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Old 06-20-2006, 10:52 AM   #51
ruthmc
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Re: British 8th dan?

Part of the problem here is that the independent (ie those who no longer have links to their respective hombu in Japan) dojo are very restricted if they do not promote within their own ranks.

Mr Haydn Foster Sensei was promoted to 3rd dan so-hombu in the early 1960s. After this time the organisation did not continue its affiliation with Aikikai hombu. Mr Foster was not personally interested in claiming greater rank, but within the organisation this would have meant that no students could have been promoted beyond shodan after 1964!

At the request of his students, Foster Sensei has over the years accepted ranking up to 7th dan (Institute of Aikido) so that others may be promoted under him. He took quite some convincing to agree to this!

However he fully accepts that his rank is Institute of Aikido and makes no claim to having it recognised by Aikikai hombu.

So I don't see the problem with an independent instructor being awarded higher rank, as long as he / she states that it is awarded through his / her own organisation only. It is then up to individuals whether or not to recognise this rank.

Saying that you are an 8th dan is meaningless - 8th dan what from where?

Ruth
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Old 06-20-2006, 11:06 AM   #52
Mark Freeman
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Re: British 8th dan?

Hi Ruth,

Foster Sensei's history and lineage is well documented and accepted, I can't see any doubt being cast his way. The fact that he has not claimed greater rank is a mark of his own integrity. There are others however....
Quote:
So I don't see the problem with an independent instructor being awarded higher rank, as long as he / she states that it is awarded through his / her own organisation only. It is then up to individuals whether or not to recognise this rank.
Agreed, as long as it is all above board and transparent. However, for the new student to aikido, they will only see the rank, they will not fully appreciate the background. It may take them quite a while before they discover the 'big picture' so to speak.

regards,

Mark

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Old 06-20-2006, 06:16 PM   #53
David Humm
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Re: British 8th dan?

Another important consideration in respect of the internally promoted Sensei.

Those guys who were around here in the UK with the likes of Abbe Sensei are few and far between, these guys are legitimate regardless of what grade they hold however; as Yann pointed out earlier in this thread, there are considerably more organisations in existence today. If you care to examine those organisations, who's Principal(s) many (not all) do not have 1st, 2nd and sometimes even 3rd generation lineage to the founder (or any of his key students) that is something of interest; you guys can formulate your own opinions of the merits of such a situation.

I see much of the problem resting with an egotistic desire to be independent of a style respective hombu, whilst independence per se isn't all together bad, if that independence means it is devoid of mainline development by the very people responsible for the art (and I include all orthodox traditions in that statement) what happens over a protracted period is that what was once perhaps "aikido" slowly erodes, dilutes and gets lost into nothingness.

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Old 06-21-2006, 03:21 AM   #54
deepsoup
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Dave Humm wrote:
I see much of the problem resting with an egotistic desire to be independent of a style respective hombu, whilst independence per se isn't all together bad, if that independence means it is devoid of mainline development by the very people responsible for the art (and I include all orthodox traditions in that statement) what happens over a protracted period is that what was once perhaps "aikido" slowly erodes, dilutes and gets lost into nothingness.
Nicely put, and absolutely right. Hear hear.
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Old 06-21-2006, 04:32 AM   #55
Dazzler
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Dave Humm wrote:
Those guys who were around here in the UK with the likes of Abbe Sensei are few and far between, these guys are legitimate regardless of what grade they hold
Yet there are names of these originals within this thread, and of students with many years association with the likes of Tamura, Chiba and europeans such as Pierre Chassang.

For the multitudes reading this I'd suggest great care be taken in accepting some of the terms being bandied around here.

self-proclaimed, fake and fraud are absolutely not to be linked with some of the names here regardless of the source of their more recent grades.

A number of the names being dragged into this are men that were introduced by yourself at the Abbe celebration.

The contribution of these people to Aikido in the UK should be without question and I for one take some offence at seeing their names here.

