View Full Version : Poll: Yudansha in your dojo

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10-19-2004, 03:52 PM
Hello everyone.

I have a skewed view here in the SF Bay Area. I haven't been outside this area to train in aikido and I know there are other places with a cluster of high ranked teachers, but I was wondering how many yudansha are there as students in other dojos.

Certainly I understand that rank isn't everything. I know of people who have trained in aikido for decades but have not increased in rank either because they aren't affiliated or they simply aren't invested in rank. With that in mind though...

Where do you train?
Do you have godans, yondans, sandans, or nidans who are students?

10-19-2004, 04:26 PM
I don't know if our "cluster" is the same since Sunnyvale is close to Oakland... Anyway, from our website it seems we have two Nidans listed there. I know we have at least one more Nidan, in November one of our Shodans will have his Nidan test. Website lists five Shodans, bit I'm pretty sure there are more and on November we also have one Shodan test.
All people above are students.

10-19-2004, 06:37 PM
Three shodan, one nidan, two sandan and one retired, one yondan, Sensei is Godan.
One fifth kyu (me), Two second kyu, five or six unranked. thats the whole dojo.

The thing is, there are more dojos in Northern Cal than probably anywhere else so the yudansha population would naturally be higher...

10-19-2004, 07:52 PM
Six or seven shodans, two of whom are very close to being nidan, one just because she hasn't tested in forever, one sandan who is about to be promoted to yondan, and our sensei who is yondan soon to be godan, about 10-15 regular other students.

10-19-2004, 09:32 PM
About 8 shodans, 7 nidans, 2 sandans who regularly train at our main dojo. The chief instructor is rokudan & the 2IC is yondan.
The sandans are rostered to take 1 or 2 classes per week & 3 of the nidans take the occasional class. At other times they train in class like everyone else.
There is probably a similar number at the smaller dojos around the city, but the nidans & sandans tend to teach more there.

10-19-2004, 11:46 PM
We are a small group. Chief instructor is yondan, one nidan and one shodan. Non-affiliated we have another shodan and nidan (he doesn't train with me). Another shodan in the pipeline-about a year.

10-20-2004, 02:42 AM
Chief Instructor is Go Dan, one Nidan, 4 Shodan, soon to be 5, and a mix of kyu`s (50 or so registered members but over this year we haven`t averaged more than 7 per class!).



Jim Simons
10-20-2004, 04:06 AM
We've got one sandan, two nidan and five shodan. I always thought of us as a small dojo, but I guess this puts us closer to medium-sized (or perhaps median-sized); I'm in the UK right now training when I can with a lovely club run by two nidan, with one newly-minted shodan and one other yudansha whose rank I don't know.

10-20-2004, 06:15 AM
Weve got an 8th Dan, 3 San dans, 9 nidans and 28 shodans.

I'm the best looking one if you ever visit us!

10-20-2004, 11:14 AM
Where do you train?

Southwest Michigan, USA

Do you have godans, yondans, sandans, or nidans who are students?

one rokyudan--chief instructor
one yondan
two sandan (one is also hachidan in uechi ryu karate)
five nidan
four shodan
five or six nikyu/ikkyu
a whole gaggle of people ranked below nikyu

These are the ones who still train. There are many other kyu and dan students from the past who don't train anymore for whatever reason.


10-20-2004, 01:39 PM
We, Tenshinkai Aikido, seems to have a high population of Yudansha. I think the high level of instruction keeps us learning. We are ranked through our own International Federation and through the Aikikai.

10-22-2004, 04:08 PM
Thanks everyone for your reply. I see that there are quite a few people who have replied that have a healthy level of yudansha. I have an impression though that the majority of the dojos out there do not have multiple sandans and such. Maybe I'm wrong.

So my question to those of you who have a high ranking instructor (maybe godan and higher) is, do you take your sempai less seriously as 'experts' because you have a very high ranked sensei at hand? Are you a witness to other students doing this?

Another teacher that I have trained under is a nidan and I feel like the feedback that he gave me was invaluable, yet the number he had in his title might be misleading as he has been training for twenty years.

Do you feel that your sempai ~always~ have some level of beneficial feedback?

Thanks again for the replies.


10-22-2004, 04:46 PM
do you take your sempai less seriously as 'experts' because you have a very high ranked sensei at hand?


Are you a witness to other students doing this?


Do you feel that your sempai ~always~ have some level of beneficial feedback?

I would say no because of the use of the word "always". Replace it with usually and I'd switch it to yes :D


10-22-2004, 06:18 PM
So my question to those of you who have a high ranking instructor (maybe godan and higher)

I think I'm eligible with teachers of 5th and 7th dans.

do you take your sempai less seriously as 'experts' because you have a very high ranked sensei at hand?


Are you a witness to other students doing this?

I don't think so. At least such opinion is never expressed.

Do you feel that your sempai ~always~ have some level of beneficial feedback?

Feedback may be not beneficial if:
1. What is taught is b/s
1.1. Person does not know what he is talking about (includes showing off, masking incompetence, etc.)
1.2. Person intentionally lies
2. You are not able to understand the lesson
2.1. Because of your level of development in the art
2.2. Because of your distrust in the teaching person

Since we are talking about sempai who is yudansha, the probability of 1.1 is pretty low. 1.2. does not make much sence unless there is something personal between you, or the person does not understand the non-competitiveness of the art. Both 2.1 and 2.2 are possible. In case of 2.1 I would try to concentrate and ask for additional explanations. In the case 2.2, the problem is not the person teaching, but the person being taught...

