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Old 11-19-2003, 10:10 AM   #101
paw
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Linda,
Quote:
Sorry, I don't have the experience or expertise to disagree with you on these points, although I do question the feasibility of the logistics. If you hold to these ideals then I think you must be an amazing teacher.
I think you are ascribing something to me that isn't true. I spoke only of the responsibilites of an instructor as I see them. I never claimed that I was an instructor myself.

Frankly, this "ideal" is not that difficult. Any compentant, caring individual is quite capable of living up to it, in my experience at least.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 11-19-2003, 10:23 AM   #102
akiy
 
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Just some quick thoughts on a couple of things.

As far as the term "sempai" goes, the term is not tied into someone's rank. In fact, they could have started aikido one day ahead of you, quit after a month, then came back after an absence of ten years. You might then be fourth dan and he the lowest kyu rank, but in the Japanese scheme of things, he'd still be your sempai.

On the subject of rankings and the founder of aikido, from what I understand, the founder was pretty (to put it a bit flippantly) willy nilly about giving people their dan rankings. When "aikido" was first established with the Dai Nippon Butotukai, he basically gave out dan rankings. I wrote a while back in 1999 on this subject on Aikido-L:
Quote:
Interestingly enough, I was just reading about the Butokukai and the dan ranking system in an article that was written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba sensei in Aikido Tankyo #15. Part of it went like this (my loose translation from the Japanese article):

"The aikido division of the All Japan Botokukai was established in the 17th year of the Showa period (1942). [snip]

"The Japan Butokukai was established in the 28th year of the Meiji era (1895) and had within it Judo and Kendo.

"Kaiso was not very fond of joining these kinds of organizations or groups, and he did not like getting in contact with other budo. For that, it seemed as though he did not care to join the Butokukai. [snip]

"The dan ranking system of aikido was created at the time aikido joined the Botokukai. Until then, it did not seem as though Kaiso was thinking about the dan ranking system. Because judo and kendo were both in the Butokukai and they both had the dan ranking system, there arose a need for aikido to do likewise.

"Although I was thinking about what to do [as far as giving out dan rankings] in the case of aikido, because it was so sudden, Kaiso pretty much devised them himself. 'Tomiki and Inoue are probably around eighth dan. Hirai is still young, so he'll be fourth dan.' (Hirai was the representative for aikido in the Botokukai.)

"So it went like that. However, having our representative be only 4th dan wouldn't have been appropriate to the other budo, and it seemed that a person must be at least 5th dan to be in the Butokukai, Hirai was given a 6th dan."

That's the relevant part regarding dan rankings. But, Ueshiba sensei goes on to say some other interesting stuff:

"As an aside, joining the Butokukai had a big influence on calling our art 'Aikido.'

"Before then, although the art was being called 'Aikido," at the same time, it was also called 'Ueshiba-ryu Jujutsu,' 'Aiki Jujutsu,' 'Aiki Budo,' and others. Kaiso didn't seem to have much concern about really pinpointing one name for the art at the time.

"After this [joining of the Butokukai], there seems to have been a conscientious effort to call the art 'Aikido.'"
-- Jun

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Old 11-19-2003, 12:24 PM   #103
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Nafis Zahir wrote:
Michael - my old instructor does make his living off of aikido and we had to pay for kyu testing. The higher the rank, the more the cost. i don't have a problem supporting the dojo, but then again, not all certificates are accepted at all dojos. YOu know what I mean!?
People come down on both sides of the professional versus non-professional aikido instruction issue.

I, personally, am not about to try to make a living off aikido. I have a good profession now. OTOH, if I did try to be a professional, I would probably be able to offer more classes and other services to my students.

As a brief example, I'd probably be able to offer kids, beginners, and daytime classes. As it stands now, we're going to struggle to offer a fourth class per week that will be dedicated to beginners.

NZ, I think I attended a seminar at your old instructor's place and spent time around him while he was talking to the instructor giving the seminar. If this is the same guy, I can pretty well tell you that he's not making much of a living off aikido.

Don't get me wrong, I think $300 for a not-so-well-accepted shodan rank isn't kosher, but I don't know too many people making a good living off aikido.

I was charged $200 for both my shodan and nidan. I know that I got my shodan for barely above what the Aikikai charged at the time and I know that I got my nidan at cost.

Another thought, NZ, perhaps you should relocate down here where the winter is short and the aikido is inexpensive .

