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Daniel Moore
11-24-2004, 02:57 PM
I can't say I am the most experienced martial artist, but I have definately seen a drop in the teaching standards of some so called black belts. This is a problem all too common in Kent (as some of my fellow students can attest) as the teaching of martial arts including aikido is definately leaning towards the fast pass system. Whereby with attending a few lessons and some money you recieve a certificate saying that you are now an equivilant of a 1st dan black belt. My father says that this is very much like the 'cowboy' kung-fu sifu's who popped up in the Bruce Lee boom.
Comments appreciated.

Noel
11-24-2004, 03:44 PM
I think you see that anywhere. When I did Shotokan karate back in college, our instructor always told us that black belts were 10 bucks each at the martial-arts supply store, while people with black belts were a dime a dozen.

People who are skilled in MA and have black belts are, unfortunately, a little more rare. Caveat emptor.

maikerus
11-24-2004, 05:46 PM
This was actually one of the reasons the Yoshinkan Hombu and the IYAF started the International Senshusei course. They wanted to have a standardized teaching method, level and understanding for instructors that would ripple out to other countries, giving a more direct line to what is being taught at the hombu dojo.

Interestingly, only a few of the Senshusei graduates are running their own dojos. Most go back and assist at their previous dojos. Some of them have even banded together to run a dojo.

Also interestingly, the ones that do start the own dojos are, I believe, the ones who have the most experience before coming to do the course.

--Michael

Lan Powers
11-24-2004, 05:59 PM
Off subject a bit....

Michael, is the international Sensushei course referring to the Sensushei course that was offered to the Tokyo "special police"? I mean is it opened up to be taught in other places than just in Hombu?
(Only knowing of it through "Angry White Pajamas)
I don't know very much about the Yoshinkan, I am afraid.
Lan

maikerus
11-24-2004, 11:02 PM
Hi Lan,

You're right...I was referring to the one taught at Yoshinkan Hombu and represented in Angry White Pajamas. It's taught in conjunction with the Tokyo Riot Police Course.

I believe that the course came about for two reasons:

The first was that the instructors at the hombu dojo were worried about keeping the style consistent worldwide. They thought that teaching foreigners to be instructors molded in Hombu's image would be a good idea so that when they returned to their own countries they would pass on their knowledge/technique as they learned it at hombu. This added with the annual or bi-annual tours that hombu teachers make to various countries worldwide is a pretty good (I think) attempt to keep the Yoshinkan standards up.

The second reason was that too many foreigners were trying to take the riot police course with the police and it was difficult for them because the riot police train 4 times a day for 9 months. Since the riot police are paid to do the course - it's part of their training - it is no hardship for them, but visiting foreigners (and other Japanese who want to do the course) have to work sometime during the day. They decided (probably because of reason one) to offer a course that had 3 classes a day, one of which was training with the riot police. This course goes for 11 months and the last 2 months are specifically geared toward teaching them how to teach.

If you want any more details, please PM me. I did the course in 1993-94, was sewanin during the Angry White Pajamas year and taught at hombu for several years after.

--Michael

philipsmith
11-25-2004, 03:12 AM
I can't say I am the most experienced martial artist, but I have definately seen a drop in the teaching standards of some so called black belts. This is a problem all too common in Kent (as some of my fellow students can attest) as the teaching of martial arts including aikido is definately leaning towards the fast pass system. Comments appreciated.

In many ways I agree. I am involved with the BAB coach accreditation system and I think that things are improving withing that organisation and its member associations.
However there are a number of "Aikido" (and other martial arts) associations who have no outside accreditation are run by one individual who needs to create both new high grades and dojos in order to maximise his income.
There is also the problem of Ego and the establishment of a cult-like association where the instructors word is literally law.

You then get an insular situation where training with others is discouraged because it "contaminates" the purity of their training. That last comment was made to me by one yudansha when I asked to practise on his mat as a reason for refusing permission!

What then happens is that complacency sets in and standards fall rapidly. Quite frankly some of the Aikido I have seen is not worthy of the name.

happysod
11-25-2004, 03:17 AM
You then get an insular situation where training with others is discouraged because it "contaminates" the purity of their training So, did the yudansha pass the Daz whiter than white test for his gi?

Before I jump on the band-wagon of "yes, teaching was better in the old days, so were fingers, we had better fingers then..." school, does anyone have any facts to back this up or even a standard that they're measuring this against? I seem to remember quite a few threads that were less than happy about how it was done in the "good old days" - yes, good martial artists, but the implication of poor teaching came across quite heavily.

Peter Seth
11-25-2004, 07:14 AM
Its a strange one this?
Acting as a devils advocate - Who sets standards, who determines that this/that technique should be done this way, who sets the examination parameters, who sets the sequence of performance of techniques (in which order they are performed) etc etc.
Aikido is a living art, should it not grow and develop in each individual and therefore should not be standardised (except for students to learn the basics untill they 'find their feet' as it were and interpret what they have learned as their aikido).
O'sensei himself was constantly changing his aikido and stated that everyone should make their own aikido.
I realise that standards have to be set, but is this only what the 'standard setters' perceive as being 'the right way' or is it a control thing. Without freedom to express ourselves as we interpret 'things' rightly or wrongly, we diminish possibilities and potential. Do we, as is obvious in many other organisations and areas of life create 'boxes' for us to sit in and so stifle creativity. I have been involved in martial arts for over 40 years - aikido well over 25 years, and find that my present Aikido is constantly evolving (a lot of the time no technique as such, just movement and leading, allowing uke to fall where he will. Is this aikido? AI - (Harmony), KI - (Energy). I of course ensure my students learn the basics and constantly revisit them. But, I also encourage them to practice 'their' aikido, to look beyond technique. How would this be viewed by others? Various views have been expressed depending on the viewer and what they wanted to see, but on the whole I have a good rep.
Maybe I could be classed as a 'traditional rebel' by some people, but look beyond what you see in everything.
Bit of a ramble - under pressure to 'switch that damned machine off'.
so must finish there - Phew!

Dazzler
11-25-2004, 09:35 AM
Hi

Can't speak for the whole county but while its inevitable that there is an exception to every rule, I think that teaching standards are actually improving.

