Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Kami Hall of Fame presents...
The Non-Japanese High-Ranking List of Living Yudansha!
Corrections, additions, etc...are welcome!
Karl Geis - Fugakukai, Texas (USA), 10th Dan
Thamby Rajah - Shudokan, Malaysia, 9th Dan
Shinichi Suzuki -- Ki-Aikido, Hawaii(USA), 8th Dan
Takashi Nonaka -- Ki-Aikido, Hawaii(USA), 8th Dan
Harry Eto - Ki-Aikido, Hawaii (USA), 8th Dan
Alain Floquet -- Yoseikan, France, 8th Dan
Patrick Auge - Yoseikan, California(USA), 8th Dan
Henry Copeland - Fugakukai, Alabama(USA), 8th Dan
W.W. "Mac" McNease - Fugakukai, Texas(USA), 8th Dan
Georges Stobbaerts -- Butokukai, Portugal, 8th Dan
Amos Parker -- Yoshinkai, USA, 8th Dan
Michel Soulenq - Aikikai, France, 7th Dan
Christian Tissier -- Aikikai, France, 7th Dan
Gerard Blaize -- Aikikai, France, 7th Dan
Robert Kubo -- Aikikai, Hawaii(USA), 7th Dan
Donald Moriyama - Ki-Aikido, Hawaii(USA), 7th Dan
Christopher Curtis -- Ki-Aikido, Hawaii(USA), 7th Dan
Lee Ah Loi - Tomiki, England, 7th Dan (JAA)
John Waite -- Tomiki/England, 7th JAA/BAA, 5th BJA
Brian Eustace -- Tomiki/England, 7th Dan BAA (He no longer participates in that organization) (*)
Robert Forrest-West -- Tomiki/England, 7th Dan BAA
William Lawrence -- Tomiki/England, 7th Dan BAA
Erhard Altenbrandt, DAB, Germany, 7th Dan
Rolf Brand, DAB, Germany, 7th Dan
Gerhardt Walter, Aikikai, Germany, 7th Dan
Kevin Blok, World Kobudo Federation(Aikido Section), 7th Dan
Giampietro Savegnago, Aikikai(?), Italy, 7th Dan
John Allen - Fugakukai, W. Virginia(USA), 7th Dan
Robert Aoyagi - Aikikai, Hawaii(USA), 7th Dan
Charles Caldwell - Fugakukai, Colorado(USA), 7th Dan
Stewart Chan - Seidokan, California(USA), 7th Dan
Chuck Clark - Jiyushinkai, Arizona(USA), 7th Dan
Frank Doran - Aikikai, California(USA), 7th Dan
Richard Hirao - Aikikai, Hawaii(USA), 7th Dan
Rianard Jackson - Fugakukai, Texas(USA), 7th Dan
Tim Joe - Fugakukai, Texas(USA), 7th Dan
Harvey Konigsberg -- Aikikai, (USA), 7th Dan
Robert Nadeau - Aikikai, California(USA), 7th Dan
Clif Norgaard - Fugakukai, Arkansas(USA), 7th Dan
Steven Seagal - Aikikai, California(USA), 7th Dan
William Witt - Aikikai, California(USA), 7th dan
Harry Wright - Fugakukai, Alabama(USA), 7th Dan
(*) The BAA informed that Mr. Brian Eustace is involved with another art -- Taiho Jutsu - and is no longer a participant in Tomiki Aikido activities. We have included him, however, since his name and ranking were recognized by that organization.
P.S. It should be noted that :
a) this list is not intended to signify that ranks are all important;
b) it makes no comparisons between ranks in different organizations. The Fugakukai has the same number of ranks as in Judo (10); Tomiki Style goes only until 8th Dan; and so on;
c) According to my personal tastes there are some 8th Dan that I may consider equivalent of another 4th or 5th Dan and there is at least one 3rd Dan which I consider very much worthy of a 6th Dan. Well, so's life...
Good morning to all
Kami your Yamantaka....my god.
As I said its a grand list.
By the way, I heard you are going to Malaysia, to train with the second name in the list. When you get back, be sure you tell us about your adventures!
Your God :p
I find it interesting, from what I could tell, that these are all men. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Just out of curiosity, who are our highest-ranking non-japanese women? From looking at the list, I take it they will be 6th dan and below.
Anne Marie, are you one of the high ranking women Aikido Instructors that was not included in the "list"?
