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Old 09-21-2006, 07:55 PM   #76
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Michael Riehle wrote:
I'm going to suggest that everyone participating in this discussion go back and re-read Sensei Ledyard's comments. Then read them again. After that, read them one more time.
I suspect that once was enough for folks to get what i was saying...

George S. Ledyard
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Old 09-22-2006, 03:01 AM   #77
Mike Grant
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Peter Goldsbury said: Quote ".... Sensei is simply a title, given in Japan to doctors, politicians, gangsters and martial arts instructors..." Unquote.

This is an insult to doctors, gangsters and martial arts instructors. I demand an immediate apology!
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Old 09-22-2006, 10:50 AM   #78
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Mike Grant wrote:
This is an insult to doctors, gangsters and martial arts instructors. I demand an immediate apology!
Uh, which one are you?


"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 09-22-2006, 02:14 PM   #79
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I suspect that once was enough for folks to get what i was saying...
Apparently not, though.

I'm not saying anything here, I'm just saying...

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Old 09-22-2006, 02:32 PM   #80
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

You do account for the possibility that we get, and respect what George is saying...and that doesn't mean we have to completely agree with it? I mean, you can't be so all fired sure of yourself that the possibility of simply having a different viewpoint doesn't exist, right?

Best,
Ron

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Old 09-22-2006, 02:39 PM   #81
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Michael Riehle wrote:
Apparently not, though.

I'm not saying anything here, I'm just saying...
I find your comment mildly arrogant and also mildly insulting actually.

What is it that your are "just saying"
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Old 09-22-2006, 03:09 PM   #82
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Sorry, guys, I shot my mouth off too quickly.

Very few things in online discussions irritate me anymore, but some of the responses here seemed to actively avoid the point that was made over and over and over and over and over and over again by multiple people: whether you believe rank is important or not, others will and avoiding answering the question gives the (possibly false) impression that you are hiding something.

My recommendation of Ledyard Sensei's post prompted not discussion of his points, but attacks on my recommendation.

Nevertheless, I should have toned down my response to Ledyard Sensei. I usually don't let this stuff get to me. It's only an internet discussion after all. (And, actually, I was being a little fascetious, I didn't actually intend it to come across as hostile as it did.)

FWIW: The two people who took offense are two who I actually believe did get the point long before Ledyard Sensei made it...again.

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Old 09-22-2006, 05:51 PM   #83
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Mike Grant wrote:
There's a big difference between calling the person who happens to be teaching 'sensei' on the mat and awarding the title to all and sundry to use and abuse as they see fit.
It's not a title, in the sense that you are given a "title" as a sign of achievement or level. It's really just a designator of function or place. In Japan first preference when addressing or speaking about someone is generally given to a designator of function or place - "wife" "section head" "manager", or "teacher". Anyone who teaches anything, from pre-school to card tricks to university classes would be called "sensei" as long as they're teaching. It really has little to do with what level they are.

Quote:
Mike Grant wrote:
I don't think that 'sensei' is added to the individual names in the list of instructors at the Aikikai Hombu dojo-even though some of them are extremely senior in rank.
Not surprising in a simple list - all of the instructors on that list, however, are called "sensei" in their day to day hombu lives. Also, if you look around the Japanese web you'll see that attaching "sensei" to even relatively low ranking instructors names is quite common - probably similar to what you see on the English web.

Quote:
Mike Grant wrote:
Fast forward to, say, the Iwama ryu GB website where I have been thinking of offering a prize to anyone who can count the total number of 'senseis' mentioned. (Clue; there are a hell of a lot...). Or the two Iwama Ryu seventh dans in Europe who continually refer to themselves as 'shihan'. Maybe there's nothing wrong in that, but if Saito the elder was happy with a simple 'sensei' then it does make you wonder about the whole thing.
I didn't see much odd on the Iwama ryu GB website, except for that ungrammatical placing of "sensei" before the name, but that's a common enough mistake for non-Japanese speakers.