D
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Old 06-21-2006, 04:55 AM   #56
ruthmc
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote:
However, for the new student to aikido, they will only see the rank, they will not fully appreciate the background. It may take them quite a while before they discover the 'big picture' so to speak.
Hi Mark,

I don't think that it is possible to 'protect' the new student in this way. To be honest, most new students, especially those without any previous MA background, wouldn't be able to tell the difference between what a legitimate 8th dan shihan is doing and what the guy who got his shodan yesterday is doing

I agree that it is important to seek out good teachers, but as a beginner one does not have the experience to be able to distinguish who is and who is not. This is why I am so in favour of training at different dojo and within different styles after one has got the basics from one's home dojo.

That is how I learned. And it has given me a greater appreciation of the good teachers I have been fortunate to train under, and a healthy early warning system for those who are not so good

Ruth
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:56 AM   #57
philipsmith
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Re: British 8th dan?

Rank and lineage are really only important if they are used in order to attempt to deceive.
If people have been awarded a rank by their own association then surely that is their rank (even if its 10th Dan), of bigger concern to me is the extravagant claims that are made by some of these "high grades"
For example I have met lots of people whose instructor apparently trained either with me or my teacher extensively but who I dont know!! (Maybe my memory is faulty)
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Old 06-21-2006, 11:19 AM   #58
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Re: British 8th dan?

Is there a difference in quality (teaching, knowledge, techniques etc) between those in the UK who are self promoted and those who are not?
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Old 06-21-2006, 11:30 AM   #59
Mark Freeman
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Darin Hyde wrote:
Is there a difference in quality (teaching, knowledge, techniques etc) between those in the UK who are self promoted and those who are not?
I am certainly not qualified to answer this searching question. Is there somoene out there who can, without being specific?

There is probably a case for saying that there is a difference in quality between every teacher teaching at present, no matter where they reside.

There may be self promoted teachers deemed of higher quality than those who are not. My curiosity is to why they feel the need to 'puff themselves up'. Surely aikido is a practice for oneself, not to 'impress others'.

regards

Mark

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Old 06-21-2006, 11:36 AM   #60
David Humm
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
Yet there are names of these originals within this thread, and of students with many years association with the likes of Tamura, Chiba and europeans such as Pierre Chassang.

For the multitudes reading this I'd suggest great care be taken in accepting some of the terms being bandied around here.

self-proclaimed, fake and fraud are absolutely not to be linked with some of the names here regardless of the source of their more recent grades.

A number of the names being dragged into this are men that were introduced by yourself at the Abbe celebration.

The contribution of these people to Aikido in the UK should be without question and I for one take some offence at seeing their names here.

D
I think you've missed the entire point I'm making and suggest you re-read my posts.

Firstly, I am suggesting that those people who were around at the inception of aikido to our shores are not those we need to be worrying about, is that clear enough ?

You'll note my accent of the word "were" this is because there are several high graded students here in the UK who claim to have been in the Hut crowd when if fact their connection to Abbe was tenuous to say the least.

Secondly I'm not the one actually naming people in this thread thus I find your comments and quotes clearly directed as a snipe at me. Perhaps you'd be better having a go at those who are naming names ?

Last edited by David Humm : 06-21-2006 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 06-21-2006, 12:37 PM   #61
Mark Freeman
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Re: British 8th dan?

Anyone wanting to read the British Aikido History Site can find it via this link:

http://www.kenshiroabbe.com/

Plenty of interesting photos, ducuments, and a fair bit of controversy. There is a "Sensei Tree" listing all the Sensei at the infamous "Hut" so there is little room for miss-understanding.

regards,

Mark

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Old 06-21-2006, 03:26 PM   #62
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Re: British 8th dan?

Can I just ask a few questions here that might be helpful. With regards to lineage there are a number of things which should be clarified before this thread turns into a big mess. I think IMHO there are four broad categories to consider

1) Those who have studied elsewhere and since relocated to the UK? Some of these people may be legitimately in possession of rank and title that is in absolutely no way linked to Abbe Sensei or any of his direct students. For example, I believe there are some people in the UK who are associated with Andre Noquet Sensei who was O-Sensei's first European deshi.

