Re: Masters of the Universe, the Aikikai and the Shihan Certification
Thanks for the post. A few thoughts come to mind:
1. Since there is no training program or certification required for the title, it has little meaning. The only even vaguely objective criterion is being 6th dan. Because of that it seems reasonable that anybody, regardless of where they are or their nationality, who is promoted to 6th dan, should be able to use the title.
2. There are other oddities in the use of the term. For example, Chiba Sensei (Birankai) has made rather a number of his senior people (there were 10 of them the last time I saw the list) shihan. I have no idea if that was 'officially sanctioned' by Hombu Dojo and/or the IAF, but he has done it.
3. The broader issue here, that a number of other folks have commented on both on this forum and elsewhere, is the question of how relevant any of this is to most of us anyway. Back when all organizations were run by Japanese instructors sent from Hombu and we had this very clearly defined, top down structure (Hombu -> official national organization -> regional organiztion -> local dojo) is long gone. We now have highly skilled instructors with decades of experience all over the world and Hombu Dojo is no longer the epicenter of skill and experience.
4. I think the only thing really holding this system together at the moment is the general desire on the part of aikidoists to still receive officially recognized yudansha rank from Hombu Dojo. If we all ever let go of that, then it's not clear to me what we need Hombu for, other than the as the ceremonial and historical center of aikido. In my case, my teachers are Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei and Mary Heiny Sensei. Further, there are a busload of really great 6th dan instructors within a few hours drive of Pittsburgh. Sure, the current doshu is a fine aikidoka, but he is a long, long way away. If the ASU (again, in my case), started issuing its own yudansha certificates, I don't know that I would give much thought to the state of things at Hombu Dojo unless I happened to find myself in Tokyo.
Anyway, those are my ruminations this morning....