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Edwin Neal
01-12-2006, 08:33 PM
I have brushed this in several threads now so here we go:

1. Should there be documented standardized criterion/requirements for ranks across aikido "associations" ie like everone uses hombu or iwama requirements for example?

2. Do you think your dojo requirements are easy-realistic-bloody hard?

3. Could we put up a blog or db on what requirements are a various dojo/organizations?

4. Does anyone really care that some schools basically give you a belt for tying your belt properly or just showing up to a minimun number of classes?

I guess I have some issues with consistency, because of my exposure to what some people might term aikidance or bullshido ie stuff that gives all those trolls the impression that aikido is not a real MA and stuff like that? :)

aikidoc
01-12-2006, 09:59 PM
Consistent test requirements is highly unlikely-we wouldn't have a need for all the organizations if theat happened.

The aikikai's requirements are on their website.

Different strokes for different folks. There's one group I'm aware of that the shodans promoted their sensei to 6th dan from what I understand.

Edwin Neal
01-12-2006, 10:20 PM
yeah but there is only one aikido from osensei the different organizations came as a result of personalities and politics for the most part... Am I the only person that finds it ironic that the art of peace and harmony and unity with all of creation is splintered in to Okami knows how many derivation/bastardizations??? like on that thread about seagal he's good but 7th dan ... nah i think he needs a little more practice to fill that hakama! You get guys who take a seminar or get their black belt in 6 months and then the write a book on thier style of aikido and they are suddenly 10th dan wtf???
need for organizations??? we don't need no stinkin organizations ;-)...
how about just a base line standard for shodan?
say we all use one set of minimum requirements that could be added to but not abridged?

any thoughts??? anybody? anybody at all???

Kevin Temple
01-13-2006, 12:14 AM
I think that people who accept lower standards are only cheating themselves. That said, we have no right to impose on the testing methods and standards of other organizations/styles/dojos. Maybe they are giving some dojos with higher standards a bad name, but we have to remember that everyone interprets aikido in their own ways, and some may value different aspects of it more than others. I don't have respect for dojos that churn out blackbelts or gloss over what i consider to be important to executing techniques, but for all i know they might not respect my dojo for something else. I don't think anyone has the authority to impose on someone teaching a different style of aikido. In the case of members of organizations on the other hand, if a dojo wants to be a part of the organization or style, they should be up to the standards of said organization.

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 12:53 AM
yes yes very politically correct, BUT as we all study AIKIDO, the art of peace and harmony and ultimate unity with all of creation, founded by one man Osensei, how can we reconcile having no unity within our community especially with regard to knowledge of and ability in the same martial art? does this not devalue all aikido and aikidoka... if aikido is anything anybody interprets it be, then how can that be Osensei's Aikido?

"The Art of Peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within. On occasion the Voice of Peace resounds like thunder, jolting people out of their stupor."
-O'Sensei

Nick Simpson
01-13-2006, 07:30 AM
I know what your saying, but I think your fighting a losing battle here. There are different styles and different associations, yes they arose from personalities and politics, but thats life. And it has given us some wondrous diversity and options for studying many different 'ways'. If you dont like the standards where you train, then dont train there, look for a dojo/sensei that matches the criteria that you want in your aikido training. Dont try and impose your ideas of standardization on the rest of us :)

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 07:52 AM
its not about imposition its about unification baby just blend it all together... i just think its kind of ironic and even hypocritical... the way of harmony... ha... the way of disharmony... i have no problem with my practice or my senseis judgement... I just think there is alot of freaky stuff floating around packaged like aikido, but we (aikido students) just allow "evil to triumph" because of our in activity/apathy... try this: Osensei gave us all a car to share... most of us arent bothering to keep the oil changed and some of us are siphoning out the gas to use in their own cars!!!

Nick Simpson
01-13-2006, 08:10 AM
Let other people do their thing. I do mine. Thats it as far as Im concerned. What can you do? tell people you dont like what their doing or that they are wrong? See how far that gets you...

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 08:16 AM
I would never tell any one they were wrong especially if the happen to be an 11th dan superKi aikido ninja I'd stand around with a bunch of real aikidoka til they learned it for themselves...
I'm not saying anybodies wrong but a little unification and coordinartion and HARMONY would go a little way...

Nick Simpson
01-13-2006, 08:23 AM
Of course it would, but thats not the real world is it?

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 08:36 AM
We Aikidoka dont live in the real world we run around in pajamas and skirts hollering and swinging wooden swords ... they should probably put us in a padded room... hey thats not a bad idea is it?

Steve Morabito
01-13-2006, 08:52 AM
Great topic, very interesting. We don't test or have ranks at my dojo. There are several reasons why I believe testing doesn't fit in with the philosophies of Aikido at the current time. Most (if not all) current testing in aikido is about measuring performance by using non-standardized methodologies. I would argue that Aikido is not about performance. American culture is very performance and goal-oriented, and this doesn't help much in changing attitudes about this subject. People have tried to take a system of grading/ranking and testing from other martial arts and fit that into Aikido. It's like trying to put a square block into a round hole. Aikido is a "true budo", a budo of love. It is about neither performance nor competition. This sets it apart from all other martial arts as unique. So I would argue that there are few (if any) methods of testing out there currently in aikido that are in accord with the philosophy of true budo. An individual who wears a hakama in our dojo is regarded as a "pillar of the dojo." He or she has shown their devotion to aikido, to the dojo, and to their personal growth. They have undergone a process of self evaluation and exploration, and have incorporated feedback from others into their practice. It is a very long process for some, as there are no grades, tests or kyu/dan ranks. Nonetheless I feel that this is closer to the way things should be with regard to advancement in aikido. I would hope that all hakama wearers across the world would be considered a "pillar of THEIR dojo", but this is almost certainly not true. I'm not saying our dojo's way is the best way, just a better way... a way that is more in accordance with the philosophies of aikido, in my opinion. I think the aikido community should develop a reasonable system of grading that is in accordance with the philosophies of aikido itself, and then standardize that system across organizations as much as possible.
Thanks for listening.
Steve

Mike James
01-13-2006, 09:01 AM
Aikido is about improving and polishing YOURSELF. We don't buy into other people's "stuff". We keep in our center and BLEND with them. This is true whether you are being robbed/attacked on the street, dealing with bosses /co-workers, or with all the trivial matters that seemingly divide all the organizations. O Sensei old us to watch him, but make Aikido our own. All the different ways/styles in how technique is/can be done makes it more interesting and gives me a sense of constant newness and helps me keep my shoshin (beginner's mind). Instead of bickering and touting Organizational party lines, we should seek out and embrace as much diversity as we can, keep what we like and works for us, and move past the rest.

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 09:05 AM
good post ... some people want to rant... i appreciate your thoughts...