2)Those people who previously studied with Abbe Sensei and have since left and severed all contact with any other organisations. Examples previously mentioned in this thread would be Foster Sensei from Institute of Aikido now a 7th Dan and Williams Sensei who was the first student of Abbe Sensei, to the best of my knowledge Williams Sensei claims no rank for himself in any published material but has promoted people to the rank of 8th Dan.

3)People who have lost (or perhaps never even formally had) association with any of the 'mainline' aikido organisations but have since been promoted by a respected and legitimate teacher in recognition of their abilities.

4) People who are out and out frauds and liars.

Can anyone think of any other categories?

I think that the majority of names people might consider frauds could potentially fall into more than one of the above categories. The conclusion this leads me to is that there is little point in making such accusations unless a decision on what is and isn't considered legitimate is made, but I doubt that'll happen anytime soon.

Mike

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Old 06-21-2006, 03:33 PM   #63
Ron Tisdale
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Re: British 8th dan?

5) People whose lineage is Yoshinkan, not Aikikai....

B,
R

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Old 06-21-2006, 07:41 PM   #64
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
5) People whose lineage is Yoshinkan, not Aikikai....

B,
R
Think they'd count under number 1
Maybe we should re-write that one then.

Cheers

Mike

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Old 06-22-2006, 04:27 AM   #65
ruthmc
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Darin Hyde wrote:
Is there a difference in quality (teaching, knowledge, techniques etc) between those in the UK who are self promoted and those who are not?
Interesting question!

I would say from what I have seen that the main difference in quality between various instructors correlates mainly with the length of time that they were a student, rather than being solely an instructor.

Those who continue to study and train regularly under other instructors are better than those who do not. IMHO (of course )

By this I mean actually getting on the mat and training, as opposed to wandering around the edges at seminars...

Ruth
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Old 06-22-2006, 05:02 AM   #66
Dazzler
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Dave Humm wrote:
I think you've missed the entire point I'm making and suggest you re-read my posts.

Firstly, I am suggesting that those people who were around at the inception of aikido to our shores are not those we need to be worrying about, is that clear enough ?

You'll note my accent of the word "were" this is because there are several high graded students here in the UK who claim to have been in the Hut crowd when if fact their connection to Abbe was tenuous to say the least.

Secondly I'm not the one actually naming people in this thread thus I find your comments and quotes clearly directed as a snipe at me. Perhaps you'd be better having a go at those who are naming names ?
Ok ...maybe I've taken a bit of a liberty in singling you out as a champion of this thread. Apologies for that. It is a rather gentle snipe compared to death threats and suchlike though!

As for having a go at those naming names...well whats the point? they can either work it out from the posts or not.

I don't believe I've missed your point, but I do believe a lot of senior people could get discredited by readers of this thread.

My issue really is that once threads like this start slinging mud it tends to get splashed in all directions, One person says theres a dodgy 8th dan and the next thing people are doing their detective work with search engines and every 7th 8th dan in the uk is implicated.

Then its pointed out that none of them are recognised by Aikikai and suddenly the legitimacy of every 8th dan in uk is under scrutiny.

I would point out that being involved at the inception of aikido in the uk does not necessarily include or exclude someone from claim to high level of technical competency - while I feel our own association with Pierre Chassang who accompanied Abbe Sensei on his early trips to UK endorses the group that I am in from a lineage point of view (not that it should need endorsing following many years close association with Tamura Sensei) there are many others with links going back to O'Sensei that have no direct links to Abbe Sensei...nor claim to have.

They still have absolutely excellent Aikido lineage through the other instructors that followed in the 50's 60s and 70's when both you and I were in nappies.


If there are people out there falsely claiming to have links to the Hut then I feel it is a little sad. Like many I have read much of the available information re "the controversy" and am glad it appears to have been resolved. Without taking sides on such matters I just have no idea why anyone with an Aikido mindset would wish to make false egotistical claims - perhaps I am a little naieve? But not too naieve to know that it can happen.

As an aside - More for Mark Freeman -As for the British Aikido History available maybe I can't see all of it. To me its more of a history of Aikido pre and post Abbe Sensei. I'm sure that there is a fair bit of Aikido history from the rest of the UK that would be required to make it more comprehensive. Maybe there are others here with some good memories of those early days who can post under another thread to give a more positive view of British Aikido. Perhaps Mark could canvas Sensei Ken Williams?

