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Old 02-02-2009, 11:14 AM   #1
Mitchell Rister
Dojo: Aikido of Panama City
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Underqualified Sensei

Anyone can rent a building and start their own dojo, regardless of their experience and knowledge of aikido. They can exaggerate on their qualifications to teach and a person new to aikido can be easily mislead. I feel sorry for the gullible students of these type teachers. I also feel frustrated that they are representing aikido so poorly. Some people go to see aikido for the first time and will leave thinking that aikido is BS.

Sometimes a student moves to an area where there isn't a dojo and must start their own in order to keep training. In these situations, I think that it is okay to teach as long as the sensei and the students continue to learn from a parent dojo. I think that the sensei owes it to themselves and their students to continue to learn.

What are your thoughts?
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Old 02-02-2009, 11:51 AM   #2
Brian Gillaspie
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

I agree that this is a big concern for all martial arts and I am not sure if it is more or less common in Aikido. I personally have not run across it but then again I live in Topeka, KS which is not exactly the most popular place for Aikido.

I can also sympathize with your second statement about starting a dojo to continue training. My instructor recently moved out of state and asked me to take over his dojo (I accepted his offer because I wanted to continue training). So I am teaching a lot earlier (only a shodan) in my life then I would have liked but my instructor is still my aikido "parent" and comes back on occasion to conduct seminars and conduct the testing of my students. I think it is ok if you have to start a dojo, or take responsibility for one, to continue training but I think you need to remain humble, know your limits, and be honest about your qualifications.
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:16 PM   #3
Bob Blackburn
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

I have known a few schools that were run by people with little experience. It is probably getting harder to do with the internet background checking and lists of things to look out for when looking at schools. But, everyone has to be diligent in assessing schools.

Forming Study Groups under a qualified instructor is sometimes necessary and fine because they are not claiming to be an expert. They just happen to be the most experienced person in the study group and has regular instruction from a qualified Sensei.

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Old 02-02-2009, 01:19 PM   #4
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

I know of schools run by teachers with lots of experience, that are no good.

Bad teachers and schools are unavoidable. If you're unfortunate enough to run into one, you should stop training there as soon as you feel it is not worth your time.

It's a bummer, but an unfortunate part of life.

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Old 02-07-2009, 12:40 AM   #5
oharrismaytin
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Hello: All these makes me wonder: Is there any way of checking Aikido instructors credentials? For example: A Hombu database to search for the teacher's name to see if it checks out.

Omar
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:36 AM   #6
dalen7
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Omar Harris wrote: View Post
Hello: All these makes me wonder: Is there any way of checking Aikido instructors credentials? For example: A Hombu database to search for the teacher's name to see if it checks out.

Omar
Watch and train with them - then you will know what qualifications they have.

Peace

dAlen

p.s. - But as far as checking, just look at their certificate and see who the sensei was who signed it... no? Im sure there are bound to be photos with them and their sensei as well...or them displaying pics of their test, etc. (As one person basically said, in the digital age it makes it where not having any of the above would seem suspect.)

At the end, does what they do work? It doesnt take to long to figure out if its bunk or not.

Quote:
Brian Gillaspie wrote: View Post
My instructor recently moved out of state and asked me to take over his dojo (I accepted his offer because I wanted to continue training). So I am teaching a lot earlier (only a shodan) in my life then I would have liked but my instructor is still my aikido "parent" and comes back on occasion to conduct seminars and conduct the testing of my students.
I have no problem learning under a shodan - or a brown belt for that matter.
In fact my teacher is shodan, and his teacher (main instructor for grading) is 4th dan.
But then again, our system here is a bit different in regards to ranking, from what I can tell, than to stateside. It seems here a brown belt would be a shodan stateside. - just a different emphasis at what point someone gets a belt, thats all.

But skill is the main point, well of course personality...you find the teacher that suites you.

note: case in point, in a small village outside of our town there is a blue belt teaching...(2nd kyu).
He is a police officer who started teaching lower ranks when he was at about green belt...(3rd kyu.) - He is connected to my our dojo and test under the same Sensei we do. (4th dan.)

Last edited by dalen7 : 02-07-2009 at 03:47 AM.

dAlen [day•lynn]
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:08 PM   #7
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

I was once told a story about Lua, the Hawaiian martial art. An instructor of Lua, also an instructor of Aikido, said in Hawaii if someone hangs a shingle out stating they teach Lua and their name doesn't show in the Lua folks records as being a Lua instructor a group of Lua instructors would visit the individual and explain that he could teach whatever he wanted but could not call it Lua and if he persisted in doing so they would take the matter into thier own hands. I believe they would too. But as it was mentioned earlier...being able to trace the authenticity of an instructor is difficult these days. Documents can be forged etc. If they are a blackbelt with Aikikai then they should have a Japanese certificate stating name, rank etc, but it will be in Japanese.

