4. Do you think their teachers lets say Saotome should just promote them to Shihan anyway even though it will be virtually meaningless outside of the ASU?
5. If the Aikikai removes its support from various Japanese Shihan abroad, thus limit their teaching creds, then isn't the aikikai inviting students to leave those teachers and re-align with aikikai approved super teachers.
I thought these were interesting questions, each of which contains an implicit assumption or three that could be questioned.
4. Is it not the case that the title of Shihan conferred on students of Chiba and Yamada is virtually meaningless outside the Birankai and the USAF? More broadly, Is it not the case that -- aside from a koryu menkyo kaiden -- virtually all Japanese martial art ranks and titles are meaningless outside the context of a continuing relationship with the instructor who awarded them?
5. Does a significant proportion of the ma student population sign up with particular martial arts instructors on the grounds of franchise brand identification? Or is it more typically location, art, quality, and affiliation -- in that order? In over twenty years, I have not had a single individual train with me because of my affiliation, though I have had a number of individuals who have trained with me (or allowed me to train with them) in spite of my affiliations. Your recent experiment in opening up your barn seems to suggest a corollary: Is it not the case that the arts have matured to the extent that more and more discerning practitioners are looking beyond the three questions of location, art, and affiliation, and will cross state,art,and organizational lines in order to find quality?
The upshot? I think Hombu and the IAF have a window of opportunity that is rapidly closing. Unless these organizations are seen as adding value -- either in terms of maintaining and improving technical standards, or in terms of prestige enhancement for those who are actually doing so -- the reasons for continued engagement with them become increasingly unclear, and the matter will play itself out as the organizations which are currently centered on individual shihan undergo the next phase of division and reproduction, a process which is already well underway in every organization in the United States.