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PeaceHeather
05-04-2004, 01:54 PM
Hi all,

Just found out that our dojo does not have formal testing; soke watches your progress and when he feels you are ready, he gives you your next belt.

I've seen it implied on this forum that there are other places that operate this way; I'm just curious how well that works out for each of you, either as the student or the sensei within that system.

Thoughts?
Heather

aikidoc
05-04-2004, 02:12 PM
Heather:

Do you practice aikido? Soke's are unusual in aikido.

Anyway, the only one I have seen not doing formal promotions would just observe the student until he thought they were ready for a certain level and then hand over the rank. It was an issue for the organization since the organization required formal testing through Nidan. Ultimately he split and did his own thing.

Ron Tisdale
05-04-2004, 02:32 PM
Heather, no offense to you or your instructor, but...you are probably going to get some flak if you keep using that particular title online. If you read the following link:

http://www.koryubooks.com/library/wbodiford1.html

you may understand why. I'm not saying you shouldn't post about your teacher, just that perhaps calling him 'Sensei' might save you some grief. By the way, Dr. Bodiford is one of the foremost researchers in the field, and practices MAs as well. His perspective is considered highly among historians and MAists alike.

Ron

PeaceHeather
05-04-2004, 03:21 PM
I'm using the title I was given to use, by the instructor of this dojo.

Kokon Ryu Aikido, Bujutsu Renmei.
Thomas Burdine, soke
The link below includes him in another sensei's lineage:

http://www.brattleboroschoolofbudo.com/LineageAikido.htm

Anyway, he uses the term and translates it as "head of family"; there are a handful of dojos across the country affiliated with this one, all headed by students of Burdine.

Still doesn't answer my question about "no tests", though.
Heather

giriasis
05-04-2004, 03:22 PM
Heather,

My first aikido school didn't really have formal tests although they had a curriculum you could follow. It was very subjective and not very fair in my book because some students were tested formally and others just hand a new belt. This caused a lot of competition between the different students. It was not a good experience, and I ended up moving on to a better school. In other words, I found such a situation didn't work.

As a side, please listen to Ron. He's right regarding the "soke" thing.

Ron Tisdale
05-04-2004, 04:03 PM
Anyway, he uses the term and translates it as "head of family";

Uh, yeah, I get that...but that definition would be incorrect. I won't say anymore about it...but I hope you do read the link.

I was in a dojo where we considered not having tests...and even went to having 'demo's' instead of tests. Although that was not the reason I left, I can see how the situation Anne Marie refers to could easily happen. It seemed to highlight the fact that some people who were really good martial artists, but not necessarily good at a particular syllibus could 'slide'. If you know what I mean. Nothing wrong with that I guess if everyone involved knows what they signed up for. YMMV...

Best,
Ron

George S. Ledyard
05-05-2004, 12:48 AM
Heather, no offense to you or your instructor, but...you are probably going to get some flak if you keep using that particular title online. If you read the following link:

http://www.koryubooks.com/library/wbodiford1.html

you may understand why. I'm not saying you shouldn't post about your teacher, just that perhaps calling him 'Sensei' might save you some grief. By the way, Dr. Bodiford is one of the foremost researchers in the field, and practices MAs as well. His perspective is considered highly among historians and MAists alike.

Ron
This is a World Sokeship Council Soke. I would expect that explains the title. This is more of an E-Budo type topic anyway.

Charles Hill
05-05-2004, 01:12 AM
It sounds to me that the problem in Anne`s dojo was that there was two systems, not that one was better than the other. I think that the no test system could be a problem, but I also think that it could be very good. With tests usually comes time requirements. Without tests, the ranks could actually more accurately reflect a person`s level. The teacher wouldn`t feel pressure to let a student test when she knows the student is not ready. The student would feel more of a personal connection to the teacher as he would feel that the teacher was actively looking at his progress or lack thereof.

Charles Hill

Nick Simpson
05-05-2004, 08:15 AM
In my experiance sensei only lets us test when he knows we are ready, therefore he is fully aware of our progress, abilities and downfalls, I feel the same connection to my instructor as would an individual who is awarded rank through continous monitoring.

PeaceHeather
05-05-2004, 09:49 AM
Thanks for the replies, everyone.
Heather

Mark Balogh
05-07-2004, 05:27 AM
My first dojo had no formal tests and it worked REALLY WELL relationships wise between everyone. Also, everyone was very martial, they concentrated on effective technique, not doing anything silly. People just went there to train, without any BS. However when these people became instructors (including myself) syllabus knowledge was lacking and it is tough to rectify that, although I have almost overcome this now.