Look at Phillip Smiths post.

We have formal coaching, we also have FAETC 7306 qualifications and many many other coaching awards have come and gone...eg MADEC.

Bottom line is that general coaching/teaching is recognised as a separate skill from aikido itself and this is developing in UK.

What coaching qualifications did O'Sensei and his team have?
Some maybe but probably not all.(again there will be exceptions and no doubt someone will point out that half of them were professors...! ;) )

This is not to question their Aikido. Merely to point out that modern teaching methods can be applied to aikido to enhance the learning process.

I think this is happening. Maybe Kent is unlucky!

Just my thoughts as I'm on a coaching course on saturday with National Aikido Federation..part of the BAB Coaching that Phillip Smith referred to.

Cheers

D

ian
11-25-2004, 10:56 AM
Yep - it does vary from club to club. However, I think the good thing about aikido is that you can feel how good someone is when you train with them, so there is no escaping a person's real ability (or inability). I think after 1st dan the grade is pretty irrelevant and you learn from people because you want something particular they are teaching.

maikerus
11-25-2004, 07:30 PM
Aikido is a living art, should it not grow and develop in each individual and therefore should not be standardised (except for students to learn the basics untill they 'find their feet' as it were and interpret what they have learned as their aikido).


To me, the standardization of the *teaching* of basics is what is important and what is sometimes missing in the students of instructors who are "finding their own Aikido".

As everyone knows (?) Yoshinkan has a very strict set of standards and to be considered part of the Yoshinkan umbrella you must teach your students the 6 kihon dosa as well as the dai ichi, dai ni and dai san kihon waza.

However, it seems that some students only give lip service to the understanding of the above requirements because they are more interested in doing "cool" or "flashy" techniques. If the instructor is also interested in "finding his own Aikido" they are going to - quite naturally - do more of the things the instructor is interested in exploring and these may not focus on the kihon.

So...we get a situation where an instructor has been taught the kihon but doesn't pass it on as well as it should be and then that instructor's students pass on even less. I believe that this will lead to a generation of sloppy Aikido - not a new and improved vigorous style or even something just different, but a sloppy execution of what we have now.

I think that the idea of having classes just dedicated to basics that are separate than "more advanced" classes is a good one. I would also suggest that students - of any rank - should only be able to attend the "more advanced" classes so long as they continue to attend a set number of the basic classes.

I do not argue at all with the desire to "find one's own Aikido". I find something new almost every day and more so if I happen to be on the mat. My concern is that we, as instructors, might forget to pass on the basics while we explore "our own Aikido". This is what I have seen happen and I would like it to stop.

For the record, I now find the kihon very, very interesting but it took me many years to find out that there was something deep within it to explore.

I thank my instructors for forcing me to spend all that time on something I considered "boring" when there were "cooler/flashier" techniques to do. Now I understand why they did it and I also understand how hard it must have been for them to do so.

I also understand how easy it is for students to want something "cooler/flashier" early in their training, given the time it took me to figure out that the basics were interesting in their own right.

Take all this with a grain of salt. Remember...I've been brainwashed by the best <grin>.

--Michael

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ruthmc
11-26-2004, 06:42 AM
We have several different issues here.

Firstly, the "fast pass" black belt - in my experience (UK dojos with no or minimal links to their style's hombu) the speed at which a student attains the rank of shodan is generally inversely proportional to the size of the organisation within which they are graded.

Secondly, the drop in teaching standards. I don't think most of us are even in a position to judge this, as we haven't been training for long enough. Maybe those who have been training for 40+ years can offer an opinion? However, I do agree with Ian:

I seem to remember quite a few threads that were less than happy about how it was done in the "good old days" - yes, good martial artists, but the implication of poor teaching came across quite heavily.
Safety was less on an issue "back then" from what I've heard - but then so was getting sued :)

The older instructors are great at teaching Aikido, but on the whole their knowledge of safe warm-ups and current coaching theory is a bit out-of-date, unless they make an effort to stay up-to-date and attend coaching seminars.

My father says that this is very much like the 'cowboy' kung-fu sifu's who popped up in the Bruce Lee boom.
However, if you join an organisation that has a proven history and properly trained teachers, you are at less risk of cowboys. Always do your homework before joining any organisation - Aikido or stamp collecting or whatever!

Ruth

David Humm
11-27-2004, 10:20 AM
I think my general feelings about aspects of aikido practiced in the UK are fairly well known within the Community here in my country. But I would like to answer one or two well made points in this thread.

Who sets standards, who determines that this/that technique should be done this way, who sets the examination parameters, The Hombu Dojo of the respective styles. It should be as simple as that.

I've only studied Aikido since 1988 but I've made it my business to travel and experience the aikido of almost all the aikido organisations within the UK. And I'm still doing that. I can base any opinion I hold about the quality of the instruction given by the Principals (and their instructors) based upon my experiences of my own Principal (his instructors) and the organisation who ultimately monitor and control our standards required for each examination - The Aikikai in Japan.

The subject of this thread opens a giant debate for many "so called" aikido clubs and organisation purely because some schools operate without any form of outside guidance or influence which sets a benchmark for standards. Very often... as Philip Smith states"the instructors word is literally law" and this should not be the case.

I would challenge ANY instructor to an open debate, who might tell me that it isn't that easy to affiliate to an organisation with direct connection to a respective Hombu, or indeed physically become a recognised Hombu affiliate in their own right if they lead an organisation with the infrastructure behind them.

If we look at the sheer number of established organisations in the UK, so such a small island we have somewhere in the region of 40 !! With only a handful of those drawing guidance from their respective Hombu.

I agree that Aikido IS a living art and it shouldn't be static but I also agree with Philip, some of the aikido practiced and taught here in the UK is absolutely rubbish; I have personally witnessed tuition for a so called 7th (now 8th dan) who stated he no longer considered either the Bokken or Jo as appropriate in "Modern" aikido. Bearing in mind that this person claims to teach "Traditional Aikido" Incidentally his 7th dan being issued for an agency in the UK that isnít specifically aikido orientated.

