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Old 06-13-2007, 02:57 AM   #26
Hanna B
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote: View Post
I could see getting something worthwhile out of rank, if I stayed somewhere long enough.
You have explained yourself why you are not concerned with your status within the group; you have chosen not to belong to it.

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For me it would be more about doing it cooperatively along with people there whom I respected and liked, not about 'Gimme one of those! I deserve it.'
Then what about if yoiu tried to do it very cooperative along with the people you respected and liked, but after a while somehow realised you were left behind? You are making assumptions as to with whom the guilt lies. You may be right, but you may be wrong.

Last edited by Hanna B : 06-13-2007 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 06-13-2007, 12:40 PM   #27
Kevin Wilbanks
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Hanna Björk wrote: View Post
Then what about if yoiu tried to do it very cooperative along with the people you respected and liked, but after a while somehow realised you were left behind? You are making assumptions as to with whom the guilt lies. You may be right, but you may be wrong.
You still don't get it. If you've done everything to please these people and they have snubbed you, it is time to reevaluate your assumptions. They weren't who you thought they were, and therefore the rank doesn't mean what you thought it did. You need to either change your perspective on the whole subject of rank or go find some people with whom you can get a meaningful one. Sticking around and being all whiny and covetous about it is not only a poor option, it's self-contradictory.
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Old 06-13-2007, 01:13 PM   #28
G DiPierro
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

It's not hard to see why rank is so important to people when dojos and organizations make such a big deal out of it. Consider things like prominently displayed nafudakake (ranking boards), dress codes based on rank (including colored belts and hakama to differentiate ranks), protocols such as lining up before and after class according to rank, formal ceremonies for presentation of rank certificates, classes devoted to those preparing for testing for rank, seminars where rank tests are an important part of the schedule of events, etc.

All of this might be tolerable if rank were an objective and accurate measure of skill, as it is in the game of go and as it was meant to be in competitive arts like judo. In fact, rank by its very nature implies competition, since anytime you rank things you are comparing them according to certain criteria, and they are essentially in a competing to determine how well each meets those criteria. In aikido, the criteria for rank are mostly hidden. The only explicit criterion is the requirement for having trained a certain number of days, which reduces rank to a competition for who has shown up to the dojo the most: a glorified award for perfect attendance. Although not an entirely trivial matter, this is hardly worth the kind of attention rank receives, and sometimes meeting this criterion is not even enough.

There is also a nominal criterion of techniques which must be demonstrated, but just having the ability to perform the techniques listed on the rank requirements in no way qualifies someone for promotion. In addition to having the necessary days, the techniques must (theoretically) be performed with a certain level of skill commensurate with rank in question, however the details of this are not spelled out but left up to the discretion of the examiner. Most importantly, though, it is usually necessary to first get "permission" to test, and increasingly this permission is equivalent to the promotion itself as many organizations no longer fail people once they have have been allowed to test, rendering the test itself not a test at all but merely a demonstration. Obviously, permission can be granted or withheld on virtually any grounds at all, without explanation, making political elements the controlling ones in any promotion. At the higher ranks (above 3 or 4-dan) even the illusion of objectivity is dispensed with as all promotions are done at the whim of those who run the various organizations.

