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Old 01-20-2012, 03:07 PM   #6
Chris Li
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Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,221
Re: The "Death" of the Traditional Organization

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post

While a connection back to Japan and the Ueshiba family is nice... it also should be a two way street. While the folks at Aikikai headquarters pay lip service to the fact that there are very senior non-Japanese teachers overseas, in reality they still believe that Aikido flows outwards from Japan. Their Shihan are the "real" Shihan. While this is not true of some other Aikido organizations, for instance the Yoshinkan organization, to my knowledge the Aikikai headquarters has never had any of it foreign Shihan teach back in Japan. There is little or no acknowledgement that some of these teachers are the eauls or even superior to many of the hombu instructors now on the teaching roster.

In former times this was natural. The uchi deshi at hombu were very senior and offered superior technique and experience. But now, the foreign Shihan are often either peers or senior to the instructors at headquarters. The headquarters teachers have nothing on the foreign Shihan in terms of ability or experience. Yet there is almost no recognition of this. So, one is forced to ask, what do we need headquarters for? If all this money flows to Japan but the only thing you get from it is some paperwork with ranks and titles which the Japanese themselves don't take seriously, then do we really need that connection? If it's only a one way and there doesn't seem to be any real concern for a true two way relationship, then why not dispense with it and invest that money in our own Aikido community? Does my rank really mean any more simply because it has the signature of someone in Japan who has never met me, has never seen my Aikido, and could care less? I don't think so.

Rank means something when it comes from a teacher that has respect. That's what grants the rank legitimacy, not because it comes from an organization. Mary Heiny Sensei grants her own ranks. Does anyone question her right to do so? She is the senior woman in American Aikido... few would say that a certificate from Japan would make her ranks more legitimate than her own signature. If Heiny Sensei's ranks show a concern for quality, then they will be seen as legitimate. If she compromises on quality, her ranks won't mean much. She has a personal stake in maintaining her credibility and authority. Does a huge organization do this better than an individual teacher? To my mind no, so there better be other benefits to membership.
Too much good stuff to respond to all of it - but here's what's going to be the crux of what holds most people. The only real hold that hombu has on anyone anymore is through rank and the mystical (and imaginary) Japan connection. Unfortunately, most people have bought into the myth of their importance. Cut that cord and most of the obstacles disappear.



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