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Old 01-16-2004, 01:41 PM   #1
Jack Simpson
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menkyo

Discussion from the another forum brought this question to mind. Do you think Aikido will eliminate the dan system and revert back to the menkyo (teaching license) system that some koryu still employ? I've heard tell it's been discussed.....

Jack
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Old 01-28-2004, 02:56 PM   #2
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So, I guess the answer would be, No....
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Old 01-28-2004, 04:54 PM   #3
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No, it will switch to the womenkyo license, where only women can teach.
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Old 01-28-2004, 05:32 PM   #4
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Menkyo means certificate and my closet is full of them. Some of them were awarded for passing various Kyu and Dan grades in Aikido.

If you are talking about something similar to the system used by Daito Ryu why bother. The only real difference is the number of divisions and that is really only within the kyu grades.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 01-28-2004, 08:15 PM   #5
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Jack, do you mean that the shodans will simply test for a certificate of achievement in the art then perhaps one for teaching as well. Or simply one certificate for teaching the art?

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 01-28-2004, 08:40 PM   #6
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Re: menkyo

Quote:
Jack Simpson wrote:
Discussion from the another forum brought this question to mind. Do you think Aikido will eliminate the dan system and revert back to the menkyo (teaching license) system that some koryu still employ? I've heard tell it's been discussed.....

Jack
I am curious where and when you heard this and in relation to which organization. In the Aikikai dan ranks do not of themselves indicate teaching proficiency; the main teaching title is shihan, for which a certificate is already issued. Thus there is no need even to consider a menkyo system.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-28-2004, 11:27 PM   #7
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Re: menkyo

Quote:
Jack Simpson wrote:
Discussion from the another forum brought this question to mind. Do you think Aikido will eliminate the dan system and revert back to the menkyo (teaching license) system that some koryu still employ? I've heard tell it's been discussed.....

Jack
No. You can make more money by handing out kyu and dan rankings than you can by handing out one or two certificates per person.

Telling it like it is.

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Old 01-29-2004, 12:14 AM   #8
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Re: Re: menkyo

Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
No. You can make more money by handing out kyu and dan rankings than you can by handing out one or two certificates per person.

Telling it like it is.
I can guarantee you that if getting the bucks rolling in the Menkyo system is just as effective. In fact those the receive Menko Kaiden or its equivilent (Shihan) have probably forked out quite a bit over the years and accumulated their share of lesser Menkyo's.

Takeda charged per technique. Other schools charge per group of techniques for which you get a nice little Menkyo.

That by the way is how many schools used to make their money. You'ld show up for a relatively short period - get a Menkyo of proficiency and move on to the next school.

It really sounds like you are suggesting Kano introduced the system to make money.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 01-29-2004, 01:43 AM   #9
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Re: Re: menkyo

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
I am curious where and when you heard this and in relation to which organization. In the Aikikai dan ranks do not of themselves indicate teaching proficiency; the main teaching title is shihan, for which a certificate is already issued. Thus there is no need even to consider a menkyo system.

Best regards,
Peter, I believe it was discussed in parts in this thread http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/show...threadid=23707

Most of it regarded other budo but some of it regarded aikido.

Specially regarding M. Saito bestowing Menkyo Kaiden in Bukiwaza within the Iwama Ryu network upon a few selected students of his. Now of curse he is gone and so is Iwama Ryu as of past.

Best,

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 01-29-2004, 05:35 AM   #10
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Re: Re: Re: menkyo

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Jakob Blomquist (Aikilove) wrote:
Peter, I believe it was discussed in parts in this thread http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/show...threadid=23707

Most of it regarded other budo but some of it regarded aikido.

Specially regarding M. Saito bestowing Menkyo Kaiden in Bukiwaza within the Iwama Ryu network upon a few selected students of his. Now of curse he is gone and so is Iwama Ryu as of past.

Best,
Yes, I followed the discussion in the E-Budo forum, but I did not draw the impression that any abolition of the dan system was being contemplated. I think there are various reasons why the late M Saito did not choose dan rather than menkyo for weapons proficiency, but this system operated in parallel to dan rankings in aikido: it was not a substitute for it here.

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Old 01-29-2004, 10:16 AM   #11
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Re: Re: Re: Re: menkyo

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Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
Yes, I followed the discussion in the E-Budo forum, but I did not draw the impression that any abolition of the dan system was being contemplated. I think there are various reasons why the late M Saito did not choose dan rather than menkyo for weapons proficiency, but this system operated in parallel to dan rankings in aikido: it was not a substitute for it here.