Given how hard dojos and organizations try to get people to believe that rank is an important measure of success in aikido, I can't fault beginners for believing this and then feeling slighted when they get passed over for rank for arbitrary reasons. They weren't told that this was going to be part of the bargain, and now they feel cheated. The people I would fault are the ones who have been training for 10 or 20 or 30 years, long enough to know that rank is mainly a political game that does not necessarily have any relevance to the actual goals of aikido training. Sadly, many of these teachers and leaders have ideas about rank that are barely more sophisticated than those of the average beginner. Little wonder then that such ideas keep being perpetuated in arts like aikido.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 06-13-2007 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 06-13-2007, 02:12 PM   #29
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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One important information is missing here: how long exactly have you been training? Not everybody improves at the same pace.
Now, instructors are human beings, and sometimes, they do not realize that some of their actions are not being driven by the right motivations.
I also suggest that you go back to those senpais who told you that you deserve to be tested. Ask them now to tell you honestly what they think of your attitude and your discipline in class. A senpai has to be a model for the kohais, and a Sensei sometimes refuses to promote somebody who is technically able, but whose attitude is a problem.
Since I trained in shotokan for thirteen years before switching to Aïkido, I can share some experience with you. The desire to be promoted is human, and even healthy for begginers. It's what motivates them throughout the boring process of learning the basic steps. But, after a few months, it becomes obvious that being a good kohai is better than being a clumsy senpai. During my shotokan training, a realized that after I was promoted to purple belt. After my black belt promotion, after five years of training, I was fed up with exams, and the stress they brought on me. I refused to test for nidan. Meanwhile, another student was so convinced that she deserved to be promoted that she started designing her own training methods and stopped listening to corrections. Her performances declined miserably. Was I glad I was not imitating her.
I am now a white belt in Aïkido. I tested once, and I failed. I just did not want to test. Still, I know that Sensei is not done with me, and he will make me test again. I do not know when, I do not ask. I just love my new school, the people I meet, and the new stuff I am learning.
My advice to you is to enjoy your training, be humble and disciplined, and this promotion will come your way when you will not expect it.
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Old 06-13-2007, 02:30 PM   #30
Hanna B
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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You still don't get it.
I take it you think you understand the lot.

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Kevin Wilbanks wrote: View Post
If you've done everything to please these people and they have snubbed you, it is time to reevaluate your assumptions. They weren't who you thought they were, and therefore the rank doesn't mean what you thought it did.
Or, rank means exactly what you believed (such as your teacher hands out rank in whatever way he pleases just because he likes it), but you can not accept the outcome.

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You need to either change your perspective on the whole subject of rank or go find some people with whom you can get a meaningful one. Sticking around and being all whiny and covetous about it is not only a poor option, it's self-contradictory.
Yes, then it is time to decide if you accept being sidestepped and stay, or move on. I have personally left a teacher and a dojo because I understood he would never give me a position I was happy about (not rank related), in an art that constituted the major part of my direction in life. That was a very good and healthy decision. I have never regretted it.

The fact that the threadstarter is posting here, shows that xe is trying to work out how xe should handle the situation. IMHO that is a very good thing. Who the h**l are you assuming is sticking around being all whiny and covetous? Maybe you have something to learn about making fast conclusions based on little information.
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Old 06-13-2007, 02:35 PM   #31
Hanna B
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: View Post
One important information is missing here: how long exactly have you been training?
That is a very good point. If you have been training for less than two years, I suggest you try and talk to the teacher if you feel you can do that comfortably (or try and get you seniors to do it for you), and if that is not an option decide to let it go. If you have trained more than five years and you feel sidestepped what rank concerns, then that is another issue. If your teacher does not give you rank there must be a reason for it, and if you want to remain your teacher's student I see no way it could be good that you don't try and find out, why so you can decide on improvement in the area where you are lacking - or leave, if your teacher's reasons are not compatible with you.

Last edited by Hanna B : 06-13-2007 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 06-13-2007, 02:40 PM   #32
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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The desire to be promoted is human, and even healthy for begginers. It's what motivates them throughout the boring process of learning the basic steps.
Ouch! If I was a teacher, I would not want to have students whose motivation for traning was rank - not the beginners, and not the yudansha. I think that is a very very poor motivation for traning, and the student whose motivation is rank will always be disappointed in the end - even if, and maybe especially, if xe gets all the ranks xe thinks xe deservs.
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Old 06-13-2007, 02:42 PM   #33
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Who the h**l are you assuming is sticking around being all whiny and covetous? Maybe you have something to learn about making fast conclusions based on little information.
This is a loaded, fallacious question on the order of "Are you still an alcoholic?" I am not assuming anything. I think there is plenty of information in what this person has posted to conclude this person is whiny and covetous. The whole thing drips with lack of perspective and a sense of entitlement. Given that you don't get this, and also seem to be having trouble interpreting what I have written, I'd say it is you who has something to learn - both about interpreting written English and controlling your temper.
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Old 06-13-2007, 02:49 PM   #34
Hanna B
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

