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Old 03-09-2006, 10:14 AM   #1
Steve Morabito
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Dan Essays

Many organizations and dojos require students to write an essay about an aikido related topic as part of the testing/grading process in the grades beyond first Dan. I'm thinking that these essays would be very interesting reading. Is there a place on the web that serves as a collection of these essays? Should Aikiweb be that location...Jun? Can you post links to your essay(s) or other's here?
Thanks,
Steve
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Old 03-09-2006, 02:05 PM   #2
aikidoc
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Re: Dan Essays

Some do require it from first on-I had to write them for each dan rank. Hombu requires them 2nd through 4th dan. I have seen some posted on their websites.
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Old 03-09-2006, 08:39 PM   #3
mickeygelum
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Re: Dan Essays

Japan Aikido Association requires them...they are published in the quarterly newsletter...www.tomiki.org...you can join for $10 a year and recieve the newsletter online.
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Old 03-09-2006, 08:54 PM   #4
PeterR
 
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote:
Japan Aikido Association requires them...they are published in the quarterly newsletter...www.tomiki.org...you can join for $10 a year and recieve the newsletter online.
Actually not - the JAA/USA does. The Japan Aikido Association does have a question/answer period at the end of the grading. A few non-Japanese have been asked to submit a written essay and I figure I will be asked to next time but so far I have avoided it.

Its a minor quibble but the JAA/USA as an associated national organisation.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-10-2006, 01:04 AM   #5
Bronson
 
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Re: Dan Essays

Hell, we're required to complete a pre-test essay for every test, from 6th kyu to 3rd dan. There are a set of questions that we have to answer in essay format. The questions are always the same, but it's interesting to see how the answers change over the years as understanding changes. Oh, and people testing for dan ranks must also write a paper on a book. Sometimes you get to pick the book and sometimes sensei picks it for you.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 03-10-2006, 01:12 AM   #6
Jerry Miller
 
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Re: Dan Essays

It could also be very boring reading. I do feel sorry for instructors in general trying to read some of the stuff they have to read. Of course I am sure everyone here would have fascinating essays.

Jerry Miller
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Old 03-10-2006, 08:11 AM   #7
RvW
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Re: Dan Essays

I am of the opinion that your comrehension of Aikido is to be shown on the mat, and not in writing.

I've not seen any of the compulsory exam writings (the're not requested in the organisation I am part of), but cannot excape the thought that it will make very dull and repetetive reading.

Let the writing be reserved to those with any real message.
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Old 04-28-2006, 10:32 AM   #8
Steve Morabito
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Steve Morabito wrote:
Many organizations and dojos require students to write an essay about an aikido related topic as part of the testing/grading process in the grades beyond first Dan. I'm thinking that these essays would be very interesting reading. Is there a place on the web that serves as a collection of these essays? Should Aikiweb be that location...Jun? Can you post links to your essay(s) or other's here?
OK, thanks for the replies. I'm a little surprised that there's not a bit more interest from folks on this thread about Dan Essays. Essentially, we are all coming here (to this forum) to read about other people's perspectives on aikido. So here's a last plea for more information, suggestions, etc.
Thanks again,
Steve
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Old 04-29-2006, 04:48 AM   #9
crbateman
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Re: Dan Essays

I think some of the responses indicate a misunderstanding of the purpose of the essays. I have talked to a few instructors who use them, not necessarily because of requirements within their affiliations, but because they want to see if the student has the ability to think and research "beyond the mat". The instructors are not looking for entertaining reading material (as some have surmised, it's probably pretty boring stuff), but are looking to see that trainees can organize and express their thoughts (something that is essential if one aspires to instruct).
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Old 04-29-2006, 10:44 AM   #10
mickeygelum
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Re: Dan Essays

I am always forgetting about the USA when I write...domo sumimasen, Rehse Sensei.

Why do we have tests....to evaluate, not only our students, but ourselves....

Why do we ask questions...to evaluate, not only the ability to communicate ideas, but to see if they are understood...

What is a great way to see if one is accomplishing this, without the pressure of "examination"...an essay, sometimes you learn more about what you are doing, rather than what you thought you were...it gives you so much insight into your students also...

...just one perspective
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Old 04-29-2006, 11:41 AM   #11
giriasis
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
...but are looking to see that trainees can organize and express their thoughts...
I'm sorry but I respectfully disagree. I don't go to the dojo to have my writing skills evaluated. I had enough of that in college and law school. However, I can understand this rational as a requirement for a fukushidoin or shidoin license. But in my opinion a better test of a person's teaching skills is how well their students do when they put them up for a test. I can understand having a written exam at kyu levels to test things like names of techniques and at higher levels to see how they have learned to apply aikido, but for the purpose of evaluating someone's thought process should remain in colleges and universities.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 04-29-2006, 01:36 PM   #12
Adam Alexander
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
but for the purpose of evaluating someone's thought process should remain in colleges and universities.
I think that's short-sighted and doesn't recognize the differences between the business of selling "education" and the business of leading a "way."

