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Avery Jenkins
01-30-2004, 03:37 PM
Does anyone have a good estimate on how long the average Aikikai student takes to reach shodan?

I'm not talking about required training hours so much as I am on-the-ground time.

Avery

rachmass
01-30-2004, 03:49 PM
I know there was a poll about that, or a thread on the same subject, less than a year ago on this site. Perhaps Jun will chime in with where it is (I'm too lazy to look).

Since it varies widely from organization to organization, I think maybe the question would be "how long for the average USAF-ER person to get to shodan?" since you are in Jacobs-Pavlik Sensei's dojo.

I "think" the average for ER is around 7-8 years of regular training (3-4 times a week).

best, Rachel

akiy
01-31-2004, 09:48 AM
Hi Rachel,

Here's the poll, "How long did it take you to reach shodan in aikido?" that I took back in 2001:

http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=61

-- Jun

AsimHanif
01-31-2004, 11:26 AM
Jun, that's good data. It would be interesting to know what's behind the numbers. Do people continue to train after 6 years of not attaining shodan? Do organizations feel compelled to bestow rank on individuals after 6 or 7 years?

Interesting, this seems to take about the same amount of time to attain shodan in karate, although I constantly hear statements about how slow the aikido development process is. Which brings up to type of things we look for in an aikido shodan as opposed to a karate shodan.

John Boswell
01-31-2004, 11:30 AM
Unless I were a full time uchidaishi (sp?) in a prominent dojo, I wouldn't expect to attain black belt for at least 3 to 4 years minimum.

In my opinion, aikido has a lot of subtle details that are only learned in the "doing." Time plays a factor in learning all that. Notice my signature? It is one thing to "know" something, but without proper experience... you do yourself an injustice. This is what makes Aikido a "Way"... you gotta actually do it to get it. ;)

2 cents

Morpheus
01-31-2004, 12:57 PM
Based on what's posted as the requirements for the USAF East, it is short of 4 years of "Actual" training time. Not calendar years, so I'd say between 4 and 5 years.

I would take that to mean, going to as much training as you can within the minimum time posted, paying full attention to instruction given, and working hard.

I'm going to be attending my first class next week. Have to make sure I follow my own comments in the previous paragraph. I forgot which site it was where Yamada Sensei stated that today's student would advance faster than those of the past.

The mere fact of it being that the instructors of today have a better understanding of what they were taught when they were students and are applying their insights into the training they give their students (not a quote, I'm just paraphrasing him).

aubrey bannah
02-01-2004, 04:24 AM
A live in uchi deshi would grade for Shodan within a year, Nidan within the following year & Sandan within the next two years. If you are training 1600 - 1800 hrs a year with someone quailified to have a uchi deshi system in place this would be a requirement. Just to touch on the over side of this, I have heard Godan's bragging of having to their credit 1600 hrs in training. Other Sensei that I know had on average over 20000 hrs traing in 10 year's to gain their Godan's as full time uchi deshi.

rachmass
02-01-2004, 05:07 AM
Makes sense on that time frame if you are training 1,800 hours a year (5 hours a day, every day of the week, every day of the year); however some organizations, like the USAF-ER, only count training days, so it wouldn't be possible (that I know of) to progress that quickly through the ranks. Most of us practice somewhere around 5 days a week, which is only 260 days in a year if training steadily.

Remember too that the teacher has the say on when someone tests, so it can get really long between tests even if you have the days/hours to do so.

Nacho_mx
02-01-2004, 12:56 PM
In our school the norm is two years of regular training and examining up to first kyu, then one year more to get shodan. However, it´s our sensei´s criterion, and not a fixed number of practice hours, which decides who can test for shodan. Thus I´ve seen shodan ranks achieved in a minimum of 2yrs.

Lyle Bogin
02-01-2004, 04:43 PM
That poll is interesting. I think the ratios are pretty spot on.

