the first opportunity - at least thats what my sensei ses... Seriously, I've been lucky to train with questioning cynics, so it's not been a big problem for me.

So, the rank question, agree, shouldn't need it. However, we're all individualist little beggers so we do end up needing it. My major reason for backing it is simple, it works. It can be abused, bent etc., but most times it does work.

Boxers? Take your word for it, certainly I'm always impressed by their sheer athleticism and ability to absorb punishment, but comparing like with like is always hard. I'll happily agree that they'd pound me in a boxing ring - come out best outside the ring, then it would be down to too many factors so I'll answer that one if I'm ever unlucky enough to be in that situation.

Alfonso
08-13-2003, 03:12 PM
There is an assumption that higher rank = higher skill, a better instructor, or both.

and past a certain level, has better standing in that particular aikido community.
The boxing gym awards no rank --- none, yet consistently produces better athletes and better fighters.

I noticed you didn't assume better athlete and better fighter in the assumption on our mythical 5dan. I'd guess that athletes/fighters are not the end product of Aikido, and if you join to become an athlete/fighter you'd also be kind of lonely (not having any competition/combat).

Pleae excuse my ignorance on boxing; it seems to me that they do award belts; and money as well. A big incentive; would aikido be better if you had to challenge the contender for 7th dan, and had a $100,000 prize for the winner? Do you think Mike Tyson is a better teacher or has more skill than other guys who may have spent their life in boxing , are of a slighter build, and don't chew ears for breakfast? Does Mohammed Ali teach boxing now and why not? I'm sure some of his contemporaries are highly ranked Aikido instructors at this point..

:straightf

seems to me that avenue can also lead to

http://www.theday.com/eng/web/newstand/re.aspx?reIDx=14E1370A-E190-46AB-A757-C414E6759C61

jxa127
08-13-2003, 03:34 PM
Hey Paul,

I tend to agree with most of your points, but you're taking a very dim view on the whole subject. So I end up agreeing that, yes, if the system becomes too important, or isn't handled well, then the disadvantages can outweigh the advantages.

But, you are so negative on this topic! I maybe should have been more explicit, but when I said that lower ranked students are supposed to look up to higher ranked students, I was talking about say a 7th kyu asking a 3rd kyu about a certain technique or attack. Not the 7th kyu asking the 3rd kyu about his view on life, the universe, and everything.

Of course the student can ask the sensei the same question, but if two students have questions, it's nice if two people can answer them. Part of the responsibility of having rank is being willing to clue new students in on dojo etiquette, help with technique, and to know one's own limits in knowledge so as to pass the question onto the instructor when one doesn't know the answer.

What's so bad about that?

One thing to consider is that all the discussions of rank in this thread seem to be missing the cultural context of how the whole system got started. I'm no expert, but my understanding is that kyu and dan grades were introduced with modern judo by Jigoro Kano. Now, he's also the guy who also pushed judo as a sport (with competitions, of course), so the claim that judo doesn't need rank tests because they have competitions puzzles me a bit. I'm not sure what his motivation was for introducing belt ranks, but I suspect he thought it would be a valuable teaching tool. Remember, this was a relatively new idea for martial arts in Kano's time.

Prior to an established rank system, most of the Japanese martial arts had a certificate system [my term, not the official one], where a student would learn a certain amount, and get a certificate stating that fact. Most arts had three (I think) levels of certification with the highest level being a certificate of full transmission of the art. You don't hear about those in the modern arts like kendo or judo where the idea is one of a path and even highly ranked practitioners are considered to be students.

Implicit in all these systems is the sempai/kohei relationship. Newer students were taken under the wing of student who'd been studying for a while. Sometimes this was done in a brutal manner (as in hazing), sometimes not. Either way, the sempai/kohei thing is an integral part of Japanese culture. While there is not a direct correlation between belt rank and one's status as sempai or kohei, there's enough of one that the two concepts often become interrelated. In my opinion, this is not a bad thing. I know I appreciated learning the concept of the sempai/kohei relationship by thinking of those ranked higher than me as sempai.

So, here's aikido; an art that evolved from an old school art with a certificate system into something like kendo or judo in that it is a "do" with belt ranks. Yet, the training is heavily kata-based and the art was intended to not have competition. That is our heritage, and that's what has become institutionalized in the majority of aikido organizations.

