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Old 04-02-2002, 07:49 AM   #26
jimbaker
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk/ Aikido Society of Memphis
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Demotions, I meant. Lyle's note popped between mine and Bruce's.
JIM
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Old 04-07-2002, 11:57 PM   #27
guest1234
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Senior students at my first dojo said our sensei had (and would) demote on kyu tests... I wasn't there long enough to see it myself, but did witness him not pass a kyu student (in a school with 12 kyu tests, it was an 11th kyu test). Since she and I were testing for the same level, he had us test with different ukes with our backs to each other, so I can't say what her test looked like. I did start to question my own actions when he kept repeating certain commands, so I think there were some definate problems she was having... still, there is no doubt in my military mind he'd demote anyone not meeting at least their current level standards. And in many ways, I think that is a good thing.
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Old 04-08-2002, 08:46 AM   #28
Richard Harnack
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Exclamation "Demotions" & "Earning Rank"

1. Demotions are not necessary if the person tested actually passed the test and continued training. In fact, I wonder about instructors who feel the "need" to demote students.

2. It is up to the student to "earn" their rank after the test through continued training.

3. It is normal for skills honed for an exam to fall off some afterward. A good aikidoka (student or instructor) recognizes this and continues training anyway.

4. Colleen, your instructor must have been superhuman in their observational powers to be able to watch two exams literally back to back and be able to give equal treatment to both examinees. I find it difficult enough to watch with complete attention one examinee to make certain that I am being fair.

5. Lastly, comments from the instructor during an exam are often designed to see if the examinee can take instruction under pressure and make corrections then. At least that is what I intend it to be.

To summarize, those who continue their training after an exam demonstrate their committment. Rank is never "given" but earned by continued practice. Showing up in Life and Aikido is only 10% of the equation, the other 90% is practice and doing.

Yours In Aiki,
Richard Harnack
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Old 04-08-2002, 10:46 AM   #29
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Well, to be really fair to that sensei, it was a very low level test, but that is why, I think, he kept asking us to do things over: he watch each of us, then wanted to spend more time watching her, and thought she'd question what she was doing with his repeated requests and try something different. He was lucky I didn't try something different (or I guess I was lucky ).

One thing was sure, at that dojo you didn't expect to slack off after each test. But you also didn't expect to leave after class without cleaning the dojo top to bottom. He expected a lot, and the ones who stayed gave it.

It is sad to see the surge in attendance before each test cycle, and the sudden drop after that I've seen in other dojos... we joke here that when a certain few folks show up, testing must be right around the corner... and it is. From the places I've been, a drop in practice, intensity, and skill is common only when it is accepted.
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Old 04-10-2002, 07:33 AM   #30
Ghost Fox
Dojo: Jikishinkan Dojo
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Question

How do you feel about people being coming back to the dojo at their previous rank after being out for a few years?

Do you think they should take it upon themselves to demote themselves or should sensei demote them or should they not be demoted at all?

I'm just wondering because I took off from aikido for about a year due to work (I was a Sankyu) and when I came back to the dojo I demoted myself back to white belt (Hachikyu). Once I got back into the swing of things and worked very hard, I zoomed through my testing (Now an Ikkyu).

I've seen people come back to the dojo after being away for a few years and walk on the mat with their previous rank (Sankyu, Nikyu, etc...) and they look terrible (It would be a different story if they looked good.). I think they set a poor example to the lower ranking students and for people coming to see what Aikido has to offer. They come back on the mat and expect to be treated with the respect their rank gives them, but they have trouble with the simplest waza.

I'm just venting because one of these people recently took their Nikyu exam after being off the mat for a few years, having come back for only 6 month. Her exam was good for maybe a Gokyu rank, but all her Ukes took it easy on her (Most of them where her friends). I remember being put through the ringer for my Nikyu exam, and sweat pouring from my body. Her exam was a cakewalk.

Is it fair that two people testing for the same rank be judged by a different set of criteria? Some of the lower ranking students look up to me and ask me is that a fair example of a Nikyu exam? What do I say? That most of the Yudansha on the testing committee are her friend, and they felt that since she has been in the dojo for a long time (even if not practicing) they should give her a Nikyu. That they should work hard because their Nikyu exam won't be that easy? How do they stay motivated?

