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Old 09-18-2006, 11:04 AM   #1
David Humm
Join Date: Sep 2001
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Disclosure of information on the net

Hey all..

Just wanted to canvas your opinions if I may.

I study aikido and teach within a dojo I helped develop in my neck of the woods, since its inception a couple of years ago we've been fortunate to be successful in a modest sort of way. In addition to aikido we also study muso shinden ryu iaido and enjoy exploring the relationship which exist between ken and aiki. Now, all that said I've studied for almost 20 years and like many internet savvy, enjoy populating aikido and martial arts based websites such as this.

I recently came under criticism from a couple of forum members (not here I might add but on another board) who felt that because I choose not to disclose what yudansha grade I hold in aikido (or iaido for that matter)... that my opinion expressed on forums such as these and, my credibility is worthless.

Whilst I don't share that opinion I wondered what you guys feel, on my dojo homepage I don't actually list the grades of either myself or my fellow yudansha instructors, the only person listed with rank is our sensei who is an aikikai shidoin. My own personal opinion with regards to rank is that waaay too much emphasis is placed upon it in the greater picture, IMHO people get too pre-occupied with what it is supposed to represent and, with the differences which exist between individuals never mind those between organisations. I feel that grades and examinations are very personal experiences which only really relate to the student, the instructor and the organisation through which they are legitimised. As such I don't use the grade I hold to "sell" either myself or the club when advertising for membership or through general internet presence.

I think its only fair to elaborate a little on how this criticism came about. I was contributing to a debate (not started by me) about one particular English 8th dan aikidoka who was claiming to hold this grade through the aikikai, I had clarified with the yudansha secretary in Japan that said gentleman was not in possession of such a grade and, along with several posts on this and other aspects of the discussion; was making that point.

During the debate I was asked what my own grade was and, in hindsight, I should have simply presented that information but, I stuck to my opinions and explained my reasoning, this didn't sit too well for one individual who IMO since has an issue with me.

Only very recently in an unrelated discussion on aikido and defence against kicks, the same individual used my previous choice of not publicly disclosing my dan grade as the reason why I had (presumably) in his opinion no credibility, additionally claiming that if people reading my opinions were to take me seriously, my grade had bearing on my credibility.

So what are your thoughts ? Should we be automatically waving our virtual belts in the air in an effort to 'prove' some so called credibility? I don't think so personally but, perhaps I'm being a bit naive. I've never claimed to be anything other than what I can demonstrate (that isn't much by comparison to many in our community) and I don't contribute on internet forums to gain status, I am only a junior dan grade in the great scheme of things so why people, - more to the point one individual, would become so preoccupied with my grades is a bit beyond me.

Regards
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:15 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

IMHO the person demanding to know is making no more or less a deal about it than the person who makes a point of refusing to say. If it is no big deal, then why not just say your rank and who granted it?

In terms of websites, yeah, I think it IS important. If I have 2 or 3 dojo to chose from, either to join locally or to visit as a tourist, I'd like to know where I'll be taking class w/ a shodan vs taking class w/ a yondan--it might not be the most important thing (I know several great instructors who, being unafiliated, haven't gone "up" in rank in yrs) but it certainly is afactor in the equation.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:21 AM   #3
DonMagee
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

I dont belive showing your rank proves credibility. Anymore then me beating someone down in a cage shows I'm better then they are. However, it shows you have nothing to hide about your training. Would you train with an instructor who refused to tell you his rank? Or refused to tell you the name of his teacher? I know I wouldn't.

Martial arts need to stay honest. Freedom of information helps fight bad martial arts and keeps the good martial arts held in good reguards. I would instantly be suspect of anyone who would not tell me his rank. The reason? I have far to long talked with guys who trained with a secret master, or other excuses. So I imediately think that someone who refused to tell me their rank or lineage has something to hide. Is that always the case? No, I'm sure some teachers have asked their students not to use their names, or some people really do what privacy. But then I ask, why did the teacher want to not be assocated with his student? Or why voice your opinon if you do not want the microscope on you?

