PDA

View Full Version : starting your own aikido style


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


rob_liberti
08-05-2005, 09:50 AM
How much training did the big guys have to be qualified to break off and start their own aikido?

For instance, it is my understanding that it was pretty much expected for students like Shioda sensei to eventually leave and start their own system. How long had he spent with Osensei - or what rank was he - before this became expected?

When Tomiki sensei or Tohei sensei started their own thing, what level, number of years with extensive training, etc. did they have. (Ok I heard that Tohei sensei was promoted to 10th dan).

How about Saito sensei? To the best of my knowledge he never broke away. Can someone elaborate on all of this stuff?

Where is the line for what would be acceptable to do this? For instance, what if you trained in the USAF for 25 years and decided to make your own form of aikido at say 5th dan and combine it Modern Arnis? Further, if someone from that school (I just made this up on the spot) decides to break off and create their own aikido system after 10 years and shodan is that acceptable (meaning would you even consider it aikido?). What makes up "aikido proper"?

How far can this be extended? How about if people from a martial arts organizations give you honorary rank in aikido? As an aside, what's the deal with that anyway? It seems to me that you should at least have to be a teacher in aikido to do that. (Otherwise I might just start giving people honorary Medical Degrees from Yale and Harvard, even-though I have no authority to do so.) Still an aside, would you accept it? (I wouldn't care so much about kyu ranks.) Back on track, where is the line at starting your own aikido? If a person given honorary aikido rank by karate folks started their own version of "aikido" would there be any chance - what-so-ever of it being legitimate? If so, how?

Rob

jonreading
08-05-2005, 11:26 AM
I have thought about the same question smyself. Mostly, I've thought about it after reading an outrageous ad in a martial arts magazine or seeing something online. After doing some historical research, here's what I have so far:
1. Japanese combat specialization was historically a familial obligation. That is, clans passed fighting skills down through the generations to preserve the young fighting men of the clan. Eventually, some clans became more proficient and expanded their "style" of fighting. I believe the Imperial goverment also stepped in at some point as classified the fighting styles and clans that specialized in the styles. Hence the codifciation and classification of the various fighting systems and styles.
2. The development of a "style" begins with a divergance of principles and techniques from the parent art. Eventually, if the style stands the tests of time and application it will develop a name to describe the style and the parent art will recognize the style.

To me, that means several things:
1. I don't believe anyone can "start" a style. A style should be a natural digression process that may take many years.
2. The rank and experience of the founder of a new style is mostly irrelevant as long as the instructor has effectively diverged from the parent style and established a clear relationship of the similarities and differences.

A lot of instructors develop their own personal influence in aikido, but I think this sometimes get confused with a "style." A style endures, personality doesn't. Think of bellbottoms...

Ron Tisdale
08-05-2005, 12:47 PM
Think of bellbottoms.

Uh, thanks, but I'd rather not... :)

R

rob_liberti
08-05-2005, 12:52 PM
Well, I actually think about "snake oil", and how easy it is to sell delusion. But it is a serious question where the line should be drawn (if it can be). I wish I knew the history of the other arts better.

Rob

Chuck Clark
08-05-2005, 01:48 PM
How much training did the big guys have to be qualified to break off and start their own aikido?

For instance, it is my understanding that it was pretty much expected for students like Shioda sensei to eventually leave and start their own system. How long had he spent with Osensei - or what rank was he - before this became expected?

When Tomiki sensei or Tohei sensei started their own thing, what level, number of years with extensive training, etc. did they have. (Ok I heard that Tohei sensei was promoted to 10th dan).

How about Saito sensei? To the best of my knowledge he never broke away. Can someone elaborate on all of this stuff?


As I understand it, Shioda had been promoted to ninth dan per his autobiography before he started his own organization that developed into his own "style". He started with Ueshiba in 1932 and started his own organization in 1955.

Tomiki trained from 1925 until he left and formed his own organization and style in the mid fifties. Tomiki was the first person to be promoted to what became known as eighth dan by Ueshiba.

Tohei began with Ueshiba in 1939 and was promoted eighth dan in 1952 and tenth dan in 1970 after Ueshiba died. He started his own organization in 1971 to teach his style.

Saito began training with Ueshiba in 1946 and I don't know if he ever felt that he started an organization but, I think one grew around him none the less. After his death two organizations have grown out of his teaching methods and style.

Many other senior third and fourth generation deshi have developed their own style of practice and teaching and have seperate organizations or "semi-separate" organizations that are still politically connected to the Ueshiba ha Aikikai.

Offshoots from major organizations happen naturally. The test of time will tell the tale of which groups survive and thrive.

rob_liberti
08-05-2005, 02:12 PM
That's really good and much appreciated info, thanks.

Offshoots from major organizations happen naturally. The test of time will tell the tale of which groups survive and thrive.I keep getting this message, but I'm not feeling that I'm making my resort strong enough. No matter how good your aikido is in your dojo, I'm certain that I could move to your area, start up a non-sensical "aikido" dojo that sells delusion and take so many of your would-be new students that you would feel it in your pocket book. Over time, I could build up such a _different_ reputation for what "aikido" is in that area that it would continue to hurt your business if not cripple it (if you don't own your building, etc.). I could teach a bunch of students how to open up their branches and do the same thing. I'm quite certain that would stand the test of time, and would not be what pretty much everyone on this board would ever call aikido.

