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Old 10-18-2007, 03:04 PM   #26
Christopher Gee
 
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

'Credibility and respect are earned by your behavior, not by your membership in an organization.'

HERE HERE!

Heiho wa heiho nari - Otake Risuke
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:46 PM   #27
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Well I can't speak for other independents but I myself would be happy to help the big organizations by sharing my suggestions on how to improve their standards and practices. If any people from such organizations would like my advice on this matter, either in person or in written form, please feel free to contact me. However, my experience leads me to believe that organizations both big and small are not interested in such outside input and would prefer to keep doing things the way they are they currently doing them.
Please come to the source of the problem rather than expecting it to come to you. I will do what I can to help you if you wish.

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David Skaggs wrote: View Post
I would not be practicing Aikido now if not for the USAF and JAA/USA.

Credibility and respect are earned by your behavior, not by your membership in an organization.

David
I agree with that too. As Giancarlo said, "those who are not part of a major organization are immediately suspect" and I agreed from the start that this is not necessarily a fair thing, but it is a fact of life. Ultimately, it's what you do and the way you behave that counts.

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Basically, an organization is a group of people intentionally organized to accomplish an overall, common goal or set of goals.
http://www.managementhelp.org/org_thry/org_defn.htm

If anyone thinks corruption has set in to an organisation that spans the world and is disseminating something flawed to countries where people's lives do depend on it, you should do something about it.

Onegaishimasu
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:10 PM   #28
aikidoc
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Well I can't speak for other independents but I myself would be happy to help the big organizations by sharing my suggestions on how to improve their standards and practices. If any people from such organizations would like my advice on this matter, either in person or in written form, please feel free to contact me. However, my experience leads me to believe that organizations both big and small are not interested in such outside input and would prefer to keep doing things the way they are they currently doing them. If I'm wrong about that I'd be happy to see them change, but realistically I don't have very high expectations. I've seen how deeply people are entrenched in their own way of doing things and how hard they will fight to stay there, even when they have been freely shown a better way.

This is true not only in aikido but in almost all areas of human behavior, although aikido organizations by their very nature tend to promote such reactionary behavior rather than working to create an environment where people are encouraged to experiment and innovate. I don't think many people would argue with that characterization of aikido organizations, including those who consider them to be like professional organizations in medicine, law, or academics where such innovation is built into the system. Without this key principle, all you have are a bunch of people maneuvering for political clout, always afraid to do anything that might upset the status quo. As I suggested, I think the only reason people tolerate this in aikido and other martial arts organization is because these groups really don't matter to those who are not members of them. They are truly much closer in structure and function to religions and social clubs than they are to any kind of professional group that the general public must rely on for essential services.
Since you likely have no experience in running a large organization, I'm sure you are right. Large organizations will not be inclined to take your advice unless you have some impressive credentials- high aikido rank or perhaps a Phd in management or organizational theory that would justify listening to your input. Otherwise, your opinions on how to make larger organizations meet your needs or those of others is simply opinion. In any large organization, it is difficult to meet the needs of everyone-in fact, it is pretty much impossible. So those who do not do well in a more rigid environment tend to do their own thing. Unfortunately, that too has risks in that it leaves one to their own devices which may or may not be sufficient to elevate their training or aikido. A truly gifted person may be able to elevate their training and figure things out on their own without guidance. More likely the ego gets in the way and training over time only becomes legendary in the mind of the self professed master. That's why we have a proliferation of sokey dokey organizations handing out 10th dans to 30 year olds with little credentials to justify them.

I disagree with your implication that all large organizations do not encourage innovation. However, even though not on the same level as the AMA credentialing, their purpose is to train people to a "standard" no matter what the stylistic interpretation. Professional, perhaps not, however, I don't think you can realistically expect that intense of a standard in a martial art.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:47 PM   #29
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

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John Riggs wrote: View Post
Since you likely have no experience in running a large organization, I'm sure you are right. Large organizations will not be inclined to take your advice unless you have some impressive credentials- high aikido rank or perhaps a Phd in management or organizational theory that would justify listening to your input. Otherwise, your opinions on how to make larger organizations meet your needs or those of others is simply opinion.
Actually, even if I did have experience running a large organization I doubt many aikido organizations would be interested in that. If a CEO of a Fortune 500 company were to join the average dojo, I suspect that he would be treated just like every other new student and would not be given any voice in running the dojo. This would probably be justified under some idea that aikido was "different" and more "spiritual" and then he needed to learn the aikido way of doing things first. Only after he had demonstrated his loyalty to the group over the course of several years and been sufficiently indoctrinated in its belief system would he be given any position of authority.