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 09:08 AM
BUT as we all study AIKIDO, the art of peace and harmony and ultimate unity with all of creation, founded by one man Osensei, how can we reconcile having no unity within our community especially with regard to knowledge of and ability in the same martial art? does this not devalue all aikido and aikidoka... if aikido is anything anybody interprets it be, then how can that be Osensei's Aikido?

"The Art of Peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within. On occasion the Voice of Peace resounds like thunder, jolting people out of their stupor."
-O'Sensei

__________________
Edwin Neal

Steve Morabito
01-13-2006, 09:18 AM
good post ... some people want to rant... i appreciate your thoughts...
Regrets if you thought I was ranting. I hope I have contributed something meaningful... that was the intention.
Steve

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 09:24 AM
no steve i liked your posting please tell us more if you like...

Mike James
01-13-2006, 09:35 AM
"The Art of Peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within. On occasion the Voice of Peace resounds like thunder, jolting people out of their stupor."
-O'Sensei
This quote refers to each of us individually. The word "within" means within OURSELVES. The only reason there are divisions in anything is because different people are competing and want to be "right". Since there is no competition in Aikido, the divisions we experience just show that everyone still has work to do in polishing themselves and "slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within". IMHO.

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 06:06 PM
True mike, but aikido is Both an individual and a community activity... as you need at a minimum nage and uke...what I am getting at is as the community or Family of aikido should we not have some internal consistency and a certain amount of community awareness... It also seems that if just anyone can call "whatever" they are doing aikido, then isn't the aikido of Osensei gone or tarnished or devalued somehow... again I want to state that I am not ATTACKING anyone... I just think this is a topic that we should discuss without rancor... if everyone understood Osensei's teaching in their own way that implies that some are closer to its truth and some farther from it... i don't BLAME or Demonize anyone for this... but shouldn't we work together to help all of us more clearly refine and understand the teaching... OR should we allow this ART that we all love devolve into something like: AIKIDO IS________ fill in the blank with ANYTHING no matter how absurd or far from the truth of true aikido?
again i am interested in a lively, respectful discussion of this topic...

ElizabethCastor
01-13-2006, 07:05 PM
Edwin,
You've posed an interesting topic and I like the encouragement to probe and hold discussion for discussions sake. Thanks!

what I am getting at is as the community or Family of aikido should we not have some internal consistency and a certain amount of community awareness...
But we DO delvelop consistancies and awareness from within as a community... we have websites like this one and others for discussing aikido, and developing what "aiki" means and how pracitces could be, and maybe should be. People who are dedicated to the art eventually find these resources and thier journey and growth in Aikido flow.

As for my response to the standardization of ranks... . I say respectfully: "No... we don't need to make them all the same." As said in posts above, there would cease to be all the different organizations and variety if we do that. Does that variety create some inconsistancies? Yes! Do some of those "inconsistancies" result in the Waffle-Dojos famous for their not-so-aikido? Unfotunately, yes. However, such variety sometimes gives us a chance to polish and really focus on areas like ki, movement, balance, timing, power, footwork, dynamics, philosophy and on and on and on.... (for me its all that variety and DEPTH that hooked me and hasn't let me go!)
its about unification, baby, just blend it all together... i just think its kind of ironic and even hypocritical... the way of harmony... ha... the way of disharmony... i have no problem with my practice or my senseis judgement... I just think there is alot of freaky stuff floating around packaged like aikido, but we (aikido students) just allow "evil to triumph" because of our in activity/apathy
Its the old soup versus salad analogy. You speak of a melting pot of blended information. But inevitably the soup cooks together and all the stuff tastes the same. I prefer the salad approach myself, all the different things get tossed in the same "bowl." Sometimes I get a gross "mushroom", or "anchovy" or even a rotten bit of veggie :crazy: :yuck: , but I can identify the things I find yucky and push them aside. I throw away the rotten stuff, as anyone would. But you know, there are some folks who love the "mushrooms" that I so quickly discard. And you know what? They dislike and discard other things :p . So who am I to judge? (I hope that made sense.)

And finally, there you make a few mentions along the lines of:
then isn't the aikido of Osensei gone or tarnished or devalued somehow... I don't think so, really. You have a choice here (as on the mat) of being devalued. If you choose to accept this label you wind up battling every "questionable" dojo, meeting it in a judgemental way that can quickly become an engaged fight. Why not F-L-O-W and BLEND with these dojos? Share the experience and strengths of your practice and take in the "strengths and experiences" of that other place. Take what you want, leave the rest and be okay with it.

Again, thanks for the open dialogue and the continued encouragement to share without criticism... it will be interesting to hear other voices too!

Elizabeth :D

Aristeia
01-13-2006, 07:15 PM
I don't want to be doing O'sensei's Aikido and neither should anyone else. I want to do mine. There were splinters both before and after Ueshiba's death and that's as it should be. Why would we all want to be doing the same thing? Find the school and teacher and training method that suits you and away you go.

MaryKaye
01-13-2006, 07:37 PM
I think it is a mistake to identify "unity" with "everyone has to be the same."

I train regularly at one dojo and semi-regularly at another. There is a very important aikido unity here--both dojo recognize me as a student of aikido and do not hassle me over the cross-training or waste their energy in "who is better?" struggles. But there is no unity of testing requirements, nor could there be as one dojo bans techniques which the other considers integral to their style. The ukemi are also startlingly different.

If they were somehow forced to teach the same style, what good would it do me to have two of them? I love this situation precisely because it is so full of differences and surprises, so my mind is kept agile (and frequently boggled). Also, I strongly believe that for each dojo, there are advances in the art which they would be more likely to find than the other, because of their different style and philosophy. Force them together and you would tend to end up with fewer innovations.

I think that something forced to be homogeneous is probably also going to be forced to be static, unchanging. It's really hard to make changes if they have to be accepted by every aikido school in the world, all at once. It's much easier if some schools can experiment with new material, see how it works, and then convince (or not) other schools--the way it seems to be happening with different styles of ukemi within Aikikai in the United States right now. If uniformity were enforced, either no one could use the new-style ukemi, or everyone would have to; in either case we would have a lot less chance to judge whether they are helpful, much less to decide that they help some people and not others.

And if aikido cannot change or grow, I think it will die off. Why participate in an art where you can only copy what someone else has already done, and never find anything new?

If you really, really need to know if your aikido is more valid than someone else's, you can fight with them. It's not very aiki but sometimes it's the most satisfactory answer to this question. Trying to get a rank-granting organization to settle the fight for you is just going to be an exercise in frustration, and doesn't really do anything to change the basic motivation--it's still "I want to prove mine is better than theirs." It doesn't become any more aiki by being done by a ranking association rather than you personally.