My dojo is associated with just such an organization; one that has belt ranks and tests but no competitions. Regardless of what I think personally, I'm expected to know and do certain thing and be tested on them periodically -- just like everyone else in the organization. That's what I mean about rank being more for the organization than the individual. I know about where I'm at skills wise, as do my instructor and the people I train with. But, I can go into any AAA dojo, or go to a AAA camp or seminar, and everyone else will be able to expect at least a certain minimum level of skill from me.

I think that's a good thing.

Regards,

-Drew

PhilJ
08-13-2003, 03:37 PM
I like practicing aikido over boxing because it doesn't kill me.

Ian, let me be the first: this is boring. :) (Just kidding)

Isn't this a pretty subjective topic? What will be the outcome?

*Phil

Alfonso
08-13-2003, 04:11 PM
:D boring! that's why hyperbole exists!

paw
08-14-2003, 05:06 AM
Alfonso,
I noticed you didn't assume better athlete and better fighter in the assumption on our mythical 5dan.

I can do so now, if you like. In my experience, boxing, wrestling, judo, bjj, sambo and other arts/systems that are often maligned as "martial sports" consistently have superior athletes than martial arts that have no dynamic method given the same amount of training time.
I'd guess that athletes/fighters are not the end product of Aikido
If you're not being sarcastic, then I pose the same question I did earlier: is it ethical or honest to make any combative claims about aikido then?
Pleae excuse my ignorance on boxing; it seems to me that they do award belts; and money as well.

You're excused. ;) Boxing has competitions where belts and money may be awarded as prizes on the professional level. Boxing also has amateur tournaments, and it's fair to say most boxers never compete in a formal tournament or match. I don't see how that is analogous to rank in aikido.

As for the rest, I'm afraid I'm not sure of your point. I'm unable to read the article, but I presume that it speaks of a serious injury or death of a boxer in the ring. To which I again wonder what the point is. Boxing's brutal. So are most contact sports.

Drew,
But, you are so negative on this topic!
Hey! I'm negative on a number of topics, thank you very much! :)
Now, he's also the guy who also pushed judo as a sport (with competitions, of course), so the claim that judo doesn't need rank tests because they have competitions puzzles me a bit.
Judo was not an Olympic Sport until after Kano's death. There are also a number of times that Kano publically wrote that he opposed the "sportification" of judo.
I'm not sure what his motivation was for introducing belt ranks, but I suspect he thought it would be a valuable teaching tool.
It was. Kano was an educator. By having a curriculum and a ranking system, it allowed Kano (or any judo instructor) to have a good idea of what to teach what would otherwise be a mismashed crew of students.
I know about where I'm at skills wise, as do my instructor and the people I train with.
Drew.... That's just too easy. You know very well that I'm going to ask how that is possible in a kata-based environment. Don't make me talk about "aliveness", because I will go there.

Phillip,
Isn't this a pretty subjective topic? What will be the outcome?
Probably about 100 more posts....

;)

Regards,

Paul

PhilJ
08-14-2003, 06:00 AM
LOL Paul

...and that's why I love practicing aikido. The End. :)

*Phil

jxa127
08-14-2003, 07:30 AM
Paul,

Kano was involved with the IOC before his death. He introduced both belt ranks and competition to Japanese martial arts. Given those two things, I have a hard time believing that he'd be opposed to seeing Judo in the Olympics.

Regarding how I can gauge my progress against my dojo mates, the answer is simple. Am I doing the kata as well, better, or worse than the other Students? Remember, the koryu arts generally relied heavily on kata as their training method, and they had certificates of achievement. It is silly to postulate that it is impossible to measure your progress in kata training.

I'll open your question up a bit: can we make any legitimate combative claims for any martial art? They all pretty much pale in comparison to real combat, much of which invovles guns.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your views. I don't agree with many of them, and others have made me think. I do feel that you've missed my point that ranking is more about the organization than the individual, but maybe I've missed some of your points too.

Warm regards,

-Drew

happysod
08-14-2003, 08:06 AM
Phil, thanks, being boring is just one of my many skills...

Paul, it's no good, I think we're just retrenching - so I'll just bow out with good grace (while of course smugly considering myself totally right without any thought of concession :D ). I want a new topic to disagree with you over, any ideas?

Drew, I'm impressed, I'd have thrown at least one profanity by now...

paw
08-14-2003, 09:14 AM
Drew,
Kano was involved with the IOC before his death. He introduced both belt ranks and competition to Japanese martial arts. Given those two things, I have a hard time believing that he'd be opposed to seeing Judo in the Olympics.