If I study for a degree in Biology (equating that to a 4th or 5th dan) Just because I'm awarded that accolade and have some experience it the subject, what right or authority do I have to then start issuing certification in that subject? The answer is essentially none.

Unless of course there is a reason why one would want to set up independently of any recognised organisation (Such as a Hombu) and again Philip hit the nail firmly on the head :: EGO ::

During my military service I was taught Ö "There are no poor students, just bad instructors" Hence IMHO, the situation raised in this thread.

Dave

deepsoup
11-27-2004, 03:43 PM
Hear hear.

I don't know anything about the dojo the original poster was talking about. But I do know of quite a few dojos for which David's points above, and Michael's excellent points about the importance of kihon dosa, go right to the heart of the matter.

Sean
x

David Humm
11-29-2004, 06:20 AM
This thread is actually quite ironic really, yesterday I was chatting to a 5th dan in Shotokan Karate (he owns the building housing my Aikido Dojo)

He raised the very same point about instructors who "change" things within a syllabus or break away from established organisations with links/affiliations to a larger entity who monitor and maintain not only teaching standards but as a result, the standards of their membership.

It was evident to him and a number of other senior instructors, that those who leave and operate independently very often loose focus on the authenticity of their training, they don't keep up to date with information filtered down from their respective Hombu's in Japan and, unfortunately it has been seen where these instructors create entirely "new" kata and techniques which bear little resemblance to the origin.

As mentioned in my previous post, I've seen things like this myself through the course of my training with several (no names) organisations and dojo who don't "feel" they need influencing from the likes of a Governing Body, be that the BAB for teaching Quals, or a source of training such as a Hombu.

Politics aside, I can't imagine why an organisation wouldn't want association with a wider source, unless that it because they perhaps find the training too hard or, they want a fast track approach to their Yudansha as Ruth rightly mentioned.

A dojo not so many miles away from me can't perform anything other than a basic form of UKEMI because the instructor cannot ukemi correctly himself. Indeed a few years ago I visited the Dojo, trained with a so called Shodan. He was quite happy to apply dynamic technique yet when he ::Ahem:: ukemi'ed for me he complaint bitterly that I was hurting him through the techniques I applied.

His ukemi was that of a 5th Kyu's and so was his attitude.

Unfortunately I've seen this type of situation at wider scales. A summer school I attended about 4 years ago of an independent association. The technique was sankyo and myself an a friend we happily training when a Yudansha from the association informed me I was doing the technique "wrong" and pointed out that sankyo only worked "correctly" if one worked the thumb (he them applied some pressure against my thumb and he fumbled with the technique.

These are just examples of the rubbish I've personally witnessed in the name of Aikido where a picture of the founder resided in the Kamiza.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem at all if a person wants to introduce something entirely new and call it a martial art however, I do have an issue with people who teach this sort of shite to student who know no better, and then have the audacity to call it aikido.

Dave

Peter Seth
11-29-2004, 07:32 AM
Hi All.
I seem to have opened up the debate a little with my 'Devil's Advocacy'. I agree Kihon should be the bedrock upon which a student should build and it should be reinforced on a regular basis. My point was, many people/instructors are moving forward as O'sensei suggested, discovering more efficient ways of performing teachniques. As in life, 'better'?? ways usually supercede their originals, so at any one time and at many different places, for eg: sankyo can be performed in many different ways and be termed traditional. I have also seen examinations where perfectly competent and sometimes outstanding students have failed Quote - 'your foot is in the wrong place'. This has happened more than once and in my view such strict and inflexible rules imposed as traditional methods of assessment don't really fit in with what I feel is the real ethos of the art, where flow and constant movement are an imperative.
It seems to also depend upon an individuals feel for the art as to which way it is taught. I have been called a 'traditional rebel' in the past, I value tradition highly and support it unconditionally as a foundation for any art (and all foundations should be checked and maintained regularly and sometimes strengthened by newer materials) but will not close my eyes to innovation. Got to go now.
Pete

justinm
11-29-2004, 09:05 AM
I've seen a wide range of teaching styles and skills as well, ranging from inspiring to embarrasing. A change I have seen, though, is the availability of instruction compared to 15 or 20 years ago. When I started, there was one dojo within reasonable commuting distance so little choice.

It is easier now for students to visit other instructors, and so more difficult for poor instructors to hide. This is a Good Thing.

It seems to me that there is a pretty good correlation between a good instructor and willingness to let students travel/visit. The worst (in my view) instructors I have seen have been part of very cult-like organisations.

As a professional in the adult education business, I have almost daily discussions around teaching skills vs 'product' skills. In aikido I have found we usually expect a highly skilled technician to be a better teacher. For instance, we all probably make a big effort to get to courses run by Shihan, expecting to learn more than we might at a course run by a 3rd Dan. I attended a course with a Shihan some time ago. Did he teach? I'd say no. He demonstrated and then we trained. However I have also been to a course this year where I learned a huge amount from a 6th Dan, that I still work on 6 months later.

Overall I have seen an increase in the availability of good instruction in the UK. It is likely, though, that there has also been an increase in the availability of poor instruction. My experience is that the former is pulling ahead.

Justin

David Humm
11-29-2004, 04:00 PM
Hi All.
...My point was, many people/instructors are moving forward as O'sensei suggested, discovering more efficient ways of performing teachniques. As in life, 'better'?? ways usually supercede their originals,

Hi Pete,

I agree with your sentiments entirely, Aikido IS a living art and due to the very unique attibutes of the system people will naturally look to develop, both themselves and their technical abilities.. Such are the ways of Aiki.

But, there is a world apart from legitimate development (for the "better") Something I will always support and indeed pay attention to and, that of bullshit spouted by someone disguising as 'legitimate'

The problem is that how do we know what is legitimate? I based my personal answer to that question on what extends from Hombu dojo into the UKA and eventually to me through my Shidoin, If the Doshu suddenly directed us no to use the jo, I feel sure there would be a "legitimate" reason for it (I a may not agree but.. who the hell am I to argue with the Doshu?) The same however cannot be said for a number of people in the UK who run their organisations.

