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Old 05-14-2012, 05:19 AM   #51
sakumeikan
Dojo: Sakumeikan N.E. Aikkai .Newcastle upon Tyne.
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
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
Dear Peter,
While you might find the prospect of a thousand people at a seminar where one man teaches the class,leaves you cold I bet the finance officer of the event will be thinking that Xmas comes more than once a year!!As an alternative for others why not visit some U.K summer schools, and the 1000 guys would get more for their yen, euros etc imo.?Hope you are well, Cheers, Joe
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:54 AM   #52
phitruong
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

you know with the money i spent on the dan certificates, i still have not figured out how to get a free cup of coffee at the local starbuck. or even get a discount for towing when my car broke down, similar to the AAA discount. definitely couldn't get a free donut hole. there is something very wrong about the idea of paying for holes.

i don't know about you folks, but my vote on the benefits of the aikikai improvement would be getting some sort of worldwide discount at various coffee and donut shops. those stuffs help my aiki immensely. extra bonus if we could get some movie rental discount too.

ps, did anyone even get a free T-shirt for all the money you sent to honbu? just wondering because i have been waiting for mine for awhile. must be slow postal service.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:23 PM   #53
danj
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Peter,
While you might find the prospect of a thousand people at a seminar where one man teaches the class,leaves you cold I bet the finance officer of the event will be thinking that Xmas comes more than once a year!!As an alternative for others why not visit some U.K summer schools, and the 1000 guys would get more for their yen, euros etc imo.?Hope you are well, Cheers, Joe
I've heard from a few that have attended and from what i hear its wall to wall shihans, who are training as students too. The learning from taking ukemi, and having them teach by taking ukemi for you sounds like something to really treasure and quite unique.

dan

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Old 05-15-2012, 05:57 AM   #54
JJF
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

It's interesting to note that this discussion is almost entirely driven by american aikido people who - for some reason - seem to have a quarrel with Aikikai one way or the other.

Consider this: what if a European country turned out to have more practitioners of something very american... say baseball, cheer leading or line dancing, and we started arguing that the national center for this activity should be moved to say Paris... "wait a minute now." I bet you would say. "this is an american tradition, so before we do something that drastic we need to make sure that you are fit to take care of it. First start at national federation, and we'll send some of our best people to check out how you are doing.". Is this entirely unlikely?

Next you would offer us a chance to become part of your national organisation (for a small fee) and have our teachers education validated by the international HQ in the US. This is pretty much how it works now - also for such organisations as Scientology. So how come it should be different when it comes to the Aikikai.

Aikido is a japanese budo. The "original" origins of it in china/India/other places aside. So let's accept that Aikido head quarter - for now - is in Japan, and let's get the best out of it. It's an organisation, and those that participate actively get a saying. Yes it's inconvenient that it's in Japan (assuming your not living there) but that's just the way it is.

And to all of you that - discretely - claims that US probably have far more and far better aikido instructors than any other place in the world: Guess what.. It might be so, but until you have proof thereof please get down from the high horse and pull in the same direction as everybody else. Being part of something big is not necessarily a bad thing, You might enjoy it if you embrace it.

JJ

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Old 05-15-2012, 06:56 AM   #55
phitruong
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
And to all of you that - discretely - claims that US probably have far more and far better aikido instructors than any other place in the world: Guess what.. It might be so, but until you have proof thereof please get down from the high horse and pull in the same direction as everybody else. Being part of something big is not necessarily a bad thing, You might enjoy it if you embrace it.