Regards,

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Old 11-19-2003, 12:28 PM   #104
Kensho Furuya
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Mr. Zahir, many thanks. I have thought about your question all day and I really do not know how to answer your question correctly about how ranks were given out 30-35 years ago. I was very young then. I started very young and received my 1st Dan at a young age. In those days, there were very few instructors and dojos. Only a few years previous, O'Sensei had introduced Aikido into Hawaii and a few Aikido dan holders moved to the West Coast to teach. In those days, Koichi Tohei was in control of the West Coast as Head of the Shihan Dept. of Hombu and his influence was very strong here. His Aikido was a little different from other instructors from Hombu. I found this out more clearly when I went to Japan for training. In those days, Tohei Sensei had what he called the "7 basic techniques" and the "50 basic techniques" and one had to master these to go through the kyu grades to 1st Dan.

In those days, O'Sensei was synonymous with Aikido. O'Sensei was at a level quite above such materialistic matters as ranks and gave them out freely to students and friends. In Japan, this is the priviledge of a great master and never questioned. However, Hombu Dojo itself was very strict about Dan rankings.

Just like today, there were two groups - one who were very obsessed with ranks and promotions and another group which minimized the importance of ranks. However, as a very young person then, like everyone, we dreamed of one day taking the test and receiving our Dan grade from Hombu and being allowed to wear the black belt and hakama. It was so exciting to see our name on a certificate from Japan with O'Sensei's name on it. When I was in Japan, however, I followed the custom of only wearing a white belt, taking off my black one. I still wear a white belt today over 35 years later as a habit.

One difference between then and today is that the ceiling to promotions is much higher today. In those days, training outside of Japan - the highest we hoped to ever attain was 4th Dan. Local instructors could reach 5th Dan. Instructors here from Japan were 5th Dan and 6th Dan. Today, Japanese instructors outside of Japan can reach 7th and 8th Dan. Non-Japanese (meaning not trained in Japan at Hombu) and head instructors here can reach 7th Dan, maybe higher. . . . .

I remember when I was studying under various shihan that almost all agreed that testing needed to be improved and made more fair. We all tried to work out various methods of testing and this has always been a big problem - what is the best test? We could, in my day, never figure this out.

Essentially, one must learn everything - all techniques! One problem is that if you decide a certain number of techniques for each grade - students begin to limit themselves to practicing just what they need for their next promotion. The other problem is that the teacher is then required to limit his teaching to what his students must learn for their test. If a teacher teaches various areas of Aikido without happeneing to touch on what a particular student must test for, it is not fair to the student. The other problem which occurred is that instructors had various interpretations of each technique. As an example, I remember many years ago that many were confused with yokomenuchi kokyunage tenkan because there were a specific three that were required but there are many, many techniques which can fall under this name. . . . . This occurred in many areas. In another example, for instance, there are many ways to execute nikyo or shihonage depending on the teacher. One teacher says this way is right, that way is wrong. Another teacher may say, this way in effective, that way is useless and doesn't work. . . . . . This has always been a difficult problem. Nowadays, with more organizations, each one decides their own way of what is right and wrong. . . . . . . . As in the past, the fact of more organizations do not expand the range of experiences for the student (as everyone seems to assume) but will narrow the range of interpretations of techniques which changes depending on where and who and under what group you are training under. One technique or interpretation may be acceptable in one group but another group may decide that this is ino good and their way in better - I have seen this very, very often in the past.

One of my old teachers found 36 ways to execute shihonage. I teach five ways of shihonage depending on which is best under which attack and what circumstances as I understand it. I would like to teach ten different ways but I feel sorry for my students. . . . especially if they have trouble just learning one way. It is the same with many techniques which can vary so much with each teacher and group.

Also, Aikido techniques have evolved. I remember long ago when the Japanese teachers first came over here, kotegaeshi didn't work too well because everyone's arms over here were longer than Japanese. Tenchi-nage and irimi-nage was diffcult because people in this country were so much taller and on and on. When I first learned ikkyo (very long ago), we used to jump up and come down with our knee against the opponent's elbow. We don't do this anymore.

Anyways, I think that the only fair way is that it is a matter between teacher and student - this is changing because today many students go around everywhere and do not have just "one" teacher. I watch and instruct my students everyday and know them very well. At the same time, however, I have to trust the recommendations of my assistant instructors in other areas and rely on their good and honest judgement. Without Trust, no system of testing or ranking will be fair.

