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AikiWeb System 01-26-2003 12:01 AM

AikiWeb Poll for the week of January 26, 2003:

How important are organizations in aikido?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Crucially important
  • Very important
  • Important
  • Somewhat Important
  • Not very important
  • Not at all
Here are the current results.

Choku Tsuki 01-26-2003 01:06 PM

In short: Very, and, Not At All
[There are a lot of generalities presented here; they reflect my limited personal experience and personal perspective in dealing with vertical organizations.]

"Organization" implies order. Order implies uniformity which in turn implies standards. Imposing a standard over distance and time has benefits, the most important benefit is the preservation of tradition, and this is very important.

Preservation requires conformity and conformity is reinforced through camps, seminars, testing and promotions (not necessarily achieved through testing).

Promotion rewards conformity. Promotion is status and status is power. Promotion elevates the status of everyone involved, most importantly the "promoter." The higher a student's rank the less likely they'll leave an organization. This relationship binds an organization and reinforces the status quo.

So what's the problem?

Isolationism. Fear of retribution for practicing outside an organization. Fear of speaking up against perceived wrongs. This relationship demands that organization officials be incorruptible paragons of altruism and virtue. This is too much to ask of any human being..

Happily the (un)spoken rules about training outside one's organization are melting away. As the next generation of sensei become figureheads, each will have their own connection to Hombu Dojo and hopefully the problems cited here will lessen (if there's anything to be learned, then there's hope).

So, organizations are important when they function to preserve tradition. They're not at all important otherwise.


mike lee 01-27-2003 02:28 AM

That's exactly what I would have wanted to say if my brain didn't freeze when I saw the question.

Russ Qureshi 01-27-2003 01:20 PM

Well said Chuck!

Alan Drysdale 01-27-2003 02:07 PM

I guess organizations also support the "higher" exponents of the art.


Jim Saba 08-02-2004 01:27 PM

Re: Poll: How important are organizations in aikido? (reply saba )
I understand the need for some organization. If nothing else but to be a piratical solution to day to day happenings. However , any organization is only as good as the people who control it. If the people who control it misuse it, then it really doesn't , matter about rest.

Unfortunately , it seems that any organization that gross over time becomes more and more bureaucratized, and that seems to serve the ruling elite more than the general populous. This generally leads to huge disproportionately that does not have to be legitimate to exist.

There are plenty of examples of this in human history. People seem to be very willing to give up power to others quite readily it seems.

We tend to put certain people on pedestals it seems. It's human nature.


aikidoc 08-02-2004 03:28 PM

Re: Poll: How important are organizations in aikido?
Unfortunately, Chuck there are still organizations or instructors out there that have problems with training in other organizations. One of my students moved recently. He wanted to train at two different schools with different organizations (both aikikai though). The one instructor told him he had to chose. The other was totally fine with training in two "styles" of aikikai aikido.

Over time organizations generally lose the flexibility they were initially formed to promote. As an organization gets larger, it seems they need to impose more restrictions and controls on the members. For such restrictions, the individual dojos or groups also are likely to receive less individual support. Often, this results in several breaking away to join other less restrictive groups or to form their own "organization" with looser rules.

I do see several advantages though in the areas of promotional uniformity, training opportunities and support of higher ranking instructors. By having a board address promotions of dan ranks, individual biases tend to be less (assuming of course there are no political games).

Dario Rosati 08-02-2004 04:43 PM

Re: In short: Very, and, Not At All

Chuck Kuske wrote:
So, organizations are important when they function to preserve tradition. They're not at all important otherwise.

I agree, but as a newbie, I would add a second important (and apparently opposite) point: an organization should have the courage to recognize new talents (both in practicing and in teaching) and mantain the teaching and didactical core of the organisation up-to-date.

Since MA organisations are strictly pyramidal and sometimes "genetic" in nature, It seems to me that they unfortuantely tend to stagnate or split too much, focusing too heavily on "fading away" figures or parental links and not supporting in time (or adeguately) new real talents, losing them due to frustration.... as Jim stated, too many pedestals out there.

Tradition is good, but progress and talent are good, too; only a wise mix of tradition and renewing (expecially from a didactical stand point) may keep a MA in good health, IMHO.
Traditions are the roots, but innovations and new practiotioners are the leafs: all of them may fall while roots are still living, but only a strictly cooperation between them makes the tree shine trough decades and sometimes centuries.... and the fallen leafs contribute to the roots strengthening.
No roots and the tree dies; no leafs and the roots cannot survive for a long time. Want a healthy tree? Take care of both.


Jorge Garcia 08-02-2004 06:35 PM

Re: In short: Very, and, Not At All

Dario Rosati wrote:
I agree, but as a newbie, I would add a second important (and apparently opposite) point: an organization should have the courage to recognize new talents

These organizations that have been around awhile crystallize at the hierarchical levels and sometimes, those there previously become turf oriented and resist new talent. In one of the largest groups, it has become increasingly difficult to get promotions unless you are favored or do a lot for them.

SeiserL 08-03-2004 08:23 AM

Re: Poll: How important are organizations in aikido?
IMHO, organization provides for the perpetuation of the art on a larger scale, while it does limit some indivudal expression. Too many organization add too much politics and confusion and subtracts from the art. All we need is more people thinking that they personally understand Aikido and O'Sensei vision. Or worse yet, simply follow their own ego.

Have respect and honor in lineage and organizational alliagence.

Beware McDojos and McSenseis that misrepresent their style, affiliation, and rank.

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