(I have a streak of this in my temperment. So far my experience is that no matter where I visit, if someone is ranked much above me he or she can wipe the mat with me. Occasionally I can excel at specific tricky things which my home dojo emphasizes, but I have never hassled a senior student without being quickly shown that they are, indeed, senior.)

Mary Kaye

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 08:12 PM
Elizabeth thank you... very good post...

I may have been a little less than clear... I believe that we as a community Do have a responsibility to actively ensure that Mc dojo's don't show up... i too love the variety but we can keep that without allowing those kind of inconsistencies...

a quick anecdote: I moved back to my home town and as a result have been in a break in my formal training. I practice the things I have learned and took the opportunity to meet some of the other MA's in my hometown. I met some great people, a great Kung Fu teacher, Arnis instructors, BJJ and even one ronin aikidoka that became my training partner, but I meet one guy who had a dojo where he advertised TKD, Karate, and then later in smaller letters cardio karate, aikido and jujutsu... I visited this place before the later additions... My first visit was what I expected TKD. Kicks and some such was the curriculum. He was cordial and i polite, i enjoyed my workout, i followed and did the kicks and punch drills, had some small talk after class, and that was it. Some time later after the addition I went back with my friend the aikidoka(kyu rank). As before the class before was working kicking and punching techniques, but when we came in the sensei announced that he would show some aikido-like techniques. He proceeds to get an uke and demonstrate tapping on hands and bending (slightly) wrist, and even pointing at uke, and the uke's being "thrown" here and yonder or pinned. I said nothing but we joined the class. We did the "waza" as demonstrated and as we practiced it my partner and I added our aiki to it ie if he did something like kotegaeshi we slowly did a kote gaeshi. the sensei upon seeing this announced to the class that we were "doing advanced versions of the techniques. Okay I have no problem with that, but as we are going along he begins to say things like "you dont have to do that" and "you use chi instead of physical force (yes "chi"), and as Im showing one of the white belts the grip for kote gaeshi (which we had practiced as a warmup exercise ie kotegaeshi undo) he raises his voice and asks "why do you have to do it that way?" I reply the proper grip gives you control seigyo of your attacker. He goes off with "I had complete control... are you saying I didn't have control... and that "this is my dojo!" Well I didn't argue I just said yes sensei and my friend and I started to leave (it was time to go anyway). I discussed it with my freind and he feels like I do that for this guy who had no training in aikido (yes i am sure), yet was claiming to teach aikido to be able to just set up shop and peddle crap to unsuspecting students was irresponsible, as he made claims of effectiveness and self-defense and such.
shouldn't we have some kind of authority as Aikidoka to make sure if you say you teach aikido that you do? That people who, say, have a shodan and thus a certain level of training, have a certain minimum standard. I'm not saying make every school or organization test the same... But could we just use a base line standard for shodan? say we all use one set of minimum requirements that could be added to but not abridged? or should we have some umbrella authority that recognized "authorized" instructors?

RebeccaM
01-13-2006, 08:16 PM
I need to get to an expo some day just to see what's going on with all the branches of the family. However, my overall impression is that, in the end, it's all more or less the same. We're just taking different paths.

The trouble with setting a single standard is I don't think that there's any sort of canon in aikido. As far as I can tell, most of the different styles arose from the students who studied with Ueshiba at different points in his life. So who's right? The guy who got the training when Osensei was a young man or the guy who got it when he was an old man? And who decides?

Further, as far as so many branches are concerned, other arts are the same. How many flavors of karate are there? I used to study Shotokan. I'd do fine in any other Shotokan club because the JKA has got things standardized to a freakish degree. However, I wouldn't even know the name of the first kata at an Enshin or Wado-ryu school. Yet it's still karate.

This is probably worth a thread in and of itself, but Mary, I'm curious. What is this style of ukemi that you speak of? I ask simply because I've always seen ukemi as something rather personal. Sure, you learn to roll and take high falls but at a certain point your ukemi becomes your ukemi. It's not what your Sensei taught you to do anymore, it's what your body is capable of, what you're willing to do, and, most importantly, what you have to do to keep nage from breaking you. As long as uke is maintaining a good and honest connection and no one's getting hurt, what difference do the details make?

Faith Hansen
01-13-2006, 08:36 PM
[
1. Should there be documented standardized criterion/requirements for ranks across aikido "associations" ie like everone uses hombu or iwama requirements for example?

Nah, some of the styles are too different. And a change that big is not going to happen. Even if it was a good idea (not necessarily) it is unrealistic to think that it could happen.

2. Do you think your dojo requirements are easy-realistic-bloody hard?

Realistic, at times bloody hard.

3. Could we put up a blog or db on what requirements are a various dojo/organizations?

I've seen a few threads that asked this same thing. Not a great deal fo dojos answered. What are YOUR dojo requirements?

4. Does anyone really care that some schools basically give you a belt for tying your belt properly or just showing up to a minimun number of classes?

Wow, which dojos are those? The belt tying rank is a little far-fetched there sir. And why do you care so much about rank in other dojos? How does it affect YOUR aikido? Maybe you should take some of your ranting energy and apply it to your own training instead of worrying about how everyone else is faring. Aikido is about self growth. And yeah, there are McDojos out there, but what are ya gonna do? It doesn't matter what the trolls think. Do you think O'Sensei would have cared? I think he would have shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and kept training.

-Fae

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 09:24 PM
First there IS only one Aikido from Osensei ...he is the founder
I agree with Takemusu aiki we each make the art our own and develope ... I am not saying Homogenous every aikirobot diong the same waza in formation to the same teaching methodology...I am not saying this aikido is better than that aikido there is no this and that there is one aikido some folks may be better than I or not... everyone does their own aikido which comes from Osensei... even if you do it at several different dojos... aikido does and is growing and alive... I do not want to fight to prove my aikido is better... could a board or group of senior instructors hammer out a minimum or something... and sure there is a spectrum of Osenseis aikido through his life his young vs old ikkyo, but its ikkyo... i am again not even saying schools should change the way they test... my feeling is I would rather be a strong white belt than a weak(or totally ignorant) blackbelt...I THINK Osensei would not have to tell someone with absolutely no skill or knowledge or authority(permission) to teach to stop, his students would have politely done it for him, unless he did it first... Osensei was a warrior... i am not saying he would have killed them but he is reputed to have had a fierce temper to balance his loving gentle soul...shouldnt we as aikidoka have the responsibility to do some quality control and assurance for ourselves and potential students and the public...

