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Old 06-07-2005, 01:06 PM   #26
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Last time I saw Saotome Sensei he still smoked. (he may have quit, it's been a few years). I certainly have great respect for his aikido and his dojo. Personally I don't really know much about his personal life or his values, but I assume they are emulated in the dojo and on the mat.

My point is, not everyone is perfect, and we don't have to emulate all that we see in a person to learn from them. It does become tough to choose where to draw the line sometimes I suspose. It is something that I think we must think about all the time.

It can be hard to find your value base in a melting pot of emotions, priorities, politics, and opinions!
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Old 06-16-2005, 06:10 AM   #27
Nick Simpson
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Re: rank does not = human developement

You dont really paint your organisation in a positive light, do you Alex?

What about Mr Smith? I really hope he's not included in your list of 'creeps and non-people'?

More for your sake

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 06-16-2005, 08:04 AM   #28
Kyudos
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Re: rank does not = human developement

I agree with the original post - from what I've read, lots of high ranking aikidoka seem to be quite flawed personalities (smokers, serial womanisers, alcoholics etc.). Of course what you consider flawed is entirely your own opinion.

But then the meritocracy idea also applies. You don't have to be a good person, or a nice person, or any other kind of person off the mat...if your aikido is good on the mat, you can at least be respected for that (and rightly so).

I think the line to walk is to try to emulate your sensei's aikido, not his/her personal life.
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Old 06-17-2005, 05:51 AM   #29
Ketsan
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Quote:
Nick Simpson wrote:
You dont really paint your organisation in a positive light, do you Alex?

What about Mr Smith? I really hope he's not included in your list of 'creeps and non-people'?

More for your sake
The ones that give me the creeps aren't from my organisation. I tend to move around the country a lot for gigs and stuff and if there's a dojo there I drop in.
I like Mr Smith up to a point. That point being just outside the reach of his right hand.
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Old 06-17-2005, 06:04 AM   #30
Nick Simpson
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Re: rank does not = human developement

"I like Mr Smith up to a point."

Dude, I was a bit shocked when I read that until I saw the next sentance! I know what you mean, I had the honour of being punched with his right hand last september. Didnt wash that cheek for months...

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 06-29-2005, 03:53 AM   #31
Bradence
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Just thought I'd drop my unqualified 2 cents here. I just got back from the summer camp in Victoria, B.C. and I was very impressed with the people that I worked with there. I would say that there were two or three people that I had a mildly unpleasant experience with, but for the most part the rest of the people there were excellent. On the way to and from the dojo there was always a pleasant conversation. I can easily say that I was one of the worst aikidoists at the camp and I found a wealth of patience and help from the others at the camp, particularly some of the senior dan ranks.

Obviously this kind of exposure doesn't let me judge anyone's personal life, but I'm not qualified to do that anyway. I CAN say that aside from a small minority of people I met on the mat who were curt with me or irritated at having to work with me (many of whom were white belts), everyone else had a smile and a hand up when I needed it.

The two experiences that were most poignant for me involved two high ranking black belts. One involved a few conversations between myself (a lowly aikido slug) and the black belt who was taking ukemi from Kawahara Sensei. No ego at all, just an extremely pleasant person who wanted to offer some words of encouragement and make sure everything was going well for me.

The other involved a conversation I heard between a black belt (not sure the dan rank, but he had his own dojo so he had some experience under his belt) and a brand new white belt who's first few classes were at the Summer Camp. She was worried that her inexperience might bother everyone else and the black belt took her aside and told her that she was an excellent partner for an experienced aikidoist because her reactions were natural and that she should try to grab as many black belts as partners that she could.

I can honestly say that my experiences at the Summer Camp (particularly with the more experienced black belts) have made me proud to be in the company of these people.

I agree that having a particular rank will never mean that a person is a great human being, but it seemed to me that it was the black belts that impressed me more often than the white belts. A black belt with no ego is much more impressive to me than a white belt with no ego. After working towards something like a dan rank and finally achieving it, managing to avoid the ego trip shows strength of character. Black belts have more demands on their characters, the higher the rank the higher the demand it would seem to me. In a very general way, I see more development in the higher ranks. I'm speaking outside of someone's personal life here; I'm talking about attitude and demeanor in and around the dojo. I apologize if that's not speaking enough to the OP.

