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Old 02-05-2007, 09:39 AM   #51
David Humm
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
??? Too much caffeine David? But you're right, I have a really evil agenda... perhaps I'm wrong here but I believe you were around (say about 87/88) when the independant East coast aikikai society formed out of the Hull, Grimsby, Skegness and Scunthorpe dojos (a true NE riviera bunch).

Now from what I gathered at the time, this was not plain sailing and you'd mentioned that you'd later went on to affiliate your own dojo with a hombu federation. So here's my evil agenda, I thought it might be nice to have another viewpoint from someone who'd done the reverse of what was proposed in the thread. So, you've cracked my nefarious scheme to add another viewpoint to the pot, well done.

PS check your PM

anon - have you ever seen deliverance??
Ian, you are right I was part of a group of dojo which were independent and I later went on to join a hombu affiliate however; I was no more than a kyu grade at that time. Your comments in your earlier thread read to me and one other person who brought it to my attention as if you were having a dig at me with the negative connotation of your opinion. If that wasn't the case they you have my apologies.
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Old 02-05-2007, 10:17 AM   #52
happysod
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

The Light through yonder window dawns thanks to the sun of PMs...

Just for the record and for those of you still reading this bit of off-topic, I was in no-way linking Dave or his abilities as an instructor to the problems I saw with one of the independent groups I had dealings with - apologies to Dave for the unintentional offense caused and apologies to the English language for my obvious misuse of it. I blame my parents, teachers and all those unable to read my mind at the time of writing.
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Old 02-05-2007, 11:58 AM   #53
"anon"
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Smile Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

deliverance....as in, "you sure do have a purty mouth". yeah, i got the reference but having strong family ties to the appalachain area i had to throw a defensive jab even if in half jest.

you guys aren't going to turn this thread into a personal pissing match like a couple guys have done in others are ya? lets not- some good feedback has been provided and i'd hate for that to get lost.
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:01 PM   #54
"anon"
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

ah, my apologies to you two gents- looks like you've already kissed and made up.
cheers.
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Old 02-09-2007, 09:52 AM   #55
Budd
 
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Definitely a good discussion going on here. I've been in both an Aikikai-affiliated and independent dojo and am very happy now in my independent dojo because I think it suits me very well. Not because the dojo is independent necessarily, but because of the people and approach at the dojo.

My own two cents in brief is that it's kind of case-by-case and isn't really based on whether or not the dojo is in an organization or not, but more to do with the legitimacy of the instructor and the honesty with which the material is presented. In other words, what is the training purporting to offer? The biggest problem as I see it is that it can be very difficult to make these determinations when you don't have any experience already . . .
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Old 02-09-2007, 10:55 AM   #56
aikidoc
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote:
The biggest problem as I see it is that it can be very difficult to make these determinations when you don't have any experience already . . .
I agree. This can be a difficult issue. Although there are legitimate organizations with bad instructors in them, frauds are rare since the rank is controlled from above. Although one of Seagal's former students apparently forged his name and attained Aikikai rank illegally that is rare (this is what was in the letter Seagal wrote not my interpretation). He then used the rank to get additional rank from the Budokai. However, there are more fraudulent instructors or those who attained ranks in questionable ways in independent organizations since they often set up their own organization. There is no check and balance system to stop it. An inexperienced person will not see through the BS and can more easily be duped. If they find out, it's often after pouring good money into a worthless endeavor.
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Old 02-09-2007, 08:27 PM   #57
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

For me, the rank, or the quality of rank, plays a less important role. In fact, maybe it's no role at all for me. So it's not really the kind of fraud issue that is at the heart of the matter for me. The fraud issue that is central for me is character fraud. I don't think I've met many instructors whose character actually turned out to be as good as it appeared on day one of meeting them. Here I am not counting those instructors that I never got to really know. This kind of fraud is not at all limited to independent schools or federated schools. This is a case-by-case process of discovery, and it often deals a lot more damage and risk than some guy who is not as good as his rank might suggest. For me, this is the main reason why folks should look to handle things case-by-case.