Moreover, if the person is new to martial arts they have only movies as a basis for what they expect. It is up to the community as a whole to help maintain the integrity of martial arts as a whole. That does not mean dojo storming or anything like that, but word of mouth is powerful.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:19 AM   #8
Buck
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Mitchell Rister wrote: View Post
Anyone can rent a building and start their own dojo, regardless of their experience and knowledge of aikido. They can exaggerate on their qualifications to teach and a person new to aikido can be easily mislead. I feel sorry for the gullible students of these type teachers. I also feel frustrated that they are representing aikido so poorly. Some people go to see aikido for the first time and will leave thinking that aikido is BS.

Sometimes a student moves to an area where there isn't a dojo and must start their own in order to keep training. In these situations, I think that it is okay to teach as long as the sensei and the students continue to learn from a parent dojo. I think that the sensei owes it to themselves and their students to continue to learn.

What are your thoughts?
First, as if this will ever happen, Aikido sensei's shouldn't give rank out so easily. Second, there is no public benchmark for a Sensei or skill of Aikidokas. Third, what can you really do?

I look at it this way, you train with the people you like, people you fit into first. Then you look if the Sensei can teach, is the Sensei able to communicate the info so you will learn. Then it is how good is the Sensei's skill. Followed by, weighing the need to fit in with fulfilling your need to be at Aikido. Or what ever you want from it.

More importantly you have to look at personal character, is the sensei a fraud, con artist, a bully, a victimizer etc. all those thing you should be looking at first. Cause just because you call someone or insisted upon to do so, doesn't make that person perfect.
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Old 02-08-2009, 03:37 AM   #9
dalen7
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote: View Post
But as it was mentioned earlier...being able to trace the authenticity of an instructor is difficult these days. Documents can be forged etc.
This is the age of digital cameras and youtube.

It would be highly unlikely that someone who is teaching hasnt had their stuff videotaped, (i.e. seminars,test, etc.), and/or have pictures of them in their 'aikido milieu' with their teachers, etc.

Dan grades are tracked by Hombu, so even that is pretty straight forward.

Again, do you vibe with the instructor is the point really.

Suppose you could find a black belt, that is totally cool in their technique - but just doesnt know how to relate...not everyone is cut out to teach - its actually quite tricky...and even then, people are drawn to various teaching styles.

So when it comes down to it, papers aside, the person will be drawn to what is needed for them at that time.

Peace

Dalen

dAlen [day•lynn]
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:34 AM   #10
mickeygelum
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

What defines "Underqualified" ?

I am of the opinion that a majority of aikidoka would get their ass handed to them quickly due to their "personal training objectives".
I am of the opinion that most students seek out the sensei that conform to their view of Aikido, and those that have a higher, more clear understanding of their skill goals seek out the senseis that provide their training needs.

Sadly, there are plenty here...just peruse the threads.

Peace, love and yada-yada....will get you into the jackpot quick.

Pinning, huh? No pain compliance, no breaks, no dislocations...Spock, set your phaser on stun!

No competition, no winner or loser in Aikido...bullshit, are you not competing for your life when you walk out the dojo doors?

"Good God y'all, War...What is it good for... absolutely nothing...", especially if you finish in second place.

Just some thoughts...

Mickey
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:39 AM   #11
lbb
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote: View Post
Just some thoughts...
Huh?
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Old 02-08-2009, 04:19 PM   #12
Garth Jones
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Not all organizations are linked to Honbu and so there are many perfectly valid black belt level instructors out there who do not have an IAF card. Even so, I doubt very much that you could call Honbu up and ask about a particular instructor.

I think the real key, here, in lineage - what is the person's link back to O'Sensei. If an instructor is open about explaining that, then they are probably going represent themselves all right in general. They may or may not be good teachers, nice people, etc., but at least you'll know their background. On the other hand, if they claim an oddly high rank, or to have beaten Chuck Norris in thumb wrestling, etc, then there may be a problem.....

Cheers,
Garth

PS For what it's worth, here's how I would answer that question: I'm sandan, I've been training for 20 years, and I started a dojo so I could keep training. My first senior teacher was Akira Tohei Shihan. Now I am a member of the ASU and am a student of Saotome Shihan (through his senior students) and Ikeda Shihan (who promoted me to my current rank). My other teacher, and the central influence on my aikido training today, is Mary Heiny Sensei. Tohei Sensei and Saotome Sensei were direct students of O'Sensei. Ikeda Sensei is Saotome Sensei's senior student. Mary Heiny Sensei is a student of Hikitsuchi Sensei (10th Dan), who was a student of O'Sensei for decades.
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:54 PM   #13
Shannon Frye
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Personally,
I think that any who would put up the money to rent a building and start their own dojo is more likely to start a TKD school. It's better known, more marketable, and WAY more profitable than an aiki dojo.

