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Old 05-12-2012, 04:56 AM   #26
aikilouis
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
The Aikikai Foundation was meant to happen. Like any other visionary construct brought into functional reality, it was doomed before it began, as a cure all, be all, and do all, final answer to the reasons for its creation. Constructed by fallible humans, guided by incomplete thinking, questionable purposes and truly finite means, it nonetheless came to be in the aftermath of a horrendous world war and its destructive affect on the psyche and vision of a battered nation. It was here to stay, despite the challenges it faced, and the immensity of the task being taken on by its supporters. For these reasons alone, it deserves genuine respect, tolerant criticism, and patient compassion.

The United States of America is undoubtedly the greatest success story for democratic ideas being the basis for a nation unsurpassed in its vision, its achievements, its hope for the rest of the world, and its undeniable impact on the fortunes of many nations. Yet, it wallows in its own excesses, threatened from within from the rot of good intentions mixed with foul, and with the same engine that has caused other engines to falter, even as it tries mightily to right itself. Do we cry in despair, or do we follow the example of our forefathers and say, "we can fix this", and proceed to do just so. I am proud to be an American, and count me in to the end of this fight. I also am a follower of a man named Ueshiba, his vision and his example. I too stand to be counted on, and in, for a similar fight for survival of the model, and for individual excellence.

It is said that the Founder was not in favor of such an organization, did little to encourage or substantively assist Kisshomaru Doshu in his labors, and pretty much tolerated the otherwise amazing efforts, mistakes and early successes of the pioneering efforts of all involved. He was content to remain in his role of a working genius, focused inwardly and perhaps selfishly on what pleased him, and inspired him most.

How well did the Doshu do? Opinions definitely vary, and honest research and fair assessments will invariably come up with a mixed bag of results, expectations and judgments , both from those who know, and the often times raucous majority of pundits who remain aggravatingly clueless. Such is the price of fame, success and authority hard won after decades of fighting the good fight for prosperity and purpose.

One must be careful to remember that the Aikikai Foundation was, is and will always remain essentially a uniquely Japanese creation, representative of many centuries of custom, tradition and easily misunderstood foundational truths. To expect such a traditional entity to become modern overnight, sensitive to international concerns, and to be responsible for satisfying any foreign appetites for and too often suspect motives demanding recognition and accountability is beyond ludicrous, and downright idiotic. The Aikikai Foundation and its leadership will never bow to such selfishly induced demands, nor should it ever feel the need to change simply to conform or to appease. If you don't want to play, simply go away. Oh, and leave your Aikikai ranks behind.

Is the Aikikai Foundation perfect, or even reasonably attentive and heedful of its foreign based membership and their quite often valid complaints? Not even close, with no apologies or explanations that will suffice, or be offered anytime soon. Is this reason to deride and condemn the principals for not being "sensitive" to the "new realities" of modern sentiment and international reasoning? No. A thousand times no. It is the outside voices that must be moderated, and honor the fundamental basis for the Aikikai's reasons to exist, and to carry forth their admittedly self assured policies and practices.

It is the outside membership that must do a much better job of appreciating the cultural differences, and arrive at new strategies to maintain the conversation with Aikikai leadership, and ultimately arrive at mutually satisfactory changes and implementation of those results. Yapping at their heels like disowned mutts is not the answer. It demeans the rest of us who truly value the Aikikai's history, the preservation of the iemoto line of Ueshiba males, and the actually favorable basis of mutually accessible and viable communication, and exchange possibilities with Aikikai leadership and Moriteru Doshu. Let's begin by acting as honorable diplomats, giving credit where it is due, and with politeness, logic and tact, continue cultivating the currently tenuously existing relationship with Aikikai Foundation.

Times are changing, and so is the Guard. Have more faith, more patience, and more examples of constructive and affirmative behavior, and the needed changes will happen sooner than later.
Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Mr. Beyer,

Despite your admitted uncaring and unappreciative show of disrespect for the Iemoto legacy, your Shihan of record certainly appears to maintain such respect, as well as for a deep sense of humble gratitude for the privilege.

As a faithful and honorable ex uchi deshi of the Founder, and of the late Kisshomaru Doshu, Mitsugi Saotome Sensei fully appreciates the principle of Ongaeshi, a moral obligation to repay kindness, and does so on both his own behalf as well as for yours. Perhaps you feel no such tradition based obligation to him yourself, although I sincerely hope that you, and others, do.

The fact that Saotome Sensei has always had the option and capacity of conferring his own ranks on his minions, makes it all the more remarkable that he still honors his students with Aikikai ranking, and with the concomitant direct, ongoing and official connection with the Founder's legacy. Who amongst his students can knowingly doubt his deep sincerity, and dare rebuke his profound reasons for choosing this path?

A truly major misconception, that gives constant rebirth to an abortive fallacy, is that Aikikai ranking is a mere rubber stamp process, and otherwise meaningless. The truth of the matter is, despite epidemic ignorance and ego driven misdirection, this is a privilege earned by selected official representatives of Aikikai Foundation, who have been vetted over the decades by their proofs of faithful service. They are necessarily and heavily counted on to maintain quality control by their recommendations, as recommendations they will always be. It remains the purview and authority of the Doshu to accept or refuse such recommendations, both actions that both Doshu's have taken in times past. I take my such privilege very seriously, as I believe Saotome Sensei does as well, since this represents the continuous link to the Founder's legacy via his official organization.

