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Old 06-24-2011, 12:46 AM   #1
BJohnston
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Outranking your Sensei?

Just curious if it would ever be possible to surpass your sensei in rank? Just wondering at what point someone might expect to stop advancing in the art. My sensei told me that it's no longer possible for him to advance. It got me thinking.
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:00 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

I'm not sure exactly what you are asking...?...students may start training at dojos run by say a nidan then move to someplace they can train with a shihan in same or different organization and meanwhile the original instructor due to unaffiliating or injury or whatever may not get higher rank anymore or for a while...meanwhile the student keeps training so sure it's possible.

There is a difference, IMO, between "advancing in the art" and getting higher rank :-)

Last edited by Janet Rosen : 06-24-2011 at 01:02 AM. Reason: Clarity

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Old 06-24-2011, 01:24 AM   #3
Shany
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

You can outrank your sensei. But, he will always be your sensei.

A good stance and posture reflects a proper state of mind
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:52 AM   #4
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

The relation you have with your teacher (Sensei) exists only when both parties have something to gain. So in case you (think you) 'outrank' your teacher you should find (what you think is ) a better teacher. This happened a lot in the past. If you want to get good, find the best teacher until he has nothing to teach you, then you find the next one...Loyalty and respect...

The example Janet gave is a valid one to show how you can get a higher rank. But...I think to stick to one teacher is better until you decide it is time to move on.

I am curious though as to why your teacher would say he cannot advance anymore. What was the context in which he said that?

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:59 AM   #5
Stephen Nichol
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Shany Golan wrote: View Post
You can outrank your sensei. But, he will always be your sensei.
Or 'she' as the case may be.

Although one may eventually, by the path Janet mentioned, gain a higher 'actual rank' than their initial Sensei, the relationship will always be that they are Sensei to you. They will most likely always have insights worth learning given their experience and that in training 'with' them, technical improvement is no longer the objective you will both share.

Last edited by Stephen Nichol : 06-24-2011 at 02:04 AM.
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Old 06-24-2011, 05:24 AM   #6
Mark Uttech
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Onegaishimasu,
"rank" is probably already a wrong word. The purpose of living is to advance. I am also reminded of a General who, when asked about retreating said, "no, we never retreat. we advance in a different direction..."
In gassho,
Mark

Last edited by Mark Uttech : 06-24-2011 at 05:25 AM. Reason: misspelled word

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 06-24-2011, 06:23 AM   #7
Jauch
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
I am curious though as to why your teacher would say he cannot advance anymore. What was the context in which he said that?
I'm curious too

Why did you sensei say that? He was talking about his RANK or about his AIKI?
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:13 AM   #8
sakumeikan
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Eduardo Jauch wrote: View Post
I'm curious too

Why did you sensei say that? He was talking about his RANK or about his AIKI?
Dear Eduardo.
A persons rank is simply that .It does not always refct on a persons aikido ability.If a person is graded say 5th Dan then stops training for years he may well retain the rank , but his ability may not be to standard.Likewise some guys , for whatever reason, political, face doesnt fit etc, may well be held back by others in terms of rank.However this has no bearing upon ones ability.Whatever you belt colour is at the end of the day it only holds you jacket in place.
Tying a dan grade belt or a bit of string around you midsection does not diminish or improve your ability.You are what you are no more no less.
Cheers, Joe.
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Old 06-24-2011, 08:44 AM   #9
Jauch
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Eduardo.
A persons rank is simply that .It does not always refct on a persons aikido ability.If a person is graded say 5th Dan then stops training for years he may well retain the rank , but his ability may not be to standard.Likewise some guys , for whatever reason, political, face doesnt fit etc, may well be held back by others in terms of rank.However this has no bearing upon ones ability.Whatever you belt colour is at the end of the day it only holds you jacket in place.
Tying a dan grade belt or a bit of string around you midsection does not diminish or improve your ability.You are what you are no more no less.
Cheers, Joe.
Hello Joe!

Yes. I did not mean to say that rank and ability is something that are connected. At least, not most of time.
To me, a rank is more like a way to "reward" the commitment someone has to the practice. But we know that many times this is done by "political" reasons (sometimes valid ones).

So, I agree that the rank that someone has says really nothing about the AIKI ability of this person.

My doubt is more if Barry's sensei (and Barry itself) was talking from an "organization" viewpoint, as when one already have achieved the higher possible hank or do not have the ways to achieve it (like number of students, etc), or if it was about advancing in ability.