Aikido organizations are not interested in finding the best way to do things but in perpetuating their own power structures, which are based on the always-untested assumption that their existing way of doing things is the best one. That is to say they are run based on nothing more than opinion, and although their opinions might be based on experience, this experience is in many ways artificially limited by the nature of organizations themselves. Simply put, aikido organizations do not allow for the evaluation of opposing opinions on their merits, as any scientific or professional endeavor would, but only consider those opinions which come from individuals with the proper "credentials," and despite your implications otherwise, the only credentials considered proper are those that reflect the needs and political aims of the existing power structure.

Not only would experts in management and organizational dynamics not be welcome advisers, but even the opinions of the leaders of other rival aikido organizations, with similar credentials to their own but from a different group, would be unwelcome. Again, I doubt anybody would argue with this characterization of aikido politics. The reason those organizations do not listen to outside opinions has nothing to do with the merits of those opinions or any objective measure of the qualifications of the person offering them, but is only based on the fact that this person has not been sufficiently indoctrinated into the group and thus cannot be guaranteed to the advance the political interests of the group's leadership.

Quote:
So those who do not do well in a more rigid environment tend to do their own thing. Unfortunately, that too has risks in that it leaves one to their own devices which may or may not be sufficient to elevate their training or aikido. A truly gifted person may be able to elevate their training and figure things out on their own without guidance. More likely the ego gets in the way and training over time only becomes legendary in the mind of the self professed master. That's why we have a proliferation of sokey dokey organizations handing out 10th dans to 30 year olds with little credentials to justify them.
I don't think the soke organizations are really that much of a problem. I doubt that the total impact of all of the fake soke groups you believe are "proliferating" is even a few percent of that of just the one largest aikido group, the aikikai. Which should we be more concerned about: an organization that has impacted hundreds of thousands of people around the world, many of whom have been members for decades, or the guys running a little dojo in a small town in Pennsylvania with maybe a couple dozen students at best?

I think the reason that people like to focus so much attention on those other groups is to keep the spotlight away from the problems in their own house. Do you really believe that simply belonging to a big organization is automatic check against someone's ego getting in the way of training? If so, then I would say that you either haven't trained too widely with the people who hold positions of power in these groups or else you are unable or unwilling to see what is quite obvious to those who look. Train with just about any aikikai shihan and you can find out very quickly how much their ego is (adversely) affecting their training just by doing something slightly unexpected, like not falling when they want you to. And if you don't want to take my word for it, read through the forums carefully and you will see similar comments from others, including some who themselves belong to and even hold positions of power in these organizations.

The fact is that an organization is large does not make it easier for it to keep the egos of its leaders in check. If anything, I would say that it makes it more difficult, since smaller organizations tend to be able to maintain much more direct and personal interaction between the leaders and membership, and I think that is one of the most important elements in preventing the problems you described. The real issue is not the size of the organization but the structure, and that's what I have been talking about.

Any organization, large or small, where the leadership put themselves out there as infallible authorities whose pronouncements should be accepted without question and who choose not to expand and improve their own training through continued study and exposure to new ideas, both from within their own organizations and from outside sources, is going to end up with training that will get worse over time rather than better. While this description certainly fits the soke-dokey groups, it also quite often describes the major aikido organizations as well. The only difference is that the mainstream groups started out from a better base level of skill (Morihei Ueshiba) and many people are still within one or two generations removed from him. The art has not yet totally deteriorated, although many people agree that it has already begun deteriorating substantially. What do you think will happen in another 50 or 100 years if these groups continue on the same way? Do you think the overall state of aikido will become better or worse?

Quote:
I disagree with your implication that all large organizations do not encourage innovation. However, even though not on the same level as the AMA credentialing, their purpose is to train people to a "standard" no matter what the stylistic interpretation. Professional, perhaps not, however, I don't think you can realistically expect that intense of a standard in a martial art.
OK, then find me an organization where someone can go up for a test and intentionally perform the technique differently than the expected way because he thinks his way is better and get a serious audience. Show me a shihan that will listen to his student's arguments about why the student thinks his way of doing the technique is better and, more importantly, who will do it the student's way unless he can convincingly demonstrate that his own way is superior. This probably sounds like an outrageous idea to you but there are some people like this out there (I have trained with at least one of them) and this is the way I myself teach. Quite frankly it's only way I will know for sure that what I am teaching actually works and is the optimal way of doing a technique.