If anyone feels that this is privilege to refuse, do so post haste, including the immediate return of all other ranks received under false pretenses, and kindly let your Sensei know the reasons why you feel that he has made such an egregious error.

This Aiki Web forum has declined immensely, and regrettably, over such a short period of time, in terms of valid and positive content, accountability for etiquette, the appreciation for basic human respect, and for the sharing example of good behavior to those new to its presentations. I believe we can and should do better.

In oneness,
Two big piles of contempt rolled in flowery language.

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Old 05-12-2012, 10:02 AM   #27
Alec Corper
 
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Wink Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

"Two big piles of contempt rolled in flowery language"
One sentence of simple truth dipped in a disreputable tone

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:13 AM   #28
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Folks,

Watch your tone, please. Let's keep the discussion civil and respectful.

-- Jun

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Old 05-12-2012, 10:40 AM   #29
Keith Larman
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Come over to the dark side, we have cookies...

I'm not ranked in Aikikai. That limits me to some extent, I'm sure, and I would imagine that also denigrates me in some peoples' eyes. That's okay with me. When I was looking for training in Aikido near where I was I went where people I trusted said I should go. I found stuff I liked and I stayed. I continue to study and I also go outside the box a lot of play with really neat people who do really neat stuff outside the box as well. So I'm not terribly concerned about these sorts of issues. And I think there are more and more people like me, people who go to whomever we can that we hear/find/are told are good. I remember the great aikiweb seminar up in Seattle a few years ago. Mr. Ledyard doing his aikido. Aaron Clark doing his art which in my eyes combined fantastically rich aiki with judo and everything else. And of course Mr. Threadgill and his travelling budo magic and comedy act. Spectacular. Then local seminars Gary has set up with Mike Sigman and Dan Harden doing their things way outside the box (but maybe really should have been deeply in the box?). But I'm rambling...

The world is changing. I think a lot of people posting have some very good points. There are more high quality people out there than ever coming from what are increasingly diverse backgrounds. And I mean this with utmost respect to those within Aikikai, but to me Aikikai represents the mainstream but also in some sense or another the "generic". I do *not* mean the training is any less valuable. But I think as any organization gets larger it faces unique challenges and as such you end up with an organization that is either rather hands-off just kind of "pointing the direction" or a highly controlling group that will tend to stifle variation. To their credit they have gone with the former IMO, but that brings drawbacks as well.

So I just shrug. I don't worry about titles like shihan as even in our small organization we've had issues with how things were done and then the politics of personalities clashing. So I smile, train more, hope for more seminars from interesting people, and keep training. I find that increasingly my relationship with my affiliation becomes, well, complicated. I take pride in part of it. But I also find it less of "my identity" and rather just my comfortable home for when I'm not out challenging my comfort level somewhere else. The world of Aikido has grown huge, but paradoxically enough it is now a very small place due to the internet, communications, and awareness and openness of some generous souls.

Okay, stream of consciousness post complete.

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Old 05-12-2012, 11:54 AM   #30
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I was one of the last round of promotions that Saotome Sensei did back in the day just before the rapprochement with Hombu Dojo. It was my 4th Dan and the certificate is signed by him. If you visit my dojo, that's the certificate that you see when you enter my school. My Fifth and Sixth Dan certificates are elsewhere. Sensei has looked at that the certificate and never said a word, he doesn't need to, he knows. I am his man. If Sensei thinks I should have my ranks signed by folks in Japan I have never met, because it is important to him that it be so, then that's what it is. It is more for him than it is for me. He knows that too, so we don't have to have further discussion on the subject.
This is a big part of the problem - not a problem with George, but with the reality of the situation as it is evolving.

George really doesn't care particularly about hombu - any "allegiance" he gives is because of his teacher. I dare say that this is probably the case with most of Saotome's students.

When Saotome passes away, some of them will want to continue that connection for that reason - but my guess is that just as many will be in favor of dropping away.

Now look at the students of George and those other instructors. They have a connection to hombu, but now that connection is two steps removed. They don't care about hombu, and their teachers don't care about hombu. And so on, and so on...

Frankly, I've talked to any number of Aikido folks - yudansha, not higher ranking ones, but yudansha, that don't even really know what the Aikikai is.

The end seems inevitable - unless the Aikikai can modernize to an equitable professional organization that provides real resources and benefits to its members it runs the risk of being as relevant to most Aikido students as the Queen of England is to most Americans. Great to see on television, but I'm not sending her any money.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-12-2012, 02:37 PM   #31
Basia Halliop
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

I think I and many people I know feel some ties to local organizations. E.g., my dojo belongs to the USAF, and I feel some connection to the teachers and students I meet at USAF seminars and do feel an interest in decisions the organization makes, care about what I see, etc. It's not a super strong tie but it's certainly there (e.g. if my teacher decided to leave the organization for some reason, I'd like to still go to seminars but beyond that I wouldn't care so much. As long as my teacher kept teaching, my dojo would continue as always and my training would continue as always).