How can we address this aspect of my question beyond attempting to use the "test of time"? Is there another test, say a "test of principle" that can be applied to decide if a dojo is doing what might be considered "aikido proper"?

Rob

Adam Alexander
08-05-2005, 02:27 PM
How can we address this aspect of my question beyond attempting to use the "test of time"? Is there another test, say a "test of principle" that can be applied to decide if a dojo is doing what might be considered "aikido proper"?

Outside of copywriting "Aikido," I don't think there's anything you can do.

But, since I'm thinking about it...Seems like the only thing you're really talking about protecting is the fame that the name Aikido has developed.

I mean, if I started teaching (if I were qualified), Aikido, but called it Jean-do, it'd still be Aikido...the idea and techniques there...just not a name.

To me, it just boils down to a name. However, I think book publishers have developed a hell of a shield against that name being misused too far...unless the students don't read...In that case, what's the difference?

rob_liberti
08-05-2005, 02:35 PM
Okay, if you were going to copywrite the name "aikido", and someone applied to use the name for their dojo (currently calling their art Jean-do) what would you look for to ensure it merited the name aikido?

(I think I could tell by feel.)

Rob

Adam Alexander
08-05-2005, 02:39 PM
Expensive gifts:)

I don't know to be honest with you. What I called Aikido when I began is a whole lot different than what it is now.

Ron Tisdale
08-05-2005, 02:53 PM
Yeah....get on the mat. then vote with your feet.

Best,
Ron

Chuck Clark
08-05-2005, 04:04 PM
I keep getting this message, but I'm not feeling that I'm making my resort strong enough. No matter how good your aikido is in your dojo, I'm certain that I could move to your area, start up a non-sensical "aikido" dojo that sells delusion and take so many of your would-be new students that you would feel it in your pocket book. Over time, I could build up such a _different_ reputation for what "aikido" is in that area that it would continue to hurt your business if not cripple it (if you don't own your building, etc.). I could teach a bunch of students how to open up their branches and do the same thing. I'm quite certain that would stand the test of time, and would not be what pretty much everyone on this board would ever call aikido.

How can we address this aspect of my question beyond attempting to use the "test of time"? Is there another test, say a "test of principle" that can be applied to decide if a dojo is doing what might be considered "aikido proper"?

The test of "principle" is: Do your best. Those that can tell the difference will know the difference and, as Ron says, vote with their feet. It happens all of the time, all over the world.

On a personal note... No one can hurt my business, because I don't have a business. I have a practice. I know at least a couple of dozen people that will continue to do their practice with me for the rest of my life and continue for the rest of their life. That's enough.

Nick Simpson
08-05-2005, 04:35 PM
On a semi-related note: I was at a jobcentre a few months ago and I saw a stack of leaflets for a karate union. They were basically looking for non-qaulified people to come and open karate classes. They would teach you karate and then you would teach it at 'your' class. They were paying these 'instructors' £19000 a year. Bizaare.

I've heard of/seen crap teaching in this country but never experianced these sort of shams...

senshincenter
08-05-2005, 06:02 PM
On a related note, I would say that the validity of one's martial art - be that Aikido or something else - should always be able to beam through any kind of fraud and/or scam that even the slickest business tricks may attempt. For me, if my Aikido as it is practiced and taught is not challenge enough to something that may be fake, then I would be more interested in how I can get my Aikido to function with more integrity than how I can get the fake-other to have more integrity.

For me, as an indepdent dojo in town with three other Aikido schools that are all federated (Aikikai, Ki Society, and Aikido Kenkyukai) I, as a teacher, have only what I am and what I can do (which is supposed to be the same thing). I knew that when I forfeited my own federation allegiance and the rank and title that went with it. For me, what was real was beyond all that dressing - I still hold true to this position.

A related story: A while back, one of these instructors told one of my students that his Aikido wasn't real because his dojo (our dojo) wasn't federated. He was at that time only a 5th or 4th kyu, and he said right back to this 5th dan, "Yeah, right, whatever." She said, "No really, you have no rank." He said, "I don't train to get rank." She shut up.

This student is still training with me, and along with his skill becoming greater and greater each year, he has since gone on gone on to even become an active member of our city SWAT team, etc.

My advice: Do your thing, do it the best you can. Put all your energy into that. Since most folks do not ever really bother to do what they are doing the best you can, you can often distinguish yourself from them and from what they are doing just by doing your own thing (as best you can).

dmv

Nick Simpson
08-05-2005, 06:36 PM
' My advice: Do your thing, do it the best you can. Put all your energy into that. Since most folks do not ever really bother to do what they are doing the best you can, you can often distinguish yourself from them and from what they are doing just by doing your own thing (as best you can). '

Word.

Roy
08-05-2005, 08:20 PM
Everybody has their own style of Aikido already anyway. If someone were to have good credentials, why not start a new Aikido? Aikido is dynamic, and needs to evolve continuously anyway. :circle:

senshincenter
08-05-2005, 08:33 PM
' My advice: Do your thing, do it the best you can. Put all your energy into that. Since most folks do not ever really bother to do what they are doing the best you can, you can often distinguish yourself from them and from what they are doing just by doing your own thing (as best you can). '

Word.