If I said I beat 5 men in MMA events, I should be ready to give information on when, where, and who to anyone who asks. If I give advice on aikido, I better be ready to give my background in aikido to back up how I came to that conclusion (right or wrong).

Having the rank does not make you right automatically. However, it does give someone a good basis to listen to what you have to say? If I wrote a physics paper that said things most scientists thought was false, they would ask what my credentals and proofs were. Being a PHD would help make them take a more serious look at my work. But not having a PHD does not automatically make me wrong.

So take pride in your rank and teacher. It helps us know who, and how long you have learned. It helps us get a grasp on what you may know in relation to others, and how deterimed and serious you take aikido.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:31 AM   #4
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Seems to me that NOT informing others of your rank is making a big deal out of it as well. One might have a concern that others will write you off if your official rank is lower than others. So be it. If you can manifest skills and others can't see them BECAUSE of your rank, they won't be very enjoyable students anyway. What rank am I? Me? Nidan.

Best

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Old 09-18-2006, 11:33 AM   #5
David Humm
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Thank you for your honest opinions, I appreciate them.

Don't get me wrong though, the only place I really feel strongly about this issue is in relation to the internet. Anyone wishing to join the dojo or train with us as guests only has to ask and we freely and openly provide that information, indeed I have certification available at the dojo for such instances.

It is purely because of the situation with regards to frauds and bullshiters on the internet that I consider my 'credentials' from want of a better descriptive, to be a bit guarded, that said there's no secret to which organisation I belong too or, who my shidoin is..

United Kingdom Aikikai and Mr. Keith Hayward respectively.

I guess I am a bit defensive about things like grades but then what does it all matter at the end of the day?

I'm a nidan BTW. Nothing spectacular about that.
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:36 AM   #6
wayneth
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Hi Dave
I understand your argument, and see your point 100 %
I personally don't think that we should be waving our grades about, doesn't matter what grade we are. Sometimes the issuing of peoples grades on these sites is inevitable, but people wishes to not broadcast their grade should be their own decision. And shouldn't be "bullied" into telling people what they hold and what they do not hold. Grade shouldn't be an issue on things like these sites, since experience doesn't show in your grade.
I personally can't see why he has something against you because you did not tell him your grade, just because you were trying to sustain the credability of British Aikido (I might be wrong with that one?).
I think you standing to your ground is a very good thing, since it is what you believe in.
I think that it is important that we place a strong emphasis onto what we believe in and no one should "bully" you to get something out of you. Very big for an apparent Aikidoka.
Wayne
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:48 AM   #7
David Humm
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Hi Wayne..

I can see both sides to this and arguments for and against are naturally very valid; It's fair to say that in one or two quarters of the UK's aikido community, my opinions on the state of a few aikidoka's claims to 8th dan and titles such as Shihan and Koyshi et al are, fairly well lamented however; I don't think this stance - call it political, moral [whatever] has any bearing upon the grade I might hold, surely anyone can ask a question without the prerequisite of holding a dan grade (or indeed a senior one to boot) to justify the legitimacy of the enquiry ?

As far as I'm concerned what we do here on forums such as these isn't aikido, its discussion about aikido, we don't hold grades in 'discussion aikido' and we certainly don't need a yudansha grade to hold an opinion - or indeed express it.
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Old 09-18-2006, 11:52 AM   #8
dps
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

I think that if you are going to comment on Aikido on forums on the Internet you need to provide some point of reference of your knowledge and experience. Your rank, sensies, and affiliations go a long way toward that end and is probably the easiest way to do that. I agree with you that rank does not necessarily mean you know what you are talking about, but rank does show us that at least you are practicing Aikido and what you say will back up your knowledge and experience.