JJ
i don't think we ever claimed that the US is the center of the aikido world, or we are better or even hint at that. what we do is that annoying habit of questioning everything, including the authority, which usually doesn't go well with asian culture, since they have been, for generations, conditioned to obey authority; much easier to rule folks that way. also, the US folks sort of enjoy the whole nail sticking out instead of staying down. personally, i still am waiting for the aikikai t-shirt that said "i paid hundreds of dollars and this is the t-shirt i got". i have been waiting for years now. must be really slow postal service. meanwhile, i will go down the local starbuck and get me a latte with my discount card which i earned. wonder if i show them my yudansha cert, i would get more discount... probably not, but who know, i might impress the ladies.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:12 AM   #56
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Most people in Europe below 4th Dan have nothing to do with the Aikikai Hombu so they have no problem with it. above that level you will also have no problem if you know how to work the system and you want to. I personally don't have a problem with it. I see it as the Ueshiba family business and they have a right to make it work if they can and the market stretches to it. On the other hand, the maze of conflicting regulations, some that only seem to count for non Japanese, the arrogance of some of the "Shihans", the mystery of what you are paying for when you receive your dan grades, etc, can lead to a sometimes jaundiced feeling. I am not anti-Japan, I have been there 10 times over the last 20 years, I follow a Japanese Shihan, but I am not blind to their shortcomings, nor ours (mine). We have a right and responsibility to question, as Phi says, and the predominance of Americans here makes sense, many europeans can't read English

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:16 AM   #57
Marc Abrams
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
It's interesting to note that this discussion is almost entirely driven by american aikido people who - for some reason - seem to have a quarrel with Aikikai one way or the other.

Consider this: what if a European country turned out to have more practitioners of something very american... say baseball, cheer leading or line dancing, and we started arguing that the national center for this activity should be moved to say Paris... "wait a minute now." I bet you would say. "this is an american tradition, so before we do something that drastic we need to make sure that you are fit to take care of it. First start at national federation, and we'll send some of our best people to check out how you are doing.". Is this entirely unlikely?

Next you would offer us a chance to become part of your national organisation (for a small fee) and have our teachers education validated by the international HQ in the US. This is pretty much how it works now - also for such organisations as Scientology. So how come it should be different when it comes to the Aikikai.

Aikido is a japanese budo. The "original" origins of it in china/India/other places aside. So let's accept that Aikido head quarter - for now - is in Japan, and let's get the best out of it. It's an organisation, and those that participate actively get a saying. Yes it's inconvenient that it's in Japan (assuming your not living there) but that's just the way it is.

And to all of you that - discretely - claims that US probably have far more and far better aikido instructors than any other place in the world: Guess what.. It might be so, but until you have proof thereof please get down from the high horse and pull in the same direction as everybody else. Being part of something big is not necessarily a bad thing, You might enjoy it if you embrace it.

JJ
Jorgen:

Have you ever heard of the sport Baseball? Internationally, we do not always win. Frankly, I do not recall the types of difficulties with that you have alluded to above in how Americans might react to somebody doing something better than us, that we invented.

Thank you for sharing with us your "issues" with us Americans. I would suggest more fiber in your diet. it will help you pass what ever bones you have stuck up your large colon with Americans.... Back to horseback riding with all of my other cowboy friends.....

Marc Abrams
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:40 AM   #58
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

I believe the founder of Aikido had a vision that Aikido was for the world. Our differences can be transcended as we get on the mat and practice sincerely.

We all have our stories about how it was, what it is like now and how it will be. None of that matters except to the ego. No matter how it is justified, we all make our own choices.

I have a high rank from a small organzation where my husband is the head teacher. I know how that must seem to to others. It doesn't matter. What matters happens on the mat and in our lives.

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Old 05-15-2012, 07:47 AM   #59
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Jorgen:
Have you ever heard of the sport Baseball? Internationally, we do not always win. Frankly, I do not recall the types of difficulties with that you have alluded to above in how Americans might react to somebody doing something better than us, that we invented.

Thank you for sharing with us your "issues" with us Americans. I would suggest more fiber in your diet. it will help you pass what ever bones you have stuck up your large colon with Americans.... Back to horseback riding with all of my other cowboy friends.....