Yikes what a lame typo - let's see if I can write that again since it is bugging so much to not have seen it before:

(second try)

"My advice: Do your thing, do it the best you can. Put all your energy into that. Since most folks do not ever really bother to do what they are doing as best they can, you can often distinguish yourself from them and from what they are doing just by doing your own thing (as best you can)."

david

Chuck Clark
08-05-2005, 09:47 PM
Everybody has their own style of Aikido already anyway. If someone were to have good credentials, why not start a new Aikido? Aikido is dynamic, and needs to evolve continuously anyway.

I disagree. When we first start to learn budo (no matter what style or art) we have to learn how to practice, as we go along with practice by imitating our seniors we can also learn how to learn. We then get to a stage where we know how to practice and we're doing it...and then sometimes we get everything together and we really DO aikido or whatever, but it was an accident. We hold memories of this event and it begins to happen more and as time goes along more and more. We then get to the place where we can really DO aikido whenever we want. We can (and should), along with the DOING, still practice and experiment, etc. But we can DO aikido for real, not imitate, but create in each instant, the real thing.

This beginning of this last stage is when I think we really begin to develop our own original style. Not when you're a beginner.

This is true in anything you learn well, such as computer programming, medicine, fine art, music, ballet, whatever.

Roy
08-05-2005, 10:02 PM
Chuck,

Does this have anything to do with that Enlightenment ka-ka?

Chuck Clark
08-05-2005, 10:08 PM
I have no idea what enlightenment is... however, I do know what caca is. I have dealt with it for a long time now and don't even mind.

Roy
08-05-2005, 10:25 PM
Hey now that I can understand ;)

Aristeia
08-06-2005, 06:02 AM
some great posts, particularly yours Chuck.
Someone, I think it may have been Jean, alluded to the fact that a bit of resarch on the part of the students would soon make them quesion something they were doing that was fraudulant.
I agree.
But I think there's a danger that people like us, net savvy, like to hang out online and debate budo, read MA websites as well etc. overestimate the amount of reading alot of beginning students in particular do. I'm constantly amazed when talking to white and even brown belts how little they know both about Aikido beyond our dojo and budo in general.
I will sometimes allude to things in a class like musashi, or other styles, bits and pieces like that and am constantly dismayed with the blank stares. May have to start setting homework assignments....

rob_liberti
08-06-2005, 07:59 AM
If someone were to have good credentials, why not start a new Aikido?
What are good credentials?!

David, I completely understand the what it feels like to leave an organization, and in independant dojo (I've done that myself a couple times as I decided my goals were out of alignment.). What level (for lack of a better word) were you when you decided to go it alone (as opposed to finding someone else to follow?)

(Chuck, I feel the same way. But many people don't own their own space, and so have to pay the rent/mortgage bills, they are vulnerable. )

Also if some karate organization decided to give you honoray rank in aikido, would you accept it?

Rob

Roy
08-06-2005, 10:41 AM
Rob Liberti,

"What are good credentials?!"

Ofcoures, I don't really know the answer to this question. but here me out!! I know of some Aikido Dojos that are run by 3rd Dans, whom themselves earned there grading in about 4-6 years !? I have seen Dojos that are ran by, so called self-appointed (within their own organization, where they are the presidents etc...) 7-8 Dans. Rarely, do you see Dojos that are ran by true 7-8th Dans(at least not in Canada), guys/gals that have been lucky enough to have been studying the same MA from the age of 9-13 years old. Even rarer are the Dojos ran by lineage from Ueshiba himself. So, I don;t expect to find a Dojo everywhere here is Canada where I can train under an "Aikido master." Having said all that, there is a new 7th dan instructor (yoshinkan) that opened a new Dojo just 5 minutes from where I live. believe me this is a fluke!! With great enthusiasm I went to check out the club. They had the best mating and decor, period! But, I found to Aikido to be very watered down, and plain same old, same old. The instructors did not seem to really focus on the students, for on any given class there were 30-40 bodies on the mats. So, I still study under a guy who has a big heart for Aikido ( a bouncer/doorman at local bars) who rents a cheap space at a local Scouts hall. He teaches a mix of Aikido, with a slight "legal if applied," Jujitsu edge, along with ground fighting, in a respectable formal setting/atmosphere. There is more one-on-one, and his classes I find are just more interesting and realistic! He does mention to new prospective members that he does not have great credentials, just a long time devotion for MAs, and many of them don't join because of that. but you know, I doubt they will learn more elsewhere. So why not start-up a club, and let the loyalty of the members decide the outcome?

senshincenter
08-06-2005, 12:40 PM
Hi Rob,

Wow! That is a tough question to answer. Like others are saying, I think there are many organic elements involved here -- many things that have to do with happy accidents and/or with simply letting the maturing process do its thing, letting time pass naturally.

If I go back and describe something, it will only be post hoc and in some sense fabricated and prone to leaving some key things out -- I imagine. However, it is a fair question and one I have no problem answering, as long as the answer can be understood as merely applying to my person and my experience only. I do not wish to suggest, that in mentioning my particulars, I have set up some kind of universal scale by which one can or should do such things as seeking independence. There are many ways to do and achieve what I feel I was able to do and achieve.