As I understand it, those two Iwama Ryu seventh dans in Europe were appointed as shihan by Morihiro Saito, so I don't know if that really qualifies as "referring to yourself as". In any case, I saw Morihiro Saito give many public demonstrations in Japan where he was announced, and referred to, as "shihan".

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-24-2006, 06:05 PM   #84
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Smile Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote: (From the guy a couple of posts back): "Uh, which one are you?" Unquote.

Sorry, it's too late and I can't remember. It strikes me that the 'sensei' thing is as much about politics as martial arts though.

There's a great story in one of Ellis Amdur's books about the time he became an uchi deshi in Japan and asked whether or not he should call the dojo cho sensei. Apparently, he was told not and to 'find his sensei elsewhere'. George Ledyard's post stands or falls on it's own merits without having to morph him into 'Ledyard sensei' whose words are delivered straight from the mountain top in tablets of stone to be read three times over by mere mortals.

There's more than enough b*ll in the world of martial arts as it is-or that's the message I took away from the Amdur story (I think it's in Duelling with O Sensei).

Sorry for the lack of a detailed reply Chris. I'm sure you're right in everything you say...

Last edited by Mike Grant : 09-24-2006 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 09-25-2006, 10:11 AM   #85
mriehle
 
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

At the risk of sounding (one again) argumentative:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=154080

The whole "use of sensei" discussion is, really, a distraction.

Although it's possible, I think, that the original discussion has run it's course.

That being said, my lapse of judgement above caused me to consider something that I think we've all been ignoring:

We're all trying to rationalize a response that is not rational. In some cases it appears that people are trying to force rationality onto a fundamentally irrational human reaction.

Humans ain't always rational. A truly irrational response is to respond to an irrational response by trying to insist that the person in question be rational. Or maybe the word I should be using is "reasonable", since there can be considerable disagreement, IME, about whether an emotional response is rational or not.

In my mind, the answer is yes, but that's a completely emotional response which some will see as unreasonable.

I really think the whole "credibility of rank" thing has a lot to do with this. We want rank to mean something even if we don't really believe that it does. We want some kind of yardstick for measurement of someones credibility when all other things are equal. Sometimes we're even looking for a good reason to refute a position that seems well reasoned by undermining it using the authority of rank, or the converse in shoring up a weak position.

But, sometimes (often, IMO) we are just trying to get a better perspective on the whole thing.

Last edited by mriehle : 09-25-2006 at 10:13 AM.

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Old 09-25-2006, 06:39 PM   #86
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Michael Riehle wrote:

I really think the whole "credibility of rank" thing has a lot to do with this. We want rank to mean something even if we don't really believe that it does. We want some kind of yardstick for measurement of someones credibility when all other things are equal. Sometimes we're even looking for a good reason to refute a position that seems well reasoned by undermining it using the authority of rank, or the converse in shoring up a weak position.
I agree. People always want a handle. In a larger sense this has to do with the fact that most people are followers, not leaders. Good leadership must be provided to folks or they WILL find bad leaders and follow them.

Just look at the way that political figures have learned to repeat whatever untruths they wish to perpetuate oevr and over with complete certainty despite all sorts of factual information to the contrary. A significant number of people still believe that Iraq had something to do with 9-11. It doesn't matter how many reports have come out saying there was none...

Rank had meaning in a day when training was very formalized and everyone knew the schools and the teachers. This could be done in a small society like Japan. It can't be done now. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a Tenth Dan, Grandmaster, Soke. Anyone who can't or won't go the distance is a Founder now.