ROTFL

I rest my case.
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:01 AM   #35
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Wink Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Ouch! If I was a teacher, I would not want to have students whose motivation for traning was rank - not the beginners, and not the yudansha. I think that is a very very poor motivation for traning, and the student whose motivation is rank will always be disappointed in the end - even if, and maybe especially, if xe gets all the ranks xe thinks xe deservs.
I stick to my point. This is an unescapable reality. A student new - I said new - to the martial arts is embarking on a brand new adventure, and usually has no idea of what's ahead. Another unescapable reality is that the basic steps are just plain boring to practice, but absolutely unavoidable. The new, and immature student will need a motivation to go throught this stage, and the promotion will mean that he or she will have improved thanks to their perseverance. In the following months, as the student matures - that is as he or she accumulates experience - they will grow out of the promotion obsession.
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Old 06-14-2007, 01:43 PM   #36
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

We are going off topic, but well well. Why don't students of music or football need ranks in order to motivate them? Why has nobody started to had out black belts in violin playing?

From my experience, people don't grow out of the belt obsession. They plan their training according to it, all the way to shodan - then most of them stop training.
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Old 06-14-2007, 03:00 PM   #37
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Hanna Bj$B‹S(Bk wrote: View Post
Why don't students of music or football need ranks in order to motivate them?
Just to be fair in music they have first, second, third, etc. chair and of course there are first string players and second string players in sports.

Not exactly the same thing but still a place of recognition is being given for demonstration of superior skill.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-15-2007, 09:20 AM   #38
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Just to be fair in music they have first, second, third, etc. chair and of course there are first string players and second string players in sports.

Not exactly the same thing but still a place of recognition is being given for demonstration of superior skill.
These levels of accomplishment are not motivational carrots that everyone receives to keep them interested but the natural rewards that only go to those who are have demonstrated, in a competitive setting, superior skill relative to their peers. This is how rank in go (and in chess) also works: you only get promoted if you defeat players ranked higher than you. It doesn't matter how long you have been playing or how many games you have played, if you can't beat someone at the 1-kyu level you will never get promoted to 1-dan, period.

Giving rank to everyone an incentive and reward for just being persistent enough not to quit is a corruption of what it was meant to be and renders it meaningless as a useful measure of skill. Not everyone can be first chair in the orchestra or the starting quarterback of the football team or 1-dan in go, no matter how much they practice, but everyone can get to be a shodan in aikido as long as they stick around long enough and keep paying dues.

The fact that it is accepted in martial arts to use rank in this manner, and the fact that many people at all levels confuse this everybody-plays type of ranking with one that actually measures skill is a reflection of just how much delusion and fantasy exists in the martial arts today.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 06-15-2007 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 06-15-2007, 10:17 AM   #39
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Wink Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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We are going off topic, but well well. Why don't students of music or football need ranks in order to motivate them? Why has nobody started to had out black belts in violin playing?

From my experience, people don't grow out of the belt obsession. They plan their training according to it, all the way to shodan - then most of them stop training.
I sincerly think that what motivates a student to be or not to be promoted is definitly in-topic. My experience is that people drop out of martial arts at every level. When I was training in Shotokan, I decided not to test again after being promoted to black belt, and I did keep training as a shoden for eight more years, until our instructor decided to relocate in the U.S., and the school was closed. I just do not think that I may be an exception.
I switched to Aïkido because I could not find another Shotokan school that I liked. Otherwise, I would still be training as a shodan, a good ten years after my last test.
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Old 06-15-2007, 11:23 AM   #40
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

Completely agreed!

That's why black belts in Judo for instance have really earned their rank and are under no illusion about their real abilities while in aikido you find so many delusional people who believe they are masters of the art just because they wear a hakama.

I've seen many given rank as a reward for personal services given to the head instructor, for being nice and obedient, for being old and unable to test....etc. Martial skills seem to be the last criteria to be considered for rank advancement in aikido.