Marc Abrams
Hi Marc

well.. I get plenty of fiber.. and I have good friends in America, so if my statement seems to you as an attack on Americans as a whole then it was far from my intention. English is not my first language so I might not state my point as precise as they should be. For you to interpret this as a hostile attitude towards the whole US is your choice and not my intention. However I do find it puzzling that there seem to be a little stars and stripes next to pretty much every post (in this and a few other dialogues on this forum) that criticize the Aikikai. It may be due to the fact that most posts here are by Americans, but it just still seems like something that is worth giving a little thought.

To quote just two posts from the above debate you yourself wrote in post #20:
"We do recognize that Aikido is a Japanese martial art that is now on an international scale, so much so that there are non-Japanese teachers who could easily walk into the Hombu dojo and teach people there at a very, very high level. If this organization wants to retain any kind of genuine relevance, outside of a lasting family tradition, then they can no longer hide behind the cultural ways of the past."

I know this is taken out of context, and you have some otherwise very interesting arguments in that post with which I agree. Albeit in post #32 Mr. Ledyard said:
"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."

These were a few of the comments that made me feel a little bit offended by the whole thread and the point I hoped to get across was:.. yes.. it may be so.. but the Aikikai is already created by Japanese people, and it is not fair to expect it to be run by american standards.

My gastric system aside I guess I struck a nerve. It just seems funny to me that it is okay to play the "Japanese people are just taking care of their own kind" but not okay to point out that there is a chance that american aikidoists (in this forum, in this debate) can have a tendency to do the same.

Anyway. I am probably just fanning the flames here. And these posts will never have the level of detail to get our opinions across in a way that will not appear offending to at least some readers, so I'll just leave it for now. If anybody want to discuss this in more detail I'll be happy to meet you on or off the mat for a beer and a frank discussion if the chance should arise.

Cheers!

JJ

PS: just had to add: Mary Eastland: The first two paragraphs of your post #58 are what I wished I'd written. Thank you.

Last edited by JJF : 05-15-2012 at 07:51 AM.

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Old 05-15-2012, 07:58 AM   #60
phitruong
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
We all have our stories about how it was, what it is like now and how it will be. None of that matters except to the ego. No matter how it is justified, we all make our own choices.
.
ego is a funny thing. it tends to show up where one least expected, usually in places where we stop questioning or searching. for example, the other day, i realized that my waffle is kinda small so i ended up eating two in a row. folks might say size does not matter. i, on the other hand, the left one, the other left, begged the differ.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:46 AM   #61
Cliff Judge
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
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.

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
I think moving to a koryu-style system of licenses wouldn't work. It would wipe Aikido out, leaving very small groups that would not be as interested in coming together and training. There would be much less quality control.

Essentially, what you would be doing would be removing kyu ranks and most of the dan ranks. When you were fortunate enough to get an interested prospective new student, the first recognition she would receive would be a "you are officially a beginner" certificate after some years of training. Then after that, another several years of hard training until a "you can do this stuff well enough for us to tell you a little bit about what you are actually doing" certificate. Then many more years until a "you can do this in public" license, and then years after that if you can endure the disillusion and outrage, you MAY get a "you now officially own what you have been doing and can go out in the world and teach it" license.

There is no assurance at all of quality in this setup. You could still have instructors giving ranks out for whatever reason. But worse, this kind of system doesn't seem to have much to offer someone who is not very serious. You are not going to get people who are looking for something that is good general exercise with a kinda cool philosophy, or even the people who really, really love it but just cannot keep rolling that boulder up the mountain week after week.

So you aren't going to make rent, bottom line.

Now, I think a very personal, hands-on relationship between student and instructor is a better way to transmit skills than the "lecture" style of most mainstream Aikido dojos, where the instructor manifests some awesome stuff and then everybody pairs off and works on it to the best of their understanding and ability. But the lecture style accommodates a wider range of student. And furthermore, the lecture style is traditional - Osensei and Takeda both had personal students but they also taught seminars. Yoshinkan was designed from the ground up to be taught to large groups.

