Re: Standards of testing???
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.