Re: Aikido Frauds
Dan: your points are well taken. I could have been a lot more positive in the wording. Here's a different shot at it. See if this is more palatable.
How to Choose an Aikido School/Instructor
Choosing an aikido school can be a very important decision. It is necessary to find a good match between what you are looking for in martial arts training and the ability of the school to provide it. Aikido is unique in the martial arts. It provides a strong philosophical point of view as well as a martial art heritage. The founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba intended for it to be a martial art but wanted to raise it to a new level of understanding. Different schools and styles of Aikido are prevalent. Some schools and organizations ascribe to the goals and rules of the founding organization which is often referred to as World Headquarters Aikikai-Hombu dojo. This organization has organizations which report to them directly through various master instructors and others that are affiliated through the International Aikido Federation (IAF). There are other organizations that have over the years separated from the founding family and have legitimate Aikido heritage and lineage. There are also independent organizations that have separated as well and have a lineage to one of the major organizations. These different organizations may vary by their philosophy orientation, weapons training, and whether they are more "hard" or "soft" styles. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU CHOOSE.
CREDIBLE SCHOOLS WILL GENERALLY HAVE THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERISTICS:
1. RANKS/TITLES. Ranks: Generally, Aikido instructor ranks can range from 1st degree black belt (shodan) in smaller schools up to 6th, 7th or 8th degree black belts in larger schools or as heads of organizations. Most 6th, 7th and 8th degree black belts are Japanse master instructors and head up large organizations. Titles: Master instructors are generally referred to as shihan and are normally 6th, 7th or 8th degree black belts. Intermediate level instructors generally range from 4 to 6th degree black belt and are normally ranked as instructors as shidoin or sensei. Lower dan rank instructors are normally 1st to 3rd degree black belts and may be identified as fuku-shidoin. Such titles as grandmaster, soke, professor, or doctor are not traditionally used in legitimate aikido organizations. Very high ranks like 9th and 10th dan are very rare in legitimate aikido organizations. They are also not awarded high ranks at young ages (30s-40s).
2. LINEAGE/RANK SOURCES: Legitimate aikido schools will be able to trace their lineage generally back to the founding organization. There are many different splinter groups but all have one common source: O'Sensei (Morihei Ueshiba). The most common organization groups are: aikikai, Ki Society, Tomiki, and Yoshinkan, to name a few. There more groups and sometimes sub groups and splinter groups from the above. There are also independent organizations that have separated from the various major groups. All these groups generally have a past connection with a major or splinter group and have attained high rank within that group before separating. Legitimate aikido ranks are not awarded from soke councils or karate groups run by non Aikido masters.
3. BACKGROUND: Legitimate aikido schools will generally be able to identify their martial arts background and provide information on previous training. The sources should be verifiable through major organizations.
4. WEBSITES/CLAIMS: Responsible Aikido schools provide factual and verifiable information about their history, lineage and ranks. Outlandish claims about secret military backgrounds and arts handed down from family to family are generally not part of the Aikido mindset. Aikido styles are no ryu arts (family or clan arts) handed down from secretive societies or instructors. Aikido is practiced world wide.
5. SPECIAL POWERS. Aikido as an art places special emphasis on harmony with energy or Ki. This is a foreign concept for non-oriental students and may seem somewhat esoteric. However, responsible instructors do not make claims about impossible powers that cannot be verified-such as cutting pain with Ki or moving people without touching them by using Ki.