In another forum this was discussed in horid detail. Mark Tripp provided the most compelling evidence which was Kano's writings, where Kano was opposed to seeing Judo as sport. I'm certain I have this thread saved on my pc at home and would happily provide the details if you would like. In the event I don't have the details saved, I'll happily contact Tripp for them.
Am I doing the kata as well, better, or worse than the other Students?

Which is subjective, is it not? I work the kata with my partner. The first time through, we look aweful. The second time, we look fantastic. Was this due to my effort, my partner's, both?

How do I and my partner compare with Sue and her partner? I think we were better the first time than they were, but they were better the second than we. So we call it even? I suppose we could, but it's too subjective for me.
I'll open your question up a bit: can we make any legitimate combative claims for any martial art? They all pretty much pale in comparison to real combat, much of which invovles guns.
Who's making the claims of combat for any MA? I haven't done so. If I wanted to, I would develop a dynamic method that pits various MAs against various people who have firearms --- using real firearms and simunition. I think that would be a good starting point, at least.
I do feel that you've missed my point that ranking is more about the organization than the individual, but maybe I've missed some of your points too.
Possibly. I feel your point would be stronger if there were an established cirriculum and a visible sign of rank (like colored belts). My experience is that there are a number of organizations that have no cirriculum --- any class may be instructed in any technique, not only the techniques required for X Kyu or Y Dan. And if the instructor tailored the lessons to the group that happened to be present for class. Which is, as I understand things, what Kano did.

Ian,
I want a new topic to disagree with you over, any ideas?

Oh, I don't know.... I'm sure something will come up. I am evil after all. ;)

Bowing Out as well....

Regards,

Paul

Ron Tisdale
08-14-2003, 09:27 AM
. I feel your point would be stronger if there were an established cirriculum and a visible sign of rank (like colored belts).
Exactly like where I came up...yosh to the end...:)

Ron

Alfonso
08-14-2003, 11:18 AM
this really is just winding down is it? maybe just flailing in every direction.

about the assumption, I just though it reflected something important; I don't think >= 5th dan imply ahtleticism or fighiting ability though at some point these people may have been both.

Since in the beginning a question was aked about the appropriateness of awarding kyu ranks without a formal test I really don't see where the unethical combat claims got involved.

the boxing story was an illustration; in short it talks about some poor guy who died recently in a bout though posssibly not from being knocked in the head , but from in general being a poor boxer yet still allowed to fight professionally. (record 0-27).. in any case it had happened 2 days ago only. didn't have to stretch very hard to find a less romantic vision of boxing at hand, in any case a digression.

In any case somehow people manage to keep on testing (or not) and keep on training and enjoying aikido. Looking at other people instead of oneself seems to be a sure way to stop enjoying aikido..

Aikilove
08-14-2003, 05:29 PM
Alfonso,

If you're not being sarcastic, then I pose the same question I did earlier: is it ethical or honest to make any combative claims about aikido then?
What the.. Yes! why not? If you mean that people claims it's great for self defence, I beg to say it is! It is great for self defence! I train only aikido (no pumping, running, boxing, compeeting etc). I've been in a situation were I was attacked by two men without warning. I wasn't hurt; they weren't hurt (more then their pride). Is it the person and not the system? Perhaps... but I would bet money on that someone (probably me) would have been hurt hadn't I trained aikido. Hence I would say aikido WORKS! It has nothing to do wether Alfonso was sarcastic or not in his statement. Aikido works; Since it does, why would it be un-ethical for people that know it does to say it does. No-one (I've ever trained under anyway) has claimed that people training aikido will never get his/her ass whoopt, but that wouldn't be aikido to blame. It worked (and works everyday) for me, visavi it works. Don't you think so? If not what do you base that on?

Yeehhsh!!

paw
08-15-2003, 05:31 AM
Jakob,

Let's say you hired me to be your basketball coach. So, I took you out to a beach, gave you a volleyball and began training you in playing volleyball. Would you keep me as a coach?

Running and jumping in sand is more difficult than on a basketball court. A volleyball "pass" is sort of like a basketball jump shot. I could even have you play a basketball game, and even if you should do well, would you still keep me as a basketball coach?

Of course not (at least, I hope not). Fundamentally, I would be teaching you a different game --- volleyball --- not basketball. That's the point I'm making. If students are never subjected to anything that has some correlation between self-defense or combat, it's disingenous to suggest the training perpares them for it.

Regards,

Paul

happysod
08-15-2003, 06:31 AM
Paul, sorry, but you've lost me a bit here - are you saying aikido doesn't prepare you for combat or aikido with only the kata element present (no sparring etc.)?