Edward
02-01-2004, 11:45 PM
This has been discussed before, but I believe that in Japan, you can get your shodan in about 1 year of training. University dojos traditionally give nidan to the students upon graduation. Almost every one wears a black belt :) . The higher standards were set only for the foreigners for different reasons, one of them is that they believe training quality is lower outside of Japan, another is to keep gaijin higher ranking aikidoists under control and always inferior to the Japanese. You just look at the numbers and you will see that gaijin teachers with over 40 years of experience are only 4-5 dan, while some Japanese with same training period or less can attain 7-8 dan rank. I have trained occasionally with some of these nidan sandan with only 2-3 years experience and was not impressed at all.

Nick Simpson
02-02-2004, 09:11 AM
So it comes down to racism then?

Fred Little
02-02-2004, 12:04 PM
So it comes down to racism then?
I would be hesitant to hang the whole issue on that hook; the difference in social context might also have a significant effect.

It isn't too terribly frequent that shodan and nidan open their own dojo in Japan, or believe themselves qualified to do so, either technically or socially, which is very different from the situation here in the States.

Just a thought....

Fred Little

Avery Jenkins
02-04-2004, 02:09 PM
Just what I thought...going on 12 years now, no belt, I think I lost the race.

Avery

rachmass
02-04-2004, 02:17 PM
Just what I thought...going on 12 years now, no belt, I think I lost the race.

Don't feel bad Avery, it took me just as long. I started with one group and switched over after 8+ years (3 times a week), then it was another 4-5 (5-6 times a week) with my last teacher. So I just passed Sandan after 20 years of practicing! In the end it really doesn't matter much (although sometimes I think folks chose someone else to train with over me based on my lack of rank, but I could be wrong on that too :eek: , it could be lots of other reasons ;) )

Best to you, Rachel

aikidoc
02-04-2004, 02:53 PM
Most aikikai affiliated organizations I have been associated with take anywhere from 3.5 to 5 years for shodan-some instructors drag this out. The comparison with Japan may not be fair in the sense those who study there are often uchideshi. I did run across one sandan once who went to Japan and made sandan in 5 years-the lack of mat experience did show though. Aikido seems to be a lot more stringent in our ranks-many other martial arts (some taekwondo organizations) pop out black belts in 2 years. I also see a lot more high ranking grades (10th dans) in some of the other arts as well and rarely in aikido, even rarely at 9th dan. Tohei had his 10th at 32 or thereabouts, yet we only have 3 that I can recall (Tohei, Hikitsuchi, and Abe). The latter two were "verbal". Seems like after 40 or 50 years at least 9th dans would be awarded. I'm all for not watering down the ranks but with that much dedication these people should be recognized IMHO.

stuartjvnorton
02-05-2004, 06:22 PM
sometimes I think folks chose someone else to train with over me based on my lack of rank
Their loss.

Sounds like they could stand to learn a lot more than just technique.

G DiPierro
02-05-2004, 10:23 PM
A while back I did some research on the comparative time to qualify for rank in several organizations. Below are my findings, compiled from various web sources. The number in the left column below each organization is the minimum number of practice days to that rank from the previous rank. Where there are two numbers listed with a slash between them, the second one indicates minimum number of months elapsed. The right column represents cumulative figures. Note, among other things, that one could reach yondan at hombu in slightly fewer days than one could reach shodan in the USAF East.



USAF-E MAF/CAF ASU AAA Hombu

7-kyu 20/2 20/2
6-kyu 30/3 30/3 30/3 50/5
5-kyu 60 60 60 60 60/4 90/7 30/3 80/8 30 30
4-kyu 80 140 80 140 60/4 150/11 30/3 110/11 40 70
3-kyu 100 240 100 240 70/4 220/15 60/6 170/17 50 120
2-kyu 200 440 150 390 80/6 300/21 60/6 230/23 50 170
1-kyu 300 740 200 590 90/6 390/27 60/6 290/29 60 230
Shodan 400 1140 300 890 120/12 510/39 90/9 380/38 70 300
Nidan 600 1740 500 1390 400/30 910/69 50ai/18 560/56 200 500
Sandan 700 2440 600 1990 ---/36 ---/105 100ai/30 860/86 300 800
Yondan 200i/42 1280/128 300 1100

stuartjvnorton
02-05-2004, 11:18 PM
Note, among other things, that one could reach yondan at hombu in slightly fewer days than one could reach shodan in the USAF East.
I'd like to know average times as opposed to minimum times.

