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Old 11-13-2003, 01:56 PM   #26
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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I don't think ranking is to make organizations rich. I have nothing against it and feel there is merit, in particular in testing (that is a whole other issue).

Our dojo dues are extremely low(comparatively) and only other costs are organization dues and test fees (goes to organization). No one in the dojo seems particularly caught up with testing or rank, and all are there because they love to practice. The only rule for lining up is "as quickly as possible". No colored belts.

Personally, I've been training for over 20-years, train now about 5-6 days a week, but has been anywhere from 3 days to 6 days a week, and am a sandan and fukushidoin. I love aikido, and cannot fathom ever leaving it!
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Old 11-13-2003, 02:03 PM   #27
Ron Tisdale
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Quote:
My limited experience tells me that rank is a measuring tool...not for how I have progressed compared to other aikidoka, but how I have progressed as an individual-and what I need to work on moving forward, so that my training is balanced and sincere.
This rings true to me. I think a lot of teachers are measuring us against ourselves, more than our peers. I think this is probably the most valuable thing about rank.

Its probably kool to chuck it in some ways, but I really do think the testing/demo process is too important. And some people wear their anti-rank badges much too clearly on their sleeve.

In the end, its about the skills YOU gain. Relative to where YOU started.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 11-13-2003, 03:32 PM   #28
Qatana
 
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"The very fact that Aikido rank testing is based on a set period of time (considering every individual on the planet learns at different rates), for example 30 hours for a kyu rank, and that set period of time must be concurrent (i.e. you can't take a year off and then continue where you left off) - what other purpose is there than to garnish regular dojo fees?"

As Holmes said, my dojo also does not charge anything for testing, and we line up any old way we can. When i started training there were several kyuless senior to me.Two have vanished, one comes & goes according to his work. Even though this guy has been absent from the dojo for months, and i have since passed my fifth kyu, his aikido is far more advanced than mine, so where is rank/grade in that event?

We also have a 2nd kyu who took ten years off. When she offered to return to white belt status on her return, Sensei said- you Earned the Brown belt and I want you to wear it.

And AFAIK, none of our monthly dues go into Sensei's pocket- we pay $20/hour for our dojo space,we just got brand new mats, hospitality for visiting teachers, etc.

i will test when Sensei asks me to, i will wear whatever belt he feels i deserve and i will continue to be as clueless, and have as much fun and personal growth as i am.

Q
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Old 11-13-2003, 04:00 PM   #29
holmesking
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Quote:
As Holmes said, my dojo also does not charge anything for testing,
Just to clarify,

Our dojo does not charge anything for testing, nor is there a monthly/hourly dojo membership fee of any kind.

We are fortunate enough to have a situation with almost no overhead, so there is no overhead to pass on to our members. Those who can contribute to the maintainance and improvement of our dojo (whether donating money for the upkeep of the dojo, or giving of their time and talents where appropriate, or just showing up and training earnestly) do.

Dogis, weapons, and other supplies are available through the dojo-at the dojo's cost.

The brunt of any financial obligation winds up falling on the shoulders of our instructors.

In this situation there can, obviously, be no monetary incentive for our instructors to institute ranks and promotions.

They still find value in the process of testing and grading.
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Old 11-13-2003, 05:06 PM   #30
BKimpel
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Rachel,

If you are referring to me "grumbling", you mistakenly assume I care about rank -- I do not. I was merely making a counter-argument to those posting that rank is somehow "essential" to Aikido training which I whole-heartedly believe it is not (nor essential to any martial art).

And if "grumblers" bother you so much, why would you take the time to grumble how much grumblers bother you? That seems a bit hypocritical -- no? (Just ribbing you).

Holmes,

As for the small dojo dynamics, that is ideal to be sure. With a small amount of students sensei will KNOW where his student's current development sits and won't require any belt or certificate to remind him. And it is also true that without dues, one's rank will not be entwined with money -- which dramatically improves the value of that rank (the integrity of ranking itself in fact, since it is based solely on the assessment of the student's ability and not the amount of cash the student has invested in the club).