lets try to keep this in a moderately general mode

James Kelly
01-13-2006, 09:34 PM
a quick anecdote: [...] We did the "waza" as demonstrated and as we practiced it my partner and I added our aiki to it ie if he did something like kotegaeshi we slowly did a kote gaeshi.In my opinion, you missed out... let your preconceived idea of what aikido is get in the way of possibly learning something. How do you know how much aikido training this guy had? Might have been very little, might have been none, but he had training in other arts and so had a different take on even little akido he knew. By just doing your own thing you lost the opportunity to see what he had to say. It's a conversation. He said, ‘hi' and you said, ‘where we come from, we say hello.' I'm not saying it might not have been a complete waste of time, but you lost your chance to find out.
shouldn't we have some kind of authority as Aikidoka to make sure if you say you teach aikido that you do? Absolutely not. Aikido already has too much centralization in my opinion. Who's style do we use as a base line? And who are ‘we' in the first place? If the guy wants to say he does Aikido, let him. How exactly does it affect your training?
But could we just use a base line standard for shodan? say we all use one set of minimum requirements that could be added to but not abridged? or should we have some umbrella authority that recognized "authorized" instructors? The last thing we need is a bureaucracy defining what is the proper way to do kote-gaeshi. (It's a kind of funny image though... everyone getting nervous because someone from the Ministry for the Protection of Purity in Technique is scheduled to show up and tell everyone exactly how the techniques should be done).
there is only one aikido from osensei the different organizations came as a result of personalities and politics for the most part...' Yes and no. Yes the organizations are mostly personal and political, but there is not only one aikido from O Sensei. He taught different things at different times in different places and even to different people in the same dojo. O Sensei's aikido was vast and varied and continues on as a living breathing art that changes each time someone new puts on a gi. He was one man with one body, and a set of students with generally a common cultural background. Transplant those movements into different bodies... try to use those movements on people with different cultures of movement... and you get something new. What works for you might not work for me. The only way to tell is to put in the hours and see how it goes.

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 09:58 PM
James I know with no doubt that this guy had no training... at best a video or book... he did not do any aikido you don't point at someone and throw them with your "chi" his word choice... i appreciate senseis who do expose me to varitions to aikido techniques... this guy did NO aikido... there is ONLY one style of aikido... that comes from Osensei... other senseis teach aikido they may have there own way of teaching or variations of waza, but it is still recognizable as aikido... Gozo Shioda taught aikido he taught with insight, but he did not found aikido... Osensei did... choose any great teacher you want... if its nikkyo you will feel it ;-))...

Edwin Neal
01-13-2006, 10:07 PM
AIKIDO ALERT

fans of battlestar galactic (i know you are out there)
aikido on the show
i call it ikkyo or ikkyo nage
what do you think? :p

MaryKaye
01-14-2006, 01:04 AM
This is probably worth a thread in and of itself, but Mary, I'm curious. What is this style of ukemi that you speak of? I ask simply because I've always seen ukemi as something rather personal.[...] As long as uke is maintaining a good and honest connection and no one's getting hurt, what difference do the details make?

The easiest way to describe it is to compare the videos on ukemi by Ellis Amdur or Bruce Bookman (I am told--have not seen that one) with the one by Donovan Waite. I am not really proficient with either style but have been attending seminars on the latter kind for a couple of years, and I'm watching some of my Aikikai friends try to change their ukemi over. There seems to be enough difference that a kyu-rank with a few seminars behind them finds the falls easier than a dan-rank encountering them for the first time.

If I had to venture a description I'd say that Waite's style shapes the legs and arms into a wide V in many ukemi, rolls out of falls traditionally taken as hardfalls, and sticks to nage's body tightly rather than projecting away.

My impression is that at low levels (this changes among the senior people) it's difficult and unsafe to do a Waite-style ukemi if nage is trying to force a hardfall. (I certainly go splat when this happens to me.) So a dojo has to make a decision which style they are encouraging, or junior students will get splatted. It's hard to leave this purely to personal choice, at least at my level of experience. Nage's technique must permit uke to try this out, or learning it is too difficult initially.

No one in my home dojo (Ki Society) has ever thrown me in a way that naturally elicited a Waite-style ukemi, whereas in dojo where they are practiced, I have occasionally been surprised into one even when I planned to do something else. Nage's intentions really do matter. (Again, at my level; I'm sure this becomes less true with rank.)

Mary Kaye

RebeccaM
01-14-2006, 01:32 AM
Hmm.

I am very familiar with Bookman's style having trained under him. I have not seen the Waite video though. To be honest I haven't even thought of different ways of taking ukemi.

Nage's intentions always matter. With seniority you may learn how to reverse a technique, but if nage is throwing you hard, you're falling hard, whether you planned it that way or not.

Edwin Neal
01-14-2006, 01:53 AM
as your ukemi improves you should be able to take a harder throw and make it not so hard... you control how hard you are thrown...

Mark Freeman
01-14-2006, 11:07 AM
First there IS only one Aikido from Osensei ...he is the founder

True, but not true. As far as I am aware the aikdo as taught and learned in the early pre war days has many aspects, that O'Sensei changed, modified, adapted , improved over the course of a lifetime of practice. The aikido he taught and was learned in his latter years was and had to be different. If we do not see this we do him the disservice of thinking that he hit on a good idea and just did the same thing over and over until he passed away. He knew that aikido would be taken out into the world by his students, and that it would continue to grow and change as is natural.

I agree with the desire for harmony, however, how could you reconcile the differences between say Yoshinkan and Ki Society where one has Ki Developement inherent in their grading process and the other does not?

Edwin Neal
01-14-2006, 11:33 AM
true Mark, but not robust enough to really capture the essence... Osensei lived a long life and his techniques span the spectrum of that lifetime, okay so sure there is a spectrum of Osenseis aikido through his life his young vs old ikkyo, but its ikkyo... nikkyo... sankyo... He DID DO the same thing every day until he passed... thats the very nature of it takemusu aiki...
how about just a base line standard for shodan?
say we all use one set of minimum requirements that could be added to but not abridged?
so if you wanna throw in a bunch of ki developement exercises, and they wanna do bokken waza no problem... there would be a core that would be universal, and thus unify all schools...
or something like that...just a thought...

ElizabethCastor
01-14-2006, 03:26 PM
Osensei lived a long life and his techniques span the spectrum of that lifetime, okay so sure there is a spectrum of Osenseis aikido through his life his young vs old ikkyo, but its ikkyo... nikkyo... sankyo... He DID DO the same thing every day until he passed... thats the very nature of it takemusu aiki...
Edwin,
In the same manner that the ikkyo I did in my first classes is not the same as the ikkyo I apply today; and that today's ikkyo had better not be the ikkyo I apply in the future (be that 2, 5, 10 years from now) :hypno: :D . I'm don't believe that O'Sensei's ikkyo in his 30's is actually the exact same ikkyo he did in his 60's. I'm sure that the principle was the same. However, as you point out, he worked on it daily. He will have refined over that amount of time; whether intentionally or not (I believe intentionally, myself). I certainly hope that through application, repitition, and contemplation that my ikkyo develops too!

