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Old 01-04-2012, 08:32 AM   #1
"Needing opinions"
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The crux of two ranks having any equality

Not just one of those same posts. Please read careful.

I started at a new dojo due to relocation. The new dojo is a different Aikido style and affiliation. I decided to surrender my shodan rank before joining from a previous school and style. I decided not to tell anyone at the new dojo my previous history. I went in with an empty cup.

My first thought after several months at the new dojo, was my new dojo (not the style) was inferior to my previous dojo. The sensei was not as knowledgable, or skilled as my last all the way around. I stuck with the dojo because of convenience of keeping up my skill and the close proximity to my home.

I am up for shodan rank with several other people. When testing was announced the first thought in my head was these poor individuals testing, they are really not up to the standards which they could be. In my old school they wouldn't be at this point in their training testing for shodan because they need more training. But they don't know this. They don't know they rank is subpar to what it could be. They will not be as good as they can.

I realize my first shodan is subpar to another school. But it doesn't lack general required knowledge, and at least I had enough training behind it for people to acknowledge it's worth.

I feel for the students in the class that in a way they are thinking what their rank has substantial value when really it doesn't because the sensei lacks knowledge and skill. It is that their rank is only as good as the sensei who teaches them. They will venture out to seminars, and because they don't have inflated egos or over rated image of self importance, and the hard slap of reality will hit them in face.

Do I brake the news to them or keep my mouth shut and let nature take it's course?

been there for a reasonable amount of time to judge it is not as good in my last dojo.
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:28 PM   #2
Marc Abrams
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Not just one of those same posts. Please read careful.

I started at a new dojo due to relocation. The new dojo is a different Aikido style and affiliation. I decided to surrender my shodan rank before joining from a previous school and style. I decided not to tell anyone at the new dojo my previous history. I went in with an empty cup.

My first thought after several months at the new dojo, was my new dojo (not the style) was inferior to my previous dojo. The sensei was not as knowledgable, or skilled as my last all the way around. I stuck with the dojo because of convenience of keeping up my skill and the close proximity to my home.

I am up for shodan rank with several other people. When testing was announced the first thought in my head was these poor individuals testing, they are really not up to the standards which they could be. In my old school they wouldn't be at this point in their training testing for shodan because they need more training. But they don't know this. They don't know they rank is subpar to what it could be. They will not be as good as they can.

I realize my first shodan is subpar to another school. But it doesn't lack general required knowledge, and at least I had enough training behind it for people to acknowledge it's worth.

I feel for the students in the class that in a way they are thinking what their rank has substantial value when really it doesn't because the sensei lacks knowledge and skill. It is that their rank is only as good as the sensei who teaches them. They will venture out to seminars, and because they don't have inflated egos or over rated image of self importance, and the hard slap of reality will hit them in face.

Do I brake the news to them or keep my mouth shut and let nature take it's course?

been there for a reasonable amount of time to judge it is not as good in my last dojo.
Reality is the ultimate trump card. Sooner or later, people find out what they can and cannot do. This is predicated upon the person experiencing the larger world, rather than the self-contained atmosphere of a single dojo. Your telling the people what you think does nothing to assist them in experiencing a larger reality, other than to create animosity amongst your training partners. Why don't you organize a group trip to a seminar at another dojo where the quality is more up to the standards you expect?

Marc Abrams
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:53 PM   #3
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

At shodan you could be mistaken about quality. How are you judging? Are you judging based on how your aikido looks or feels?

I had a brown belt who was from an Aikikai Dojo tell me once that her teacher told her what I was teaching was not Aikido. That is ok but she was mistaken. At brown belt I would expect my students to be able to do a front fall and roll backward and forward...yet she could do none of these.

I guess it is just perspective. I don't worry about what other people say. I just get on the mat and train.

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Old 01-05-2012, 03:17 PM   #4
"OnceUponATime"
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Tongue Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

A Yondan gave me two really good pieces of advice once upon a time.