You are right to point out that the word "level" is the key word to define here -- that it is the word most likely to be treated in totally different ways by nearly everyone of us. For myself, I generally approach this word in the following manner: I am only interested in a level of consistency, between thought, action, and word; a level of consistency out of which a particular proficiency can be born. This is of course related to a maturing process that takes place within Time, but this consistency comes to affect Time in such a way that Time is actually used (e.g. becoming skilled) by the person in question; rather than that person being used by Time (e.g. just getting older). As Time relates to this level of consistency and as this level of consistency comes to give Time a positive sense of passing, I am only interested in hours spent training -- not years. Here is a short something I have written on this topic -- as it has played out in my conversations with students:

http://www.senshincenter.com/pages/writs/exchanges/howoften.html

In that sense, from my point of view, from what I had done, I reached a level of where I had trained enough hours that I had begun to achieve a level of consistency between thought, word, and action, in such a way that Time passing meant only that I would become more consistent in these things. When I went at it alone, it was not because I thought I was heading down a different path. In fact, I do not really let this concern me at all -- certainly not as a motivational factor. If a difference is becoming present, truthfully, it always feels more like it is there because it is someone else that is opting to do something different -- being different is not something I seek out to do. My independence was more about the fact that I could tell that there was a path before me, a good one, no matter where I was or what I was called. I knew where to walk, and I was no longer in need of anyone telling me where that was. I could see it, feel it, I was able to touch it. It was real.

From the standard point of view (e.g. a federated point of view), that happened like around 8 years of Aikido training with vapors of nidan around me (I never was into rank, so my teachers -- Chiba or Iseri - used to just bestow it upon me after some great amount of time passed, etc.). From what I consider, a more real point of view, my path became clear to me after 15 years of discipleship under a Kenpo Master Teacher, (which still continues), 8 years of discipleship under three Aikido Master Teachers, several years living in Japan, a Bachelors Degree, a Master Degree, and Doctorate Candidacy in Japanese Religious and Cultural History -- with all of those years passing by with about 6-8 hours a day dedicated to physical training (something that still continues today).

In short:

Question: When does our Path become legitimately open to us at an individual level?

Answer: When we are able to legitimately devote ourselves to it.

Question: How do we know when our devotions are legitimate?

Answer: When they marked with a consistency of thought, action, and word.

Question: How do we gain this consistency?

Answer: When we devote ourselves in hours spent -- when we concern ourselves with both the actual time practicing (versus, for example, the number of years that we have owned a gi and/or paid dues) and with the actual time not practicing.

Question: In this way we open a path before us?

Answer: No, in this way the Path opens itself before us.

Hope that helps, please always feel free to ask more, and comment, as you feel inspired. No worries.

Thanks,
dmv

Aristeia
08-06-2005, 01:35 PM
Hi Roy
I've got some sympathy for what you're saying. Sometimes the highest rank is not the best school to go to. I'm facing a similar situation with BJJ. There's not alot of instruction in my neck of the woods so I can choose between a couple of black belts or another org with a blue and purple in town and my own study with a black belt that visits every few months.
On the face of it the local black belts would seem to be the obvious choice. But while they are nice guys with heaps of knowledge, they don't have a set up thats particularly structured to bring people along. There's no clear syllabus. Whereas the other org is the John Will/Machado one which is almost defined by clear guidelines both within a technique and from tech to tech, so I find I get much more bang for my training time with them and their methodology.

Here's the rub though as far as I'm concerned. It would always be very important to me that whoever I'm learning from in any art is in some sense continuing to learn themselves. This is a good start for measuring legitimacy imo. I know of several individuals who have formed their own organisations, but retain links into (sometimes several) other orgs that assist their own further study by giving them access to higher ranks. Or, where they are close to the pinnacle of their art they are challanging themselve with concepts form other arts. But their journey continues. If on the other hand you have someone who's split off on their own are now the head of their own orgs and have stopped learning altogether, that would set off strong alarm bells.

Conan Pieter Arnold
08-06-2005, 01:37 PM
I think I will start my own aikido style :D ... But Only If I Have reach 7th Dan or more ;) .. That is Because I have still A lot to learn :) .. And also it's rather cheap to start a new style if you didn't even have a Yellow belt :p ..

Anyway, I think Anyone that is doing Aikido can start their own style.. But, In order to make their new style successful, their must at least have reach 1st dan or higher..

O, and about people leaving the old school to start a new school with a NEW style.. I think that is acceptable.. But only if their have reach 1st dan or higher...

Well, what do you all think about my text?? :ai: :ki: :do:

Roy
08-06-2005, 02:14 PM
Michael Fooks,

I think the other reason I'm drawn to study with this guy, is the fact that he works as a doorman/bouncer. He has for 16 years ,and still is currently working at some pretty rough clubs, so he has that "Hands on experience" type of skill. He is a head/manager doorman, and gets involved in all the major altercations, lawsuits etc... Therefor, I think he knows what works and what doesn't, and he always informs us on the legal ramification of the techniques, or what is considered appropriate self-defense, to avoid being charged with excessive force etc... Something I learned to hard way :sorry:

So, my point here is this, if you see a Dojo that teaches you to be overly excessive, for example, nasty throat attacks, bone breaking etc... I think this is also a sign of a bad Dojo

NagaBaba
08-06-2005, 04:24 PM
From the standard point of view (e.g. a federated point of view), that happened like around 8 years of Aikido training with vapors of nidan around me
Thanks,
dmv
David,
You created your own aikido style after 8 years of aikido training? :eek:
I understood it well?