In addition, bodies respond differently as they age... the dynamic of the movement must have changed too. These subtle differences lead to the different Shihan developing different areas of focus from what their experience of O'Sensei was... ki, power, direction, philosophy, etc.. They ALL do come from O'Sensei! These are the branches of the aiki-tree, they share the same roots and core: O'Sensei. I'd much rather enjoy the different branches than learn from a single, arrow-straight stick... where's the depth in that? AND were is there room for my voice, contribution, growth, reflection and understanding that O'Sensei calls for?
how about just a base line standard for shodan? say we all use one set of minimum requirements that could be added to but not abridged? so if you wanna throw in a bunch of ki developement exercises, and they wanna do bokken waza no problem... there would be a core that would be universal, and thus unify all schools... or something like that...just a thought...
It's my understanding that pretty much everywhere they are learning the same unabridged set of standards. Everybody in aikido is learning O'Sensei's principles of ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, yonkyo, gokyo, iriminage, kotegaishi, tenchinage etc.. When I go between different dojo's I learn something that is on the list of "things to know by shodan level." In my mind those ARE the minimums. I'm not sure, but it sounds like you are suggesting an actual world-wide "curriculum." Something that says you are training for test-X so all you will study is techniques X, X, & X plus we like to train in Y and Z as well so we can add that in, too. If that is the suggestion I ask what if the student isn't there yet? Some arts place different concepts of O'Sensei's (ex: ki development, or dynamic movements, or ? ) as a CORE concept... something to be prioritized, understood and internalized before moving into more advanced movements. This is done because that was how O'Sensei spoke of aikido during his life, or how he taught his pupils a one time. Why should we be rigid in the RULES FOR ADVANCEMENT when O'Sensei taught, encouraged, and even forcefully demonstrated the need to be flexible, understanding and flowing. "Grounded" and "stuck" are similar but very different.

Lastly, why not accept the varitey of aikido as it is? If we look at the huge and the tiny we see peaceful co-existance. Huge galaxies filled with energy of different sorts from brilliant stars to black holes. Tiny atoms with protons and neutrons. Polar opposites, but they are needed to keep the balance stable. If you have one without the other the system collapses. Same thing with the aikido system: different dojos serve to answer the varoius needs. But in the end, the system is still grounded and balanced in the same principles ikkyo, nikkyo.... etc. Its only when we fight the natural need for dichotomy that the equation gets screwed...

Anyway, that's my two cents here (FWIW)

Elizabeth

RebeccaM
01-14-2006, 03:43 PM
as your ukemi improves you should be able to take a harder throw and make it not so hard... you control how hard you are thrown...
Not really. You can control your landing, but if you've got a good nage and they want to smear you all over the mat, well, you're going to get smeared all over the mat (try resisting your sensei or sempai and you will see what I mean). All the ukemi's going to do is keep you from getting hurt in the process.

Edwin Neal
01-14-2006, 05:26 PM
Elizabeth thank you for your thoughts... let me begin by saying that the reason that i started this thread was to see how people would understand and more importantly Misunderstand what I was suggesting, so that i could refine it and make it as clear and straight forward as possible... unfortunately many posters seem to get many of the same misconceptions that you are expressing... so before i reply to the main points of your post, i want to say that you have a nice way of exspressing yourself, and i look forward to your continued (hopefully) postings...

i think alot of people are confusing waza, technique, principles etc... i think there is a bit of semantics (dancing around the same point...very aiki!) going on... my point here is TAKEMUSU AIKI... there is infinite creativity and variety in aikido by Osensei's design... in a certain sense you can never do the "same" ikkyo twice, each is different, but they are all valid ikkyo... I am not advocating static, unchanging, uniform aikido curriculum/testing from school to school or aikidoka to aikidoka... nor am i advocating pruning the "aiki-tree"... again this falls under takemusu aiki... in aikido there is room for (indeed isn't it Required?) everyone's voice and contribution etc... the reason I continue to talk about the idea of a "shodan standard" is my response to the following: ( i think this is an issue ALL aikidoka Must address)

"I have noticed recently there seems to be a quite a few aikido frauds cropping up in various places and some are being exposed by various forums. This seems to be increasing. By frauds, I categorize them "aikido frauds" based on the following criteria:

1. Lofty ranks awarded by organizations that cannot be identified or located. Lots of 6th to 10th dans (usually the person is in their 40s).
2. Start their own "style" of aikido with weak credentials to do so. Usually no traceable lineage. Many have never held higher than 3rd dan in a legitimate organization.
3. Organization sites which have dubious, non-verifiable rank histories or questionable promotions.
4. Promotions and styles are often sanctioned by dubious Soke Organizations which frequently sell their ranks. They say they don't award ranks just document earned ranks.
5. Websites frequently have dubious claims about their skills or they have studied under masters that no one has heard of or can verify.
6. Aikido ranks being awarded by non-aikido organizations: karate for example.

How do we stop this from happening? I don't have answers and don't know if we really can. My concern is we are going to end up with a public being duped and legitimate aikido ranks will be watered down. Many times the new student public does not have the experience or knowledge to see through the bovine feces. They see the 10th dan or 5th to 6th dan and don't have the knowledge to realize they are bogus degrees. "

I am quoting that from another person's posting because, like your postings, I feel he expressed the point very well. I have been to one of these places... and the "waza" shown were only superficially anything like aikido... the guy did not even KNOW or use what I consider "baseline, standard" terms like ikkyo, nikkyo... etc. something all organizations already agree on in a certain "fuzzy" core of terms and ideals. You go to different dojos and yet you still see ikkyo, you say ikkyo and an aikidoka who speaks a different language for example understands ikkyo... I am suggesting a baseline(not a ridgid rules for advancement!) that if you are a sensei (shodan) that you have a certain grasp of "Aikido culture"... this culture or core is Already shared by all aikidoka... but frauds are really what I am trying to get at so perhaps posting this under testing may be causing this misunderstanding. I, like you, accept and love the infinite, and subtle variety (takemusu aiki) of aikido... shouldn't we protect this from scam artists, and for all future aikidoka?
I look forward to your response...

Tim Heckman
01-14-2006, 09:58 PM
I've been training for a little over two years, and I find this subject interesting. I'm lucky to live in Chicago. I'm in an organization that is currently not recognized as Aikikai due to a split, but the parent group was a split from Ki society that was reaffiliated with Hombu about ten years ago.

I really enjoy training with different groups. I've trained with USAF, Ki Society, Fugukukai Tomiki, and with the Abe sensei folks so far, as well as the Aikido World Alliance/Aikido Association of America that is the basis of my training. It's my contention, based on my varied but limited experiences, that the state of American aikido is not so bad.