if you shrink the classes and select only the most focused students, aside from shrinking the global Aikido population dramatically, I think you will also make the groups less interested in training with each other for a variety of reasons. You would be less interested in attending a seminar over the weekend with a visiting shihan, because what are you going to do afterwards? Come back to your regular class, where you are being personally molded by your own sensei, and try out the new stuff you learned at the seminar? Also, since you've removed the rent base from the art, you are probably only training in someone's garage on weekends anyways. So you'd have to miss your regular class. I have been training with two small koryu groups on weekends and it is just too important for me to attend every single class i can, to skip off and attend all of the wonderful Aikido seminars that are hosted around my area. Its not just that I have such a limited opportunity to practice these things regularly, its that I have an obligation to my instructors to be there so that they aren't wasting their time. I think deepening the relationship between student and teacher with a koryu-style system of training and rank will raise these issues of obligation.

Several koryu of which I am aware seem to have adopted kyu/dan systems anyways, for the purpose of fostering larger communities. The iaido and jodo that is practiced under the auspices of the kendo federation, for example, and also Hontai Yoshin ryu. So that tells me that when the decision is made to "go global" the more impersonal, organizationally-oriented belt rank system is a comfortable fit.

The internationally-recognized belt ranks might be one of the best services the Aikikai can provide. It provides a sense of commonality to practitioners around the world. Even if quality fluctuates, if you've got people from different parts of the world willing to train with each other, there's the chance that the quality gaps can close themselves as people meet and train with people who are better than they are.

Last edited by Cliff Judge : 05-15-2012 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:56 AM   #62
grondahl
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Essentially, what you would be doing would be removing kyu ranks and most of the dan ranks. When you were fortunate enough to get an interested prospective new student, the first recognition she would receive would be a "you are officially a beginner" certificate after some years of training. Then after that, another several years of hard training until a "you can do this stuff well enough for us to tell you a little bit about what you are actually doing" certificate. Then many more years until a "you can do this in public" license, and then years after that if you can endure the disillusion and outrage, you MAY get a "you now officially own what you have been doing and can go out in the world and teach it" license.

There is no assurance at all of quality in this setup. You could still have instructors giving ranks out for whatever reason. But worse, this kind of system doesn't seem to have much to offer someone who is not very serious. You are not going to get people who are looking for something that is good general exercise with a kinda cool philosophy, or even the people who really, really love it but just cannot keep rolling that boulder up the mountain week after week.

So you aren't going to make rent, bottom line.
Do you really think that´s the prospect of getting ranked that keeps members in? Not the joy of training, the challenge in learning something really difficult, the social aspect of being a member of a dojo etc?
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:30 AM   #63
Cliff Judge
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Peter Gr�ndahl wrote: View Post
Do you really think that�s the prospect of getting ranked that keeps members in? Not the joy of training, the challenge in learning something really difficult, the social aspect of being a member of a dojo etc?
Absolutely! It feeds into and out of all of the things you mentioned. (Feeds out of? )

Kyu and early dan ranks provide attainable goals to strive towards, there is a certain amount of ceremony to it, its a chance for students to show what they are made of, and if successful, the student gets this gold star in terms of a new rank.

Seeing as how the first four or five years of training would be probationary in an older art, the kyu ranks give beginners a sense that they are actually getting somewhere.
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Old 05-15-2012, 09:33 AM   #64
Chris Li
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
I think moving to a koryu-style system of licenses wouldn't work. It would wipe Aikido out, leaving very small groups that would not be as interested in coming together and training. There would be much less quality control.
I wasn't aware that there's any quality control now!

I don't think that small groups is a bad thing, per se, but you're right - I don't see it happening.

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post

There is no assurance at all of quality in this setup. You could still have instructors giving ranks out for whatever reason. But worse, this kind of system doesn't seem to have much to offer someone who is not very serious. You are not going to get people who are looking for something that is good general exercise with a kinda cool philosophy, or even the people who really, really love it but just cannot keep rolling that boulder up the mountain week after week.

So you aren't going to make rent, bottom line.
Then the concern becomes - should we be trying to make rent, or should we be trying to do Aikido?