Chuck Clark
08-06-2005, 04:26 PM
Anyway, I think Anyone that is doing Aikido can start their own style.. But, In order to make their new style successful, their must at least have reach 1st dan or higher..

Conan,

Shodan means "first step".... not even "middle of the way" step.

If that shodan has been training for 25 - 35 years and has equal skill to most organization's rokudan or above then they may have the goods to create their own style. The way to determine their skill is for them to get outside their own neighborhood and see what they can do compared to the other organizations' rokudans, etc.

senshincenter
08-06-2005, 05:34 PM
David,
You created your own aikido style after 8 years of aikido training? :eek:
I understood it well?


Szczepan,

LOL! Hardly. The question from Rob was about seeking independence - which is a political question in my mind, not an artistic one. As I said, and as one can read, I never set out to do anything different from anyone - least of all my teachers. So we aren't talking about a new style of Aikido. Artistically, I see myself as still very much connected to my teachers. Though one has passed on, and one is no longer politically shielding me, I still feel their presence very much on and off the mat. Regardless of where I might be politically, I would be nothing without them and without their continuing influence over me.

Anyway, one can look at my Aikido very easily at our web site - it would be challenging to see that as a New Type of Aikido. I don't believe in new types anyways - let alone types.

Hope that make sense, if not, please feel free to ask more,
david

senshincenter
08-06-2005, 06:44 PM
meant to add...


S - you are still thinking in years - how very federated of you. ;-)

You got the hours, do the math, then add in all the other relevant factors, etc., that is what I am about, that is what I did, and still do, when it came to noting the path before me. It's the center of our school. And in the end, no matter what we want or think, through this path, we are what we are, as I am what I am: Still training, still walking the path. :-)

d

Aristeia
08-06-2005, 06:58 PM
Roy

That's a good point. On another forum I was having a debate with someone about creating a new martial art. He was of the opinion you could cherry pick the best techniques from several arts and put them into a new whole (sound familiar?). My position was to actually create a new art in any meaningful sense you have to be in one of two positions. Either
1) Very Highly accomplished in each of the contributing arts so you can make informed decisions about what techniques to include and how they fit into other techniques at a very technical level
or 2) In a position to be fighting alot, so you've got real world experience to point to and draw from (how it was done originally right).

Precious few people are in either of those postions which is why elcelctic arts always make me wince. But the point is you're right, having an instructor (or even a student) who provides real world feedback is invaluable.

Chuck Clark
08-07-2005, 01:09 AM
(Chuck, I feel the same way. But many people don't own their own space, and so have to pay the rent/mortgage bills, they are vulnerable. )

What makes you think I own my own space??? If the people that have chosen to train with me can't afford to pay our rent, then whoever is left will train in the best space we can find... a garage, a large living room, the park... I've done all of these over the years and am quite willing to do it again. I do not accept students to pay the rent and I don't worry about making a profit from anyone. If you haven't figured it out yet... we are all vulnerable all of the time. It's one of the tenets of good budo, not to mention understanding the way of things.

rob_liberti
08-07-2005, 08:22 AM
Chuck,
If you haven't figured it out yet... we are all vulnerable all of the time.Well you are right to call me confused, but that is becuase I was taking the position that "we are all vulnerable all of the time" (especially to delusions-4-sale aikido) and I thought that you were taking the position that you would not be vulnerable. I don't mean to be in this apparent arguement with you.

I don't do it for profit either. I don't expect the people training with me to do anything but help pay dojo space rental and insurance. For about 10 years or so (during a time in my life when I could afford such a loss) I ended up paying the rest when there wasn't enough money from reasonable dues. (At present, I have other larger expenses named "Max" who is 19 months old, so I wouldn't be able to do that now.) Luckily (and with a bit of hard work), the place just about breaks even and I'm quite happy about it. It took a long time to find a place cheap enough to do that, and to get enough people who were interested.

If that place were to suddenly become unavailable. I suppose I could set up shop in basement or a garage - which I assume someone in the dojo would "own" - unless that wasn't available; in which case we'd be looking to rent for cheap or simply put out of business.

It could also happen that through attrition I can no longer support my current place if new students are all getting sucked into a "delusions-R-us aikido" in town - which was the point I was trying to make.

Maybe cheap spaces or new students are in abundance in your area. In my area, and I guess many areas that would just not be the case. (the cheap areas are generally no where near the people)

Rob

Lyle Bogin
08-07-2005, 09:22 AM
To me it seems very simple. If you wanna open a school, go ahead, and let people who come to train with you decide if it is worth their time. I don't think there is any need to feel threatend or offended.

Chuck Clark
08-07-2005, 01:23 PM
Rob, I think you still miss my point. The paradox of being vulnerable or open, available, etc. is that when you really understand that, you are very powerful and "hard to get".

I'm absolutely not worried about your following scenario. "It could also happen that through attrition I can no longer support my current place if new students are all getting sucked into a "delusions-R-us aikido" in town - which was the point I was trying to make."

"Maybe cheap spaces or new students are in abundance in your area. In my area, and I guess many areas that would just not be the case. (the cheap areas are generally no where near the people)"

Cheap places or an abundance of students is not what makes a good dojo. I'll pass on to my folks that we're very fortunate that we have a cheap space and that they came to the dojo because there's an abundance of students.

