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Old 11-23-2007, 11:25 PM   #95
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,652
Re: significance to testing/belt rank?

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Have you had any experience with arts with no ranking system? Starting closest to home, koryu did not rank people the way modern arts do. Although they had technical and teaching licenses, there was not necessarily any specific technical testing required. After you learned the techniques to the teacher's satisfaction, he gave you the scroll. To the extent that there were tests to be passed I think they were very different in nature from modern aikido tests: they would probably be something more like going out and challenging someone from a rival school with more experience and defeating him.
I see that as a form of testing. Whether you do it formally or whether you learn the technique to a teacher's satisfaction I don't see the difference-a test in another format just not as formalized.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Moving a bit farther away, Chinese arts, as far as I know, did not traditionally use any kind of ranking or licensing system at all (I'm not including mass-market kung-fu that has copied the modern Japanese system and replaced belts with "sashes"). Yet they are still around and are very distinguishable from each other. Moving further again, over to India, we have yoga, which also has no ranking system. Now you could say yoga has become a bit chaotic with many people creating their own systems -- some good, some not-so-good -- but the fundamental poses and principles are more similar than different between systems. If you see people doing yoga it's easy to recognize what it is, and if you have enough experience it's also not that hard to tell what styles and teachers they have been influenced by..
Really-they why do they use such titles as sifu indicating a rank? Yoga? It's not a martial art so I don't get that comment. It's a stretching system.

Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
The reason these things do not descend into chaos despite not having formal tests is that good knowledge is good knowledge, and if you are a good teacher passing on valuable information then people will preserve and continue to pass that on simply because it is good. I would say that it is better for an art to progress this way than by artificially supporting certain kinds of knowledge over others via forcing people to learn and memorize something for a test. When people are able to try ideas out and compare them with competing ideas, choosing and passing on the ones that work best, an art continues to improve and advance. When people are required by an organization to learn and pass on only those ideas that are officially approved, an art decays and becomes stagnant, as I believe aikido has already begun doing. .
You seem to pose more rigidity on a system than I see present. Koryu's have a set of techniques you must learn. Aikido has a set of techniques divided over ranks. You could make the argument that koryus are rigid as well. I see nothing in the present system that stops exploration as long as you meet certain criteria to advance within the system and demonstrate the tenacity and commitment to do so.

I'm not trying to convince you one way or the other by the way. People's brains are organized differently and react to things differently. Some migrate toward structure, others abhor it. It is obvious you are uncomfortable in a structured system as you find it limits you. Personally, I don't find them stifling since I do what I need to for conformity while not conforming and pursuing aspects that interest me. Although your critcisms may have some validity, it is unfair to assume that everyone would feel comfortable in a system you feel suits you. It is also unfair to assume that the issues you bring up are not being addressed. I know of others who are addressing such issues as well at several levels. Your tendency however is to lump us all into the same pot.