But Aikikai Hombu dojo? That's yet another step removed and basically in my mind if it occurs to me to think of them at all (which is rarely) they feel like they exist as an office somewhere you get certificates from. There are few teachers there I've even heard of, which I know is due to my own lack of research, but still... I don't know, any connection I personally have to it feels pretty abstract and far away. I don't have any objection to belonging to it, and I have a vague sense that networking is nice and it's good to build connections between different people training, but I don't really care one way or the other.
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Old 05-12-2012, 02:38 PM   #32
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

In the old days, it was simpler. There were two things folks wanted to know. Who is your teacher and how long have you trained? If you were fortunate enough to train directly with a teacher possessed of sound reputation then that told the asker what he or she needed to know.

For all my years from white belt to 4th Dan Saotome Sensei was independently operating in the US. He had formed the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba and did his own promotions. No one questioned the validity of my ranks just because they hadn't come from Hombu. They were given to me by a man who had trained with the Founder for fifteen years and was known to be one of the top post war students.

However, many people back in the day did not have a direct, daily relationship with a former uchi deshi level teacher. Most folk here in America were trained under far more junior black belts, in those days often just Shodans or Nidans. The most senior Americans at the time were 4th Dans and we knew every one of them by name. Credibility for their rankings came more from some association with a teacher or teachers through membership in an organization.

But this is now 35 years later. There already has been endless discussion on the forums that rank is next to meaningless. One can train with one 6th Dan who is fabulous and another who simply isn't on the same planet skill wise. Both with ranks from the same organization.

The organizations morphed over the years. When they first started, they were associations of the direct students of the head of the organization. Today most of the members of these organizations have never trained for any substantial period of time with the head of that organization and probably see that teacher once or twice a year for one week at most.

In a number of cases the original head of the organization has passed away and a splintering has occurred. I think this is exactly what will continue to happen going forward. We are actually on the path of returning to what organizations had been 35 years ago, i.e. associations of students with a direct link to a certain teacher and who have more frequent face time with that teacher. That teacher will have a much more personal investment in his or her students than is currently the case with the large organizations.

This is already happening... Clyde Takaguchi, Greg O'Conner, Larry Reynosa, amongst other well known teachers have all started their own associations. Mary Heiny Sensei, whereas she hasn't started an organization, has a personal relationship with her students and gives them ranking on her say so and with her authority. She is the senior woman in American Aikido... who is going to questions those ranks? Would anyone think that a 6th Dan directly from Mary Sensei would somehow be more valid if it were represented by a certificate that came from Japan, signed by someone who has never trained with or even met the student in question? I can't see it myself.

In my day, the credibility of a person's rank came from the idea that when you gave someone a black belt, you were putting your name on them in a personal sense. They became a representative of you as a teacher... people seeing that student would judge you as a teacher by that student as the product of that teaching. I still proceed that way. I don't give anyone rank that I don't feel proud of. If that student goes to another dojo, does anyone think that his or her organizational association is more important than the fact that he or she is my student, has hundreds or even thousands of hours with me personally? Everyone within a given organization knows this, of course. They are all members of the same association. So, what is important is who is your teacher.

The only reason that organizational association has any importance is in trying to provide some credibility to rankings granted by folks who are not well known, who didn't train with a famous teacher with his or her own top reputation. The "organization", at least as far as ranking is concerned, exists to give credibility to the ranks granted by teachers who do not have their own authority and reputation.

So, the real question is, does any given large organization really have all that much say directly about the quality of the Aikido in its membership. I would generally say not really. I would then go a step further and say that having a relationship with Hombu Dojo, while it might be important to many for other reasons, simply has no impact whatever on the quality of the ranks it is conferring. Folks can get a 6th Dan and never have set foot on the mat at headquarters. Their certificate will be signed by someone they have never trained with, even for a weekend, and who has no idea who they are.

So, to my thinking, it makes almost no sense to say that having ones rank certificates come through the Aikikai, or any other umbrella organization in Japan gives them one iota more credibility than a certificate simply granted by the teacher who actually provided the many years of training it took to get to that rank.

Now feeling a sentimental attachment to the family, the tradition, the history, and wishing to maintain a connection with all of that, now that makes sense to me. I can see how that would be important to many and if I were to ever start my own association, after my own teacher passed, I might very well associate for those reasons. But it wouldn't be so my ranking were validated. Any ranks I gave out would have meaning only because it was I who gave them, not because they came from Japan.

As I have said before, I see a future with many smaller organizations, less hierarchical than before. I think that many of the folks who will be in a position to form these groups may actually be fine with some association with the Aikikai. But the only place where I really differ from Francis, and this is really due to our quite different life experiences, is that I do not see it as our job to try to be more relevant to Hombu Dojo or to go more than half way to have that relationship. They are the ones with the organization. They are the ones who need to show me why I would want my student's rank to come from them rather than do them myself.

