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Old 06-24-2003, 10:29 PM   #1
Jesse Mann
Dojo: New School Aikido, Stockton, CA
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Question Americans want belts or training??

I am new to aikido, I have only been going to www.newschoolaikido.com for three weeks. I have already noticed people being more worried about filling up their attendance card, than perfecting the art. I have noticed already a few of the higher ranking belts not doing as good as some of the beginners. I personally feel that we should have to wait as long as it takes to advance.

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Old 06-24-2003, 11:17 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Hi. I don't know about your dojo, but I do wonder on what basis a newcomer to the art judges by visual observation who is doing it well? No disrespect intended to you, I'm genuinely curious.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-24-2003, 11:18 PM   #3
Paula Lydon
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~~There's a saying: It's not the martial art but the martial artist. I know what you're saying, but try not to generalize or judge. Focus on your own training and you will be surprised by the things you can see without that particular filter over your eyes.

Enjoy your new adventure!

~~Paula~~
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Old 06-24-2003, 11:34 PM   #4
PeterR
 
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You are too nice Janet - yet another dabbler who somehow believes he has the key to what Aikido is all about as opposed to every one else. And worse feels the need to tell everyone about it.

He may be right. I'm certainly more talented than some of my seniors just as I'm being blown away by some of my juniors. It's the nature of the beast and one can tell by looking. The thing is that, as you know, what you look for changes with experience.

So do they miss me at Aikido-L. I really had to cut back on the mail volume but I miss it.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-24-2003, 11:46 PM   #5
C. Emerson
Dojo: Emerson's Martial Arts
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A belt is a better indicator of how much time someone has spent in the art, that how good they are.

Chad
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Old 06-24-2003, 11:53 PM   #6
C. Emerson
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Real rank, fake rank who cares. You can't change it anyway. There will always be people with fake rank.

What matters is, whether you embarrass your self and the art when you teach. We have all seen people that are high rank and are just terrible. The only person they are fooling are themselves.

The true Martial artists are not concerned with rank. For they know that they are in it for the long haul. The destination is not important, the journey is what it is all about. The journey of self discovery!!!!!!!

Chad
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Old 06-24-2003, 11:58 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
You are too nice Janet - yet another dabbler who somehow believes he has the key to what Aikido is all about.
heheh. Well, Peter, I try to take folks at face value. And if a newbie is going to say s/he feel competent to judge on the basis of watching, I'm genuinely curious as to WHAT exactly s/he sees. Then maybe we can have a meaningful discussion about ...

the difference between seeing and feeling technique...or about how beginners are ALLOWED to go through the motions nicely by their seniors so they can learn muscle memory, while tending to be more challenging of each other because they ARE more advanced...

... or -- as I often do -- slowing down my training to FEEEEL the balance points instead of rushing through like a lot of beginners do (I 'm sure to newbies I look like a slow old lady, and heck, maybe I am, but I sure do learnhow to throw their asses when I slow down :-)

So, my point is, I have stuff I'm prepared to discuss, but I don't know how apropos it is until the original poster elaborates...

oh heck I guess I already DID discuss some of it. Darn you, Peter, darn you!...

yeah, we miss you!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-25-2003, 12:15 AM   #8
Chris Raywood
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Jesse,

I believe that Janet makes a very good point in that you should give more time before you make certain judgements. Others on this thread make another good point in that you should worry about your own training. Everything else will work out in the end, believe me.

Good luck with your training.

Regards,

Chris Raywood
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Old 06-25-2003, 01:14 AM   #9
ikkainogakusei
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Re: Americans want belts or training??

Quote:
Jesse Mann wrote:
I am new to aikido,... I have already noticed people being more worried about filling up their attendance card, than perfecting the art. ... I personally feel that we should have to wait as long as it takes to advance.
Okay so I have several thoughts here.

Each dojo has it's own culture. Some personalities set a tone for others and rank, dominance, or even 'more spiritually evolved than thou' mindsets can be evident. It may be that what you have been exposed to is a preoccupation with such, but as Janet said, it's good to sit back and reserve judgement for a while. Though I have experienced the same. I've had parents come to me and say 'Johnny has enough hours for his purple belt and I want to know why you haven't tested him yet!' My temptation has always been to hand them a blackbelt for Johnny and send them on their way.

