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Old 07-19-2009, 01:27 PM   #24
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: non-Japanese cannot become shihan anymore?

Jonathan Olson wrote: View Post
As far as the new shihan titles being organisation specific, I suppose this might be an issue if a shihan left his organisation to start a new one, but without any official powers associated with any of the teaching certificates, I don't see that it would matter much. For the groups that are recognised, the system should allow fairly smooth transmission as the generation of super-shihan slowly passes. I might be more worried if I was in a non recognised group that gets its rank through a super-shihan as you could be left hanging if that super-shihan dies.

Personally, I would be very interested in hearing the arguments in the debate Peter is caught in the middle of, but that haven't been aired publicly. After all, politics is a great and vicious spectator sport.
Really, though -- it's all about the beer.

Shihan can be (loosely) translated "Acme War-master."

(Wyle E. is filling out his order as we speak... )

Which is not to detract from the legitimate accomplishments of those who have been granted the title. But it illustrates that this is analogous to a simple matter of brand management and disputes over sub-brands -- as in (what else?) -- beer. This helps take the problem out of the culturally-specific context, into a matter of common interest -- and if you aren't interested in beer, -- well, t'heckwitcha, anyway.

Hombu has a legitimate interest (and in terms of obligations, attending to honor of the inheritance) to exercise some control over the evolution of "aikido" -- as with a brand. I was in Houston this past week and happened to go to a movie, near which was a strip mall dojo with every martial art you can imagine listed on the marquee (save "ninjutsu," notably), but including "aikido". There were no indications of affiliation (and objectively, were not likely to be any), but that would have been my first question had I any inclination for training at the time.

As with beer, "brand" gives some indication that the quality of thing in the bottle comports with the labeling -- for the benefit of those with legitimate interest in it, but less objective knowledge from which to judge. It is not the only thing to be relied on for information, by any means, but in any situation where there is no concrete rule or enforceable objective standard to negate or punish bad quality, "brand" is the among the very clever indicators people have come up with to communicate some consistency of a standard quality.

"Brand" is a means to assure a certain threshold standard -- holding up the bottom end, as it were. Excellence in craft is a wholly different matter -- as the "backwater" microbrew revolution showed -- and the "standard" brands are now following in incorporating and raising the level of the standards.


Is there anything it can't teach...?


Erick Mead
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