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
These levels of accomplishment are not motivational carrots that everyone receives to keep them interested but the natural rewards that only go to those who are have demonstrated, in a competitive setting, superior skill relative to their peers. This is how rank in go (and in chess) also works: you only get promoted if you defeat players ranked higher than you. It doesn't matter how long you have been playing or how many games you have played, if you can't beat someone at the 1-kyu level you will never get promoted to 1-dan, period.

Giving rank to everyone an incentive and reward for just being persistent enough not to quit is a corruption of what it was meant to be and renders it meaningless as a useful measure of skill. Not everyone can be first chair in the orchestra or the starting quarterback of the football team or 1-dan in go, no matter how much they practice, but everyone can get to be a shodan in aikido as long as they stick around long enough and keep paying dues.

The fact that it is accepted in martial arts to use rank in this manner, and the fact that many people at all levels confuse this everybody-plays type of ranking with one that actually measures skill is a reflection of just how much delusion and fantasy exists in the martial arts today.
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Old 06-15-2007, 12:53 PM   #41
raul rodrigo
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

The great thing about judo is that there is no room for delusion.
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Old 06-15-2007, 01:20 PM   #42
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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The great thing about judo is that there is no room for delusion.
Someone should of told that to my first judo instructor.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 06-15-2007, 01:55 PM   #43
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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I think there is plenty of information in what this person has posted to conclude this person is whiny and covetous. The whole thing drips with lack of perspective and a sense of entitlement.
If you are referring to me, the original poster, I would just like to say that I am NOT a whiner, and I don't feel as though I'm some sort of 3rd kyu shihan I think my posts were pretty clear. Other guys have passed me up for no reason that I am aware of and it bugs me. simple.
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Old 06-15-2007, 01:59 PM   #44
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Edward Karaa wrote: View Post
.

I've seen many given rank as a reward for personal services given to the head instructor, for being nice and obedient, for being old and unable to test....etc. Martial skills seem to be the last criteria to be considered for rank advancement in aikido.
This is kind of whats going on in my dojo
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Old 06-15-2007, 02:34 PM   #45
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

I am with Giancarlo. Rank in Aikido--and perhaps other "non-competitive" martial arts tends to ultimately become a popularity contest or an award for best attendance. I'm not sure how else it can be done at this point since I think we have travelled to far down that road already. As for me personally-my only answer is to train and not test.
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Old 06-15-2007, 03:57 PM   #46
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

In any human endeavor, there is always some room for delusion. In games like chess and go, you could delude yourself into thinking you are a good player because you always beat your little brother, but any play at a sanctioned event against officially ranked players should clear that up. Although Kano's idea was a martial art where skill could be quantified as objectively through competition as it is in go, the reality falls a little short. Rank in these competitive arts is usually not based exclusively on competitive results, as it is in board games. Yet the fact that there is a competitive element goes a long way to dispel widespread delusions of grandeur in such arts.

In aikido, there is much more room for mass delusion. The only reason rank in aikido ever manages to approximate anyone's actual relative skill level is because that the leaders of the art know that they must make it seem like the ranking system is a good representation of skill level and accomplishment in aikido in order to get the students to buy into it. Rank is a huge source of political, financial, and other kinds of power for them, and if they were to award it completely based on arbitrary political preferences then too many people would lose respect for it. A lot of thought and effort goes into maintaining the illusion that rank represents skill and achievement in aikido, including all of the ways that dojos and organizations place a great deal of importance on rank, which I mentioned earlier. Although instructors do use their discretion to occasionally hold back an under-performing student or (less frequently) quickly advance an over-performing one to keep people close to where they should be, the primary means of ensuring that rank often approximates actual skill level is the requirement for training a certain number of days in order to qualify to test.