And, if you think this has been an argument.... I have no reason to argue with you. I don't even know you. In my understanding, this is a discussion.

Conan Pieter Arnold
08-07-2005, 01:35 PM
Cluck Clark wrote:

Conan,

Shodan means "first step".... not even "middle of the way" step.

If that shodan has been training for 25 - 35 years and has equal skill to most organization's rokudan or above then they may have the goods to create their own style. The way to determine their skill is for them to get outside their own neighborhood and see what they can do compared to the other organizations' rokudans, etc.

Cluck..

Thanks for telling me of these important Details, :)

Mike Collins
08-07-2005, 02:48 PM
Quote:"Rob, I think you still miss my point. The paradox of being vulnerable or open, available, etc. is that when you really understand that, you are very powerful and "hard to get"."

Chuck, have you written, or will you write, more about this concept? I think it's a useful thing to consider, but it's relatively new to me, at least in this context.

Chuck Clark
08-07-2005, 03:25 PM
Hi Mike,

Yes I have written a bit about this before and it is dealt with in a substantial way in my book. Hopefully the pictures and art will be done by the end of the year and off to the printer.

Something of this sort would not be appropriate on a discussion board.

Take care,

aikidoc
08-07-2005, 10:14 PM
Rob's question is of interest to me as I had a very highly viewed and rewarding thread some time back on aikido frauds.

Several issues come to my mind:
1. Legitimacy-that old fraud thing again. Self promotions, adequate credentials, etc.
2. Credibility-do you have enough rank credibility in the art(s) to be taken seriously.
3. Can you truly create a different style or is this just a political pissing contest because of being unhappy with your current organization due to slow promotions, etc. To me, it would seem that you need some serious rank in aikido and at least one more art to even have the knowledge base necessary to integrate two arts (like the example of aikido and arnis). Does adding aikido principles to the techniques of another art make them aikdo?
4. How are promotions going to be determined, especially yours? Problems were brought up on another site where the instructor was promoted to a high rank by low ranked yudansha.
5. How are you going to prevent stagnation and receive instruction to advance your art?

Creating another style of aikido is a serious undertaking, one to not be taken lightly and without considerable planning and work.

rob_liberti
08-08-2005, 07:25 AM
Thanks John.

Chuck, I think the main trust of my point with respect to our tangent is that when a cheap place near an abundance of newbies is taken by someone selling "delusion" I have witnessed that the idea that "such a dojo will NOT stand the test of time" IS FALSE. People are happy to buy whatever "snake oil" strokes their ego as total beginners and then they get more and more invested into where they have been putting their time and energy. A dojo run by a charlatan will pass the "test of time". The majority of aikido is not tested at all and so the excuses for why something is hopelessly surface level are infinite. Ron suggested "voting with your feet". The newbies don't know enough to understand how to vote - which is why we have an age limit on voting. In normal "voting" we want a certain amount of maturity before we ask someone to vote. By the time someone has any maturity in aikido to know how to vote, they can easily be fairly hopelessly sucked in by a charlatan.

Cheap places or an abundance of students is not what makes a good dojo. What you does make a "good dojo". I'm not clear on your point about the paradox of understanding vulnerability which would make you invulnerable (I hope I got that right!). As I see it, the best teacher in the world is not a teacher without students, and the best group in the world is not a dojo without a place to train - regardless of your personal understanding of any paradoxes.

Rob

rob_liberti
08-08-2005, 07:34 AM
Also, David thanks for sticking your neck out and helping me get some insight as to what you were considering when you decided you should no longer be in your organization. That information was particularly helpful in shaping my opinions on some things. - Rob

happysod
08-08-2005, 07:39 AM
Rob,

Firstly, apologies, your first post (especially the bit I quote next) seemed to imply just a specific agenda, nice to read your expansion in further posts

How about if people from a martial arts organizations give you honorary rank in aikido? As an aside, what's the deal with that anyway? It seems to me that you should at least have to be a teacher in aikido to do that. Tricky one this, I've known at least two relatively senior aikido instructors come under this heading (although the word "honorary" I feel is a bit misleading).

The first was a jump from 3rd dan to 5th under a ma association which included aikido but was not exclusively aikido, so assertion of knowledge of aikido by the umbrella organisation could be argued either way.

In the second (4th to 6th) the association did not (as far as I'm aware) have any senior aikido people associated with it. However, the (Japanese/hombu associated etc etc) group which the second instructor was previously a member of only ever graded up to 3rd dan and all further ranks were awarded. So as the further increases in dan were "political" anyway, again I can see arguments either side.

In short, after having seen "ranking aikidoka" both within and outside established aikido groups, I'd plump for the old "what do they feel like on the mat".

John, you like your frauds well done don't you...