So far, I haven't found anyone that is training on a level that bears no resemblance to a commonly accepted reality. I'm not saying they're not out there, but I am saying that they are on the fringes. And there will always be goofballs on the fringes...

As people have said, the different groups in Aikido are due to personality/money/political differences. No matter what the reason, these differences are still very fresh in many senior instructors minds, even if the reason for the split is fifty years old. I see no way to reach/impose a common standard for shodan, but I think that the existing standard for shodan is actually closer to being uniform than most of think.

To me, right now, the best thing that I feel I can do for worldwide aikido is to get on the mat and train. The next best thing is to study and see how different people have interpreted O'Sensei's aikido, so that I can work on finding my own.

Of course, anyone else's mileage might vary...

Edwin Neal
01-14-2006, 10:48 PM
thanks tim i guess that the level of shodan is probably pretty standard across aikido now, but my real issue is with the frauds... How do we as Aikidoka and heirs to a rich tradition from Osensei to the newest newbie responsibly define maintain and TransmiT our art and maintain a certain level of competency in knowledge and skill in the face of frauds... saying that we should just ignore them they'll go out of business is NOT responsible... I mean I'm not suggesting we go out DojoBusting (yes i am, no im not....;-))), but how do we make sure that this stops. This guy here went outta business for a while, then opened a new dojo; HOWEVER he did not advertise aikido any more soo...
:grr:

Edwin Neal
01-15-2006, 12:27 AM
rebecca with regard to ukemi... i did not mean to imply RESIST the throw, quite the contrary, Blend, and absorb and control... it doesn't matter how hard or far you are thrown as long as you are in control... like a car --- drive as fast as you want as long as it does not exceed your maximum safe operatin speed...

Mark Freeman
01-15-2006, 08:44 AM
Elizabeth,

Your posting was the essence of what I wanted to say, you just did it more eloquantly and more elegantly, thanks!

Edwin,

I really do agree with desire to limit the damage done by the charlatans. Although the damage is not to those who are already practicing with a 'proper' Aikido teacher. As you point out, it is the unsuspecting beginner who is most likely to suffer.

I just think that your idea that:how about just a base line standard for shodan?
say we all use one set of minimum requirements that could be added to but not abridged?
so if you wanna throw in a bunch of ki developement exercises, and they wanna do bokken waza no problem... there would be a core that would be universal, and thus unify all schools...
or something like that...just a thought...

is admirable and desirable but unfortunately not plausible.

Can you imagine the heads of all the different Aikido Federations/schools/styles, sitting down and quietly agreeing a common minimum for shodan. When many new federations were borne out of rancorous splits between two high ranking officials? Unlikely.

I think all we as serious aikidoka can do is to continue to practice with sincerity, passing on our knowledge without watering down the principles given to us by OSensei. If and when we come across bogus teaching, it is our privelige/right/duty to expose it for what it is.

The problem lies with how and who make the distinction between what is bogus and what is not?

I personally practice Ki Aikido, so am used to a particular way of doing things. I have seen but not practiced the Aikikai style, I appreciate the difference and am aware that they both belong in the large and ever expanding world of Aikido. When I first started out, ( especially around green belt level :o ) thought that the what I was doing was the 'right' way to do aikido. I might have thought at that time anyone not practicing my style to be bogus.

Older and wiser now ( hopefully )

Lets face it there are good teachers and not so good teachers in all schools and styles, it's up to each individual to find their own way in all of this. I heard this when I first started "Follow the way, not the teacher" I think it is worth podering on for more than a moment.

Cheers guys.

Edwin Neal
01-15-2006, 06:30 PM
as i have said the main point i have is with frauds... the thought of an authority that would grant a legitimate shodan(sensei) the right to call what he is teaching aikido, and be sure that if some one claims they teach aikido they understand things like ikkyo, nikkyo, the different "styles" of aikido, ways of practice. etc...

on a slightly side note... this the so called art of harmony why would it be inconcievable that different "styles"(i hate that term) could agree on basic fundamental core concepts which we all basically agree on anyway? "Rancor" doesn't sound very aiki... reconciliation does...

I am not talking about good vs bad teachers or "styles" of aikido... I am not saying that, FOR EXAMPLE, Ki society is real aikido and anything else is bogus... I am talking about the aikido community taking responsibility to ensure that if some guy hangs a board in front of his dojo listing aikido that he is qualified by experience, and knowledge of aikido... since shodan is when you start getting called sensei i thought the idea of a shodan minimum or standard would address the issue ie if he says he is a sensei of aikido then he has a certain universally accepted core of aikido cultural literacy...
I feel our responsibility is to future students and present students is to ensure people who "follow the way", but have teachers that have no legitimate experience, knowledge or authority to teach aikido, don't get fooled...
see my earlier post#23 for my experience... which is most of the impetus for this discussion... my freind who is also an experienced karateka "somewhat" jokingly suggested that we dojobust ie just beat him and his students up and take over his dojo... thats how it used to be done... i am not suggesting we do that (yes i am, no i'm not... ;-)))... has anyone else had a similar experience??? tell us your story...

ElizabethCastor
01-15-2006, 07:09 PM
my point here is TAKEMUSU AIKI... there is infinite creativity and variety in aikido by Osensei's design... in a certain sense you can never do the "same" ikkyo twice, each is different, but they are all valid ikkyo... I am not advocating static, unchanging, uniform aikido curriculum/testing from school to school or aikidoka to aikidoka... nor am i advocating pruning the "aiki-tree"... again this falls under takemusu aiki... in aikido there is room for (indeed isn't it Required?) everyone's voice and contribution etc...
Huh...
Well, then it seems we agree on the need for continued creativity in aikido. Awesome, that's what was worrying me most! :straightf :o :D

As for the rest the reason I continue to talk about the idea of a "shodan standard" is my response to the following: ( i think this is an issue ALL aikidoka Must address)
"I have noticed recently there seems to be a quite a few aikido frauds cropping up in various places and some are being exposed by various forums. This seems to be increasing. By frauds, I categorize them "aikido frauds" based on the following criteria:

1. Lofty ranks awarded by organizations that cannot be identified or located. Lots of 6th to 10th dans (usually the person is in their 40s).
2. Start their own "style" of aikido with weak credentials to do so. Usually no traceable lineage. Many have never held higher than 3rd dan in a legitimate organization.
3. Organization sites which have dubious, non-verifiable rank histories or questionable promotions.
4. Promotions and styles are often sanctioned by dubious Soke Organizations which frequently sell their ranks. They say they don't award ranks just document earned ranks.
5. Websites frequently have dubious claims about their skills or they have studied under masters that no one has heard of or can verify.
6. Aikido ranks being awarded by non-aikido organizations: karate for example.