What about Sensei Mary Heiney (sp)? I thought Sensei Heiney was ranked 5th or 6th Dan. Of course, I could be way off on this. Have a good day!
Lee Ah Loi sensei who is mentioned on Ubaldo's list is 7th dan and is a woman.
Other high ranking female aikido people who come readily to mind include Lorraine DiAnne sensei (6th dan, Westside Aikido), Pat Hendricks sensei (6th dan, Aikido of San Leandro), Bernice Tom sensei (6th dan, Sunset Cliffs Aikido), Patty Saotome sensei (6th dan, ASU), Wendy Whited sensei (6th dan, Inaka Dojo), Linday Holiday sensei (5th dan, North Bay Aikido), Yoko Okamoto (5th dan, Portland Aikikai), Wendy Palmer sensei (5th dan, Aikido of Tamalpais), Danielle Evans sensei (5th dan, Aikido of Monterey), and Kayla Feder sensei (5th dan, Aikido of Berkeley).
There are plenty of other 5th dan and higher female aikido folks around, of course. The above were the names of people who came readily into my mind...
HIGH-RANKING WOMEN YUDANSHA
[quote]Originally posted by akiy
Lee Ah Loi sensei who is mentioned on Ubaldo's list is 7th dan and is a woman.
KAMI : Hello, Jun! You've almost give us a complete list of high-ranking women in Aikido.
There's a reason only Lee Ah Loi is present : my list begins with 7th Dan and for a good reason : I wouldn't really dare to tackle a list beginning, say, at 5th Dan. The number would be enormous. Note that Jun mentioned just american ladies. while my list included all other countries... But it should be mentioned that, in her organization (Tomiki Aikido), the highest grade is 8th Dan and so Lee Sensei would be almost a 9th Dan in another organization that ranked until 10th Dan.
From my knowledge, there is no other woman ranked 7th Dan.
Hi. This is my first post on AikiWeb.
I live in Italy.
Savegnago does not belong to Aikikai Italia.
He seem to be 7th dan. Anyway someone some time ago told on the usenet that he is 8th.
The question is... who promoted him 8th (or 7th...?)?
As you live in Italy, could you give me some URL with information about him? Per favore?
Re: SAVENAGO SENSEI???
Their rankings are not recognized by Aikikai I guess.:D
I guess they got them only after Sensei's death.
By the way:
www.aikikai.it ---> Italian Aikikai
www.aikido.it ---> provides some info on Savegnago.
But, I train with a 5th dan, Penny Bernath, Aikikai. I was just curious to see who the "high-ranking" women were. As a women, it is nice to have high ranking role models to look up to.
From my understanding is that at each rank down the numbers grow exponentially. So we have one 7th dan and a few 6th dan females, but others have indicated that the numbers get much larger at 5th dan. But among the men the numbers get much larger at 6th dan.
I could identify most of the names on the list except Lee Ah Loi. Thanks for the clarification.
High-ranking women in Aikido
But we should remember that the number of male aikidoka far exceeds that of women aikidoka. That might be one of the reasons.
Best regards and good keiko
Re: High-ranking women in Aikido
I'm looking for inspiration.
For example, when I was about 9 years old I started TKD but I didn't join until I saw a female black belt. I saw that women could do martial arts. Even at my 31 years of age, I still look up to women who have made a name for themselves in a male-dominated world -- aikido or otherwise.
Anne Marie - No, you don't need to be a high ranking woman Aikido Instructor to inquire about the "list". I apologize if I implied anything of the sort in my post :rolleyes:
Personally, I'm suprised that there are not more high ranking women in Aikido. The whole nature of Aikido (use less of your own energy, keep weight underside, etc.) seems geared more toward women (just like Wing Chun Kung Fu). Now, don't get all defensive here. I'm not saying that women are somehow less physically capable than men or more passive or anything of the sort. What I am saying is that women have a natural ability to maintain there balance better and keep their weight underside due to their anatomy. If you take a woman and a man of equal height and build, the woman will have a lower center of gravity due to her anatomy. Because of this simple fact, women are able to keep their weight underside much easier than men. This can easily be seen by a simple demonstration (I'll spare everyone the description of the demonstration, so just trust me).
I've had the opportunity to train with many different women Aikido Instructors and students and can honestly say that the women are generally able to perform the techniques more fluidly than the men. My wife for example has an incredibly fluid Shihonage (she doesn't know this, but I wish mine was as graceful as hers).