David
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:15 PM   #9
DonMagee
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
I think that if you are going to comment on Aikido on forums on the Internet you need to provide some point of reference of your knowledge and experience. Your rank, sensies, and affiliations go a long way toward that end and is probably the easiest way to do that. I agree with you that rank does not necessarily mean you know what you are talking about, but rank does show us that at least you are practicing Aikido and what you say will back up your knowledge and experience.

David

It is true, on the internet we have no way of proving any one has any skill or knowedge at all. We could all be blowing smoke. Lineage and rank go a long way to helping establish creditiblity. If I know your teacher is a respected lineage with good skill, and you hold a dan rank in that lineage, I can make a good assumption on your skill level by comparing you to the skill level of other dan ranks in your lineage as well as your instructor. I can also make conciderations by comparing you to other non-affilated members of the same rank. Knowing lineage by itself does not help build perspective because even though we may know your teacher is a great aikidoka, we have no way of knowing you are a good student. Even if we have both rank and lineage, we still have no way to pin point your level of skill to a pin point. Perhaps you are a very insightful 2nd kyu, or a very idiotic 5th dan who only got that rank due to politics. However, this bench mark is better than no benchmark at all. Although obviously the only real benchmark is personal interaction (even video evidence is flawed when trying to demonstrate skill).

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:15 PM   #10
David Humm
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote:
... but rank does show us that at least you are practicing Aikido and what you say will back up your knowledge and experience.
Whilst I can fully see what you're saying, I've have to disagree slightly.

Here's a couple of numbers for you.

I've studied continuously for coming up to my 19th year but, I've only ever taken 3 gradings because of several political factors between the instructors of the club I used to train in which, prevented me and many other students from taking examinations. I live in a small area where the highest yudansha is sandan and the nearest rokudan is well over 100 miles away.

Personally, I feel the number of years one has trained is by far the more important figure than how many yudansha certificates one might hold.

Indeed I study MSR Iaido and, because up to this year, my study has always been an additional compliment to aikido, I've never bothered taking a grade in that art but, I've been using nihonto pretty much as often as I do aikido, in excess of the last 10 years, so. I don't agree that one's grade provides a pathway to securing someone else's confidence in opinions expressed. Respectfully I feel those people needing the 'security' of knowing what grade someone holds, for their opinion to have credibility are, missing something important.

I am speaking specifically about interaction such as this through internet forums and not, through direct contact in a dojo environment.

Kind regards and again thank you to everyone thus far for your contribution

Last edited by David Humm : 09-18-2006 at 12:19 PM.
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:42 PM   #11
dps
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

I understand.
What it really boils down to is having the faith that what you are telling me is true. If you post enough than I can judge by what you are saying if you have experience and knowledge. If as in your example you hold no rank in a martial art but have practice for a long time then your posts will show what you know . However it is a good starting point to know if you have a rank or not, how long have you practiced, what style and your sensei but not, necessary.

Respectfully,
David
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:45 PM   #12
DonMagee
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

When I say this I mean absolutely no disrespect and by no means am I saying this is your case. One has to wonder how seriously a person takes their studies if they do not strive to take increase their rank. Rank was designed for the sole purpose of allowing us a benchmark in skill. What other purpose does rank serve but to allow us to see how we relate to others on the path. If I meet a blue belt in BJJ, I exactly what to expect from him. If I meet a shodan in aikido, I have a perty good idea where he should be in his training. This is not abosolute, but it is a benchmark, and I can't help but think it was designed for that purpose.

The internet is just means of conversation between many people. In order to have a conversation with any mean we need to be able to know where people's beleifs are coming from.

Let me pose this question.

You see a post on this forum from a person who identifys themselves as a 5th kyu in aikido. They beleive aikido is a waste of time for self defense and is not feasable to spend time studing it for self defense.

How would you respond?

Now, how would you respond if the person was a 8th dan in the aikikai and was a student of O'Sensei or a student of one of his direct students?

Now after you respond to the first person, how would you respond if you found he had been studing for 25 years?