This is supposed to be Budo. It's about ones personal sense of honor. It's my job to give my own rank meaning by living up to it and never having anyone be able to say that I fall short of what that rank should mean. I was given my rank by my teacher happens to be one the great Aikido practitioners. I feel bound to live up to that honor. In other words it is my job to MAKE my rank mean something since rank in general seems not to any more.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:21 PM   #87
Chris Li
 
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Rank had meaning in a day when training was very formalized and everyone knew the schools and the teachers. This could be done in a small society like Japan. It can't be done now. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is a Tenth Dan, Grandmaster, Soke. Anyone who can't or won't go the distance is a Founder now.
Actually, the whole ranking system in Aikido (or any martial art, if we're talking about dan/kyu) is only a couple of years older in Japan than it is in the US - around 10 years in the case of Aikido, so the days aren't that far apart.

As far as I can tell, they've had much the same kinds of disputes and disagreements over rank/certification in Japan since martial arts started to get semi-organized - maybe 500 years or so, including Japanese Aikido post-war (which is really the only time that they had ranks at all).

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-25-2006, 09:00 PM   #88
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Actually, the whole ranking system in Aikido (or any martial art, if we're talking about dan/kyu) is only a couple of years older in Japan than it is in the US - around 10 years in the case of Aikido, so the days aren't that far apart.

As far as I can tell, they've had much the same kinds of disputes and disagreements over rank/certification in Japan since martial arts started to get semi-organized - maybe 500 years or so, including Japanese Aikido post-war (which is really the only time that they had ranks at all).

Best,

Chris
You are right of course... even in the old days there were guys who stole their certification scrolls or made counterfits. Of course the consequences of being caught out in such a sham were a bit greater than they are currently ("stop what you are doing or I will taunt you once more" on E-Budo).

I am sure there have always been frauds. But in Japan the system was somewhat self policing in that, if you set yourself up as a teacher, someone was likely to come through the door and check you out. If you got beaten up in front of your students it could close your school because the students didn't want to train with someone who couldn't perform as advertised.

It's just that, in the West, the average person has no idea what is real and what is not. The most outrageous stuff goes on. I mean, that fellow at the Expo who so sadly met his demise actually had students! That is a truly frightening prospect and not one that I think would happen in Japan. Too many people have at least done some Judo or Kendo in school. they at least have the foundation of an understanding of what skill is about.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 09-26-2006, 08:08 AM   #89
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

FWIW, although I can see how refusing can make it a big deal, I can also understand why someone would not want to share their rank in a discussion where it's not relevent. I do often see people irrationally hanging on the words of people with rank (even when what they're talking about isn't directly related to their expertise), or patronizing lower ranked people, and it is not much of a stretch to me to imagine someone asking "what's your rank" for the sole purpose of dismissing them from then on if their rank is "too low."

There are times when it's obvious it's not being asked out of innocent curiosity or to decide if you want to train with them, but for the exact purpose of finding out if you can use it to put someone down.

Isn't it kind of like asking people what university degrees they have when you're having an argument with them about something else? If you're discussing a specific technical detail related to their education, it might be relevent, but if you aren't, it can be obvious sometimes that the question itself is meant for the sole purpose of irrelevent judging, snobbery, or subtle insults. In which case, not answering may be setting yourself up, but really so is answering.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 09-26-2006 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 09-26-2006, 08:45 AM   #90
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Nicely done Basia.
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Old 09-26-2006, 10:10 AM   #91
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote:
...If you're discussing a specific technical detail related to their education, it might be relevent, but if you aren't, it can be obvious sometimes that the question itself is meant for the sole purpose of irrelevent judging, snobbery, or subtle insults. In which case, not answering may be setting yourself up, but really so is answering.
I always believe that eventually all things go full circle and this debate is no exception. What Basia described in the quotation above is exactly why I didn't disclose my rank at the time to the parties demanding it.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions, really appreciated and enjoyed the discussion.

Kind regards
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Old 09-26-2006, 10:17 AM   #92
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
I really think the whole "credibility of rank" thing has a lot to do with this. We want rank to mean something even if we don't really believe that it does. We want some kind of yardstick for measurement of someones credibility when all other things are equal. Sometimes we're even looking for a good reason to refute a position that seems well reasoned by undermining it using the authority of rank, or the converse in shoring up a weak position.
Michael, you just made my case for me better than I made it for myself!

