Re: Watch Out for Aikido 'Shihans'..........
Brian-does have a valid point though. You pay for something that you expect is legitimate. Then you find your rank or training is of little value outside the limited world of that dojo. THere are many arts that have gone that route-rank is meaningless except for your own school. Yes, the training is training and hopefully you did learn something of value.
A while back, there was a thread on E-budo along the same lines. A guy thought he was getting "aikikai" training and then when he went to California and tried to go into an aikikai dojo he was basically told what he learned was not aikikai level or even remotely related. Needless to say he was pissed off. One cannot really blame him as the instructor in question did claim a high rank and did put aikikai style on his website.
So along the buyer beware line of thought, here are some things I'd suggest:
1. Check out the lineage and see if it goes anywhere legitimate.
2. Check out to see if the person actually studied under the claimed lineage. There are those that go to a seminar and suddenly claim to be a student of the shihan even though the shihan has no clue they even exist.
3. When in doubt go with what you can verify. Someone claiming a non-verifiable rank, even though higher, may not be any more skilled than someone with a lower legitimate rank.
4. Beware of ranks awarded by people who are not legitimate aikidoka-sorry but sokey dokey organizations are awarding ranks even when no one has legimitate aikido credentials. One guy is even doing ranks up to nidan on video-he was doing 5th dan until I called him on it. He then backed down that level to only the nidan level-still bs in my opinion. The guy he has doing the rank training is not involved with a traditional school.
5. Some independent organizations are very good and come from legitimate lines. However, realize that your rank-especially at the dan level-is likely to not be recognized by anyone else other than the organization awarding it.
6. I would not sign any long term contracts when checking out a school.
Just some thoughts. The frauds are out there. When in doubt go with something safe. If the instructor is not willing to talk about his or her credentials or are evasive about affiliations-run.