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Old 09-23-2002, 07:07 PM   #26
Erik
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Re: Ranking Issues...

Quote:
Jermaine Alley wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong, but historically, whether it be chinese wushu, or budo, rank was never an issue. There weren't "ranking systems" the way that there are now. There were white belts and black belts. The "western ranking system" was brought about, because us westerners needed to see smome kind of sign of progression.
I'm not sure it was for Westerners. I think it was an attempt by Kano to do what we always accuse ourselves (the heathen Westerners) of doing with the Japanese. I believe he wanted a way of showing progress or differentiating students. I believe it even had a motivational intent as well.

As far as colors they were instituted in Europe sometime in the 30's or 40's if I remember correctly.

My thoughts are not terribly coherent right this second. I'll see if I can find a link on it.
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Old 09-23-2002, 07:36 PM   #27
j0nharris
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Re: Re: Ranking Issues...

Quote:
Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
I'm not sure it was for Westerners. I think it was an attempt by Kano to do what we always accuse ourselves (the heathen Westerners) of doing with the Japanese. I believe he wanted a way of showing progress or differentiating students. I believe it even had a motivational intent as well.

As far as colors they were instituted in Europe sometime in the 30's or 40's if I remember correctly.

My thoughts are not terribly coherent right this second. I'll see if I can find a link on it.
From what I have read, Jigaro Kano started the colored belts for his children's classes, to give them rewards for achievement.

As for recognizing rank, everyone in our dojo pays fees to join the Aikikai, and has the card to show at any dojo we may go to. While not an absolute measure of rank, it does at least show recognition from Aikikai Hombu.

Just my two cents....

jon harris

Life is a journey...
Now, who took my @#$%! map?!
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Old 09-23-2002, 08:09 PM   #28
AlanWardroper
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Quote:
Young-In Park wrote:

Why do people have to wait until shodan to "really learn aikido"? How come kyu-ranked people can't "really learn" it right now?

YoungIn Park
Really, all this fuss over an orange belt? What's the real difference between an orange or a blue or a pink belt?

The literal translation of Shodan is beginner level. Kyu grades are just a lead-in. The whole concept of becoming a "black belt" as a goal is pretty strange in Japan, where you'd be disappointed to learn it's generally quite easy to get to shodan in many martial arts. (I've seen people do it in a year or two.) All it means is they have a grounding in the basics, don't fall over too much, and are ready to begin learning.

Just my 2JPY worth
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Old 09-23-2002, 09:27 PM   #29
MaylandL
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IMHO, I think that the ranking system is over emphasised. I think what is important is our journey for improvement in our aikido and what we do to improve our practice of aikido.

That is not to say that ranks do not have a place. They do but not as a way of comparison with other aikidoka but as a means of measuring your own progress against a standard. Comparisons are not going to be possible unless the same syllabus and grading requirements are used. I'm not sure that comparing myself to other people is that useful. That said I have often said to myself " I would like to know how this person does what he/she does because they do that really well".

On a more personal note I regularly train at two dojos. Initially I joined the second dojo on a casual basis to get some extra mat time. After two years, I joined as a full member and the shidoin and sensei at the second dojo accepted my ranking given to me at my first dojo, though I had no expectations that I would have the same rank.

As to the safety question as an argument for the ranking system, I think its a valid concern. IMHO, as responsible aikidoka, we need to take personal responsibility to train safely and take care of Uke regardless of their experience. When I visit another dojo to learn a different way of doing aikido I contact the shidoin or sensei to ask if I can train with them and to provide a little of my aikido experience and the lineage of the Senseis that I train under and ask them a few questions regarding etiquette for visitors. I dont tell them my rank unless they ask me because the grading standards I went through is likely to be different to their grading standards.

In addition, their way of aikido is likely to be different so I'm going to be a "beginner" all over again. Its the diferences that I am interested in learning when I visit another dojo.

Happy training all

Last edited by MaylandL : 09-23-2002 at 09:34 PM.