We sort of discussed this topic on the "testing method prefered" thread on this forum, and while some agreed it would be ideal if the sensei knew where each student was (development-wise) and just asked them to test ad-hoc (based on their development, not prefixed periods of time and dues), that is just not feasible with larger dojos. One sensei cannot be expected to keep track of every single student, especially if there is a high turnaround.

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 11-13-2003, 09:35 PM   #31
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, rank is useful by not to be taken too seriously.

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 11-13-2003, 10:49 PM   #32
Nafis Zahir
 
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Hey Lynn, is it really useful? I was once at a seminar doing weapons. At the time I was a nikyu. I was working with a Sensei who was a 5th Dan and he didn't know any weapons! What is that? As Chiba Sensei said in an article I read once, that it all comes down to money. You want rank, you pay a fee. I once saw someone taking a San Dan test. He didn't know his weapons, his technique was poor, and he couldn't (at all) control his uke during his juri waza. But why was he even testing? If everyone there could see he wasn't ready, why didn't his instructor? Because of time and money! If I had gotten up there as an nikyu and taken that test and done better than him (and I would have. not to brag, but I really could have) would I have been promoted to San Dan? No! But why not? Because I needed more time? Obviously, he needed more time. If I had taken that test and worn a hakama and said I was nidan, they would have passed me. So, Does rank really matter? Most of the time it doesn't.

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Old 11-13-2003, 11:39 PM   #33
Andy
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Quote:
Nafis Zahir wrote:
If I had gotten up there as an nikyu and taken that test and done better than him (and I would have. not to brag, but I really could have)
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...&threadid=4638
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Old 11-13-2003, 11:58 PM   #34
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Nice one, Russo-san...

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 11-14-2003, 04:53 AM   #35
paw
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FWIW, I know a number of people who have eoched Bruce's "grumbling" nearly word for word. None of them had trained for less than 3 years, averaging 3 times a week.

I know first hand of people who felt so strongly that rank, rank requirements and rank exams were so strongly linked to money that they would politely duck or refuse grading.

While a number of people claim that rank has no meaning for them, I don't know of anyone who has returned their ranking certificates back to Hombu (myself included). In this, I suspect we are all a bit hypocritical....or to really get myself in trouble.... "let the one without rank cast the first stone".

One last (albeit unfair) thought. You see two seminar announcements, both on the same day at the same time. The agenda/topic of the seminar is not listed. While your instructor recommends both, because of time, location, cost, etc, you will only be able to attend one. You are unfamilar with both seminar instructors, but one is a verified 6th dan. The other is a verified 2nd dan.

See where I'm going with this?

Regards,

Paul
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Old 11-14-2003, 05:01 AM   #36
rachmass
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Thanks for clarifying that Paul, my point was, that for the most part, people I know who "grumble" about rank are newer. Haven't met too many people who've been training a long time who do.

Anyway, just an aside to Nafis, there are quite a few folks who don't do weapons practice, so running into a fifth dan without much weapons experience is not that uncommon. Chiba Sensei is very much an advocate of weapons practice, but not all shihan stress much emphasis on it.

Bruce, I know you were ribbing me, but you are also correct; I have been guilty of "grumbling" myself. Consider me humbled ;-)
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Old 11-14-2003, 07:27 AM   #37
ian
 
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Rank serves a different purpose to different people. Since the simple teaching certificate qualification and dojo challanges tends not to occur now, rank has a different role; to help people improve. For some people this means promoting them slightly above their ability, for others it is holding them back slightly. Obviously for shihan it is very different because higher grades mean more students and more money.

Ian

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Old 11-14-2003, 09:07 AM   #38
rachmass
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Been giving further thought to this, and can only express feelings from a personal level, not from a detached analytical level. With that in mind, I do think that rank matters. I think it does for the very reason that Paul alludes to, as well as other reasons.