Last edited by senshincenter : 02-09-2007 at 08:32 PM.

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-09-2007, 09:37 PM   #58
aikidoc
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

When you have some who have to make up their own rank or join questionable soke organizations to get the high ranks they "deserve" wouldn't that constitute character fraud? It would to me. I know it is sometimes hard to find those who walk their talk, but they are out there.
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Old 02-10-2007, 11:36 AM   #59
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Hi John,

Yes, I would agree. That would qualify indeed. I just thought it would be good to point out that that is not the only kind of character fraud that one faces - in and outside of federations (e.g. drug and alcohol abuse, self-serving, easily threatened, power abuses, power hungry, etc.).

On a side note: For me, my opinion only, interest in rank, any interest at all, represents some kind of character flaw. That's probably why I didn't make such a big distinction between what was mentioned before, and why I felt it necessary to mention these other types of character issues.

thanks, take care,
d

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-10-2007, 03:16 PM   #60
aikidoc
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi John,

On a side note: For me, my opinion only, interest in rank, any interest at all, represents some kind of character flaw. That's probably why I didn't make such a big distinction between what was mentioned before, and why I felt it necessary to mention these other types of character issues.

thanks, take care,
d
I'm curious. In a society were everything is evaluated and judged and status symbols such as ranks and titles abound, why do you consider an interest in rank a character flaw?
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Old 02-10-2007, 09:14 PM   #61
senshincenter
 
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Hi John,

Good question - fair question.

I'll take a stab...

Could not one ask, "In a society were everything is evaluated and judged and status symbols such as ranks and titles abound, why do you consider an interest in rank to NOT be a character flaw?"

That is too easy, too simplistic -- not much investment or commitment on my part.

Let me try againÖ

Let's try this -- a question:

Is a man more virtuous if he knows his skill, his accomplishments, who and what he is, what he can and cannot do, or is he more virtuous if he requires someone else, or worse, some institution, to tell him these things?

If it is the former, then the man that chooses the latter is flawed in character as any man that sees the more virtuous path before him but opts to walk the less virtuous one instead.

Or,

Is a man more virtuous if he chooses to relate to what is universal, real, and/or lasting, or is he more virtuous if chooses to relate to what is fleeting, superficial, and relative?

If it is the former, then the man that chooses the latter is flawed in character as any man that sees the more virtuous path before him but opts to walk the less virtuous one instead.

Now, for me, an interest in rank is of the latter choices in both questions (others may disagree). Having no interest in rank, training just to train, training for oneself, training without reliance upon the visible, the relative, and the superficial, is where virtue lies. To choose otherwise reveals a flawed character, as only a flawed character would veer away from virtue.

d

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-10-2007, 09:36 PM   #62
aikidoc
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Not totally, fair. You characterized it. Your initial statement was more definitive: "any interest" in rank represents a character flaw. Now you say, well it depends on why. Training for the virtue of training and rank will come of its own accord. The reason I was curious on your view was the fact you are in a very rank conscious system: academia. With a bachelors, masters and doctorate in process it would seem you are punching rank tickets with consistency and effort. From your statement, I would have to assume your pursuits are for the knowledge and the rank falls where it may.. Unfortunately, in the system you are in and for that matter, martial arts as well to be able to pursue certain interests punching the rank tickets is necessary. For example, if your path is to want to be able to contribute at the academic level by teaching and doing research the rank of Ph'd becomes essential for credibility. I had a similar discussion a while back with a shodan wanting to do seminars and advertising such. Granted he had a well known instructor, however, credibility wise I think he is going to have a tough time getting anyone to take him seriously at shodan.
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Old 02-10-2007, 11:12 PM   #63
Jorge Garcia
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Hi John,

Good question - fair question.

