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Old 12-18-2007, 10:51 AM   #1
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"Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Posted 2007-12-18 10:50:42 by Jun Akiyama
News URL: http://www.tcnewsnet.com/main.asp?Se...ticleID=146076

From the article:

"Austin Larger, a 15-year old student in the Vandalia Parks and Recreations Department's (VPRD) aikido program, has become the youngest second-degree black belt in Tomiki Aikido in the U.S. After participating in the VPRD's program for six-years, Larger successfully tested for his second-degree black belt at the International Tournament in Vandalia this last August."

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Old 12-19-2007, 11:04 AM   #2
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

*heavy sigh*

Where to begin on this one......

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Old 12-19-2007, 11:17 AM   #3
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Didn't know aikido had "tournaments". The kid just made himself into a target. He's screwed when he goes to Japan. Hes gonna get a "2nd degree" beating. But thats just my thoughts.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:23 AM   #4
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Yikes. You guys need to get out more.

Shodokan / Tomiki aikido has tournaments, with both kata and shiai. Nothing unusual at all about it. And since he works with resistence regularly, he's probably pretty good.

While I am generally not a big fan of kiddie black belts, it's obvious from reading the article only briefly that this young man doesn't fall into that category.

How many of the posters so far have taken ukemi for a 5 dan test, or even a 3rd dan test in a competitive art?

I'm betting if he walks into the average aikikai or yoshinkan dojo, anywhere in the world, he'll do just fine. Maybe better than me for all I know.

Best,
Ron (sheesh)

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 12-19-2007 at 11:31 AM.

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Old 12-19-2007, 12:49 PM   #5
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

I glanced over this earlier this morning and filed it under the "none of my business" file. But it did sound suspect to me. But after seeing some posts, I got drawn in. So sit and deal with my 2 cents worth( which in the current economy is worth even less now now)

There are many aspects of the article and situation I don't agree with. The obvious, awarding a Nidan to someone who has only trained for 6 yrs and only being 16 yrs old to boot. I am for lengthy periods between testing. This allows students to stew in the teachings of that each rank. Just because you have the days in doesn't mean you are ready to test. The student may be physically gifted but in my opinion still needs time to let the lessons sink in. More importantly to learn to make the techniques his own.

The aikido program in question is a community based recreation program that meets twice a week for 2 hrs a class. A mere 16 hrs of instruction a month. My question would be just how much training, absorption can be gained out of such limited training time. Bare in mind, I am not knocking the aikido program because it is rec. based. The instructor is a 5th dan and on the board of directors of JAA. According to JAA testing requirements shodan can be reached the roughly around 2 yrs and another 2 yrs to make Nidan. So 6 yrs to get Nidan is possible for JAA students.

Link for the comm. aikido http://www.ci.vandalia.oh.us/uploads...0Rec_Guide.pdf

JAA website

http://www.tomiki.org/index.html

For what it is worth, not knowing the situation or the people in involved, it seems this was more for public attention for the program. His promotions seemed rushed. And going for his sandan before college makes this all seem like a race for rank. I am not a fan of this type of promotion.

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Old 12-19-2007, 01:03 PM   #6
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

ok, let me get this straight...

He's been training for 6 years.

2 years to shodan, accepted in this organizations standards.

2 years to nidan (4years) accepted in this organizations standards.

2 years to Sandan (6 years) and he's going to the hombu in Japan for that test, sometime between now and college (at 16 that's probably min. another 2 years).

AND his style uses competition for rank, so he's got to literally compare with others of that rank to get the rank.

Tougher than a lot of aikido schools I know for adults.

Best,
Ron (not convinced yet...)

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Old 12-19-2007, 02:48 PM   #7
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Been involved for 6 yrs but for just M/W 2 hr classes per week. Using the Rec center schedule, one would have to make every single class for the 4 yrs to make that feat.

To each their own

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:56 PM   #8
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Hey William. No doubt. But consider this...

