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Old 03-28-2013, 12:15 PM   #15
Dojo: Calgary Aikikai
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 68
Smile Re: Ranking systems in different countries

Ah, the wonderful confusing and divergent world of Aikido.

I must always remind myself that my opinions are shaped in my personal experience and that they can, and do change over time and the manner in which we chose our words, and how they are received, can differ at times from the initial intent. We each follow our unique path in life and Aikido . Given this I would like to further comment on this topic, albeit still from my personal framework.

In reference to Dan's umbrage to my flippant remark about "How long does it take to catch a fish" in discussing how long it takes to move through the ranking system. For clarification, if it is used (jokingly), it is never without and is always followed by a discussion on what Aikido is, the expectations of our dojo in technical terms, members comportment , respect, our dojo lineage and traditions , required hours for advancement and how participation in the aikido community is a key aspect that we try to cultivate.

In my circle of friends we have had many discussion about what a "Black Belt" is, should be and can be. My experience with new students is that the ones who remain on the mat and become committed practitioners are the ones who become more interested in the process than the outcome, even if they are initially attracted by the "Black Belt" Holy Grail.

What do the levels of Aikido really mean? While studying in Japan on my last visit one of my sensei, who is a Godan, said to me , "Andrew I'm a Godan now so now I am a master of basics." A Godan master of basics!

Let us not forget that even at universities, with their detailed requirements and schedules that they are in no way the same or deliver the same education. "D's" still get degrees and that a qualification/degree in any area does in no way guarantee the quality or equality of performance/knowledge. Aikido is no different from the real world.

In most cases serious university students (if my ancient memory serves me correctly and how my children are dealing with it) are more like uchi deshi than your typical aikido student who has a life outside of the dojo. Some students get their degrees within the minimum time requirements (uchi deshi) and others ( soto deshi) take a longer journey; does that make one any better than another.

If aikido were simply based on competency, then I have observed students with obvious skills, body awareness, and perhaps some martial art prior knowledge who should have moved through the ranks in "Hombu time" or faster. This would however not be the tradition of the process, community and discipline that our dojo has decided to follow, as well as what attracted me to Aikido initially.

Each school/dojo should be clear and concise in what they are offering and then allow the student to make the choice of joining or not. Choice of dojo or educational institution, or even career should be based on matching expectations and compatibility.

Andrew Barron
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