I'll take a stab...

Could not one ask, "In a society were everything is evaluated and judged and status symbols such as ranks and titles abound, why do you consider an interest in rank to NOT be a character flaw?"

That is too easy, too simplistic -- not much investment or commitment on my part.

Let me try againÖ

Let's try this -- a question:

Is a man more virtuous if he knows his skill, his accomplishments, who and what he is, what he can and cannot do, or is he more virtuous if he requires someone else, or worse, some institution, to tell him these things?

If it is the former, then the man that chooses the latter is flawed in character as any man that sees the more virtuous path before him but opts to walk the less virtuous one instead.

Or,

Is a man more virtuous if he chooses to relate to what is universal, real, and/or lasting, or is he more virtuous if chooses to relate to what is fleeting, superficial, and relative?

If it is the former, then the man that chooses the latter is flawed in character as any man that sees the more virtuous path before him but opts to walk the less virtuous one instead.

Now, for me, an interest in rank is of the latter choices in both questions (others may disagree). Having no interest in rank, training just to train, training for oneself, training without reliance upon the visible, the relative, and the superficial, is where virtue lies. To choose otherwise reveals a flawed character, as only a flawed character would veer away from virtue.

d
I once heard a teacher tell a student that rank only matters if you want to teach. I thought that was insightful because we live in a world that communicates through the use of symbols. Rank is a symbol. The question is - of what? Is it a symbol of ability, time in the art or the ability to pass an exam? Maybe it is any of the three or all of the three. In a very few cases, it is none of the three but the point is, it communicates something of that nature that is advantageous to he who wants to teach. In a world where we are distant epidemiological form one another, it sends a message without which we lack credibility. That gains us an entrance but after that, it is up to us. The symbol doesn't always communicate a reality but it gives the receptor some idea of what he is looking at though it could also be deceptive. I am a third degree back belt. Let's say that we also have a sixth degree black belt locally. Ability wise, I think he is much better technically than I am. Teaching wise, I think I could be as good as he is and maybe better but I have less knowledge than he does. The symbol of rank doesn't explain all that. It does assure the observer that he has been in longer than me. It also demonstrates that he has managed to persevere in this art and I have not pr oven that yet. All that is valuable communication for the novice. This is one example.

Another may be not one of character but of wisdom.In our world, if you recognize how the world uses symbols, it could be folly to reject all ranking along the way for purity sake while all others do not. Again, locally, we have an instructor who won't tell anyone his rank. A novice has no indication of who he is dealing with. While rank wouldn't answer all of those questions, it is a marker of sorts of some things. If the whole world is using rank, it may be expedient to use it also. Academic degrees granted by institutions are not necessarily symbols of what is real but again, they indicate some things. That a person has persevered in some respects. That he might be intelligent. Maybe that he might know what he is talking about. Once you are in the professors classroom, you will find out which one if any it is but without the degree, you will never find out because that man will never be hired to teach in a university.

Is rank a necessary evil for those who want to teach be taken with some credibility so potential students will give them a chance until they can find out for themselves?

Best wishes,
Jorge

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 02-10-2007, 11:12 PM   #64
G DiPierro
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

In some ways academics are similar to martial arts, and in some ways they are different. Certainly in academics there are credentialed people who are driven more by their own egos than by knowledge. There are professors who have bet their careers on an idea that turned out to be wrong, and who naturally enough keep holding onto that idea no matter what evidence arises to the contrary. Similarly there are grad students who get off on the power trip of having control of undergrads rather than on actually teaching. Both phenomenons are quite common in martial arts as well.