Naturally their organisations are just that... "theirs" and they run their ships as they see fit. It is evident however, when one travels about and experiences the aikido of the organisations here in the UK, the standards are SO VERY diverse, almost from one extreme to another, I personally cannot help but wonder where it will eventually lead.

Kind regards as always

mj
11-29-2004, 04:19 PM
Not every instructor will turn out to be a diamond. Not every club will turn out to be fertile.

Teaching standards do not drop, they disperse...they follow a bell layout....very few really bad ones at one side, very few really good ones on the other...and average/good ones filling up the middle. For every Chiba we also get a Yellow Bamboo. For every Bruce Lee we get an Eric Roberts.

When we are young all black belts look like Gods. To a beginner a black belt will always be a sort of god.

And where will it all 'lead' Dave? Who knows...isn't that the point? :)

Aristeia
11-29-2004, 05:13 PM
The problem is that how do we know what is legitimate? I based my personal answer to that question on what extends from Hombu dojo into the UKA and eventually to me through my Shidoin, If the Doshu suddenly directed us no to use the jo, I feel sure there would be a "legitimate" reason for it (I a may not agree but.. who the hell am I to argue with the Doshu?) The same however cannot be said for a number of people in the UK who run their organisations.


Really? How far does that rationale extend? What if Doshu said we no longer practice Ikkyo? There's a word for an organisation where you don't apply your own reason to edicts that come from the leader, but just "feel sure it must be legitimate" because it comes from them. Starts with a c ends with a ult.

mj
11-29-2004, 05:15 PM
Starts with a c ends with a ult.
catapult

David Humm
11-29-2004, 06:16 PM
Really? How far does that rationale extend? What if Doshu said we no longer practice Ikkyo? There's a word for an organisation where you don't apply your own reason to edicts that come from the leader, but just "feel sure it must be legitimate" because it comes from them. Starts with a c ends with a ult.

Hmm.. so by your rational then.. The Doshu, the Aikikai to which he heads is a Cult?? I don't think so.

The point I'm attempting to make is that as far as a student of Aikikai Aikido (me) is concerned, my standards and those standards of the instructors and Principals above me are monitored to ensure STANDARDS are met. The same isn't true with respect to several organisations here in the UK. Some of those organisations teach piss poor aikido.

There is a massive difference between maintaining a benchmark standard which is essentially internationally recognised and that of an opinion of one person who operates entirely outside of any influance other than.. 'his own opinion' and that to me, sounds more cult like than following the guidance and reason of people to whom are directly responsible for the creation of and the future development of 'their' own art form.

mj
11-29-2004, 07:05 PM
... If the Doshu suddenly directed us no to use the jo, I feel sure there would be a "legitimate" reason for it...

There is a massive difference between maintaining a benchmark standard which is essentially internationally recognised and that of an opinion of one person who operates entirely outside of any influance other than.. 'his own opinion' and that to me, sounds more cult like than following the guidance and reason of people to whom are directly responsible for the creation of and the future development of 'their' own art form.......

All in the eye of the beholder then?

Aristeia
11-29-2004, 07:45 PM
Hmm.. so by your rational then.. The Doshu, the Aikikai to which he heads is a Cult?? I don't think so.

I note that you have denied my conclusion but ignored the reasoning that got me there. I don't think that Aikikai is a cult. But if we take the approach that whatever Doshu says is legitimate just because it is Doshu saying it, it will certainly become one.
To take your example, if Doshu came out with an edict that we no longer use Jo, I'd want to know his reasonng for that decision. If I agreed with it I'd go along, if it didn't make sense to me I wouldn't. Which in an extreme case may mean splitting off from both Aikikai and potentially my local organisation, to either go it alone, or join with others who are in similar disagreement. Point being the difference between a cult and a sane organisation is that changes and edicts are judged on their merits, not on the perceived infallibility of the leader who issues them.

David Humm
11-30-2004, 06:31 AM
......

All in the eye of the beholder then?

Its about understanding that his GRANDFATHER created the system and all the infrastructure around that person, his credibility and position as Doshu etc etc. Not some individual who through holding a 5th or 6th dan (very often less than this grade) sets up on his own and essentially makes things up to suit himself... as I've said before, there is a world's difference.

David Humm
11-30-2004, 06:38 AM
I note that you have denied my conclusion but ignored the reasoning that got me there. I don't think that Aikikai is a cult. But if we take the approach that whatever Doshu says is legitimate just because it is Doshu saying it, it will certainly become one.
To take your example, if Doshu came out with an edict that we no longer use Jo, I'd want to know his reasonng for that decision. If I agreed with it I'd go along, if it didn't make sense to me I wouldn't. Which in an extreme case may mean splitting off from both Aikikai and potentially my local organisation, to either go it alone, or join with others who are in similar disagreement. Point being the difference between a cult and a sane organisation is that changes and edicts are judged on their merits, not on the perceived infallibility of the leader who issues them.

Ok, fair points and agreed; so by the same reasoning I would hope you'd see that there is a difference between the Doshu (and who he is etc) and the average man in the street who's trained in aikido and decides to set up outside of any guidence and influance other than his own opinions.

1) I don't have a problem with that as long as it isn't billed as "Traditional Aikido"

2) I don't have a problem with that provided the students/instructors of those organisations don't preach about the rights and wrongs of technique to those who are members of their respective hombu's and hold internationally recognised certification (as has happened before on seminars)

3) I'd like to make it clear that I am neither involved in cult like behavoiur nore to I condone it however, I do respect the Doshu and his staff. Again there is a difference in respecting someone / an organisation that idolising or behaving in a cult like manor.

jonreading
11-30-2004, 01:00 PM
In the US, there is a children's game that involves whispering a sentence from one child to another. The game is played by sitting in a circle, initiating a whispered sentence and passing that sentence from child to child until coming back to the originator. The originator then says the final sentence aloud, followed by the initial sentence. FYI, this game makes for great drinking entertainment amongst adults. The two sentences are almost always different, and some are not even similar. The purpose of the game is to develop clear and concise communication, (or, as a drinking game, to be as dirty as possible). These skills then help the child communicate more effectively.