You and the others in the big organizations who don't do this can keep training with your teachers and thinking that you getting closer to where you need to be, but how can you be sure that those teachers really know what they are doing if you don't test them out? If you think lineage, credentials, big organizations, are any kind of guarantee that they always know what they are doing than you are really no different than the guys training with the self-appointed 10-dans. The whole reason people both groups make such a big deal of rank is because they don't want people to challenge them. They don't want you to find out about what they can't do or seriously consider that there are things worth knowing about aikido that other people know that they don't. Personally, that arrangement doesn't work for me. If you are satisfied with it that's your business, but don't delude yourself into thinking that you are somehow better or really all that much different than the people who have bought the exact same line from some other group. Perhaps the reason that those groups bother you so much is that deep down inside you know that you are ultimately in the same situation they are.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 10-18-2007 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:52 PM   #30
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

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Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Please come to the source of the problem rather than expecting it to come to you. I will do what I can to help you if you wish.
I appreciate the sentiment but perhaps we should take this discussion to email or PM. I have made a very serious effort over a significant length of time to participate in and contribute to the aikikai, often in very difficult situations for me personally, and yet I have been rebuffed at every attempt. The details of this are not really appropriate for posting on a public forum, but we can discuss it further privately if you like.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:39 PM   #31
aikidoc
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post

Aikido organizations are not interested in finding the best way to do things but in perpetuating their own power structures, which are based on the always-untested assumption that their existing way of doing things is the best one. That is to say they are run based on nothing more than opinion, and although their opinions might be based on experience, this experience is in many ways artificially limited by the nature of organizations themselves. Simply put, aikido organizations do not allow for the evaluation of opposing opinions on their merits, as any scientific or professional endeavor would, but only consider those opinions which come from individuals with the proper "credentials," and despite your implications otherwise, the only credentials considered proper are those that reflect the needs and political aims of the existing power structure. .
Do you really believe an organization is going to take the opinion of someone of little training background over their experience? That's akin to bottom up management. You would have to make the assumption that the person is actually offering something of value when in reality it may only be their opinion. Perhaps if you can reverse and pin the shihan you may be on to something.

Yes, egos abound in large organizations-some are worse than others. That's why I like a smaller organization.

Not all shihans are rigid as you suggest. I know of some who after 40 or 50 years still profess to being students and trying to figure out what O'Sensei was doing.

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
OK, then find me an organization where someone can go up for a test and intentionally perform the technique differently than the expected way because he thinks his way is better and get a serious audience. Show me a shihan that will listen to his student's arguments about why the student thinks his way of doing the technique is better and, more importantly, who will do it the student's way unless he can convincingly demonstrate that his own way is superior. This probably sounds like an outrageous idea to you but there are some people like this out there (I have trained with at least one of them) and this is the way I myself teach. Quite frankly it's only way I will know for sure that what I am teaching actually works and is the optimal way of doing a technique.

You and the others in the big organizations who don't do this can keep training with your teachers and thinking that you getting closer to where you need to be, but how can you be sure that those teachers really know what they are doing if you don't test them out? If you think lineage, credentials, big organizations, are any kind of guarantee that they always know what they are doing than you are really no different than the guys training with the self-appointed 10-dans. The whole reason people both groups make such a big deal of rank is because they don't want people to challenge them. They don't want you to find out about what they can't do or seriously consider that there are things worth knowing about aikido that other people know that they don't. Personally, that arrangement doesn't work for me. If you are satisfied with it that's your business, but don't delude yourself into thinking that you are somehow better or really all that much different than the people who have bought the exact same line from some other group. Perhaps the reason that those groups bother you so much is that deep down inside you know that you are ultimately in the same situation they are.
I don't see your point on the testing issue. A test is a measure against a standard. It is not the time to challenge the sensei's way of doing things. Perhaps taking them aside and asking or showing what you are working on is a better approach. It gets down to an issue of application of principles-are you executing good principles? If not it does not matter how you do the technique-crap is crap.