Thanks,
Ron (yeah, the circle probably is complete...)

Ron Tisdale
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Old 09-26-2006, 11:54 AM   #93
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Michael, you just made my case for me better than I made it for myself!

Thanks,
Ron (yeah, the circle probably is complete...)
No, actually, I didn't.

But that's okay.

The explanation "why" relies on acceptance of the irrational nature of humans.

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Old 09-27-2006, 07:45 AM   #94
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Agreed, the use of sensei debate has probably gone as far as it can, but I liked the Amdur story. He stayed at that particular dojo for six years, but the instructor obviously didn't set much store by b*llsh*t titles.

By the way, I'm a diving instructor/dive master. There's no special title for any of this though and nobody's ever called me 'Dive-Master Grant' on the boat. Why should aikido be different?
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Old 09-27-2006, 10:59 AM   #95
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Mike Grant wrote:
By the way, I'm a diving instructor/dive master. There's no special title for any of this though and nobody's ever called me 'Dive-Master Grant' on the boat. Why should aikido be different?
I hold mixed gas diving quals from TDI (Technical Diving International) and I've met some guys with serious ego (dive deeper, longer, safer than others) these guys however aren't looking for an exterior rub of their ego from someone else, instead they satisfy their own ego by DIR (Doing It Right). Stands to reason fellow divers come to respect and have a measured degree of admiration for those who plan and execute technically based high risk diving and do so safely.

Aikido on the other hand is an entirely different animal, walk in to any martial arts shop buy your kit and off you go.. Six months later and magically 'soke 10th dan' and no one to officially challenge it. This is where these people desire others to stoke their ego. These sorts of people wouldn't survive a single DECO stop or bother to find out what PPo2 is or why breathing 100% o2 is fatal at depth.

Regards

Last edited by David Humm : 09-27-2006 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 09-27-2006, 12:38 PM   #96
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Dave Humm wrote:
I hold mixed gas diving quals from TDI (Technical Diving International) and I've met some guys with serious ego (dive deeper, longer, safer than others) these guys however aren't looking for an exterior rub of their ego from someone else, instead they satisfy their own ego by DIR (Doing It Right). Stands to reason fellow divers come to respect and have a measured degree of admiration for those who plan and execute technically based high risk diving and do so safely.

Aikido on the other hand is an entirely different animal, walk in to any martial arts shop buy your kit and off you go.. Six months later and magically 'soke 10th dan' and no one to officially challenge it. This is where these people desire others to stoke their ego. These sorts of people wouldn't survive a single DECO stop or bother to find out what PPo2 is or why breathing 100% o2 is fatal at depth.

Regards
That is one of the things that makes competitive martial arts so interesting to me. You can't fake it. Well you can, but not well. Your students are going to notice the first time they compete that something is wrong. Plus you can always ask for a competition record, lineage, teachers record, or even a sparing match to find out where the teacher stands. I wouldn't train judo or bjj with a teacher I didn't concider a serious threat on the mat.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-27-2006, 12:58 PM   #97
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
That is one of the things that makes competitive martial arts so interesting to me. You can't fake it. Well you can, but not well. Your students are going to notice the first time they compete that something is wrong. Plus you can always ask for a competition record, lineage, teachers record, or even a sparing match to find out where the teacher stands. I wouldn't train judo or bjj with a teacher I didn't concider a serious threat on the mat.
I know we're digressing slightly but it's all relevant.

Don't get me wrong; there are friggin' eejits in any sport or discipline. Only last year I rescued a guy from Stoney Cove (slack water dive centre in the UK) who had serious issues with his dry suit, when I had him dry-side and quizzed him on what was happening, he told me this was his first dive in dry suit, looking at him a but "off" I asked who trained him in the use thereof and he replied that all he'd done was a PADI basic warm water course on holiday in Cyprus a few months back, when back in the UK he's just walked in to his local dive shop and bought a drysuit and thought the buoyancy characteristics would be the same as a shortie and a stab-jacket. His mistake could have cost him his life.