Mayland
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Old 09-23-2002, 09:51 PM   #30
Erik
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Don't know the legitimacy of any of these but they agreed with me and that's what counts.

Please note that there's a better article than these out there but I didn't bookmark it and can't find it right this second.

http://www.shuyokan.com/home/mararts.../historybb.htm

http://www.24fightingchickens.com/sh...nkhistory.html
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:26 PM   #31
Conrad Gus
 
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Hi all,

I wanted to relay a personal story related to the original post.

I moved to a new city about a year and a half ago. I left an excellent club and joined an equally excellent club in my new city. Both clubs are Aikikai, but the new club is under a different Shihan, so there are some style differences.

My new Sensei and fellow students, recognized my rank at the time (ikkyu) which was an honor considering the circumstances, which I will explain. Differences in training method and technique details were enough to really throw me off. I felt fairly comfortable and confident in my old dojo but now found myself making mistakes and even fouling up some of the fairly basic dojo etiquette.

My point is that it is not easy to change from one dojo to another, and your friend the Orange belt is not having an easy time. He needs understanding training partners and senior students to get through the transition. Would it be better to retest for his current rank? As others have pointed out, that is for Sensei to decide. Sensei is most likely taking into account all that this student is going through. Perhaps in time things will get easier for him.

Conrad
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:31 PM   #32
G DiPierro
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Thanks for posting those links, Erik, they were very informative. I had not heard before that the intermediate colors originated in Europe. Can anyone else confirm this? Perhaps this may be the reason why intermediate colors are generally not used in Aikido.

As to the subject of rank being such a big deal, I personally believe that this is precisely the reason why it takes so long to receive shodan in this country compared to Japan. I have read the theories about the Japanese prefering that they have higher ranks than Westerners, and there may be some truth to them, but I can't help thinking that if Americans did not generally think that wearing a black belt means so much that it would not take so long to receive the rank usually required to wear one in Aikido.

In traditional arts, the color of a belt is considered no more significant than the color of a gi or hakama. Iaidoka obviously wear obi to keep their swords in place, but in many arts, such as kendo, belts, per se, are often not even worn.

Although the issues of rank and dress are frequently considered the be the same thing, it should be clear that they are not. Even when using the modern dan-i ranking system rather than the traditional makimono system it is by no means required that the there must be some sort of dress code that corresponds to ranking. Again, kendo and iaido are good examples of this. Quite frankly, I find that the almost religious conviction within the mainstream martial arts community in the West that there must be such a relationship is childish and somewhat militaristic and I believe that it has no place within a serious study of budo.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 09-23-2002 at 10:45 PM.
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Old 09-24-2002, 01:41 AM   #33
AlanWardroper
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
<SNIP>I just destroy the guys on the mats at every opportunity and show them my real abilities.
正勝吾勝

御親心に

合気して

すくい活かすは

おのか身魂ぞ

True victory is self victory...?
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Old 09-24-2002, 01:49 AM   #34
Ben_t_shodan
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Re: Ranks aquired at other places

Quote:
Ken Fitzgerald (Fitznutz) wrote:
Hello all,

What do you all think?
Lets keep the situation the same, but change it a bit. Lets pretend that you are a clerk at a gas station. You are low on the totem pole so you get to stack shelves. Another guy gets transferred from another store, they say that he has experience so he gets to be the "pump attendant." one step above your job. He is just crappy at it!!! Who will get their next promotion first?

He mite be higher rank, but how long will it be before your sensei thinks he is ready to test?

Your Uke

Ben

P.S. I hope I didn't just confuse everyone, if so just ignore me!

The one who knows the least knows it the loudest.
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Old 09-24-2002, 02:38 AM   #35
Tadhg Bird
 
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Quote:
Giancarlo DiPierro (G DiPierro) wrote:
As to the subject of rank being such a big deal, I personally believe that this is precisely the reason why it takes so long to receive shodan in this country compared to Japan. I have read the theories about the Japanese prefering that they have higher ranks than Westerners, and there may be some truth to them, but I can't help thinking that if Americans did not generally think that wearing a black belt means so much that it would not take so long to receive the rank usually required to wear one in Aikido.
I had it related to me that the quality of an American shodan is usually better than that of hir Japanese counterpart. The theory being that a Shodan ranking is so much more a BIG DEAL to the American that they equate it with excellence par none, where the Japanese see the aquisition of a dan rank as a routine starting point. After all, you can get a dan ranking in sake drinking, so what's the big deal? As the legend was told to me, I guess that however the Japanese Nidan, Sandan, Yondan ... is considered better quality than thier American counterparts.