If you had to compete for your rank, and actually defeat people to get it...how much would the time in standard matter? And let's not assume he didn't also train at one of the eight different shodokan dojo in Ohio.

Best,
Ron (best wishes esp. to you guys up there, please give O'Connor Sensei my seasons greetings, if he even remembers me!)

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 12-19-2007 at 03:03 PM.

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Old 12-19-2007, 03:42 PM   #9
Lorien Lowe
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Assuming that rank is nothing but the physical ability to complete kata and win against others in competition, then, sure: nidan is fine for a talented, hard-working 16-year-old. I'm sure that he could teach me a thing or two about the precision of my aikido.

I just hope that he dosen't let this get to his head and start his own ryu at 22 (he'll be godan by then), complete with stars-and-stripes hakama.
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Old 12-28-2007, 12:38 PM   #10
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Starting with the title, the obnoxius part of the article is when it uses Aikido without needed modifiers, pick one, "Shodakan", JAA, or "Tomiki style".

The fact that Tetsuro Nariyama Sensei oversaw the test suggests to me that he deserves the rule bending. Especially since speed at which JAA or other Tomiki styles move through belts, Nidan isn't that big a deal. Godan's are pretty common for that matter. Quite a few 6, 7, and 8th dans hanging around just in Texas alone.

The whole article is still quite obnoxius in how it states things. Sounds an awful like all the marketing puff pieces the local karate studios love to put out in local "magazines".

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Old 12-28-2007, 03:01 PM   #11
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Thumbs up Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Mr Hocker,

First, we have no Shodokan/JAA affiliated dojos in Texas.

KiHara, Fugakukai, or any of the other alleged Tomiki-based systems are a far cry from the Shodokan/JAA standard.

No offense directed to their syllabus or promotional requirements, but, your statement of " Especially since speed at which JAA or other Tomiki styles move through belts, Nidan isn't that big a deal. Godan's are pretty common for that matter. Quite a few 6, 7, and 8th dans hanging around just in Texas alone."
is far from being intelligently or informationally correct.

I hope you visit websites and/or seek more information in regards to Shodokan/JAA system. Then you might be able to intelligently compare the differences with the others.

Secondly, to all, why are some of you bashing this young man? I know Austin, I would hope that all our young folks would possess half his morals and work ethic. His ability is a credit to his senseis and himself.

Thirdly,to all, Nariyama Shihan observed and graded his examination. I am sure that if Doshu presided over your examination, all would really be aghast at someone doubting your ability, or Doshu's judgment.

Mickey
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Old 12-28-2007, 05:40 PM   #12
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

I really struggle to believe that anyone can reach 2nd Dan in a legitimate Aikido organisation by the age of 15 whilst training two sessions per week.
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Old 12-28-2007, 06:34 PM   #13
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Very interesting indeed. I think Mr. Larger has made quite an achievement. This bodes well for the future of this young man as far as our Aikido goes.

As a Shodokan Nidan myself I find it a bit hard to understand how he could have made Nidan so soon if he only participated in 2 classes per week, but it is very possible if one is as driven as Mr. Larger appears to be, and trains outside of normal class hours (something that I see as necessary for our Dan gradings). In my own interaction with my Sensei and one of the other JAA Shihan I have come to realize however that tests for Dan grades who have many higher-ranked Sensei in their vicinity and Dan tests for those who will take up the role of Sensei at Shodan or Nidan level tend to be quite different affairs.

Either way - kudos to him for a fine achievement.

LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 12-28-2007 at 06:36 PM.

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Old 12-28-2007, 07:25 PM   #14
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

The article itself seems to be just of local interest story. Lots of generalizations and such - and not to be taken seriously. It wasn't clear to me how much he trained.

I don't know about the JAA/USA but Shodokan in Japan does have student yudansha and unless I am mistaken so does the Aikikai. Then after a certain age, case by case, they are invited to train with the adults and start from the beginning. So you have a student Nidan (the highest) - being mukyu in the adult class. Of course they tend to move up the ladder very quick.