- You get out of Aikido training what you put into Aikido training.

People have different goals in their aikido practice. So better/worse comparisons are tricky to begin with. Your goals may not coincide with their goals, or your sensei's. Practice with the intensity you want out of your Aikido.

- The best thing you can do is shut up and train.

This was given with a smile in response to a problem within a regional section of our organization. If you aren't on the teaching staff, or the board (if non-profit), then it isn't your place to "break it" to them. Worry about your personal practice.
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Old 01-05-2012, 03:31 PM   #5
Rob Watson
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

Several shodan contempraneous to mine all from the same dojo under the same teacher all have vastly different skill levels. People are different. Why expect a dan ranking to mean everyone conforms to anything except they have got that dan ranking-face value is all it is?

If people don't know they suck at shodan then they have the wrong mindset for progress. One must always strive for better no matter the current state of skills, knowledge and understanding.

"In my opinion, the time of spreading aikido to the world is finished; now we have to focus on quality." Yamada Yoshimitsu

Ultracrepidarianism ... don't.
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Old 01-05-2012, 03:31 PM   #6
philipsmith
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

I guess we all have our own view of reality.

However, we can all recognise quality when we see it. The unfortunate fact is that many dojos discourage contact with the wider world; often because of the teachers insecurities.
I have heard all sorts of excuses for poor quality training - not just in Aikido - over the years but truth is it's easier to hide in an art such as ours which prizes co-operation above everything. Now I'm not suggesting that we go down a competitive route (Sorry shodokan) but neither should we be totally compliant.
This was brought home o me only last week when a friend and I did some weapons together for the first time in a long time. We just totally committed and there was a real "edge" to it - for me that was the essence of the budo contained in Aikido.
Unless you test yourself in this way I believe your quality will remain poor.
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:35 PM   #7
mathewjgano
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

In the grand scheme of things, rank is almost always superfluous; it generally doesn't mean much, in my opinion, until we look at what the criteria are for the group issuing it...so I think it applies more in the context of the dojo/affiliation than across different dojos/affiliations. My opinion would be simply to adjust your personal metric to account for the difference and then, like Marc said, organize/promote broader experience.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-05-2012, 08:02 PM   #8
Mario Tobias
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

Taking promotions and aikido training in general, is a personal journey. If their training is sincere, they wouldn't need anybody telling them about quality. If they train long enough and continue to train, they'll realize what their strengths and weaknesses are by themselves and they'll do something about it. Even if this doesn't happen, somebody else's quality is not anybody else's problem. It is only your aikido which you should be worrying about.

I also keep reminding myself that I was also a beginner, sometimes much more awkward compared to them when I began and how I was treated as a beginner but after 2 decades training (I'm 1sy kyu) , I think I'm beginning to "get" it.

You will never be ready no matter what preparation you do in whatever level you try.

At the end of the day, only the training matters and nothing else.

It is only the person who will know if he/she already "arrived"....it maybe a few years, a few decades or maybe never.

Last edited by Mario Tobias : 01-05-2012 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 01-06-2012, 10:01 AM   #9
john.burn
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

I personally wouldn't worry about it - your new dojos 'blackbelt' standard is simply different to your old dojo... Maybe they're looking for different things. Although, my first teacher used to say that it doesn't matter what grade you call yourself, it only matters that you can get up on the mat and actually do it.

I had a guy from the US come and visit recently and he was better than many many 2nd and 3rd dans I've trained with from the world over, he was 1st dan. One of my students visited my old dojo a few years back and got told off for being too aggressive, training left and right and taking ukemi (flip type) from kote gaeshi! Kind of standard stuff for us... I wouldn't for a second say that my dojo's aikido is aggressive... He told them he trained with a crazy Polish teacher, I'm neither crazy nor Polish .

I've always thought that shodan is like passing your driving test - you don't really learn how to drive until you've passed your test and get out on your own.

