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Old 09-16-2001, 08:51 PM   #23
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,080


I was rather stunned by the tone of your response to my post. This is an open forum where anyone can give an opinion, regardless of 'weight'. I am well aware of your opinions regarding the 'politics' of aikido organisations and I do not happen to share them.

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

PG. ???

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.

PG. For you the root of these problems is the system itself. For me it is how the system operates. I think the two are different.

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.

PG. As an objective indication of one's proficiency in the art, a dan and a menkyo are the same. I am aware of the relation between dan ranks and competition in judo. There is a similar relationship in sumo, where the ranking system (yokozuna, ozeki, sekiwake) exists. There are also problems with the application of this system but no one has ever questioned the need for a ranking in sumo. The point I am making is that, unlike judo, sumo is not regarded in Japan as a 'modern' sport. Thus to identify a ranking system with competition is a mistake, in my opinion. The Founder never made such an equation.

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.

PG. he problem is less with the dan system itself than with a misunderstanding of the concept of progress in aikido. As I implied, progress, if it occurs, usually occurs at several levels of proficiency: basic technical ability, what I would call 'practical prudence', and some insight into the spiritual values involved.

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.

PG. See my last comment, above.

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.

PG. You might think it is, but this is not what I am stressing at all. Neither the children nor their parents give much attention to the actual organisation as such, as opposed to the progress of their children. It is more of an interaction between the parents and their teachers. I believe you think in this way because you have already decided that organisations and dan ranking play no useful purpose.

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.

PG. I asked the last question of the forum members as a whole. Are you really answering for everybody? In my experience it is common practice if a students leaves a dojo for the sensei to send a letter of introduction to the sensei in charge of the student's next dojo. This is the practice I follow and is only marginally connected with the grade the student has. It certainly does not show at all that the rank a student has is "meaningless".

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".

PG. I myself have said this and written this, many times. He showed aikido. But his does not mean that he never concerned himself with the progress of his students, or even measuring this progress.

KAMI : Well, the featherweight gave his small punch. Now, let's run away before the heavyweight throws his counter attack!!!

PG. I think this sentiment is quite unworthy of you.

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-16-2001 at 08:57 PM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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