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Old 04-19-2004, 06:31 PM   #6
Dojo: Shoshin Aikido Dojos
Location: Orlando
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 159
Re: honorary dan ranking

Anony..., oh, you know who you are...
Some of the things that beginners (anyone under sandan or 50 years old) don't understand about rank are: your life experience is considered when promotions are considered; your physical condition is considered when testing is considered; what you contribute to the dojo is considered when rank is considered; how you help the kohai is considered when rank is considered. Did you show up for the cleaning and fixing-up weekend? Did you spend sixteen hours setting up a promotion for the dojo? Are you available for white belts to talk to when they need some talking to...?
Beginners (anyone under sandan...) put so much to-do over rank. Rank is not important. Rank really does not mean anything in the long run. When people come to my dojo they rarely come because they know who I am. They come because they live within driving distance. They are shocked to find out that some people move from halfway around the world to train here as I did when I moved to Florida to train with Saotome Sensei. And when they realize that they are training in a 'real' dojo it makes them happy, but so what? Aikido is a cult of personality, like most martial arts. My students rarely know about Saotome Sensei when they start. They don't know about Osensei. They want to train in Aikido. After a time they get to feeling frisky about rank.

Listen anony... rank doesn't mean anything. I've known fifth dans who could not muster enough respect among their peers to get an invitation to a party. (and sixth dans as well) And I've know sixth dans who courted ikkyus who were connected somehow.

What matters is who YOU are. Train hard. Respect everyone regardless of rank and obey your elders. (You heard me right.) They were climbing mountains before you were born and the fact that they are still out there and training and being involved might just be beyond your comprehension right now. I've got a gentleman who just started who is 55 and a step slow, but he provides what we used to call leadership and is the most prominent person on the mat this month.

Oh, and by the way, look around at the next seminar. You just might see a group of old, fat, tired, gray-haired, balding, wrinkled, miserable, pain racked, limping, busted-up old wrecks that you usually refer to as 'shihans'. Go ask them about rank and old age.

Sometimes, sometimes we give rank because we respect the person doing aikido and what he has had to endure to get where he is. Sometimes we realize that if we had been faced with the hardship and problems we would have quit long before this person did. And sometimes, we realize that a person simply needs a promotion. They need it like we need a raise, or a yes to a marriage proposal, or to a home loan. It costs very little, and it puts the truth to the fact that aikido is about compassion, after all.

Last edited by DGLinden : 04-19-2004 at 06:43 PM.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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