Re: non-Japanese cannot become shihan anymore?
First of all, Kudos to all who willingly and generously contribute to the Aiki Web Forums. Your participation is invaluable and uplifting!
I unconditionally consider George Ledyard as a true Shihan. His amazing insights, his proven skills and production, and his unabashed support for both the Founder and his mentor, are guideposts for all of us to admire and to learn from.
I am privileged and honored to call him brother, friend and mentor.
He, like most of those with 6th dan or higher, may never be given the status of "Aikikai Shihan", an arbitrary decision at best by Aikikai.
Does it matter? Only if you believe that it does.
I do not. Titles or numbers do not define anyone. Only consistent behavior and faithful adherence to Aiki Principles can come close.
I too, was told by Senseis Kobayashi Yasuo, Kanai Mitsunari, Fujita Masatake, and others, that the traditional understanding was similar to what Leyard Shihan alluded to. Anyone who was in good standing with Aikikai, was actively teaching the Founder's Aikido, and was awarded 6th dan, were automatically considered "Shihan".
There were no separate certificates, no special announcements, and there was no need to maintain a formal hierachical classification that gave favored status to one individual or nationality over another.
The current position of the Aikikai's Foreign Department is what it is, and one can be bothered by it, or simply focus on the real reasons why one trains in Ueshiba Aiki to begin with. After all, we have always been free to develop our own appreciation for the Founder's gift, in our own way, with our own standards, and our own discoveries.
Just give me serious and focused students of Ueshiba Aiki to train with, and I am a happy man! Yup, I am a happy man!
Last edited by aikishihan : 01-03-2010 at 05:29 PM.