Because surely the average newbie USAF-E shodan is not as good as the average "newbie" hombu Yondan.

Thom Hansen
02-05-2004, 11:56 PM
In Aikido Yuishinkai the average is 3.5 to 4 years with consistant training

Edward
02-06-2004, 01:35 AM
Because surely the average newbie USAF-E shodan is not as good as the average "newbie" hombu Yondan.
I wouldn't be so sure about that....

rachmass
02-06-2004, 05:48 AM
I don't know many people who received their rank in Japan, and those I know are Americans and possibly on the fast track, but I know three guys who came to my old dojo as shodan with two years of training, and they just looked like anyone with two years of training. I know one sandan from Japan with 9 years of training, and he felt like anyone else I'd ever met with 9 years of training. Nothing magical happened to these four guys I knew by living and training in Japan; they were just the same as every other bloke in my old dojo in terms of skill. Again, this is only a pool of 4, so it is quite limited.

Peace, Rachel

Ted Marr
02-06-2004, 08:26 AM
From what I've seen, when people from different types of martial arts get together and start talking, nobody cares much about rank. The only thing that holds any currency is how many years people have been studying and or teaching for. Sometimes with dispensation for having studied under someone particularly cool.

Which is why I really don't care that with 1.5 years of training under my belt, I'm only going for 4th kyu this spring sometime. I will probably have enough total hours to be a newly minted Hombu shodan by the time of my test. But as I see it, the only differences are that I don't have to deal with that skirt anytime soon, and I won't be able to officially teach other people if I were to move to somewhere where there was no Aikido to be had.

Hanna B
02-06-2004, 09:36 AM
I don't suppose a Japanese shodan would ever be expected to teach - except at university dojos, whis is a kind of special dojo environment (so I've heard).

Edward
02-06-2004, 10:08 AM
I agree with Hanna, but I have seen much too many cases when Japanese visitors with sandan or yondan rank but only a few years of experience come to a dojo whose teacher is a 15 years shodan or nidan. As etiquette requires, these guys sit in the highest place and are even asked to teach, whilst some of the students who are only 2nd or 1st kyu have much longer experience than these guys. What do you think about that?

G DiPierro
02-06-2004, 10:54 AM
I'd like to know average times as opposed to minimum times.It's hard to say what the average times are without surveying a lot people. IME, times can vary widely. Among direct students of USAF-E shihan who train seriously, 4 or 5 years to shodan is probably the expected number. Among less serious students, or those in outlying dojos where a slightly different style might be taught or where there are not as many classes per week, 8 or 9 years is common, particularly if the students do not make a serious effort to attend seminars.

That said, I know of one USAF-E shidoin who only taught 3 or 4 days per week but who would give his students credit for having practiced 2 days if they attended 2 one-hour classes on one day, despite the fact that this is strictly against USAF policy. AFAIK, his students who were eligible for shodan have all passed on their first try. I also know of one student who I think had been practicing for over 20 years in a long-established USAF-E dojo but who simply never bothered to test for a dan rank. There really is a lot of variation, and even within one organization or one particular dojo, rank is not always indicative of relative skill.

I tend to agree with the other posters that total time in the art can be more indicative of the level of a student than rank, but there is still a good deal of individual variation in that. There is also the question of how often you have practiced during that time, with whom, and how intensely you have studied and applied the lessons available to you. All of these things matter, and it's not easy to say which is more important.