So my answer would be "Yes" with the exceptions discussed in 1.2.

Charles Hill
10-22-2004, 07:16 PM
Hi Paula,

I know this might seem simplistic and not a real answer to your question, but I always try to keep the attitude that everyone can give me beneficial feedback, especially the non-verbal kind. I often fail to do this, but I try to keep this intention when I practice. Also, I have gotten a lot of beneficial feedback when my sempai indicate something that is clearly different than what my shihan teaches. I have thoroughly learned the lesson that it is easy to keep practicing without any progress for many years.:)

Also, as for your 20 year practicing nidan teacher, is he in an active student/teacher relationship with someone more experienced? My feeling is that rank is a form of communication btwn teacher and student. My opinion is that for someone to have practiced for 20 years and be a nidan means that either the teacher thinks his/her student is totally lost and has given up on him or the nidan is not in an active relationship with a teacher and thus is not really nidan.

Charles Hill

10-22-2004, 08:48 PM
Charles i have to take exception to that. Sometimes the person just really doesn't care about the rank. My sensei's first student at this dojo only recently tested for nidan after 20 years. Two of her kohai have already made sandan, but they also attend many seminars, have trained at hombu, and had just more interest in testing then Robin did.
However she is still the senior student in the dojo and sensei's favorite uke. I assure they have a healthy,active teacher/student. relationship.

10-23-2004, 02:03 AM
Hey Charles
Thanks so much for the reply. It's late and though I think you have given me much to chew on...in the moment I feel moved to address the 20 year nidan issue. Truly I can't speak for him and his reasons. I feel moved to relate that he isn't affiliated and therefore hasn't had the occasion to 'move up'. He does train as well under a very good teacher (not just my opinion but respected by other fine teachers), but I don't know if she's affiliated. I do respect his path however and have benefited from his guidance.

For my part, I've practiced for a few years but have had to preempt advance on and off for various reasons. I try to set my ego aside when I see that previous dohai, even kohai are playing with the big kids now. I wanna play too. So sometimes I have attachment to my own rank, but I also see that as a material thing. Really that I get to train at all is a gift. I am spoiled by the fact that I have so many very cool dojos to choose from here in the Bay Area.

I'll cover the rest of your reply (thanks BTW for setting aside the time for a couple paragraphs : ) ) when I have a longer moment and my head isn't sleeepy.


Charles Hill
10-23-2004, 06:20 AM
Hi Jo and Paula,

I see that I didn`t make myself clear. I don`t mean that someone who has trained 20 years and is still nidan is not a nidan in terms of skill. I mean that they don`t have a strict teacher/student relationship with someone who uses the dan system as it was intended. Likely, such a person is much higher in skill. Thus, it is not fair to anyone to compare that person who has trained in a normal progression and is a "real" nidan. For example, someone might research a topic and become the world`s foremost expert in it. Another person might study the same topic for a few years at a university and get a Phd. in it. The first person might be way more knowledgable, but still can`t be called, "doctor." And of course, most people would rather study with the first guy.

I feel that a dan rank, on its own, has no meaning and no value. When I hear that someone is xx dan, I want to know who gave that rank.

Sorry about the confusion.
Charles Hill

10-24-2004, 08:56 AM
Hello, I recently gave up my dojo (long running threads about the difficulties of keeping it going) and now happily practice at my old dojo. The teacher is a yondan shidoin, and we have several shodan, three nidans, a sandan fukushidoin, and recently had a godan from Japan join into the fray. Many ikkyu and nikyu students, and bunches of students with less than two years practice. Good group!

By the way, I am one of those folks who tend to think that years of consistent practice is just as important than actual rank (for obvious reasons), and that rank is also indicative of ones relationship with ones teacher and the organization to which one belongs. FYI I have been practicing now for over 20 years and am a sandan, but I also made the choice to switch styles of aikido 12 years ago, which started me back and square one on the rank scale. I believe you will find that with many folks who have trained a long time.


Jerry Miller
10-24-2004, 11:16 AM
We have one sandan, one nidan and at least seven shodan. I am not sure of the number of shodan after the last seminar. I try to keep an open mind with all of the sempai.

Kevin Masters
10-26-2004, 11:41 AM
I'm in Woodstock, NY.

We have about 3 shodan, 3 or 4 nidan, several sandan, a couple of yondan, I think at least one godan, and Sensei is a seichidan.
Oftentimes the mudansha are outnumbered by the yudansha.

10-26-2004, 11:59 AM
We have two Shodan and Two Nidan in our Dojo at this time.

10-29-2004, 07:31 PM
Do you feel that your sempai ~always~ have some level of beneficial feedback?

Of course. All have their own experiences and perspectives. When two men (or women) meet, each has something to teach the other, and each something to learn from the other.

Joezer M.
10-30-2004, 12:14 AM
I live in Bandung, Indonesia... there are 2 sandans, 3-4 nidans, and several shodans...
In my dojo there are currently... um... 2 shodans... On rare occasions, one of the sandans comes along... or shodans from other dojos.
I remember a couple of years back when training with yudansha was a big event and the dojo would be full...


Berney Fulcher
11-01-2004, 06:39 AM
Age of the school would have a lot to do with this too I would think. We are a fairly new school, the teachers are Sandan and Nidan, and except for the occasional visiting shodan or upper Kyu belt, all the students are 5th Kyu. With that kind of distribution just about anyone who offers tips gets the benefit of having their opinion considered.