Enquiring young minds wish to know

paw
08-15-2003, 07:00 AM
Ian,
Paul, sorry, but you've lost me a bit here - are you saying aikido doesn't prepare you for combat or aikido with only the kata element present (no sparring etc.)?

The later. The body adapts to the demands placed upon it. If you want to be a great swimmer, you have to swim. If you want to be able to have "combative" skills or "self-defense" skills, a part of one's training has to mimic "combat" or "self-defense". I firmly believe this to be true, not just for aikido, but for all martial arts/martial systems/martial sports.

Is that more clear?

Regards,

Paul

Aikilove
08-15-2003, 07:01 AM
Jakob,

Of course not (at least, I hope not). Fundamentally, I would be teaching you a different game --- volleyball --- not basketball. That's the point I'm making. If students are never subjected to anything that has some correlation between self-defense or combat, it's disingenous to suggest the training perpares them for it.

Paul
Every time someone joins an aikido class they are subjected to aikido, which work as a means of self preserver. How can it then be disingenous to suggest that among other things aikido will give you a means to preserv you and your surrounding? The only way to truly understand this is lots of training in aikido. I don't have to have combat/sparring training to know it works since myself and many more have been in situations enough to know it works. And here's the beauty of it all: it even work for people that doesn't see it as self defence, as long as they are training aikido. This is budo, not sport, not basketball or anything else. It's non-compareable.

*sigh* OT again...

paw
08-15-2003, 07:21 AM
Jakob,
How can it then be disingenous to suggest that among other things aikido will give you a means to preserv you and your surrounding?

LOL! You're getting so defensive and emotional. Stop and think about this.

At no point am I suggesting that aikido does not work or cannot work.
The only way to truly understand this is lots of training in aikido.

You're assuming I don't. That's a poor assumption.
I don't have to have combat/sparring training to know it works since myself and many more have been in situations enough to know it works.
I know more people have successfully defended themselves with no martial training of any kind than people have defended themselves who had training. I'd bet this is statistically true worldwide. Therefore, no training more successful than any training, so why bother?
This is budo, not sport, not basketball or anything else. It's non-compareable.

Really? So budo doesn't involve physics, gravity, body movement, timing, coordination, balance? Strawman argument based on emotion, not common sense. BTW, Kano settled this in 1886 during the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department challenge.

Regards,

Paul

happysod
08-15-2003, 07:42 AM
Paul, yep more clear, thanks. I also almost agree with you. The "almost" is because while I think for a good grounding in self defence the combative issues you mentioned should be in your training, I don't believe even kata-only training is a total waste of time with regards how you would react in a "real" (hate that term) situation.

Even with cooporative dancing ukes, the fact that you are used to working with both some form of attack and moving with the emphasis on placing your partner in peril will be of some use in the hypothetical real thing.

I agree, using only kata training is not an efficient method of training for combat, but I don't think it is as divorced as you're implying (or at least shouldn't be). The area I feel it's more lacking is that it doesn't help with the mindset you need, rather than the movements practiced.

Aikilove
08-15-2003, 07:55 AM
Jakob,



LOL! You're getting so defensive and emotional. Stop and think about this.Who said I havn't?
At no point am I suggesting that aikido does not work or cannot work.
Then what's the problem?
You're assuming I don't. That's a poor assumption. I don't assume anything. I explain that I know it works and many more with me, therefor I (and most as it seems)don't feel the need to change the way aikido is being taught for the sake of self sefence purpose.
I know more people have successfully defended themselves with no martial training of any kind than people have defended themselves who had training. I'd bet this is statistically true worldwide. Therefore, no training more successful than any training, so why bother? I would say that there has been very few cases when someone training in aikido had to defend him/herself at all. That says it all I think about this art.
Really? So budo doesn't involve physics, gravity, body movement, timing, coordination, balance? Strawman argument based on emotion, not common sense. BTW, Kano settled this in 1886 during the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department challenge. yes it does! And so does aikido, as it has been trained by most since it got it's name. Still can't compare it with sport regarding it's effectivnes. Sport works. Aikido works. Aikido not a sport. No correlation!

What did Kano settled more than what a cagefighter settles today? What has that got to do with aikido?

Aikilove
08-15-2003, 07:59 AM
I realize that this kind of discussion has been around and will continue to be around) since the birth of aikido.

It seems that it will only lead to frustration for some people, so I will also bow out of this one.

Train hard! Have fun doing it!