Everything that Francis has said about my teacher's sense of the iemoto involved in his relationship with Hombu is true. Sensei has continued his relationship with Headquarters and the current Doshu for reasons that I think are clear only to himself.

Francis would maintain that because Saotome Sensei is my teacher, I inherit some of the obligation and I totally understand where that comes from. But for me, it is different. 30 years ago I met Bruce Bookman Sensei when he came back from training in Japan with Chiba Sensei. His teacher and my teacher, while they respected each other, never really liked each other. Bruce and I talked and simply agreed that, as American students of these teachers, there was simply no reason we could see to carry on any disagreements to another generation and another country and we are great friends. I trained with him for a number of years at the same time I trained with Mary Heiny Sensei.

So, from my very early Aikido career I had to look at what I wanted to "buy into" in all these complicated Japanese relationships and obligations. It is not something I automatically inherit. I have to decide. Sensei's reason for his connection to Hombu are simply not mine. When Sensei passes, I feel that the Aikikai will have to provide me with a reason to feel they are relevant enough to associate. I also think it is my own job to make myself relevant to them as a teacher. If they decided to check with anyone over here about my own reputation I want them to feel like I am someone they would wish to have in their organization, that my reputation as a teacher speaks for itself.

Then, we have a two way street... they need to show me why I would want to associate and I need to make myself a teacher worthy of association. If either of us does not do that, then there is no reason to associate. Ranks I give out won't mean more just because they send out the certificates. And if they don't actively see a reason to have me in the organization, other then a ,monetary one, then why would I wish to be in such an organization.

Now, I have actually been associated with the Aikikai before my own teacher re-associated. I have a San Dan certificate signed by Mary Heiny Sensei (I also have one from Saotome Sensei) that was put through by Chiba Sensei when I was running a dojo in his Western Region of the Federation. I also had a Shidoin certificate from way back then. So, one could say that I have been a member of the Aikikai for a very long time. I have no problem having that association. If Sensei passes, I would maintain that association unless I was given a reason not to. But, I think that it is more the case that the Aikikai needs us more than we need it. I think we are going back to a time when things were more personal. So, I think that Hombu needs to find a way to make itself more "personal" and more "relevant". I have no problem with obligations when it's a two way street. But I don't see pursuing a relationship with the Aikikai that doesn't in some way deliver value back.

This will be a process of working itself out and I am open to any number of possibilities. Some of the folks posting have very close personal relationships in Japan and others, like myself, do not. I think that the one thing that will have to happen at some point is for the Aikikai in Japan to recognize just what has been happening over here all these years. There is stuff happening here that isn't happening anywhere else. Some recognition is required on the part of the Aikikai that Aikido doesn't just proceed outwards from Hombu as a hub but is actually developing in many areas and proceeding outwards from many hubs. American teachers are going all over the world now. Gleason Sensei just got back from Australia and New Zealand, Ikeda Sensei is all over Europe, I just got back from the UK. Dan Harden and Mike Sigman are all over Europe as well. Allen Beebe goes over to Holland regularly. There are many more... these are just the folks known on these forums. And you see Christian Tissier coming here regularly. So Europe is coming here. This process will continue for some time I think and it is a process entirely independent of any involvement with the Aikikai. We have become our own hubs from which our own Aikido is going forth. Any Aikikai which hopes to thrive in the future will need to take this into account and find some way of incorporating that fact into its purpose or it will simply be marginalized completely.

I do not see any of this as "oppositional". I completely understand Francis Takahashi's desire to maintain a strong relationship with the Ueshiba family and ny extension the Aikikai. I do not see my own feeling that it isn't as important to me as something that I would argue with him about. He and I have talked at length about our various feelings about these things and we both understand and respect each other's points of view. I certainly didn't in any way take offense at his description of us as students of Saotome Sensei as being his minions. That is a word that has vast shades of meaning based on whose minion you are exactly. It can mean anything from "Spawn of Satan", to a flunky, to merely a "follower of". I am quite sure when Francis used the term, he intended to give it the last interpretation, and in that sense I have always been one of Sensei's "minions". I think it an apt term for describing the relationship that one has with most Japanese teachers. So, I don't see any offense there at all. This is going to be an on-going dialog for the next fifteen to twenty years. Some of it will eventually be decided based on a comparison between the quality of instructor that Hombu puts out via the uchi deshi program and the quality of teacher we seniors are creating at our own dojos all over. People will eventually go with the folks that seem to offer the best chance for them to get better at the art. I think that is still the bottom line. We'll see who the students of tomorrow feel are doing the best job in that respect. Who has the best Aikido and who can teach it the best? Is there really another reason to pursue an association?

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-12-2012 at 02:46 PM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:24 PM   #33
Chris Li
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

The one quibble that I have with George's post (which I think is great) is the long focus on rank and how credible it is or should be in certain situations.

Personally, I don't recognize anybody's rank - I question them all, whether they come from Mary, Saotome or Morihei himself. Other than that, we meet, we train, and I start to form on opinion.

The whole rank thing, which was started only to meet requirements of the pre-war Dai-Nihon Butokukai, was IMO a big mistake - especially the attempts to implement it organizationally.