The first I complete understand. I myself moved from Brazil to Portugal and for almost 5 years have been a "1º kyu". Many of my friends in Brazil that when I left were 4º and 3º kyu are 1º kyu like me, now, and probably will become shodan before me.
When I moved, I start to train in an organization that was affiliated to Aikikai, like my own in Brazil. I choose to do my "tests" on Brazil. And I knew that this would lead to a very slow rank change to me, because is very difficult to go to Brazil (once each 2 or 3 years) and at the same time when a shodan test is taking place. But I don't mind. Now, the organization here at Portugal is not anymore with Aikikai, so, I'll continue to take tests in Brazil (when opportunity shows up) and will start to take tests here too (probably).

"Rank" do not bother me.

But I will be surprised if the whole point to Barry's Sensei is ability...

Cheers!
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:47 AM   #10
BJohnston
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Thank You all for your responses.

Quote:
Eduardo Jauch wrote: View Post
My doubt is more if Barry's sensei (and Barry itself) was talking from an "organization" viewpoint, as when one already have achieved the higher possible hank or do not have the ways to achieve it (like number of students, etc), or if it was about advancing in ability.

But I will be surprised if the whole point to Barry's Sensei is ability...

Cheers!
I believe he was talking about the organization's views. I could have gotten this wrong. He might have meant that he can no longer physically test for rank...aka the only way he could advance in rank was if he were promoted "politically"? I'm still a little green when it comes to these things. Hope that makes sense
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:56 AM   #11
David Yap
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
There is a difference, IMO, between "advancing in the art" and getting higher rank :-)
Absolutely agree - one requires effort and brain, the another may not
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:02 AM   #12
Marc Abrams
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Here is the easiest way to accomplish this feat:

Work outside doing physical labor all day. Do not rinse off or use any kind of deodorant. Put on your dogi and work hard in class. Do not wash your dogi or yourself after class. Continue doing this daily for one week. If you do not out rank your sensei, then you are obviously doing something wrong!

Marc Abrams

Ps- If you are a higher rank than a person who teaches that class, that person is still the Sensei, regardless of rank. I frankly enjoy the opportunity to do this. It is always informative to see how and what other people teach, regardless of rank.
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:15 AM   #13
Jauch
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Barry Johnston wrote: View Post
Thank You all for your responses.

I believe he was talking about the organization's views. I could have gotten this wrong. He might have meant that he can no longer physically test for rank...aka the only way he could advance in rank was if he were promoted "politically"? I'm still a little green when it comes to these things. Hope that makes sense
Hi Barry

Each organization has it's own rules for hanking.
For example, Aikikai. You do test for rank only until you reach the 4º dan. After that, new rank is something that is "given" by the Aikikai based on the recommendations of higher aikidoka of the organization and on the "help" that you gave to spread the art (and organization, of course).

Maybe this is something like that that prevents your sensei from getting a higher rank. He might not want to fill the criteria that is needed to get higher ranks.

But this is not a problem, of course.

But I have seen people "changing" from organization or sensei because the old sensei takes too long to call them to do a test, usually for 4º dan (because the sensei thinks that they are not prepared).

Anyway, Aikido is a personal path. We must keep going on, with the steps that we can do, never caring about ranking, or at least, trying to abandon the need for it

The funny is in the journey, anyway
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:20 AM   #14
lbb
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
I am curious though as to why your teacher would say he cannot advance anymore. What was the context in which he said that?
Lack of a teacher, perhaps. What happens when your teacher dies?
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:59 AM   #15
Jauch
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Lack of a teacher, perhaps. What happens when your teacher dies?
If you still need a teacher, you find another one...No?
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:33 PM   #16
Cynrod
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Shany Golan wrote: View Post
You can outrank your sensei. But, he will always be your sensei.
+1

"For The Secret That The Warrior Seeks: You Must Know That The Basic Principles Lie In The Study Of The Spirit." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:50 PM   #17
Janet Rosen
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Shany Golan wrote: View Post
You can outrank your sensei. But, he will always be your sensei.
I disagree.
S/he may always have more seniority than me, but to me "sensei" = teacher, a relationship.
Some of us change dojos because of no longer regarding a specific person as "my sensei" which can happen for a wide variety of reasons.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:12 PM   #18
Jauch
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I disagree.
S/he may always have more seniority than me, but to me "sensei" = teacher, a relationship.
Some of us change dojos because of no longer regarding a specific person as "my sensei" which can happen for a wide variety of reasons.
On the other hand...

I had to "change" dojo because move to another country.
But I still feel my "old" sensei as my sensei. And he will always be my sensei, even if he stop practicing for some reason (like an illness, for example). And when I come back to visit, I train and learn with him.
My relationship do not changed because I moved on.