How do we stop this from happening? I don't have answers and don't know if we really can. My concern is we are going to end up with a public being duped and legitimate aikido ranks will be watered down. Many times the new student public does not have the experience or knowledge to see through the bovine feces. They see the 10th dan or 5th to 6th dan and don't have the knowledge to realize they are bogus degrees. "
....
but frauds are really what I am trying to get at so perhaps posting this under testing may be causing this misunderstanding. I, like you, accept and love the infinite, and subtle variety (takemusu aiki) of aikido... shouldn't we protect this from scam artists, and for all future aikidoka?I guess threads like this one and the presence of aikiweb and other aikido websites helps us all to prune off the deadwood from the aiki-tree. I have to accept that these "frauds" are out there and that they get students into their classes. My hope is:

1) ...that if they are interested in the art that they do a little research as they grow (whether encouraged to do so or not). A little looking will find them some answers, especially if/when something seems fishy (PS... my sensei encouraged me to look into things a little :) and I too have heard of questionable folks who kick people out for even asking about another dojo's aikido flyer seen on a street corner :mad: )

2) ...that all of my shouting from the mountain tops (living near the Rockies its a little easier to do! ;) ) about how great my practice is and how much I learn from it spiritually, emotionally and physically reaches the ears of a disgruntled Mc-aikidoka

3) ...that the people who defend the questionable Mc-sensei are feeling as fulfilled with their "art" as I do with mine (i can't judge what isn't my experience)

Really, I'll say it again: I have to accept that these "frauds" are out there and that they get students into their classes :( . I can't change that, it's part of the natural polarity that exists universally. Plus, I want to focus my energy on building. Building myself, building my dojo and building the aiki-community (eventually... somehow). If I spend my energy busting Mc-dojos I lose because I run out of energy before I can do my building. (BTW I understand that you are NOT advocating the old school style of dojo-busting!)

Again, thanks for a lively discussion!

Elizabeth

PS) Sorry it took me so long to post this... my computer was acting funny!

Edwin Neal
01-15-2006, 08:41 PM
Hey Elizabeth... great post... your aiki-tree is very insightful... i don't think of mc dojos as deadwood, but as parasites like vines that attack and possibly kill the tree. Deadwood I consider to be branches of the aiki-tree that lost Osenseis aikido(the aiki-root/trunk?), but thats a different discussion...
not all people do research, but they should... not all senseis encourage students to question or explore, and make informed decisions for themselves... I DID bust this guys dojo... I talked to a couple of his students and they told two friends and they told two friends... la la... the jist was that after being informed his dojo finally just dissolved... too bad now I guess many of those people may NEVER again give any thought to trying aikido or any martial art. Are we as Aikidoka acting responsibly if we allow this to happen? Do we owe these students some kind of respect, and see our duty to lovingly protect them from scammers. As to fulfillment... are we fulfilled if we are filled with lies and deceit...
I do think the answer lies in some form of Unification/reconciliation among the various aikido organizations... sort of an aikido council of Wyrms... if you get that...there are more and more schools and organizations and styles everyday making it even more difficult as time passes. I think we could use your aiki-tree and make sure all the alledged branches connected, and codify that
looking forward to more discussion of these things...

ElizabethCastor
01-15-2006, 09:46 PM
Hey Edwin,

I see your point, that when you happen upon a dojo that sells aikido instruction completely unconnected with the aikido from O'Sensei... AKA "frauds"... there is a sense of uneasiness. If I were in a situation like that I would try it out a few times, ask some questions (of the sesnsei, of the students, of aikidoka I know and trust, etc) to get a feel for the situation. If I'm still feeling uneasy I would find a new place to practice. I may (depending on the circumstances) offer a book, pamphlet, this website or other resources (that *I* consider reliable) on aikido. I would probably discourage anybody checking things out from going to this place. And I would leave the situation alone from there. I just don't think that it's my place to tell someone that they can't teach aikido.

It sounds like that was how you approached the above scenario. And I have had sempai and sensei guide me here and there in regards to checking out other places. So, it feels like the tradition is a grass roots, word-of-mouth thing anyway... and it seems pretty respectful to me.

As for reconciliation... I have seen videos of the Aikido Friendship Seminars (which were held a while ago) and other summits/seminars on a HUGE scale held in Japan and other places. These seem to offer the closest thing to your idea of getting together. Basicly, all the different styles, Sensei and Shihan are invited to participate and provide a demonstration so that anyone who comes can listen, learn and harmonize. I've only seen some of the footage, and other will undoubtedly have better details and information. Hopefully they will post here too!
Plus, I think the the whole getting together thing happens more often than you think, its just at that grassroots level though. Senesi all know who's who in their general region and I think that they talk to each other pretty often.

My personal example here in Denver shows the interconnectedness (how's THAT for a big word!) of my own training. I train 3 days per week at my HOME dojo {aikikai}, but I go Thursdays to an ASU dojo that is housed in an unafilliated dojo. The ASU guys needed the space and found a community ready and willing to help. Today I went to help the ASU guys building the new dojo in a space they just leased. This new dojo will house not only the ASU family but a Ki Society Dojo on the off days too. Students are encouraged to check out this alternate style, learn, grow and share with the other ASU students (as appropriate). There is alson a Denver Aikido Summit held every spring that seeks to bring together as many people as want to come. I'd love to know what "comming together" events other regions/areas/places have!


Elizabeth

Edwin Neal
01-15-2006, 10:15 PM
in some places... rural north carolina jumps to mind... any aikido to be found tends to be in larger more urban areas and spread out so there are rarely any publicized events, mostly organizational events that are only advertised to organizational members, and fringe aikidoka hear about them after it is all over if ever
to me a bit of it seems to be ego and complacency... the older generations of aikidoka seem happy to leave things alone for a variety of reasons that fall into those categories... but it seems to me that the lines or trenches between organizations is hardening (it is also softening in some instances), and I feel this is likely the direction it will continue in... this too will help frauds continue to con people... Boulder sounds like a great place to practice and live... maybe one day I may be lucky enough to get a chance to visit... but I'm still stuck on the farm, but Osensei was a farmer too so maybe there is hope for me yet eh?

MaryKaye
01-16-2006, 01:15 AM
It may be true within Aikikai that everyone learns the same list of techniques, but it is not true between Aikikai and Ki Society. The founder of Ki Society removed or revised some techniques and most KS dojo have followed him in this: koteoroshi is done rather than kotagaeshi, specific kokyunage rather than iriminage, and koshinage is generally not done at all. Clearly if Aikikai leaders proposed a unified curriculum Ki Society leaders would probably not accept it, and vice versa.

I haven't found this to be a problem in my cross-training. Once one has the general feel of how aikido works, which either style can teach, learning the technical differences is not so hard. This leaves me completely unconvinced that a standardized curriculum or set of criteria is necessary or useful.