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:45 PM   #13
odudog
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

If you don't want to give out that type of information on the net then don't. If they have a problem with that then that is their problem. You can still contribute your opinion and let it be their job to see if what you had stated makes any sense. Just because a person is of high rank doesn't mean that their statement is the truth.

I've been in a seminar where a Sensei was telling me that the way I was doing a technique on him doesn't work and therefore I should do it his way. The technique that I was doing in fact does work because one of my instructors performed it on me. I however am just poor at doing it. We had a discussion about it and I finally told him that I am not a black-belt and I am not the person to be discussing the ins and outs of the technique and all the philosophy that goes behind it. He understood my point and we went on to other things. No harm no foul.

On another board, a guy emailed my first Aikido instructor for the name of style that he teaches. This guy was trying to find out if the style and Sensei was legitimate. The Sensei emailed him back to not worry about the style name that he teaches and to just train. The guy posted this on the net to find out if anyone else have ever heard of the Sensei. Well obviously I do and I know that the Sensei is good and extremely high ranked in various arts in addition to Aikido. I could have just posted on the net the answer to the guys question, however, if the Sensei didn't want to give the answer directly then who am I go and disregard his wishes.
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:55 PM   #14
SmilingNage
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

I wasnt aware that rank was needed to voice an opinion. All rank is good for is determining who gets to throw 1 st in a line. Rank can mean many things, skill level, devotion to sensei, or flat out time put in, or stench(poor play on words, even poorer attempt at humor. sorry so sorry.)
If rank were needed to express opinions then I should have gagged along time ago. Making alot of people very happy. Next time anyone asks your rank tell 'em to grab your wrist and find out.

Last edited by SmilingNage : 09-18-2006 at 12:57 PM. Reason: needed one more sentence.

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:03 PM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

I've been away for a while, so am just getting to read this. I'll reply without reading the other responses; hope no one minds.

There is no (I'll make it more clear) NO reason why you must post your yudansha ranking on the net. If your words don't garner credibility on their own, the rank really doesn't add much. I tend to follow the same practice you described...I'll let people know that I am a yudansha, and to which organization I belong, and leave it at that. If it's not good enough for them, tough. Ignore them. This is not to say that people who believe / behave differently are horrible egotistical ogres...they just have a difference of opinion.

Other people can read your words and decide for themselves if they have power or not.

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 09-18-2006, 01:25 PM   #16
David Humm
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
When I say this I mean absolutely no disrespect and by no means am I saying this is your case. One has to wonder how seriously a person takes their studies if they do not strive to take increase their rank.
Firstly I do not take offence to your comments, they are quite legitimate, I would answer your question with one of my own, how serious do you think I've been over the last 18.5 years to have continued to train despite all the political bullshit which saw several very good students fall by the way-side because those, who were at the time, responsible for the development of the club, let their ego get in the way of other people's development ?

As an individual, I travelled an 80 mile round trip to study twice a week with a chap further down the east cost which eventually resulted in my present grade and membership of the UKA, so; I still stand by my sentiments, dedication and seriousness have no direct relationship to grade held. Indeed I could go train with several claimed hachidan in the UK and may be even get graded to godan or something more on par or associated with the length of time I've been training but, in reality, I doubt I'd learn any more than I did from the shodan at the time, running the club 80 miles away from me.

For me, its what we do on the mat which pretty much quantifies what we know (and what we don't). Of course expression of opinion has its way of lending to people's judgement of what others might know but, I'm not so trusting that I'm going to take what some stranger say's to me on an internet forum as absolute. However; to answer your question, I would treat each individual with the same level of courtesy regardless of their expressed opinion. Kyu or Dan both individuals deserve the same level of personal respect and I don't see the level of one's menjo as automatically requiring higher levels of respect or admiration.

