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Old 05-16-2006, 06:20 PM   #1
LeeBrotzman
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Advice for a returning shodan

I was hoping to get some opinions regarding my return to the dojo following a 2 year hiatus. Prior to my departure, I was a shodan and assistant instructor at the dojo for 2 years. I left for a variety of reasons, and am now making my way back to the same dojo.

Am I still a shodan? Do I wear my black belt or find a white one? Where do I line up?

Part of me thinks that being shodan doesn't necessarily define a particularr skill level, but that one has gone through the journey and come out the other side. Of course, I can also see the argument for the other side - I'm sure my skills aren't what they used to be and probably aren't shodan-level.

Thoughts/input/ideas?
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Old 05-16-2006, 06:53 PM   #2
MaryKaye
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Only your instructors can say for sure.

Where I train you would be expected to wear the black belt: once a shodan, always a shodan.

With any luck you'll find that your skills come back quickly. One of my instructors took 22 years off to raise kids, and was surprised how capable he was afterwards--except that sometimes, while he remembered how to do something, a 50-year-old's body was not happy to have done it.

Mary Kaye
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Old 05-16-2006, 06:58 PM   #3
Neal Earhart
 
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Congrats for returning to Aikido !

I took about 4.5 years off from Aikido, primarily due to some knee surgeries and some other non-aikido related injuries.

I just went back to my dojo, re-signed up, and started taking class again

We don't line-up by rank where I practice, so I can't give you advice about that question. But once you've earned your shodan, it doesn't get taken away...you're just a shodan who's a bit "rusty"

The worst thing I did was stop practicing Aikido...best thing I did was to start practicing again

Last edited by Neal Earhart : 05-16-2006 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 05-16-2006, 07:12 PM   #4
nodmines
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

I was a yudansha from another country but stopped practicing for more than 5 years. I recently joined another dojo as a white belt and started to get my rhythm back. For me, its just a belt. My movement doesn't necessarily reflect the belt that I am wearing. Your instructor can tell your capabilities based on how you move on the mat.
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Old 05-16-2006, 07:18 PM   #5
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

My advise:

Talk to your Sensei!

In my dojo, if you have a significant break, then you wear a white belt until Garry Sensei (the boss) says you wear your grade belt again. That is mostly your safety!

Good luck, and I hope it comes back to you without too much difficulty.

Osu!
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Old 05-16-2006, 07:28 PM   #6
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

wear that black belt; YOU EARNED IT!
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Old 05-16-2006, 08:18 PM   #7
emma.mason15
Dojo: Shima Arashi Dojo
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

and play nice!

Dance your cares away .... worry for another day ... let the music play .... down in fraggle rock!

when bored ... do as I do. Poke a patient!
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Old 05-16-2006, 08:30 PM   #8
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote:
wear that black belt; YOU EARNED IT!
Hang on, they have to be current! Just being cut lose on some things is wrong!!!!!!

Osu!
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Old 05-16-2006, 10:15 PM   #9
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Start to go to beginners classes, if you have one. That will be safe play. You'll need few weeks of mercy.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 05-16-2006, 11:10 PM   #10
David Yap
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Hi Lee,

I was almost a shodan before I took a six-years break. During that time I went back to traditional karate - both instructing and training but aikido was never far away. Training with and watching the black-belters in kumite (fighting drills), I always wondered what aikido techniques could be used for such fast and precise attacks. I found that the solutions were not the techniques but in the principles of aikido itself.

Hence, I found myself back in an aikido dojo with a beginner's mind. Discipline myself to apply the principles rather than to a force a technique to work (which some of my ex-contemporaries and present sempai are still doing).

The belts and hakama are not the factors of your training. You must always have a mindset to learn - a beginner's mind. Wear a black belt - that's your challenge to train.

Welcome back to the fold.

