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Old 01-31-2005, 07:35 AM   #12
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Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,473
Re: Women and Everybody Else in Aikido

Thanks for writing the article - very interesting and very timely I think.

Granting that one actually wants to keep the dan grading system as part of their Aikido training (which I don't), and being quite accepting that discrimination against women goes much deeper than such a system, if one wants to address these abuses across the board, then isn't the flip-side of all of this NOT GRADING/PROMOTING FOLKS who can only demonstrate physical prowess in the technical application of forms under highly artificial and/or controlled environments?

Though we are an independent dojo, we make use of a grading system, however that grading system only goes up to shodan. The system is used primarily to show folks what they don't have - rather than what they do have. Personally, I can see no other reason for having it.

Someone that can only demonstrate physical prowess in the ideal phases of the art can at best maybe be only reach sankyu or nikyu. In our system, you can't even be considered for nikyu if you don't participate fully in things like zazen, prayer, etc., and fully demonstrate at least a will to developing a nurturing and caring nature to those inside and outside of the dojo.

People can do whatever kind of aikido they would like, but the institution of the dojo has its own position on what aikido is and is not and what it should and should not be. Part of that position is that technical skill in ideal phases ain't worth crap. A person can train how they want, when they want, for how long they want, and they will always be welcome, always be a part of the dojo, but the dojo will never see anyone that gets stuck in the techniques, stuck in the trivia of aikido, as moving beyond an immature practice. The same, however, goes for folks that cannot demonstrate this physical prowess. While a developing mature spirit may make them eligible for ranks like nikyu and perhaps even ikkyu, the absence of such physical proficiency would prevent the dojo from recognizing them as shodan. Underneath all of this, it goes without question that folks should all be respected and treated decently for how they are opting to relate to their own practice. It is understood that there own practice is indeed a meaningful part of their lives and of their self-identity (at whatever level that may be). So it is understood that their contribution to the dojo is alway a very real and vital one.

I've started this system, rejecting rank entirely for myself, precisely because of things that are in the subtext of your article. It is my personal position, that at some moment, when Aikido reaches a deep enough place in one's life, such institutional frameworks have to come under enough scrutiny that they may actually be rejected by the individual or at least totally revamped. In some very real ways, the institution is precisely that thing that prevents all of us from going deeper in our practice. I think that is one reason why you always see some very real protests against institutions whenever you see some very real and potent spiritual systems develop - throughout human history. It is the nature of the two beasts - they are antagonistic to each other. Whereas the valid spiritual system addresses what is most real in human beings, the institution thrives on what is the most unreal in human beings.

Last edited by senshincenter : 01-31-2005 at 07:39 AM.

David M. Valadez
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