Take a look at any professional organization in the United States - one thing they have in common is that they have no ranks. There are certain minimum requirements and certifications (much more similar to the certificate system in Koryu than to the Dan-I system), but other than that you don't have, for example, a 5th Dan Optometrist vs a 7 Dan Optometrist.

I would say - get rid of all the ranks, except as a personal and optional thing between a teacher and a student, and create an association based on providing real benefits and resources to its members, not on mail order certificates conferring imaginary levels of proficiency.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-12-2012, 04:37 PM   #34
danj
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

I'd like to introduce you to another international aikido organisation, it has all of the major tick boxes and then some. The headmaster is of Japanese origin, it is remarkably flat in structure, though if you listen for a while you will recognise the shihan. Membership is easy, and there is a gold star if you are financial. Participation is easy and many a hiden about the art, the founder or some new insight is revealed. There is tremendous access to teachers, to question and also opportunities for seminars.

Aikiweb, Soke Aikiyama's creation has a light yoke and transcends many boundaries. In part the future that is suggested to arrive in 10-20 yrs time is already here. It has fostered for the large part open sharing (and questioning) and so much more. Sustaining, I suspect many in their quiet practice of the art throughout the world.

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Old 05-12-2012, 06:54 PM   #35
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Hello Chris,

What real benefits and resources are you thinking of? It will help to ground the discussion if you give some examples.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 05-12-2012, 08:25 PM   #36
ToddDJones
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

In 1987, Chiba sensei asked me what I thought of the state of aikido in the US; part of my reply included an observation what a shame it was that the masters of the "Art of Harmony" couldn't seem to get along. In reading these forums lately, I cannot help but wonder: was that appraisal too harsh? We all have clay feet…

Why can't we all just get along? As I write this, in the back of my head, I'm hearing the voice of Jack Nicholson playing the President of the United States in the movie Mars Attacks. Probably because it was just before the Martian ambassador shouted "Ack, ack, ack" and vaporized him with a ray gun, right in the Oval office.

In stark contrast, Takahashi sensei's consistent salutation "In Oneness" doesn't imply peace through superior firepower. It's a call to action. For if indeed, aikido is a "way to reconcile the world" then it requires each of us to re-examine our core beliefs in light of the fact that doing so will necessitate some philosophic flexibility, not unlike the physical ukemi we enjoy. The discipline we apply in the dojo must inculcate in how we interact with the world.

Anyone who knows Takahashi sensei, knows he holds the members of the ASU in very high regard. And although the term is commonly used as a pejorative, the true definition bears thoughtful consideration: a "minion" is a favorite or a dependent. Knowing Francis as I do, I am confident that he meant the former… no doubt, unintentionally offending some of his dearest friends.

Francis is passionate in his support of the Ueshiba family, and rightly so as an anointed shihan, but not because he is a shihan. He believes in the Founder's vision, as, I hope, most of us do. In that vein, I request that we all try to treat each other with a little more understanding and compassion.

Now, back on the thread topic: As for me, the biggest benefit of my association with the Aikikai has been the friendships I've developed with some really fine people from all over the planet, most holding very different opinions on all sorts of important topics. Somehow, we don't let it get in the way…

Anybody else want to reconcile?

Todd D. Jones
Chairman, American Butokukan &
Sand Drift Martial Arts Association
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:26 PM   #37
hughrbeyer
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Keith: You have cookies, but do you share?

I think organizations are like friends. They say you choose your friends but I'm not sure that's true... I find that friends happen to you, and they all come with their quirks and shortcomings which you might never choose if you were choosing, but you're not, so you put up with them because after all, they're your friends.

Organizations are like that. You get involved, and then you get attached, and they're never perfect, and neither are the people in them, but between the shared history and the personal attachments what are you going to do? And it's not like there's some perfect organization somewhere else that would be better.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:36 PM   #38
Henrypsim
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I'm not making any particular demands - I'm just saying that this is the reality of the situation. Demands or no, the ties that bind people to the Aikikai are fading fast - without a reason to maintain them they will fade completely.

If rank is the only tie...then they're definitely in trouble.

Best,

Chris
Hsing I chuan, Tai Chi, Baqua all came froma the Toaist who had their monestery in a mountain called Mo Don (translation) a very long time ago. Now, there are different schools of Tai Chi such as Chen's style, Yang style, I Liq chuan etc. which have their own schools. However, their martial arts roots all came from the Taoist who started it in Mo Don mountain. I believe there is still a Mo Don style martial arts "Doshu" somewhere in China (don't know for sure). However, who cares in this day and age. No one ever said that I learn the Mo Don style martial arts, they all said I learn Chen style Tai Chi etc. The root of O-sensei's Aikido all came from the Taoist in China. He modify it and created Aikido and call it Japanese. Really, who cares. He created something good and spread around the world. That in itself is significant and important. Did anybody really care or know where O-sensei's root knowledge really came from.....NO and is not to be expected. No Aikidoka would ever say that I am learning Mo Don martial arts through Aikido. Now I am coming to my point.