Of course, all this could be coming from the fact that I just had my Wisdom Teeth removed and the drugs have not worn off yet - hey, where's my Jello?
Have a good day!
I took a look at the home page of Karl Geis and happened to find the Fugakukai testing requirements. Mighty fast ride up that particular promotional ladder.
Erik - I noticed the same thing when I visited the Fugukukai web page. I guess if you develop your own style of Aikido and then get promoted to 10th Dan by other members of the same organization, then you can develop your own testing criteria and the time it takes to achieve certain ranks.
Now, the above statement was in no way meant to be disrespectful to Sensei Geis or any dojo that are affiliated with the Fugukukai organization. Throughout the history of Aikido, very similar things have happened (such as with Koichi Tohei and Ki Society, or Kenji Tomiki and the founding of Tomiki Aikido). It is my understanding that Sensei Geis is a very accomplished martial artist and instructor.
What was meant by the statement is that I think one year is a pretty short time to earn Shodan (not that what I think of another organization's policies means anything at all). Of course I've read this is common in many dojo, so who am I to judge? Have a good Day!
Let me second what was just said by Louis before I get myself in more trouble than I usually do.
Anyways, if I remember correctly, in the book Angry White Pajamas a couple of Twigger's friends got their shodan in under 2 years and they didn't even have to go through the hard core stuff. A friend of mine got his shodan in kyudo (who knew they had rank) in a year while he was in Japan.
Maybe the Fugakukai have it right and we've got it backwards.
FUGAKUKAI'S RANKING CRITERIA
I have contacted Karl Geis Sensei and asked him to comment about your doubts. As soon as I get his answer, I'll inform the Forum.
By the way, Geis was 6th Dan(bestowed on him by Tomiki Sensei himself) when he left the Tomiki Aikido Organization. It took him 20 years in his own organization (a reasonable time) to be promoted to 10th Dan. The same thing happened, more or less, to Jigoro Kano of Judo fame...
And yes, criteria are different in different organizations and I do not belong to Geis Sensei's Fugakukai...
Time for shodan ?
I guess we're back to the old 'how long to become shodan' discussion here. After what I have heard it is a general trend that westeners think somewhat more of Shodan than what is usual in Japan. Keeping in mind that Shodan is 'first step' it is just an indication that the student has proven an interest and can be accepted as a serious student of the art. In the west on the other hand, Shodan is often associate with some sort of 'masterlevel'. Therefore in Japan it is not uncommon to reach shodan in a couple of years. In Europe as much as seven years can be a common timeframe. Perhaps we should lower the demands for a shodan a bit - however it is better to be a good mudansha than a bad yudansha.
BTW: Erik! it's hard to compare such an art as kyudo or iaido with Aikido or Karate. I can not explain in detail what the difference is but i believe they have a more introvert nature and a different focus which again implies a difference in the qualities upon which gradings are based. One more thing: It might be, that kyudo gradings can be 'speeded up' a bit for westernes practicing for a while in Japan in order to inspire the students to continue practicing when they come home, and to give them a sign of 'quality' making it easier for them to start teaching in theire home country.
Sorry about the length of this post. Hope somebody finds it interesting :).
In Japan there are ofter parallel promotional systems.
In the Japan Aikido Association University students that have trained from the beginning of their studies promote to Shodan at the end of their second year so they have the BB in their last. A few get promoted to Nidan at the end of their third. In some Universities training is required every day. At Honbu on the other hand Shodan usually takes twice as long and even longer if your attendence is only once or twice a week. It took me three years at Honbu even though I already had one year in the University clubs.
I did mention it in on another forum but will do so again. Kenji Tomiki did form his own organization and establish his grading criteria but he never took rank beyond what his teacher Ueshiba gave him. Kano never took rank but once he died he was awarded 12 Dan as sort of an upper limit.
I agree that the rank of Shodan is often earned earlier in Japanese Dojo than in dojo located in the United States or Europe. I also agree that in the United States and Europe, the rank of Shodan is often looked upon as rank that denotes expertise or "mastery" in an art. All one must do to understand this is to strike up a conversation with someone (outside the realm of martial arts) and talk about your art and tell them that you are a black belt. I'll bet that the person with whom you are conversing will assume that you are some great martial arts master because you are a black belt. I believe a lot of this thinking has to do with the media / movie interpretations of martial arts and those who study them.