There is learning and experience in every situation if you choose to accept it.
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Old 06-29-2005, 06:03 AM   #32
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
I've wondered also if somehow their Aikido training stunted their personal growth/developement. Especially these higher ranking people who seem to have gotten so far in Aikido because they centered their life on it. They, now in their 30s and 40s, seem the most stunted to me in regards their overall level of maturity/human conduct.

Any other thoughts on this? Perhaps that would have been their natures anyway, or perhaps without the Aikido focus things would have been worse. And I am aware that I'm measuring all of this on my personal scale.

Regards!
Hello Paula,

Were these high ranking people Japanese men? To see what the average Japanese male is up against in becoming a mature human being, I suggest you read a book by Ian Buruma. The US title is, Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters and Other Jaspanese Cultural Heroes.

In Japan aikido does not have a mission to make its practitioners better people, understood in terms of personal growth as individuals. It might have this mission in the US and actually this was my experience when I trained in the States during the early 1970s. In this respect my experience in the US was quite different from that in the UK and Japan.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-29-2005, 10:26 PM   #33
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Do you think all doctors live healthily?
Do yo uthink all lawyers are honest?
Do you think accountants never fiddle the numbers?

We all expect them to be perfect, but something tells me reality is a little different.

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Old 06-30-2005, 07:17 PM   #34
Arianah
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Question: Should rank reflect personal development? Not necessarily "is the person a nice person?" but Aikido-related personal development. Should people that toss beginners as though they were blackbelts (turning away who knows how many) get promoted? At a certain point, should some more personal attributes like taking care of your partners, fulfilling responsibilities around the dojo, being respectful be as or more important in rank evaluation?

For myself, I took ukemi on a test the other day from an overzealous guy I avoid like the plague during practice. He jacked a nikyo on my *taped* wrists and tore a couple of muscles . A contortionist couldn't have taken that lock without being damaged. Now, obviously, the decision isn't up to me, but I'm kinda of the mindset of "you crash the car during the test, you're not getting your license." Now, he did the technique right, so obviously his technical ability is fine. But should his lack of control be taken into consideration?

I often wonder at some of the yudansha I've seen at seminars (few thankfully) that toss the brand-new whitebelts that have just barely learned to roll like ragdolls. To me, it seems like such selfish behavior, since they are putting their own practice before the safety of their kohai. It seems that at some point an instructor should have said, "I'm not going to promote you any farther until you get your act together. You can stay at sixth kyu forever if you want."

*Shrug* What do you teachers think? Do you look at these things when you promote?

Sarah

Last edited by Arianah : 06-30-2005 at 07:21 PM.

Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
-Albert Einstein
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Old 06-30-2005, 08:23 PM   #35
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: rank does not = human development

Our senior ranking Aikido practitioners are all human beings, nothing more and nothing less. Our disappointments in their behavior stems more from our preconceived notions about what they ought to be rather than what they are. If you open your eyes, you will see that applies to all walks of life. Let go of you "yodaesque" ideals. Realize that even the Buddha and Jesus were both human....
In my personal experience, I've met many high ranking Aikido instructors both inside the US and out (mostly out, in Japan, Korea, Thailand). The majority of them are very ordinary people and are very approachable and likable. Sure, they have flaws, as we all do, but on the whole, I'd rank them as fairly developed human beings.
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Old 07-01-2005, 04:43 AM   #36
Nick Simpson
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Im sorry that you got hurt Sarah, I dont condone injuring anyone on the mat. Most techniques involve pain, but it should be transient and not result in lasting injury. Perhaps the tori should have been penalised for his lack of control, i cant say as i was not there. To be honest, I have been in that toris shoes, pre test i was asked to do a mock grading. My uke was a 4th kyu and the senior kyu grade in that dojo at the time, I was going for 2nd kyu. I believe that I did not perform any technique over zealousy and my intent was definately not to injure this person. I merely wanted to do effective technique. A few weeks later i learned that I had 'broken his wrists' during the mock grading. Imagine my surprise! Apparently it was so bad that he could not lift a pen to write. Now they werent broken, but apparently he has brittle bones. During the mock grading he did not tell me this, nor did he ever tell me to lower the level of my technique. He never even gave me the inkling through his body langauge. So who's fault was this?

I have taken some very severe nikkyo from senior dan grades, shihan and other instructors, at times i have felt that my arm was going to break. The only solution to this is to drop down to the floor as fast as possible as soon as the nikkyo begins, I have even had to go from standing up attacking to lying flat out on the floor to escape a particularly vicious nikkyo.