But in academics there are somewhat universal standards of achievement, and these are typically considered minimums rather than full qualifications. If you want to get tenure from a major university a PhD is necessary but not sufficient. Much more important than your degree is the original research you have published. In martial arts, rank is not in any way a minimum universal standard requirement for teaching, and original research is not rewarded but usually discouraged by large organizations. For example, if you want to teach a regular class at an affiliated dojo you almost always need to be a long-time student of that dojo and have your rank from that organization. You can°«t go get your shodan (or sandan or godan) from the ASU then go join a USAF dojo to teach in the same way you can get a PhD from Harvard then go join the faculty at Princeton. Actually, if martial arts organizations were more like universities in these ways it would be a very positive change.

Universities serve a very different and much larger purpose than martial arts schools, and hence they have much more rigorous and standardized requirements. Martial arts are basically a hobby for most people, and the organizations exist not to bring people up to minimum universal standards but to build and maintain a large paying student base for a few charismatic leaders. In this way, martial arts organizations are more like religious groups than universities. They tend to have mutually exclusive doctrines and hierarchies rather than universal standards and qualifications. If you want to be a Catholic priest, you have to have training within that lineage. Having credentials as a member of the Lutheran clergy won°«t qualify you, even though both religions are ostensibly °»Christian.°… In either case, you will have to adhere to the doctrine sent down from above rather than coming up with your own ideas, just as you would in a large martial arts organization. Of course if you want to open a church that is not a member of some larger group, you don°«t need any formal qualifications at all and you can follow whatever doctrine you like.

To me it is quite obvious why excessive concern with rank in martial arts is a character flaw. Ultimately, rank means nothing other than where you are in one particular organization. It doesn°«t make you a strong martial artist, an effective teacher, or a good person. My experience has been that people who manifest these qualities don°«t care much about rank, regardless of whether they have it, while people who are lacking in these areas cling to rank as a way to avoid or hide their deficiencies. This is more obvious when someone is not part of a major organization, since it is much easier to get rank by promoting yourself, having your students promote you, or joining an organization that sells rank than it is to get it from a mainstream group. With people from major "legitimate" organizations, you often have to spend some time on the mat with them to find out whether they have real skills or just a fancy piece of paper.

-G DiPierro

Last edited by G DiPierro : 02-10-2007 at 11:19 PM.
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Old 02-11-2007, 08:56 AM   #65
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
Not totally, fair. You characterized it. Your initial statement was more definitive: "any interest" in rank represents a character flaw. Now you say, well it depends on why.
Hi John,

I'm not sure I am seeing what you are saying above. I thought I sort of stuck with the description of "any interest." Perhaps you could sort of explain it - like for dummies. I'm missing it.

Additionally, let's not say I'm without character flaws here. I have them - plenty. I wasn't trying to speak from above as much as I was trying to explain something I'm working on and why. That said, I did approach my studies from the point of view of just gaining the knowledge - letting the degrees, titles, awards, reputations, etc., just come as they came. In the end, I feel, looking at it now, that that has played a big part in why recently I've opted not to finish my dissertation and to pursue a career in law enforcement. Over the years I just became less and less interested in those things. I have the knowledge my education gave me - it's already mine. i don't need the degree to use it or to share it. This is how I feel now. I only needed the degree to use it or share it within a certain environment - which is not all environments. And up till I changed my mind, it seemed fine to have the degree be an incidental of my education rather than a goal of my education. In fact, it seemed better.

okay - I await your explanation. Looking forward to it - thanks.
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:26 AM   #66
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote:
Is rank a necessary evil for those who want to teach be taken with some credibility so potential students will give them a chance until they can find out for themselves?
Hi Jorge,

First, can I say that I was not trying to discuss the usability of rank. I was trying to discuss having an interest in rank. True, this does include having an interest in using rank, but my points are not really questions on whether rank can be used or how it can be used. I agree, rank can be used, but I was trying to talk about something a bit different. On that note, I would define rank differently than you - a bit. I would say rank is the institution marking the individual as part of itself. Thus, if we are to discuss the uses of rank, the main uses for rank have to do with the institution and its needs and desires - which always have to do with its own prolonged existence, first and foremost.

