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Old 11-20-2007, 09:54 AM   #61
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 643
Re: significance to testing/belt rank?

I think Rank is exactly as important as you (the one who hears about it) make of it. The only thing rank is really important for, is within the organization which recognizes it, such as in seminars of that organizations, or "advanced classes" in a group (and even then, there are exceptions).

Some people, hearing someone has a B.B. will immediately consider him an awesome fighter. Others will wait to hear more details: how long did he practice, where. Some may be more impressed of ones ability to dedicate himself for over a decade then by the belt color or rank.

In fact, each group has its own ranking and testing approach:
With some, testing and ranking is a must, with others, an option.
For some, the tests stop at some particular level, for others, the tests continue further and others yet, do not test at all, or they are being tested and evaluated constantly by their teacher.
Some people can decide if and when they wish to test, others are told by their teachers, and others still are tested unknowingly (this was done to me once, and I passed).
Some places practice all round the clock to prepare for the next test, in other groups, only the testee prepare, and in others, if you wish to prepare you should do it outside of the usual class.
For some, the test has a fixed form, with fixed techniques at prescribed situations; others may change the techniques and\or situations from some larger least. Some tests may include some forms of free-play and or Randori, others do not.
The pass criteria also vary, some testers would place more importance on performance, and other testers may put more on the effort for getting there. Some would care about your age, physical state etc. others would not.

There is nothing uniform about tests and ranks
Thus, I do not get the point of putting so much importance into the testing and ranking procedure of others, unless you wish to plan your own.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Rather than requiring some objective level of skill, aikido tests are usually look more for how well someone conforms to the particular style of their organization.
How can you measure skill in an objective level?
I am not even sure this is the right thing. I think ones efforts in obtaining his skill should also be recognized.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
The other formal criterion is practice days, which usually have to be within a dojo in the organization you are testing in. This is more a measure of loyalty than anything else.
Rank is inside an organization. Your loyalty and effort inside the organization are therefore of importance.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
And of course, given the subjective nature of performing techniques with a fully-compliant partner, often for one judge who will ultimately make an entirely subjective decision on his own, politics factor heavily in all aikido promotions.
Guess what, many tests are done in very similar fashion, including driver licensing in most countries I have heard of (only a single tester with you in the car).
Having had the honor of sitting with my teacher while he decides on awarding junior ranks after several tests, I can state he does have his own criteria, and he knows exactly what is he willing to give up, and to whom (a fully abled 20 yrs old would get less lenient treatment compared to some 50 yrs old who works hard for every move). You may call this politics, I will disagree and consider elements beyond the mere technical performance to be of significant value.
It is true, one can twist anything as he wishes, including test results, or ones impressions of some organization.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
In fact, above 3- or 4-dan even the pretense of testing is done away with in most aikido groups and all aikido promotions become political.
While my Nidan test was performed without informing me at all, letting me know about it only afterwards while telling me I passed. I never had a Sandan test, yet, after some point in time, my sensei reached the conclusion I have reached the relevant level and neither of us found the right time for a test.
Politics was not involved in it. Since my teacher knew I had no interest in higher ranks (I more then implied I am not worthy of any and suggested very high criteria I am not likely to ever pass). Thus, no one had any interest in this topic, except for my teacher feelings of obligation.
I should mention my teacher is authorized (in Korindo Aikido) to test up to Sandan or Yondan, and recommend his students for higher ranks. And that most of the system dojos are small enough to make the teachers decision, the most important factor. I would also have to admit I am not the only one who was tested without asking him.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
So rank "is what it is," but what it is in aikido is not what people think it is. It is by no means an objective measure or guarantee of skill, even within one group, and certainly not within the general martial arts community. Nor is it a necessary or even sufficient requirement to teach anyone anything. It is nothing more than a measure of one's political position within one particular organization.
Is this a way of consoling people who were not awarded ranks?
While most people simply pass the tests and are promoted (as I wrote, even against their wishes).

Politics and inter-personal relations do play a role, but mostly at very high ranking levels (may be anywhere between 6th to 9th dan, depending on organization). At those levels, rank is mostly a matter of organizational position (and recognized as such), this is also the reason commitment to the organization also plays a role.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
If people understood that and did not try to make rank into something it is not then I suspect there would not be so many problems. However, I think the organizations actively encourage a misunderstanding of what rank is because it increases their power over their members when people consider political status (ie, rank) within an organization to be more important than actual skill, as many, if not most, people in aikido do.
Skill is not the be all!

I give much more credit to someone who works very hard and only has average technique compared to his friend who succeeded in doing the same thing at the first lesson.