I agree that lineage should be a factor, as should the personal ability of the person to 'teach'.

My organization is not linked to Hombu - for personal and financial reasons - nothing to do with inability to obtain rank.

Shannon

Last edited by Shannon Frye : 02-08-2009 at 08:55 PM. Reason: mispellings

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Old 02-08-2009, 10:45 PM   #14
Lyle Bogin
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Anyone teaching aikido deserves the support of the aikido community. If we have confidence that there is better instruction out there, then less experienced teachers can lead people to more experienced teachers. In the mean time they can fill in the geographic blanks and help keep aikido in the public consciousness.

Not everyone has to be good at aikido. Being interested and enjoying it is enough. The seekers will bubble up.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:31 AM   #15
Alex Megann
Dojo: Southampton Aikikai
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Garth Jones wrote: View Post
I think the real key, here, in lineage - what is the person's link back to O'Sensei. If an instructor is open about explaining that, then they are probably going represent themselves all right in general. They may or may not be good teachers, nice people, etc., but at least you'll know their background. On the other hand, if they claim an oddly high rank, or to have beaten Chuck Norris in thumb wrestling, etc, then there may be a problem.....

Cheers,
Garth

PS For what it's worth, here's how I would answer that question: I'm sandan, I've been training for 20 years, and I started a dojo so I could keep training. My first senior teacher was Akira Tohei Shihan. Now I am a member of the ASU and am a student of Saotome Shihan (through his senior students) and Ikeda Shihan (who promoted me to my current rank). My other teacher, and the central influence on my aikido training today, is Mary Heiny Sensei. Tohei Sensei and Saotome Sensei were direct students of O'Sensei. Ikeda Sensei is Saotome Sensei's senior student. Mary Heiny Sensei is a student of Hikitsuchi Sensei (10th Dan), who was a student of O'Sensei for decades.
I agree strongly. I have come across quite a few dojo pages where no lineage is given for the instructors, and in my opinion this makes it very hard to assess the dojo, short of actually going there in person. One example I found recently is this one, not too far from me:

http://www.aikidoinportsmouth.com/

They make wild statements about the present state of aikido, but there is no information that I can find on the site about where the teachers have trained before, or who awarded their grades.

Perhaps Tony Wagstaffe or Henry Ellis know Antony Day?

You will find similarly strongly-worded personal opinions on Henry Ellis's site, but then at least he does have a pedigree!

By the way mine is actually pretty simple: I started training in Oxford in the late 1970s, and for most of the time since then I have had only one teacher, Minoru Kanetsuka, who was originally a student of Gozo Shioda and then of Kazuo Chiba. My dan grades are all certified by Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

Alex
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:31 AM   #16
Aikilove
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

A way to check legitimacy in ones instructor is (in my mind) if they are ok with you (or them) to visit seminars hosted by other aikido folks.
Frauds tend to try to prevent you from experience other sources of the art one is practising.

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:16 AM   #17
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

I am an "Underqualified Sensei."
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:31 AM   #18
Aikilove
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
I am an "Underqualified Sensei."
*Voice from the Tombs* -Be gone You "Underqualified Sensei"! Be Gone I say! *End of Voice from the Tombs*

Now quick! Let's all go train for Ûberqualified Sensei over there!

/J

Last edited by Aikilove : 02-09-2009 at 07:34 AM.

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:35 AM   #19
mathewjgano
 
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a little devil's advocate

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote: View Post
What defines "Underqualified" ?

I am of the opinion that a majority of aikidoka would get their ass handed to them quickly due to their "personal training objectives".
By whome though? Who cares if people are less concerned with fight training than, say, meditation? ...as long as they're aware of the difference, of course.

Quote:
Peace, love and yada-yada....will get you into the jackpot quick.
It's a sad fact that idealism often gets in the way of practicality, but I think it's equally sad that it works the other way too.
Quote:
No competition, no winner or loser in Aikido...bullshit, are you not competing for your life when you walk out the dojo doors?
No. Not yet, at any rate. And cerainly not in any way that a martial art has been needed. It might be a semantic quible, but I think the non-competitive concept has plenty of validity to it. I don't need a competitive mindset to deal with aggression...in fact I've spent my short life trying to prove this and it's worked pretty well for me so far.

Quote:
"Good God y'all, War...What is it good for... absolutely nothing...", especially if you finish in second place.
Are you saying people shouldn't teach (or study) a martial art unless they work on physical ability first and foremost?