Believe it or not, people who stop practicing the art for several years often make a significant amount of progress in that time, even though they are not actually on the mat. I think this is because many of the lessons of aikido are not only useful in the dojo, but also in real life, and hence we have the opportunity to study and apply them even when we are not formally practicing. This is one reason why total time in the art often matters more than rank or practice hours. The lessons of aikido take time to digest, and practicing more intensely does not necessarily speed this process to a noticeable degree.

Still, there is no substitute for actually practicing on the mat nor for receiving instruction from those willing and able to give it to you. One of the reasons why people who study directly with shihan tend to progress faster is that every day is like a seminar in those dojos. Not only are they studying regularly with an excellent teacher, but there are also several advanced students available as partners. But even that situation does not guarantee a shortcut to mastering technique, even if it may be the fast track to higher rank.

Personally, I have found that learning to think about aikido on my own has been the most important skill in my development. I have reached the point where I go to seminars not to learn some new techniques or new ways of doing existing techniques, though that sometimes happens, but to compare my existing ideas with those of someone else with significantly more experience and to test them out and continue to develop them in a wider forum and with new partners. Normally, this process leads me to reach new insights, as I try to identify the principles underlying someone else's style of practice and apply them to to my own in order to determine how effective they are and why and how they could be modified to make them even more effective. I believe that such a comparative process applied to a wide range of teachers and styles yields the best understanding of the art as a whole.

So, in summary, forget about when you will get what rank and just focus on the learning the art. Personally, I would rather have the technique of a yondan and the rank of a shodan than vice versa. I think anyone who would choose the opposite is doing the art for the wrong reasons. People who are overly concerned with their ranking for purposes of vanity, ego gratification, or insecurity, are only doing a disservice to themselves, their students or juniors, and the art as a whole.

rachmass
02-06-2004, 11:53 AM
Giancarlo, your post was spot on, thank you for writing it.

One thing I have noticed as a teacher (albeit a rather new one), is that my students have very different capabilities, even if they train every day. Time on the mat does matter tremendously though, and a student who trains 6 days a week is almost without exception going to progress quicker than one who trains 2 days a week. I have a couple students who come to almost every class, and they are excelling, where I have another who can only make 2-3 classes a week who is also doing remarkably well, but he's got 20-years of prior karate training.

Personally I equate the time spent practicing to be much more important than the rank obtained, and there is a certain amount of seasoning that the old farts have that the newer vigorous young bucks just don't possess, no matter how good they are.

Just my $.02

indomaresa
02-06-2004, 12:50 PM
I agree with Hanna, but I have seen much too many cases when Japanese visitors with sandan or yondan rank but only a few years of experience come to a dojo whose teacher is a 15 years shodan or nidan. As etiquette requires, these guys sit in the highest place and are even asked to teach, whilst some of the students who are only 2nd or 1st kyu have much longer experience than these guys. What do you think about that?
i see no problem, a 15 year experience doesn't necessarily mean better and even if it does, it shouldn't matter. If nothing else, we could consider it a good manner to let a guest to take the honorary seat and position.

a few years experience doesn't necessarily mean they can't teach. training under a good sensei can provide an immense boost.

I remember that there's quite a few people on this forum who adamantly held the opinion that rank doesn't matter.

Rachael
02-07-2004, 05:26 PM
I earned my Shotokan Shodan in about 4 and 1/2 years, but that was with dedicated daily training. It's the same with any martial art - the more you put into it the more you will get out. Although having a high rank is nice (and it impresses non martial artists when you tell them you're a black belt!! :D), it is technique, skill and mental attitude which matter more IMO. I know a guy who trains in Kung Fu (and has done for about 7-8 years) but who has never graded, as he has a fear of exams/tests. To him, his 'official' beginner status doesn't bother him, as he knows his stuff and tries to improve on that. The fact that he is still classed as a beginner isn't important in his eyes, only perfection of technique.