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
if you shrink the classes and select only the most focused students, aside from shrinking the global Aikido population dramatically, I think you will also make the groups less interested in training with each other for a variety of reasons. You would be less interested in attending a seminar over the weekend with a visiting shihan, because what are you going to do afterwards? Come back to your regular class, where you are being personally molded by your own sensei, and try out the new stuff you learned at the seminar? Also, since you've removed the rent base from the art, you are probably only training in someone's garage on weekends anyways.
There's the cash thing again .

Nobody said anything about deliberately shrinking the classes or selecting only the most focused students. Universities turn out millions of students who interact with each other and attend seminars with other academics. All with only three basic degrees - and you don't have to pay any more for them than the regular tuition.

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-15-2012, 09:38 AM   #65
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Absolutely! It feeds into and out of all of the things you mentioned. (Feeds out of? )

Kyu and early dan ranks provide attainable goals to strive towards, there is a certain amount of ceremony to it, its a chance for students to show what they are made of, and if successful, the student gets this gold star in terms of a new rank.

Seeing as how the first four or five years of training would be probationary in an older art, the kyu ranks give beginners a sense that they are actually getting somewhere.
And that's exactly how they were used in Japan - for children, until they got adopted by Jigoro Kano and caught fire. For children, I think that they're great!

Best,

Chris

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Old 05-15-2012, 10:42 AM   #66
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

It seems to me that the big issue in this thread really comes down to quality vs rank in which case you just do your own thing. The aikikai doesn't offer much beyond legacy and organizational recognition, but if the concern is quality then you just ditch them and do your own thing.

A lot of crap gets heaped on the post-war guys for making "Modern Aikido" but Ueshiba had as much a hand in that as anyone. For every "this is not my aikido" story there's two pictures of him letting kids kokyunage him, smiling the entire time or quotes of him talking about how aikido is for everyone, young, old, kids, cats, dogs, sharks with lasers. It should be quite obvious that in his later years, aikido was no longer just about the martial application of aiki. Doing aikido became more important than being able to do something with aikido.
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:56 AM   #67
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
And to all of you that - discretely - claims that US probably have far more and far better aikido instructors than any other place in the world: Guess what.. It might be so, but until you have proof thereof please get down from the high horse and pull in the same direction as everybody else. Being part of something big is not necessarily a bad thing, You might enjoy it if you embrace it.

JJ
This is globalizing from statements made in these forums to the effect that many people here in the States who are familiar with training at Hombu Dojo back in O-Sensei's day and shortly thereafter, see what is taking place there now, and are generally familiar with the best of training here in the States believe that much of the training available here in the States is superior to that available at the Hombu Dojo.

This isn't some American "high horse" point of view. I am cordial with three of the Japanese Shihan who trained at Hombu back in what might be seen as the post war Golden Age. They say precisely the same thing. In fact that was one of the things they tried to do when they came here, i.e. preserve a kind of training that was seen as disappearing at headquarters.

I have not heard or read that anyone here in the States believes that we have more (definitely not true) or better (as variable here as any place) instructors than other countries. Yes, this forum tends to have a bit US centric slant because the number of folks posting here on the English threads of Aikiweb are from the states and that's what folks know best.

No, the focus of these comments has little or nothing to do with Europe, South America, Australia, or even dojos in Japan other than the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. It is the headquarters dojo that has the uchi deshi, professional teacher training program. In other words, as one of the only professional instructor training programs in the world, we can suppose that the product of their efforts will be amongst the top instructors around the world. Certainly their graduates get the higher ranks and are sent all over the world to teach when Hombu receives requests for instructors. Since this is true, one would hope that they would be producing instructors of the highest technical ability as they did back in the days up to the 70's.