Having just recently tested, I can say without a doubt, that having tested and passed has helped me in many ways. It has helped to increase my confidence, which has been notoriously poor, and has helped me feel legitimate as a teacher with a small dojo. My aikido has probably gotten better too. It seems we always come up to our rank over time. Just this little test has made a big difference for me, and has made me less apologetic for having trained for so long and not having much rank, now I feel I am where I should be (weapons proficency or not).

Also, I can see it making a difference in my students once they test. I can see them move up to their levels, can see an increase in confidence, even if it means they just were able to get the guts up to go in front of the class and test. It has been a positive experience for me altogether.

Now, that said, of course if you start comparing people to each other, you are going to have problems and see inequities. Really, our ranks are measures of our own progress, not comparisons with other people.

Again, this is from my own experience, and I am sure other folks have different experiences....
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Old 11-14-2003, 09:22 AM   #39
happysod
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Thanks Rachael, this makes more sense now. I agree, rank always is important on a personal level, even if it's just your favorite "love to hate".

My objections are to over-emphasis placed on rank. The misconceptions it can give on experience and/or ability of a "newbie" to your dojo/seminar etc. and the misconceptions some make about their own ability to defend themselves based on a bit of cloth.

The first I must plead guilty to, a long time ago thankfully, (forgot to ask previous experience). The second is not applicable being a devout coward.
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Old 11-14-2003, 10:24 AM   #40
kung fu hamster
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My understanding was that ‘we' don't care much about that piece of paper, it's everyone else who does. If you want to teach aikido at a college or university or even a continuing ed MA class, they want to know who it is that's teaching the class, not only for liability purposes but also because they wouldn't want a situation equaling ‘the blind leading the blind'. If you approach an institution such as that with a 5th kyu belt looking to start teaching an aikido class, do you think you would be taken seriously? It's an exaggeration but still, aside from money considerations or ‘did I really earn this belt?' angst, how is quality aikido spread if not through the teachings of people who have been ‘certified' by someone in the know, with a traceable past history and lineage -- committed people who can attract ‘new blood' to train...? Just some thoughts (or musings on things previously told to me...)

Last edited by kung fu hamster : 11-14-2003 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 11-14-2003, 01:57 PM   #41
BKimpel
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Don't misunderstand me either folks. I am not saying I don't agree with testing one's ability, and I certainly value sensei's judgement and assessment as a development tool.

All I am saying is that I dislike the fact that that recognition process is tied so closely to money. It cheapens it. It degrades the value down to the age-old seniority vs. ability argument, that someone with 20 years "experience" (i.e. they showed up) should be valued more than someone with useful ability. I have seen that model fail time and time again.

Paul,

I too know of individuals that duck testing/grading because they have real problems with the money issue as well and none of them are newbies.

And you got me there with the 6th dan vs. 2nd dan seminar (I would be guilty of that kind of prejudice too certainly), but that comparison is too black and white.

The difference between 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th dan is not easily recognizable. Once an individual gets to 5th, 6th and 7th dan there is a noticeable difference, certainly. But on the whole, if someone had 20 years of experience, or they had studied with the founder, etc. I would be more inclined to train with them than anyone else (irregardless of rank).

Linda,

Yes I agree a certificate of some sort is required to teach. That level of "rank" is essential (IMO). But like others have said, two ranks -- "allowed to teach", and "not allowed to teach" covers that off just fine. I also suspect that that would weed out a lot of inferior teachers that are currently teaching as well.

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 11-14-2003, 02:15 PM   #42
Michael Karmon
Dojo: Aikido Jerusalem
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Who gets Shodan first

Quote:
Greg Jennings wrote:
It's up to the teacher to give rank as he sees fit.

Let's say we have two people in some dojo.