I just guess that's dojo politics. Thanks for letting me vent.


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Old 04-10-2002, 09:21 AM   #31
Richard Harnack
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Coming Back

Quote:
Originally posted by Ghost Fox
How do you feel about people being coming back to the dojo at their previous rank after being out for a few years?
...
I'm just venting because one of these people recently took their Nikyu exam after being off the mat for a few years, having come back for only 6 month. Her exam was good for maybe a Gokyu rank, but all her Ukes took it easy on her (Most of them where her friends). I remember being put through the ringer for my Nikyu exam, and sweat pouring from my body. Her exam was a cakewalk.
...
Is it fair that two people testing for the same rank be judged by a different set of criteria?
Damion -
I usually take people back at their last earned rank. I also inform them that I expect them to come through the beginner's class to get back in shape and up on their ukemi before I will allow them back in the intermediate and advanced classes.

If this woman tested for her nikkyu and was awarded it, although she did not work as hard as you did, I would suggest that you not be concerned. The proof will be in how long it takes the two of you to get to Ikkyu and how well you both do. If she does not do anything to improve her skills prior to the Ikkyu exam, it will be obvious.

I strongly suggest to you that you seek her out as a training partner for the following reasons:
1) Step outside of yourself. A good way to do this is to train with her and come to understand her perspective (she may be feeling a little insecure about her exam herself);
2) You both stand to benefit from training together, she from your intensity and you from her ease;
and,
3) The examining board may have been aware of things about her that are not your business to know.

Good luck.

Yours In Aiki,
Richard Harnack
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Old 04-10-2002, 09:28 AM   #32
Tim Griffiths
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Originally posted by Ghost Fox
How do you feel about people being coming back to the dojo at their previous rank after being out for a few years?

I feel great about it.I'm glad they're back.


Do you think they should take it upon themselves to demote themselves or should sensei demote them or should they not be demoted at all?


It's not their job. They don't promote themselves - they don't demote themselves. If sensei wants to - fine. It comes down to this:

Students do not have the right to decide what their rank should be.

I've seen people come back to the dojo after being away for a few years and walk on the mat with their previous rank (Sankyu, Nikyu, etc...) and they look terrible (It would be a different story if they looked good.). I think they set a poor example to the lower ranking students and for people coming to see what Aikido has to offer. They come back on the mat and expect to be treated with the respect their rank gives them, but they have trouble with the simplest waza

They are still sempai, and deserve respect because of this. As you said, you zoomed back up through the ranks - If someone really comes back to practice properly, in my experience they quickly improve.


I'm just venting because one of these people recently took their Nikyu exam after being off the mat for a few years, having come back for only 6 month. Her exam was good for maybe a Gokyu rank, but all her Ukes took it easy on her (Most of them where her friends). I remember being put through the ringer for my Nikyu exam, and sweat pouring from my body. Her exam was a cakewalk.


So? Does that make your Nikkyu rank less worthy? In what way does it matter?


Is it fair that two people testing for the same rank be judged by a different set of criteria?


By definition its not fair. It's not supposed to be fair. The question is - is it appropriate?


Some of the lower ranking students look up to me and ask me is that a fair example of a Nikyu exam? What do I say? That most of the Yudansha on the testing committee are her friend, and they felt that since she has been in the dojo for a long time (even if not practicing) they should give her a Nikyu. That they should work hard because their Nikyu exam won't be that easy? How do they stay motivated?


You can say "That was her test. It wasn't the same as my test, and your test will be different again. Keep practicing".


I just guess that's dojo politics. Thanks for letting me vent.


Anytime...

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 04-10-2002, 10:58 AM   #33
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To yourself you can think 'what the hell was sensei thinking', to kohai a more diplomatic response is some of the above, or 'tests help an individual measure his or her own progress, based on where they start and their inherent skills and ability to learn, not tell you who is better than someone else. You have XYZ as a base, and ABC as your strong point and skills, so he'll probably expect you to demonstrate DEF abilities.' That gives them an answer that refocuses on where they should be worrying (their progress) and perhaps even answers what they are probably asking (what the hell was sensei thinking).

