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Old 05-26-2002, 12:01 AM   #1
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AikiWeb Poll for the week of May 26, 2002:

Do you think a student's character should matter in attaining aikido ranking?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Yes
  • No
Here are the current results.
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Old 05-28-2002, 06:55 PM   #2
Marc Kupper
Dojo: Aikido of Diablo Valley / ASU
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How do you measure character?

How do you measure or test for character? Does dusting the dojo, or laying/removing mats, X times in the last couple of months indicate a person of good or bad character? Is a clean gi an indicator of a clean, and savory, character?

Second, if character can be measured, and thus quantified, then whose standards do you use? Items like "sexual morals" vary throughout the world and for that matter varies with the passage of time.
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Old 05-28-2002, 10:18 PM   #3
Chuck Clark
 
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Character traits such as:

trying to do your best to...

take care of your partner;

follow the rules of the dojo as agreed when you joined the dojo;

be a responsible person such as living up to your word;

be a good example to your juniors in the dojo

should all be, in my opinion, important parts of yudansha promotions especially.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-29-2002, 03:22 AM   #4
Jorx
Dojo: Pärnu Aikidoclub Singitai
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Well In my not so humble opinion all these and more things which mr. Clark said they show in the techniques pretty well. I voted NO because I think the correct techniques are the only measurable criteria and they reflect character as well.

Jorgen
Riveta Sportsclub
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Old 05-29-2002, 04:24 AM   #5
Duarh
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I agree to what neighbour Jorgen said - isn't the quality of technique bound to depend at least on the majority of these character traits? and, if a person's character is altogether $%@$^, might s/he not get booted from the dojo even before achieving any rank at all?
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Old 05-29-2002, 04:04 PM   #6
Marc Kupper
Dojo: Aikido of Diablo Valley / ASU
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On reflection I'm changing my vote from "no" to "yes." Part of the reason for switching is I realized that being around people of character is important to me. I would choose a dojo of good character and less than perfect aikido over one where flawless technical execution is attained by people of poor character.

The outward signs of character can be observed. Clark sensei provided a good starting point for a list of traits and, much like the technical parts of aikido, you could hold mudansha and juniors to higher and higher standards as they progress up the grades. The yudansha must be of excellent character.

Marc

ps: The aikiweb computer does not allow people to change their vote. Y'all will need to shift one of the nays to aye when looking at the graph.
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Old 05-29-2002, 05:47 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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training reflects character

I answered "yes."
This is not because I feel that an instructor should be meddling in students' out-of-the-dojo life. It is because there is a certain attitude manifested in ones training IN the dojo that I believe is as important as "doing the technique" according to syllabus. I have seen many people over the yrs promoted to shodan who were competent at the techniques but....
had no interest in working with beginners....
never or rarely volunteered to assist at seminars, with special programs, with clerical stuff....
showed no compassion towards their fellow students....
were not protective of their ukes....
were not considerate of or helpful to their kohei
and I believe VERY strongly that these matters ARE of vital interest to a chief instructor who is interested in promoting a certain dojo culture.
just my 2 cents
janet
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Old 05-29-2002, 05:51 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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ooops! addendum

I should mention lest somebody thinks poorly of where I train: I JUST joined City Aikido yesterday and my observations on shodan promotions are NOT based on that dojo but on a couple of others in various localities with which I am familiar!
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Old 05-30-2002, 08:12 AM   #9
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, character matters in all we do. It shows in how we train, how well we play with others, respect, humility, compassion. and all the other "principles and philosophies" of Aikido. Not to take that into consideration would be taking only a smallest portion of what Aikido is and can be.

Until again,

Lynn
Nidan Tenshinkai Aikido
Lucaylucay Kali JKD

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 05-30-2002, 09:35 AM   #10
erikmenzel
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Character matters in a lot of the things you do.
Some aspects can be observed through someones technique at testing time, but unfortunately not all aspects!

Somethings to think about when looking at none technical aspects of aikido and training: How to see in a test whether
  • Someone is always too late at lessons?
  • Someone always leaves as soon as the dojo has to be cleaned?
  • Someone doesnt help taking care of other things in the dojo?
  • Someone abuses beginners?
  • Someone refuses to train with beginners?
  • Someone shows no understanding of responsibility?
  • Someone always questions reigi and always comes with excuses not to apply them to normal lessons?

Just some thoughts.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
Personal:www.kuipers-menzel.com
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Old 05-30-2002, 01:02 PM   #11
Jon C Strauss
Dojo: Rocky Mountain Ki Society
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Ki Symbol

Howdy,

I voted "yes" and was surprised--and delighted--to find out that so many other people felt the same way.

Character can be intangible and vague, but most quality instructors know what to look for in a student--although my sensei keeps promoting me and I'm a....

Nevermind.

