Donna Grant wrote:
In our new dojo, we finally hung our dan certificates (now that we have a place for them). One of my kyu levels came in, saw the certificates, which are from Hombu Dojo, and are hand done...and really quite beautiful. He said "wow, now I see why you pay so much for a dan test. I was thinking it was a waste, but now I see that you get something for it."
Hmmm....the money for a dan test goes to the federations that we belong to. You get a very beautiful certificate, a membership book and card...and of course the rank recorded in the archives. It is not as though you test for a dan grade every week....so who begrudges a few dollars of administration costs? You pay for marriage certificates and other events of importance, so that they are recorded and officiated....so why not dan testings. I don't consider that 'paying for the rank'.
Testing in aikido is one of the most important things (IMO) that you can do...for yourself, for your instructor, for your fellow aikidoka. For yourself because you can measure where you are, and how you perform under pressure. It gives you a goal for improvement.
For your instructor because he/she can see where you are and where you need to improve (and where they may need to improve their instruction). You are a reflection of your teacher.
For your fellow aikidoka, because every single one of them work and help you every day that you are on the mat. Those that are a lesser rank than you want to see you and see someone to aspire to...and those at a higher rank than you want to see you be successful, as they are also your instructors....
Basically I didn't want to post in this thread, because I already have made my point, and didn't want to repeat it. Different people have different opinions and views, that's the way of life.
Anyway, you answered to my post, so I will answer you. I can understand your point, and I do know, that people become impressed by certificates, I am not. Over time, I met black belts, who just weren't worth the trouble, and kyu grades that really impressed me. Off the mat, it's even been worse. I spent enough time at university and dabbling in politics, to realize that ranks and grades are only I very rough measurement of a persons competence.
As for the administration fee, yes at some point, that has to be paid for, I just prefer that to be included in the annual fee, at least I have to pay anyway. So the argument here is not about if, but when to pay, and therefore I minor detail.
And yes, testing is a way to measure ones perfomance. But as a matter of fact, I don't think my instructor probably didn't see much of my gradings anyway. Our gradings are only done on seminars, and usually he has been busy, grading other kyu grades.
I also agree, that people like to look up to the higher ranks, especially in the beginning. I would even go as far, as to say, if your actual grade is much lower than your ability, it might even intimidate the lesser ranks, and make them fear grading. But as a matter of fact, most of the time I have been practicing Aikido, I would have been hard pressed, to even find a couple of extra Euros to spent on a grading, so honestly, I would probably rather hold a 5th or 4th Kyu instead of 2nd for financial reasons only.
And finally, yes we are, at some point, a reflection of our teacher. But we would be poor students, if we were contented with that. I am different from my teacher, as I am different from anybody else. At some point my Aikido has to account for that, and reach beyond being just a reflection.
As for achieving black belt, yes it is something special, but not for what it cost you, but for what it took you in terms of hard work. Within our organisation shodan tests are only done on major seminars, and it is the recognition that stems from this, that is far more important to me, than a piece of paper.
The biggest change I have seen in the Aikido of new shodans was, that they stopped focussing on the next grading, and started to focus on the small details, that improved their Aikido. The really good ones reached that point at 1st.
But in the end, different people, different point of views. So Rockys point is perfectely ok, it is just not mine. There's enough room in this world for both ways.