So, the discussion revolves around the prevalent attitude at Hombu that Aikido is the Ueshiba family art and they are the hub from which proper Aikido proceeds outwards to the rest of us (the US and the rest of the world alike). Personally, I do not believe that. Aikido went forth a long time ago and any number of really talented and devoted people have run with the art for many decades. Many of us received training from our teachers that simply is not available at Headquarters any more. I am sure the same can be said of many European senior teachers, like Christian Tissier. I would much rather train under him than any of the teachers currently at headquarters because, regardless of their individual talents, they are expected to teach a certain syllabus that is fairly simple. Many of the senior teachers who have taught at Hombu have their own dojos and what they teach at their own places can often be quite different than what they teach under the official auspices of Hombu.

So, to get the discussion back on track... the original post wanted a discussion of what was good about association with the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. My perception has been that the number one reason dojos in the States have had for wishing to have this association was to have their ranks validated by the Aikikai Headquarters. We have pretty much exhausted that particular discussion.

So what other positive elements are there. I suppose a connection with the family and Aikido history.... after all this is the dojo at which my own teacher was trained and at which he was an important teacher for many years. There any number of very senior American teachers who do not maintain a relationship with the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. It was Francis Takahashi Sensei's position that we have to go more than half way to meet the Doshu and the folks at Hombu. I see it somewhat differently... I look at my friends who are quite happily teaching and awarding their own ranks, producing wonderful students. traveling teaching seminars, etc. It seems to me that, if the headquarters organization wishes to be inclusive and bring serious practitioners like this into the fold, it is up to them to be relevant, to provide some reason why we over here would wish to associate. I mean, association requires paperwork, entails money being sent to Japan that might otherwise stay here, and compels one to give up direct control of time in grade requirement etc. So, my question is still why? There has to be some compelling reason to give up something... in other words, what comes back? I just don't see that, for many folks, especially our most senior teachers in the States and elsewhere, there is anything very compelling that comes back to them for associating...

George S. Ledyard
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:08 AM   #68
Conrad Gus
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
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.
I like the way George puts this, and I would argue that it is still true today.

For those people who have "no connection" to hombu today, and whose teachers have no connection, you would probably only have to walk back one or two more generations of teachers to get to someone that was an original student of O-Sensei. So even though there is no current interaction, there is still a connection indirectly through the lineage of teachers. I think this is very important and it is disingenuous to disregard it just to make a point.

Of course, the aikikai isn't the only game in town with a connection to O-Sensei, it's just the largest. Being in the aikikai or another well-respected aikido organization (Yoshinkan, Tomiki, etc.) means that you are part of a lineage and your skills and teaching align (at least a little bit!) with what the rest of the lineage is doing. It's not just paying a bunch of money for a certificate from someone who doesn't care who you are (BTW, my certificates are all beautifully hand-painted - is that not standard?).

If you get an aikido rank from this guy, you might have a more difficult time convincing people you are legit.

I think there is something really enjoyable about being a part of a lineage and a tradition that has spread all over the world. If you read the original post (or the thread title), I was interested in benefits, but I guess aikiweb is more interested in complaining this week.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:10 AM   #69
Conrad Gus
 
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
It seems to me that the big issue in this thread really comes down to quality vs rank in which case you just do your own thing. The aikikai doesn't offer much beyond legacy and organizational recognition, but if the concern is quality then you just ditch them and do your own thing.

A lot of crap gets heaped on the post-war guys for making "Modern Aikido" but Ueshiba had as much a hand in that as anyone. For every "this is not my aikido" story there's two pictures of him letting kids kokyunage him, smiling the entire time or quotes of him talking about how aikido is for everyone, young, old, kids, cats, dogs, sharks with lasers. It should be quite obvious that in his later years, aikido was no longer just about the martial application of aiki. Doing aikido became more important than being able to do something with aikido.
I think you mean "lasers". (Sorry, just watched the Austin Powers series last week).
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:34 AM   #70
philipsmith
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

I've been following the thread with interest, and its made me question why I feel a link with Hombu is soe important.

I have over the years trained with many guys who were not associated with the Hombu, either having lost the connection a long time ago or who never had it in the first place.

In the main (although their were some exceptions) I found their Aikido to be either crude or ineffective or both; with the instructors "stuck in a rut" even to the point of saying things like "Modern Aikido is not a martial art".

