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Old 02-23-2009, 08:51 PM   #57
Dojo: Aikikai de l'Université Laval
Location: Sainte-Catherine-de-la-J.-C., Québec
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 292
Re: Underqualified Sensei

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Well, it's sort of like the economy... all sorts of stuff was possible when we were in a high growth mode. When Aikido was growing like crazy, it was possible for many dojos to exist. Seattle has around twenty dojos in the immediate metro area. Most are run by people who have trained thirty years or so but there are any number which exist only because the instructor was from some organization or other and his or her teacher told them to open an affiliated dojo rather than train in a different group.
Kind of a bleak picture (especially the bits deleted from the quote) and a little at odds with your later posts on how "different" certain approaches are. In truth, I think I agree with both ideas. Though I must admit that all the aikido instructors I have seen "felt" like aikido, and I've seen a good number of Shihan from a handful of organisations. All Aikikai though, not that that means much in terms of agreeing on approaches.

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Some of this is due to the "Japanese mystique" phenomenon. A Japanese Shihan would attract all sorts of students and might very well have an array of 5th and 6th Dans training and perhaps teaching at his dojo. But a non-Japanese teacher doesn't have that kind of clout... So no one with even mid-level rank like 4th Dan really wants to put himself under someone who he thinks is really pretty much just like himself. No one wants to concede that anyone else is better than they are. Of course everyone is pretty much polite about it all... They say "my approach is different" or our "style is different".
I know at least one western aikido instructor, my first, that manages to keep a group of 5th and 6th dans training under his direction (there are days I regret leaving my home town). But then again, considering the number of O-sensei's students that have taught seminars at his dojo, some Japanese mystique may have rubbed off.

I only wish I knew where this will leave me when my current instructor, 30 years my senior and (along with his partner) the only high ranking instructor in the area, stops teaching. The best I can hope for at the moment is that our small group of yudansha will hold and maintain connection with the great instructors in our organisation. Quitting is certainly not an option and I doubt I'd fit in with the folks at some of the other clubs around here.

Jonathan Olson
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