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Old 05-28-2009, 03:08 PM   #26
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Quote:
Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
My sensei actually dropped the minimum training time requirements, not because it held talented people back but because people started to assume that you'd automatically be able to grade after fulfilling the time in grade and whining to him about it. So now we only grade once sensei says people are ready.

kvaak
Pauliina
I can appreciate the wisdom in that. I'd be itching to test once my minimum days rolled around.

I think it might work best if there are tests offered at regular intervals (every 2-4 months) and then students can opt to test whenever they feel ready. Of course, it would probably benefit the student to ask their sensei if s/he feels they are ready before testing but I could imagine that taking a test would be a good experience even if the result is not what you hoped. I also like the idea of allowing students to test for any rank they are prepared for. Why make someone with years of experience in a related art or another Aikido organization go through mandatory time requirements when they already have the skills for a particular rank.

...rab
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Old 05-28-2009, 03:55 PM   #27
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Kindergarten.....

Like the others said. Rank isn't really so important as the journey it represents.
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Old 05-28-2009, 03:58 PM   #28
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
Linda, Mary, and anyone else who's organization requires minimum training time between ranks -

What do you think about that policy? I understand that it strives to establish standards across dojos but on the other hand it seems to be a somewhat artificial limiter for talented martial artists able to fulfill the requirements sooner. (I am definitely not one of those but something about it still seems to bother me).

Thoughts?
Well, it's arbitrary, but I guess I don't think that you can get away altogether from arbitrary criteria...and I'm not sure it matters to try that hard. I feel this way, though, because I just don't care about the rank. This is the fourth martial art I've trained in, each time I start at the beginning again, and rank just doesn't matter a burnt-out match to me any more.
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Old 05-28-2009, 04:26 PM   #29
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Quote:
Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
Linda, Mary, and anyone else who's organization requires minimum training time between ranks -

What do you think about that policy? I understand that it strives to establish standards across dojos but on the other hand it seems to be a somewhat artificial limiter for talented martial artists able to fulfill the requirements sooner. (I am definitely not one of those but something about it still seems to bother me).

Thoughts?
times, at least for us, are a guide line of what they typically see on average that it takes someone to reach a certain level that the Sensei feels is appropriate for the test.

If the person is ready before, then they test ahead of time... I dont know, perhaps other places are more strict - but so much goes into this, one main factor are those that practice at home and/or go to the dojo 3-4 times a week vs. 2 times, etc. [the latter is counted of course...but the former you see in practice by improved skills.]

I can tell who takes time outside of class vs. the ones who just show up...especially those who train twice a week, there has to be extra time or you will never get it.

Peace

dAlen

dAlen [day•lynn]
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:24 PM   #30
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Quote:
Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
Linda, Mary, and anyone else who's organization requires minimum training time between ranks -

What do you think about that policy?
Just to clarify, by the way, those are actual days where you show up at the dojo and train, not calendar days. (I think you know that - just being sure I was getting it across right.)

I don't think it's a bad idea. The minimum times will probably never personally affect me, because I will likely progress slower anyway. But in any case, while I think it's possible to master techniques pretty quickly, there's a lot of depth to Aikido that (IMHO) just takes time, and steeping in the ideas and culture. Someone who was to, for instance, really blast through learning technique after technique, in an effort to progress through ranks as quickly as possible, would be missing the point.

I could see exceptions for those who are already advanced students of other arts, who might gasp the concepts more readily (and I would guess the rules might have some flexibility in those cases).

Linda

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Old 05-29-2009, 09:19 AM   #31
ruthmc
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
My sensei actually dropped the minimum training time requirements, not because it held talented people back but because people started to assume that you'd automatically be able to grade after fulfilling the time in grade and whining to him about it. So now we only grade once sensei says people are ready.

kvaak
Pauliina
That is a great policy to have - it stops students from focussing on how many classes they've taken or how long it's been since their last test, and gets them to concentrate solely upon improving their Aikido practise

Ruth
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Old 05-29-2009, 09:54 AM   #32
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
while I think it's possible to master techniques pretty quickly, there's a lot of depth to Aikido that (IMHO) just takes time, and steeping in the ideas and culture. Someone who was to, for instance, really blast through learning technique after technique, in an effort to progress through ranks as quickly as possible, would be missing the point.
Hi Linda,

I'm like you - time minimums do not apply. If I look out 20 years, I hope to develop my skills to the point where I would be considered 4th dan. Hey - you have to dream, right?

