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Old 05-07-2012, 09:22 AM   #3
Chris Li
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Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,219
Re: Masters of the Universe, the Aikikai and the Shihan Certification

Garth Jones wrote: View Post
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....

  1. Should be - that's the way that it was run in Japan for years, and still is. For some reason that changed for non-Japanese...
  2. As I understand it, Chiba didn't like that Hombu was stalling on the Shihan certifications (initially they were quite slow to come out) and went ahead and issued a bunch on his own. Many (all?) of those folks later got Hombu certification.
  3. Most people still send quite a bit of cash back to Japan - any organization that asks for that kind of support has a responsibility, if you ask me, to treat you fairly or lose that support.
  4. People need to realize that Hombu really provides nothing in the way of support or services for its members. Hombu needs to realize that, to exist as a modern international organization, it must provide a structure that provides something in the way of real benefits for its members. Just like any other professional organization or association.



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