All things being relative, YMMV.

Smooth Roads,

tadhg

"Words and letters can never adequately describe Aikido -- its meaning is revealed only to those who are enlightened through hard training." -- Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei
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http://www.AikidoStuff.com
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Old 09-24-2002, 03:35 AM   #36
Abasan
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At my old dojo, an orange belt was for 4th kyu. So when I first joined my new dojo, i wore that belt on the first day... kinda hoping that I didn't have to start from the beginning. Everyone was staring, but I didn't care. It didn't affect me at all.

Till later I found out that they weren't really bothered that I already had a kyu grade. To them, the test of that is on the mat. They just found it funny that I was wearing a child level belt (8th kyu) for their dojo, and some of the children later told me that i looked really old for a kid.

I was told all this when I retook my 5th kyu again, by sensei with a real straight face.

Moral of the story: Go to new dojo, put on white belt.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 09-24-2002, 04:31 AM   #37
G DiPierro
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Quote:
Tadhg Bird wrote:
the Japanese see the aquisition of a dan rank as a routine starting point.
Right, as Alan pointed out, the literal translation of shodan is "beginner's level." The character for sho in shodan is the same as in shoshin, "beginner's mind."

If it was meant to mean "first level," you would think they would have used ichidan instead. My translation program lists the translations for ichidan as "more, much more, still more, all the more." Which sounds exactly like the amount of training required for shodan in the US. Strange.
Quote:
After all, you can get a dan ranking in sake drinking
I hope you are joking.
Quote:
As the legend was told to me, I guess that however the Japanese Nidan, Sandan, Yondan ... is considered better quality than thier American counterparts.
I don't see how this follows. The last version of Hombu dojo promotion requirements that I have seen enable a student to reach sandan or yondan in the time it takes a USAF student to reach shodan. I don't see how they would all of sudden catch up with us and overtake us when it takes them less practice days to reach each rank. A senior American instructor who spent a good deal of time training in Japan stated that in his opinion American aikido is much better than Japanese. I think he was speaking in general terms about all ranks, and I am inclined to give some weight to his opinion.

Last edited by G DiPierro : 09-24-2002 at 04:41 AM.
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Old 09-24-2002, 04:45 AM   #38
JJF
 
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Quote:
Edward Karaa (Edward) wrote:
Well, actually this kind of treatment is reserved to those who get their ranks by lobbying the instructor (a Thai lady) responsible for accepting and rejecting grading applications. Lobbying includes wining and dining, a** kissing, occasional financial contributions, and total submission and servility to her needs and demands.

Rest assured, I do trash them with (undeserved) respect and care, and I have never injured anyone in aikido so far. They just might feel a little dizzy and confused after practicing a few techniques with me.

(Actually they refuse to practice with me for a while now )
Hmmmm... in that case I can easily understand why you would make that nikkyo just a wee bit 'tighter' I would probably do exactly the same

I have seen dan-grades handed out for political reasons, but luckily enough the Aikikai in Denmark might be influenced by politics and ambitions, but it is of little importance in our every-day training. I hope you wont let yourself become discouraged and that things will start to improve for you.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 09-24-2002, 05:13 PM   #39
Steven
 
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Ranks aquired at other places

My issue with this is not the ranks themselves, rather the person who shows up at the dojo, makes it perfectly clear they want to attain shodan with no thought about etiquette, tradition, principles, etc, and insists on shoving their certificates in my face to prove they were worthy.