Best Regards,
John

www.chishindojo.co.uk
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:18 AM   #10
kewms
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

Quote:
John Burn wrote: View Post
I personally wouldn't worry about it - your new dojos 'blackbelt' standard is simply different to your old dojo... Maybe they're looking for different things. Although, my first teacher used to say that it doesn't matter what grade you call yourself, it only matters that you can get up on the mat and actually do it.
There are people out there who are vastly under-ranked, for whatever reason. There are people who are equally over-ranked. Sometimes those people are from different dojos in the same organization. The number after someone's name is only a guideline, and not a very reliable one at that.

If you think the students at your current dojo don't meet standards, your choices are:
* Get on the teaching staff and work to fix the problem
* Focus on your own training and don't worry about them
* Leave

IMO, the more important question is whether this dojo is the best environment for your own training. It's hard to improve without peers, and it's hard to improve in an environment that doesn't value the same things you value.

Katherine
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Old 01-06-2012, 02:49 PM   #11
NagaBaba
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
The sensei was not as knowledgable, or skilled as my last all the way around. I stuck with the dojo because of convenience of keeping up my skill and the close proximity to my home. .
So you have chosen a dojo because of convenience and close proximity to your home and now you are complaining about low quality of practice? This is your entire fault. Next time use different criteria to choose a dojo .

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 01-06-2012, 04:13 PM   #12
danielajames
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

I think the premise may be a little flawed, no two ranks are equal as all certificates are numbered and as they are only strictly relevant in their respective organisations, transfer from one place to another isn't automatic nor necessarily wise. Open seminars are a bit of a grey area though and traveling with the purity of white until invited to do otherwise is always a good idea for the newly minted.

While probably Phil is right amongst a peerage, in the wider community think the definition of what is quality and the discernment of such as pretty variable and at times rare - all zirconia's are assumed to be diamonds if they have the trappings.

dan

Daniel James, Brisbane Aikido Republic: AikiPhysics, Aikido Brisbane news,
ph 0413 001 844, 1593 Logan Rd, Mt.Gravatt, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:38 PM   #13
kewms
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

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Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
So you have chosen a dojo because of convenience and close proximity to your home and now you are complaining about low quality of practice? This is your entire fault. Next time use different criteria to choose a dojo .
The man's got a point...

FWIW, I drive past at least three dojos to get to the one where I train. Some of those dojos I would be happy to recommend to others, but they don't offer what I'm looking for.

Katherine
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:36 PM   #14
Shadowfax
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

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I feel for the students in the class that in a way they are thinking what their rank has substantial value when really it doesn't because the sensei lacks knowledge and skill.
Just because it has no value to you does, not mean that it has none to them.

If you plan to continue training with these people it would be wise not to insult the other students or your teachers.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:34 AM   #15
LinTal
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post

Do I break the news to them or keep my mouth shut and let nature take it's course?
Assuming this is correct, what would be your purpose of telling them?

Put yourself in their position; someone comes to your home and talks on about the standard not being sufficient and the students being over-inflated. I should hope that any benefits to 'telling them' would be worth the alienation and a (possibly) negative reputation.

The world changes when you do.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:35 AM   #16
Hanna B
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

Szczepan is pretty curt, as usual. But I agree with Katherine. He does have a point. If you distrust the training in your dojo, not much good will come out of it - regardless if the training is truly inferior to what you were used to, or if you just don't understand what they are doing and why.

Not having told your dojo environment about your previous rank also makes things kind of complicated, I think. It must be next to impossible to speak up your opinions now.