I think dojo's without grading are a great idea, but running them without falling into the pitfalls is really tough!!! You have to be so thorough in what you teach so that your students don't lack anything in the future. :D

Jeff Stallard
06-08-2004, 02:27 PM
Heather, hello from a student of one of Soke Burdine's students. I train with Mike Pabst sensei out in Columbus. I wasn't able to make it to the May seminar, but we've been going over the 15 techniques that he covered. Very interesting stuff.

Uhh...I guess I have nothing to contribute to the thread. Sorry...

otto
06-08-2004, 03:03 PM
"..a World Sokeship Council Soke"

Aint that something? :) get the net! ;)

Excellent link Ron.

kironin
06-08-2004, 05:20 PM
This is a World Sokeship Council Soke. I would expect that explains the title. This is more of an E-Budo type topic anyway.


Yeah, entering that Vermont school's website is like entering a whole different MA world. Where lots of titles are used bearing no relation to how they are conventionally used in aikido or koryu arts. Where a shodan can become a shidoin and a smattering of low dan ranks makes one a shihan, etc.
shihan here
shihan there
everywhere a shihan,
and while your marketing
throw in a few sokes and professors too.

:yuck:

to each his own.

Christian
06-08-2004, 05:20 PM
My dojo does not test for promotion. They way it works is on an attendance basis. 40 classes for 5th Kyu, 50 more classes for 4th kyu, and twice yearly promotion periods for 3rd kyu and above. Sensei watches, and if you attend enough you can't help but improve. Homma Sensei says that time and effort are the equally important to technical skill. The skill level for the lower kyu ranks can vary, but once you get to 3rd kyu, the skills are fairly comparable. I haven't found this method to be a problem at all.

Olga Mihailova
06-28-2004, 09:31 AM
We haven't had neither exams nor ranks for few years. That worked all right. Now we have. The sensei finds it to be good and useful. So do I, by the way.The ranks are especially useful in the junior group trainings - the newbies see the senior students at once. :) And then the exams is such an interesting thing - a good experience, a great training. I had two - and really loved them both!

Olga Mihailova
06-28-2004, 09:33 AM
We haven't had neither exams nor ranks for few years. That worked all right. Now we have. The sensei finds it to be good and useful. So do I, by the way.The ranks are especially useful in the junior group trainings - the newbies see the senior students at once. :) And then the exams is such an interesting thing - a good experience, a great training. I had two - and really loved them both! And that is all. If still didn't have them - Aikido would be as great as it allways was.

Rupert Atkinson
06-28-2004, 07:26 PM
Often no different to 'test' dojos. Why? If your dojo passess 100% then whether you take the test or not makes no real difference except to your ego. These days - 100% is the norm in many places ... to me, in a way, that is a no test dojo! Simply, it is not a test.

kironin
06-28-2004, 11:32 PM
Often no different to 'test' dojos. Why? If your dojo passess 100% then whether you take the test or not makes no real difference except to your ego. These days - 100% is the norm in many places ... to me, in a way, that is a no test dojo! Simply, it is not a test.

At least at my dojo,
You are right it is not a test. It is a demonstration of a level already reached.
People pass because they are already well-prepared enough to pass.
I don't see anything wrong with that. Not much different than new ranks simply being posted in the old days at Aikikai hombu.

Sure you could test them sooner when they are not prepared enough. In fact, I have watched another organization tests. This organization tends to push promotion of people pretty quickly. Often you see shaky performances, In one case I watched both persons testing did not do a good job. One was not passed and told to wait a year, the other was passed on probation only because the person was already starting a small satellite group (that was explained to him). They were both dedicated students, just not ready to test. They both needed another year. The one that did not pass ended up leaving the school. So did putting students in a position to fail publicly serve a point ? No, it just lead to having to watching a poor demonstration followed by politics.

How many senior Japanese who are sitting on testing boards actually ever took a test ? Tests seemed only to have appeared as aikido moved out of Japan in the 1960's when beginning schools may have had only a teacher visiting periodically.

A good teacher should already know what their students are capable of from regular practice.

Craig

siwilson
06-30-2004, 06:32 PM
The title "Soke":

My understanding is that it means "Uniting family and home", but is used for the inheritor of a school/art who is not in the previous heads family line.

I would be very interested in others interpretation.

aikido_dragon
07-11-2004, 08:36 PM
I've been in both types of dojo's. The first dojo I trained in was run very well. When our Sensei thought you were ready he'd promote you at the end of class by calling you in front of the class and tell you excactly why he felt you were ready for your next belt. His reasoning is that every class is a test. He'd watch every student very close every class and made sure to spend at least five minutes one-on-one with each student. He truly is an amazing Sensei and I plan on modeling my teaching style after his.