This I believe to be a symptom of isolation and maybe the best aspect of being associated with the Hombu - and especially of having regular contact through visiting Shihan - is that the student can measure themselves (and be measured) to a common standard against others throughout the Aikido world.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:41 AM   #71
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
It's interesting to note that this discussion is almost entirely driven by american aikido people who - for some reason - seem to have a quarrel with Aikikai one way or the other.

Consider this: what if a European country turned out to have more practitioners of something very american... say baseball, cheer leading or line dancing, and we started arguing that the national center for this activity should be moved to say Paris... "wait a minute now." I bet you would say. "this is an american tradition, so before we do something that drastic we need to make sure that you are fit to take care of it. First start at national federation, and we'll send some of our best people to check out how you are doing.". Is this entirely unlikely?

Next you would offer us a chance to become part of your national organisation (for a small fee) and have our teachers education validated by the international HQ in the US. This is pretty much how it works now - also for such organisations as Scientology. So how come it should be different when it comes to the Aikikai.

Aikido is a japanese budo. The "original" origins of it in china/India/other places aside. So let's accept that Aikido head quarter - for now - is in Japan, and let's get the best out of it. It's an organisation, and those that participate actively get a saying. Yes it's inconvenient that it's in Japan (assuming your not living there) but that's just the way it is.

And to all of you that - discretely - claims that US probably have far more and far better aikido instructors than any other place in the world: Guess what.. It might be so, but until you have proof thereof please get down from the high horse and pull in the same direction as everybody else. Being part of something big is not necessarily a bad thing, You might enjoy it if you embrace it.

JJ
I'm no longer an Aikikai affiliated person (haven't been in 16 years or so), nor do I currently practice aikido anymore. From following conversations in Aikiweb in the past few years, one would have to recognize that Americans have been pushing for reasserting "aiki" into aikido. I'm not looking to turn this thread into a debate over that, but arguably Americans are trying to better aikido by returning it to what some might consider its roots. There is of course institutional inertia working against them, as it doesn't seem like the honbu overall is advocating for change.

What are the benefits of a large organization? Well asides from conferring rank and standardization, both of which have their merits and faults, the main ones to me would be networking and leveraging of resources.

Networking would certainly allow for one to train elsewhere or utilize relationships for the exchange of information. For a rank and file member, how much benefit do they gain from leveraging of resources? That to me is questionable. Perhaps, it allows for organization of large seminars or bringing over big named instructors or some combination thereof, but to a rank and file member there are additional monetary costs (seminars usually aren't free by big name people), and the question then becomes how much face time do they really get during such a seminar? Standardization is beneficial to some extent, as much like a McDonald's franchise, you can walk in the door and pretty much know what you are getting (portion sizes and some additional menu items aside, McDonalds in Japan and Germany taste much the same as in New York City). On the other hand, it can stifle innovation and evolution of an art, unless those at the top allow for change.

Now one could leverage the resources of a large organization like the aikikai and start some sort of standards committees to investigate various changes, much like the Japanese do in the tech world, but who knows if Budo is ready for that, the Americans seem to be, and I have no way to speak for the europeans.

From a personal perspective, my experience with large budo organizations has been almost exclusively negative, but I probably don't have the same experiences as the average martial artist who walks into a dojo which has a large national or international affiliation.
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:11 PM   #72
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Conrad Gustafson wrote: View Post
I like the way George puts this, and I would argue that it is still true today.

For those people who have "no connection" to hombu today, and whose teachers have no connection, you would probably only have to walk back one or two more generations of teachers to get to someone that was an original student of O-Sensei. So even though there is no current interaction, there is still a connection indirectly through the lineage of teachers. I think this is very important and it is disingenuous to disregard it just to make a point.

Of course, the aikikai isn't the only game in town with a connection to O-Sensei, it's just the largest. Being in the aikikai or another well-respected aikido organization (Yoshinkan, Tomiki, etc.) means that you are part of a lineage and your skills and teaching align (at least a little bit!) with what the rest of the lineage is doing. It's not just paying a bunch of money for a certificate from someone who doesn't care who you are (BTW, my certificates are all beautifully hand-painted - is that not standard?).

