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Old 01-25-2007, 01:57 PM   #1
Rod Yabut
 
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Heir apparents to shihans

Just had a thought when I was reading the Kagami biraki promotions...as the shihans are getting older, they are/have been grooming their successors to continue their teachings.
Since we have a multitude of assocations here in the US and around the world, I was hoping everyone could share who they see as the "next one" in line within their respective organizations.

Thanks.

Rod
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Old 01-25-2007, 02:10 PM   #2
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

I would think that this would be too political and emotional to comment on. Also, maybe their won't really be a successor in many, but they simple continue to operate as they are currently.
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Old 01-25-2007, 02:40 PM   #3
crbateman
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

I have heard it said that "successors" (other than direct family descendants) are often not designated in advance, in order not to discourage those who are not "the chosen". It is usually hollow strategy, however, as these preferences are difficult to conceal. Not naming them too early is probably a matter of protocol more than anything else.

Last edited by crbateman : 01-25-2007 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 01-25-2007, 03:33 PM   #4
aikidoc
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

In the business world, they do something called "succession planning". AAA lost Toyoda sensei suddenly at a young age. There was considerable in fighting going on as to who should be the chief instructor following his death with several senior students bolting. Then there was more intrigue when the chief instructor following Toyoda was let go after about a year with the result being more dojos defecting.

Succession planning could have made this less damaging to the organization. With many top shihans getting on in years those that have organizations would be better served by designating shihan-dai and establishing an heir apparent. Unless this is done by a board of directors. With communications it is possible to avoid a big fallout. In some organizations the heir apparent may be obvious. ASU has 2 shihan one much younger. In others, that may not be so apparent except maybe new 7th dans and shihans some being the first-possibly seniority.
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Old 01-25-2007, 03:35 PM   #5
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

By the way, I have only seen randon mention of people promoted at the Kagagmi biraki. Is there a definited list out yet that one can look at?
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Old 01-25-2007, 04:27 PM   #6
Rod Yabut
 
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Good points everyone. Of course, my intent here was by no means to stir the"political pot". I really wasn't looking for an 'official' successor to a current shihan, but rather who, within their organizations, is percieved to be next in line on basis of training, technical and teaching abilities, etc. This could be one or 2, or it could several...who knows. Which is why is ask!

As an example, Yamada sensei has made no qualms about paving the future of aikido in the US. As John put it - succession planning (maybe to avoid possible turmoil).

On a personal obervation and IMHO, its obvious that Waite sensei, Bernath sensei and Demko sensei are going to be counted on to lead the USAF in the future. They are long time students of Yamada sensei, and from the seminars that I've had the privelege to attend, thier promotions are certainly deserved.

John also alluded to ASU having two shihans, and as a 'personal' observation, Ikeda sensei is a no brainer to be the next guy after Saotome sensei! (the guy is awsome)

To simplify my question, I guess I'm looking for the same observation as i did from other students in other organizations. An alterior motive here is that I will take these observations as recommendations and attend any upcoming seminars these senseis may have while they are still cheap!

Last edited by Rod Yabut : 01-25-2007 at 04:30 PM.

Rod
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Old 01-25-2007, 05:38 PM   #7
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Quote:
Rod Yabut wrote:
An alterior motive here is that I will take these observations as recommendations and attend any upcoming seminars these senseis may have while they are still cheap!
Crafty! I love it!

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Old 01-25-2007, 05:47 PM   #8
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Quote:
Rod Yabut wrote:
An alterior motive here is that I will take these observations as recommendations and attend any upcoming seminars these senseis may have while they are still cheap!
Just my opinion, of course, but you may see these positions go to those with the best political or organizational skills, not necessarily to those with the best technique or the best teaching skills. For this reason, I suggest you focus your seminar activities on those from whom you can learn the most, and better your own Aikido. It may be easier for you to identify those people anyway, rather than trying to figure out some complicated political construct.
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Old 01-25-2007, 05:49 PM   #9
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
By the way, I have only seen randon mention of people promoted at the Kagagmi biraki. Is there a definited list out yet that one can look at?
I think that list exists at Aikikai Hombu, but I don't know if it's published anywhere. Someone who trains there might be able to tell you.
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Old 01-25-2007, 11:23 PM   #10
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Quote:
Rod Yabut wrote:
... An alterior motive here is that I will take these observations as recommendations and attend any upcoming seminars these senseis may have while they are still cheap!
I'd go to wichever seminars you want to go to and not worry about whether that person is going to head an organization or not. If you want to go to a Waite Sensei seminar, for example, then go! Whether he ends up running New York Aikikai after Yamada Sensei dies or not doesn't matter.

