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Old 02-06-2004, 09:54 AM   #26
G DiPierro
Location: Ohio
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Quote:
Stuart Norton (stuartjvnorton) wrote:
I'd like to know average times as opposed to minimum times.
It's hard to say what the average times are without surveying a lot people. IME, times can vary widely. Among direct students of USAF-E shihan who train seriously, 4 or 5 years to shodan is probably the expected number. Among less serious students, or those in outlying dojos where a slightly different style might be taught or where there are not as many classes per week, 8 or 9 years is common, particularly if the students do not make a serious effort to attend seminars.

That said, I know of one USAF-E shidoin who only taught 3 or 4 days per week but who would give his students credit for having practiced 2 days if they attended 2 one-hour classes on one day, despite the fact that this is strictly against USAF policy. AFAIK, his students who were eligible for shodan have all passed on their first try. I also know of one student who I think had been practicing for over 20 years in a long-established USAF-E dojo but who simply never bothered to test for a dan rank. There really is a lot of variation, and even within one organization or one particular dojo, rank is not always indicative of relative skill.

I tend to agree with the other posters that total time in the art can be more indicative of the level of a student than rank, but there is still a good deal of individual variation in that. There is also the question of how often you have practiced during that time, with whom, and how intensely you have studied and applied the lessons available to you. All of these things matter, and it's not easy to say which is more important.

Believe it or not, people who stop practicing the art for several years often make a significant amount of progress in that time, even though they are not actually on the mat. I think this is because many of the lessons of aikido are not only useful in the dojo, but also in real life, and hence we have the opportunity to study and apply them even when we are not formally practicing. This is one reason why total time in the art often matters more than rank or practice hours. The lessons of aikido take time to digest, and practicing more intensely does not necessarily speed this process to a noticeable degree.

Still, there is no substitute for actually practicing on the mat nor for receiving instruction from those willing and able to give it to you. One of the reasons why people who study directly with shihan tend to progress faster is that every day is like a seminar in those dojos. Not only are they studying regularly with an excellent teacher, but there are also several advanced students available as partners. But even that situation does not guarantee a shortcut to mastering technique, even if it may be the fast track to higher rank.

Personally, I have found that learning to think about aikido on my own has been the most important skill in my development. I have reached the point where I go to seminars not to learn some new techniques or new ways of doing existing techniques, though that sometimes happens, but to compare my existing ideas with those of someone else with significantly more experience and to test them out and continue to develop them in a wider forum and with new partners. Normally, this process leads me to reach new insights, as I try to identify the principles underlying someone else's style of practice and apply them to to my own in order to determine how effective they are and why and how they could be modified to make them even more effective. I believe that such a comparative process applied to a wide range of teachers and styles yields the best understanding of the art as a whole.

So, in summary, forget about when you will get what rank and just focus on the learning the art. Personally, I would rather have the technique of a yondan and the rank of a shodan than vice versa. I think anyone who would choose the opposite is doing the art for the wrong reasons. People who are overly concerned with their ranking for purposes of vanity, ego gratification, or insecurity, are only doing a disservice to themselves, their students or juniors, and the art as a whole.
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Old 02-06-2004, 10:53 AM   #27
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Giancarlo, your post was spot on, thank you for writing it.

One thing I have noticed as a teacher (albeit a rather new one), is that my students have very different capabilities, even if they train every day. Time on the mat does matter tremendously though, and a student who trains 6 days a week is almost without exception going to progress quicker than one who trains 2 days a week. I have a couple students who come to almost every class, and they are excelling, where I have another who can only make 2-3 classes a week who is also doing remarkably well, but he's got 20-years of prior karate training.

Personally I equate the time spent practicing to be much more important than the rank obtained, and there is a certain amount of seasoning that the old farts have that the newer vigorous young bucks just don't possess, no matter how good they are.

Just my $.02
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Old 02-06-2004, 11:50 AM   #28
indomaresa
Dojo: Aiki Kenkyukai
Location: Indonesia
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
I agree with Hanna, but I have seen much too many cases when Japanese visitors with sandan or yondan rank but only a few years of experience come to a dojo whose teacher is a 15 years shodan or nidan. As etiquette requires, these guys sit in the highest place and are even asked to teach, whilst some of the students who are only 2nd or 1st kyu have much longer experience than these guys. What do you think about that?
i see no problem, a 15 year experience doesn't necessarily mean better and even if it does, it shouldn't matter. If nothing else, we could consider it a good manner to let a guest to take the honorary seat and position.

a few years experience doesn't necessarily mean they can't teach. training under a good sensei can provide an immense boost.

I remember that there's quite a few people on this forum who adamantly held the opinion that rank doesn't matter.

