View Single Post
Old 07-19-2009, 09:39 PM   #30
Dojo: Aikikai de l'Université Laval
Location: Sainte-Catherine-de-la-J.-C., Québec
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 292
Re: non-Japanese cannot become shihan anymore?

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Really, though -- it's all about the beer.

Shihan can be (loosely) translated "Acme War-master."

(Wyle E. is filling out his order as we speak... )

Which is not to detract from the legitimate accomplishments of those who have been granted the title. But it illustrates that this is analogous to a simple matter of brand management and disputes over sub-brands -- as in (what else?) -- beer. This helps take the problem out of the culturally-specific context, into a matter of common interest -- and if you aren't interested in beer, -- well, t'heckwitcha, anyway.

Hombu has a legitimate interest (and in terms of obligations, attending to honor of the inheritance) to exercise some control over the evolution of "aikido" -- as with a brand. I was in Houston this past week and happened to go to a movie, near which was a strip mall dojo with every martial art you can imagine listed on the marquee (save "ninjutsu," notably), but including "aikido". There were no indications of affiliation (and objectively, were not likely to be any), but that would have been my first question had I any inclination for training at the time.

As with beer, "brand" gives some indication that the quality of thing in the bottle comports with the labeling -- for the benefit of those with legitimate interest in it, but less objective knowledge from which to judge. It is not the only thing to be relied on for information, by any means, but in any situation where there is no concrete rule or enforceable objective standard to negate or punish bad quality, "brand" is the among the very clever indicators people have come up with to communicate some consistency of a standard quality.

"Brand" is a means to assure a certain threshold standard -- holding up the bottom end, as it were. Excellence in craft is a wholly different matter -- as the "backwater" microbrew revolution showed -- and the "standard" brands are now following in incorporating and raising the level of the standards.


Is there anything it can't teach...?
As I sit here drinking a Fin du Monde (one of the best craft beers not only of Quebec, but of the world), I hate to think that I'm caught up in the Budweiser of aikido

Jonathan Olson
  Reply With Quote