If the Doshu himself were to frequent this forum (or this thread) I truly, honestly would not treat him with any difference than you or the next person who takes the time to give their time to this discussion - aren't we all equal at the end of the day ?
Quote:
...Rank was designed for the sole purpose of allowing us a benchmark in skill. What other purpose does rank serve but to allow us to see how we relate to others on the path. If I meet a blue belt in BJJ, I exactly what to expect from him. If I meet a shodan in aikido, I have a pretty good idea where he should be in his training. This is not absolute, but it is a benchmark, and I can't help but think it was designed for that purpose.
Ok I do see what your suggesting however, I know from personal experiences of training with almost all of the aikido organisations just here in the UK alone, that to assume anything with relation to the grade of a person stood before me is very often a lesson in futility. Now I don't want this discussion to drift or indeed degrade in to a bashing session of one organisation vs. another etc but. If you tell me you're a rokudan in [whatever style] aikido, I honestly have no perception of what you had to learn/test to gain that rank, and, neither do you of me. I do of course know all too well what a rokudan in the organisation I belong too has to achieve but that's not a benchmark I can apply to any other rokudan until I've physically trained with them.
Quote:
...The internet is just means of conversation between many people. In order to have a conversation with any mean we need to be able to know where people's beliefs are coming from.
Agreed however, why does the disclosure of a rank provide any real legitimacy to discussions over a fairly static media? It doesn't, its all perceived by those who IMO need that security.

Example : You already know that I've trained for the largest part of 20 years, I'm a member of an aikikai affiliated organisation and, my shidoin is a rokudan legitimised by hombu dojo, what more information do you honestly really need to know about me as a person for my opinions or expressions on aikido to be worth reading ? I would suggest it would be continued dialogue, and not for the few seconds it takes to type what grade I have.

Kind regards

Last edited by David Humm : 09-18-2006 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:43 PM   #17
DonMagee
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

I guess in my mind every little piece of information helps me. It tells me something about the person I'm talking to. Like I said, it is not an exact benchmark. I can't say 100% that any rank makes you insightful or have special privliges.

One thing I use rank for is to determine how involved in the process a person is. If a person is over a 3rd black in judo, it tells me he is involved or wants to be involved with the political development and future of judo. He is trying to improve his art. If he is a 4th kyu in judo with 20 years exp, it tells me other things, real or imagined.

In a pervious example, someone's instructor would not give his style or rank over email. I would assume that this ment the instructor had something to hide. If I was looking for an instructor, I would not concider this instructor. I would not recomend this instructor. Even if this instructor was the best instructor in the world. This is because I have no way to know this instructor is the best instructor in the world.

To make an informed decision, you need all information you can gather about the subject. I have your years in aikido, your affilation, your teachers rank, and the intelligence and meaning of your written word. This helps me build a good picture of you, however each piece of information I get helps build a better picture. Your rank, previous arts studied and their ranks, a picture of you, video of your techinque, and physical interaction would all build a more complete picture.

For example, one common retort people like to make is that you need to train longer to understand something. If you know someone has 30 years of training, can you still use this excuse? Perhaps you can if he is a 2nd kyu, but it might ring false if he is a 7th dan.

I would like to point out that I make this statement when I myself have very little aikido training. While I have spent over a decade in the martial arts, I have only spent a little under 2 years studing aikido with the last 6 months really a on/off again relationship. I never used to put any stock into rank. Now, I see that rank is a useful tool to proving knowedge, flawed as it may be. My current persuit is to acheive rank in judo and bjj. I want to one day be a teacher, and this is not possible without rank. Face to face or on the internet, rank can tell me something about you, even if it is trival. As long as I remember to take it into context.

And besides, I already know so many other things about you, what is the big deal about giving your rank?