More importantly go to the Shihans you mention while they are still alive. They won't be around forever, as you have noted, so get to those seminars while the getting's good.
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:50 AM   #11
Rod Yabut
 
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Quote:
Michael Gallagher wrote:
If you want to go to a Waite Sensei seminar, for example, then go! Whether he ends up running New York Aikikai after Yamada Sensei dies or not doesn't matter.
**Sigh**

I was hoping to have a light conversation here as you would when you have a beer after a hard practice in the dojo rather than a the proverbial aikido thread lecture of "just practice, don't worry about anything else". Michael, with all due respect, I don't worry about who's next in line...I was just wondering what thoughts were of other aikidoka regarding it within their respective associations. My statement on alterior motive was meant to lighten the topic, but it looks like it made worse!

i guess i take this lighter than most people...

**Handing you a cold beer**

Just talking here...

Cheers!

Rod
"Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything." -- Miyagi Sensei
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Old 01-26-2007, 12:01 PM   #12
crbateman
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Rod, I don't think Michael was dissing you at all. Sometimes it's hard to know that in a written forum, but it didn't come across that way to me. I think he was simply emphasizing the point of training for the simple sake of training. Try to give him the benefit of the doubt.
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Old 01-26-2007, 01:46 PM   #13
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

As sad as it is and will be to lose the people who have been practicing and teaching Aikido for so many years, it will be interesting to see how things develop.

I'm going to agree with John Riggs, and say that preplanning is probably the best planning. Organizations reacting after the fact a leader is lost hasn't seemed to work well in the past. I think if nothing else the endorsement from a respected leader helps reassure the community / organization that the person taking the reins is the "right" person for the job. This is even more true when no other tradition or precedent is there to follow, within that specific organization.
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Old 01-26-2007, 02:53 PM   #14
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

What about Harvey Konigsberg in USAF? Wasn't he their first 7th dan and shihan?
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:06 PM   #15
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Jamey's point about preplanning is critical in my opinion. Reacting after the fact will kick egos into high gear during an emotional and short time frame. It could destroy or severely damage a large organization, especially when multiple shihan are involved. I belong to the Shudokan Aikido Association, a small group of dojos here in Texas and Mexico under Hiroshi Kato shihan. We all recognize he will someday retire as will all the shihan. In preparation of that likelihood, our board of directors is taking steps to prepare. Sensei has multiple dojos and recently picked up Indonesia under his guidance. However, it is nothing as formal as USAF or ASU, etc. If something should happen or he retired suddenly dojos under his direction could be out in the cold with regards to affiliation with the Aikikai. That is why we are working diligently to make sure we are prepared in advance. We definitely hope that sensei has many many years to teach, but also recognize that many of the top shihans are all at retirement age.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:14 PM   #16
Rod Yabut
 
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Hi John,
I haven't had the priviledge to train with Kato Shihan and hope to train with him when he comes to SF this year. When he comes over to the US, does he come with any of his high ranking students?

For USAF, yes - Konigsberg sensei was the first, followed by Berthiaume sensei.

Rod
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Old 01-26-2007, 07:38 PM   #17
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

I would like to reiterate that Bernath Sensei, Donovan Sensei and Demko Sensei are not the only 7th dans in our organization. (You can see a full list on the AikiWiki here on Aikiweb.) They are just the most recent promotions. They are also not the only Shihan. The Shihan of the USAF, outside of Yamada and Sugano Sensei, are:

Eddie Hagihara Shihan, Long Island Aikido Association
Harvey Konigsberg Shihan, Woodstock Aikido
Clyde Takeguchi Shihan, Capital Aikikai
Claude Berthiaume Shihan, Aikido de la Montagne
Peter Bernath Shihan, Florida Aikikai
Donovan Waite Shihan, Aikido of Center City

(Also, this list doesn't include the shihan of the now Birankai [former Western Region]. Remember, when the Aikikai Hombu dojo recognized the Birankai it also recognized their shihan, too.)