The average time to Shodan in my Aikido dojo is about 5 years, although it obviously depends on the individual.

giriasis
02-10-2004, 12:40 PM
We're part of the USAF-ER and our dojo averages about 6 years to shodan, although 7-8 isn't unusual at all. It's taken me 4 to get to 2nd kyu so that should give you an idea of how long it should take. I will probably take me another 3-4 years to get to shodan so that would put me in the 7-8 year range. We have had people test before the 6 years, but they had exception skills.

Williamross77
02-10-2004, 01:52 PM
[QUOTE]I'VE LOST THE RACE THEN...[QUOTE]I DID NOT KNOW THERE WAS A RACE TO LOSE.

I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE THAT II IS MORE OF A WAY OF WALKING NOT THE DESTINATION. WHAT HAPPENS ONCE YOU GET THE SHODAN? IS THAT IT?

MAYBE YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE PROGRESS OF OTHERS, I HAVE BEEN IN MARTIAL ARTS OVER TEN YEARS AND OVER SIX HAVE BEEN FOCUSED ON FINDING "KI" NOT ON ATTAINING A BELT. IT HELPS OTHERS TO BELIEVE YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING WHEN THEY SEE THAT RANK. TRULY THOUGH THE RANK IS AN IMAGINARY THING. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT AIKIDO? IS IT WHAT MAKES YOU, YOU? IF SO YOU ALREADY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO TRAIN ANOTHER 12-25 YEARS. OF COURSE I DO NOT INTEND TO OFFEND ANY SHIHAN BY MY REMARKS ABOUT RANK BEING IMAGINARY, BECAUSE I STILL SEE THAT A 4TH DAN REQUIRES A DEDICATION TO THE ART WE LOVE, THAT I HOPE TO LIVE UP TO AND ADMIRE. AIKIDO IS IMPORTANT, NOT YOUR OBI.

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME...;)

Avery Jenkins
02-10-2004, 03:07 PM
I have another, corollary question that I'll throw out to the group here...

It is reasonable to expect that not everyone is capable of reaching dan rank? One may put in their time, polish their skills as much as possible, but their personal ceiling remains below what is required for their organization's dan rankings?

Avery

SmilingNage
02-10-2004, 03:13 PM
This kind of question usually gets me to chuckle atleast a few times. More often then not people who ask this question tend not to make that far.

It is a legit question, but your training should be a personal quest, not a quest for a belt. Take your time, learn your lessons, and learn how to apply what you have learned into technique that you can use.

I started with the idea of training until I reached my blackbelt with my current teacher. But with no rush to achieve that rank. Getting your black belt, IMO is really about your bond with your sensei. If you teacher feels comfortable with allowing you to test, then go for shodan. One should wait until your teacher approaches you to test for shodan. That is the ultimate respect your teacher can pay to your aikido. To badger your teacher about testing for shodan is the least respectful thing you can do.

Nacho_mx
02-10-2004, 03:53 PM
The shodan rank is for "beginners" who begin to take their training seriously, the sooner one achieves it(in accordance to proper technical standars), the better, but it´s just a small step, not the ultimate goal. IMO if someone is not up to it, is wasting their time and their sensei´s and everybody´s time.

Ron Tisdale
02-10-2004, 04:09 PM
Hello Mr. Ross,

Please don't type in all caps, its generally considered 'shouting' on the internet, and kind of like being rude...

Thanks,

Ron (no offense intended) Tisdale

Ghost Fox
02-11-2004, 06:50 AM
It is reasonable to expect that not everyone is capable of reaching dan rank? One may put in their time, polish their skills as much as possible, but their personal ceiling remains below what is required for their organization's dan rankings?

Avery
In my personal opinion, I would have to say not everyone is capable of reaching dan rank. But for the most part, for these people Aikido is not their bag, and after a few month/years of practice they generally leave. No harm, no foul, not everyone is meant to be a doctor, or a police officer or a bad *ss Aikidoka.

On the other hand I think most Aikidoka who have practiced long enough have met the Yudansha who was promoted because of their sheer determination and/or commitment to the dojo of the mat.