Peace,
JCS
RMKS at CSU

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.
--Booker T. Washington
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Old 05-30-2002, 02:25 PM   #12
Jorx
Dojo: Pärnu Aikidoclub Singitai
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Someone is always too late at lessons?
Well so what? Sensei should talk to him and one cannot attend class when late without permission of sensei anyway. Is not in connection with exams.

Someone always leaves as soon as the dojo has to be cleaned?
Ask him to stay? What does it have to do with the exams?

Someone doesnt help taking care of other things in the dojo?
What other things? One shouldn't forget that for some it isn't a lifestyle but just a pasttime - why take away their joy?

Someone abuses beginners?
Yes, that is a bad thing - talk to him, talk to the beginners.

Someone refuses to train with beginners.
I guess it's a free country isn't it? How can one REFUSE? No sensei... go to "#¤"¤& I won't train with those? How do you allow such person in a dojo?

Someone shows no understanding of responsibility?
These two things show PERFECTLY in the techniques you don't have to consider -character-.

Someone always questions reigi and always comes with excuses not to apply them to normal lessons?
Again... it's a free country isn't it? For example in our dojo reigi is not implemented in the practice at all.

What I wan't to say that to me it just seems unfair if you take other things than pure technique into consideration in a Aikido test. It is too subjective! When one has a lousy character then a) he has a lousy technique too b) he is lousy already in dojo so one should talk to him/throw him out etc... not to wait till the exam.

That's why I also think that it's better when a "foreign" sensei gives the test with your own sensei assisting maybe.

Just my opinion...

Jorgen
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Old 05-30-2002, 02:50 PM   #13
erikmenzel
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jorx
What I wan't to say that to me it just seems unfair if you take other things than pure technique into consideration in a Aikido test.
Unfair? But your idea implies that you dont want tests to reflect the whole of aikido but just the technical part.
Quote:
It is too subjective! When one has a lousy character then a) he has a lousy technique too
Nope, that is not necesseraly true.
Quote:
b) he is lousy already in dojo so one should talk to him/throw him out etc... not to wait till the exam.
Within one dojo this is common accepted policy. It does however not prevent people to do exams/test at a different place, masquerading as mister wonderfull aikidoka. (For those wondering, yes this does happen!!)

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
Personal:www.kuipers-menzel.com
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Old 05-30-2002, 05:30 PM   #14
Henry Javier
Dojo: Zenbudojo
Location: Caracas, Venezuela.
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Ai symbol

I think in my life experience, not only tied to the Aikido but related to my own personnel environment, a whole individual can be recognized trough his/her behavior and character, and these two characteristics make an important influence in the development of any goal as well as Shodan degree, engineer, architect, whatever. So as a martial art one must keep in mind that in the dojo or demonstrating technics where ever, the attitude must be the same, a martial attitude, so let's have clear that an attitude is not a direct conection to the character.

Henry.
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Old 05-31-2002, 02:57 AM   #15
Jorx
Dojo: Pärnu Aikidoclub Singitai
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Quote:
Within one dojo this is common accepted policy. It does however not prevent people to do exams/test at a different place, masquerading as mister wonderfull aikidoka. (For those wondering, yes this does happen!!)
Okay... mr. Knoops... maybe I've lived in a way too safe and beautiful world welcome cruel and harsh reality. How does one prevent them anyway? How is it possible for a different sensei, one who doesn't know your character to judge it? Of rumors he heard? Of 15 minutes of "serious talk" with the original sensei? I don't think so. The only thing that can be taken in consideration is technique. Because it can be measured more or less. And I personally think that all that Aikido stands for (what You called "whole Aikido") it is in the techniques as well.

Could you give an example of someone who has exellent technique but a crappy character? I mean lazyness should show in techniques... arrogance as well... pride - yup, he won't take good ukemi. Etc etc. And when someone is just a good actor enough to hide all those bad things during the test then... what can we do? I guess nothing.

Jorgen

P.S. Just for the record - in Estonia there is such policy that normally anyone can take a kyu test which is given by the head instructor of Estonia (who hardly "knows" all the students) but the student has to be permitted to the exam by his own sensei (who knows whatever he knows).
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Old 05-31-2002, 07:02 AM   #16
justinm
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I just don't get it

I struggle to see how one's character is reflected in one's technique. If this were true, there should be some correlation between ability and character, but I have never seen it. I know 5th kyus that have a more giving, caring personality than 5th Dans and vice versa. Sure - there are some wonderful people teaching aikido. But guess what - there are some wonderful people working on checkout at my local Tesco.

In every measure of character I can think of I can see a complete scatter. I doubt anyone would be able to find a correlation.

Personally, I just don't see how aikido can have a significantly greater influence on character than any other activity. I cannot think of a single person I know well in our dojo or any sister dojos would put 'improving my character' in any top 5 list of reasons to do aikido. Maybe it is just not a British thing...?!

Justin
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Old 05-31-2002, 11:20 AM   #17
Chuck Clark
 
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Character can show up in someone's practice manner and performance of technique. However, there are many examples of people that have gotten promoted anyway.