Are new promotions an indication of the choice of an "heir apparent?" I don't know if I would use the terms "heir apparent" as there is a natural tendency to think that this means one person is selected over others who may be equally qualifed. Actions in the USAF have been taken, however, to prepare for "the future." Unfortunately, meaning a future without Yamada Sensei. These promotions are not recent developments, they are a continuation of what started at least two years ago.

About two years ago with the Shihan promotions there was the creation of the Technical Committee and the Board of Advisors. It's my understanding that the Technical Committe will be made of a certain group of people - the shihan, I believe. The Board of Advisors will change through elections and each sensei (Shidoin and Fukushidoin) will get a chance to sit on the board at least once. There will be staggered elections every two years.

Technical Committee members will discuss standards expected for testing and they will sit and grade testing. If you haven't been to a major USAF seminar recently you will seen the newer Shihan sitting with Yamada Sensei at the examiners table and you will see new requirements being thrown out during the tests. The Advisory Board will be an opportunity for the non-shihan to have leadership within the organization as well, so they are not totally left in the dark, either.

So, the recent promotions are just a reflection and a moving forward towards this goal that was already set in motion a couple of years ago.

Also, if you want more detail about the "goings on" in the USAF, you can to www.aikidoeast.com . And I suggest perusing through the, "Messages from Yamada Sensei" found in the archives.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 01-26-2007, 09:21 PM   #18
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Rod, hope you get a chance to see Kato sensei. His aikido is amazing. He does bring students sometimes-he had one of his 3rd dans when he visited TX.
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Old 01-26-2007, 10:04 PM   #19
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Quote:
Rod Yabut wrote:
**Sigh**

I was hoping to have a light conversation here as you would when you have a beer after a hard practice in the dojo rather than a the proverbial aikido thread lecture of "just practice, don't worry about anything else". Michael, with all due respect, I don't worry about who's next in line...I was just wondering what thoughts were of other aikidoka regarding it within their respective associations. My statement on alterior motive was meant to lighten the topic, but it looks like it made worse!

i guess i take this lighter than most people...
Well, there are some "hot button" topics that, while sounding inocuous, can set off a firestorm around here. Just happens.

As far as abilities go, all of your prospective heirs are up there. When you're thrown by someone who has been training for ~30 years ukemi is less about falling and more about landing. Whether I think sensei x is good enough to take ove for shihan y after he dies .... it's fun to speculate on, I suppose, but my perspective is that when you're talking about people like Yamada Sensei who are in their 60s, they're getting up there, they won't be around forever, and I think you should focus your attention on training with them while you can. When they're gone, there won't be anyone like them again, especially if you're talking about people who studied under O Sensei. In other words, who takes over for him after he's gone is, while not unimportant, of secondary importance, especially if you're not a potential successor.

As to talking about it over a beer .... tell me, when you have beers with training partners in real life, do you really try and handicap your organization's successors? If not, why do it here? If you do, well, that's your business. I've never heard that at gatherings I've gone too, though.

BTW, I don't drink, so when I go out, I have a soda.
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Old 01-27-2007, 02:12 PM   #20
Roman Kremianski
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Fine, fine. I'll take over as next Shihan, if you guys insist so much. All you had to do was ask.

*sighs*
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:32 AM   #21
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

Quote:
Rod, hope you get a chance to see Kato sensei. His aikido is amazing. He does bring students sometimes-he had one of his 3rd dans when he visited TX.
Hi John, I hope to see him as well! Somehow, I have to fit his seminar into my budget!

Quote:
Also, if you want more detail about the "goings on" in the USAF, you can to www.aikidoeast.com . And I suggest perusing through the, "Messages from Yamada Sensei" found in the archives.
Hi Anne Marie, thanks for clarifying. USAF does a good job of letting its members know what's going on. I think it helps address these types of questions. Since I don't have access to other organization's newsletters, I was hoping that some would be open to share here.

Cheers!

Rod
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:46 AM   #22
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Re: Heir apparents to shihans

By the way, thanks for the PMs everyone...lots of good information.

Rod
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