David Y
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Old 05-17-2006, 01:12 AM   #11
Hanna B
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

If belts were a good sign of ability, then you should have a black-and-yellow-striped belt meaning "black belt coming back after a break, sometimes it works and sometimes I am confused and frustrated as h*ll." Or hey, maybe pink and purple is better? I wonder. What belt should someone wear who for several years has trained about a class a month, and clearly has lost ability?

I hardly believe what I am seing, people actually encourage someone to take their belt off - in the same art and the same dojo. Sure, when in doubt ask the teacher, but... I find this line of thought plainly weird. Rank is not a precise measure of ability. Starting with a couple of beginner classes as Szczepan suggests, or other classes on lower levels if there are such, might be a good idea especially if you have not had any other kind of physical training during your aikido-break. If you came into beginner classes with a white belt... wouldn't that be kind of lying to the rest of the folks about who you are? People who have been training for a while will easily see that you are not a beginner. I am not sure the beginners will though, their minds are busy with their own hands and feet.

Accept that it will be hard for a while, be happy about what your body finds and what works rather than "trying to match your belt". I do not think you need to take your belt of to achieve that, though. If I were you, I would ask the teacher that either xe or yourself talk a few words to the class before starting keiko, saying "Hi I am Lee Brotzman, I trained in this dojo for X years and now had a break for Y years not doing any aikido at all, I am not in shape and let's see how much I remember if anything at all, good to be back" or something similar. In that way you tell people exactly who you are, what your belt means and what it does not mean.
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Old 05-17-2006, 07:52 AM   #12
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

In our dojo we often see people who come back after a break wearing a white belt. It isn't thought of as lying to anyone. Just an acknowledgement that we might need a little time back before people use us as an example (which higher ranked people often are, like it or not). After training for a time, people just start wearing their earned belt again.

It's not thought of as a big deal.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-17-2006, 11:50 AM   #13
SmilingNage
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

As long as the belt still fits wear it. Long layoffs can make for extended haras and make long a belt, into short one.

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 05-17-2006, 01:24 PM   #14
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

This discussion is a good demonstration what is wrong with belts in general.

It should not make any difference at all what belt you where. If students cannot be careful with anyone regardless of status of returning, rank, or ability...then they should not be doing it with anyone. If a shodan ego cannot face up to not wearing the belt, then he should evaluate why he is wearing it. If his technique, skills, and emotions are not up to par with that of others of equal rank...then why should he wear it. If white belt students cannot emphathize and respond appropriately with respect and physical technique...well you probably see where I am going with this....

I don't think it matters much...do what your sensei says, or wear it if he leaves it up to you, or don't wear it. I personally would not care or find it relevant what color belt you wore...but that is me!
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Old 05-17-2006, 02:53 PM   #15
Hanna B
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
This discussion is a good demonstration what is wrong with belts in general.
Agreed.

In my nick of the woods people do not take off a belt or hakama they earned, but the bottom line will always be "when in Rome".
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Old 05-17-2006, 03:29 PM   #16
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

You sleep in a belt and hakama?!?!?

Ron (oh, the horror....)

Ron Tisdale
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St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-17-2006, 04:22 PM   #17
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
You sleep in a belt and hakama?!?!?

Ron (oh, the horror....)
LOL!

My old Sensei used to say that the belt is only there to hold the trousers up - or the Gi top together. Also he said to show your true colours.

Don't get precious about the belt/grade. When you are ready to wear your black belt again you will, but until you are back in the flow it could be dangerous to wear it.

I do apply techniques according to the grade of those receiving. I do adjust to reactions, but I have sadly hurt someone on the first part of a technique, so you cannot feel a reaction at that stage and grade is all you have to go on - ie: belt worn.

It does depend on the school though, as in Yoshinkan the techniques are applied nd in an effective way within the ability of our Uke. Some schools are so soft that the techniques can be received by a rank begginer.

Osu!
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Old 05-17-2006, 05:21 PM   #18
Hanna B
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
You sleep in a belt and hakama?!?!?

