Re: significance to testing/belt rank?
I agree Ron. Most people also forget that obtaining rank is a process and not an end goal. Achieving it requires one to demonstrate tenacity, discipline, compliance with rules (many of which they may not agree with), and possibly training in a way that they may not agree with. However, to achieve it one must have the martial discipline to stay with something long enough to go through the process-no matter how much they disagree. It reminds me of the initial Kung Fu movie where the adolescent Kwai Chang Cain was required to perform menial tasks in various weather conditions such as sweeping to demonstrate his commitment and discipline before he was even allowed to train. Those who chose not to follow the program will never get to achieve the satisfaction of completing the process, nor will they have the opportunity to explore the possibilities afforded them to learn or be guided to a different level of understanding. They will find it difficult to see the inner workings of the art as afforded by commitment and discipline and the guidance of those who have gone before. If anything, they will miss the chance to learn to learn. If I can give credit to anything I have ever received from a martial arts instructor, I credit the gift of teaching me how to study the art. It was invaluable. It has helped me shorten my learning curve significantly. Sometimes a simple eye contact gesture from my sensei will send me in a new direction. If I had not had the benefit of learning to learn, such gestures would be meaningless. To me, this only comes through consistent, persistent and on-going training. I spent a period where I had no one providing me with teaching. With my previous gift, I was still able to progress-fortunately in the same direction as my current sensei-albeit slowly since i was working things out without the benefit of experience guiding me.
Ranking has meaning to me in the above context. It shows I have demonstrated the commitment to pursue something I find worthwhile. I have never found any organization I have belonged to try to stifle my pursuits. In fact, to the contrary. Although they do demand techniques be performed with a certain set of skills or criteria and to a certain level of quality, they have never stopped my pursuits beyond that. I do their stuff on the test and pursue my stuff in the dojo. In one organization, I moved beyond their understanding and needed to change to grow-not their fault, well not totally. There was too much inbreeding with no external pursuits which is sometimes a problem in independent organizations when then become focused on the status quo.. In the other, I was simply not learning anything new and their style of aikido did not fit the direction I was pursuing. Then I found what fit me best and am quite happy with that since I have a lot to learn. I find too that I am more comfortable in a smaller organization with a closer relationship to the shihan. I can host him and he will stay at my home with no issues. In a large group, I would be lucky to talk to him or her. But that's just my preference. Ranking to me is my process of progress and recognition that I am in fact making progress. Testing is one way of validating but not the only method.
Last edited by aikidoc : 11-20-2007 at 04:15 PM.