View Full Version : Poll: How meaningful is your aikido rank to you?

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02-20-2005, 12:30 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of February 20, 2005:

How meaningful is your aikido rank to you?

I don't do aikido
I have no aikido rank
Critically meaningful
Very meaningful
Somewhat meaningful
Not very meaningful
Not at all meaningful

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=261).

02-20-2005, 10:07 AM
Meaningful Rank ???? An Oxymoron????

Now this is a loaded question? I just had a discussion with a fellow at the dojo the other day who was really upset that Sensei was pressuring him to test after he had avoided it as long as he could( which he has done every test over the past 4 years) and we got into a discussion on testing.

His argument, in a nutshell was; I do Aikido because I like it and I don't need to test because I am still learning whether testing or not . My counter was that's OK with me 'cause different strokes for different folks, but, I have a love hate relationship with testing but still test to a) a challenge myself and b) eventually get to wear a hakama, which I have always thought were cool, and will give me belt protection.

By this I mean my belt will be covered so no one will know my rank other than I'm some sort of shodan. This will take the pressure (self imposed) ever to test again ( or at least a long long time) and let me simply practice and learn Aikido. :D

So to get back to how meaningful is my rank. My answer would be not meaningful and very meaningful. My ranks tells me I have spent an extended period of time pursuing a goal with honest effort and a fair amount of sweat. It tells me that my Sensei, whom I respect, feels that I have done this also and that he is "allowing" me to test. It tells me that I have developed to the point where I am willing to risk failure as a part of my growth.

Finally because I started Aikido late in life( close to 50), and am at least another year away from my shodan ,that do not have the luxury of another 40 years in the art, perhaps only 30 so I'd better get on with it.

So in conclusion how meaningful is my rank my answer would be

;) ;) Say no more

Have fun out there.

Cheers Andrew

02-20-2005, 11:38 AM
IMHO, my rank is very meaningful to me since it represents my Sensei's faith in my skill and dedication. But, I don't take it too seriously or personally.

02-20-2005, 12:15 PM
Very meaningful. I worked for it, I earned it - with a lot of help from a lot of people. It doesn't actually change anything; life at the dojo goes on as normal - though I trip a lot more now :D - nevertheless it represents a certain level of achievement; one to be proud of. :)

02-20-2005, 05:00 PM
It's funny, my answer would normally be "somewhat meaningful", but I thought about it and that isn't right at the moment.

As a teacher, my rank means more than how good my Aikido is supposed to be. It's also a "warm-fuzzy" for my students. So, my rank is critically meaningful, whether I like it or not.

I expect this is a relative thing, though. Once I have my sandan and I am comfortable that I deserve it, I expect subsequent ranks will not be as important to me.

02-20-2005, 05:19 PM
More important to other people than me, I think.
To me, it means that Sensei places a certain value on the quality of my technique. That offers some level of satisfaction.
To acquaitances, finding out I have a black belt suddenly means I can "chop suey their ass"... To the failed perfectionist in me, that's embarrassing and kind of depressing.

Rupert Atkinson
02-20-2005, 06:07 PM
I think such changes with time. In the1980s rank was everything to me as I had very little at the time, but now it means very little.

02-20-2005, 07:58 PM
It does not mean much to me either BUT at the level I train, at the place I train, I will have to eventually grade. This is necessary to maintain the synergy between skill level and rank within the dojo - never an easy thing. With that in mind I take training for the next level quite seriously. So yes (contradiction alert) it is important.

I voted Very Meaningful but am not happy with it.

02-20-2005, 10:22 PM
Personally my rank is important to me because I have a better understanding of where I stand...I know that I am where I am because my sensei believes I should. Thanks sensei. However...I don't do aikido to get rank...if I wanted to do that I'd go to a local "Karate" school (No offense to karate...just the local schools in my town that say they teach karate but teach nowhere near that and give away rank...literally...well, for some dough) and train...I do aikido cause I like it and like doing it...


02-21-2005, 03:20 AM
I think testing is good for one basic reason: it's good to be put on the spot every now and then. For many people, there is great pressure that comes with testing, and this is a good exercise for them. It's just like any other day of training except, just like every other day of training, it's a bit different too.
In response to the fellow who said he wants to wear hakama, in part, to remove the pressure of someone knowing what his rank is, remember, not all schools wear hakama as a sign of black-belt...AND one school's black-belt is another school's brown\1st kyu\etc. So it's all relative.
Rank is only important to me in that it provides a chance to test myself on a relative scale. My ability has little to do with my rank, and my rank has little to do with my ability, but the two are related to some degree and the small degree to which they are related is useful. Can I be more redundant?
Oh yeah! and non-martial artists are always impressed when you say "I have a black-belt." ;)

Tim Griffiths
02-21-2005, 07:55 AM
It amuses and annoys me at the same time to hear people say "tests aren't important to me" and then move hell and high water to do anything to avoid being tested, including missing courses, having to leave early etc. Sounds to me like the test is really important to these people.

