Karl Geis Sensei asked me to post this e-mail about his position on Fugakukai and his grading rank.
Geis Sensei also asked me to say that, unfortunately, he has no time to acompany this forum's debates. So, if anyone, wants further answers from him, they're welcome to send his questions to his new e-mail :
"Dear Mr Alcantara
I will try to answer your questions, to the best of my knowledge.
Each rank that I have received was somebody else's idea and not mine. Frankly, I feel that once anyone reaches the rank of 6th dan, their knowledge and opinions about technical ideas is as good as anyone else. All rank above that is in recognition of other things.
People get their shorts all twisted up about rank when the problem is simple. If any organization wants to remain viable and keep backbiting and politics to a minimum, people who provide leadership and invest teaching time need to be kept ahead of the student body, in order to keep the organizational structure
pyramidal. Jigoro Kano was promoted to 12th dan so that others could be promoted to 10th, 9th etc.
and as he postulated the top rank will rise as the pyramid gets taller etc. Otherwise, the following happens :
the mature organization begins to look like a mushroom supported on a thin stem set in a large base.
If the rank structure is stopped at 7th dan, then people who have been around a long time and have achieved the rank of 6th dan are stuck. The Godans don't do much better because once a cap is put on rank and the rank becomes a high one, 3rd dans can't be promoted to 4th dan until there is room, so the time in grade for a sandan becomes the time in grad for yondan . The same applies to the yondan trying to make godan so now the yondan's time in grade for promotion is really the time in grade of the godan waiting for rokudan. etc. The real injustice, however, is to the Sandan who often finds that in reality his time in grade is that of a godan etc. We have all seen organizations where the time in grade and the requirements for Shodan becomes longer and more technical requirements are added etc.
Suddenly, you have a large cadre of shodans and nidans; a very thin column of sandan; and a very large mushroom of waiting polititians.
Although I never asked or expected a promotion, I was probably promoted by my organization because
I tried my best to see that people got what they deserved and that the pyramid structure was kept stable.
Rank has never been an important issue with me. I have found that there are many people who like to dress the part and talk the part of the hanshi. There are many who are concert teachers (people who teach by showing how good they are, under carefully scripted conditions).
There are many who find some imagined power in criticizing and condemning others. There are very few who can really impart wisdom along with technical expertise.The only goal that I have in Aikido is to become more capable every day in the art of imparting true self confidence into my aikido family. By the way in my organization and in my own school, I am known as Karl, not sensei or shihan or hanshi. People stay in our organization because treatment is fair and they were promoted to the rank they deserved and the pyramid of knowledge grew to a solid monolith of self confidence, knowledge and power. In my opinion it is the only fair and equitable way to truly develop a really powerful body of knowledge that reaches critical mass and, as an idea, cannot be destroyed because it is self sustaining. How are we going to tell someone who can prove he is a sixth dan that he is a sixth dan ? That is silly!
I tell my students that it takes 10 yrs to make sixth dan but it takes 20 more to become a really confident and competent teacher and giver of self confidence.
My people stay in the system for years; my people learn; and my people are confident and capable when doing real aikido, rising and being derived from the inner spirit. We have proven our system works.
When my students began to achieve ranks very close to mine they became uncomfortable and elevated me.
By the way, in our organization, the President (myself) cannot sit on a promotion board nor can he grant any rank. Whatsoever, a common club instructor has more promotion power than I have. A yondan can promote to shodan without review. I cannot. In my own dojo, my leaders must recommend students for promotion, form a board and make the promotion. I am then advised that a board has been held and the results of that board. I then issue a diploma. If you come to one of my seminars you will find that on the fourth day at two oclock in the afternoon, when the promotion board holds rank promotion demonstrations, I am nowhere to be found. I am not allowed to be in the room during demonstrations or deliberations.
Therfore I go to the movies.
Do I think my promotion was correct ? In the best interest of our organizational structure , yes.
The only ranks that have ever been important to me are my yondan in Judo, achieved in the kodokan, which gave me teaching rank in japan and my 6th dan from Tomiki Sensei at Waseda university. I think you will agree that this is a fairly rare combination. That is something people should be jealous of.
The JAA system is lopsided because most of the practitioners are of college age and they stop practicing after college and there are really a very few old boys who continue to practice and achieve higher grade than sandan.
Mr. tomiki's 8th dan was very sufficient to provide room for the pyramidal structure to grow uninhibited. You will probably find fewer than a 100 high rank players still in action in the JAA, the college coaches etc.
We, on the other hand, keep more than a thousand active members with about 500 active black belts trying to make a viable teaching pyramid out of that. Our people are usually over the age of 30 and
our average number of years in active Aikido will as a guess be about 6 or seven years with all of the low ranks. Our people are established and aikido is not a college thing but a way of life and a permanent part of their life.
I can understand why our promotion board chose to elevate my rank. It was done to keep harmony.
Mr. Alcantara, we will be happy to pay your air fare (economy and reasonable) to our seminar
and put you up and feed you for 6 days, if you will come to our summer seminar june 18-22, here at my dojo in Houston. That way you can see for yourself.
We do not make this offer to many people because they come with impure motives and hidden agenda. You however appear to be a fairminded and honest man so, come and experience our way of Aikido.
Perhaps then you can reach a comfortable place from which to answer these questions for yourself without my words.
I must stop as I have to rise at 5oclock tomorrow to travel to Oklahoma for a seminar. Thank you for your interest. Any questions that you feel are not answered please repeat them so i don't have so many to think about.
karl e. geis
P.S. Mr. Alcantara,
I failed to make it clear that in the case of my promotion, my
signature does not appear on the paper.
The testamentary to 10th dan was signed by 20 +- of the attending
members of the board of directors and the promotion board of the
I would also like to add that none of the people who are making a big
thing about my rank are in our organization nor have they spent 30 yrs building a system and organization, as I have, consistent with the environment they are living
in. Further none of these so called experts have ever investigated us
or what we do. Why? I'll tell you : because our reputation has been
kept above reproach by our membership.
Further, since the Majority of our high ranks and old timers are and
were high ranked judoka to begin with, the so called experts couldn't
muscle us and that reputation kept them away and allowed us to develop
a truly soft and dynamic self confidence giving art that we are proud
of. The method we use is called The Kihara method and is unique to
Aikido and the martial arts and takes Aikido to another level.
Come see what we do
Karl E. Geis