Relative to your mention of an instructor that will not mention his rank, and as an example of how someone might get around having to be used by the institution in order to use rank...

As an independent, in light of how I understand rank, I always say I have no rank. While my students might be connected to the institution of our dojo, I as dojocho am not connected to any such institution in the way they are. When I left the USAF-WR, I separated myself from that institution, and, as such, I was no longer a delegate of it. Thus, currently, I have no rank. This is what I say to anyone that walks in my door with the question, "What is your rank?"

I do not use rank to inform potential students. However, this is not something I do because I have to. I do not use rank to inform potential students for the very reasons you mentioned. Because I want a potential student to know what he/she's getting into - because only such a person makes for a good dojo member -- I require potential students to train with us for at least a month with no commitment, at any level, before they even ask about joining the dojo. Additionally, I always encourage them to visit all of the other three local dojo in town -- where rank and institution are both present. From my point of view, I wouldn't want to keep a student from gaining a relationship with an institution if he/she so desired one, and I tend to think that such a person might not fit in with what we do at our dojo (since we have defined such interest as a path of less virtue). I see someone leaving or not joining for reasons of interest in rank as a win-win situation. A person can read more about how membership works at our dojo at our website (under "dojo information" then under "membership"). One can also see the other three local dojo urls under our "links" page under the same "dojo information" page.

I think, even if one does belong to an institution, that this is a better way of doing things -- for many reasons. I do not think that a dojo has to be an independent to have no interest in rank, to allow for a month-long trial period, and to encourage folks to seek out the other dojo in town before committing to yours. So I would not say that rank has to be a necessary evil of running a dojo.


david

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-11-2007, 09:29 AM   #67
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote:
In some ways academics are similar to martial arts, and in some ways they are different. Certainly in academics there are credentialed people who are driven more by their own egos than by knowledge. There are professors who have bet their careers on an idea that turned out to be wrong, and who naturally enough keep holding onto that idea no matter what evidence arises to the contrary. Similarly there are grad students who get off on the power trip of having control of undergrads rather than on actually teaching. Both phenomenons are quite common in martial arts as well.

But in academics there are somewhat universal standards of achievement, and these are typically considered minimums rather than full qualifications. If you want to get tenure from a major university a PhD is necessary but not sufficient. Much more important than your degree is the original research you have published. In martial arts, rank is not in any way a minimum universal standard requirement for teaching, and original research is not rewarded but usually discouraged by large organizations. For example, if you want to teach a regular class at an affiliated dojo you almost always need to be a long-time student of that dojo and have your rank from that organization. You can°«t go get your shodan (or sandan or godan) from the ASU then go join a USAF dojo to teach in the same way you can get a PhD from Harvard then go join the faculty at Princeton. Actually, if martial arts organizations were more like universities in these ways it would be a very positive change.

Universities serve a very different and much larger purpose than martial arts schools, and hence they have much more rigorous and standardized requirements. Martial arts are basically a hobby for most people, and the organizations exist not to bring people up to minimum universal standards but to build and maintain a large paying student base for a few charismatic leaders. In this way, martial arts organizations are more like religious groups than universities. They tend to have mutually exclusive doctrines and hierarchies rather than universal standards and qualifications. If you want to be a Catholic priest, you have to have training within that lineage. Having credentials as a member of the Lutheran clergy won°«t qualify you, even though both religions are ostensibly °»Christian.°… In either case, you will have to adhere to the doctrine sent down from above rather than coming up with your own ideas, just as you would in a large martial arts organization. Of course if you want to open a church that is not a member of some larger group, you don°«t need any formal qualifications at all and you can follow whatever doctrine you like.