Sure rank is important. Sure, it doesn't mean much objectively. Test when you're told to, not before or after. I once saw someone telling my first teacher that he wasn't good enough to test, after the teacher asked him to take it. About the only time I heard him pull rank: "Oh? So you think that with a few months of aikido you know more about whether someone is ready to do a test than I do, with over 30 years? Why don't you look around the class and tell me who else shouldn't be testing?"

That shut him up quick, and he took the test...:)


02-21-2005, 11:02 AM
rank i very importan..off course... some how it shows the way you're improving your skills... for me, it is important, but personally the reason of trainning is for fun, self growth & personal improvement

02-21-2005, 11:38 AM
How meaningful is MY aikido rank to ME?

My current rank isn't as meaningful as my next one! It is probably more important to those I teach than to me. I think that once you get your next rank - when you evaluate yourself, you will see that you still have a lot to learn.

My sensei once said that rank is important when you don't have it.

Lachlan Kadick
02-22-2005, 10:16 AM
I have been a 6th kyu white belt for 2 years, the only reason I am now starting to test, is because the actually testing is quite enjoyable, and to encourage the students in the Youth class I assist in teaching.

Eric Webber
02-22-2005, 11:33 AM
Well, it allows me to wear my hakama anywear in the world at this point (rather than only specific dojos)... I tend to feel naked without it this point :blush: Other than that, it is sometimes important to others who feel I need the rank for one reason or another; so I guess I have it for others as much as for myself.

RL Sarafconn
02-22-2005, 12:25 PM
I go to an alternative college, without grades and without tests (we have intensive projects and written evaluations). I hated those things all through elementary and high school, when classmates would try to compare scores with me. By the end, I was keeping my grades a secret and had to work very hard to do so.

I have only tested once so far in Aikido, and will test for fourth kyu in a couple of weeks. Part of me really likes testing. I love being able to push myself the month before the test date and the way that extra bit of adreniline and anxiety is able to patch a few little holes in my training that I couldn't fix the rest of the year. I love the way the community comes together for testing. Senior students come to extra training sessions to work with testers, everyone shows up on test night to support each other, and we all go out for dinner to celebrate afterwards. It's also important to me that the senseis think I am progressing. Sometimes I wonder...

Guiltily, I like the little bit of power and respect my tiny rank gives me over the occasional cocky junior. I hate the way I find myself comparing myself to others around me and wondering what they think of me.


02-22-2005, 03:39 PM
It amuses and annoys me at the same time to hear people say "tests aren't important to me" and then move hell and high water to do anything to avoid being tested, including missing courses, having to leave early etc. Sounds to me like the test is really important to these people.

Tests are very important. The rank that comes with passing them, however, isn't terribly.
The only time I could see it as important is if you're teaching and need to have a certain level to grade others.

Joe Bowen
02-22-2005, 10:27 PM
It has been said before, and I think it bears repeating, "Rank is relative". Often times, I'm asked by people stopping by the dojo, inquiring about Aikido, how long I've been practicing and what rank or level have I attained. In this type of scenario, the rank and officious sounding Japanese terminology, lend credence to whatever I'm telling that person. The higher the rank and number of years of practice the more credible one sounds to the uninitiated. When visiting a dojo in another area, sometimes the same questions are asked by the dojo personnel. In this scenario, the rank gives them a ballpark idea of ability. Most Aikido people have reasonable expectations of Yudansha in terms of Ukemi and Waza skill. You may surprise them by displaying greater skill then they expected for your rank or you may disappoint them by displaying less ability. Nevertheless, the rank allows them to fit you into their preconceived notions.
In these two scenarios, rank performs a function, external to us. Rank can also serve to influence dojo members to take a more active role inside the dojo. The higher the rank the more responsibility the individual member assumes (within certain dojo atmospheres). It can be used as incentive to get dojo members to commit more of themselves into the activities of the dojo. And, it also serves to stroke a few egos. Within the construct of the organization to which you belong, rank serves many purposes, and while your own ambitions and intentions within that organization may determine the rank that you wish to attain, far beyond that construct it means very little.
There may come a time, though, where external validation of ones own innate capabilities is no longer needed. No more need of tests or rank. Then, you can start your own martial art and have yourself declared SOKE GRANDMASTER POOBA! :D

E.D. Gordon
03-01-2005, 02:20 PM
I think such changes with time. In the1980s rank was everything to me as I had very little at the time, but now it means very little.

Kinda like money, you don't notice it, if you have it.

Which rank, then? my first level in Wing Tsun? I had fun getting that. My shodan in Seidokan Aikido? I really aimed for that one, broke myself a couple of times getting there, then just kinda threw it away.. my equivalent to brown belt in Kokoro Ryu?

I teach classes, and we're all sorry when time is up.
I train, and I hate to stop.

I'm not sure that's a function of my rank, though.

I'm rich beyond words, in a variety of experiences.
What my actual rank is worth, is a function of my own confidence, and the charity and vision of the person with whom I can train.

It's like time.. an arbitrary measure of an infinite thing.


03-01-2005, 03:42 PM
Rank is related to other people.