Personally I'd rather hoped this thread would die. I've added enough fuel to it for now so I'll try and slip away quietly ....

Final though on this ...when someone chucks an accusation like this out its a bit like having some money stolen from a changing room - there is only 1 thief but everyone is under suspicion.


Regards

D
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:11 AM   #67
Mark Freeman
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
Ok ...maybe I've taken a bit of a liberty in singling you out as a champion of this thread. Apologies for that. It is a rather gentle snipe compared to death threats and suchlike though!

As for having a go at those naming names...well whats the point? they can either work it out from the posts or not.

I don't believe I've missed your point, but I do believe a lot of senior people could get discredited by readers of this thread.

My issue really is that once threads like this start slinging mud it tends to get splashed in all directions, One person says theres a dodgy 8th dan and the next thing people are doing their detective work with search engines and every 7th 8th dan in the uk is implicated.

Then its pointed out that none of them are recognised by Aikikai and suddenly the legitimacy of every 8th dan in uk is under scrutiny.

I would point out that being involved at the inception of aikido in the uk does not necessarily include or exclude someone from claim to high level of technical competency - while I feel our own association with Pierre Chassang who accompanied Abbe Sensei on his early trips to UK endorses the group that I am in from a lineage point of view (not that it should need endorsing following many years close association with Tamura Sensei) there are many others with links going back to O'Sensei that have no direct links to Abbe Sensei...nor claim to have.

They still have absolutely excellent Aikido lineage through the other instructors that followed in the 50's 60s and 70's when both you and I were in nappies.


If there are people out there falsely claiming to have links to the Hut then I feel it is a little sad. Like many I have read much of the available information re "the controversy" and am glad it appears to have been resolved. Without taking sides on such matters I just have no idea why anyone with an Aikido mindset would wish to make false egotistical claims - perhaps I am a little naieve? But not too naieve to know that it can happen.

As an aside - More for Mark Freeman -As for the British Aikido History available maybe I can't see all of it. To me its more of a history of Aikido pre and post Abbe Sensei. I'm sure that there is a fair bit of Aikido history from the rest of the UK that would be required to make it more comprehensive. Maybe there are others here with some good memories of those early days who can post under another thread to give a more positive view of British Aikido. Perhaps Mark could canvas Sensei Ken Williams?

Personally I'd rather hoped this thread would die. I've added enough fuel to it for now so I'll try and slip away quietly ....

Final though on this ...when someone chucks an accusation like this out its a bit like having some money stolen from a changing room - there is only 1 thief but everyone is under suspicion.


Regards

D
Hi Darren

good post, I too think that this thread is not presenting British aikido in a good light, as I'm sure that similar things are happening the world over.

We have much to be proud of, many fine teachers and many dedicated and commited students of aikido. I also agree that having an aikido mindset should be enough to avoid egotistical claims, but alas it doesn't.

The few original aikidoka from the Hut should be respected for their long life of dedication to aikido and it's dissemination. But to think that they are the 'only' source of legitimate aikido here is of course wrong. As it is to think that Japan is the be all and end all of aikido tradition. Japan is the birthplace, the world is the dojo.

I will talk to Sensei Williams about the possibility of him making some sort of recording of the early days. I know there have been articles/interviews with him in the major Aikido publications in the past, so he may not want to revisit in print what has already been put on record. He is now in his mid 70's living a quiet life with his family, teaching aikido to those that want what he has to offer. I know from conversations with him that he is no longer interested in the wider politics of the UK aikido world. He is only interested in continuing to develop his own aikido for the benefit of himself and his own students.