I unfortunatly no longer study at his dojo because he moved to another state, but I've found an equaly outstanding Sensei that I now learn from. He teaches and feels much the same way as my first Sensei, but because he belongs to the National Aikido Federation he needs to keep his training documented and structered to there liking. So he has testing, but you have to ask and get the Sensei's ok before you can test. When he says yes you can test or he comes to you and says your ready to test then you know in his mind your already the next rank and the rest of the testing is just for formality.

Stick
09-11-2004, 11:42 PM
Our sensei, Roy Suenaka, also declares that his students are "always being tested." When he calls one of his students up to test, the test is really a formality -- he encourages everyone to view it as an opportunity to show their fellow students their best stuff, sort of a "graduation ceremony." I have never seen anyone in Suenaka Sensei's organization fail a test, simply because if he doesn't believe you're ready to test, you don't test. If he calls you up to test, by his estimation you have already passed.

I find this a wonderful philosophy, one I'm certain many other sensei share.

tedehara
09-12-2004, 12:53 PM
Heather:

Do you practice aikido? Soke's are unusual in aikido.
...Since my Chief Instructor awarded Sensei Burdine his black belt many years ago, I tend to think he knows something about Aikido.
;)

BKimpel
09-12-2004, 02:04 PM
Since my Chief Instructor awarded Sensei Burdine his black belt many years ago, I tend to think he knows something about Aikido.
;)

And did your sensei bestow the title of soke to him? Or is more of a self-bestowed title :)
http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6390
Sorry…off topic of this thread.

Small dojos can easily be run without formal testing and ranks, if the sensei is aware of all of his/her students’ skill levels. Larger dojos will probably find it more difficult.

Politics play a part regardless of whether or not a formal testing system exists (there is still only one judge – no?), but it probably nicer to actually see the criteria formally defined so at least you know what to expect.

tedehara
09-12-2004, 06:02 PM
And did your sensei bestow the title of soke to him? Or is more of a self-bestowed title :)
...People always talk about lineage and rank as if it were something set in stone. Fact-of-the-matter is that many martial artists cross-train and go from one instructor to another. They even train in different arts and different styles within an art.

You can't pigeon-hole people into neat categories and ranks. I was told Sensei Burdine has strong connections with other arts besides Aikido. But that does not mean he doesn't know anything about Aikido. My understanding is that Soke is used among Karate types. I'm sure Burdine Sensei has also studied Karate.

Miyamoto Musashi had no formal training in sword. Yet he fought around thirty duels in his life and was good enough to do something most samurai never did. He died of old age. Today, he would be a "rank beginner" in any kendo dojo.

Tamarack
09-13-2004, 09:02 AM
Hello Heather and all,

I train at a "no test dojo" - of sorts. It's a fairly informal/un-japanese club. We say "thank you" in english, and simply bow to one another standing before each paired practice.

Our instrucotrs (we don't use "sensei") offer that if any individual wants to test, we can do so through the umbrella aikido organization (Irish Aikido Association). So, even though the option is there, it is ineffect a no-rank dojo.

And yes - our instructors hold dan degrees!

I've also trained in a more japanese settting, and tested there. I think testing is a great (though wholly frightening! ) experience.

That said, I think the reason this club doesn't test is to make aikido more accesible (don't quote me on that! It is just my impression!). It's also interesting to me when I have someone ask me if it's my first class too!! :p (ummm....no!)
- or vice versa : when someone treats me like I could be their senior.

wery,wery intewesting...

Chad Scott
11-01-2004, 09:29 AM
A friend of mine used to practice at a small dojo in another part of Tokyo, and his sensei would give them a black belt when he felt they were ready. My friend seemed to like that system. Maybe that's how it was in the old days...?

Dan Gould
11-01-2004, 05:08 PM
My dojo works in the same way. You're a white belt until you're a black belt (damn weird, coz I can't tell how experienced people are there, any my aikijutsu sensei is now a white belt, and we're both as lost as each other, lol). I personally find this comforting, if a little abiguous. All students are on equal ground. I'm not sure if they do gradings, but we all have white belts (not that I have my gi yet.) Maybe they'll just give us a black belt when we're ready, I think it's like that.

It really takes the pressure off and makes me feel more at home. Like there's no showing off, and when I walk into a room, I'm not the only one with a white belt. I like that a lot :-) It's very encouraging.