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Old 09-16-2001, 03:44 AM   #20
Kami
Dojo: ShinToKai DoJo of AiKiDo
Location: Brazil
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 355
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Unhappy HEAVY WEIGHT x FEATHERWEIGHT!?!?

Ah, Goldsbury Sama! A Heavyweight against a Featherweight...Definitely unjust!

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
have been following this thread with great interest, since the kyu/dan system can be seen as the focus of many issues concerning martial arts and our perception of training.
KAMI : For me, also, they are a source of endless problems and abrasion in the MA, most of all in function of the great confusion between technical ability and teaching (overall) ability.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
In fact I have an article half finished for the AJ web site (to follow the Touching the Absolute series, Ubaldo).
KAMI : As always, I'll be waiting anxiously for your articles.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
1. The dan rank can be seen as one among many possible 'objective correlatives' (T S Eliot's phrase).In this it is no different from the Menkyo-kaiden. Thus, in parallel with the 'story' of O Sensei's general disaffection with the Butokukai, there is another 'story' which suggests that he was strongly influenced by Jigoro Kano and wanted to differentiate aikido, as a 'new' budo, from Daito-ryu. So I do not really think that O Sensei actually preferred the Menkyo-kaiden over the dan system. I do not think he cared either way.
KAMI : The dan rank, sometimes, seem to be the worst "objective correlative". It's quite different from the Menkyo Kaiden and Jigoro Kano was one of the main responsibles for its introduction in the Butokukai. Its development was concerned with two points :
a) the transformation of martial arts into sports; and
b) the introduction of competition as a means of testing.
For competition, dan ranks were a very important means to divide competitors and award the winners (in Judo, you progressed according to your victories in competition)and were also important for teaching large groups, when the teacher no longer was able to differentiate correctly among the many students.
I don't think the problem was that Kaiso "wanted to differentiate aikido and was strongly influenced by Jigoro Kano". Kano was a very powerful leader in his time and everybody looked at what he was doing. But he was also hated by many people because of his untraditional attitude in the martial arts. In this case, I find it important that Kano sent students to Ueshiba, but Kaiso never went to the Kodokan and never sent any of his students to Kano.
Also, Okina was absolutely consistent in the giving of his densho (to his more advanced students) but not on dan ranking. We must not forget that it was only with the Aikikai, under Kisshomaru Doshu, that this system flourished. For Kaiso it was always kind of a joke and he gave them without any real concern or understanding.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
2. When I say that the dan system is one of many possible 'objective correlatives' in relation to the art, what I am emphasising is that aikido is at base a skill...you sign up and start as a raw beginner and gradually you develop proficiency in many different aspects. Of course, proficiency in the different aspects does not occur at the same rate, but, as you train and LOOK AT YOUR TEACHERS, you see wonderful possibilities. If you train really hard, you might approach their level. So you train hard.
KAMI : And so, in this way, dan ranks are, in my opinion, of very little importance.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
The problem is that the linear aspects sometimes become too prominent and obtaining the dan becomes the goal, rather than the level which the dan is supposed to indicate. I have seen this many times and in most cases the teacher was at fault. In my opinion a teacher should be able to monitor a student's progress on several levels; certainly not just the level of actual technique.
KAMI : Again, we face the same problem. If you "saw many times" dan ranking (SUPPOSED to indicate ranking)being distorted and becoming the goal, not the means, it's perhaps indicative that it is not just "a teacher's fault". It might mean something about the system itself. And for a teacher to monitor a student on several levels, including the "spiritual", dan ranks are valueless.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
3. What is the point of 'objectively' measuring this proficency (and O Sensei actually did do this)?
KAMI : Proficiency in what? O-Sensei awarded with densho many levels of a student. And I don't think, as I've said, that he did do that with the dan system.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
Well, given that aikido training is a social activity, I can think of various benefits in terms of motivation, as other members have stated.Going up through the cloured belt system is regarded as an essential part of their general maturing process. In other words, the children's kyu system matches their devekopment at school.
KAMI : Again, I think that what you are stressing is the importance of coloured belts and rankings FOR THE ORGANIZATION (Aikikai or others) and not exactly the importance for the children. There are many ways, as you yourself has stressed, for children to play and be happy in Aikido, with no need for coloured belts and the like.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
4. Another reason is that right from the very beginning aikido developed in relation to other established martial arts. O Sensei studied Daito-ryu and initially used the Daito-ryu system in the Kobukan. When he changed to the dan system, he gave all his senior deshi 8th dan. Why? Because this was regarded by Kano Jigoro as the equivalent of the Menkyu-kaiden and thus O Sensei's deshi were given an accepted status in relation to other martial arts.
KAMI : Aikido DIDN'T develop "in relation to other established MA". Aikido (or Aikibudo) developed isolated. Only with Aikido joining the Butokukai (and being forced to adopt the dan system, later reinforced by the Aikikai), it began to heavily imitate other Gendai Budo(remember that Takeda Dai Sensei pretended Daito Ryu to be a very old Koryu and not a Gendai). So, Kaiso was forced, he didn't changed WILLFULLY to the dan system. When he sent Minoru Hirai to the Butokukai, he gave him a high dan ranking in order for him to be on an equal foot with the other representatives, not because he understand dan or because that was his evaluation of Hirai Sensei. but because he thought THAT WOULD BE RIGHT!

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
5. Now, whether students want to enter the 'dan' system or not is their decision, but they cannot usually make this decision at the beginning of their aikido careers.
I would not wish to force this view on the students who train with me before they have the experience to judge for themselves.
KAMI : No problem at all. Our students know that we do not give ranks and anyway you don't specifically study aikido to teach. Anyway, if later, with greater proficiency, you want to teach, you may get an University degree in physical education and teach legally in our Country.
The important thing, we feel, is to study and practice Aikido, everywhere, with everyone able to teach.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
I do not expect thet the students I teach will remain with me...So, usually I give grades to students... so that when they move on,they have a...record of progress achieved, but I usually send a letter to the next sensei, indicating major strengths and weakneses. I wonder if this is common practice.
KAMI : No, it isn't and it just shows again that dan rankings are meaningless, since you feel the need to send an "objective letter" to state your dan ranked student's "major strengths and weaknesses" to another teacher.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
I think a system of objective measurement has a place in MA training and the dan system is what we have...
KAMI : It is not enough. Perhaps the best measurement is the evidence of training.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
When people say that O Sensei did not care about dan grades, there is a tendency to interpret this as indicating a general disregard for ANY objective measurement..., but I am not sure that this is right. He followed the general practice.
KAMI : Someone has said before that O-Sensei really didn't like to teach. He just loved TO DO AIKIDO. I do believe he really didn't ever care about any "measurement".

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
And to cite the absence in O Sensei's written statements of any mention of dan ranks as an indication that he did not care about these is not correct.
KAMI : In that we do agree.

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
I would be glad to hear from other members of this forum.
KAMI : Well, the featherweight gave his small punch. Now, let's run away before the heavyweight throws his counter attack!!!

Quote:
Originally posted by Peter Goldsbury
Best regards to all,
Peter Goldsbury
PS. I do not think there is a major difference between ranks from around 8th dan upwards (actually, I thought before choosing this figure). In fact, my own rank is 6th dan, but my present teacher is only one rank higher. I train with teachers like Tada Sensei and Arikawa Sensei, who are 9th dan, but I still see a wide gulf between them and myself, and even my own teacher.
KAMI : regards for you too, Goldsbury Sama!
Forgive my impertinence

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
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