The road is long...
The path is steep...
So hire a guide to show you the shortcuts
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Old 02-07-2004, 04:26 PM   #29
Rachael
 
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I earned my Shotokan Shodan in about 4 and 1/2 years, but that was with dedicated daily training. It's the same with any martial art - the more you put into it the more you will get out. Although having a high rank is nice (and it impresses non martial artists when you tell them you're a black belt!! ), it is technique, skill and mental attitude which matter more IMO. I know a guy who trains in Kung Fu (and has done for about 7-8 years) but who has never graded, as he has a fear of exams/tests. To him, his 'official' beginner status doesn't bother him, as he knows his stuff and tries to improve on that. The fact that he is still classed as a beginner isn't important in his eyes, only perfection of technique.

The average time to Shodan in my Aikido dojo is about 5 years, although it obviously depends on the individual.

Shodan, Shotokan karate & 6th kyu Aikido

"The brave do not live forever, but the timid do not live at all."
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Old 02-10-2004, 11:40 AM   #30
giriasis
Dojo: Sand Drift Aikikai, Cocoa Florida
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We're part of the USAF-ER and our dojo averages about 6 years to shodan, although 7-8 isn't unusual at all. It's taken me 4 to get to 2nd kyu so that should give you an idea of how long it should take. I will probably take me another 3-4 years to get to shodan so that would put me in the 7-8 year range. We have had people test before the 6 years, but they had exception skills.

Last edited by giriasis : 02-10-2004 at 11:43 AM.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 02-10-2004, 12:52 PM   #31
Williamross77
 
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[quote]I'VE LOST THE RACE THEN...[quote]I DID NOT KNOW THERE WAS A RACE TO LOSE.

I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE THAT II IS MORE OF A WAY OF WALKING NOT THE DESTINATION. WHAT HAPPENS ONCE YOU GET THE SHODAN? IS THAT IT?

MAYBE YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE PROGRESS OF OTHERS, I HAVE BEEN IN MARTIAL ARTS OVER TEN YEARS AND OVER SIX HAVE BEEN FOCUSED ON FINDING "KI" NOT ON ATTAINING A BELT. IT HELPS OTHERS TO BELIEVE YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING WHEN THEY SEE THAT RANK. TRULY THOUGH THE RANK IS AN IMAGINARY THING. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT AIKIDO? IS IT WHAT MAKES YOU, YOU? IF SO YOU ALREADY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO TRAIN ANOTHER 12-25 YEARS. OF COURSE I DO NOT INTEND TO OFFEND ANY SHIHAN BY MY REMARKS ABOUT RANK BEING IMAGINARY, BECAUSE I STILL SEE THAT A 4TH DAN REQUIRES A DEDICATION TO THE ART WE LOVE, THAT I HOPE TO LIVE UP TO AND ADMIRE. AIKIDO IS IMPORTANT, NOT YOUR OBI.

THANKS FOR YOUR TIME...

in Aiki
Agatsu!!
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Old 02-10-2004, 02:07 PM   #32
Avery Jenkins
 
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I have another, corollary question that I'll throw out to the group here...

It is reasonable to expect that not everyone is capable of reaching dan rank? One may put in their time, polish their skills as much as possible, but their personal ceiling remains below what is required for their organization's dan rankings?

Avery

Avery Jenkins
www.averyjenkins.com
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Old 02-10-2004, 02:13 PM   #33
SmilingNage
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This kind of question usually gets me to chuckle atleast a few times. More often then not people who ask this question tend not to make that far.

It is a legit question, but your training should be a personal quest, not a quest for a belt. Take your time, learn your lessons, and learn how to apply what you have learned into technique that you can use.

I started with the idea of training until I reached my blackbelt with my current teacher. But with no rush to achieve that rank. Getting your black belt, IMO is really about your bond with your sensei. If you teacher feels comfortable with allowing you to test, then go for shodan. One should wait until your teacher approaches you to test for shodan. That is the ultimate respect your teacher can pay to your aikido. To badger your teacher about testing for shodan is the least respectful thing you can do.

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 02-10-2004, 02:53 PM   #34
Nacho_mx
Dojo: Federación Mexicana de Aikido
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The shodan rank is for "beginners" who begin to take their training seriously, the sooner one achieves it(in accordance to proper technical standars), the better, but it´s just a small step, not the ultimate goal. IMO if someone is not up to it, is wasting their time and their sensei´s and everybody´s time.

Last edited by Nacho_mx : 02-10-2004 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 02-10-2004, 03:09 PM   #35
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Hello Mr. Ross,

Please don't type in all caps, its generally considered 'shouting' on the internet, and kind of like being rude...

Thanks,

Ron (no offense intended) Tisdale

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 02-11-2004, 05:50 AM   #36
Ghost Fox
Dojo: Jikishinkan Dojo
Location: New York City (Brooklyn)
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Quote:
Avery Jenkins wrote:
It is reasonable to expect that not everyone is capable of reaching dan rank? One may put in their time, polish their skills as much as possible, but their personal ceiling remains below what is required for their organization's dan rankings?