On the other hand, there are others far more talented than me. While I understand there is a lot of depth to Aikido that has to be absorbed, I take a more cynical view towards the time requirements. In my mind, a major reason those requirements are there is to protect the established power structure. I see it as very political I'm afaid.

I think I'd have much less of a philosophical objection if these time requirements were always part of the art. But if I'm not mistaken, Shioda Kancho was granted his 9th dan certificate from O'Sensei after about 10 years of direct training. Granted Shioda was an extremely gifted martial artist, but it would take a minimum of 40 years in the IYAF and 50 years in the USAF to achieve that rank today - regardless of skill level or personal talent.

So while I understand what others mean when they say that rank is not important, it obvoiusly is very important to organized aikido - or at least, to the most prominent aikido organizations out there.

...rab
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:23 AM   #33
Linda Eskin
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Quote:
Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
...While I understand there is a lot of depth to Aikido that has to be absorbed, I take a more cynical view towards the time requirements. In my mind, a major reason those requirements are there is to protect the established power structure. I see it as very political I'm afaid. ...
I got to thinking more about this on the way home yesterday. Maybe this is the same thing you meant about protecting the established political power structure, but I'm thinking a good part of the requirements must be a kind of quality control by the organization (Aikikai). I could see that without it there would be the potential for promoting students faster to make a dojo look better - either because they have more "black belts" or to get a reputation as an easy place to get a black belt ("in just one year!" or whatever). That kind of behavior would threaten the dojos/senseis who are doing things right, possibly putting them out of business. It would also threaten the foundational training of naive students, who might be suckered into it without realizing there's anything wrong with it.

I understand your point. I'm sure there are gifted people who are "already there" without putting in the years. But as widely distributed and varied as dojos are, it's comforting as a student that there are some consistent expectations placed on them, and that the ranks, when earned, mean something (vaguely, at least).

Hmmm... Only 20 years to 4th dan, you say? Hey! I could be there before I turn 70. Well there's something to work toward.

Linda Eskin - Facebook | My AikiBlog

"Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:42 AM   #34
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
While I understand there is a lot of depth to Aikido that has to be absorbed, I take a more cynical view towards the time requirements. In my mind, a major reason those requirements are there is to protect the established power structure. I see it as very political I'm afaid.
I think that time requirements were created with mostly good intentions, but like any system of credentials, it tends to favor those in power somewhat. Frankly, though, I don't see that as any big deal. If you decide to play in this particular sandbox, that's part of the deal. If getting rank means that much to you, you need to either find a system where it's easy to do so, or one where you respect what it takes to get the rank enough that you're willing to pay the price. If getting rank doesn't matter to you, you need to train where you want to train for its own sake.
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:54 AM   #35
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Congratulations on starting aikido! I started a year and a half ago, after a year of gathering up the courage to do so At that time, even looking at the warm-ups made me tired and nervous.

But, I have made and continue to make progress. But it is slow, much like how hair grows. On a day-to-day basis you don't notice much change, but after a few months, your once chin-length hair is down around your shoulders.

I took my first, and thus far, only test, about a year ago. In my school, that puts me at 5th kyu (unranked=6th kyu, I believe). We don't have any corresponding colors so I don't know what color that would be.

Another thing that will help you a lot, when you get to this point, is to see another beginner come into the class. Not that you want to think you are better than they are (we all have different strenghts and weaknesses), but you can see more of the progress you have made when you are training with someone who is very new.

Good luck, and have fun!
Quote:
Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
I feel like I am looking up from the bottom of a deep sea... Started this month. No rank at all. My first test, someday, will be for 6 Kyu. I hope to be able to study Aikido for many years.

I love Nick's quotation - thank you for sharing that.
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:13 PM   #36
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
Hi Linda,

But if I'm not mistaken, Shioda Kancho was granted his 9th dan certificate from O'Sensei after about 10 years of direct training. Granted Shioda was an extremely gifted martial artist, but it would take a minimum of 40 years in the IYAF and 50 years in the USAF to achieve that rank today - regardless of skill level or personal talent.
One key difference that I believe you are overlooking here:

All students of O'Sensei did aikdo, and nothing else, when they trained with him--they ate, breathed, and lived it. You can progress much faster when you train all day, every day, than when you train 3 or 4 days a week.

Allow me to pull out the math for a sec.

Let's estimate that Shioda Kancho trained 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for the 10 years he was under O Sensei's tutalege. That's just shy of 2500 hours a year, more than most people put in at their full time jobs. 25,000 hours of aikido over 10 years.