Fred Little
02-11-2004, 10:39 AM
In my corner of the universe, 8-12 years is a normal range for people training 4-5 times a week and making seminars on a regular basis.

Less time or less practice and it becomes difficult to hit the intensity level necessary to get over the hump.

The only individuals I'm aware of who came in significantly below this range came to aikido with a strong background in another system of movement -- wrestling, judo, and (I'm dead serious here) ballroom dance to cite three particular cases.

Fred Little

Williamross77
02-12-2004, 12:00 AM
No offense taken, i realized i had caps on only after i posted, but i think the content of the my post was subtle any way. thanks just the same. mr tinsdal, domo...

Amassus
02-12-2004, 06:05 PM
Bill - you can't help it if you have a booming voice, can you ;)

justinm
02-13-2004, 04:57 AM
When should physical limitations restrict your ability to achieve shodan?

For instance, if a student is unable to take ukemi for medical reasons, and is only able to be tori, should they be able to reach shodan?

Any views?

Justin

Ghost Fox
02-13-2004, 07:08 AM
When should physical limitations restrict your ability to achieve shodan?

For instance, if a student is unable to take ukemi for medical reasons, and is only able to be tori, should they be able to reach shodan?

Any views?

Justin
I personally feel if you no longer can do ukemi, then maybe it's time to take tai chi or explore other endevours. I don't think you need to be able to take breakfalls to do Aikido or have to practice hard at a killer pace, but you should still be able to do the fundamentals, like rolling.

aikidoc
02-13-2004, 09:22 AM
Justin-there is currently a black belt in a wheel chair-I believe a documentary is being made on her (I believe her name is Molly, but I'm not sure of her last name-she was featured in one of the Aiki Expo tapes.

p00kiethebear
02-17-2004, 04:37 PM
There was a story I once read of a father who was dissapointed in his son because hadn't passed the highschool entrance exam.

The father told the son that he had 5 tasks he was supposed to accomplish during his year off from highschool (it's not uncomon for a student to take a year off and take the exams again)

among these things was getting his black belt in any martial art. He chose Judou and recieved his shodan in less than a year.

It's really all about how much time you want to commit yourself to something, how badly you want it.

akiy
02-17-2004, 04:46 PM
Justin-there is currently a black belt in a wheel chair-I believe a documentary is being made on her (I believe her name is Molly, but I'm not sure of her last name-she was featured in one of the Aiki Expo tapes.
Molly Hale. Nice lady. I remember training with her at the San Rafael Retreat nearly six years ago. If I remember correctly, she was also present in her wheelchair (quite close to after her accident) at the seminar with Moriteru Ueshiba sensei that I attended back in 1995 or so.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/articles/_article.asp?ArticleID=1138

-- Jun

Largo
02-26-2004, 12:10 AM
So, what's the fastest that anyone has heard of someone getting an aikido shodan? (there is one guy in our dojo that got his in just under a year)

aikidoc
02-26-2004, 10:35 AM
One year 11 months (with one month off for knee surgery). This was 7 days a week training at three dojos; 2-3 days a week with double training sessions; averaging 7-8 seminars a year (Southern California has lots of opportunities). I was single at the time. However, I did have about 1.5 years training 15 years prior (big gap). I had the training hours and the skills so my instructor evaluated me on those.

stuartjvnorton
03-01-2004, 10:48 PM
So, what's the fastest that anyone has heard of someone getting an aikido shodan? (there is one guy in our dojo that got his in just under a year)
I've seen 2 who have done it in a year. 1 was an uchi deshi, and the other just started 1 day & turned up every single class (about 15 hours a week's worth) & staying back for more.

The Yoshinkan senshusei course also takes people through from zero to shodan in a year. There's a book called Angry White Pyjamas about, written by a guy who did it. Apparently, the stuff about the different people in it is a bit skewed for entertainment purposes, but the descriptions of the training are fairly accurate.

Bushi
03-02-2004, 04:10 PM
My friend got her black belt when she was 5, in 3 months... But that was in tai kwon do... (hehe!)