Clubs, such as the one I ran in Himeji, had no childrens class, but I did let some young people in again case by case. If they did the grading well they got the grade.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 12-28-2007, 10:21 PM   #15
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Could it be a Batsugan (sp??) promotion? I.e., you beat up a senior and you get a promotion so forth and so on....

Boon.

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Old 01-10-2008, 06:48 AM   #16
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Quote:
William Oakes wrote: View Post
I am for lengthy periods between testing. This allows students to stew in the teachings of that each rank.
This kid's desire and commitment shows the rest of us how much desire and commitment we lack. While we are slowly stewing this kid is cooking fast.

David
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Old 01-10-2008, 09:57 AM   #17
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
This kid's desire and commitment shows the rest of us how much desire and commitment we lack. While we are slowly stewing this kid is cooking fast.

David
Speak for yourself. I for one train with heart, vigor and desire every session. The difference is I want to make the technique mine. That is make a technique adaptable/adjustable so that it could be applied regardless of the situation. Not to learn just 1 variation of the technique or to learn a technique just for testing purposes.

It boils down to exposure. 6yrs, of how many years in adult class is unknown, with the limited assumed training schedule given, small community based program, to reach Nidan at such a young age and so little time is to much to fast in my book. Some might be inclined to read this as the McDojo approach to ranking. Designed to give out McRanks and McDans certifications to those not willing to wait or not having the attention span to stay with the program. If that organization is willing to put out these type of press releases then they should be ready to accept condemnation and or scrutiny for fast promotions.

From my own testing experiences, we were always required to know the current ranks requirement and the next rank's requirements as well as all the previous ranks. My previous Sensei would routinely throw techniques not on the test. To him, for sure, testing wasn't a race and he would hold people back until they matured and soaked in all that ranks knowledge. Furthermore, there was the unwritten student rule if you tested the day before, then you better come to class the next day. Where the seniors would help remind you of just how little you really know, all in good fun of course.

Once again, its none of my business of who gets what rank, I have to worry about what I am doing. I don't know the people involved or the organization or events surrounding this article. But I do know, I would never endorse fast promotions or testing for testing sake. Those are my own personal standards, which I hold to myself to and will hold any students that I might teach to.

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 01-10-2008, 07:53 PM   #18
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Pats on the back for this guy. But what is the big deal?

Kimura, one of the greatest Judonators there was, reached 4th dan at the age of 16 after only 6 years of training. And he trained in a time where Judo standards were light years away from floppy.

Aikido rank shouldn't really matter this much.
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Old 01-11-2008, 04:06 PM   #19
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Quote:
Michael Gelum wrote: View Post
or any of the other alleged Tomiki-based systems are a far cry from the Shodokan/JAA standard.
That's a pretty arrogant statement. You can rant all you want. I am not changing my original statements. Tomiki style schools as a rule do have shorter time requirements to Shodan (1.5-2 yrs) and move faster through higher dan ranks. As for visiting these schools in Texas, it stands out quite a bit when you visit look at the length of training and time in rank. Just shows that cross organization rank comparison doesn't mean diddly.

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
ok, let me get this straight...

He's been training for 6 years.

2 years to shodan, accepted in this organizations standards.

2 years to nidan (4years) accepted in this organizations standards.

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Old 01-11-2008, 05:23 PM   #20
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Quote:
That's a pretty arrogant statement. You can rant all you want. I am not changing my original statements. Tomiki style schools as a rule do have shorter time requirements to Shodan (1.5-2 yrs) and move faster through higher dan ranks. As for visiting these schools in Texas, it stands out quite a bit when you visit look at the length of training and time in rank. Just shows that cross organization rank comparison doesn't mean diddly.
It's not arrogance, it is the truth...no one asked you to change your original statement....especially when it come to the aforementioned systems, you can only speak of what your environment allows you to perceive to be the norm, it requires intelligence to be aware that it may not be as it appears else where...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D48Ds8woSPs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0RgPffuhoo

...here are two examples of Tomiki Shihan's Shodokan, if the individuals you associate with do not do it this way, then they are not what they claim to be.