Last edited by mathewjgano : 02-09-2009 at 07:46 AM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:45 AM   #20
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Mitchell Rister wrote: View Post
Anyone can rent a building and start their own dojo...What are your thoughts?
As a self-described student of life (why am I always wearing the dunce cap? ), I think it's important to remember that everyone has "shortcomings." Buyer beware; always.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:00 AM   #21
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
As a self-described student of life (why am I always wearing the dunce cap? ), I think it's important to remember that everyone has "shortcomings." Buyer beware; always.
That is to say: I think a good student can learn something from anyone; and for adults, the ownus of learning is always on the learner. The question is whether that something they're learning matches up with what they're ultimately looking for. I started training in Aikido more because of the meditational side than the martial side so I can see why many other people might have started in a similar way.
I guess I just see how readily folks look to physical effectiveness as the litmus test for what determines an instructor's qualifications and think it important to add that a good teacher is far far more than a mere distributor of content.
In fact one of the things that kept me with Aikido earlier on was the idea that my fellow students were teachers too...the idea being we each have unique sets of knowledge and only through diverse interaction can we glean diverse sets of knowledge.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 02-09-2009 at 10:11 AM.

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Old 02-09-2009, 10:24 AM   #22
Dazzler
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
I agree strongly. I have come across quite a few dojo pages where no lineage is given for the instructors, and in my opinion this makes it very hard to assess the dojo, short of actually going there in person. One example I found recently is this one, not too far from me:

http://www.aikidoinportsmouth.com/

They make wild statements about the present state of aikido, but there is no information that I can find on the site about where the teachers have trained before, or who awarded their grades.

Perhaps Tony Wagstaffe or Henry Ellis know Antony Day?

You will find similarly strongly-worded personal opinions on Henry Ellis's site, but then at least he does have a pedigree!

By the way mine is actually pretty simple: I started training in Oxford in the late 1970s, and for most of the time since then I have had only one teacher, Minoru Kanetsuka, who was originally a student of Gozo Shioda and then of Kazuo Chiba. My dan grades are all certified by Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

Alex
I know Tony Day - met him about 10 years ago at our summer school.

Believe his background is Yoshinkan.

Not my favourite ever website but I'd say Tony does not merit being on an "underqualified sensei" list.

Not a Southampton / Pompey thing going on is there?

Cheers

D
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:48 AM   #23
Alex Megann
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
I know Tony Day - met him about 10 years ago at our summer school.

Believe his background is Yoshinkan.

Not my favourite ever website but I'd say Tony does not merit being on an "underqualified sensei" list.

Not a Southampton / Pompey thing going on is there?

Cheers

D
Not at all - the Students' Union here in Southampton is (very charitably, I must say) trying to develop links with Portsmouth Uni, and so our sectretary is organising a visit. I had no idea of any dojos in Portsmouth apart from the Kenshinkai ones, so was doing a little info gathering. It seems the club at the Uni is run by Ken Burke, the son of Dennis Burke from the Yuishinkai.

This is my pet peeve, though (as you know, Daren!) - as I said, in the martial arts who your teachers are seems to me a pretty obvious piece of information, and when it is missing one does start to wonder why...

Alex
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:35 AM   #24
Dazzler
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Not at all - the Students' Union here in Southampton is (very charitably, I must say) trying to develop links with Portsmouth Uni, and so our sectretary is organising a visit. I had no idea of any dojos in Portsmouth apart from the Kenshinkai ones, so was doing a little info gathering. It seems the club at the Uni is run by Ken Burke, the son of Dennis Burke from the Yuishinkai.

This is my pet peeve, though (as you know, Daren!) - as I said, in the martial arts who your teachers are seems to me a pretty obvious piece of information, and when it is missing one does start to wonder why...

Alex
Fully understand Alex.

I don't know much about Tony...but we have shared a practice in the past and he certainly seems experienced enough to run a club as well as being a good bloke.

I'd agree its a fairly essential bit of info - no idea why the site is so sparse, but as I know the guy I thought I'd chip in.

Cheers

D
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:15 PM   #25
Voitokas
 
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Re: Underqualified Sensei

There is also a difference between someone leading a class and someone demanding the devotion that many sensei require. I teach classes often, but I ask students not to call me 'sensei' on or off the mat (they do anyway, but I scowl my best). Many sensei do ask that students learn only, or primarily, within that sensei's sphere - but those sensei also tend to be godan or higher. Teachers who are nidan and sandan and even shodan are more likely to teach as if they were leading a practise, encouraging students to learn from whomever they might, especially from others of more elevated rank... And, for those who might lead a practise, surely even a fifth kyu has something to teach everyone!

I am not an expert
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