I don't know if this is true, but I have heard that the preoccupation with rank is more significant in dojos where colored belts are used rather than the white-belt only kyu system. Does anyone have experience with both rank systems for adults?

"To educate a man in mind, and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society." ~Theodore Roosevelt
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Old 06-25-2003, 03:10 AM   #10
JJF
 
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Hi

I used to do Karate with colored belts, and we definately focused more on the gradings than we do in aikido (kyu:white Dan:black in our dojo). I also know that in the childrens class they have more kyu-gradings (start at 14. kyu as I recall). It helps kids setting new goals as they don't have the long-term attention span to go on for years without a pat on the shoulder. They (and some adults) also lack the ability to say: 'for the next six months I'll focus on being a good uke' or 'I will work on my ukemi' or 'I focus on irimi right now'. This way of setting goals for yourself requires a certain maturity, that should be developed as you spend time on the mat. I care little for colored belt now, but I understand how it can make some persons go on. Eventually however it should become a trivial matter.

I'm not saying that one should not have ambition though. One shouldn't discard all dreams of passing the next kyu-grade or becomming af whatever-dan. In most dojos the grading-system is an integral part of doing aikido, so just go with the system. Grade when you are ready and accept the grade as an indication of development. Celebrate each and every grading to you liking, and then get on with training. Don't be ashamed if you enjoy it when you are praised and handed a new grade. It's quite okay as long as you don't loose focus on the important matter which is the practice.

Use grade if it helps you - if you don't need it then fine - just accept it's presence. If you resist the system, you give it the power to become a matter of politics. If you just follow the path and care for your own development, rank will cease to have any power and significance, as you develop.

To answer the question: yes some people place way to much emphasis on rank and loose their focus on the art, but don't mind them. They will eventually run out of steam, and you will learn to see through the visible signs of capability. Accept the responsibility for your own development, and stop focusing on everybody else. Live and let live.... I know it's hard. I struggle with it myself, but the better I get at it, the better I feel about myself and my aikido.

I've been rambling more than enough now so I'll get of my soap-box

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 06-25-2003, 03:49 AM   #11
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
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Jane, I've practiced under both "white or black" and coloured (my current style) and I'd have to say yes, coloured belts do give a greater preoccupation on kyu grade rank. This has caused us some problems when a group starts together and grades diverge over time.

On Jesses original point, are you enjoying yourself? If so, continue training and leave the rest of the baggage behind. If not, first ask yourself why not and if it's the aikido, find another dojo. If it's because you object to the ranks awarded, I'm afraid that's your problem, not the dojos.
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Old 06-25-2003, 04:52 AM   #12
PeterR
 
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We get weaned off training for belt colour changes, kyu or dan grades. Between each grade more and more time progresses so that if you are looking for the quick ego fix you are out of luck.

Of course like anywhere, if you need ego fixes and can't get it through one means you will find another. I really don't think the inclusion of rank or belts is the source of the problem.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-25-2003, 09:05 AM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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I've trained in aikido under both systems...and there are things I like about both systems. We are currently in the position to choose how, when and what result is obtained from the kyu testing, and seem to be going with fewer kyu ranks. I don't think we've decided yet on belt colors, but I have the feeling we'll keep the brown belt, and lose the others.

I liked the frequent tests and well established syllybus where we had colored belts, and the way it was easy to identify who to work with when it came to test technique preparation nights. There was also a strong comraderie amoung the members of a kyu group, especially close to testing. On the other hand, some individuals did seem to place too much emphasis on it, myself included at one point in time. I actually had to make myself stop testing...just so I had time to train without being focused on the next test.

I do know at least one person who seemed to drop out of training alltogether because he was falling behind some of the people he started with. But then I did more or less the same at a dojo where the tests where much less formal, less frequent, and there was a white/black belt system.

All in all, I don't really think it matters much. Some people will stick, some won't. Some will be openly competitive, some won't. Some places are compfortable to train in, some aren't. Go with the best for you in your area, and don't let the color of the belts influence your choice too much.