Let's estimate that an average dedicated aikidoka today (who is not uchi deshi) puts in 6 hours a week (2 hours, 3 days a week), and goes to one full-day seminar a month (extra 8 hours). Comes out to about 400 hours a year. Let's be generous and bump that up to an even 500.

Using these estimates, Kancho would have trained 5 times as much in a year than our average aikidoka. It stands to reason it would take an aikidoka today 5 times as long to reach the same goal.

So: 50 years to reach 9th Dan. There you go.

That's why the organization that I train with looks at hours, and not days. We also count time observing class, going to seminars, and doing zazen at the dojo, in our hours towards testing. So, if you can put in more time, say, sit in and observe an advanced class, and do a couple hours of zazen a week, and catch a seminar a month, you are going to advance much more rapidly if you only attend class twice a week, and ocassionally miss classes. Even if you are doing conditioning and practicing certain things at home, this isn't going to replace on-the-mat training with lots of different people.

Last edited by CarrieP : 05-29-2009 at 12:25 PM. Reason: clarify thinking and strengthen argument.
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:33 PM   #37
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
II could see that without it there would be the potential for promoting students faster to make a dojo look better - either because they have more "black belts" or to get a reputation as an easy place to get a black belt ("in just one year!" or whatever). That kind of behavior would threaten the dojos/senseis who are doing things right, possibly putting them out of business. It would also threaten the foundational training of naive students, who might be suckered into it without realizing there's anything wrong with it.
I think that is an important and valid point, but I do think there are better ways to do it that than time requirements. Fundamentally, I believe in meritocracy. If you are good enough, you should be recognized. I also understand that not all cultures/subcultures/organizations fully embrace that ideal. Some place a premium on other factors such as age, tenure, and heritage.

For example: I'm sure the sons of both Ueshiba and Shioda who head up their respective organizations are accomplished aikidoka. But are they the most skilled? The sense I get is that there are others generally recongized as better. However, many defer to them based on their familial lineage. I have also heard that non-Japanese aikidoka are promoted more slowly than non-Japanese.

All this is human, and natural, and understandable - especially within a traditional society and context. However, I do not think it is ideal.
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:36 PM   #38
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
If you decide to play in this particular sandbox, that's part of the deal.
Your dojo has a sandbox - cool!
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:42 PM   #39
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Carolyn Parkinson wrote: View Post
Allow me to pull out the math for a sec.
Very good and valid point on the HOURS of training Shioda put in. I missed that level of analysis. I also like that your organization measures HOURS and not DAYS of training. It comes closer. What organization are you with?

It still does not achieve the ideal, however, since each person progresses at a different level based on their individual talent. One hour of basketball practice for Michael Jordan at 12 years old would not equal one hour of basetball practice for me when I was that age. Genetically, he is a far superior athelete.

Time just seems so arbitrary.

The only value I can see in it is - as Linda pointed out above - to give prospective students a realistic guideline for progression in the art.

Last edited by Rabih Shanshiry : 05-29-2009 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 05-29-2009, 02:30 PM   #40
jxa127
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Re: What Grade Are You?

There's a great (though somewhat sexist) quote from the 2003 Pirates of the Carribean movie. Jack Sparrow says, "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

I've been training since late 1999 with short breaks due to injury or school. I'm 35 years old, and had attained the rank of 1st kyu in an Aikido Association of America dojo. I was actively preparing for my shodan test until I switched to a new dojo in December of last year.

I'm now un-ranked again -- although I will probably test in the next month or two.

The important thing is what you can do and what you can't do. Ranks are, in many ways, a crude approximation of one's actual skill.

The important thing in my mind is to just keep training.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 05-29-2009, 03:41 PM   #41
Carl Smith
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Re: What Grade Are You?

I'm 34 and have been training since approximately 2000 (I lose track of time so easily! ) last time I tested was for shodan in 2006.

At the time I started I was hoping for something that would keep my interest enough so that I could be more physically active. I never thought I would make it this far and at this point I don't really care if I ever rank again. These days it's the discoveries and the journey that keep me coming back, it's become so much more than I ever thought it would be.
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Old 05-29-2009, 05:45 PM   #42
shakou
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Quote:
Linda Eskin wrote: View Post
I feel like I am looking up from the bottom of a deep sea... Started this month. No rank at all. My first test, someday, will be for 6 Kyu. I hope to be able to study Aikido for many years.

I love Nick's quotation - thank you for sharing that.
Hey linda, I felt like that when I started last year at age 33, I am currently green belt but we have a strange way of teaching, we don't go with syllabus, all grades do a bit of everything which is great, good luck with it...