I understand Daniel's question as a matter of quality. I share a general feeling that instructors, especially new ones, have a difficult time instructing proper technique because they cannot communicate the purpose of the technique. I have seen many instructors hide behind the veil of nagare waza to avoid performing kihon waza that they do not know. But, I have also seen instructors refuse to push students past kihon waza because they do not understand nagare waza. Both extremes represent a problem to effectively communicate the purpose of technique to students.

That said, I do think that our instructors are losing the whispering game and passing on Aikido that is not clear or concise. Its hard for a student to develop their own aikido when they don't understand what they are doing to begin with...

Incidentally, I include mysef in this observation. I believe that establishing teaching schools to help instructors learn to communicate is a great idea, and hope to see more as aikido develops. Academic teachers go to school to learn how to better teach their students, why shouldn't martial arts instructors?

markwalsh
11-30-2004, 03:34 PM
Some observations and pondering of an aiki bum:

1. There is lots of really bad aikido in the UK. - By any standard, put the relativism down and walk away, you know what a turd looks like. But some real quality too obviously like [insert your teachers name here].

2. From conversations, interviews and readings of early British aikidoka it would seem that much teaching in the early days wasn't very good. So no lost golden age. The leading teachers themselves may have been excellent aikidoka, but groups often trained from books without regular instruction, with say a 4th kyu leading a class. When more senior instructors were present they may not have spoke much English or understood how Westerners generally learn (ie, they were sometimes brutal and used the show not explain Japanese method).

2. Was O'Sensei a good teacher? For example did he teach anyone who became better than him? Other's have said that in traditional martial arts you weren't taught at all as we'd understand it.

3. The current Doshu doesn't teach weapons or particularly encourage it, nor did his father I believe. It is because of the influence of Chiba and Saito Sensei's that it is so prevalent in the UK, right or wrong, an dnot because of Aikikai Hombu support.

4. Re. the bell curve of quality. The problem here is that it's easier and quicker to proliferate bad teachers and clubs, so they should be getting more and more common. I'd like to think that a discerning public could make informed decisions to keep the muppets of this world down, but recent election results lead me to have little faith (cheap shot, serious point).

5. It's regional. Some areas are worse than others, or simply influenced predominantly by one style. The SE is normally Tomiki country in general, but the BAB website shows one (non Tomiki) organisation that dominates. Who are you with Daniel, Sith or Jedi?

6. Why is it always other people who are heretics?

7. Here are some questions to ask yorself to see if you need to be burnt as a witch:
- Where did my teachers grade come form?
- Is there an unbroken line of genuine students and teachers, from The Founder to my Sensei?
- How do you know your teacher is any good, have you compared them to anyone?
- Why do people keep grabbing my wrist?

Grandmaster, Sifu, PimpMcdaddy, President Mark Junior
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siwilson
11-30-2004, 04:50 PM
The SE is normally Tomiki country in general...

The Yoshinkan is very available in the South East.

Why do people keep grabbing my wrist?

Come and train with the Yoshinkan and you will ask, "Why do people keep trying to hit me (as well as sometimes grabbing my wrist)?"

:)

Aristeia
11-30-2004, 07:12 PM
So Doshu can make things up if he sees fit but not anyone else, and this is based on his blood ties to his grandfather? Is that your contention?

Aristeia
11-30-2004, 07:36 PM
Ok, fair points and agreed; so by the same reasoning I would hope you'd see that there is a difference between the Doshu (and who he is etc) and the average man in the street who's trained in aikido and decides to set up outside of any guidence and influance other than his own opinions.

Absolutely! I've been known to argue long and hard against people in favour of setting up new systems themselves. there is enough room for individiual flexibiiltiy within most styles and the dangers of cutting yourself off are just too great - you end up with the freakish offspring than any inbreding generates ;)

I know a couple of people who run their own organisations, one of them in the UK, but they still have ties and regular interaction and even guidence from other organisations so it's all very healthy.

1) I don't have a problem with that as long as it isn't billed as "Traditional Aikido"

2) I don't have a problem with that provided the students/instructors of those organisations don't preach about the rights and wrongs of technique to those who are members of their respective hombu's and hold internationally recognised certification (as has happened before on seminars)

3) I'd like to make it clear that I am neither involved in cult like behavoiur nore to I condone it however, I do respect the Doshu and his staff. Again there is a difference in respecting someone / an organisation that idolising or behaving in a cult like manor.

All good and points I generally agree with. I"ve got a huge amount of respect for Doshu also, as with any Shihan, in fact he's coming to NZ next year and I'm looking forward to it tremendously. It was more the principal I was arguing with.

Peter Seth
12-01-2004, 07:29 AM
Hi again.
Getting exciting - good debate.
(Partly acting as Devils advocate again).

As for any Honbu or 'home', they may be directly linked to the origin, but, whose to say as they progress that the standards/techniques/basics, grow/change/improve/evolve as they naturally should. Are any 'improvements' disseminated freely and effectively (sometimes 'changes' are 'sold' piecemeal in small doses, so many minor changes in jo kata is a good example)? These changes are sometimes trivial and unnecessary? I have been on courses/seminars where very senior Aikidoka demonstrated technique which was 'old hat' 25 years ago. I now choose my courses very carefully, only attending where I consider the Sensei as being able both in traditional methods and also innovative and open to the true ethos of aikido which is progression and change.
Also, the teaching of what I consider the 'truth' of aikido which is flow and energy management rather than 'technique', 'technique', 'technique', which after all is only the conclusion of a Tai Sabaki. (this is of course differentiated to suit the students present).
Iv'e written a book called 'The Far Between' (not yet published - can't afford it), in which I mention the fact that a person may have thousands of techniques at his disposal but if he has not become competent at, or has an understanding of, the 'way' to achieve the point of application, he will never get the chance to apply a technique. Imagine/picture this - a person dragging a massive sack full of techniques round with him,- upon being confronted he starts to rummage around looking for an appropriate technique to use, whilst being beaten about the head. I recently had the great pleasure and honour of teaching at a course organised by an old friend, beginners to 3rd Dan. The standard of their aikido technique was excellent, so I concentrated on form, movement, breaking/intercepting/leading their timing (Changing Ma-ia), energy manipulation/leading - basically efficient ways to get to the point of application of technique. This opened up another perspective for them and even got some of them to the point of 'technique without technique' (on the odd occasion). Sometimes their 'movement' was so well timed and 'in the flow' that uke ended up on the mat with no technique being applied and both uke and tori wondering 'what happened'? I also learned a great deal myself.
I prattle no more!
Cheers
Pete