Ranking is by nature very subjective and only the opinion of the instructor giving the rank at the time. I have seen many students do well in practice and do very badly on a test. I have seen very talented and technically qualified

students who are very strong and skillful but I somehow feel that they will abuse their rank and position. . . . . There are some students who try so hard but will never be as good as a 20 year old athelete. . . . . but have good personality, good discipline and attendance, helpful in the dojo, good to the other classmates. I would rather have a student who has developed a great attitude towards Aikido of lesser skill than a very skillful and strong student who has a very bad attitude or his arrogant and abusive to others. I remember a conversation I had with Guro Richard Bustillo of JKD and Kali, a good friend of mine. One time we were talking about skill and strength and effective techniques and how to judge a student. 20 years later, we had the same conversation but changed our attitude and agree that the most important aspect a student must develop in training was Attitude. However, if that student goes to another dojo, he will be assessed on his skill, not his attitude. . . . . Does this mean, we just create killers and death machines, in the dojo? Hahaha!

In any dojo, there are all types of people of all circumstances. Each student must be judged on individual merits. A student of meager talent who gives 100% is more valued in my book than a very talented student who only gives 20% to his training. I see this a lot in Aikido. I dream that all my students are all atheletic, strong, flexible, quick to catch on to the techniques, good attitude, can pay thier dues on time, blah, blah, blah, blah - yes, I am dreaming! No! A teacher is required to balance the human element of each individual student with the intention to promote him in his life and his art in every way, positively and constructively, and, at the same time, preserve and pass down the art without compromising or distorting it. This is the duty, I feel, of all teachers and something we must wrestle with each day in class. Ranks, so easily abused, must be handled with honestly and fairness with each individual and this may not follow some hard and set rule.

When I was young, I took piano lessons from a world class concert pianist. She had trained in Europe and had performed all over the world in the most prestigious concert halls. However, at that time, she just taught young people like me to make a modest living for herself. When she played, it was not very good and limited herself to teaching. She had developed severe arthiritis in his fingers and could no longer play well, but she was an excellent teacher in every way and her skill was without question and I really respected her.

When I was very young, I had one Aikido teacher who was not technically the greatest in skill, but was a very fine gentlemen and scholar and I always respected him for that and learned a great deal although it wasn't really shihonage or ikkyo. I think it is easy to say we should do this and that and tests should be like this and ranks should be like that. But when you get down to the "dirty" work of teaching students each day and everything else that is involved in getting a student to move somewhat correctly and make him understand a little about Aikido is all about. . . . . we are making and breaking rules minute by minute!

I should also like to add finally, O'Sensei was at the spiritual level where he thought all people, everyone in the whole world, was a 10th Dan in Aikido. Most of us are not at that level of understanding and what a headache it was for Hombu to straighten that out into real, world terms! Our thoughts on ranks is nothing where O'Sensei was at. . . . . . and we should keep that in mind. . . . . . what a world this would be if each one of us thought so well about the other person as O'Sensei did!
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Old 11-19-2003, 01:45 PM   #105
aikidoc
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It is my understanding the hombu aikikai establishes rates for dan exams-that apparently does not preclude organizations from tacking on an additional charge.

The charges get pretty steep when you start getting above 3rd or 4th dan if testing at a seminar (hotel, travel, seminar fee, dan fee).
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Old 11-19-2003, 03:20 PM   #106
Nafis Zahir
 
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To Sensei Furuya - Thank you so much for that insightful thread. You have certainly given me alot to think about. Did you test for Shodan? I respect the fact that you wear a white belt. My Instructor is Donovan Waite Sensei who also wears a white belt. He said it was in order to keep a beginners mind. But you eluded to it being a Japanesw tradition. What is the significance of wearing the white belt? I may want to evaluate this for myself. I still feel the same way about rank. Like you said, you would rather have a student (like me!) with a good attitude and not so good skills as opposed to the other way around. But sadly, as you know, that is something that is not looked for during testing and sometimes not even by the instructors who decide a student is ready to test. All part of politics. Please tell me about the white belt. Although I live in Philadelphia, I would like to come out to LA and see you and train at your dojo, with your permission. Do you have a web site? Please respond soon! Domo Arigato! (sorry for the spelling)

To Greg - It was Agatsu Dojos in South New Jersey and the instructors name was Crane. Ring a bell?