Of course I personally almost never ask for rank, except for when interviewing potential teachers.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:53 PM   #18
ChrisMoses
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Dave Humm wrote:
Whilst I don't share that opinion I wondered what you guys feel, on my dojo homepage I don't actually list the grades of either myself or my fellow yudansha instructors, the only person listed with rank is our sensei who is an aikikai shidoin. My own personal opinion with regards to rank is that waaay too much emphasis is placed upon it in the greater picture, IMHO people get too pre-occupied with what it is supposed to represent and, with the differences which exist between individuals never mind those between organisations. I feel that grades and examinations are very personal experiences which only really relate to the student, the instructor and the organisation through which they are legitimised. As such I don't use the grade I hold to "sell" either myself or the club when advertising for membership or through general internet presence.

I think its only fair to elaborate a little on how this criticism came about. I was contributing to a debate (not started by me) about one particular English 8th dan aikidoka who was claiming to hold this grade through the aikikai, I had clarified with the yudansha secretary in Japan that said gentleman was not in possession of such a grade and, along with several posts on this and other aspects of the discussion; was making that point.

During the debate I was asked what my own grade was and, in hindsight, I should have simply presented that information but, I stuck to my opinions and explained my reasoning, this didn't sit too well for one individual who IMO since has an issue with me.

[snip]

So what are your thoughts ? Should we be automatically waving our virtual belts in the air in an effort to 'prove' some so called credibility? I don't think so personally but, perhaps I'm being a bit naive. I've never claimed to be anything other than what I can demonstrate (that isn't much by comparison to many in our community) and I don't contribute on internet forums to gain status, I am only a junior dan grade in the great scheme of things so why people, - more to the point one individual, would become so preoccupied with my grades is a bit beyond me.

Regards
I think you kind of answered your own question here a bit in that by not being willing to share your rank, you kind of turned it into a big deal (particularly since you were discussing someone else's claimed rank). I think it's possible to be open about your ranks/licenses without using them to sell yourself or your dojo.

Personally I find that I use organizational and rank information to gain context about other forumites who I have never actually trained with. If I know they hold X rank from Y and trained with Z for 10 years then I have a better sense for how they're using terms and what their experiences may have had. I don't think it's good way to determine absolute authority on a subject, but it can help to demonstrate that you have some kind of experience that would make give some weight to your comments. To go too far out of ones way to keep that kind of information private kind of reminds me of the yudansha who make a big deal about how they still wear a whitebelt.
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:55 PM   #19
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
In a pervious example, someone's instructor would not give his style or rank over email. I would assume that this ment the instructor had something to hide.
Why bother making an assumption? Why not toddle on over there and check him out for yourself?

Quote:
If I was looking for an instructor, I would not concider this instructor. I would not recomend this instructor. Even if this instructor was the best instructor in the world. This is because I have no way to know this instructor is the best instructor in the world.
Again, sure you can find out if they are any good. Just toddle on down the road and check it out.

If an instructor doesn't give out rank on the internet, but is upfront on issues of rank and lineage in person, I have no problems with them. If they don't give that information out in person...then I might have a serious issue with training there.

If they give out their rank on the internet, but won't say who gave them that rank...that I would have an issue with.

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 09-18-2006, 01:56 PM   #20
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Dave Humm wrote:
I was contributing to a debate (not started by me) about one particular English 8th dan aikidoka who was claiming to hold this grade through the aikikai, I had clarified with the yudansha secretary in Japan that said gentleman was not in possession of such a grade and, along with several posts on this and other aspects of the discussion; was making that point.

During the debate I was asked what my own grade was and, in hindsight, I should have simply presented that information
Dave,

I think your own statement sums up the situation. If you comment on someone else's rank, then it's only natural to state your own.

I personally find that rank, even within a single organization, is no reliable measure of skill. My first teachers all got their shodan with less than two years of training. I was right behind them, but our curriculum was vastly expanded and I was required to train very hard for seven years before getting shodan in the same organization. Because of things like this, my thinking was heavily influenced by the writings of David Lynch, who, over ten years ago proposed doing entirely away with the dan system.