It has been said by someone on this forum before that if you compare a newly ranked Shodan from Japan (an individual who has earned their Shodan in say, about a year) with someone from the United States or Europe (an individual who has earned their Shodan in say, about 5 years); the newly ranked Shodan from the United States or Europe will most likely have better form and function of technique. I have no doubt to this having some validity. I've had the opportunity to train with both types of individuals and my claim (and the same claim by others) has held true.
At the same time though, it has been said that at the higher Dan levels, the Japanese students seem to have better form and function of technique than those students in the United States and Europe. The reason for this is probably a stronger dedication to the art by the Japanese students. It seems that since many people in the United States and Europe equate a Shodan or first degree black belt with expertise or mastery, they feel as though there is not as much to learn after that rank is achieved and hence, do not continue on the path to greater technique and wisdom.
Of course, this is all my own opinion and the forum readers must take it for what it's worth. Let me know what you think about what I've written. Have a good Day!
I'm not quite sure if Kano Sensei NEVER took rank in his life (I think I read somewhere that he did and also established that if any of his students did reach his grade, he should be promoted to a further grade. Well, my memory isn't what it was earlier...)
Again, people's attitudes are their own and do not establish criteria, save if you agree with them.
Tomiki decided not to be graded above his given dan but Mochizuki Minoru and Shioda Gozo had no such qualms (both were graded 10th Dan by the Nihon Kokusai Budoin/IMAF).
To each his own. Who am I to judge them on this point?
Best regards and good keiko
AN OPEN LETTER FROM KARL GEIS
Karl Geis Sensei asked me to post this e-mail about his position on Fugakukai and his grading rank.
Geis Sensei also asked me to say that, unfortunately, he has no time to acompany this forum's debates. So, if anyone, wants further answers from him, they're welcome to send his questions to his new e-mail :
"Dear Mr Alcantara
I will try to answer your questions, to the best of my knowledge.
Each rank that I have received was somebody else's idea and not mine. Frankly, I feel that once anyone reaches the rank of 6th dan, their knowledge and opinions about technical ideas is as good as anyone else. All rank above that is in recognition of other things.
People get their shorts all twisted up about rank when the problem is simple. If any organization wants to remain viable and keep backbiting and politics to a minimum, people who provide leadership and invest teaching time need to be kept ahead of the student body, in order to keep the organizational structure
pyramidal. Jigoro Kano was promoted to 12th dan so that others could be promoted to 10th, 9th etc.
and as he postulated the top rank will rise as the pyramid gets taller etc. Otherwise, the following happens :
the mature organization begins to look like a mushroom supported on a thin stem set in a large base.
If the rank structure is stopped at 7th dan, then people who have been around a long time and have achieved the rank of 6th dan are stuck. The Godans don't do much better because once a cap is put on rank and the rank becomes a high one, 3rd dans can't be promoted to 4th dan until there is room, so the time in grade for a sandan becomes the time in grad for yondan . The same applies to the yondan trying to make godan so now the yondan's time in grade for promotion is really the time in grade of the godan waiting for rokudan. etc. The real injustice, however, is to the Sandan who often finds that in reality his time in grade is that of a godan etc. We have all seen organizations where the time in grade and the requirements for Shodan becomes longer and more technical requirements are added etc.
Suddenly, you have a large cadre of shodans and nidans; a very thin column of sandan; and a very large mushroom of waiting polititians.
Although I never asked or expected a promotion, I was probably promoted by my organization because
I tried my best to see that people got what they deserved and that the pyramid structure was kept stable.
Rank has never been an important issue with me. I have found that there are many people who like to dress the part and talk the part of the hanshi. There are many who are concert teachers (people who teach by showing how good they are, under carefully scripted conditions).
There are many who find some imagined power in criticizing and condemning others. There are very few who can really impart wisdom along with technical expertise.The only goal that I have in Aikido is to become more capable every day in the art of imparting true self confidence into my aikido family. By the way in my organization and in my own school, I am known as Karl, not sensei or shihan or hanshi. People stay in our organization because treatment is fair and they were promoted to the rank they deserved and the pyramid of knowledge grew to a solid monolith of self confidence, knowledge and power. In my opinion it is the only fair and equitable way to truly develop a really powerful body of knowledge that reaches critical mass and, as an idea, cannot be destroyed because it is self sustaining. How are we going to tell someone who can prove he is a sixth dan that he is a sixth dan ? That is silly!
I tell my students that it takes 10 yrs to make sixth dan but it takes 20 more to become a really confident and competent teacher and giver of self confidence.