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Old 11-19-2003, 03:52 PM   #107
John Boswell
 
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Freaky!

Sensei Furuya said:
Quote:
When I first learned ikkyo (very long ago), we used to jump up and come down with our knee against the opponent's elbow. We don't do this anymore.
THAT'S just MEAN!

Seriously though... I never even thought of that. Talk about a truly "martial" way of executing that! Wow...

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Old 11-19-2003, 04:37 PM   #108
Kensho Furuya
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Hello! I don't make a big point of it, some of my black belts wear their black belts and some do not. This is not a custom very popular anymore, I believe. O'Sensei always wore a white belt and as you say, it is to remind us of "beginner's mind" ("shoshin") - so important in our training. In those days, many of the "hard-core" black belt students only wore a white belt. Some of the shihan wore only white belts too, I think Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei was one of them at the time as I remember. He passed away several years ago - what a great loss!!

Actually, I prefer my assistants, especially those who have teaching assignments to wear their black belts. More than anything to give confidence to the new students who wouldn't understand or appreciate this point yet. . . . .

It is all ancient history and not a big thing but I took an examination for shodan. I think I did very well as good as all the others but I was told: "You did very well, but you are too young to receive a black belt, I just wanted to see how well you would do!" Well, I was very young at the time and very, very disappointed to hear something like this. I think this was my first exposure to Aikido "politics." I took the test again several months later and they made an exception and gave me my black belt, so actually I took it twice!

I don't like the idea of testing but I think it is a necessary "evil" and sometimes this formality makes a big difference to the student who feels it to be an obstacle to overcome in training and goes about to overcome it. I worry about some students who become too obsessed with taking tests and only practice for promotions or those who look at testing as a form of competition.

Reading this thread, I think we have to realize that many of these rules and formalities are not who those who understand the art and have the proper attitude towards practice and training, but, like all rules, are made to "encourage" and guide those who are in danger of breaking or abusing them. . . . . Like traffic laws, if we all understand that we have to stop at the red light, why do we need a law to say so? Well. . . . . . . I think it is something like this.

Finally, in class, I may have an opinion about a student knowing his practice habits, regularity of training, attitude, personal ability vs a general standard of skill, etc. and have to take all of this into consideration. Sometimes, the test is just for the student to make sure for himself that he knows all of the required techniques. The test, I think, should be a part of the learning process for the student himself, it is not really to satisfy me in anyway, I already know him well enough in class and in the process of teaching him. . . . .

When I graduated the university, I didn't really know anything at all although I had a perfect grade point average. When I was ordained as a priest after many years of training, I still didn't know much about being a priest. Sometimes, I think we have to think that 1st Dan is "what it is" - a "first step" for the student in his training and, if you are his classmates or his teacher, you have to be encouraging and give him the benefit of the doubt. . . . . It is easy to make high standards and lotsa rules, but I would never put a student through what I went through my self and I would always hope that someday he would surpass me (without kicking me out of the dojo into the streets!)

After all those years in school, I still need the piece of paper which says I graduated. After all the time a student spends in training in Aikido, he stills needs the rank when he deserves it and he needs to be promoted as he progresses - if not for himself - at least for all the newer students in the dojo who will hold him up as a source of guidance and inspiration.

My students do not emulate me - I am too old and ornery to be a model for anything, but they do my younger assistants. I think they are more accessible and easier to model themselves after. I think this is good in the dojo and as it should be. In this respect, I think the rank is necessary. In addition, what rewards does a teacher get in all his efforts to teach his students? I am very proud of my black belts and my own selfish reward for what I do is to see my student progress well and go through the ranks and become good Aikidoists.

Everyone is welcome to practice at my dojo anytime. I make no restrictions or regulations about any organization and such. I do hope you meet you face to face some day as I do everyone here that I have met. I hope I don't violate any rules about self-promotion here but since you are asking, my website is www.aikidocenterla.com. I write a Daily Message each day which you might enjoy. You might enjoy my book, KODO: Ancient Ways-Lessons In The Spiritual Life of the Warrior or my video series, Aikido Shoshinshu-The Art of Aikido, in nine volumes. I have also been publishing a monthly newsletter from my dojo for the last 22 years. There are about fifteen dojos affiliated with me around the world but there is no organization name and no organization, we are all just friends and partners in practice and I act as an easy and convenient source of information about Aikido and practice. Outside of this, I stay pretty quiet and live alone in my dojo and don't go out much until I came onto this website several week ago. Thanks for asking and best wishes,
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Old 11-19-2003, 09:41 PM   #109
Nafis Zahir
 
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Sensei, why would O'Sensei wear a white belt? I've seen many pictures of him and never saw him with a white belt. Did he tie his hakama a certain way and you just couldn't see it? I sent you a private message. I've seen ads for your tapes and I never noticed you wearing a white belt. Am I missing something. Hope to see you soon.