The first is an excellent technician and has ukemi to die for. OTOH, this person is a total jerk. He/she over-cranks his/her partners, refuses to train with beginners, as uke tries like everything to block everyone's technique, and won't support the dojo with upkeep or maintenance.
Sadly, no dojo is completly jerk-free and during our life we sometimes assume that role (self-included). A live healthy dojo has a way dealing with these guys. The seniors give the jerk that extra twist that hurst when he doen't cooporate and he will get the back of people when he needs help.

Aikido and Dojo life either "Un-Jerk" you or reject you, this is the power of Aikido as a way to better society. Either way a good Sensei does not rank Jerks.
Quote:
Greg Jennings wrote:
The second is a OK technician, but their ukemi isn't up to par. They've got good ikkyo-yonkyo, but shihonage totally escapes them. OTOH, they are respectful to their partners, they are terrific with beginners and go above and beyond to support the dojo. They are the first person in the dojo and the last to leave.
There is a line to be drawn in the sand technique wise as well as attitude wise. I would not rank even Mother Terasa if the Shihonage is not up-to-level, OTOH I would not rank anyone that does not go on his knees and mop that floore on a regular basis.

Personally speeking, Jerkness is contageous but bad technique can be corrected

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Old 11-14-2003, 02:42 PM   #43
rachmass
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There are so many judgements floating around here as to peoples abilities. If a teacher thinks a student is ready to test, or to promote, then it is the teachers decision. Although I acknowledge there can be giving rank for "time in", I don't think for the most part that is the case. Those folks who were promoted by recommendation typically know it, and do not go around with big jerk attitudes.

On the otherhand, I really question whether we all know what other peoples abilities and levels are. Leave that up to the shihan who grade us! I had given the example earlier of a flashy aikidoka with no substance, or perhaps with a lot of upper body strength and muscle. Constantly I see people say, "ooh, so and so has such nice aikido" when in fact this person may not. There is so much variety out there. What may look bad to you, might feel completely different when you are on the receiving end! I've met folks who don't look sharp, but when I train with them they flatten me into the mat, and with such ease and grace, without effort. I've seen the flashy ones who I think would be great to train with, that when I get to, they are harsh and have all sorts of sharp and rough edges. I have a personal preference for the strong yet understated aikido versus the flashy stuff, but that is my preference.

I would prefer not to try to judge whether someone deserves their rank or not, and just figure if they were given it, they deserve it. Isn't that the gist of this thread?
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Old 11-14-2003, 02:51 PM   #44
aikidoc
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I agree on the certification issue. This is why we have ranks or teaching certificates. Public education venues pretty much demand it-the school of hard knocks is great but when you have a teacher of your children you probably prefer they have the appropriate credentials.

I disagree with the lack of difference between a 1st through 4th dan. There is considerable refinement (or should be) between 1st and 3rd. Fourth dan should be moving into the next level of refinement (probably less difference between 4th and 5th in my opinion). A distinct difference exists between a 1st and 4th dan IMHO. Technical knowledge particularly. The refinement in skill and understanding will continue with each rank.

Everyone I have ever talked to following a promotion feels they have raised their level of aikido. This may be psychological but I believe anyone wanting to document their rank will generally attempt to elevate their skills to not only justify their rank but to challenge themselves to excel. There are always those who will not deserve their ranks and I don't know what the answer is to such situations-other than the observation that they usually don't go beyond where they are either through frustration or a sensible testing committee. We all have our level of incompetence.