His so called buddy was about 15 mtrs below him when all this happened and wasn't in a position to assist in any way.

You can't account for lack of common sense.

Last edited by David Humm : 09-27-2006 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 09-27-2006, 04:08 PM   #98
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Hi again Dave,

I hold mixed gas and rebreather qualifications too. I like your comment on the DIR brigade and they certainly have their counterparts in the aikido world.

The strange thing about diving is how often it's actually safer to go against the orthodox view. The PADI position is that you always have a buddy, but personally I think I'm safer on my own than with the kind of diver that you describe in the dry suit story-but that attitude sends the PADI/BSAC guys nuts and most of the time you wouldn't even be allowed to get on the boat with it let alone actually do a solo dive.

I did a lot of diving at a particular centre abroad about five or six years ago where there were some serious record attempts going on at around the 160-200 metre mark and at one point two or three divers a year were getting killed out of that one centre. I never saw this as an an ego thing, people had the qualifications and knew the risks and they were willing to pay the price if things went wrong for the sake of testing their skills and the spirit of exploration. But others were quick to pass judgment.

The relevence to aikido for me is that, at some point, you have to make the techniques your own and step outside orthodoxy. Some of us never reach that point I guess because it seems to take a hell of a long time, but far too many people expect their 'sensei' and/or organisation to do it all for them and for the pieces of paper on their own to be sufficient.

That said, the fakes are a pain. I wasted a year training under one the UK 'eighth dans' until somebody put me right.

Last edited by Mike Grant : 09-27-2006 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 09-27-2006, 06:16 PM   #99
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

Hi Mike,

Great to chat with a fellow "techi"

My dive instructor (Dennis Vessy) is a rebreather instructor and although I understand the for's and against's I just can't seem to let go of my trusty twinset (lol) That said I really don't do enough deep water to justify the costs even if I really wanted.

I got into technical diving mainly because of the additional safety, redundancy and ethos that self reliance and sufficiency is by far the best. I too have dived (PADI, SAA and BSAC) club events and rolled my eyes at the things these people sometimes do. I think most of the time its complacency.

Anyway getting back to aikido, although not entirely to do with this thread, what part of the UK do you hail from ? I'm fairly 'up' on our run of bogus hachidan so I'm fairly confident I'll guess which one by where you live.

If you're ever passing my neck of the woods (Lincolnshire) for a dive gimme a shout - dave-humm@ntlworld.com

That aside mate.. Dive safe !

Regards
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Old 09-28-2006, 04:30 AM   #100
Mike Grant
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Re: Disclosure of information on the net

I'm in London and looking forward to your guess as to identity of the 'hachidan'. Wont give you any more clues at this stage as I'm interested to see who you think it is.

The CCR is great-until it goes wrong at which point all your carefully grooved safety drills on open circuit go out of the window and the more experienced you are (on open circuit) the more danger you're in to a large extent. SCR is easier to use and I knew a guy who rigged up his own switchable unit and got to 100 metres on (effectively) two dolphins plumbed in together with a different mix in each. A nice solution if you have the cash.

My point on the diving is that there's a strong streak of political correctness involved-to a much greater extent than, for example, mountaineering. Aikido is even worse. Political correctness is rampant and manifest in obsession with rank and excessive use of meaningless (and sometimes even made up) titles such as 'sensei'. Personally, I don't understand people who don't test or do the gradings (in my view that's an incredibly arrogant position to take) but on the other hand rank is only really good in your own dojo. The TDI philosophy is good for diving and good for aikido too I think-take responsibility for your own training and your own life.

Last edited by Mike Grant : 09-28-2006 at 04:32 AM.
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