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Old 02-18-2004, 06:11 AM   #1
Robert Bodine
Dojo: no longer practicing
Location: Atlanta
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 7
Cult of Personality

Over many years of Aikido training I've often noticed that when a beginner walks into a dojo he rarely knows anything about the teacher, teacher's rank, the association, the lineage of instruction, or Aikido for that matter.

What makes him sign on the dotted line is the force of personality being displayed by the sensei. If the teacher seems strong, wise and kind, he gathers those types of students etc. And they stay despite learning that he is of a particular association or rank.

What keeps the student on the mat is the personality of his teacher. After years and much exposure he might make a change, but I think it is very rare that a person changes instructors rather than merely quitting.

Of course, once dan rank is achieved there may be more movement, but by then it is pretty clear that a student's interest is in Aikido, not so much one teacher.

So the questions are, what criteria are being used to decide who can open a dojo? Is there any oversight by senior members of the organization? Has anyone ever experienced a review by a shihan? By that I mean, have him come, watch several classes taught by the sensei and actually sat down for an evaluation? I'd really like to know.

All the Best,
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Old 02-18-2004, 06:46 AM   #2
Yann Golanski
Yann Golanski's Avatar
Dojo: York Shodokan Aikido
Location: York, United Kingdom.
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 406
United Kingdom
Within the UK, the BAB (British Aikido Board) does "coaches training" which allows you to have a teacher's insurance. It makes sure you are aware of the legalities of teaching. It's a two days course. Once you have the above, it's up to your parent association to let you teach or not.

In Shodokan, you need to be at least shodan and I think it would be bad if you were not showing up to either squad training or summer/winter schools so you could keep up your own training. The BAA tends to support well new dojos, in my experience.

Grading wise, we cann't grade anyone who is less than two ranks below yours. So, as a shodan I can grade people to 2nd kyu but not above. But there are gradings at the summer/winter schools.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-18-2004, 07:00 AM   #3
Dojo: Shoshin Aikido Dojos
Location: Orlando
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 159
I have never been evaluated by Saotome Sensei other than through my students. When he watches sandan tests he can evaluate whether I am doing a good job or not. He also can accept my recomendations when I put students in for yondan or godan, or not. I think that is a pretty clear oversight. I also think that is the way he prefers to do it. Or during seminars he watches my other students and can tell what I am doing well or not.

I have never watched my students teach other than for short periods, but I do tend to sit them down and evaluate their teaching technique. Usually pretty informal, however.

As for criteria for teachers? Anyone who has the hair to open their own dojo usually can. Whether they can make a go of it is a different matter. Some people can attract good students and some can't. At this point it is probably more trial and error than is good, but I believe a little oversight can be a good thing.

In ASU it has been tradition that a new dojo be sponsered by one of Sensei's senior staff. How it is now, I am not sure. Hope this helps.

Interesting question.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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Old 02-18-2004, 12:20 PM   #4
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,652
I believe it is impossible in this country to establish criteria for opening a dojo or teaching. Even frauds here can do so. On the other hand, some organizations are trying to establish teaching credentials or courses to ensure quality instruction or certified instructors-AAA, ASU, USAF-WR, to name a few. If you are with an organization, it is generally accepted you meet their criteria, although I doubt that would stop anyone from opening a dojo.

The only time my teaching has ever been evaluated is through part of a promotional examination where I am required to teach something.
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