Please don't make assumptions about me or my training. I have problems with sokey dokey organizations and false ranks just because they are ego centric displays of dishonesty-most who do so do it because they can't hack it when they have to earn rank and their egos say they are better than they are-legends in their own minds. I'm quite happy with my situation. I was in a larger organization and I did not like it. However, it did not stop me from explorinig my own aikido while I looked for a shihan that would move my aikido in the direction I wanted to go. when I tested I played their game-it did not cost me anything. Then I found someone whose aikido was already way above what I was trying to figure out-it helped move my aikido forward by leaps and bounds. I'm quite happy because this individual's aikido is quite effective and sophisticated. He trained with other martial artists to make sure his aikido worked-not to learn the art. In his early days, he's mellowed, he was not someone you wanted to test. It could be very unhealthy. I'm not sure I'd want to test him now and he's in his 70s.

We all choose our path. I choose to find someone who I can learn from and I chose to take the mind of someone who can learn-even if it's not the way I want to do something. I don't assume I have it "all knowed up" and can't learn anything since my way is better. Maybe after 40 or 50 years of training I'll take that attitude. Until then I'm a student and my instructor is still figuring out what O'Sensei did so I consider him a student as well.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:33 PM   #32
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
Well I can't speak for other independents but I myself would be happy to help the big organizations by sharing my suggestions on how to improve their standards and practices. If any people from such organizations would like my advice on this matter, either in person or in written form, please feel free to contact me. However, my experience leads me to believe that organizations both big and small are not interested in such outside input and would prefer to keep doing things the way they are they currently doing them. If I'm wrong about that I'd be happy to see them change, but realistically I don't have very high expectations. I've seen how deeply people are entrenched in their own way of doing things and how hard they will fight to stay there, even when they have been freely shown a better way.
Hello Giancarlo,

We have corresponded before, but not about this topic.

I have been following this thread with interest, but have kept my own counsel. However, I would like to take you up on the offer you made in the above paragraph, either here in this thread or in private. I assume that you know who I am, but if you or others do not, I am Chairman of the Internartional Aikido Federation (IAF).

Best wishes,

Peter Goldsbury

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Old 10-18-2007, 10:43 PM   #33
aikidoc
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

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Since you brought it up, if any shihan is willing to give me a fair shot at trying to reverse his technique I'd be happy to try it. I haven't found any takers on that yet, though. Usually as soon as I give those guys a little bit of resistance (yet nothing even close to trying to reverse them) they get visibly upset and then make sure to avoid touching hands with me again. So I'm not the one avoiding the challenge here.

You might not know this but a while back I went out of my way to travel and train with your teacher. He seemed like one of the most genuinely humble 8-dans I have met, and since his organization in the US is still very small you probably won't have a lot of the problems of the bigger established orgs. Guys like him are the exception, particularly in the US where the major organizations are dominated by some very large egos (so large that many of them cannot stand to be in the same room with one another!). When you talk about the aikikai, particularly in the US, I think those guys are more representative of the majority than your teacher. However, even many of the better teachers I have met in the aikikai (including yours) are still far too averse to testing their techniques against resistance for my taste. To some extent I can pass this off as being old Japanese men set in their ways, but it still makes it hard for me to accept what they do at face value when I know that if were willing to fail a bit more often they wouldn't need to rely on compliant ukemi so much.
Interesting. My sensei gets upset if you don't try to attack or hold him strongly although he will often back off if he feels he will hurt someone by executing. I'm curious if you took ukemi and tried to stop him. Now I'd really be interested in seeing if you could reverse him-even get a technique to work on him. Or stop him if he really wanted to do the technique with full force. Especially, if you were the same age. I'm sure he's not as strong as he once was. I have video of him in his 50s and would not want to be on the receiving end.

I was not aware you trained with him. Houston?
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:50 PM   #34
Carl Thompson
 
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

This has indeed become an interesting thread.

Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro wrote: View Post
I appreciate the sentiment but perhaps we should take this discussion to email or PM. I have made a very serious effort over a significant length of time to participate in and contribute to the aikikai, often in very difficult situations for me personally, and yet I have been rebuffed at every attempt. The details of this are not really appropriate for posting on a public forum, but we can discuss it further privately if you like.
I realise that you're probably writing so much because you care about the art and I hope others realise this too.

PM on its way.

Carl
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:37 PM   #35
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Re: Organizations- How important are they to you?

As I see it, an aikido organization's purpose is to issue and legitimatise rank. If one is truly not interested in rank, then an organization is probably not important to them.
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