1."Self promotions, adequate credentials," : against self-promotion, still fuzzy on what would represent adequate
2. Credibility: not interested in someones rank, just what the dojo feels like, but I can see the obvious problems with highly ranked beginners with regard to gaining students (we need more competition! :D )
3. Can you truly create a different style: not joining in this one, needs its own thread (again)
4. Promotions: umbrella organisations seem to work for the independents I've seen if the higher grades are initially missing
5. How are you going to prevent stagnation : hardest one of all, seminars are not really that useful for this, I've found other dojos/different ma to be better.Creating another style of aikido is a serious undertaking aggree with you whole-heartedly, but I would make a bigger distinction beween attempting to create a new "style" and creating a new organisation

rob_liberti
08-08-2005, 09:57 AM
Ian,

That section was under "How far can this be extended?" and "As an aside" but well, my agenda was specifically that I was trying to wrap my mind around some of the issues. I do know of the extreme case where someone got honorary rank in "aikido" from people who don't do aikido, and created his own style of aikido based on those credentials. It does happen. People aren't informed enough to "vote with their feet" until they are quite invested so the "test of time" fails us, and hurts the business of the people who are legitimately teaching aikido.

When a student from such an independent dojo contacts me and tries to explain all of their teacher's rationalizations, I am left with the problem of how to talk about the topic in a positive and constructive way. This thread has helped me think about such things and work them out a bit so I can give much more thoughtful and considered answers to such inquires and requests for private discussions.

I was a bit disappointed that no one had addressed the honorary rank aside, so thanks for doing that. I think getting skipped kyu rank is just fine. I agree that most organizations appoint rank over sandan for time-in and loyalty and I just don't like that at all - but at least the assumption there is that they know aikido and have seen you enough to make the judgment of your ability. How the heck does a karate guy make such a judgment about aikido? If I give you an honorary medical degree from Yale, (which I have no authority to do) would you consider yourself a Yale doctor? - AND open up your own practice? I mean you probably can do what my general practitioner does. "Hmm, let me prescribe some antibiotics. If this doesn't work, I'll prescribe different antibiotics!" or "Let me refer you to a specialist." The surface level is easy, but that doesn't make you a Yale doctor even if what you do on the surface level is similar to what a real one does.

Rob

Mike Collins
08-08-2005, 10:29 AM
People will always sell stuff that is of little or no value. The only option would be to license teachers of Aikido, and that would serve to prevent legitimate would-be founders of their own branches from doing that. I know that if you are highly invested in being mainstream, that might sound like a good thing. Ultimately, though, people need to be able to pursue that style and form of art (and Aikido is an art), that most affects them personally.

As to a small pool of students, I think this is a myth and a complete misnomer. Proof of this is the TKD boys, who can virtually swamp a town with dojang, and yet they manage to all make a living, even if a few go belly-up, over a period of a few years. The pie (market) is not finite. The greater the exposure of an art in an area, the greater the acceptance as a suitable pursuit by a greater percentage of the population, and the greater the participation by an increasing percentage of that population.

If what you do is of value, it will stand on it's own. If what you do is sell snake-oil, it will eventually collapse and go away. If your competition is able to build a community that has "legs", you might want to consider that it might not be your idea of true Aikido, but it might have value for the people that support it, over a long haul.

If your competition is selling BS, you should HOPE that he gets a lot of new people interested in Aikido. When he eventually goes belly-up, there will suddenly be an influx of new student base, as long as you don't alienate them before he does fail.

"Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer" might be the thing to consider here. Make friendly overtures, work out some way to get his students exposure to what you do, in a non-threatening way. Try to do a seminar/gasshuku with him/her. Build community. Be an attractor, not an evangelist. You just might find that a bigger, more friendly, family type relationship serves you, him, the larger community far better than an adversarial relationship. If he never fails, you might still be just fine. And you sure won't have as much negative energy weighing you down.

There is more of a base of students in your area than you are presently aware of. They'll find you when you have what they are wanting.

happysod
08-08-2005, 10:35 AM
I do know of the extreme case where someone got honorary rank in "aikido" from people who don't do aikido, and created his own style of aikido based on those credentials Now I agree, this sounds scary.

I'm going to have to go with a fuzzy, you should have a solid grounding under a recognised group before you could go with your own style and still call it aikido. Of course, the gaping holes now start.. What should you consider a solid grounding - is it rank (I've met some brilliant first dans and absolutely dire 3rd dans), time spent in the art (taking rank = meaningless to the nth).

Next comes the who should you consider respectable/recognised? Is the student of an independent (who used to have a link to a major aikido group) to be as recognised as one of the mainstream and all the lovely lineage wars that can result.

If a student was to join your dojo from another association, whatever rank, I'd suggest you just give them a probation period and tell them where you think they should start. If they're good, allow them accelerated promotion, but working from the ground up is nothing bad, I've done it four times and I'm still happily crap... sorry, meant to say it didn't do me any harm.

With regards to your karate-man example, I'm less certain. I understand the point your getting at in that even a high-level rank in another martial art would probably miss the nuances that would be needed to test at high levels, but even there someone from say judo or jujitsu should be able to say "that's bollocks" if a complete nonce tries to pass themselves off as a master.

(personal musings...sometimes, I wonder about having a non-aikido person on the panel to give an "outside experts" opinion on the grade, I always worry about too much insulation in my ma)

senshincenter
08-08-2005, 11:49 AM
As one might imagine…

I tend to agree much more with what Ian is saying than what John suggested earlier. Ian’s list seems to be touching more upon what is real, what is important, and thus on what would be affecting students in a more real and important ways. In fact, I would suggest, what makes Rob’s example even possible is that for many such elements as in John’s list are actually considered viable. If more folks adopted a position similar to Ian’s there would be much less real fraud in the martial arts.

