Peter A Goldsbury
Happy New Year, or, as the Japanese say, おめでとうございます.
I think that Francis Takahashi summed up matters precisely.
Someone complained that things were complicated. Well, I can assure the poster that we did not make things complicated. The complications arose when the Aikikai had to consider the question whether and how to make foreign aikidoka who had received 6th Shihan.
I think it would have been straightforward for the Aikikai to declare that anyone, anywhere, with 6th dan and above awarded by Doshu through the Aikikai was automatically Shihan, but this is not what was decided.
What was decided was four categories of Shihan: Super-Shihan, Ordinary Shihan, Shihan who are instructors in the Hombu Dojo, and Foreign Shihan, who have to be recommended by their organizations to receive the title.
Saotome Sensei has bypassed all this and made a direct relationship with the Hombu. So the ASU is not on the list of organizations in the US that are recognized by the Aikikai (which is a condition for giving shihan ranks to 6th dan holders in these organizations). Similarly, my own dojos here are not members of the recognized organizations listed on the Aikikai's website.
Happy New Year! It has been far too long since I've been able to sit and chat with you...
I think I should simply start a new organization... let's call it the World Shihanship Council. Anyone feeling he or she has been unfairly neglected by existing organizations may, accompanied by a hefty fee, apply for a Shihan Certification. Black tie dinners will be held at various venues around the country (usually near an airport) so that the illustrious recipients can get together and assure each other of their special importance. If successful, I could probably make enough money to come visit you in Japan (at least as long as I got there before Sensei killed me).
Thanks for all your time explaining the arcana of ranks, titles, and certifications to all of us. I hope we'll cross paths again before too many years have past...