batemanb
12-01-2004, 08:16 AM
Also, the teaching of what I consider the 'truth' of aikido which is flow and energy management rather than 'technique', 'technique', 'technique', which after all is only the conclusion of a Tai Sabaki. (this is of course differentiated to suit the students present).
Iv'e written a book called 'The Far Between' (not yet published - can't afford it), in which I mention the fact that a person may have thousands of techniques at his disposal but if he has not become competent at, or has an understanding of, the 'way' to achieve the point of application, he will never get the chance to apply a technique. Imagine/picture this - a person dragging a massive sack full of techniques round with him,- upon being confronted he starts to rummage around looking for an appropriate technique to use, whilst being beaten about the head. I recently had the great pleasure and honour of teaching at a course organised by an old friend, beginners to 3rd Dan. The standard of their aikido technique was excellent, so I concentrated on form, movement, breaking/intercepting/leading their timing (Changing Ma-ia), energy manipulation/leading - basically efficient ways to get to the point of application of technique. This opened up another perspective for them and even got some of them to the point of 'technique without technique' (on the odd occasion). Sometimes their 'movement' was so well timed and 'in the flow' that uke ended up on the mat with no technique being applied and both uke and tori wondering 'what happened'? I also learned a great deal myself.
I prattle no more!
Cheers
Pete

Pete,

I wholeheartedly agree with you on these points. This is something that I preach constantly where I teach. Form and basic techniques are of course extremely important in the beginning, they form a large part of my classes but I want, and I want my students, to be much better than that.

So many people focus on trying to apply that technique that everything else is lost in their efforts.

rgds

bryan

Peter Seth
12-01-2004, 09:45 AM
Cheers Bryan.
Its nice to 'meet' people who have an understanding of the importance of AiKi and how important it is to integrate these concepts from the very beginning of a students training. It is all too often that instructors teach only technique with little explanation of Aiki. They sometimes 'hope' it will become apparent with time. This is not always the case , though some brilliant 'technicians' are produced along the way. I am lucky at the moment to have some great colleagues who help by concentrating on technique and grading 'stuff'. It gives me the opportunity to investigate Aiki with my students and hopefully begin to tread the path O'sensei did. If you have seen some old film/videos of O'sensei in his later life you will appreciate his awareness of Aiki and how 'that' was the essence of his art. I have/am also studying Chinese arts/Tai Chi, Bag wa, Tsing -i, etc and am amazed at the aikido in them. In fact it was commented on by a friend of mine (Master Ma Buo Goa) that my Kung Fu (aikido) was 'Too Big'.
Anyway Must go
Cheers
Pete

siwilson
12-01-2004, 03:54 PM
I think my late Sensei (Edwin (Ted/Eddy) Stratton Sensei) summed it up:

"Timing, distance, balance!"

My current Sensei sums it up pretty much too - it is the first move that is most important. Basically, if you don't move at the right time, get in the right place, and take Uke's balance, forget it. It doesn't matter how good your "technique" is!

Amassus
12-01-2004, 10:14 PM
I am going to speak on behalf of a dojo that is independent to the hombu.

I don't believe all independant dojos have poor teaching. I have trained quite often at the local 'hombu affiliated' dojo as well as continuing to train at my own dojo and I do not see a drop in good technique at my club. I have attended seminars as well, so I'm not speaking from within a club 'bubble'.

Why are we independant? Simple - money and politics. We were a small club and the cost to stay affiliated with the hombu dodjo would (and did) cripple us. We are in it for the love of the art and its ideals, pure and simple.

The funny thing is, our club is now the largest in our region due to good solid training methods and keeping to a respectful, open atmosphere.
I will admit that some of our techniques might have a slight difference, but we still follow the aikikai syllabus as our instructor was taught it and let's face it, even instructors within the same style or affiliation have variants in technique.

Please don't bring down ALL the independent dojos, some of us work damn hard to keep true to the Founder's teachings.

Thank you for your time.

David Humm
12-02-2004, 05:08 AM
I am going to speak on behalf of a dojo that is independent to the hombu.

I don't believe all independant dojos have poor teaching. I have trained quite often at the local 'hombu affiliated' dojo as well as continuing to train at my own dojo and I do not see a drop in good technique at my club.

Hi Dean,

No one least of all me, is saying that "independant" automatically equalls "poor standards" What I've said is that I have personally witnessed dire standards from independant organisations and dojo (for the reasons previously stated). I think it is only fair to say however, I have also found myself in the company of Hombu Certificated students who's attitude and technique likewise left room for considerable improvement (IMHO) but; it is my expereince, the ratio between the two is far greater the independant than affiliated.

Dean, you speak of the "costs" associated with hombu affiliation crippling your dojo. What cost exactly are you refering to? My dojo has an affiliation to Hombu dojo through our collective membership of the UKA. I have a small (9mtr sqr) dojo yet membership of a "Hombu recognised" organisation isn't any more expensive than many of those independant associations.

Digressing:
Should we move this thread into the subject of grading students and the credibility of largely unrecognised certification ? Produced by organisations without affiliation to an authority responsible for issue of grades. Its all relative to standards.


Regards

happysod
12-02-2004, 05:47 AM
Dave,

While I am happy that you've found your niche in aikido as part of an "internationally recognised" school and impressed at the passion you have for aikido and aikido standards, I have to admit to a general niggle with your drive for standardisation and umbrella organisations.

Firstly, I'll hoist my flag as a long-term independent so I am also probably partisan. However, I have no interest in being part of a greater collective, what has always mattered to me is the dojo and the main teacher in that dojo. I am frankly not really interested in what dodgy-dave's dojo down the road is doing or teaching, if it has merit, it may survive, if not it won't.