For students of equal ability, training the same number of days will, all other things being equal, usually result in them reaching similar levels of skill, at least close enough to call them the same rank. However, all students are not equal (nor are all teachers, although that's another discussion). For average students, the practice of awarding rank by practice days will result in them being more or less ranked where they should be by an objective measure of skill, but above-average students will tend to be under-ranked while below-average students will tend to be over-ranked.* (see below) This gives the above-average students a disincentive to remain in arts in like aikido, leaving it populated mostly by average and below-average students. While the (even slightly) above-average students who do stay and play the political game will not face as much competition for the higher ranks and accompanying leadership roles when they reach that point, the target audience for the art tends to become the below-average student, who can advance in ways that would be impossible in an art with objective standards of skill. This is one factor in the art becoming increasingly watered-down over time and also one of the reasons why it has such a poor reputation in many martial arts circles.

* To get an idea of how many people would end up properly ranked according to skill using only the training days requirement, let us assume that the gap between each rank as an objective measure of skill is equivalent to one standard deviation in a normal distribution. Only just over 1/3 of all people would have a skill level within half a rank of what their training days qualify them for. Although nearly 70% (two standard deviations) of people who have the days for shodan would be, nominally speaking, properly ranked at level, many of them would be either almost at the nidan level or only barely above the 1-kyu level (by an objective measure of skill). Almost 16% would be at the 2-dan level or above, with an equal number at 1-kyu or below. 2% each would be at 3-dan and 2-kyu, and one person in one thousand would be at the 4-dan level or above and another at the 3-kyu level or below. This does not take into account differences in the requirements of different organizations, but assumes a normal distribution of students within one organization.
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Old 06-15-2007, 06:39 PM   #47
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Someone should of told that to my first judo instructor.
How exactly was he deluded, if you dont mind telling?

R
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Old 06-15-2007, 10:02 PM   #48
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

Again, I agree with Giancarlo 100%.

Add to that the extreme cases when the rank advancement of some outstanding aikidoka has been blocked in order to keep the "harmony" in the dojo as the lesser "gifted" members were struck with jealousy and started to complain. It is very important in aikido to keep all the nails levelled, and the one sticking out should be hammered down. This contributes to the mediocrity of the standard at certain training places, but keeps the majority of the customers happy.
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Old 06-16-2007, 06:31 PM   #49
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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How exactly was he deluded, if you dont mind telling?

R
That's a topic that could fill a whole thread. Sufficed to say he thought judo could defeat anything under the sun and was the only art you would ever need in any situation. Plus he could never deal with the fact that he was getting old and his students were young and developing skills he no longer had. After a few of us went to bjj and came back stronger grapplers, he made a point to show us how judo can beat bjj.He claimed to have never been choked out in his entire history (including almost making it into the olympics), after getting choked a few times, he switched to lecturing us on how that would not work on a good black belt our age (I was a 5th kyu at the time.) He just could not believe something we didn't learn in judo could defeat judo. Anyways, I'll stop now. But I could go on for hours about the stuff he did. My current judo instructor is much much better. I'm actually learning judo now.

- Don
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Old 06-17-2007, 04:34 AM   #50
Hanna B
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Re: It's not a democracy, I know.

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Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
For average students, the practice of awarding rank by practice days will result in them being more or less ranked where they should be by an objective measure of skill, but above-average students will tend to be under-ranked while below-average students will tend to be over-ranked.* (see below) This gives the above-average students a disincentive to remain in arts in like aikido, leaving it populated mostly by average and below-average students. While the (even slightly) above-average students who do stay and play the political game will not face as much competition for the higher ranks and accompanying leadership roles when they reach that point, the target audience for the art tends to become the below-average student, who can advance in ways that would be impossible in an art with objective standards of skill. This is one factor in the art becoming increasingly watered-down over time and also one of the reasons why it has such a poor reputation in many martial arts circles.
This is the first time Giancarlo has written something in this thread, that I don't agree with. I have never seen that talented students leave because they feel under-ranked. Possibly what you say is true in the US, I wouldn't know.

In my aikido world, ranking is mostly "one rank per term" for the first three terms or so but after that there is a lot more variation. Also, unlike I completely misjudge my surroundings most people here don't have ranks as there major motivation for training. I never cease to be amazed by the importance American aikido people tend to give ranks, preparations for tests etc, as judged by the amount of activity on the subject on discussion boards like this. However, I can never know if this is the picture in most American aikido, or if it rather is typical of a small but loud minority.
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