Thread: Masters
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Old 08-05-2002, 04:37 PM   #18
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
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Skill verses humility

Since the introduction of the word 'Shihan' into the western martial arts vocabulary, it has been a race to rise in the dan ranks to become the vaunted 'teacher of teachers' or 'master teacher'.

People have mistaken the respect of the old wise teachers who have spent their life to teach and practice their martial art, for the symbolism of being called 'president', 'general', or 'admiral'.

I could be mistaken, but I had thought that it was a term reserved for our elder teachers who had by the years of practice and teaching earned the title of Shihan by virtue of being a teacher of teachers who has earned the last three dan levels of particular martial art. This title is endowed to these teachers in their final years of retirement during the late years of their fiftys to early sixtys.

However, with ego's running amuck and the race to be recognized as masters of particular arts, the term has been bandied about as an equalization of teachers to show they are the peers of other teachers who are called 'shihan' by their students.

Most REAL shihans are very adverse to strut and preen in the peacock manner, in fact they show great humility as their former students who become teachers are a testiment to their true martial spirit.

Most real shihans have forty or more years into a practice.

If you return to 'Master', well ... That is usually a term used for naming a practictioner who has great skill between the ranks of 3rd dan and 7th dan.

I think a lot of people are considered shihan at 7th dan in Aikido, but there are very few who insist they be call by anything but their first name when not in the dojo.

Most prefer 'Sensei'.

As far as running away ...

Your skills will help you to be aware of when a situation is easily overcome, verses being suckered into an ambush.

If you are looking for a fight, then Aikido is the wrong art for you.

After reading the latest articles in Aikido Online, I think your understanding of what Aikido leans towards would be more readily understood by reading July's online issue.

Basically, there is a duality of preaching love for your religion, while there is an exception for love of humanity. Hence the opening to defend yourself, creating a zone of safety that is martial arts priority to maintain your life.

Or ... in finding the conncection to our religion, that love of life will carry us to understand the need to use and have martial arts as our defensive/offensive art.
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