While I agree with your points where "cult of the sensei" can be abused in independent dojos, I've also met the sheer arrogance of affiliated dojos with their preponderance of "there can be only one "[ way to do aikido]. I'll stick with the independents thanks and I'm more than happy for my grade not to be recognised, if my aikido doesn't show my grade then why should a bit of paper matter anyway?

Peter Seth
12-02-2004, 07:13 AM
Hi again
Independence can also allow discovery.
By not being a member of a 'large' organised body which can sometimes be ponderous and too busy with organising all of its 'children' as it were, to concentrate even slightly on moving forward. You can roam free to a certain extent and discover all sorts of 'stuff' with an open mindedness which is sometimes not encouraged in large organisations.
We need both organisations and independants to keep aikido fresh, alive and stable.
Lets work together (without criticism/politics) to help keep standards high.
wot u think?
Pete

David Humm
12-02-2004, 11:22 AM
Dave,

While I am happy that you've found your niche in aikido as part of an "internationally recognised" school and impressed at the passion you have for aikido and aikido standards, I have to admit to a general niggle with your drive for standardisation and umbrella organisations.

Hi Ian,

Let me make a clarification if you'll indulge me.

I'm not interested in a 'global' standardisation of aikido or indeed the requirement of every aikidoist in the UK to hold certification or membership from a respective hombu.

What I AM very interested in is how poor standards which DO exists influance aikido as a whole in our country. This isn't another so called "noble" crusade, simply a genuine aspect of my love of Aikido and a desire for good aikido to develop without any stigma created by those who perhaps do the art an injustice.

How do I define "good aikido", that is indeed a valid question, I too have trained with several "non affiliated" organisations in the UK whom I would be the first to praise their standars and teaching quality, their aikido "good" by any standard. I certainly don't hold the narrow minded opinion that there is only one way to do aikido or indeed good aikido only stems from hombu affiliation however; the fact does remain that there is an awful lot of crap aikido being taught and this generally stems from independant sources.

Kind regards as always, oh and BTW Merry Christmas :)

David Humm
12-02-2004, 12:08 PM
Hi again
Independence can also allow discovery.
By not being a member of a 'large' organised body which can sometimes be ponderous and too busy with organising all of its 'children' as it were, to concentrate even slightly on moving forward. You can roam free to a certain extent and discover all sorts of 'stuff' with an open mindedness which is sometimes not encouraged in large organisations.
We need both organisations and independants to keep aikido fresh, alive and stable.
Lets work together (without criticism/politics) to help keep standards high.
wot u think?
Pete

Hi Peter,

You are of course quite correct, being independant does allow a great deal of opportunity for discovery, it also allows people to quite radically change things for the worse.

Indeed I don't have an issue with open-mindedness and a willingness to look well beyond that which is already known yet, there is a fine line drawn between "evolution" and "devolution"

My comments and thoughts within this thread are not politically orientated, merely observations from first hand experience.

Regards as always

happysod
12-02-2004, 12:23 PM
David,

Thanks for the clarification of your points. However, I'm still going to have to disagree with you on both the correlation between crap aikido and independents and how to address said crap.

From what I read of your posts, independent = greater chance of crap than affiliated. Your theory is that it's because they're not affiliated is the root problem and so affiliation holds the key to success. (If I'm wrong, please tell me)

Now several threads have mentioned how being part of a larger organisation doesn't mean you get to train with them and how some dojos, despite being affiliated, are essentially on their own. These threads lead me to my conclusion of how crap aikido occurs. Crap aikido = isolated aikido dojo and senseis. Now here is where I do agree with you in that affiliation is a nice way to ensure cross-pollination and thus less crap.

However, where I disagree with is that large organisations provide the best means of cross-pollination. Hence, my preference for independents where you can (normally) get a few styles together without too much politics infusing the broth. This website has been the only place I've heard of the larger organisations coming together, my experience with UK ones has been you play on their turf to their rules only.

Anyway, to cut a long boring ramble short, I think we want the sames things, I'm just more averse to organisations.

BTW - bah humbug :D

jonreading
12-02-2004, 12:42 PM
I am going to jump back in on this and say that I believe it is our responsibility to care about what other aikido dojo are doing. Students reflect upon their instructor, instuctors reflect upon their dojo, dojo reflect up the organization, the organization reflects upon the art.

There is nothing wrong with aikido organizations or independent dojo that teach aikido. The problem is there is no longer pressure from the community to force quality instruction in the dojo. Without pressure to encourage individual improvement, the community as a whole suffers. To ignore a bad dojo is an easy answer, but not necessarily a healthy one.

For example: A new dojo opens down the street from you in town, and the instructors have difficulty communicating the spirit of aikido, and instructing technique. If that dojo is financially successful, it may survive and produce students. If that dojo is not successful, it may not survive. But in the meantime, that dojo is operating and those instructors are teaching class. That dojo may be damaging the reputation of aikido, of neighboring dojo, and of individuals (instructors and students).

I argue that is is our duty to maintain the integrity of aikido, and apply pressure to keep instruction honest, sincere and true to aikido. I regularly keep tabs on dojo in my area and encourage students to visit dojo I feel are positive environments with good instruction. When I see a student having difficulty with a technique, I offer to help. Why should we not do the same for instructors and dojo?

Aristeia
12-02-2004, 12:46 PM
If I can make the presumption of clarifying Dave a litlle further. Ok, maybe not clarify Dave so much as state what it is about what he's saying that I agree with. I don't think the problem here is one of independance necessarily, so much as isolation. If you are an independent dojo, where are you getting new ideas from. How is your teacher growing and improving their Aikido. You can do some learning and acheive some growth just training with your students, but it's always hard to reality test that stuff because,well they're your students and like it or not at some level they're going to be giving you "respect ukemi"
so how does the organisation's and the senesi's aikido continue to mature. If their are outside influences - seminars, relationships with other dojos and sensei/shihan, it's all good, not belonging to a larger organisation should be no big deal. But if your dojo has basically shut themself on in a room to do their own practice, then there is danger of the Aikido starting to transform into something else which may or may not be effective.