Our post practice visits to the pub ( a British tradition that seems to be holding up well! ), has us students listening to many stories from the early days, all told with enthusiasm, fondness and often great humour. I am certainly not going to start retelling them here. If anyone wants to hear them too, come and join us, you will not be disappointed.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, anyone who is legitimate, has nothing to worry about, anyone who is 'false' must live with themselves. The rest of us should just carry on training, trying to improve our own aikido.

regards,

Mark

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Old 06-22-2006, 06:25 AM   #68
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Mike Haft wrote:
Can I just ask a few questions here that might be helpful. With regards to lineage there are a number of things which should be clarified before this thread turns into a big mess. I think IMHO there are four broad categories to consider

1) Those who have studied elsewhere and since relocated to the UK? Some of these people may be legitimately in possession of rank and title that is in absolutely no way linked to Abbe Sensei or any of his direct students. For example, I believe there are some people in the UK who are associated with Andre Noquet Sensei who was O-Sensei's first European deshi.

2)Those people who previously studied with Abbe Sensei and have since left and severed all contact with any other organisations. Examples previously mentioned in this thread would be Foster Sensei from Institute of Aikido now a 7th Dan and Williams Sensei who was the first student of Abbe Sensei, to the best of my knowledge Williams Sensei claims no rank for himself in any published material but has promoted people to the rank of 8th Dan.

3)People who have lost (or perhaps never even formally had) association with any of the 'mainline' aikido organisations but have since been promoted by a respected and legitimate teacher in recognition of their abilities.

4) People who are out and out frauds and liars.

Can anyone think of any other categories?

I think that the majority of names people might consider frauds could potentially fall into more than one of the above categories. The conclusion this leads me to is that there is little point in making such accusations unless a decision on what is and isn't considered legitimate is made, but I doubt that'll happen anytime soon.

Mike
I think this is a very good discussion. It shows no signs of turning into a mess.

I agree with you, but I would prefer to accept the 'tatemae' that those who become independent of a hombu and are promoted from within the organization they lead are not fraudulent. They have to make some honest attempts to replace the good aspects of the hombu from which they broke away.

In the UK people broke away from the Aikikai for various reasons and, though it might ruffle a few feathers to say this, the fault, if it was really a fault, hardly ever lay 100% with those who broke away.

Recently I was in the Aikikai Hombu and I met Nobuyoshi Tamura. I had quite a long talk with him about the origins of aikido in the UK. Of course, Tamura Sensei knew Abbe Kenshiro Sensei and was one of those early pioneers who were sent to Europe to live there and teach aikido. It is clear that at this time the Aikikai Hombu were very much feeling their way about aikido organizations outside Japan and did not really have much of a clue about the kind of organizations they wished to create.

Thus at some point Nakazono Sensei (very soon moved to the US and promoted kotodama training), Kobayashi Hirokazu Sensei (brilliant techncian who eventually left the Aikikai) and Tamura Sensei (still living in France) were appointed by the Aikikai to 'regulate' aikido in Europe. So, apart from Yoshinkan, which was a legitimate branch of aikido, with close links to O Sensei, and the Aikikai, there was no aikido in Europe apart from the Aikikai and the completely separate branch founded by disciples of Tomiki Kenji Sensei.

But how exactly do you 'regulate' aikido in Europe, if your only organizational experience is of dojos in Japan and especially if you have the Aikikai Hombu breathing over your shoulder setting the rules and also young, vigorous and 'maverick' shihans like Chiba, wanting to set their stamp on the countries they were sent to?

Anyway, when I myself started aikido in the UK, my own teacher (Norio Tao, 3rd dan Aikikai at the time, dan received from the Founder himself) did not register the kyu grades he gave with the Aikikai or with Chiba Sensei. He went to Mr Stratton, still maintains a relationship with his organization, and is also in impeccable standing with the Aikikai.

So, I can sympathize with those like Ken Williams, who had trained so hard with Abbe amd Nakazono, but had to 'give place' to the 'official resident' Hombu representative. Which he did.

I have read all the material on the website of Mr Ellis and and must confess that I was surprised at the story that Nakazono Sensei had to regrade the pioneers of the 'Hut' dojo. I am pretty sure that this sort of thing would not happen nowadays.

But, to return to the point of this thread, what do you do, if you feel you are forced to break away from your aikido 'home', because you cannot cope with the 'new' conditions? Of course, gritting your teeth and accepting the new conditions is one option and this is commonly favoured in Japan. It fits the Japanese model of tragic heroes, like Sugawara Michizane, whose fate was to be on the losing side and is still revered as a deity in Japan for being a loser.