Aikido as we know it is extremely new as compared to Mo Don Taoist martial arts. O-sensei is the "creator". Just like Mo Don Taoist in the old days, Their disciples were Taoist monks who later taught the general chinese public. Students in those days still consider themselves as Mo Don style martial artist just like us consider ourselves as Aikidokas. Today, the general chinese public would consider themselves as Chen Tai Chi disciples, or Yang Tai Chi diciples or I Liq Chuan diciples etc. NO ONE WOULD CONSIDER THEMSELVES AS MO DON TAOIST DISCIPLES eventhough the root of it all came from the MO DON TAOIST. In the future, the same will eventually happen to Hombu unless, Hombu can progressively offer something "new" to its members besides "rubber stamp" ranks so its members can regard it like a centralized "research" center that will continue to benefit its members. If not, as younger Aikidokas replaces the senior Aikidokas, loyalty will slowly fad with memory (just as young Japanese tourist were laughing and enjoying the Arizona memorial in Hawaii while some old American soldiers were in tears. Such is life)

However, this is today, where everything is commercialized. I do not believe Hombu will ever disappear, it will be just another commercialized martial arts school that can claim that the founder of Aikido was here, but it will definitely lose its present prestige just like the MO DON Taoist style martial arts as time marches on.

As a second point, I differ from Chris Li who said "there is no comparison between Hombu Aikido and Dan Harden. In my opinion....yes there is a comparison. Hombu as I understand it does not teach what Dan teaches. However, O-sensei DID try to teach what Dan is teaching now to his students. Some might have gotten it (don't know) but the fact remains that Hombu does not teach it. What Dan is teaching is what makes O-sensei so powerful. Now, isn't that the "secret of Aikido?" Therefore, I conclude that what Dan teaches is nothing new to Aikido, it is just not being taught by Hombu assumming that they know how to teach it.

MY STATEMENT ABOVE IS PURELY FOR DISCUSSION AND EXERCISING MY AMERICAN RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND ANY INDIVIDUAL, ORGANIZATION, DOJO OR ANY STYLY OF MARTIAL ARTS.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:27 AM   #39
Chris Li
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Chris,

What real benefits and resources are you thinking of? It will help to ground the discussion if you give some examples.

Best wishes,

PAG
Well, why would you join any professional organization? The reasons are pretty much the same.

There's peer review and accreditation - many schools run on this kind of a system.

There's improved and centralized networking possibilities.

There's the power of group advocacy and public relations.

There's group insurance plans and other programs only open to large associations.

There's the benefit of improved information resources and advice - for example legal help, help with incorporation, professional marketing etc.

Most professions in the US have some kind of professional organization or organizations associated with them for the same reasons, and many times people are happy to join.

What benefits does the Aikikai provide in comparison?

Some people will point out that there's nothing stopping anybody from running their own organization along these lines and still remain affiliated with the Aikikai, and yes, that's true. But then, what are the benefits you get from sending your money to Japan? The same problem remains.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-13-2012, 12:32 AM   #40
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
The one quibble that I have with George's post (which I think is great) is the long focus on rank and how credible it is or should be in certain situations.
I thought of one more quibble - the era that George thinks we are returning to, smaller groups centered around a central instructor, didn't work all that well the first time, as I remember things...

Best,

Christ

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Old 05-13-2012, 09:04 AM   #41
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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In 1987, Chiba sensei asked me what I thought of the state of aikido in the US; part of my reply included an observation what a shame it was that the masters of the "Art of Harmony" couldn't seem to get along. In reading these forums lately, I cannot help but wonder: was that appraisal too harsh? We all have clay feet…

Why can't we all just get along? As I write this, in the back of my head, I'm hearing the voice of Jack Nicholson playing the President of the United States in the movie Mars Attacks. Probably because it was just before the Martian ambassador shouted "Ack, ack, ack" and vaporized him with a ray gun, right in the Oval office.

In stark contrast, Takahashi sensei's consistent salutation "In Oneness" doesn't imply peace through superior firepower. It's a call to action. For if indeed, aikido is a "way to reconcile the world" then it requires each of us to re-examine our core beliefs in light of the fact that doing so will necessitate some philosophic flexibility, not unlike the physical ukemi we enjoy. The discipline we apply in the dojo must inculcate in how we interact with the world.

Anyone who knows Takahashi sensei, knows he holds the members of the ASU in very high regard. And although the term is commonly used as a pejorative, the true definition bears thoughtful consideration: a "minion" is a favorite or a dependent. Knowing Francis as I do, I am confident that he meant the former… no doubt, unintentionally offending some of his dearest friends.

Francis is passionate in his support of the Ueshiba family, and rightly so as an anointed shihan, but not because he is a shihan. He believes in the Founder's vision, as, I hope, most of us do. In that vein, I request that we all try to treat each other with a little more understanding and compassion.