Ron (oh, the horror....)
You don't want to know.
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Old 05-17-2006, 06:01 PM   #19
RebeccaM
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

I came back from four years of minimal training (we're talking almost none) in aikido and kept wearing my belt and hakama. I was not out of the martialarts completely - I'd been away at college and there was no dojo I liked in the area so I did Shotokan karate for four years instead. Karate was nice but I decided that I liked aikido better so I made a point of checking out the aikido situation in the places where I was accepted for grad school. I found that my ability to take the falls had gotten maybe a little bit rusty, but not to the point I was in danger. My ability to throw, OTOH...yikes!

Your body will remember movements you've trained into it, so you'll get it back faster than you expect, but it's going to be frustrating and embarassing and don't be surprised if you take off your belt one night and consider throwing it in the trash. I sure did. I don't know why I didn't. Maybe because of all the work I'd put into earning it, maybe because my ego/pride wouldn't let me, maybe because I knew I was going to get back what I'd lost, who knows. But I kept wearing it and after a few months I got my groove back. But yeah, it was hard. And there's lots of things I still just don't get. But I've come to realize/notice that a lot of the yudansha on the mat with me are scratching their heads about as often as I am.
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Old 05-18-2006, 01:08 PM   #20
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
a lot of the yudansha on the mat with me are scratching their heads about as often as I am.
Believe me...some of us are scratching our heads more. I'm surprised I have any hair at all left!

Best,
Ron (scratch scratch scratch)

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 05-18-2006, 01:29 PM   #21
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Ron,

Try "Head & Shoulders."

Couldn't help that one. You left yourself wide open.

My opinion on the thread: It depends on the feelings of your teacher, you, and tradition in your dojo.

Quote:
Si Wilson wrote:
My old Sensei used to say that the belt is only there to hold the trousers up - or the Gi top together.
And the hakama is to hide the yellow stains on the butt and torn knees on your gi pants.

Rock
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Old 05-18-2006, 02:13 PM   #22
Marc Randolph
Dojo: Jita Kyoei
Location: Dallas, TX
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
Rebecca Montange wrote:
[...snip...]
Your body will remember movements you've trained into it, so you'll get it back faster than you expect, but it's going to be frustrating and embarassing and don't be surprised if you take off your belt one night and consider throwing it in the trash.
Well said, Rebecca (except you found better words to describe it than I). I was off the mat for 3.5 years due to my daughter being born at the same time that my daytime job turning into nearly a daytime + half a nighttime job. When I felt that my home life was coming back into balance, I was happy to be able to return to the dojo. I found that I did remember all the techniques I knew well before my break, and for those that I hadn't learned real well, it only took a few reminders to get them back (rather than the 10 to 50 when I learned it the first time). I suspect it would be that way for most people that have trained at something for many years - the techniques may grow a little rust around the edges after a medium-length break, but with just a little work, they sharpen right up again.

Besides, embarassment is good for you - it helps you remind yourself that you aren't perfect.

Again, well said, Rebecca.

Marc
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Old 05-18-2006, 02:57 PM   #23
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
Hiroaki Izumi wrote:
the hakama is to hide the yellow stains on the butt and torn knees on your gi pants
I liked that one.
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Old 05-18-2006, 03:03 PM   #24
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Once a shodan, always a yudansha. In this sense, the matter of degree is invisible; just like the matter of kyu rank is invisible in the mudansha. Practice being for your whole life, won't always mean that you practice your whole life. If it didn't matter what you did, it won't matter what you do. These are just my reflections. In gassho.
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Old 05-18-2006, 03:07 PM   #25
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Re: Advice for a returning shodan

Quote:
Hiroaki Izumi wrote:
And the hakama is to hide the yellow stains on the butt and torn knees on your gi pants.
Hmmm, I think yo need to learn about washing powder! Or at least buying new stuff when stuff gets old! Or not p*ss*ng yourself! Or learning how to use a needle and thread!


Osu!
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