I had this happen twice within 3 months. Two students, seeking shodan. Neither belong to an organization that could be traced back to any major group or instructor. Watching them take ukemi was painful and one could not even make nikajo work on 14 year old. But yet they both wanted me to grade them to shodan. Neither would take advise or instruction and refused to do things in our manner, thus putting our students in a dangerous situation.

One boasted about how great his ukemi was. Not a good thing as I but that to the test. Needless to say, he crashed and burned then complained about how hard I through him and barked even louder for making him tap out of my osae waza. Too funny!

On the other side of this of this, I had a nidan from the Aikikai train with me for a while and his only desire was to learn. To me it doesn't matter as long as the person respects our customs and makes an effort to learn our ways.

That's my nickles worth anyway ...
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Old 09-24-2002, 06:30 PM   #40
tittle
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
There are a lot of ways that rank is both interesting and useful, as a phenomenon within the aikido world. There are a lot of ways that it gets in the way and can even be problematic.
Yes, I'd agree. I started out in another dojo (in a galaxy far away, etc) in which I attained 2nd kyu rank. Last year I started Aikido again. The first dojo had been independent, this dojo is Aikikai affiliated, so after some discussion, I agreed to start over. [Practically speaking, since none of my ranks had been registered (?) at hombu, it would have been difficult for him to recognize any ranks for me.] It was quickly apparent to me that what had been 2nd kyu work at my old dojo was more equivalent to 5th or 4th kyu at this one anyway.

So...I've learned to drop rank itself from consideration and look at the actual ability of my ukes when working with them. I adjust this way, not to their actual rank (though of course for purposes of who starts when we pair off, etc I have to keep it in mind). It's helped by everyone just wearing white belts until shodan (took me some time to get used to, we had different colored belts at my old dojo). I find I prefer this now.

Anyway, back to the OP's initial post, it may be that if this orange belt guy's rank is registered somewhere, the sensei is respecting that. Although I've found it interesting some of the other commetns on having "transfer" students retest at their claimed level. What happens if they don't pass? Wait and try that test again later?

--Cindy
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Old 09-24-2002, 10:22 PM   #41
Jermaine Alley
Dojo: Aikido Of Richmond
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Jun,

you see there..that is why this website is so important...information. To rid us of "urban legends" and the such.

Thanks alot for your insight..

jermaine
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Old 09-25-2002, 05:58 AM   #42
JJF
 
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Hi Cindy!

I know this makes me look like a pedant, but as far as I know Hombu dojo has never registred any kyu grades - at least not any achieved outside Japan.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 09-25-2002, 02:25 PM   #43
giriasis
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Yes, but at least in the USAF they are registered with the USAF. I'm assuming that is like this in other organizations as well.

I have seen my sensei accept kyu ranks across organizations. We had a visitor for about 6 months from South Korea and my sensei recognized his third kyu. (He was very good btw and we all loved training with him.) Although, his school in South Korea is affiliated with the Aikikai Hombu.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 09-25-2002, 08:17 PM   #44
batemanb
 
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Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis (JJF) wrote:
Hi Cindy!

I know this makes me look like a pedant, but as far as I know Hombu dojo has never registred any kyu grades - at least not any achieved outside Japan.
The certificates given for adult kyu grades at our dojo`s are all given in Doshu`s name and signed with his seal. There is also a half seal on them, the other half of the seal on another paper held at Hombu for verification. Kyu grade certificates for the kids are issued by our Kaicho, in his name.

We are in Japan though.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 09-25-2002, 10:49 PM   #45
G DiPierro
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In the US, kyu grades they are typically issued by the national organization only. However, my understanding is that a student who requests it can also have the grade registered through Hombu. This would seem to be what it is meant by Article 11 of the Hombu International Regulations, which states that "All practitioners of Aikido must become members of the Hombu at the time of the registration of the 1st dan grade or earlier. [emphasis added]"

I beleive that registering a kyu rank with Hombu also entitles one to a "yukyusha book," the kyu grade equivalent of the Hombu yudansha book. Of course, you should contact your national organziation if you have any questions on its specific policies.
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Old 09-30-2002, 03:44 AM   #46
Edward
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Quote:
Jørgen Jakob Friis (JJF) wrote:
Hmmmm... in that case I can easily understand why you would make that nikkyo just a wee bit 'tighter' I would probably do exactly the same