Check out David Lynch's essay "Sex, Lies & Aikido Senseis":

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article...ArticleID=1135

Exploits of high level instructors and shihan that show less than desirable character are well known among the world aikido population.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-31-2002, 01:51 PM   #18
Henry Javier
Dojo: Zenbudojo
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If a student, regardless the level, has demonstrated: Cooperation, friendship, sense of comunity, compasion, patience, self commitment, team-working, Dojo feeling, This guy certainly will get the same from his Dojo mates, so, the progress will be better and will help his/her own rythm to advance and make progress. This, will help in the quality of a student at the moment of a test, the way he treat the uke, the respect demonstrated to him and to the judge, the decision doing the technics besides the compasion to the other, the humildity, are things that a sensitive person can feel. Sometimes when you are working with somebody at the first time, you feel at the first touch almost the tottality of his intentions and honesty, looking into his eyes let you know, at least he's empty, the inside person you're dealing with. I think that Aikido has everything for everybody and each one of us take what can be convenient to everyone. It's up to us to decide if we can reach the goals suggested by O'sensei, or if we just wanna be a killing machine, so, the character makes influence in our own evaluation, if you're not honest with yourself this will affect only you.
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Old 05-31-2002, 02:29 PM   #19
Jorx
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Thanks mister Clark and mister Javier, you saved a lot of talk from me

The article represents the sad truth...
But all WE can do is not to behave as such...
"Be the change you want to see in the world" (Mahatma Gandhi)

And one's character is reflected in one's technique very well. A simple example - if you are arrogant then you always want to challenge and wrestle then your progress will be way slower than those who know the humbleness and partnership in Aikido.

Jorgen
Estonian Aikikai
Riveta Sportsclub
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Old 05-31-2002, 02:38 PM   #20
Jim23
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Re: I just don't get it

Quote:
Originally posted by justinm

Personally, I just don't see how aikido can have a significantly greater influence on character than any other activity. I cannot think of a single person I know well in our dojo or any sister dojos would put 'improving my character' in any top 5 list of reasons to do aikido. Maybe it is just not a British thing...?!

Justin
I agree. To think that aikido is better at building character than most other endeavours is pretty naive. That doesn't mean that aikido is without its merits either. My view is that someone's basic character is developed very early in life and is probably genetic. Good or bad influences can have an effect, but people are, essentially, who they are.

Having teachers recognize/reward "character" in students is a bit of a crap shoot. That's like saying although Johnny did very well on his chemistry exam, he really deserves a failing grade as he's not my favourite student (and his clothes are always dirty). Some students are just better at kissing hakama than others.

I've met some sensei who were buttock cavities.

I also disagree with the "well he has been trying so hard for almost a year, he deserves it" promotion.

Jim23

Remember, all generalizations are false
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Old 05-31-2002, 02:44 PM   #21
erikmenzel
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jorx
How does one prevent them anyway? How is it possible for a different sensei, one who doesn't know your character to judge it? Of rumors he heard? Of 15 minutes of "serious talk" with the original sensei? I don't think so.
Nope, that is one of the reaons why it may be a bit funny to have an exam at another dojo. My personal feelings are (but they really are personal) is that one should at least have trained with and under the sensei that is gonna judge the exam.

Quote:
The only thing that can be taken in consideration is technique. Because it can be measured more or less. And I personally think that all that Aikido stands for (what You called "whole Aikido") it is in the techniques as well.
Just because some aspects might be difficult to judge and interpret does not mean one should abandon those aspects for that reason.
Quote:
Could you give an example of someone who has exellent technique but a crappy character?
No, it does not contribute to anything. Whenever you meet someone like that you will know (hopefully).

Quote:
I mean lazyness should show in techniques... arrogance as well... pride - yup, he won't take good ukemi. Etc etc. And when someone is just a good actor enough to hide all those bad things during the test then... what can we do? I guess nothing.
To me, your view seems a bit simplistic, but that is ok.
I just cannot agree with it. Maybe aikido and the way people treat it in Estonia is quite different from the way it is in The Netherlands.

Quote:
Just for the record - in Estonia there is such policy that normally anyone can take a kyu test which is given by the head instructor of Estonia (who hardly "knows" all the students) but the student has to be permitted to the exam by his own sensei (who knows whatever he knows).
Sounds like a descent policy, but then again, descenty of a system only goes as far as the people using the system. Here in the Netherlands I have seen people been send to exams because of hidden motivs of their teacher.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
Personal:www.kuipers-menzel.com
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Old 06-01-2002, 02:21 AM   #22
Jim ashby
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In our organisation, taking an exam is not a right, it's a privilege. You can apply to take the exam, but whether you take it or not is not up to you. Admittedly there have been very few cases where people have been told not to take the exam, but it has happened. How they deal with that is one way their character can be assessed, how people deal with failing exams is another. As to going to other Dojos to take their exams, that would go down very very badly and is a sure sign of "belt chasing".
Have fun.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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