In my mind, if you don't respect the rank in that dojo, you should not accept the shodan they are willing to give you. And you should probably search for other training opportunities. Just what does it give to you, training there, all the time feeling that what they do is bad. A feeling of superiority?
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:44 AM   #17
Hanna B
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

I would also like to say that pretty much all aikido people will see the standard in other aikido schools as inferior to what they are used to, simply because it doesn't match what they have been taught is good quality aikido technique. I have certainly seen people sit and frown at grading tests which I think were fine, who come from dojos where the standard of an average shodan in my perspective is pretty low. OTOH I wouldn't have been made it had I tried their shodan test when I was a nidan, simply because I don't do their stuff. So *shrug*

Also I think there is a false assumption that weak shodans equals bad aikido overall. Not necessarily true at all, IMHO. A dojo that let people test for shodan after three years will naturally have weaker shodans than those who let them train for ten.

So no. Ranks in different schools don't match. But I don't see that as a problem.

Last edited by Hanna B : 01-07-2012 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:54 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
- You get out of Aikido training what you put into Aikido training.
- The best thing you can do is shut up and train.
I would tend to agreed here.

Equality is subjectively perceptual.

Equal according to who and by who's standards?

Thoughts?

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 01-07-2012, 10:14 AM   #19
Tim Griffiths
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

Quote:
Anonymous User;300190 [... wrote:
I went in with an empty cup.
Not really, eh?

Quote:
They will not be as good as they can.
If Aikido was a 2-year course where you got your shodan then finished, I'd agree. But if you're doing Aikido for 30-40 years, who cares if you took your first black belt after 5, 7 or 15 years? Honestly, shodan *doesn't* have great "substantial value" by itself, and anyone preening because they have achieved any particular rank is due for a hard slap of reality anyway.

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 06-01-2012, 09:44 PM   #20
Adam Huss
 
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

Its really hard to train with other groups when you'e had a certain amount of background with vastly different experience. This is especially true if you've trained with someone who has very in-depth experience and great teaching skills. Many dojo do not have the luxury of a true Teacher. I equate it to Average Dojo and Professional Dojo.

The Average Dojo is run by some junior nidan or sandan who's spent their entire training career attending class 2-3 times a week, and maybe one or two seminars a year. The got out of aikido what they put in, and that is reflected in their ability to be dojo cho. Due to relocating, scheduling conflict, The Organization's insistence, or whatever, they were prompted to strike out on their own and open their own school. There is nothing wrong with this, people a free to train as they wish and attend the type of training they are comfortable with. In the 90's, Fumio Toyoda focused on this issue in his AAA by creating an in-depth, multi-year, uchi deshi program designed to basically train dojo-cho....as a type of dojo-cho QC program.

Now if a student wants more in-depth training, want to be serious, they have to pay for it. The Professional Dojo (I don't necessarily mean a dojo cho who's only income is teaching...mine isn't, though you wouldn't know with the number of classes we do) will be run by a teacher who has dedicated a lot and made many sacrifices. There is going to be a lot of sacrifice for a serious student as well. The serious student is going to likely have to travel to find a great teacher unless you are lucky to be close to one. You will have to give up things in life and make compromises. The expectation being that the sought after teacher has done the same. So what I guess what I'm saying is, don't settle for the most convenient dojo if it doesn't satisfy the level of training you are after. Go seek out a teacher you want to learn from and make that commitment. Hopefully you can make it work! If not, then its decision time. I've had friends who, after tasting a higher level of training, could not make the return to their original school work for them and went to a totally different style of martial art. Moving is tough, dojo closings are brutal....I've gone through that. I hope you find something that works for you!

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 10-06-2012, 01:34 PM   #21
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

I'm just wondered if they suss you out ? I mean its normally pretty obvious to most seniors if a new beginner has had any prolonged level of training beforehand.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:41 PM   #22
Krystal Locke
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Re: The crux of two ranks having any equality

You could just do the best test you can, and let them do the best test they can, and if there is actually a difference in quality, it will show.

Are you sure you understand what the person/s testing you is/are looking for?

Really, we are all here to learn from each other. You have an opportunity to help teach those you think are inferior than you. Hell, you have a responsibility to do that, in a way. And, you might learn a whole lot from the experience.

Of course, a few aikido folks have told me more than once that my motto might as well be "Better than you, and that's not hard...."
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