Avery
In my personal opinion, I would have to say not everyone is capable of reaching dan rank. But for the most part, for these people Aikido is not their bag, and after a few month/years of practice they generally leave. No harm, no foul, not everyone is meant to be a doctor, or a police officer or a bad *ss Aikidoka.

On the other hand I think most Aikidoka who have practiced long enough have met the Yudansha who was promoted because of their sheer determination and/or commitment to the dojo of the mat.
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Old 02-11-2004, 09:39 AM   #37
Fred Little
Dojo: NJIT Budokai
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Time to Shodan?

In my corner of the universe, 8-12 years is a normal range for people training 4-5 times a week and making seminars on a regular basis.

Less time or less practice and it becomes difficult to hit the intensity level necessary to get over the hump.

The only individuals I'm aware of who came in significantly below this range came to aikido with a strong background in another system of movement -- wrestling, judo, and (I'm dead serious here) ballroom dance to cite three particular cases.

Fred Little
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Old 02-11-2004, 11:00 PM   #38
Williamross77
 
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No offense taken, i realized i had caps on only after i posted, but i think the content of the my post was subtle any way. thanks just the same. mr tinsdal, domo...

in Aiki
Agatsu!!
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Old 02-12-2004, 05:05 PM   #39
Amassus
 
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Bill - you can't help it if you have a booming voice, can you

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 02-13-2004, 03:57 AM   #40
justinm
Location: Maidenhead
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When should physical limitations restrict your ability to achieve shodan?

For instance, if a student is unable to take ukemi for medical reasons, and is only able to be tori, should they be able to reach shodan?

Any views?

Justin

Justin McCarthy
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Old 02-13-2004, 06:08 AM   #41
Ghost Fox
Dojo: Jikishinkan Dojo
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Quote:
Justin McCarthy (justinm) wrote:
When should physical limitations restrict your ability to achieve shodan?

For instance, if a student is unable to take ukemi for medical reasons, and is only able to be tori, should they be able to reach shodan?

Any views?

Justin
I personally feel if you no longer can do ukemi, then maybe it's time to take tai chi or explore other endevours. I don't think you need to be able to take breakfalls to do Aikido or have to practice hard at a killer pace, but you should still be able to do the fundamentals, like rolling.
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Old 02-13-2004, 08:22 AM   #42
aikidoc
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Justin-there is currently a black belt in a wheel chair-I believe a documentary is being made on her (I believe her name is Molly, but I'm not sure of her last name-she was featured in one of the Aiki Expo tapes.
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Old 02-17-2004, 03:37 PM   #43
p00kiethebear
 
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There was a story I once read of a father who was dissapointed in his son because hadn't passed the highschool entrance exam.

The father told the son that he had 5 tasks he was supposed to accomplish during his year off from highschool (it's not uncomon for a student to take a year off and take the exams again)

among these things was getting his black belt in any martial art. He chose Judou and recieved his shodan in less than a year.

It's really all about how much time you want to commit yourself to something, how badly you want it.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 02-17-2004, 03:46 PM   #44
akiy
 
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Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
Justin-there is currently a black belt in a wheel chair-I believe a documentary is being made on her (I believe her name is Molly, but I'm not sure of her last name-she was featured in one of the Aiki Expo tapes.
Molly Hale. Nice lady. I remember training with her at the San Rafael Retreat nearly six years ago. If I remember correctly, she was also present in her wheelchair (quite close to after her accident) at the seminar with Moriteru Ueshiba sensei that I attended back in 1995 or so.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article...ArticleID=1138

-- Jun

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Old 02-25-2004, 11:10 PM   #45
Largo
Dojo: Aikikai Dobunkan/ Icho Ryu Aikijujutsu
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So, what's the fastest that anyone has heard of someone getting an aikido shodan? (there is one guy in our dojo that got his in just under a year)
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Old 02-26-2004, 09:35 AM   #46
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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One year 11 months (with one month off for knee surgery). This was 7 days a week training at three dojos; 2-3 days a week with double training sessions; averaging 7-8 seminars a year (Southern California has lots of opportunities). I was single at the time. However, I did have about 1.5 years training 15 years prior (big gap). I had the training hours and the skills so my instructor evaluated me on those.
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Old 03-01-2004, 09:48 PM   #47
stuartjvnorton
 
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Quote:
Paul Mihalik (Largo) wrote:
So, what's the fastest that anyone has heard of someone getting an aikido shodan? (there is one guy in our dojo that got his in just under a year)
I've seen 2 who have done it in a year. 1 was an uchi deshi, and the other just started 1 day & turned up every single class (about 15 hours a week's worth) & staying back for more.

The Yoshinkan senshusei course also takes people through from zero to shodan in a year. There's a book called Angry White Pyjamas about, written by a guy who did it. Apparently, the stuff about the different people in it is a bit skewed for entertainment purposes, but the descriptions of the training are fairly accurate.
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Old 03-02-2004, 03:10 PM   #48
Bushi
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My friend got her black belt when she was 5, in 3 months... But that was in tai kwon do... (hehe!)
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