As far as someone with 3 weeks under their belt making judgements...well I guess they have to make the best judgements they can. After all, they had to choose a place to train, and they have to choose whether to stay there or not. They probably don't understand things to the extent they believe...but they do kind of have to make the best choice for where they are at now.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 06-25-2003, 09:25 AM   #14
taras
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Quote:
I don't know if this is true, but I have heard that the preoccupation with rank is more significant in dojos where colored belts are used rather than the white-belt only kyu system. Does anyone have experience with both rank systems for adults?
Never thought about it like this before but it makes sense. I used to train in a dojo where during one year there was only one grading day. Every lesson we did something different, and the basics were tought really well.

The training in my main dojo is very belt-orientated. I never thought I would say this but it can be boring when all you do is the katas for your next belt.

The compromise I found is to train for grading in the main dojo and also visit all other dojos in the area whenever I can. That way I have a lot more fun while still learning my assosiation's syllabus.

Jesse, why do you care about other people's skill levels? You can't change them; all you can do is your own improve your own skills. Like Bruce lee said, without the skills a belt is only good for holding the pants up. ;-)
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Old 06-25-2003, 11:28 AM   #15
Chuck Clark
 
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Promotion and rank is similar to a Zen koan. It matters and yet it doesn't. It's a paradox (as is most everything in budo).

If you are connected with a teacher that has made the journey (or is significantly ahead of you...) and can be a model for you as you pass though the process of learning to "care and not care at the same time" what rank you are, then you most likely can progress on your own journey if you don't quit.

Rank system or not...human beings recognize a "pecking order" in everything they do. We have comparing minds...it's how they work. We have to get over worrying about it.

Practice for the sake of the practice and take care of your responsibilities.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-25-2003, 12:01 PM   #16
Carl Simard
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I've checked the link given for New School Aikido and found this information in the FAQ:
Quote:
. How is your school different from other schools?

While most schools focus on teaching the techniques of Martial Arts, New School Aikido concentrates on the attitude and philosophy of a rich and productive life. Of course, our students do develop exceptional skill in all areas of technique. More importantly, though, they develop important skills that they can put to use outside of the Aikido School.

Skills like:

Extending positive energy

Respect that works both ways

The sure success of discipline

How to listen

Synergy

How to move out of the comfort zone Perseverance

Courage

Good manners
So, it may be that this school put more emphasis on non-technical skills than others. Which may explain why the senior may not seems to be better than some juniors...
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Old 06-25-2003, 01:36 PM   #17
Kensai
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I've been doing Aikido for just over a year and I'm going for my 3rd kyu this summer. When/If I get to my 1st Dan in 2005-ish I'm gonna get a Black Belt with AI KI DO in gold letters on it......... does this make me a bad person, or just not Japanese?

"Minimum Effort, Maximum Effciency."
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Old 06-25-2003, 01:56 PM   #18
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
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Jesse,

I don't understand why you wrote "Americans?" Do you think that it is different in other countries?

Charles
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Old 06-25-2003, 02:31 PM   #19
Dave Miller
 
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The basic question of this thread is somewhat artificial. It's a bit like asking if a college student wanted to get good grades and a diploma or does he want to learn. The good grades and diploma are a symbol to the world that he (or she) has learned something. In the same fashion, colored belts or ranks are symbols of how a student is progressing in their training in budo.

Just as there are college students that are very good at taking tests but don't know much about their field, so there are aikidoka who are good at making grade but don't necessarily have the best technical skills.

IMHO, if a student is progressing in their learning, then they should demonstrate it by progressing in rank.

DAVE

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Old 06-25-2003, 06:55 PM   #20
ikkainogakusei
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Thumbs down

Quote:
Dave Miller wrote:
The basic question of this thread is somewhat artificial. It's a bit like asking if a college student wanted to get good grades and a diploma or does he want to learn. The good grades and diploma are a symbol to the world that he (or she) has learned something. In the same fashion, colored belts or ranks are symbols of how a student is progressing in their training in budo.
Ah yes! I agree completely. I have been caught in this undertow more than once. In order to really comprehend an assignment, I couldn't turn it in at it's due date. Yet if I try to hang on to it and address the depth and breadth of it, I will lose credit for being late. Do I want the grade or the understanding? This is why I appreciate to requirements for kyu/dan testing, that of hours -=and=- comprehension/demonstration. Senseis who see that a student may have hours but doesn't have a grasp of the techniques required for their level are IMHO doing the student a favour by waiting on the test.