I think if I were coming back after a break in training, I'd ask my sensei what level he wanted me to start at. Even beginners catch on pretty quickly to who has rank, and who has skill, and where the two may not match exactly. So I don't think it confuses us too much. She may even have wanted to start lower and was asked not to, you never know. I've seen more than one female who had a rank (or more ) less demonstrated ability than her male counterparts, and I sometimes fear instructors use that to encourage more women to join/stay.
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Old 04-10-2002, 11:24 AM   #34
Ghost Fox
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Re: Coming Back

Quote:
Originally posted by Richard Harnack


I strongly suggest to you that you seek her out as a training partner for the following reasons:
1) Step outside of yourself. A good way to do this is to train with her and come to understand her perspective (she may be feeling a little insecure about her exam herself);
2) You both stand to benefit from training together, she from your intensity and you from her ease;
and,
3) The examining board may have been aware of things about her that are not your business to know.

Good luck.
Thanks for the great advice your years of Aiki experience clearly show. I will grudgingly accept your suggestions because I know you are right in the long run.

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Old 04-11-2002, 08:18 AM   #35
Abasan
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Quote:
Even beginners catch on pretty quickly to who has rank, and who has skill, and where the two may not match exactly
by CA

- Rank does not equate to skill -


Quote:
and I sometimes fear instructors use that to encourage more women to join/stay.
by CA

- More chicks = More guys = More money? -

Quote:
The examining board may have been aware of things about her that are not your business to know.
- Examining board is God. (ever seen the pass rate of a CFA exam?) -

Quote:
Literally, my blood, sweet and tears have been offered to the mat, in exchange for a glimpse into what is Aikido. I go to sleep with wazas on the brain
- by GhostFox

- Hi! I'm an Aikido junkie. Hit me... -

Heh heh... sorry. Couldn't resist with all the free time I have tonite.

The Summator Strikes Back!

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-11-2002, 01:13 PM   #36
Richard Harnack
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Wink "Grudging Acceptance"

is better than not accepting.

Enjoy your continued training.

Yours In Aiki,
Richard Harnack
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Old 05-23-2002, 08:38 PM   #37
Arianah
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Rank recognition based on what?

Quote:
Originally posted by ca
To yourself you can think 'what the hell was sensei thinking', to kohai a more diplomatic response is some of the above, or 'tests help an individual measure his or her own progress, based on where they start and their inherent skills and ability to learn, not tell you who is better than someone else. You have XYZ as a base, and ABC as your strong point and skills, so he'll probably expect you to demonstrate DEF abilities.' That gives them an answer that refocuses on where they should be worrying (their progress) and perhaps even answers what they are probably asking (what the hell was sensei thinking).
Curious (again! )
To instructors: When you grade your students, do you grade them based on what they can do or how much they've improved? Do you grade and say, "Well, that student is certainly performing at a level that befits the expectation of a (insert rank here)" and award the rank. Or will you also grade with a "Well, that student is still struggling with some of the things that a (insert rank here) should know, but s/he has worked so hard . . ." approach? Is it how good or how much better than before? (I don't think that I can think of another way to say that . . . well I could, I suppose. )

Sarah

Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
-Albert Einstein
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Old 05-23-2002, 09:41 PM   #38
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Testing is like a tea ceremony---it will never be the same, each time is unique. Different nage. Different ukes. Different basic ability and improvement in nage. Different mood in sensei. The list is endless. Anyone who expects tests to graded against an absolute scale is in for major confusion and perhaps disappointment. Same rank for different skills---unfair? No. If rank were based solely on a set of quantifiable and absolute criteria, no variation allowed, well then, what would be the point of not progressing via competition? In a way, each test would then be a competition between the test nage, and other students of the same rank. Like scoring a gymnastics meet. The whole point is to look at your own progress, not the rest of the dojo. Nothing in life is absolutely uniform... why insit that testing be? Life is too short to worry about someone else's rank.
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Old 05-24-2002, 10:29 AM   #39
Richard Harnack
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Ai symbol Re: Rank recognition based on what?