To me it is quite obvious why excessive concern with rank in martial arts is a character flaw. Ultimately, rank means nothing other than where you are in one particular organization. It doesn°«t make you a strong martial artist, an effective teacher, or a good person. My experience has been that people who manifest these qualities don°«t care much about rank, regardless of whether they have it, while people who are lacking in these areas cling to rank as a way to avoid or hide their deficiencies. This is more obvious when someone is not part of a major organization, since it is much easier to get rank by promoting yourself, having your students promote you, or joining an organization that sells rank than it is to get it from a mainstream group. With people from major "legitimate" organizations, you often have to spend some time on the mat with them to find out whether they have real skills or just a fancy piece of paper.

-G DiPierro
Hi Giancarlo,

Nice post. Good to hear from you.

d

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-11-2007, 04:48 PM   #68
aikidoc
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

David, I hope I did not misinterpret you. My impression was that you were saying it depends on how its viewed whether its a character flaw or not. If one is truly not interested in rank at all, then no matter how many years they have trained they would simply refuse to test or accept rank. They would be honest up front and not take money for teaching anyone else and would not present themselves as instructors or hold themselves out to be anything other than a student. In fact, I would think if they tried to teach, by virtue of that act alone they would be establishing an intention or impression of rank. By characterizing it, I meant that it appeared you had conditions on whether it was somewhat of a character flaw or not based on intent.

Giancarlo, you make it sound sinister in my opinion. How about people who simple train for the sake of training in an organization and accept rank as a consequence of that dedication. Granted one's rank does not make them a good martial artist, or good teacher for that matter. However, as in a Ph'd program, it does establish a level of knowledge-whether it can be executed or taught or not is another matter. As to finding out whether they have real skills, that may be a reflection of their teachers more than whether they are legitimately trying to learn the art. That also may be an issue of interpretation since you are the one judging the skills and hold a bias in that regard-i.e., you are measuring them against what you have determined to be "real skills" based on your training which may also be flawed.

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Old 02-11-2007, 04:54 PM   #69
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

David, I'm sorry to hear you have decided to not finish your dissertation. To go so far and change your mind must have been a tough decision. FWIW even though you may not right now think it is important, if you punch the ticket and have a change of mind later at least you will not have to start over. I've seen brown belts do this-drop out right before the shodan and then later rue the decision.
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Old 02-11-2007, 06:06 PM   #70
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
David, I hope I did not misinterpret you. My impression was that you were saying it depends on how its viewed whether its a character flaw or not. If one is truly not interested in rank at all, then no matter how many years they have trained they would simply refuse to test or accept rank. They would be honest up front and not take money for teaching anyone else and would not present themselves as instructors or hold themselves out to be anything other than a student. In fact, I would think if they tried to teach, by virtue of that act alone they would be establishing an intention or impression of rank. By characterizing it, I meant that it appeared you had conditions on whether it was somewhat of a character flaw or not based on intent.

Giancarlo, you make it sound sinister in my opinion. How about people who simple train for the sake of training in an organization and accept rank as a consequence of that dedication. Granted one's rank does not make them a good martial artist, or good teacher for that matter. However, as in a Ph'd program, it does establish a level of knowledge-whether it can be executed or taught or not is another matter. As to finding out whether they have real skills, that may be a reflection of their teachers more than whether they are legitimately trying to learn the art. That also may be an issue of interpretation since you are the one judging the skills and hold a bias in that regard-i.e., you are measuring them against what you have determined to be "real skills" based on your training which may also be flawed.

Hi John,

Thanks for the reply.

Perhaps I didn't make sense then - since you seem to be saying both something I've been trying to say and something totally different from what I'm saying. For me, when you write "If one is truly not interested in rank at all, then no matter how many years they have trained they would simply refuse to test or accept rank. They would be honest up front and not take money for teaching anyone else and would not present themselves as instructors or hold themselves out to be anything other than a student. In fact, I would think if they tried to teach, by virtue of that act alone they would be establishing an intention or impression of rank," this would all be from the point of view of being stuck in rank (via an interest in regards to rank). This view, for me, sounds like something one would adopt if he/she just couldn't think outside of the box of rank. I'm trying to talk about what is outside of this box. Please see my other reply of what this might look like in a real-life setting. Perhaps that will lend a hand regarding my meaning.