Hey Greg, what happend to ya?

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Old 11-20-2003, 11:59 AM   #110
Kensho Furuya
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Yes, O'Sensei often wore a white belt. Yes, I, like many other dan holders and instructors of the old school, wear a white belt too. Sometimes, I put on a black belt at demonstrations or when I am outside my dojo to keep people from asking me, "Why are you wearing a white belt?" There is no "why" to this question, I think, it is just a matter of heart. . . . . . Many thanks as always!
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Old 11-20-2003, 02:48 PM   #111
Nafis Zahir
 
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Hey everyone! I want to keep this thread going, so here is another point. I've read all of the post here and many of them made good points. But if O'Sensei didn't want aikido to be cpmpetitive, don't you think we somehow contradict that idea by having a ranking system which inadvertantly causes competition in many dojos? People often argue over who is sempai when they have the same rank but come from different dojo's or styles. It also works that way when a "teachers pet" gets moved up the ranks quickly. (No one act like this doesn't happen) I understand when Sensei Furuya says he'd like to see the fruits of his labor, but that can also be achieved just by watching a student and seeing the progression in his learning. Maybe I wouldn't be so stern on this issue if Sensei's thoughts and feelings could be permeated throughout the aikido world minus all the politics, favoritism, and money that has really caused this mess in the first place. Do you think we could ever achieve such a thing?

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Old 11-20-2003, 03:33 PM   #112
Chuck Clark
 
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Human beings compare because that is our nature... it's how our brain works. We set up a "pecking order" in everything we do, it seems. Whether we use wisdom in this or stop being so attached to our comparisons is up to us. We cause so many of our own problems and suffering due to our fear and insecurities.

Even if there was no ranking system, we would "rank" each other anyway. Instead of getting rid of rank, we should learn to deal with our own "stuff".

Chuck Clark
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Old 11-20-2003, 03:43 PM   #113
Kensho Furuya
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Yes, that is exactly right! What an excellent point! Why get rid of something we inevitably do anyways. . . .
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Old 11-20-2003, 04:04 PM   #114
kung fu hamster
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Actually, I completely agree that rank isn't a consistent indicator of anyone's skill/ability (which I suppose would make me much of the same opinion as Nafis...!), I guess the point I am trying to make is, yes the ranking system has it's problems, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
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Old 11-21-2003, 02:39 AM   #115
ranZ
 
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I agree that comparing is something that we naturally do. I'm in a dojo with no rank system and no colored belts. All i know is i've been learning for 2 years and so-and-so has for .. years etc. But at the end of the day we do discuss and make "ranks".

We'd make comments such as

"Oh, A is getting really good.", "B's flow is much better now.", or "C seems to be having trouble in ... area."

So i think we unconsciously know who's better in what area and who's not, even if we don't know what rank we are.

But on the question whether rank really matters, well unfortunately we live in the world where we need money to eat and need a system to run an organization. So, imo depends on how you want your aikido to grow.

Imho Viggo Mortensen should've played Last Samurai!
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Old 11-21-2003, 08:14 AM   #116
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Actually Ran-chan... there is a ranking system in your dojo, remember:

shokyu

chukyu

jokyu

shoden

chuden

okuden

Did I miss a rank here?

And you just got tested. Ran-chan, I believe you are a chukyu now?

Me... I'm still a shokyu...

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
--------
http://funkybuddha.multiply.com/
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Old 11-21-2003, 10:10 AM   #117
aikidoc
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The rank issue does come up in a practice way regularly. I have had two incidences of non-verifiable rank which when questions were asked the responses did not make sense.

THe most recent was a young man claiming to be a shodan from a USAF dojo. He said his sho sho was packed (he just go out of the military). Then the story changed-it was in route. So I checked with hombu-they never heard of him. When confronted he acted like something was amiss. Story changed again. He said his instructor stole the money for the test. Knowing aikikai organization testing procedures I knew this was a lie-he was eventually kicked out of the school-he did produce a 1st kyu certificate from USAF.

