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Old 06-22-2007, 08:58 PM   #43
G DiPierro
Location: Ohio
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 365
Re: How long to shodan?

Anne Marie Giri wrote: View Post
It's simple, because as I said before the standards set by the Aikikai Hombu dojo are the minimum standards and not the required standards. Don't just point fingers here at the USAF, there are many organizations here affiliated with the Aikikai, ASU, included, that have set forth their own testing requirements outside and beyond the Aikikai Hombu dojo. I never took it as an affront to the Doshu that other organizations use different standards - standards based upon their definition of what shodan is.
The aikikai bylaws state that, outside of Japan, national organizations like the USAF may set their own guidelines for rank. I find this a rather curious rule given that the whole point of aikikai affiliation is to receive yudansha certificates from the doshu. It stands to reason that one of criteria for issuing such certificates would be adhering to the rank requirements that the aikikai has established. Although the USAF requirements technically do "meet" those requirements, they also exceed them by quite a bit. So again I'm not really sure what the point of aikikai affiliation is for them. Why would you want a certificate from the doshu when your own shihan have standards that greatly exceed his?

I also like and appreciate the fact that the testing techniques are not directly dictated by the Aikikai Hombu dojo standards. I find wisdom in their approach in allowing organizations FREEDOM to decide how to test and rank their students. It's unity through diversity, not unity through everyone being exactly the same. Even within the USAF you will find great variation in technique and instruction methods. I obviously do not see this a threat to the well being of the USAF or the Aikikai. Instead, it is a sign of health.
The whole point of rank is to rank people, which is why it's called rank. If you don't have a standardized means of doing this across an organization in which rank is issued, then it's not a very useful ranking system. What's the point of having it then? It has become just a political and marketing tool to keep loyal customers coming back to your organization: an incentive program for repeat buyers. I wouldn't have a problem with that if people were honest that this is what most "rank" in aikido actually is, nor would I have much of a problem with an organization-wide ranking system that actually measured something useful and then ranked people according to their achievement on a reasonably objective basis. But I find that most people in aikido believe that rank does measure something consistent, objective, and useful about one's development as a martial artist. Are they wrong to expect this, or are the organizations wrong not to give it to them?
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