The dan system really has universal meaning only within judo, where it was originally established and where everyone is on the same page and dealing with the same clearly established principles. When the dan system was transferred to karate and aikido, only the outward forms came with it--the levels of 1-10. There's nothing in karate that really relates to the meanings judo associates with a second dan or a fifth dan. And there's very little in aikido that relates, so these arts had to develop their own logic of what each level means. And there are so many organizations in karate and aikido, each with different purposes, each founded by people of such varying skill, that the ranks have no universal meaning at all. And for that reason, I think Lynch was right to call for abandoning the dankai in aikido.

However, if we are in a dankai and someone asks our dan, it's only natural to give it, especially if we have commented on someone else's dan rank.

And since I've thrown in my two cents, I guess I'll have to say that I was ranked nidan. My experience? 33 years, including five in Japan, 21 months as uchi deshi in Japan to a judan. He wanted to test me for higher rank and I declined for personal reasons. I later left the dankai and promoted myself to "reidan" or "zero degree" for philosophical reasons, but when asked, I give the dan I last held in the dankai. Not that it matters. We'll all be dead eventually and St. Peter is not going to ask.

Best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:58 PM   #21
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Which brings up a good point...what rank IS St. Peter???

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 09-18-2006, 02:04 PM   #22
David Humm
Join Date: Sep 2001
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Hi Don,

Thanks for your continued discussion

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
I guess in my mind every little piece of information helps me. It tells me something about the person I'm talking to. Like I said, it is not an exact benchmark. I can't say 100% that any rank makes you insightful or have special privliges.
Ok, fair comment, I wouldn't argue.

quote]One thing I use rank for is to determine how involved in the process a person is.... // ..... it tells me other things, real or imagined.[/quote]Right this is where you and I differ in our opinions, I try not to judge people based on where we're doing right now. IMO if we being to form biased opinions based upon what we consider to be OUR own benchmark, I feel we're running the risk of being quite unfair to people we've never actually met, basically what I'm saying is take people on 'face' value until they do, or in our case write something with pretty much illustrates their true colours.

Quote:
In a pervious example, someone's instructor would not give his style or rank over email. I would assume that this ment the instructor had something to hide. If I was looking for an instructor, I would not concider this instructor. I would not recomend this instructor. Even if this instructor was the best instructor in the world. This is because I have no way to know this instructor is the best instructor in the world.
and... I tend to agree with you but, lets make a clear differentiation here; I'm not talking about and entire refusal to disclose important/relevant information especially when its in connection to a potential new student or it is directly related to the running of the dojo I help to maintain; I am simply asking if our dan grades (or any grade) should form part of the information needed to be considered credible in what we present about.. in this case Aikido.

Quote:
...To make an informed decision, you need all information you can gather about the subject. I have your years in aikido, your affiliation, your teachers rank, and the intelligence and meaning of your written word. This helps me build a good picture of you, however each piece of information I get helps build a better picture. Your rank, previous arts studied and their ranks, a picture of you, video of your techinque, and physical interaction would all build a more complete picture.
Yup I again empathise in what your driving at and, I'd be a liar if I didn't pretty much think in some similar way however; I've been a member of this forum since 2001, I'm a member of two other MA related sites and I've yet to actually ask another member what their rank is in order to quantify their opinions with any more regard.. It just simply doesn't enter my head to do so.

Quote:
For example, one common retort people like to make is that you need to train longer to understand something. If you know someone has 30 years of training, can you still use this excuse? Perhaps you can if he is a 2nd kyu, but it might ring false if he is a 7th dan.
well I suppose I can't argue with that point because it pretty much academic however, if the 7th dan is talking a load of crap who's to actually say they really do have those 30 years? who's saying they actually have that 7th dan?

...But, in a dojo environment where the 2nd kyu and 7th dan are on the same mat its very easy to see who has what.. And if there's clearly a miss-match between who's claiming what, I think the question of rank and all the other paraphernalia is quite legitimate; would you agree ?

Kind regards as always
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Old 09-18-2006, 02:05 PM   #23
DonMagee
Location: Indiana
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Why bother making an assumption? Why not toddle on over there and check him out for yourself?