I have seen dan-grades handed out for political reasons, but luckily enough the Aikikai in Denmark might be influenced by politics and ambitions, but it is of little importance in our every-day training. I hope you wont let yourself become discouraged and that things will start to improve for you.
Thanks for the advice. Of course I continue to train as hard as ever. I do believe that rank should be achieved through training and training only. But maybe that's too old-fashioned now.
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Old 10-01-2002, 03:34 PM   #47
ai_chiron
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Quote:
Erik Haselhofer (Erik) wrote:
Don't know the legitimacy of any of these but they agreed with me and that's what counts.

Please note that there's a better article than these out there but I didn't bookmark it and can't find it right this second.

http://www.shuyokan.com/home/mararts.../historybb.htm

http://www.24fightingchickens.com/sh...nkhistory.html
Here are two URLs I have bookmarked about the subject. Both agree that colored belts for were introduced in Europe.

http://www.judoinfo.com/obi.htm

- on the "Judo Information Site"; states that "Sensei Mikonosuke Kaiwashi introduced various colored belts in Europe in 1935 when he started to teach judo in Paris".

http://www.concentric.net/~Budokai/articles/belts.htm

- on the articles section of "Budo Kai", a web site belonging to Fox Valley Martial Arts. This article is written by the Chief Instructor, Don Cunningham. This is the most complete article about Kano Sensei and belt colors I've stumbled across on the web. Scholarly, with footnotes and everything, and cites personal correspondence with Meik Skoss when speculating about Dr. Kano's reasons for creating the kyu/dan system in the first place.

Interesting observation: the concept of kyu/dan existed before anyone ever wore belts to publicly indicate their rank. Other, non-martial occupations have kyu/dan ranks as well. Go is a good example.

leh
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Old 10-01-2002, 07:14 PM   #48
blackburnaj
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I have often comtemplated this very subject. I think for me, as some have already written, it is more on what you actually bring to the mat. Aikido for me should be oriented around self defense. The perks are the great philosophies and people associated. So as far as what rank you have aquired in your life means nothing when confronted in real life. So personally, I train to be effective. When your technique gets proficient, the rank will come. Fortunately for us, we train in an art that does not require a certain level before given more advance ranks.

I have also had problems with the whole rank structures and changing dojos. I trained for a time in the military where I tested for my 5th kyu, in Iwama style Aikido. When I got out and started at my current dojo, I was unsure what to do. I eventually took my 3rd kyu test. (After asking for the opinion of my sensei. ) People came up to me with nice comments on my 2nd kyu test. So again it does not matter what rank. I do believe in focus and rank structure but it should be secondary. I have gone to some dojos where things are drastically different. They told me after walking in the door how long it would take to reach shodan. They also wore hakimas at all ranks. Although I definately don't discount what they had to teach, I was uncomfortable. I have training with much zest, not as many years as most, but I want to put on my hakama while being a shodan. People worry to much... and I am long winded. Back to the mat for me.

peace and jokes, aj

Peace and Jokes!
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Old 10-02-2002, 12:48 AM   #49
Erik
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Quote:
Lars Eric Holm (ai_chiron) wrote:
This is the link I was looking for. Thanks for posting.
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Old 10-02-2002, 04:56 AM   #50
JJF
 
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Quote:
Bryan Bateman (batemanb) wrote:
The certificates given for adult kyu grades at our dojo`s are all given in Doshu`s name and signed with his seal. There is also a half seal on them, the other half of the seal on another paper held at Hombu for verification. Kyu grade certificates for the kids are issued by our Kaicho, in his name.

We are in Japan though.
I stand corrected (as so often before... ). No wonder Doshu is so busy that dan-certificates takes up to more than a year to arrive with his signature. Maybe it's time to appoint a 'vice-doshu' who can take care of kyu-certificates...

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

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