You should have had the option to inform the instructor that you did not wish to be uke for this person, as long as you state this wish respectuflly and bow out, there is no shame in it

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 07-01-2005, 05:06 AM   #37
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Hello,

I do not know you, but I think your post deserves a constructive reply. If you don't mind, I will add responses and comments to each paragraph.

Quote:
Sarah Fowler wrote:
Question: Should rank reflect personal development? Not necessarily "is the person a nice person?" but Aikido-related personal development. Should people that toss beginners as though they were blackbelts (turning away who knows how many) get promoted? At a certain point, should some more personal attributes like taking care of your partners, fulfilling responsibilities around the dojo, being respectful be as or more important in rank evaluation?
PAG. Your dojo seems a rather rough place for beginners to train. However, I think "Aikido-related personal development" is as difficult to judge as whether X is a "nice person". In my dojo (I am chief instructor) all the above personal attributes are in evidence, but they were from the beginning. Culture is a set of values embraced by people in social groups. I think there are dojo cultures, but they are grafted on to general cultural values. Student numbers are quite small and the three instructors always train when they are not teaching. So we regularly take ukemi from every single student in the dojo. However, I am not out to improve their personal development, whether aikido-related or not. I think it would be arrogant of me to presume to do so.

Quote:
Sarah Fowler wrote:
For myself, I took ukemi on a test the other day from an overzealous guy I avoid like the plague during practice. He jacked a nikyo on my *taped* wrists and tore a couple of muscles . A contortionist couldn't have taken that lock without being damaged. Now, obviously, the decision isn't up to me, but I'm kinda of the mindset of "you crash the car during the test, you're not getting your license." Now, he did the technique right, so obviously his technical ability is fine. But should his lack of control be taken into consideration?
PAG. In grading tests here, the instructors decide who will partner whom and I would not permit someone with an injury that needed a taped wrist to take uke in a test. Do others avoid the "overzealous guy" like you do? If so, is the instructor aware of this and doing anything to deal with it? It seems to me that, rather than punishing such a person through grades, the instructor should train him through regular practice, in particular by taking ukemi himself.

Quote:
Sarah Fowler wrote:
I often wonder at some of the yudansha I've seen at seminars (few thankfully) that toss the brand-new whitebelts that have just barely learned to roll like ragdolls. To me, it seems like such selfish behavior, since they are putting their own practice before the safety of their kohai. It seems that at some point an instructor should have said, "I'm not going to promote you any farther until you get your act together. You can stay at sixth kyu forever if you want."
PAG. I agree that seminars present a different problem from regular training in one's own dojo. There is usually a guest instructor, who might practise differently, and other perhaps unknown participants. I would never use such seminars as a yardstick in grading one of my own students. Yudansha tossing brand-new white belts around like rag dolls is something I have not seen here outside university clubs and I suspect that the white-belts have a good idea what will happen when they sign up. Nevertheless, this practice, known as kakari-geiko, does not usually happen until after the summer gasshuku training, that is, after the white belts have been training (five times per week) for six months.

Quote:
Sarah Fowler wrote:
*Shrug* What do you teachers think? Do you look at these things when you promote?
PAG. I should also state that there is considerable difference between a 4th dan grading examination and a 4th kyuu grading test.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-04-2005, 01:48 PM   #38
Adam Huss
 
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Re: rank does not = human development

Quote:
Sarah Fowler wrote:
Now, he did the technique right, so obviously his technical ability is fine. But should his lack of control be taken into consideration? Sarah
Actually his technical ability is more on the lower end. This is not fine at all. Having control is what Aikido is all about...harmony with uke, and snapping wrists is not all together that harmonious...in my opinion anyways. If you apply nikyo/nikkajo and your uke comes towards you and drops to one knee...you have done the technique with pain as the controlling factor. Well, some people don't feel the pain, don't care, or they even like it! How would you then have an effective technique? You need to find the katameru of each technique. The katameru is the 'point at which uke can no longer resist." When nikkyo/nikkajo is done properly, uke should feel lots of stress in his/her lower back...uke's knees should start to give way and his hips should bobble side to side. This is the point of kata meru for this particular technique. When you see this start to happen you shuffle in (for omote) and uke will be more on his bum and side pushed into a haphazard ball away from you, rather than on one knee leaning toward you ready to grab at your genitals, toes, belt, or whatever else.
Pain is the lowest controlling principal in aikido. The highest level is to control uke ergonomically to the point where they just simply can not resist what is happening to them. Is this level hard to achieve....well most certainly yes!!! Very hard...but it is (or should be) the goal of all techniques. There, understandingly, is the learning process and techniques will invariably have to be pain-based until more proper control is achieved, but the goal and "correct technique" should be benevolent, but complete and total control of uke.
As for injuring each other on tests, for us, if you injure an uke and they can not continue you automatically fail. There was a 4th dan test in which the testing candidate dislocated his uke's shoulder in free style and the uke continued on so that his teacher would not fail his test. Pretty amazing to see. But also quite appropriate. My teacher very much likes to see that attitude. The testing candidate, of course, didn't want to hurt his partner but at the end of a two hour yondan test you get a bit tired and invariably these things will happen, which is understandable (but the rule still applies, if your uke doesn't continue...neither do you)...but you should also not focus your technique on hurting others, if just simply for the fact that that isn't a completely reliable control factor.
Osu!