However, when you write, "How about people who simple train for the sake of training in an organization and accept rank as a consequence of that dedication," you are talking about exactly what I would propose to be the more virtuous path. So, I'm not sure how to respond to this, as part of your reply seems to not note what I wrote but another part of it is exactly on the money (though you offer that part as a supposed contrast - yikes!). Perhaps someone else can chime in and make sense of what I was trying to say. I'm sorry I'm unable to be more clear.

I'll try more later,
d

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 02-11-2007, 06:07 PM   #71
senshincenter
 
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
David, I'm sorry to hear you have decided to not finish your dissertation. To go so far and change your mind must have been a tough decision. FWIW even though you may not right now think it is important, if you punch the ticket and have a change of mind later at least you will not have to start over. I've seen brown belts do this-drop out right before the shodan and then later rue the decision.
Yeah, I guess one never knows. It's there if I want it. That's not so bad. :-) Thanks. d

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:00 PM   #72
G DiPierro
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
If one is truly not interested in rank at all, then no matter how many years they have trained they would simply refuse to test or accept rank.
Actually, I would say that refusing to test or accept rank from an organization that you belong to is a form of excessive concern with rank.
Quote:
They would be honest up front and not take money for teaching anyone else and would not present themselves as instructors or hold themselves out to be anything other than a student. In fact, I would think if they tried to teach, by virtue of that act alone they would be establishing an intention or impression of rank.
Not sure what money or teaching has to do with rank. Again, rank is only a measure of your position within an organization. To suggest that teaching necessitates or implies rank is to suggest that teaching requires membership in some organization that awards rank. To me, such a belief also reflects an excessive concern with rank.
Quote:
How about people who simple train for the sake of training in an organization and accept rank as a consequence of that dedication.
No problem at all with that.
Quote:
Granted one's rank does not make them a good martial artist, or good teacher for that matter. However, as in a Ph'd program, it does establish a level of knowledge-whether it can be executed or taught or not is another matter.
Not really. In academics, people are constantly tested and their performance is graded in comparison to their peers. To get a Bachelor°«s degree, you will be evaluated by dozens of teachers acting independently of each other, and your GPA will reflect your performance relative to other students. We can say with a good amount of certainty that someone who graduates summa cum laude from Harvard is a better student than someone who squeaks through Podunk State College with a C average because we know that the requirements of the former are much more challenging than the latter. Now the guy who drops out of college after his freshman year to start a computer company might end up more successful financially than either of them, but in terms of further academic study it is obvious which of the two would be more likely to succeed.

Contrast this with someone who joins an Aikikai-affiliated dojo in the US and trains 3 days a week. If this person is an exceptional student and tests on time, he might get his shodan in 7 or 8 years. Usually, he will not be permitted test ahead of schedule no matter how good he is. If this person is a poor student, he might take a little longer and get shodan in 9 or 10 years. No matter how unskillful this person is he will still get promoted as long he shows up and pays his dues since organizations don°«t want people to get discouraged and drop out. A third person, an average student living in Japan, will get shodan after 2 or 3 years of training with the same frequency. All three will get the exact same piece of paper from the exact same organization signed by the exact same person. So what do these pieces of paper tell use about these people°«s relative level of knowledge, ability, or likelihood of future success as a martial artist? Nothing, because the requirements to receive them are not competitive in any way, and are completely arbitrary even according to the primary factor, time on the mat.

This type of rank, the most common in aikido, doesn°«t represent any kind of minimum standard of knowledge, nor does it have to, because martial arts are just a hobby, and it really doesn°«t matter if people doing them (or teaching them) have any actual skill. All that is important is that students get to dress up in funny uniforms and feel like they are doing something exotic. They are very unlikely to have to ever have to use what they are learning defend themselves, and major decisions like admissions to medical school or law school certainly do not depend on properly evaluating their performance.

