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Old 11-03-2005, 04:40 PM   #26
Rupert Atkinson
Rupert Atkinson's Avatar
Dojo: Wherever I am.
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 995
United Kingdom
Re: When is long enough to long?

Nick Simpson wrote:
The other thing I find funny is the people who have the high grades and that received them relatively quickly have put in place a system that stops others from doing so.
Sorry about the blinding assumption - and you are right on the ball with the above. It's all b/s at the end of the day.

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Old 11-04-2005, 03:17 AM   #27
Nick Simpson
Dojo: White Rose Aikido - Durham University
Location: Gateshead
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 916
United Kingdom
Re: When is long enough to long?

No problems rupert

It's great to see people discussing a topic like this in the open without it falling apart into 'Our grading system is better' or 'all shihan are right and how dare you doubt them'.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 11-04-2005, 03:54 PM   #28
Jack Simpson
Dojo: Western Maryland Aikikai - Frederick, Maryland
Location: hangin' with the tengu in the "mountains" of Maryland
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 91
Re: When is long enough to long?

Dennis Hooker wrote:
Thanks for the input folks. If you have not seen the training section of the Aiki Web there are a few good arterials on the subject of age, health and training. This one I wrote a few years ago http://www.aikiweb.com/training/hooker5.html

One of the questions I may not have made clear enough in asking "When is long enough to long" is, is there a lack of parity in recognition. Some Americans (again I am not experienced with other countries) have trained in their various arts with a specific instructor two or three times longer than that teacher studied with his sensei. Some of these people are really talented. Yet they never seem to reach, or are given recognition for reaching, the same height as their teachers. Even though they may have actively trained under strict supervision two or three times longer than their teacher did. As for myself I have gained more than I ever believed possible, but I have friends in various arts that have not received the recognition and I believe respect due them. Of course their evaluation of their situation and my concurrence could be wrong.
Dear Hooker Sensei,

This is an interesting line of discussion. On the simpler question of "age and the mat", I am moving into the "old wolf" phase. Here we don't have "young lions" only "old wolves and wolf cubs". My sensei, Clyde, laughed when I told him I was 46 recently, as that was the age he told me that he finally had to stop taking every class during a seminar. I'm hoping to hold on for a few more years on that. I also read somewhere that O Sensei was thought to be at his physical prime at 50, so I figure I've got 4 more years to get there

On the second line of discussion concerning recognition, I know there has been considerable advancement within the USAF to formally recognize (shihan) long time practitioners and I applaud this and feel it long overdue.

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Old 11-12-2005, 01:58 AM   #29
Matthew White
Location: OKC, OK
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 28
Re: When is long enough to long?

I've just turned 30 and my body's starting to tell me to slow down (knees and back, etc.) in most things, so I'm trying to fix what damage I've done, mitigate what can't be fixed, and stop hurting myself all-around. The question I have is, what benefit does going "hard and fast" have for young lions? Is it pounding out the ego (or feeding it?) or just burning off excess energy, or teaching us the limits and implications of what our bodies are able to (not) endure? I ask because I look back at some of the stuff I've done (in sports, martial arts, etc.) and wonder, "did I have to do it that way". Though I'm only a shodan, I now feel my responsibility to the mudansha and I'm wondering if it wouldn't be prudent (if possible) to eliminate all this "abuse" we seem so keen to put ourselves through, and, as a result, 40 years down the road have teachers that don't have the issues that you've been speaking of.
Is that possible/advisable/etc.? Or is brutalizing ourselves all part of growing up active?
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Old 11-13-2005, 08:27 PM   #30
Janet Rosen
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Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,340
Re: When is long enough to long?

I'm not yet 51 and as a consequence of severe knee trauma a few yrs back now have very severe osteoarthritis in the knee. It may be highly imprudent for me to return to training unless I simply stop taking rolls/falls (except a few now and then by accident won't kill me--I'm talking ongoing wear and tear) but unlike many my age/degree of worn out, I've been training less than 10 yrs. I cannot stop thinking that I'm "cheating" myself or interfering with my learning if I stop fully receiving the technique.
Hard stuff to put my head around.

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 11-13-2005, 10:45 PM   #31
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Location: Orlando, FL
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Re: When is long enough to long?

Janet, learning can manifest in numerous ways, not all of which require that you abuse an ailing body. Some who have heavily weighted their training toward the physical have neglected the mental/spiritual/philosophical aspects of the art. The later years afford the opportunity to bring back a balance. And there is also much that you can contribute to others through teaching. As for the physical, you will always be the sole authority on what is or is not good for you. Take ownership of that fact, and move forward without regrets.
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Old 11-14-2005, 10:17 AM   #32
Location: STL
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 56
Re: When is long enough to long?

I'm going to go ahead and take the "young lion" perspective here (25), as well as the "super rookie" perspective (5th class is tonight).