Again, sure you can find out if they are any good. Just toddle on down the road and check it out.

If an instructor doesn't give out rank on the internet, but is upfront on issues of rank and lineage in person, I have no problems with them. If they don't give that information out in person...then I might have a serious issue with training there.

If they give out their rank on the internet, but won't say who gave them that rank...that I would have an issue with.

Best,
Ron
If they won't tell me their rank by internet, is phone ok? How about written letter? Why does it have to be in person?

To me the internet is a form of communication. I use it like a phone, postal mail, store front, dictionary, etc. I have precious little time in my life to drive to a school to get info which may be less than satisfactory. I guess my question is, what is so different about the internet? I simply can't see how giving rank on the internet is different then giving rank in person? I can only come up with two reasons.
1) They don't want to field questions from people they may never have physical contact with. If this is the case, I would suggest not having an internet presence.
2) They have something to hide. To me saying "I dont give that information out on the internet" is the same as saying "i was sworn to secrecy when I learned the ancient art of ninja in the mountains of china".

For such a simple thing to answer, and for something so many people profess tells us nothing about their skill, they are very hesitant to give it out. Is it really that private and secret? Are you that afraid it will change a persons persepctive about you? If that is the case, they we have just proven its imprtantance. Otherwise we have proven people are too lazy to type 4th dan.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-18-2006, 02:28 PM   #24
David Humm
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
David Orange wrote:
Dave,

I think your own statement sums up the situation. If you comment on someone else's rank, then it's only natural to state your own.
Hi David, I always enjoy reading you posts mate.. very informative.. Not that I'm suggesting everyone else's aren't worth reading.. Unless of course they hold 6th dan or above lol

With regards to questioning someone else's grade from a fraudulent perspective and then being asked to disclose one's own grade. I don't see how that has any bearing on the question being posed to the suspected fraud, indeed I have seen this line of smoke-screening before where the Dai-soke-wannabie-ejjit 10th dan uses the time old tradition of "who are you to question me?... you're only a shodan (or whatever)" .. as if the person doing the questioning actually need an equivalent rank to be seen as able to do the very questioning. Again, this comes back to the issue of credibility based pretty much on what rank a person holds. The reality of course is that credibility stems from factual data.

I've done a hell of a lot of research in to the origins of British aikido. Ok so the study of aikido brought me to do the research however, do I need a dan grade to interview the people involved in aikido in the early 1950's (not thus far) and I don't need said grade to question the individuals who make absurd claims. (according to the yes !!) I think facts speak for themselves and don't need a dan grade to make them all the more credible.

Kind regards
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Old 09-18-2006, 02:31 PM   #25
mriehle
 
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Rank is a benchmark. Like any benchmark, it's value and/or accuracy is open to debate. It is, nonetheless, a benchmark.

Being ranked is not necessary to express an opinion. But expressing an opinion and expecting it to be respected are different. If you are unranked, your opinion will be judged in that context, like it or not. If your rank is suspect, your opinion is likely to be less well regarded, IME, than if you are simply unranked. If your rank is respected, your opinion is likely to be as well.

Being unwilling to disclose your rank makes your claims of rank suspect. It's a perception thing. It raises the question in some peoples' minds what your motive for not being forthcoming could be. Are you, perhaps, lying? It doesn't matter whether you are or not, the question is raised.

As for the relative value of rank, well, it depends. It depends on a lot of factors besides the raw rank. But that doesn't (or shouldn't) devalue rank itself overall. A shodan is a shodan. Maybe you don't respect a shodan for organization Foo, but you do from organization Fum. It's still a shodan.

The person hiding behind the "rank doesn't matter" mantra is making a bigger deal of rank than the person who just says, "I'm a nidan" and considers it a point of reference. It's just as much of a "big deal" as the guy who says, "Because I am nidan you must listen to all I say and worship me.".

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