Actually, from what Peter is writing here, I don't see any recent change in policy. Though it is clear there is a lot going on behind the scenes that he is not telling us.
Here is a post from a few years back on Aikido Journal's bulletin board :
[I have recently received two email messages from Masaki Tani Sensei of the Aikikai International Department that provide a detailed explanation of Hombu Dojo's policy with respect to both Japanese and foreign shihan. I have excerpted the relevant portions of his communications. Only minor language and formatting changes have been made. We wish to thank Tani Sensei for placing his confidence in Aikido Journal to disseminate this information. -Ed.]
As I mentioned in my previous message, please feel free to use the information in my previous message about Shihan at any place and in any form but presenting my message as it is. You can state that the source of the information is Tani of the Int'l Dept. of Hombu.
Recently I read, at the Aikido Journal's site, the debate about "Shihan". Some people are misinformed while other people have correct information and understanding about the matter. Hoping it would be help for you and your fellow Aikidokas and your readers, I would offer the following information relating to this issue.
* In Japan, there are many Shihan not mentioned here, who are professional Aikido instructors holding 6th Dan up allowed to use the title of Shihan according to the traditional rules existed even before the promulgation of Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations.
There are four types of Shihan as follows.
1) Japanese Aikido instructors who reside outside Japan with a mission given by Hombu Dojo-Aikido World Headquarters to propagate Aikido at overseas. They are :
(in the U.S.A.)
Seiichi SUGANO (8th Dan)
Kazuo CHIBA (8th Dan)
Yoshimitsu YAMADA (8th Dan)
Mitsuya KANAI (8th Dan)
Nobuyoshi TAMURA (8th Dan)
Katsuaki ASAI (8th Dan)
2) Japanese Aikido instructors who left Japan and reside outside Japan by their own intention and determination to propagate Aikido at overseas. They are :
(in the U.S.A.)
Ichiro SHIBATA (7th Dan)
(in the UK)
Minoru KANETSUKA (7th Dan)
Masatomi IKEDA (7th Dan)
Yoji FUJIMOTO (7th Dan)
Hideki HOSOKAWA (7th Dan)
Yasunari KITAURA (7th Dan)
Motohiro FUKAKUSA (7th Dan)
Jun YAMADA (7th Dan)
Katsutoshi KURATA (7th Dan)
Kenzo MIYAZAWA (7th Dan)
Ichitami SHIKANAI (7th Dan)
Reishin KAWAI (8th Dan)
3) Instructors who are the members (incl. ex-members) of Hombu Dojo's Instructors Department. Hombu instructor becomes Shihan when given 6th Dan. They are :
Shigenobu OKUMURA (9th Dan)
Sadateru ARIKAWA (9th Dan)
Hiroshi TADA (9th Dan)
Masatake FUJITA (8th Dan)
Seishiro MASUDA (8th Dan)
Masando SASAKI (8th Dan)
Nobuyuki WATANABE (8th Dan)
Seishiro ENDO (8th Dan)
Masatoshi YASUNO (7th Dan)
Shoji SEKI (7th Dan)
Koichi TORIUMI (7th Dan)
Tsuruzo MIYAMOTO (7th Dan)
Yoshiaki YOKOTA (7th Dan)
Hayato OSAWA (7th Dan)
Yukimitsu KOBAYASHI (6th Dan)
Shigeru SUGAWARA (6th Dan)
Takanori KURIBAYASHI (6th Dan)
Takeshi KANAZAWA (6th Dan)
4) Shihan appointed by Hombu based on the rules set forth in the Aikido World Headquarters' International Regulations and Rules for Appointment of Shihan. They are :
Frank DORAN (7th Dan, California Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
Robert NADEAU (7th Dan, California Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
William WITT (7th Dan, Takemusu Aikido Association, U.S.A.)
Christian TISSIER (7th Dan, FFAAA, France)
Paul C. N. LEE (7th Dan, Republic of China Aikido Association)
Kenneth E. COTTIER (6th Dan, British Aikido Federation)
Jan HERMANSSON (6th Dan, Swedish Budo Federation - Aikido Section)
M. Tani International Department Hombu Dojo
- For 1) and 2) above, a Certificate signed by Doshu has been given to each Shihan. However, no written rules exist for appointment of these Shihan. The arrangement reflects the historical and traditional facts.