Sort of answered the original question there as well! Keep at it Ruia, there are many good moments there to be had, try not to focus on where you go wrong but on what you do right as that is what matters.... Also read and watch DVD, Aikido, the dynamic sphere is a good book to own and if you can find anything by Christian Tissier then snatch it at the 1st opportunity, good luck kid

Kris
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Old 05-29-2009, 05:52 PM   #43
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
Hi Ruri,

I'm 34 and wish I started Aikido when I was your age. I hope you enjoy it and decide to stay with it. If you do, you'll be a great aikidoka by the time you reach my age with many wonderful skills, stories, and friends to show for it.

To answer your original question, just take a look at my avatar. I plan to test for 9th kyu at the end of June which would give me the yellow belt.

...rab
Lol, I hear that man.... 33 when I started, it hurts quite a bit but is well worth it!

Good luck mate

Kris
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Old 05-29-2009, 06:19 PM   #44
Nick
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Re: What Grade Are You?

My dad was 38 when he started karate... He's been in for 18 years and loves it. Better late than never, as it were... enjoy it!

---
Nick Porter
"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 05-29-2009, 06:47 PM   #45
Walter Martindale
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Ima Shodan arimasu.

Started 1993, graded 5kyu 1994
Changed dojo and city (1995), graded 3 kyu 1996 (now two shodans, judo, aikido, never once been 4th kyu)
Changed dojo (and country) 1997
Changed dojo (and country) again 2000
Nikyu, 2004
Changed dojo and city 2004, graded Ikkyu late 2005
Graded shodan early 2007. Changed dojo, city and country, 2007.
If I hear that my job will continue past the end of June, I'll attend grading this month for nidan - if not, sorry, certificate too costly and frankly I don't feel quite ready.
Current age 55.
W
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Old 05-29-2009, 07:00 PM   #46
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

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Kris Moralee wrote: View Post
Lol, I hear that man.... 33 when I started, it hurts quite a bit but is well worth it!

Good luck mate

Kris
Thanks Kris!

Funny thing is...I started Aikido to stay young. First few weeks its just made me feel like an old man. Strained wrist ligaments, aggravated rotator cuff, bruised ribs....Finally on the mend and starting to feel like the body is coming along.
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Old 05-29-2009, 07:09 PM   #47
Ruairidh
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Re: What Grade Are You?

thank you all for your support im really interested to see what grade you are and its fascinating reading about people who are even one grade above me because it means i will ALWAYS have things to learn and i am eager to learn. thanks again
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Old 05-31-2009, 01:38 PM   #48
shakou
 
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Quote:
Rabih Shanshiry wrote: View Post
Thanks Kris!

Funny thing is...I started Aikido to stay young. First few weeks its just made me feel like an old man. Strained wrist ligaments, aggravated rotator cuff, bruised ribs....Finally on the mend and starting to feel like the body is coming along.
Yeah, the pain is integral to picking up techniques, as I'm now at green belt I'm starting to uke a bit more for Sensei, breakfalling from certain moves is still a pain in the behind but like yourself, I'm getting there, much harder than I 1st envisioned but not in a way that would put me off ever doing it.... Not had bruised ribs yet but my wrists hurt and I'm always sporting a new limp, I still say Aikido is the future though ha ha

Kris
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Old 05-31-2009, 01:44 PM   #49
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Re: What Grade Are You?

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
Ima Shodan arimasu.

Started 1993, graded 5kyu 1994
Changed dojo and city (1995), graded 3 kyu 1996 (now two shodans, judo, aikido, never once been 4th kyu)
Changed dojo (and country) 1997
Changed dojo (and country) again 2000
Nikyu, 2004
Changed dojo and city 2004, graded Ikkyu late 2005
Graded shodan early 2007. Changed dojo, city and country, 2007.
If I hear that my job will continue past the end of June, I'll attend grading this month for nidan - if not, sorry, certificate too costly and frankly I don't feel quite ready.
Current age 55.
W
Hey Walter, that's pretty inspiring. If my maths is right then you were 39 when you started? Good stuff man....

Kris
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Old 06-01-2009, 03:44 PM   #50
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Re: What Grade Are You?

I started in 1968.
I was just recently promoted to 8th .....kyu.
I keep going backwards, must be my ukemi?


I'm yudansha and should not have answered this thread. But sometimes I feel like the about statement is true, Sorry.

Bruno
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- Socrates
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