Now, back on the thread topic: As for me, the biggest benefit of my association with the Aikikai has been the friendships I've developed with some really fine people from all over the planet, most holding very different opinions on all sorts of important topics. Somehow, we don't let it get in the way…

Anybody else want to reconcile?
Dear Todd,
I too respect the vision of O Sensei , however my vision at times is at odds with the vision of others.My problem as I see ?it is this do I need to visit an optician or do the others require this service?I believe my vision is at times diametrically the opposite of some people.Perhaps I have watched too many ThreeStooges/Laurel & Hardy/Party political broadcasts in my day/or I have been abducted by aliens??Cheers, Joe.
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:01 AM   #42
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Christopher Li wrote: View Post
I thought of one more quibble - the era that George thinks we are returning to, smaller groups centered around a central instructor, didn't work all that well the first time, as I remember things...

Best,

Christ
What I see is the return to that type of structure but with the difference that these organizations or associations will interact more, encourage more cross training, and I hope, being smaller, will encourage a higher quality standard than large organizations have been able to do.

The main reason I see this as the future is that the very people who will likely be heading up these groups are already starting to do what I am talking about. You see more and more events in which very senior teachers from different existing organizations are teaching together and in the process sharing what they have been doing. Increasingly, you see major teachers at the 6th and 7th Dan levels completely re-tooling their own training. While I think that most existing organizations are not fertile ground for radically altering how Aikido training is conceived, those senior individuals who are currently doing so will almost certainly decide to go their own way at some point in the future, if for no there reason than to be able to pass on their new knowledge to their students which will require re-doing the "requirements" used for periodic testing.

While I am sympathetic to Chris's desire to rid ourselves of a ranking system that doesn't really mean much, I do not see large scale abandonment of tests and ranking. In general most people want to feel as if they are progressing towards something. Arts such as the various Koryu or Systema which do not have ranks but simply have certain levels of instructor certification are generally very small communities with nothing like the total numbers doing Aikido. I think any dojo deciding going that direction will necessarily be small. Nothing wrong with that but many dojos simply will not choose that option. Personally, I doubt that I could keep my doors open with the number of students that I've have if we went that direction. Various experiments with pass fail or no grades at all back in the 60's and 70's found the same thing... people wanted a measuring stick.

I also think that grades offer at least one measuring stick that potential new students look for, whether or not they mean what they are purported to mean. Hence the focus on bogus grades and titles on the part of less scrupulous folks running schools. They do it because it does draw students who, at that point in their training, don't know any better.

And frankly, I find that testing for ranks is a strong motivating factor for people who train on a regular basis to kick their training up a notch or two periodically. We have a tradition of fairly strong tests at my dojo and no one wants to be the one who goes out in front of Sensei and the other guests at a seminar not looking like their test was up to that standard. It isn't about passing the test or the rank per se, it's meeting a "perceived standard" that is somewhat unique to our dojo.

So, I can't see ranking going away and I am not sure I'd want it to. By the time folks have been around for a number of years, they have enough experience to know that rank alone doesn't mean much. Once again, it comes down to rank from whom? If yo know the teacher, you have a decent idea what that rank means. If you aren't familiar with the teacher in question, you really don't know what the rank means.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:41 AM   #43
Chris Li
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
What I see is the return to that type of structure but with the difference that these organizations or associations will interact more, encourage more cross training, and I hope, being smaller, will encourage a higher quality standard than large organizations have been able to do.
I hope so too, but I also hope you're not being over optimistic. The track record to date (not just in Aikido) tends to make me skeptical.

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
While I am sympathetic to Chris's desire to rid ourselves of a ranking system that doesn't really mean much, I do not see large scale abandonment of tests and ranking. In general most people want to feel as if they are progressing towards something. Arts such as the various Koryu or Systema which do not have ranks but simply have certain levels of instructor certification are generally very small communities with nothing like the total numbers doing Aikido. I think any dojo deciding going that direction will necessarily be small. Nothing wrong with that but many dojos simply will not choose that option. Personally, I doubt that I could keep my doors open with the number of students that I've have if we went that direction. Various experiments with pass fail or no grades at all back in the 60's and 70's found the same thing... people wanted a measuring stick.
I don't see any large scale abandonment happening either, but I do think it would be worthwhile.

You've put your finger on it though - it's the commercial aspect that really makes such a thing unfeasible. But a lot of that is also how expectations are managed.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-13-2012, 01:47 PM   #44
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

First of all, my deep gratitude and acknowledgment of Aiki brotherhood with both George Ledyard Shihan, and with Todd Jones Sensei. They stepped in to help clarify my intentions and purpose in a way that only true friends can and would do. Without asking.

This is a sterling example of what George is alluding to when his faith in the Aiki in all of us, and in the love that sincere and committed students all have for the Founder’s art, is justified by acts of kindness and sincere outreach. I do have many good friends in the ASU, and humbly apologize for any misunderstanding or mistype. After all, I am from Hawaii, where much of my education was mail ordered.

I accept and embrace George’s hope that Aikido in the United States will grow into yet unknown and uncharted areas, but with changes that truly reflect the mood, aspirations and needs of our students and teachers now, and in the future. Japan is free to join with us, or go it alone as they have unfortunately made clear with recent policies. Yes, I do advocate continuing dialogue with Aikikai leadership in a spirit of Aiki that, perhaps, they have misplaced, despite it being championed by Kisshomaru Doshu for so long. It is not for me to judge, but to carry forth the best that I can.