I realize there are those who have good skills and chose not to document their rank-a personal choice and well within their rights. However, that may work to their disadvantage if they change schools or someday change their minds and want to contribute to the art through teaching. As we get older, getting thrown to the ground becomes less and less appealing and teaching more appealing (hurts less). Without credentials, such people are generally not going to be allowed to convey or pass on their knowledge in legitimate organizations where certification is the norm. Certification at a minimum shows a person has achieved a certain level of organized skill and has demonstrated it in front of a test committee.
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Old 11-14-2003, 02:58 PM   #45
rachmass
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Good post Mr. Riggs,

One thing I would like to add is a comment I heard from a teacher I know, who said that the last set of Dan tests he had seen were a really good clear deliniation as to what was expected between shodan, nidan and sandan. He said that the shodans were rather rough and full of muscle still, while the nidans were refining and much clearer in their technique than the shodans, and that the sandans really took care of all their partners (all juyi waza) and were calm and collected and a definate notch up from the nidans. So, yes, there should be a clear deliniation between ranks as they go up the scale.
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Old 11-14-2003, 06:14 PM   #46
Jim ashby
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"Does rank really matter?"

No.

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Old 11-14-2003, 06:31 PM   #47
paw
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Bruce,

I confess the seminar example is contrived, but that was part of the point. Rank does influence our decisions, despite our objections to the contrary.
Quote:
The difference between 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th dan is not easily recognizable. Once an individual gets to 5th, 6th and 7th dan there is a noticeable difference, certainly.
I disagree. I'll explain in a bit.....
Quote:
There is considerable refinement (or should be) between 1st and 3rd. Fourth dan should be moving into the next level of refinement (probably less difference between 4th and 5th in my opinion). A distinct difference exists between a 1st and 4th dan IMHO. Technical knowledge particularly. The refinement in skill and understanding will continue with each rank.
I strongly disagree with this, particularly for certain organizations. Rank exams are subjective demonstrations based on the opinion of one or more people. They can be as objective as a bodybuilding contest or beauty pagent.

Further, not all organizations have grading exams for all ranks. At some point ranks become honorary, based on time in previous rank or recommendation.

The point is simply that there is a wide variation within a specific organization, much less across aikido as a whole that I don't believe any general statements as to teaching ability, technical ability or general understanding can be made in regards to rank.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 11-14-2003, 09:09 PM   #48
Nafis Zahir
 
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[quote="John Riggs"]I agree on the certification issue. This is why we have ranks or teaching certificates. Public education venues pretty much demand it-the school of hard knocks is great but when you have a teacher of your children you probably prefer they have the appropriate credentials.

I agree with certification for teaching purposes. As I stated before, I believe in white belt and black belt. Other than that, a teaching certification (Shidion) and Shihan, honorably given by someone of authority to do so, such as Chiba, Yamada, and the like. If you can't raise your level of training or motivate yourself to a higher level of aikido, then you have inadvertantly succumbed to the whole rank/money/piece of paper conglomerate! As for giving certificates back to Hombu, maybe we would if we could a refund of that big fat check they received!
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Old 11-15-2003, 08:00 AM   #49
John Longford
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Rank is important in that it gives us a goal to aim at. Who has not trained that bit harder when they have a grading approaching?

It also gives us some measure of whether we are improving or not. After all we are just human beings who need encouragement now and again.

Having said that, rank should not become your only reason for training nor should it be an excuse to lord it over lower grades, never forget you were once that unco-ordinated beginner with two left feet.

So keep training and striving to better yourself but do not forget, holding a rank at any level will not automatically command you respect, only you and the way you conduct yourself can do that.
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Old 11-15-2003, 09:10 AM   #50
kung fu hamster
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"Other than that, a teaching certification (Shidion) and Shihan, honorably given by someone of authority to do so, such as Chiba, Yamada, and the like."

These eminent teachers have dojos all over the country, how are they going to 'honorably' give a teaching certificate to someone they don't know well or possibly have never met? Just on the say-so of the dojo cho? Without testing or the opinion of a test committee? I think that would open up a more controversial can of worms than any complaints I've heard yet on this forum. At least the testing system that currently exists has some way to measure a students progress so that there's some 'quality control' when it comes to knowing who is capable of what. The office work must be terrible when it comes to keeping track of that sort of thing, how do you expect these teachers to be able to keep it all straight in their head without some documentation and hard proof of each and every student's level of progress?
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