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Old 07-22-2009, 06:35 PM   #78
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,237
Re: non-Japanese cannot become shihan anymore?

Hello Fred,

I think you are basing your comments on the situation in the USA, and so your comments also contain an implicit assumption or three that could be questioned.

Outside the USA, things are somewhat different, since national governments and olympic/sports committees take a strong interest in martial arts organizations within their national boundaries. The Aikikai is aware of this and so is happy to have the IAF as a sort of 'international democratic aikido buffer zone', dealing with such committees.

It is a curious fact that the USAF withdrew from the IAF for a while--the dudgeon level was quite high--and I am certain that the withdrawal was connected with my activities as General Secretary. However, the USAF rejoined a few years later and the present IAF General Secretary resides in Boulder, Colorado. Yamada Sensei takes his position as a member of the IAF Superior Council very seriously. Of course, now that he is 70, he wants to retire--but I keep telling him he can't--not just yet.



Fred Little wrote: View Post

I thought these were interesting questions, each of which contains an implicit assumption or three that could be questioned.

4. Is it not the case that the title of Shihan conferred on students of Chiba and Yamada is virtually meaningless outside the Birankai and the USAF? More broadly, Is it not the case that -- aside from a koryu menkyo kaiden -- virtually all Japanese martial art ranks and titles are meaningless outside the context of a continuing relationship with the instructor who awarded them?

5. Does a significant proportion of the ma student population sign up with particular martial arts instructors on the grounds of franchise brand identification? Or is it more typically location, art, quality, and affiliation -- in that order? In over twenty years, I have not had a single individual train with me because of my affiliation, though I have had a number of individuals who have trained with me (or allowed me to train with them) in spite of my affiliations. Your recent experiment in opening up your barn seems to suggest a corollary: Is it not the case that the arts have matured to the extent that more and more discerning practitioners are looking beyond the three questions of location, art, and affiliation, and will cross state,art,and organizational lines in order to find quality?

The upshot? I think Hombu and the IAF have a window of opportunity that is rapidly closing. Unless these organizations are seen as adding value -- either in terms of maintaining and improving technical standards, or in terms of prestige enhancement for those who are actually doing so -- the reasons for continued engagement with them become increasingly unclear, and the matter will play itself out as the organizations which are currently centered on individual shihan undergo the next phase of division and reproduction, a process which is already well underway in every organization in the United States.


Fred Little

P A Goldsbury
Kokusai Dojo,
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