I also acknowledge George’s admonition to be prepared for an uncertain future, one where our much loved mentors and spiritual guideposts are no longer with us. How well are we doing in preparing for a change in stewardship, not of organizational goals, but of the true mission, teachings and vision of Aiki for the world given us by the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Which of us will choose to be worthy architects to join, and continue the building of his “Silver Bridge” of Aikido to the rest of the world?

Not as a pessimist, but as a realist, I know that many will be called, but few will be chosen, and even fewer will respond with positive action. It is what it is, as the popular saying goes, and yet, we need not succumb to inaction, indecision and insecurity. With leaders like George Ledyard Shihan, Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, Todd Jones Sensei, Steve Fasen Sensei, etc. etc. etc., we can choose to be proactive about the future of our Aikido, and that of those who choose to join our efforts in affirmative ways.

Perhaps the real Benefits of the Aikikai tradition and history, is to maintain the momentum started by the pioneers they initially sent out, and to allow current leadership to exponentially expand the vision, the outreach and to live the dream.
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Old 05-13-2012, 04:58 PM   #45
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Well, why would you join any professional organization? The reasons are pretty much the same.

There's peer review and accreditation - many schools run on this kind of a system.

There's improved and centralized networking possibilities.

There's the power of group advocacy and public relations.

There's group insurance plans and other programs only open to large associations.

There's the benefit of improved information resources and advice - for example legal help, help with incorporation, professional marketing etc.

Most professions in the US have some kind of professional organization or organizations associated with them for the same reasons, and many times people are happy to join.

What benefits does the Aikikai provide in comparison?

Some people will point out that there's nothing stopping anybody from running their own organization along these lines and still remain affiliated with the Aikikai, and yes, that's true. But then, what are the benefits you get from sending your money to Japan? The same problem remains.

Best,

Chris
Hello Chris (you prefer this to Christopher, right?),

Can you think of any worldwide professional organizations with the headquarters established in Japan?

My personal view is that the Aikikai has its position within international aikido solely because of history and the dan ranking system, for the dan ranking system is the main feature of the Aikikai's international regulations.

If you replace the ranking system with something else, more appropriate to a koryu art, that leaves just the history, coupled perhaps with Japan's view, based on its interpretation of history, that its martial arts culture is unique--and therefore that its way of doing aikido is unique.

The lists of new dan holders published each month in the Aikido Shimbun suggests that some of these recipients might well buy into this way of thinking. I am impressed at the growing numbers of participants at the seminars held in conjunction with the 4-yearly IAF meeting. (Personally, the idea of 1,000 people attending a seminar given by one person, whom most of the participants cannot even see, leaves me completely cold.) Very few of these come from the US, by the way. The main participants from the US are Yamada Shihan and the heads of the USAF.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 05-13-2012, 05:46 PM   #46
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Chris (you prefer this to Christopher, right?),
Sure, but anything's fine, really.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Can you think of any worldwide professional organizations with the headquarters established in Japan?
Nope - that doesn't mean that there can't be one of course, and the Aikikai is in kind of a unique position in which to implement it.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
My personal view is that the Aikikai has its position within international aikido solely because of history and the dan ranking system, for the dan ranking system is the main feature of the Aikikai's international regulations.
I agree - and what I'm saying is that alone is not, IMO, going to be enough to sustain them as a relevant international organization.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
If you replace the ranking system with something else, more appropriate to a koryu art, that leaves just the history, coupled perhaps with Japan's view, based on its interpretation of history, that its martial arts culture is unique--and therefore that its way of doing aikido is unique.
I don't seriously think that the replacement of the ranking system will ever happen - I'm just suggesting that it may not be such a bad idea if it did.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
The lists of new dan holders published each month in the Aikido Shimbun suggests that some of these recipients might well buy into this way of thinking. I am impressed at the growing numbers of participants at the seminars held in conjunction with the 4-yearly IAF meeting. (Personally, the idea of 1,000 people attending a seminar given by one person, whom most of the participants cannot even see, leaves me completely cold.) Very few of these come from the US, by the way. The main participants from the US are Yamada Shihan and the heads of the USAF.
You may be right, many people may buy into it - although I wonder if that is really sustainable, and if it is, if it is worth sustaining.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-13-2012, 06:47 PM   #47
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

When you peel back the layers you come to the core issues of ego and money.
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:23 PM   #48
Chris Li
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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When you peel back the layers you come to the core issues of ego and money.
Well, I've got plenty of ego, but where's my money?

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-14-2012, 02:19 AM   #49
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Well, I've got plenty of ego, but where's my money?

Best,

Chris
Write a book!!!!
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Old 05-14-2012, 03:11 AM   #50
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Well, I've got plenty of ego, but where's my money?

Best,

Chris
Dear Chris,
Here was I sitting here thinking I was the only guy in town who had the same situation as you.Maybe we should ask for donations from Hombu or sing Buddy ,can you share a 50 dollar bill?[Song updated to make allowance for inflation].When /where shall the duet recording of the cd take place?Joe.
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