If you get an aikido rank from this guy, you might have a more difficult time convincing people you are legit.

I think there is something really enjoyable about being a part of a lineage and a tradition that has spread all over the world. If you read the original post (or the thread title), I was interested in benefits, but I guess aikiweb is more interested in complaining this week.
I share your thinking. I think it may have been too much to ask for a "half-full only" glass of water, though.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:51 PM   #73
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

I'd like to add that I've really enjoyed this thread. I've been able to read some really well-thought and well-worded insights into something that interests me, despite my not being a member of the Aikikai. I see it as the central organizational extension of O Sensei's lineage; certainly that of his family; and because I study their art to whatever extent I can be said to study it, it's of interest to me.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Matthew

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Old 05-15-2012, 06:47 PM   #74
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

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Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Peter,
While you might find the prospect of a thousand people at a seminar where one man teaches the class,leaves you cold I bet the finance officer of the event will be thinking that Xmas comes more than once a year!!As an alternative for others why not visit some U.K summer schools, and the 1000 guys would get more for their yen, euros etc imo.?Hope you are well, Cheers, Joe
Hello Joe,

The large seminars are a feature of any training event that Doshu himself attends, especially when he travels abroad. In Japan, too, at IAF meetings, 800-1,000 tatami is the minimum number of mats required for people to train without being uncomfortably aware of bumping into people. My own view is that, in terms of seeing what Doshu is actually doing and teaching, such seminars are not at all useful. On the other hand, other aspects of such seminars have been mentioned, like being part of the crowd in a general papal audience. Visitors to Tanabe in 2008 generally enjoyed the experience, partly because Tanabe still has the atmosphere of a small country town, with the sea and mountains not far away. It all adds to the exotic flavour of doing aikido in Japan.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 05-15-2012, 07:14 PM   #75
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Benefits of the Aikikai

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Hello Peter,

Kochira kosoo. Nanadan no koto, O medetoo Gozaimashita!

My scholarship is most meager as to be non existent. Yours is the counsel and legitimacy of research that I would seek in any matters of history of fact.

My information was gleaned from snippets of conversation overheard from those Japanese folk with direct ties with O Sensei, Kisshomaru Doshu, Osawa Sensei, Fujita Sensei etc.. The accuracy of my recollections is also most suspect, and I would appreciate any corrections and updates you would be so kind as to furnish.

As to Moriteru, his time is not yet past, so I believe that restraint, relevancy and respect is in order prior to offering any current judgment.

in oneness,

francis
Hello Francis,

Many thanks for the response.

Did you ever know Seiichi Seko? When I knew him, he was IAF General Secretary. Originally he worked for Kinya Fujita, designer of golf courses, who was instrumental in setting up the original Kobukai in 1940. Fujita was one of Morihei Ueshiba's circle of acquaintances and friends during the war years. Of course, he also trained at the Kobukan, but I do not know how intensively. He might have been one of those who attended the morning class before going off to his office, much like many others did from 1955 onwards, when the Hombu resumed serious operations. Mr Seko did all the paperwork for the 1948 registration of the Aikikai with the government, but the initiative came once again from Fujita, who saw the advantage of a foundation for the postwar reconstruction of aikido. So, both in 1940 and in 1948, the creation of the organization was due in large part to political circumstances and to the efforts of business acquaintances. It would be a major mistake, however, to write off such people as Fujita as interested solely in commercial gain. Morihei Ueshiba himself knew the value of such a powerful circle of acquaintances. Neither in 1940 nor in 1948 could the dojo have survived without the support of such acquaintances.

The interesting issue is what happens when the political circumstances change and the original reasons for the creation of such an organization cease to exist. The organization then needs to reinvent itself, but the my own experience suggests that, with Japan especially, organizations are only as good as the people in them.

Best wishes,

PAG

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