Now most recently, he is claiming to be a 4th dan and saying he was from my area-his skills were at a 2nd or 1st kyu at most and his attitude at a poorly disciplined 6th kyu.

This is one of my reasons for liking documentation of rank-I can verify it if it is legitimate. There are a lot of frauds out there that learn enough to hoodwink the unknowing public and have enough physical skills and line of BS that they can pull it off for a while. It gives the art a bad name and the public a bad taste for the martial arts.
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Old 11-22-2003, 12:06 AM   #118
Kelly Allen
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I remember that story. This is the first time I heard how it eventually turned out.

That, I suppose, would be the single most important reason to have an established registered ranking system.
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Old 11-23-2003, 12:02 PM   #119
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From one of my favorite songs, "Samurai" by Michael Cretu:

"Your commission was written in the sand."

Drew
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Old 11-23-2003, 12:53 PM   #120
Greg Jennings
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Quote:
Nafis Zahir wrote:
Hey Greg, what happend to ya?
Hosting a seminar with Goto Sensei! Dude, check your e-mail.

Best,

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Old 11-24-2003, 09:54 PM   #121
BKimpel
Location: Alberta, Canada
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After thinking about what Kensho Furuya said about rank being kind of a small reward for his teaching to see his students succeed, I thought about the value of rank to my sensei.

To sensei rank can be a measure of job satisfaction (imagine how great those professors would feel each day if NONE of their students graduated from college), it can help him grow the dojo (they can assist him with the beginners), it is a perception issue in that a dojo with lots of yudansha does help to show that many students are dedicated to the art and their teacher and charges up the other students (motivational, considering not everyone is self-motivated like myself).

Furthermore after crunching the numbers I realized that sensei makes very little from each student, and because I have had the opportunity to hop around dojos over the last few years I truly believe the amount he charges is a small price to pay for quality Aikido.

What it comes down to while rank means nothing to me, it does mean something to my sensei and his dojo (indirectly), and my sensei is VERY valuable to me…so I have changed my spots.

I will now do whatever I can to help sensei succeed, whether that means testing when he says so, obtaining whatever rank he wants me too, doing whatever I can to help him promote his club (both on the mat and off), and even hopping up and down on one foot if he asks (hope he's not reading this ).

Thanks for the little push Kensho!

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 11-24-2003, 10:22 PM   #122
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
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Many thanks! Your remarks are greatly appreciated. I am not much different from other teachers, so I think their thinking cannot be so different from mine. You might notice in your dojo that, after an examination, all of the beginners seem to be practicing much harder. Anything which might encourage the newer students to be inspired in their training is good, even if it might be such a materialistic and short-sighted goal as rank - until they gain a deeper understanding of the real goals of their practice. . . . . .

I always like to tell my students that no one gets good all by himself in the dojo, we all develop and improve together. We should all encourage each other and push each other forward as we develop ourselves at the same time.

In other martial arts, you may compete, you win, you get trophies and money, prestige, movie contracts and on and on within the context of a competitive sport or performance art. In Aikido, we really do not have any rewards at all for your years of training and committment. We receive rank as recognition of not only our training and progress, but in recognition of what we can bring into the art and how we help to develop our own dojos and create a nice Aikido community within our dojo and in your own community of dojos. Finally, somewhere along the line, you will eventually receive some responsibity to help out in the dojo, assisting the teacher, helping with classes, teaching, taking care of the students, and on and on and all of this deserves some recognition as well. So, without obsessing on rank, it still, as you say, plays a very important part in the overall picture of Aikido as a community of fellow classmates, the dojo itself and your teacher, I believe.
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Old 11-24-2003, 11:57 PM   #123
Nafis Zahir
 
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Sensei, I do agree with all that you say. Just reading your responses has motivated me to train harder. However, I have decided that with all the politics involved in rank, and now this on-going arguement over different styles of aikido, I am going to follow that old Japanese tradition and wear a white belt. I don't want to be associated with any particular style. I find all the styles have something to offer and the essence is the same. By the way, I was wondering what "style" you teach? I'll probably test again, pay money, get a certificate, but I just want to be known as a student of aikido. When I look at Sensei's such as yourself, Chiba, Yamada, Kanai and the like, I realize that this is a lifetime commitment for me and that I will never cease to learn and seek out new things. Please keep me posted about any seminars or demos you will be doing, as I would greatly like to train with you and hopefully gain a little insight into Aikido. Thank you Sensei!