Quote:
Originally posted by Arianah

Curious (again! )
To instructors: When you grade your students, do you grade them based on what they can do or how much they've improved? Do you grade and say, "Well, that student is certainly performing at a level that befits the expectation of a (insert rank here)" and award the rank. Or will you also grade with a "Well, that student is still struggling with some of the things that a (insert rank here) should know, but s/he has worked so hard . . ." approach? Is it how good or how much better than before? (I don't think that I can think of another way to say that . . . well I could, I suppose. )

Sarah
Sarah -
1. There are stated requirements for the Kyu and early Dan ranks which every student must meet.

2. Having said that, how well each student meets them is a function of their training, inherent abilities, etc.

3. No two students could ever be graded the "same". This is true in all of the martial arts as well as education in general. It is a fallacy to think that there are "objective" standards "out there". We each carry the standard within ourselves.

4. Improvement over one's prior skill levels counts a lot more than how many techniques one shows. I have seen some Aikidoka demonstrate dozens of techniques which they did rather poorly. I have also seen Aikidoka demonstrate a single technique extremely well, while doing others not as well. Which one is "better"? Neither, from my perspective.

Lastly, as I have said many times (so many that my wife found an old picture of me doing a demonstration and made a poster using these words), rank accounts for very little, training is everything. I would rather have the "klutzy" student who continued training regularly, than the "brilliant" student who shows up occasionally.

Good luck in improving your understanding.

Yours In Aiki,
Richard Harnack
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Old 06-07-2002, 09:23 AM   #40
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Unhappy

I was (am) one such student.

Though I try to own all aspects of my training, we do not learn aikido in a vaccuum, and we must test with partners.

I froze a bit suring the test and instead of letting me work it out in silence and continueing the attack, my uke decided to talk me through the test, no I am not kidding - showing all present how he was a good instructor. (1 rank ahead of me).

I passed the test, but was accused of cheating - what a combo.

I quit as a result of this and other issues. This was the crowning point. No integrity. Looking back I should have simply bowed out and ended the test myself.

For 6h kyu, sure, anything else, no.
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Old 06-07-2002, 08:48 PM   #41
Niadh
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Not to preach, but who really cares about rank? I mean, you know, or don't, what your abilities are and can explore your aikido. Don't worry aout how yours compares to someone elses. Worry about what you can do to improve in you. Whether in technique, observation, stretching, etc. I still feel that a belt should be for holding up your pants (or closed your jacket). But I know that all do not agree. Okay, that is why not all are me and I am not all.
"If your eyes are focused on the goal, how can you see to progress?"

Leave promotions and demotions ( i can't beleive in such) up to your instructor. That's part of their job
Niadh

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Old 06-07-2002, 10:52 PM   #42
Edward
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It's always quite amusing to read from people who don't care about rank, and who use their belts just to hold their gi together.

In some cases, I noticed that lack of self-confidence in one's abilities and fear of tests and failure in them are the real reasons behind this disinterested attitude. These people must be burning inside from envy of their friends taking up the tests.

I think that in a system where every one wears colored belts, wearing a white belt is a sign of arrogance. The most hypocrit of all are some yudansha who wear white belts under their hakama. It's true that O sensei did wear a white belt, and he always said he was still a beginner in aikido. But trying to compare themselves to Osensei is really fake humbleness.

Last edited by Edward : 06-07-2002 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 06-08-2002, 02:56 AM   #43
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I haven't seen much of these cases that Edward pointed out. White belt is much more practical and that's it.

We don't want to SHOW our humbleness. Anyhow gi (and hakama too in my opinion) are used because of practical and traditional values. Coloured belts do not hold practical nor traditional values.

But that was off topic.

Just for the record:
In Estonia ppl get kyu grades fairly lightly. I've seen 1st kyus who are as good as some 4th kyus. But I do not care really...
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Old 06-08-2002, 04:50 AM   #44
paw
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for those interested