Bronson
12-02-2004, 01:53 PM
Something that I'm a little stuck on:

Didn't many of the great innovators in MA history at some point break away and start their own things? Weren't they independant from any overseeing body until there own organization grew large enough to become an overseeing body in it's own right?

Just wonderin'

Maybe 10, 20, 60 years down the road these idependants that report to no one and do what they wish, how they wish it will be looked back upon as the new great innovators.

I'm moslty playing devil's advocate here. I keep affiliation with an org. and, as much as I'd like to deny it, have kind of a mental eyebrow raise when I meet people from completley independant dojo. They may turn out to be great but having the backing of something "official" seems to go a long way in smoothing the waters.

Bronson

philipsmith
12-02-2004, 02:30 PM
Just to add my two pence worth.

Independence per se isn't the problem, nor is isolation, IMHO the problem is why do people become independent or isolated. If its to just make money or boost Sensei's ego then its a problem.

Amassus
12-02-2004, 04:00 PM
so how does the organisation's and the senesi's aikido continue to mature. If their are outside influences - seminars, relationships with other dojos and sensei/shihan, it's all good, not belonging to a larger organisation should be no big deal.

You make a good point and I must agree that as a member of an independent dojo, we are encouraged to attend seminars and visit other dojos to keep our minds open to new or different techniques and ideas. We get frequent visits from yudansha from other styles as well, so the new ideas often come to us.

David Humm
12-02-2004, 05:43 PM
David,

Thanks for the clarification of your points. However, I'm still going to have to disagree with you on both the correlation between crap aikido and independents and how to address said crap.

From what I read of your posts, independent = greater chance of crap than affiliated. Your theory is that it's because they're not affiliated is the root problem and so affiliation holds the key to success. (If I'm wrong, please tell me)
Ian, I can't entirely disagree with your sentiments because I have already stated that being independant doesn't always mean poor standards, it's just my personal experience that I have come across more crappy aikido from students/instructors whom are 'unaffiliated' to a respective hombu thatn otherwise. I've also (as stated), experienced some superb aikido from other 'non affiliated' organisations. It's just a shame there isn't more.

Something that I'm a little stuck on:

Didn't many of the great innovators in MA history at some point break away and start their own things? Weren't they independant from any overseeing body until there own organization grew large enough to become an overseeing body in it's own right?

Just wonderin'

Indeed you may be right but as I keep saying, there is a huge difference between the "great innovators" you refer too, and many of the "Principals" of their own ponds here in the UK.

Just to add my two pence worth.

Independence per se isn't the problem, nor is isolation, IMHO the problem is why do people become independent or isolated. If its to just make money or boost Sensei's ego then its a problem.

Nail on the head !

...I must agree that as a member of an independent dojo, we are encouraged to attend seminars and visit other dojos to keep our minds open to new or different techniques and ideas. We get frequent visits from yudansha from other styles as well, so the new ideas often come to us.

As is should be... Open, honest aikido regardless of affiliation or membership however, it has already been pointed out in this thread, that this isn't always the case with some independant organisations who frown on 'other' instructors training with "their" students.

Sad really..

Dave

Peter Seth
12-03-2004, 07:17 AM
Just to add my two pence worth.

Independence per se isn't the problem, nor is isolation, IMHO the problem is why do people become independent or isolated. If its to just make money or boost Sensei's ego then its a problem.

Hi Philip Nice to hear from you again.
Is it also the case that a lot of independants are so because what they were being taught in larger organisations was no longer stimulating them. OR - Their voice was ignored as not toeing the 'party line' , OR - There was too much control as in 'This is the way our aikido must be done', 'Ours is the correct translation of traditional techniques, so don't come with your fancy ideas'! OR - as in some cases, senior grades sometimes forgetting to review their own 'aikido' and getting lazy and in a rut which is then communicated to their students?
Everyone has different ideas and will interpret almost anything in different ways, the secret is to be open to all possibilities and you can then choose what is good for you.
I personally 'close no doors'. I am an independant minded traditionalist who is willing to learn from anyone - including other arts. (To generalise), after all human bodies are much the same, their movements are similar and energy is more or less a constant in its variety and flow, so all arts have their ways of controlling these things, many of which can be integrated into aikido. This some see as a corruption of the art, I would reply that 'Ai Ki' is a universal concept and should be limitless, embracing all.
Maybe reading some of the sayings and guidence of O'sensei and his message of embracing all, looking beyond technique, having an open enquiring mind should be an integral part of any organisation.

Just a bit of a ramble - questions really.

Aikido/any art, can only become an art as the ego is diminished, if you seek to control, you diminish yourself.
Go with the flow, but also know where it is going.

Cheers
Pete

Peter Seth
12-14-2004, 07:15 AM
Its about understanding that his GRANDFATHER created the system and all the infrastructure around that person, his credibility and position as Doshu etc etc. Not some individual who through holding a 5th or 6th dan (very often less than this grade) sets up on his own and essentially makes things up to suit himself... as I've said before, there is a world's difference.

Hi David
Just a point? Some individuals holding ????
I have been involved in Marts for over 40 years, Aikido - well over 25. I would hope to be fairly competent at the basics at least, after such experience and I have only just gained 3rd Dan. My feeling is that after shodan you can train with more or less everyone - even the 'high ups', so there is no point chasing belts - just enjoy the learning experience. In some cases the 'bigger' the belt the more it can drag you back. So please don't judge individuals by their 'belt size' but more on their committment, enthusiasm and experience.
'Big belts' don't always mean quality or the many other attributes which make a 'good' Martist.
Question: What grades are/were: Jet Lee, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Lau, or the many other 'beltless' Martists who have quietly influenced the arts in a positive way over the ages.
With respect
Pete

siwilson
12-17-2004, 05:26 PM
Don't know about the others, but Jackie Chan is 7th Dan in Hapkido.

xuzen
12-18-2004, 02:04 AM
[/QUOTE]Question: What grades are/were: Jet Lee, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Lau, or the many other 'beltless' Martists who have quietly influenced the arts in a positive way over the ages.
With respect
Pete[/QUOTE]

Don't know... coloured belts tend to be a Japanese invention... specifically I think Judo's. None of the above mentioned M Artist are Japanese M Art students.

Boon.