On the subjective side of things, it takes a while, it takes a kind of maturity, be that in life in general or in a skill (e.g. martial arts) in particular, to understand that what is REALLY REAL can never be defined, marked, or captured by an institution. Because newbies cannot figure this out, they are often sold (with good and/or with ill intention) something that is not as real as it should be. In my opinion, it is vital to understand that the Path is in many ways counter cultural – meaning, for example, it cannot exist within the institution. That may mean several things we may want to discuss elsewhere, but here are two very central elements that are often overlooked by the newbie in this regard:

- The institution cannot help but to lie about the Way (because the Truth of the Way is beyond the institution’s means to identify it).
- To truly follow the Way we must move beyond the institution (for to be dependent upon the institution is to be stuck in our following of the Way – it is to adopt a lie as truth.).

Again, the beginner just cannot understand these two things – not enough experience has been accumulated for these things to make sense. In fact, one may very well want to define a beginner as someone that is ignorant of these two points. Yes, that means you could very well have someone that is a beginner with decades of experience. From that point of view, yes, Rob, I would agree, that such places as you mentioned do stand the test of time. This is especially true if we compare them to ourselves while we too have adopted the institution as our main means of legitimacy. Beginners, as I have defined them above, are very vulnerable to such places, and thus such places are very likely to “succeed” at some sort of material level.

However, I would like to point out, such places are always tested by the Truth; they are always at risk to having the lie of the institution exposed. Usually, it takes about five years to have this vulnerability actually make a dent in their budget, but it does happen. One must be patient. Nevertheless, it can happen at any moment at an individual level. If we as a “competitor” are not playing the same game with the same or with a similar set of stakes, if we are more sided on what is real and what is important, then whenever we come into contact with such places such places risk having their lie exposed. This is how I meant it is wiser for us to be more concerned with what we are doing than with what they are doing – this is where our advantage lays.

When you can do this, when you can side with what is truly real, as far as the current of students goes, it will always flow toward your dojo and not to theirs; you will always get their students and they will never get yours. It is not that you set out to achieve this, but this will be the inevitable and natural result of what happens when the Real Truth meets institutional truth, when the Really Real meets the institutional real.

dmv

rob_liberti
08-08-2005, 11:50 AM
If what you do is of value, it will stand on it's own. If what you do is sell snake-oil, it will eventually collapse and go away.I know it is your desire that such a statement would be true, but alas I can show you a dojo like this that's been in busines for a long time and I see no end of people willing to trade in dollars for delusion. Currently, they look down on "tranditionalists" and highly discourage their students from going to anyone else's aikido dojo for a class; forget about a seminar - how convenient! Maybe when sells his business the new person will have a different philosophy about exchanging with other dojos and he will bring balance back to the force.

About getting an outside expert on the panel, now that is a cool idea! I was actually watching a nidan test where Saotome sensei explained "try aikido" to the two gentlemen who had broken out into a really nice karate exhibition. It would have been really funny to hear a karate sensei correct their kicking and blocking! (The guy's aikido was just fine for nidan, but he had an injury going into the test and apparently he fell back on what he believed would protect him best when the pressure was added. I thought it was really odd but kind of cool that his uke was more than comfortable switching paradigms with the nage mid-stream.)

Rob

Ron Tisdale
08-08-2005, 12:24 PM
Hi Rob,

I would have liked to have seen that test! Sounds like a hoot!

Ron suggested "voting with your feet". The newbies don't know enough to understand how to vote - which is why we have an age limit on voting. In normal "voting" we want a certain amount of maturity before we ask someone to vote. By the time someone has any maturity in aikido to know how to vote, they can easily be fairly hopelessly sucked in by a charlatan.

Well, I suggested getting on the mat to train, **then** voting with your feet. Beginners don't usually have a clue. That's the same with most endevours. You can watch a few classes, but if you don't know what is happening, it doesn't really tell you much.

But if you get on the mat and *train*, then take that experience to other places and *train*, and then get together with some friends in other arts and *train*...enough *training* and you'll eventually get to where you can make a right decision for yourself. The key word through all of that is.... :) *train*.

And *then* vote with your feet.

Best,
Ron (I never said it was easy or quick!) :)

guest89893
08-08-2005, 09:45 PM
but alas I can show you a dojo like this that's been in business for a long time and I see no end of people willing to trade in dollars for delusion. Currently, they look down on "traditionalists" and highly discourage their students from going to anyone else's aikido dojo for a class; forget about a seminar - how convenient! Rob

The truth is as you've stated Rob. In many places the "Snake Oil" Dojo survives for many years and often grows. And it is often the case that they discourage their students from attending other styles classes or seminars. Or if they attend they train only with their group. What we must remember it is not just the art that attracts people to a Dojo. It is the instructor, too. So what happens is the students bought into the Snake Oil style, and believes in the message. True in religions, politics, and martial arts.
So I guess you have to ask yourself, "If Jesus, when He was walking the Earth couldn't convince every person who heard Him. Why then do we think we can convince every single student studying under a snake oil dojo. We can't. It's more like every now and then a student, from that style hungers for more and shows up and sees the difference and leaves the snake oil dojo. That's the one that makes you cherish the smile on a student's face.
peace,
Gene