I don't know if the reason for the exams is to assess processes, but I can see how it would.
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Old 04-29-2006, 02:26 PM   #13
crbateman
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
I'm sorry but I respectfully disagree. I don't go to the dojo to have my writing skills evaluated.
Sorry you're on the other side of the fence. But this is not about what either of us goes to the dojo for. I am simply passing on what has been told to me by a couple of instructors who use the essays as a part of testing. I myself would not use them, but I WOULD still try in some way to determine an examinee's ability to organize their thoughts and express themselves clearly. And this is not a skill useful only to shidoin, but also to any others who explain the principles to others in a sempai/kohai relationship. If it were a test of writing skills, then spelling and punctuation would count, whereas in this context, I'd bet it matters little.
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Old 04-29-2006, 04:52 PM   #14
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
Sorry you're on the other side of the fence. But this is not about what either of us goes to the dojo for. I am simply passing on what has been told to me by a couple of instructors who use the essays as a part of testing. I myself would not use them, but I WOULD still try in some way to determine an examinee's ability to organize their thoughts and express themselves clearly. And this is not a skill useful only to shidoin, but also to any others who explain the principles to others in a sempai/kohai relationship. If it were a test of writing skills, then spelling and punctuation would count, whereas in this context, I'd bet it matters little.
I'll concede that point Clark as that's the rational for some instructors, but my gripe with the view point is not all shodans or dan ranks are looking to be instructors. Also, as far as I know, my sensei and sempai have done a great job of explaining their points without a written essay to test their ability to organize their thoughts. They came by that ability through their years of actual teaching experience not through an essay for a dan test.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 04-30-2006, 10:34 AM   #15
mickeygelum
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Re: Dan Essays

As Mr Morabito stated, it would be interesting to simply read these essays...not critique the scribers intellect or organizational skills...simply to read and learn...this thread has taken a different direction...
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Old 04-30-2006, 01:54 PM   #16
Lucy Smith
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
I'll concede that point Clark as that's the rational for some instructors, but my gripe with the view point is not all shodans or dan ranks are looking to be instructors. Also, as far as I know, my sensei and sempai have done a great job of explaining their points without a written essay to test their ability to organize their thoughts. They came by that ability through their years of actual teaching experience not through an essay for a dan test.
They have the ability to do the techniques and they have the ability
to explain. Why should only one of them be tested?
I agree with Clark. It's very important that instructors can express themselves correctly. And the ones that are not looking to be instructors... well it would be like any graduate who has decided not to work in the thing s/he has graduated from.
Also, Anne, you said that you had already done it at shcool and college, but there are people who have not studied and therefore need to prove that they will be able to understand and explain everything. It is not very responsible to put an illiterate person as an instructor, in anything not only Aikido.
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Old 05-01-2006, 07:45 AM   #17
Steve Morabito
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote:
As Mr Morabito stated, it would be interesting to simply read these essays...not critique the scribers intellect or organizational skills...simply to read and learn...this thread has taken a different direction...
Thanks, Michael for validating that. For some reason the threads I start have a habit of taking a different direction, but that's OK. I think whether or not all/most/some/few folks agree that Dan essays are appropriate in testing, the fact is that this practice exists, and they might be interesting to read. I think Aikiweb would be a great place to locate this valuable material. I have asked Jun to weigh in...
Thanks,
Steve
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Old 05-01-2006, 09:18 AM   #18
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Re: Dan Essays

Hi Steve,

I think if people wish to share their dan essays here in the AikiWeb Forums, that'd be fine with me...

-- Jun

Last edited by akiy : 05-01-2006 at 01:51 PM. Reason: Changed "dan tests" to "dan essays"

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Old 05-01-2006, 01:40 PM   #19
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Lucy Smith wrote:
They have the ability to do the techniques and they have the ability
to explain. Why should only one of them be tested?
I agree with Clark. It's very important that instructors can express themselves correctly. And the ones that are not looking to be instructors... well it would be like any graduate who has decided not to work in the thing s/he has graduated from.
Also, Anne, you said that you had already done it at shcool and college, but there are people who have not studied and therefore need to prove that they will be able to understand and explain everything. It is not very responsible to put an illiterate person as an instructor, in anything not only Aikido.
Like I said before, the better test as to whether an instructor can explain clearly is how well their students perfom on their tests. If the tests are subpar then the sensei needs to re-evaluate how they are teaching. Also a dan rank, where I train, does not equal a teaching license so I do not see how the rational of evaluating how well a person writes supports that position.

Also I'm not talking about illiterate (the inability to read and write) people here, I find that as a bit of an exageration of my point.

Although, I can see having an essay to see how well they have incorporated aikido into their own life or how well they understand aikido, but not whether they are good grammaticians or good expository writers.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 05-01-2006, 06:23 PM   #20
Lucy Smith
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Also I'm not talking about illiterate (the inability to read and write) people here, I find that as a bit of an exageration of my point.
There are two general types of illiteracy: the ones who can't read and write, and the ones who can't understand and express themselves correctly.
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:45 PM   #21
Adam Alexander
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Re: Dan Essays

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Although, I can see having an essay to see how well they have incorporated aikido into their own life or how well they understand aikido, but not whether they are good grammaticians or good expository writers.

Isn't this a contradiction? Isn't writing about Aikido's effect on one's life expository?

Either way, if your instructor has solid grammatical skills, it's a gift that he/she chooses to guide you in that fashion also...Even though grammatics was never the topic.

If one doesn't want grammatics as part of the syllabus, then one should not continue in the school that includes it.
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Old 05-02-2006, 04:05 PM   #22
mickeygelum
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Re: Dan Essays

Thank god, Tohei Shihan did not call " Ki in Daily Life " , an essay...no one would have wanted to read it ...
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:24 PM   #23
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Re: Dan Essays

I wonder if these essays are similar in intent to the "projects" I insist on from my students.

I want to get an idea of how well they understand the spiritual aspects of what they are doing. I want them to demonstrate a level of maturity in their training and in their life. Each project is personal. I prefer if they come up with the project on their own, though I'm happy to provide suggestions when needed. Of course they need to clear the project with me, but I'm not an ogre about it.

I really only have two stated criteria:

1) It must benefit the dojo in some way (not necessarily financial, not even preferrably financial).

2) It must benefit the student in some way relating to his or her Aikido.

Unstated criteria are abundant and vary from student to student. They all kind of of come under the second point on some level, though.

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