In the Aikido Journal Bulletin Board there is a thread (with something like 300 replies) that discussed ranking and related issues.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 06-08-2002, 05:08 AM   #45
erikmenzel
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edward
It's always quite amusing to read from people who don't care about rank, and who use their belts just to hold their gi together.
Most often people who make the kind of remarks as you did see their belt as an egoextension. Some are even unaware of this anyway.
Quote:
In some cases, I noticed that lack of self-confidence in one's abilities and fear of tests and failure in them are the real reasons behind this disinterested attitude. These people must be burning inside from envy of their friends taking up the tests.
Does happen sometimes, but those people arent the rule. Beside having those reasons around already indicates something is rotten in the atmosphere and in the way the insecure people are treated and respected.
Could also reflect that their fellow aikido students have to inflated heads anyway.
Quote:
I think that in a system where every one wears colored belts, wearing a white belt is a sign of arrogance. The most hypocrit of all are some yudansha who wear white belts under their hakama. It's true that O sensei did wear a white belt, and he always said he was still a beginner in aikido. But trying to compare themselves to Osensei is really fake humbleness.
Maybe your playing the devils advocate again, sure hope, cause this sounds more like your own insecurity needing signs and acknowledge of achievement. Your insecurity needing signs from others to confirm your own place in the pecking order.
Some people just want to be judged by their skill, ability and experience, not by their race, religion or belt. If this makes other people feel unconfortable, so be it. Be warned that those people will also judge you on your skill, abilities and experience and not on the belt you wear or the other claims you think you might have. I can understand that to some this will be scary. No safety net for your ego.

It is so easy to judge people who are not willing to play according to the rules your own ego might need.

BTW, maybe you can guess the color of my belt.

Sorry for the rant!

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 06-08-2002, 06:22 AM   #46
guest1234
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Edward,

I think you misunderstand: most are not saying testing is not important (it is very important in my opinion), but rather that RANK is not. To me, rank is too arbitrary to really mean much to anyone other than the person holding it and the person who awarded it. I'm sorry if that seems unfair to you, that others don't hold your rank in the esteem you feel it deserves, but when I train with someone I don't know (seminars, different dojo, new student, etc) I never ask their rank---my opinion of their attitude and skill is based on what I experience while training with them.

So, no one is saying 'don't test', no one is putting you down for testing or wanting to improve yourself (note: this is different from wanting to 'make rank'). But several of us are saying that someone's rank is totally unimportant to us. You do not strike me as someone so shallow to be training for the rank.
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Old 06-08-2002, 09:43 AM   #47
Edward
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Well, the funny thing is that I agree with you Colleen, as I do agree partly with Mr. Knoops eventhough he does seems to form a hasty opinion about people just from reading a few posts, and his insulting remarks which contrast so much with the image he's trying to show of himself. I wonder if I should put him on my ignore list.

The point I'm trying to make is that rank is important. Not the most important aspect of aikido: I can name at least 10 aspects which are more important. It's not the reason why I do aikido, certainly not. But it is important. And I'm sure those who deny this fact, and pretend that ranking has absolutely no importance for them, are just hypocrits, perhaps just like our friend Mr. knoops.
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Old 06-08-2002, 10:48 AM   #48
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edward
I do agree partly with Mr. Knoops eventhough he does seems to form a hasty opinion about people just from reading a few posts, and his insulting remarks which contrast so much with the image he's trying to show of himself. I wonder if I should put him on my ignore list.
If you feel offended or insulted by my post please accept my humble apoligies for this for it was not my intention. My intention was to simply voice an opinion that differs from yours.
Quote:
But it is important. And I'm sure those who deny this fact, and pretend that ranking has absolutely no importance for them, are just hypocrits, perhaps just like our friend Mr. knoops.
Nobody likes to be called a hypocrit (twice).

Last edited by erikmenzel : 06-08-2002 at 10:51 AM.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 06-08-2002, 12:44 PM   #49
Erik
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No one should ever be called a hypocrit. It's very unbecoming and reflects poorly on both of you. I'm ashamed.

The word is hypocrite.
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Old 06-08-2002, 05:26 PM   #50
Chris Li
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edward
I think that in a system where every one wears colored belts, wearing a white belt is a sign of arrogance. The most hypocrit of all are some yudansha who wear white belts under their hakama. It's true that O sensei did wear a white belt, and he always said he was still a beginner in aikido. But trying to compare themselves to Osensei is really fake humbleness.
Hmm, I train (and have trained) under an 8th dan, two 7th dans, and a 6th dan who all wear white belts (one of them a long time student of M. Ueshiba). I don't know whether this is "fake humbleness" or not, but I've never found them arrogant - quite the opposite, in fact.

Moriteru Ueshiba also wears a white belt, but then I suppose that he can do what he likes .

Best,

Chris

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