On the new dojo, I adopted the new teacher as a second sensei, besides the fact that he do not like to be called sensei. And look to learn what I can from him, even the focus on the training being different somehow from my first sensei.

Cheers!
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:55 PM   #19
Janet Rosen
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Oh, no contradiction between us. You are certainly not unique and I think it is wonderful to have those sources of support and inspiration from which to draw! I feel that way about certain people with whom I have trained from time to time but due to circumstances/geography cannot really develop that relationship with.

Quote:
Eduardo Jauch wrote: View Post
On the other hand...

I had to "change" dojo because move to another country.
But I still feel my "old" sensei as my sensei. And he will always be my sensei, even if he stop practicing for some reason (like an illness, for example). And when I come back to visit, I train and learn with him.
My relationship do not changed because I moved on.

On the new dojo, I adopted the new teacher as a second sensei, besides the fact that he do not like to be called sensei. And look to learn what I can from him, even the focus on the training being different somehow from my first sensei.

Cheers!

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-25-2011, 05:24 AM   #20
Jauch
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Oh, no contradiction between us. You are certainly not unique and I think it is wonderful to have those sources of support and inspiration from which to draw! I feel that way about certain people with whom I have trained from time to time but due to circumstances/geography cannot really develop that relationship with.
Ei!!!
How is that I'm not unique???? lol Kidding I understand.
Yes. You're right. No contradiction.

Cheers!
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Old 06-26-2011, 11:18 AM   #21
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

The way I understand the meaning of 'sensei' is that it indicates someone 'who went before you'. He/She has walked the path you are about to explore and can help you/give you some pointers.

Said person will not use the term himself, but is addressed this way by his/her followers.

Barry kinda explained why he thought his teacher said he cannot advance. Likely because of political issues/or physical limitations. I am surprised about that. I would expect him to explain that to his students so they know what is/might be going on (in the organisation). As sensei he knows the path and should inform students who are about to take that road...no?

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:55 PM   #22
Janet Rosen
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
The way I understand the meaning of 'sensei' is that it indicates someone 'who went before you'. He/She has walked the path you are about to explore and can help you/give you some pointers.
I thought that was a "sempai," and that "sensei" is a teacher - which has no connotation of seniority or rank. I could be wrong!

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:13 PM   #23
Diana Frese
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Thanks, Janet, it's a great point to bring up. I'm not exactly sure myself, but here are a quote, and also a personal story that might further the discussion a little...

I read somewhere, "Be careful who you call your student for the student may surpass you..." At one point I thought it had come from the founder of Shotokan, Gichin Funakoshi. I read an autobiographical book by him, and it said something similar, I'll have to look it up, but maybe someone remembers it exactly, and whether he said the statement I put in quotation marks.

I had an interesting personal experience at the local YMCA years ago where I had a small class. A former student of judo, of a similar age of most of my students, probably in their twenties and I was in my thirties, wrote inquiring about the classes (I had a listing in the local phone book yellow pages) addressing it to "Sensei".

I was just "Daian" to the rest of the students, (and of course to him once he joined ) and most of the American Aikido teachers I knew used their first names.... What was cool was in just one conversation over a few years I heard him refer to me as his senpai and that made me real happy. Somehow I really liked the idea of being their senpai, of introducing them to my teachers, whenever they could make it to workshops and seminars and dojo visits, So they got to call my teachers "sensei"
and I wish they could have visited them more.

But marriage, job changes, moving in the case of some of them intervened, and the first two of the three listed occurred in my case, and besides other yudansha moved to the area ... I know of at least one of the former Y group people who returned to practice in her original area after about fifteen years and is now shodan working towards nidan. That's what I am, and way cool if she eventually becomes sandan.

Well, I've rambled too much, please excuse me, I'm getting old!

Last edited by Diana Frese : 06-26-2011 at 05:16 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:36 AM   #24
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I thought that was a "sempai," and that "sensei" is a teacher - which has no connotation of seniority or rank. I could be wrong!
Sempai is the 'older', experienced student(note: not teacher!). Kohai is the junior that learns the ropes of the dojo from the sempai. Important aspect is that there is no implicit form of respect between sempai and kohei (father/son, boss/employee, teacher/student!).

Sensei is exactly what you say, however does have seniority with respect to his ability.
So anybody who is more advanced than you and teaches is a sensei (in relation to you). It is a courtesy title, much like shihan.
relations in Japan are very complex.

Also this is how I understand it, which could be incorrect

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:14 AM   #25
amoeba
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Re: Outranking your Sensei?

My teacher always says she wants her students to eventually become better than her... so why not? Although the possibility seems kind of far-fetched now...
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