The question then is; does the grade really reflect the student? I think in the industrial-style collegiate setup it is not the case. I know of several students with high GPA's that can't remember basic concepts which they 'learned' the previous semester. I believe it is because they try to work the rules and the loopholes of a system, rather than trying to truly comprehend what it is that they are learning.

This is also why I enjoy the dojo atmosphere. It is difficult to pull the wool over the eyes of those testing you because they have more contact with you and can ask the sempai their opinions as well. The smaller, more close knit environment has greater potential to yield the honest level of rank for a student.


"To educate a man in mind, and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society." ~Theodore Roosevelt
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Old 06-26-2003, 01:17 AM   #21
Adrian Smith
 
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Quote:
Chris Gee (Kensai) wrote:
I've been doing Aikido for just over a year and I'm going for my 3rd kyu this summer. When/If I get to my 1st Dan in 2005-ish I'm gonna get a Black Belt with AI KI DO in gold letters on it......... does this make me a bad person, or just not Japanese?
I don't know what it makes you, Chris, but I've been training in aikikai (four or five nights a week) in Japan and my first belt test won't be for another 6 weeks. The sensei hasn't even announced the date of the test yet. All we know is that Seki Shihan from Aikikai Hombu Dojo will be present to observe our test.

To all: Is it common practice to belt test more often than this? Chris said he's testing for 3rd kyu after "just over a year". I'll be testing for 6th kyu after 8 months, and there's no indication our tests will become more frequent.

For what it's worth, our sensei is 63 and has been training for just over 50 years, many of which were at Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, and he's a rokodan.

-drin
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Old 06-26-2003, 04:39 AM   #22
Kensai
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Adrian, in the style I study there are only 6 kyu grades. Time between each grading becomes progressively longer.

I get the impression from the tone of your post that you think I'm grading too quickly. Well luckly for me I am taught by a fanastic teacher, whom is the wife of Sensei K Williams (founder of the Ki Federation of GB). If you have a problem with his syallbus perhaps you could take it up with him when your off your white belt.

"Minimum Effort, Maximum Effciency."
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Old 06-26-2003, 04:44 AM   #23
Kensai
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<Sarcasm> Your Aikido must be much better than mine. </sarcasm>

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Old 06-26-2003, 08:52 AM   #24
Carl Simard
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Quote:
Adrian Smith wrote:
To all: Is it common practice to belt test more often than this? Chris said he's testing for 3rd kyu after "just over a year". I'll be testing for 6th kyu after 8 months, and there's no indication our tests will become more frequent.
In our dojo, based on a schedule of 2-3 classes/week, the time between each kyu testing are about:

6th: 2-3 months

5th: 3-4 months

4th: 6-7 months

3th: 1 year to 1.5 year

2nd: 1.5 year to 2 years

1st: 2 years

So, most peoples go for their 3th kyu when they have between 2 and 3 years of regular training. But it may be faster if someone train more often (like 4-5 classes/week) or is a fast learner...

In our federation, you need a minimum requirement of 5 years of training to present yourself to your shodan test. So, it doesn't mean much for anyone to pass kyu grading faster than needed. It just means that you will stay at 1st kyu much longer...

But the situation is different for every organization...

Last edited by Carl Simard : 06-26-2003 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 06-26-2003, 09:59 AM   #25
Kensai
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You graded for your 6th kyu?

I did my yellow (5th Kyu, I think) after 5 months.

I did my Orange (4th Kyu) after 6 months.

My Green (3rd Kyu) will hopefully be this August, which is about 5 months.

Although, like the above post each grading after that is about a year in between.

It usually takes about 3-4 years in get to first Dan, depending on how hard you train ofcourse.

Last edited by Kensai : 06-26-2003 at 10:05 AM.

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