- As for 3) above, Hombu Dojo's internal rules are applied.
- For 4) above, a Certificate signed by Doshu has been given to each Shihan.
I would like to add some more remarks about Shihan issue.
- Shihan in Japan : In Japan, before the International Regulations were promulgated about 20 years ago, there already existed many Aikido Dojo. I have heard then Hombu placed a verbal explanation that a professional Aikido instructor who was teaching Aikido in his own Dojo or other place could use the title of Shihan when awarded 6th Dan. Thus, in Japan there are many Shihan. Steven Seagal was one of them when he was running his own Dojo in Osaka. But for these Shihan in Japan, no certificate of Shihan is issued by Hombu.
- Shihan in accordance with the International Regulations and Rules for Appointment of Shihan
- It is prescribed that the Committee for Appointment of Shihan shall be held once in December every year, and the result shall be announced in January of the following year. In December of the last year, the 1st Committee was held and seven persons were appointed as Shihan out of nine candidates. This was announced in January this year, but it does not have anything to do with Kagami Biraki. The timing of the anouncement depended simply on my personal workload.
- Papers/certificates signed by the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu : As per the strong and persistent requests of individuals returning to his/her country completing the practice for several years at Hombu Dojo, the Founder and Kisshomaru Doshu signed in the documents in which it was stated that the holder of said document was a Shihan or allowed to propagate Aikido in his/her country. It was mostly before the International Regulations were promulgated in 1980. When someone mentions such a document, I say "Please keep it as an invaluable souvenir from the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu." The paper is not compatible with the rules of the International Regulations, but we cannot deny the authority of the Founder or Kisshomaru Doshu.
- New Doshu's policy : Some people seem to believe that after Moriteru Doshu took his office as new Doshu, the new Doshu's (or Hombu's) policy was changed. But this is not true. For example, the modification to the International Regulations to admit more than one Recognized Organization in one country was already discussed and prepared a couple of years prior to the decease of Kisshomaru Doshu. The International Regulations were established more than 20 years ago as I mentioned above. Since then no policy change was made. The fact is that no effort was made to make the rules of the Regulations well understood by the public (Aikido world) and many of the rules were not applied or implemented.
[ November 13, 2002: Message edited by: Editor ]
[ April 18, 2003: Message edited by: Editor ]
Nothing from Peter's posts really makes me feel that this situation has changed in any way that will affect me or my instructors.
BTW I doubt "most" aikikai groups give out their own dan certificates. My organisation, the USAF, certainly doesn't. It only awards Aikikai dans. I mentioned the dan ranks along with the shihan certificates, because these are the two certificates which, according to the Aikikai regulations, must be obtained from the Headquarters. The power to give kyu ranks and fukushidoin and shidoin certificates belongs to the various recognised organisations. I think everybody interested in this little bit of politics should ay least read the Aikikai's international regulations :
I have viewed all this as the Aikikai trying to move towards dealing with organisations rather than individuals. In certain countries, there isn't much choice as the governements seem to feel the need to get involved and it becomes hard to have more than one recognised organisation. Here in Noerth America, the governments stay out of it and we are left to come up with our own rules to run the organisations.
Personnally I think the idea of organisations with committees is a good one. In the USAF, we won't have Yamada running the show forever. The technical committee has made it possible to have the next generation to get involved without singleing out one individual. I hope this will make it possible for people like Claude Berthiame, Harvey Konigsberg, Donovan Waite, Peter Bernath, etc., and their students, to be able to work together far into future rather than have each Shihan go and start an independent group.
As far as the new shihan titles being organisation specific, I suppose this might be an issue if a shihan left his organisation to start a new one, but without any official powers associated with any of the teaching certificates, I don't see that it would matter much. For the groups that are recognised, the system should allow fairly smooth transmission as the generation of super-shihan slowly passes. I might be more worried if I was in a non recognised group that gets its rank through a super-shihan as you could be left hanging if that super-shihan dies.
Personally, I would be very interested in hearing the arguments in the debate Peter is caught in the middle of, but that haven't been aired publicly. After all, politics is a great and vicious spectator sport.