I think that standardization proposals miss the boat, to be honest. They would have the most effect on legitimate and conscientious dojo; but that is not where the problems lie. How could anyone enforce meaningful standards on dojo which don't care about them? Some yoga organizations have been able to enforce their ownership of ther techniques, but those techniques started out proprietary. Aikido didn't, and now belongs collectively to everyone who teaches it. How, practically speaking, could anyone get themselves in position to successfully take aikido away from "unworthy" schools? And wouldn't there be a terrible temptation for politics to get into this process? Gods know, organization politics can get very ugly. I am personally glad there are independent dojo and multiple organizations, so that no meltdown can seriously jeopardize the future of aikido as a whole.

I think the thing we can do, as a community, is to sponsor and publicize excellent seminars, camps, workshops and demos. If people see and feel good aikido, they are less likely to be suckered by bad aikido. If what they really *want* is McDojo, rank without effort, you will not be able to stop them and I don't think it's necessary to try. People eager to delude themselves can always succeed. It only becomes our problem when sincere seekers are also being fooled, and the best we can do about that is to create rich opportunities for sincere seekers to find the real thing.

Mary Kaye

Edwin Neal
01-16-2006, 01:26 AM
thanks mary
as most people have expressed an opposition to any kind of standard, i have stopped considering it... However i still feel a need to protect the innocent would be student from this form of fraud... to me it seems we should do something more proactive than simply send out a memo or put on a demo and hope it goes away... if not a standard level for shodan how about something like an "aikido instructor acreditation" organization, although how that will stop unscrupulous individuals from claiming to teach aikido i don't know...

Aristeia
01-16-2006, 01:33 AM
not all people do research,
How much effort do we put in to "protecting" people who are not taking rudimentary steps to protect themselves?

As Mary said, some people may want the mcdojo and there's nothing you can do to stop that. You set up an organisation to "approve" schools, they set up their own one and you're back to the same argument. Just gotta accept that this is inevitable and try and be an example.

Edwin Neal
01-16-2006, 01:46 AM
whether or not grandma is protecting herself... don't you wanna pull the mugger off her?
yeah i agree with the circularity of the organization approach, but there must be a way or something...
still thinking...
my problem is not with people who want to be role play MA, but role play Aikido instructors...

Mark Freeman
01-16-2006, 04:55 AM
People eager to delude themselves can always succeed. It only becomes our problem when sincere seekers are also being fooled, and the best we can do about that is to create rich opportunities for sincere seekers to find the real thing.
That is beautifully put Mary, thanks.

Rocky Izumi
05-03-2006, 10:20 PM
From my discussion with a number of different Shihan, OSensei did not teach the same Aikido to each of his students in terms of techniques. He taught the person based on their background, whether it was Karate, Judo, Kendo, etc. What they learned was influenced by what they already knew. However, they seem to agree that the fundamental principles that OSensei taught did not differ from one technical approach to another. The key is that he taught from the fundamental principle of Aikido of flexibility and adaptation to needs and situation. The most fundamental principles are applicable to the techniques you practice in Aikido as well as battlefield strategy, business management, statistics, or just daily life.

Second, as I have developed in my Aikido, how I do the basic techniques personally have changed dramatically even though what I teach to people of different grades do not change. Your Aikido and your techniques have to change as you develop. But all that means is that your repretoire of adaptability has increased. In other words, you don't want to forget what you learned early on because it is still applicable but specifically for the situations in which the learning was taking place.

Each instructor, depending on what principle they are personally researching at the time will teach different things. If a student leaves me when I am teaching one principle as demonstrated through the practice of Ikkyo, their Ikkyo will be different from someone who joins me at another time and leaves without ever seeing the Ikkyo to which the other person was accustomed. The differences between instructors in one ryu is greater than the differences between instructors from different ryus.

By the time you are Sandan, you should have started to develop your "own Aikido." By the time you are Godan, your Aikido should be unique to you. So, the students of mine who have their Sandan or Yondan now have very different Aikido from each other. That said, what I see as very different may not be seen as different by someone at the Yonkyu level. They can't see the differences that I do because they don't know the differences. It all looks the same. I look at Shodans and see great differences in the techniques they do from one person to another, even though Shodans looking at each other may not see any differences. It is like a good mechanic looking at two similar cars and telling you that one is a lemon and the other a prize. You might not recognise that one is any different from the other.

Ranks really have no meaning between different dojos. When someone comes to one of mine, I will determine what grade they should have depending on my curriculum. Someone may be upgraded and another demoted depending on how I determine where they sit within the dojo. That applies even if they are from the same ryu. I will, of course, extend some courtesy, especially if they have come to the dojo temporarily. But if your rank says you should be able to take certain ukemi within my dojos, you better be able to because the other students will take your rank as you have stated and treat you accordingly.

As for what you call "fakes," just ignore them and they will go away over the long run. A young woman with just a little Aikido training went with one of her friends to a self defense instructor. Even though the young woman was not interested in studying with that instructor, when the instructor found out that the young woman was a high school wrestler, kicked her lightly in the head, asking her what she would do if someone did that to her. Before he finished the sentence, the young woman had kicked him with a maigeri and finished with an iriminage with flipped him upside down into a wall, knocking him out. The woman grabbed her friend, turned towards the class and told them strongly: "Class dismissed." I understand that the man never taught another self-defense class in the city. Fakes and poor instructors will get their just dues sometime and somewhere.

However, if a "fake" cuts into your territory and begins to present themselves as a legitimate Aikido instructor and begins to cut you down, then I feel you have a responsibility to your instructors to go and break him/her up so they cannot instruct. Just invite the "fake" to practice in your class or teach in your dojo and treat him/her as you would any other of your students of a similar rank. Too bad if they can't take a good ukemi. There are also public expositions of martial arts in which you can participate along the "fake" and make sure that the public realises that the person is a "fake." And, at the last resort, you can always go and issue a challenge that they can't ignore, and proceed to break them up physically. That probably will never have to be done because if the person is a true "fake," someone from one of the more aggressive martial arts or even an untrained bar brawler will probably break them up physically first.

A man who claimed he had a 7th degree in a kickee-punchee style got into an argument with a neighbour over a dog pissing on someone's lawn. The kickee-punchee instructor warned the other man that he had a 7th degree black belt in his art. The other man said "See this belt buckle? I got it for winning a bar brawling contest." And proceeded to beat the crap out of the 7th degree. The 7th degree had to shut down his dojang after word got out he was put in the hospital by an untrained bar brawler. In other words, it is probably better to just ignore the "fakes" and concentrate on your own training. Someone else will take care of the fakes for you and you won't have to worry about a lawsuit.

Rock