Linda Morimoto wrote:
This may get me flamed but I am curious, I know very little about customary rank promotional norms in Japan. Is it considered to be an unexceptional practice to assume a higher rank in terms of how they do things over there (and for the reasons you enumerate)? If so, wouldn't it seem that there is precedent for others who wish to make use of self-awarded rank? Excuse me, not meaning to offend anyone, I am not at all knowlegeable about these matters.
Nariyama Shihan is part of a system with clear precedents in terms of skill and the number of years of training. Where you have a system with numbered dan ranks, you have the problem of deciding the equivalence in terms of skill and the number of years put in. It is fairly well recognized in Japan that 8th dan is equivalent to menkyo-kaiden and, to keep within Shodokan, when Morihei Ueshiba switched to dan ranks, Kenji Tomiki received 8th dan.
However, Morihei Ueshiba never had a rank and neither did/do his successors. If you are Doshu, you are head of the system, period. Having a rank as well is pointless. However you need a 'do' to be the 'shu' of and similarly with a 'soke'. A soke needs a 'ke': it is not merely a title.
Another word for 'ke' is 'ie' and the 'iemoto' system became common in Japanese traditional arts during the Genroku Era (in the Togugawa period), when these arts became more popular. Previously, the 'do' model of individual teacher and student, both progressing along the Way and reaching successive levels of awareness (both physical and spiritual), was a sufficient conceptual basis for the art, but the iemoto model adds a much sharper sense of regulation within a system.