Mickey

Last edited by mickeygelum : 01-11-2008 at 05:30 PM. Reason: URL double paste
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Old 01-11-2008, 05:53 PM   #21
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

I'm afraid I agree with the "marketing piece" comment, but on some of the other points, well, I'm not so sure.

First of all, time to test requirements are what they are. In my experience, it's not that uncommon for people to go well beyond the minimum number of hours to test before testing. Time to test is only one criterion. I'd venture to say that in any style which uses competition as testing the time to test should be (and may well be) shorter than arts which use more formal testing.

As for this kid, it's made clear in the article that he's an unusual kid. I'd say he's an unusually dedicated and talented student. It wouldn't surprise me to find out he tested at exactly his time to test hours every time.

They make much of his humility. I hope he keeps it and maintains this level of dedication and discipline. If he does, it will serve him well.

OTOH, he wouldn't be the first person to take a great start in life and blow it on ego strokes. That would be a shame.

For the moment, though, I'd have to say he deserves more kudos than criticism.

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Old 01-13-2008, 06:05 AM   #22
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote: View Post
Tomiki style schools as a rule do have shorter time requirements to Shodan (1.5-2 yrs) and move faster through higher dan ranks. As for visiting these schools in Texas, it stands out quite a bit when you visit look at the length of training and time in rank. Just shows that cross organization rank comparison doesn't mean diddly.
I think the above statement is a gross generalization and is basically, totally incorrect.

Let's look at the evidence:

This is the link for a grading syllabus used by the Ki Society Schools that has been quoted on aikiweb here by Mr. Hocker as being a "more typical standard" syllabus - http://www.kiaikido.org/Resources/Te...tCriteria.html .

This is the link for the official Shodokan syllabus taken from the Shodokan Hombu site - http://homepage2.nifty.com/shodokan/en/shinsa.html

A quick comparison will show the following:

1) Shodokan Kyu ranks start further away from Shodan than Ki Society - 8th Kyu vs 5th Kyu, indicating a longer time to Shodan.

2) For all equivalent ranks from (5th kyu to Nidan at least) the Shodokan minimum time requirements are more than that required by Ki Society.

I could have compared other schools but since the claim was made by a Ki Society member I thought it best to make a direct comparison first.

Finally, the Dan tests at the 2007 Internationals were conducted by the Technical Director of Shodokan Aikido, Shihan Tetsuro Nariyama 8th Dan. Nariyama Shihan is basically the technical head of the system so imho if he oversaw the test and made the call that Mr. Larger be awarded Nidan then one would be hard pressed to challenge that decision based on knowledge of the system.

Imho if anyone can award Shodokan rank that is outside of normal testing guidelines it is Nariyama Shihan. The testing syllabus is a guide for Sensei to judge a student's development as an art expands. It's a way for people who may not know how to judge development in the system to do so without the need of the system heads such as Nariyama Shihan.

It is important not to make incorrect comparisons with things that appear the same but are not. The "Tomiki" Aikido found in Texas is not Shodokan Aikido, though we share the same root which is the Aikido of Professor Tomiki. This link - http://www.tomiki.org/members.html gives a listing of all the Shodokan/JAA affiliated dojo in the USA, you will not see any from Texas.

Hence, Mr. Hocker's comparison is false, matching the article, which is a marketing piece based on one Aikido system (Shodokan) against his experiences with another aikido system from Texas (most likely Fugakukai). It's like comparing a Ki Society article against personal experiences with Kokikai Aikido imho.

Best regards.
LC

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Old 01-13-2008, 09:55 AM   #23
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Re: "Larger Named Youngest US Second-Degree Aikido Blackbelt&qu

Sorry guys but I fail to see the isuue here.
He met the requirements took an examination and was successful so I congratulate him.

From personal experience (I was Shodan at 17) older "wiser" dan grades will be out to show him he got an easy ride so he's in for an interesting few years.

I hope he has a long and enjoyable Aikido career.
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