My people stay in the system for years; my people learn; and my people are confident and capable when doing real aikido, rising and being derived from the inner spirit. We have proven our system works.
When my students began to achieve ranks very close to mine they became uncomfortable and elevated me.
By the way, in our organization, the President (myself) cannot sit on a promotion board nor can he grant any rank. Whatsoever, a common club instructor has more promotion power than I have. A yondan can promote to shodan without review. I cannot. In my own dojo, my leaders must recommend students for promotion, form a board and make the promotion. I am then advised that a board has been held and the results of that board. I then issue a diploma. If you come to one of my seminars you will find that on the fourth day at two oclock in the afternoon, when the promotion board holds rank promotion demonstrations, I am nowhere to be found. I am not allowed to be in the room during demonstrations or deliberations.
Therfore I go to the movies.
Do I think my promotion was correct ? In the best interest of our organizational structure , yes.
The only ranks that have ever been important to me are my yondan in Judo, achieved in the kodokan, which gave me teaching rank in japan and my 6th dan from Tomiki Sensei at Waseda university. I think you will agree that this is a fairly rare combination. That is something people should be jealous of.
The JAA system is lopsided because most of the practitioners are of college age and they stop practicing after college and there are really a very few old boys who continue to practice and achieve higher grade than sandan.
Mr. tomiki's 8th dan was very sufficient to provide room for the pyramidal structure to grow uninhibited. You will probably find fewer than a 100 high rank players still in action in the JAA, the college coaches etc.
We, on the other hand, keep more than a thousand active members with about 500 active black belts trying to make a viable teaching pyramid out of that. Our people are usually over the age of 30 and
our average number of years in active Aikido will as a guess be about 6 or seven years with all of the low ranks. Our people are established and aikido is not a college thing but a way of life and a permanent part of their life.
I can understand why our promotion board chose to elevate my rank. It was done to keep harmony.
Mr. Alcantara, we will be happy to pay your air fare (economy and reasonable) to our seminar
and put you up and feed you for 6 days, if you will come to our summer seminar june 18-22, here at my dojo in Houston. That way you can see for yourself.
We do not make this offer to many people because they come with impure motives and hidden agenda. You however appear to be a fairminded and honest man so, come and experience our way of Aikido.
Perhaps then you can reach a comfortable place from which to answer these questions for yourself without my words.
I must stop as I have to rise at 5oclock tomorrow to travel to Oklahoma for a seminar. Thank you for your interest. Any questions that you feel are not answered please repeat them so i don't have so many to think about.
karl e. geis
P.S. Mr. Alcantara,
I failed to make it clear that in the case of my promotion, my
signature does not appear on the paper.
The testamentary to 10th dan was signed by 20 +- of the attending
members of the board of directors and the promotion board of the
I would also like to add that none of the people who are making a big
thing about my rank are in our organization nor have they spent 30 yrs building a system and organization, as I have, consistent with the environment they are living
in. Further none of these so called experts have ever investigated us
or what we do. Why? I'll tell you : because our reputation has been
kept above reproach by our membership.
Further, since the Majority of our high ranks and old timers are and
were high ranked judoka to begin with, the so called experts couldn't
muscle us and that reputation kept them away and allowed us to develop
a truly soft and dynamic self confidence giving art that we are proud
of. The method we use is called The Kihara method and is unique to
Aikido and the martial arts and takes Aikido to another level.
Come see what we do
Karl E. Geis
Hmmm, well what Sensei Geis writes makes some sense in an organizational point of view. My question though is as follows. Should people be promoted to a higher rank only because they have spent a specified number of hours or months training, or should they be promoted to a higher rank because they have successfully demonstrated knowledge of the art and its techniques? Personally, I think being able to successfully demonstrate a knowledge of the art and its techniques comes with dedicated training and that being promoted based only on "time in grade" so to speak can lead to the promotion of students who are not able to successfully demonstrate a knowledge of the art or its techniques. This will inevitably lead to poor instructors.
Well as I said, Sensei Geis is an accomplished martial artist and instructor and I've got no qualms about his rank or how he choses to run his organization. Sensei Geis has been very successful and I wish him continued success.
Ubaldo - Sounds like a pretty good offer, I'd go for it.
Have a good Day!
Although it shouldn't happen, it will happen anyway. Just go to most of the bigger dojos -- that's why they have so many students. The dollar takes supremacy over technique.
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