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Old 11-25-2003, 01:28 AM   #124
Kensho Furuya
Dojo: Aikido Center of Los Angeles
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Many thanks for your kind words. I, too, pointedly stay out of all politics and this has necessarily made it difficult for me to venture anywhere beyond the doors of my own dojo. For the last twenty years or so, I have concentrated solely on my own students in my own dojo. Of course, I welcome all Aikidoists of any organization and we have a parade of visitors coming through our dojo doors from all over the world. I haven't taught a seminar in many years in this country, I find seminars often have a political slant to them or can be self-promoting so I try to avoid them. Also, I find that I myself cannot teach a student or group of students very effectively once every few months or once a year. I like to be in my own dojo each day, where I can teach and observe the progress of my students every single day and then judge their progress over a lengthy period of time. It is hard to evaluate the student's short term and long term needs in just a few classes of many, many people as in a large seminar. As for myself, it is only through daily instruction and contact with my students that I feel like I can really teach them or be effective as a teacher. Also, I am more effective with small groups of students than larger groups one finds in seminars. With too many people, I cannot devote enough time and attention to each student's needs in a given class or observe each one carefully enough. Also, I am very strict in observing the protocol and a particularly strict in the very fine details of each technique. I don't have a very good personality nor am I very out-going, perhaps too serious in mood, I have an old, inescapable reputation for being very, very demanding of my students. I definitely do not have a high "personality" or "charm" ratio!

I just find it better to be out of everyone's way - "out of sight, out of mind" as they say. I do not try to discourage you but I find it the best way for me to be very quiet and not get in the way of any other organization or teacher. It is only by some very unexplanably odd karma that I have come onto this website recently and started to have contact with so many people such as yourselves outside my own dojo.

Over the years, I should say, I have been receiving so many invitations to teach that it has reached a point where I might begin to travel again, not able to no longer keep refusing everyone.

I teach Aikikai style but that of about 30 years ago. I do not change much from the way I learned it and even still use the same explanations, wrods and order of techniques as my teachers taught it. I am more of a transmitter, than an innovator. I want to give my teacher's Aikido to my students, not particuarlyy my own. You are welcome to visit my dojo at anytime. Always welcome, indeed! My classes are very tedious ( I warn you!) - a lot of basics, over and over again, a lot of attention to the fine detail of each technique and attention to the individual characterics of each technique - and tons of cleaning! Hahaha!

I do conduct a monthly Intensive Seminar in Aikido and separately in Iaido once a month from 6:30am. Twice a month there is a lecture-discussion study class where students can ask any question about Aikido or we have a open group discussion. Several times a year, I give public lectures on Aikido, Iaido, the arts of the Samurai sword, Miyamoto Musashi's life, etc. Over the past 35 years, I have about 150 or so published articles floating around somewhere. I do have some students on putting together all of this archival material. I have three books in the works, actually in the final stages of completion. My one technical book on Aikido has 5,500 photos and contains approx. 600 techniques, an average of 8-10 photos per technique but the publisher feels that there is not that much interest in such a large book. . . . .me too! Haha!

Anyways, I keep very busy in my own little dojo here. You can always visit me at my website and always welcome to see my training schedule. Please come anytime! And many thanks for your interest, I think I just rambled on and on too much. . . . . . . oh well.
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Old 11-25-2003, 04:46 AM   #125
Nafis Zahir
 
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Smile

[quote="Kensho Furuya"] Also, I am very strict in observing the protocol and a particularly strict in the very fine details of each technique. I don't have a very good personality nor am I very out-going, perhaps too serious in mood, I have an old, inescapable reputation for being very, very demanding of my students. I definitely do not have a high "personality" or "charm" ratio!

I can handle it Sensei, if you can! I am a perfectionist. There is no one I am harder on than myself. And yes, I can handle constructive critism. Many people say I'm too serious and need to relax, but I take what I do very seriously. Aikido is not a hobby to me, it is what I do! Besides, I'm not looking for "charm!"

My classes are very tedious ( I warn you!) - a lot of basics, over and over again, a lot of attention to the fine detail of each technique and attention to the individual characterics of each technique - and tons of cleaning! Hahaha!

Tedious? No problem! Attention to fine detail? Exactly what I need. Tons of cleaning? Before class, after class, or both?

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