All of the major martial arts organizations know this, and that is why they are moving away from effective technique in favor of a fun practice that is appealing to the masses. And because, as you pointed out, so many people in our society are dependent upon external symbols and measures of status, the ranking system is a great way to let people feel like they are making progress and keep them loyal to the organization. Problems only arise when people start thinking that such rank has some kind of universal meaning. As I suggested in my last post, usually this belief is a means to avoid having to confront one°«s flaws as a martial artist or person within the context of the dojo or organization.

-G DiPierro
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Old 02-11-2007, 10:22 PM   #73
aikidoc
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Comparing Japan and American ranks are apples and oranges-they get regular exposure to shihans, we don't. Shodan in 7-8 years-that's quite long by most standards. It's normally about 4 at that rate.

As for the rest of your comments, you seem to be focused on defining the quality of an aikidoka by their street effectiveness. I would content that is only one measure and perhaps in a modern society an irrelevant one. No everyone trains with the interest of doing MMA or kicking someone's ass on the street. Perhaps they are trying to elevate their lives to a higher plan as O'Sensei attempted in developing an art of peace. If that is all your measure is then aikido is not the art. BJJ or mixed martial arts is likely a better choice and it doesn't trouble one with philosophy .
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Old 02-12-2007, 12:20 AM   #74
G DiPierro
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

I think your understanding of the differences between Japanese and American practice is not based in reality, but I°«ll let people who have actually trained in both environments comment on that. 7-8 years would be fairly quick for shodan with 3 day a week practice in the USAF, the largest Aikikai-affiliated organization in the US. The minimum cumulative requirement is 1140 days, which at 3 days per week, 50 weeks per year, would be just under 8 years. This assumes you always test immediately after you are eligible, which is usually not the case.

I never mentioned anything about street effectiveness. You put forward the notion that rank in aikido is a similar qualification to an academic degree, specifically in regard to teaching. I gave a detailed case for why this is not the case by explaining some fundamental differences between the two. If you wish to suggest that aikido is not a martial art but a means of °»elevating one°«s life to higher plane°… (whatever that means) and that rank in aikido is a good reflection of accomplishment in and qualification to teach this, then perhaps you could explain how the ranking system in aikido evaluates something like this.

In nearly all of the Aikikai dojos I have been to, the only two requirements for promotion were time on the mat, which is always by far the most important requirement, and the performance of certain techniques on command, although some dojos also require other things like a written essay. Which of these requirements is the one that measures whether and to what extent students have elevated their lives to higher planes and are qualified to teach others how to do this?

-G DiPierro

Last edited by G DiPierro : 02-12-2007 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 02-12-2007, 02:44 AM   #75
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
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Re: independent dojo/switching affiliations

Quote:
Which of these requirements is the one that measures whether and to what extent students have elevated their lives to higher planes and are qualified to teach others how to do this?
I'm going to chose to go with neither on your two options and also ask for an additional clarification of "what level are they teaching?". The needs of a beginner are often quite different from someone experienced.

I've always found martial arts quite strange in it's view of teaching as it's one of the few areas of physical activity where the teachers ability is often surpassed by their ability to impart the knowledge to the student (see all the "stealing techniques" threads etc.).

I know several groups have attempted to address this with coaching certificates and different titles for teaching, but teaching in martial arts is still quite poorly recognized as a skill - compare this with coaches in activities such as sports where it's the skill of the student which is used to determine the reputation of the teacher.

With regard to using of academia as a model for martial arts (which I'm also guilty of) I agree it's a tempting allegory, what with the secretiveness, egos and sense of disconnect with the real world (TM) . However, I think there's a danger of taking this too far, sometimes it strikes me as a slightly vainglorious way of defending why we've all spent so much time on something the vast majority couldn't care less about.
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