So, if you break away and you want to keep the dan system, which you have trained your students to accept, there is no alternative to self-promotion, via one's organization, or to affiliating with another dan-giving organization, or simply getting on with training and telling your student that the dan system is too 'political'.

Here in Japan I do not have this problem. Since the last war, the Aikikai have kept meticulous records of the dan grades they have awarded and the dan history of every single member of the Aikikai can be printed out on request, with dates when awarded and who awarded. So my aikido lineage is available, for all to see if they wish. I think that part of the reason for this was the need to move away from a situation of O Sensei in his dotage giving verbal 10th dans to those who asked for them (like James Mitose), towards a real 'system' of grades. I think this is also an aspect of the 'iemoto' system in Japanese arts.

I myself am happy with this system, but I also know that (1) with the rules set in place by the Aikikai, I have no chance of receiviing 8th dan until I am 86 years of age, and (2) that it would be virtually impossible for me, here in Japan, to break away from the Aikikai and create my own organization. Unless I felt that the Aikikai had a severe 'technical' problem, to do with their interpretation of the most fundamental aspects of aikido training, and I am in no way competent to even attempt such a judgment.

Best wishes to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 06-22-2006 at 06:34 AM.

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Old 06-22-2006, 08:16 AM   #69
happysod
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
good post, I too think that this thread is not presenting British aikido in a good light, as I'm sure that similar things are happening the world over.
Oh I don't know it's in a bad light, the odd airing of the dirty linen at least stops it mouldering. Most things hidden away behind closed doors could do with a good kicking in the light of day if you ask me.

As regards the side-topic itself, I'm severely mixed. On the one hand I acknowledge both Dave's intentions (and applaud his earlier work over the BAB) and the legitimate concerns over fraud. On the other I have difficulty with the same tired implications that anyone who starts their own art (or even style within an art) is somehow fraudulent [insert standard arguments about how aikido started, counter-claims that founder didn't award himself rank, questions about the legitimacy of all the dan grades awarded to various aikido missionaries when sent abroad, yada yada].

If someone is claiming rank within an organization or links to tradition that they don't have, that is fraudulent. If someone has attained a rank within an organization, however it was derived, it isn't. You may or may not agree with their rank, but if it's not within your own organization, you're comparing apples to oranges anyway.

Sign me in with the "just train dammit", I let other people worry about their own rank while I'll save my worries for that strange bruise which I can't quite remember getting.
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:35 AM   #70
Ecosamurai
 
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
Sign me in with the "just train dammit", I let other people worry about their own rank while I'll save my worries for that strange bruise which I can't quite remember getting.
I wholeheartedly agree

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:19 PM   #71
Ecosamurai
 
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Re: British 8th dan?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
I think this is a very good discussion. It shows no signs of turning into a mess.

I agree with you, but I would prefer to accept the 'tatemae' that those who become independent of a hombu and are promoted from within the organization they lead are not fraudulent. They have to make some honest attempts to replace the good aspects of the hombu from which they broke away.
With regards to this thread becoming a mess. My only worry was the references to various websites which have been responsible for a lot of mudslinging. Mudslinging, irrespective of how it is justified (or unjustified for that matter) mostly just gets everyone dirty, best avoided IMO.

With regards to independent/internally promoted teachers. I have no problem with internally promoting a teacher as you say so long as all best efforts are made to live up to said promotion. In the ten or so years I've been doing Aikido I've seen a number of teachers promoted internally. A few were 6th Dan when I started, now they're 7th Dan, I don't doubt that in the next 5-10 years many will end up as 8th Dan. Usually what happens is that one of them gets upped a Dan grade and the others seem to follow not long after. Which is probably fair enough as they've mostly been at it since the late 60s/early 70s usually.
My personal preference would be for people who are independent to seek out the recognition of another (legitimate) organisation as this removes all doubt as to lineage and validity of rank. But this is for a variety of reasons not always possible, and I would rather have people remain independent and be internally promoted via their organisations committee etc, than seek recognition from dubious 'multi art certification united budo soke grandmaster councils'. Anyway, thats just my opinion.

Mike

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
-Martin Luther King Jr
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