However, I would have to say that my outlook is a little skewed on this subject since I read and studied the philsophy of aikido for approx. 5 years before signing up for a class.

1. On the subject of rank... I didn't get into this to gain rank. Nor do I have a "goal" that I need to reach rank-wise to feel fulfilled in my training. In my opinion, if I can't perform all the techniques required for 6th kyu with perfection (or as close to it as can be expected) then I shouldn't be 6th kyu. Maybe this will take the required 3 months, maybe it will take 3 years, and maybe I'll never get there. In my opinion, Aikido is like everything else, a journey, not a destination. I came into this with the understanding that "training doesn't really start until you've been involved in it for approx. 5 years" (Paraphrase), which now that I'm into it I'm guessing means Shodan. Would I like to get there? Sure! If after 30 years of training if I'm not there, will I still have increased the quality of my life and the lives of those whom are affected by my training? Sure! So, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. I don't plan on having my last rank on my epitaph.

2. "Intensity in training" Well... I'm wondering how to describe this. Once again, having read and studied a LOT before getting into this, I may have a slightly different perspective from someone my age who just walks into a dojo wanting to learn a martial art. When I think about the intensity of my training, I consider it to be intensity of focus. Yes, there are techniques that take a toll on my body (*cough*rollinghurtsme*cough*), but my idea of training is to train my technique to minimize the effect it has on my physically. For example, I want to refine my rolling technique so much that I can roll around when I'm 65 and still be fine. (Note: I'm pretty sure if you've been doing this very long, you've had that "perfect roll" that you don't even feel. I'm talking about making every roll like this.)

The most "intense" exercise I've done so far was one that required a lot of focus. Yesterday, we did an exercise where you start out with your hand raised for a "blade of the hand" strike to the center of the head (yes, I know, I still don't know the name of this) and your uke does the same. Your hands are placed back to back, and you practice rotating your hand around Uke's (as opposed to grabbing the hand, which I was doing previously). This was by far and away (because of the concentration it required from me) the most intense thing I'd done, and it was great. That is my idea of intensity, not how far I get thrown or how hard I hit the ground.

Just my perspective.

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Old 09-14-2008, 11:15 PM   #33
Rennis Buchner
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 62
Re: When is long enough to long?

Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Incidentally, my highschool in Japan had teenage girls who were Sandan and above at Shodo (calligraphy, and I seem to remember one girl being Rokudan) and several teenage boys of Sandan and above in Go (and Sandan in these arts is not to be scoffed at lightly, they have real skill). Tell them you are Shodan, Nidan, or Sandan at something and it won't mean much to them. Indeed, if you proudly state that you are Nidan after 20 years (me), they'll probably think, What a bafoon!
I have a couple of Japanese friends that graduated high school in Japan with a 10-dan in Shodo. The dan system in shodo and such is rather different (as explained to me, in Shodo the first teaching licenses are considered after one reaches 10-dan) and don't carry over directly into many martial arts so your argument doesn't exactly hold up. In my experience the fact is that in Japan today among the general population who doesn't know much about budo the view is more or less the same as in the West "Oh... do you have a black belt?".

That said you are right that in Japan in the martial arts the dan isn't as "strong" as it is in the West and a 20 year nidan is pretty much unheard of these days. I recently spent time with an elderly sensei pushing 90 who is menkyo kaiden in a sword tradition and in his view most of the 8th dans in the kendo renmei were just "intermediate students" and a lot of then had no business teaching yet. He is far from the only voice I have heard express similar opinions of the state of things in Japan and several sensei in a number of different arts have expressed to me that they think the stricter standards over seas are a better reflection of how things should be, where as today in many arts shodan through sandan are basically gimme ranks ("welcome to the club.. here's shodan") and people don't start really running the risk of failing gradings until yondan.

I remember once being part of a conversation between an iai sensei and one of his students where the topic of grading in the kendo renmei in Canada came up (if I recall the student was going to study abroad in Canada soon). The student was up for a grading fairly soon and assumed that grading in Canada might be easier. The sensei quickly cut the student off explaining that the Canadians are much much stricter and if the student was set on getting that grade soon they should do it before they leave because they wouldn't cut the mustard over in Canada. Very strange conversation to listen too as a Westerner who grew up with the idea that Japan works at a much higher standard than we do (true perhaps in the higher grades but still....)

As for getting older, I find that over here, the more you progress the more you focus on "internal" and/or mental things (used in a very wide sense) and less on physical work which seems to carry over very well to aging practitioners. I might suggest that one reason that hasn't happened as much, or at least to the same degree, in the US is that there simply isn't such a group of advanced practitioners to feed off of as an example. The older generation of senior level practitioners and teachers in the US is basically the first generation of people to reach that point and there has been no real example to draw on for what the "norm" might be for people at the level/age, etc.

Random thoughts,

Last edited by Rennis Buchner : 09-14-2008 at 11:24 PM.
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