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Old 07-04-2005, 02:16 PM   #39
Adam Huss
 
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Re: rank does not = human development

I train in Aikido to become a better person. For me it is self-development and self-mastery. One day when I was my teacher called me into his office (when I was uchideshi) he told me that the yudansha (especially sandan and above) have incredible responsibility for the spiritual and technical growth of the students. Training them to discover themselves and achieve personal growth and power. We teach them techniques that can be very dangerous and destructive if used improperly (or even just by accident) so it is our business to worry about the character of everyone. Not in my aikido dojo, but in my karate dojo, I have seen my teacher very hesitant to teach a prospective student because he got a bad impression of him. Seemed like the kind of guy that would learn this stuff just to hurt people. Sensei gave the guy the benefit of the doubt, and they guy ended up quitting after a couple of weeks anyway so that problem was avoided, but all the same..there is great responsibility in what we learn and/or teach.
Seeing that, in my opinion, Budo is about bettering yourself ("The goal of Budo is to die!" not sure who said that though) then, consequently, people who achieve high rank should be a high level person. I'm not saying that they need to be a Gandhi, Buddha, or Christ, but over the years and years of training that it takes to get to that level...they should definitely be at a higher level than the average person. I mean, why else put all those years, tears, sweat, and blood into training that it takes to achieve that level? I've been lucky enough that all of the high-ranking people in the organization that I belong to are pretty darn great people. And many people do speak very highly of their chief instructors as human beings. I was just discussing this with another Aikiweb member who was saying that Ikeda Sensei is not just a great technician but a great human being as well...and this is how it should be.
There are seminars where I've seen very high-ranking teachers who are excellent technicians...just brilliant, but man...there seminars are just not fun at all. You sit in seiza for 20+ minutes while the teacher and his uke are in chairs. You listen to talk about how aikido has made him so powerful, he is so healthy for his old age and has taken a younger (like 15 plus years) beautiful woman as his wife and aikido has allowed him to do that and talks about aikido in this mystical sense, like its some kind of magic and not *everyone* can achieve that level if they really dedicated themselves. Then you stand up and your knees are a little stiff and he says "oh, well you non-Japanese people don't understand aikido and can't sit in seiza (even though he was in a chair), and then you do basic tai sabaki/kihon dosa for over 45 minutes (even though almost everyone there is shodan and up) and then maybe do one or two techniques all the while being told that your doing them wrong because you aren't Japanese. One of the only times I've seen people leave a seminar frustrated and upset...no one is talking, they all have their heads down. Aiki? Wa? A seminar with a high ranking instructor should have everyone leaving totally pumped up, ready for more, happy, excited...etc.
Eh, but maybe I'm optimistic.
Oh well.

Osu!

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Old 07-09-2005, 02:17 PM   #40
Adam Alexander
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
Any other thoughts on this?
My experience is that when all I'm doing is technique, as I feel the proficiency develop, I become rather arrogant. I think because, as someone's signature says,"when all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail," everything becomes relevant only to my physical prowess (can I beat you up?).

However, I find what's most helpful is when I'm confronted with a situation where my option is between 1)pummel the person into a pulp for what he just did and then go to jail for a very long time, or 2)recognize that I have higher goals in life and in reality, technique, per se (I really don't know what that means, but I think it fits), really doesn't solve my problems directly.

Then, all the arrogance I developed in relation to my technique gives way to a recognition that I need to work on my coping and people skills.

I think this reflects the adage about "not learning patience in a vacuum."

The point: If someone doesn't have their poor ideologies challenged, problems will arise. Problems like you've described.
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