Best regards,
Yes, he issued dan ranking first and foremost. Even separete ones for teaching Iwama Ryu Bukiwaza. The menkyo kaiden was just his way of saying to a few selected individuals "You know what I know regarding Bukiwaza... go from there". IMO that is.

Best,

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 01-29-2004, 10:46 AM   #12
Jack Simpson
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Wow, I guess the winds rattled the trees and something started to fall out. I was wondering if I'd asked a taboo question.

I was just curious if others had heard about the use of fuku-, shidoin and shihan as substitutes/replacement for the dans in aikido. In other words, you'd be white belt till fuku, etc. Or maybe, blackbelt, but not separated into 1st dan, 2nd dan, etc, then fuku and on up. As I heard about it second-hand, I can't say who it was that mentioned it initially. Sorry, for something like this I'd want permission, etc.

This would of course be difficult to implement in the west with the focus on short range goals, and yes, bucks. Although I agree that the older menkyo system no doubt had its own way of extracting monetary or other payment.

I'm actually in favor of the fuku-, shidoin, shihan ranks as being separate "teaching" related certification. Not all aikidoka want to teach and not all teachers do it well. Some type of help in teaching certification/standardization would help, as long as it doesn't become overwhelming, and would commend those who teach well.

In the end, I sincerely doubt the dan system will be eliminated, but then again, back when Kano developed it, I am sure there were those that didn't think it was needed. Thanks for all the insightful comments and have fun training.

Jack
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Old 01-29-2004, 11:17 AM   #13
Jack Simpson
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Another thought occurred after I hit "send". As I've been subjected to way too much academics, I instantly thought of fuku, shidoin and shihan as parallels with assoc. professor, asst. professor and full professor. Is this how it is veiwed in Japan? or is it viewed at all.

If you were to imagine a totally academic parallel, you could give 4 ranks:

graduation from elementary/high school = black belt

graduation from college = fuku

graduation from grad school = shidoin

teaching grad school students = shihan

At least in most western schools, you don't get any diploma until high school (I'm ignoring the totally silly trend with kindergarden graduations, BTW, although it's cute). In other words, there's no certificate for passing sixth grade, etc.

The time frame through high school in the US is typically 12 years, not an unreasonable time to equate with a "for real" black belt (assuming we're not training 7 day/week, 28 hours per day). The remaining ranks would come after 4 to 5 years each. Also, reasonable in terms of current timelines.

Just some thoughts from an increasingly more absent-minded academic.

Cheers,

Jack
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Old 01-29-2004, 11:34 AM   #14
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menkyo

Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
...It really sounds like you are suggesting Kano introduced the system to make money.
I don't believe Kano started the ranking system to make money. I do believe some people have abused the system for that purpose.

Part of the reason the certificate system cost so much was that during the Meji era, there weren't that many students to support the instructors. Probably hundreds of Ryu were lost at that time. O Sensei wanted to learn Daito Ryu Aiki-jitsu and Takeda Sensei was the only one teaching it. Given that market relationship, the certificates were destined to be expensive.

Currently there are some arts (not aikido that I know of) that have fifteen+ kyu ranks. For each rank there are testing and belt fees. It may not seem like much money because the payments are lower, but there are more students and more payments.

In a depressed domestic economy, a little McDojo can make thousands of dollars from its students. They don't hand out certificates. They hand out belt rankings.

Last edited by tedehara : 01-29-2004 at 11:42 AM.

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Old 01-29-2004, 06:33 PM   #15
Peter Goldsbury
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Quote:
Jack Simpson wrote:
Wow, I guess the winds rattled the trees and something started to fall out. I was wondering if I'd asked a taboo question.
No. In my opinion it certainly was not a taboo question\and even if it was, this is what bulletin boards are for. However, my ear is fairly close to the ground in the Aikikai and the dan vs. menkyo system is not a live issue.
Quote:
Jack Simpson wrote:
I was just curious if others had heard about the use of fuku-, shidoin and shihan as substitutes/replacement for the dans in aikido. In other words, you'd be white belt till fuku, etc. Or maybe, blackbelt, but not separated into 1st dan, 2nd dan, etc, then fuku and on up. As I heard about it second-hand, I can't say who it was that mentioned it initially. Sorry, for something like this I'd want permission, etc.
Yes, but you did mention it, even second-hand, and I think this is what caused the gust of wind. In fact the Aikikai pretty well leaves teaching ranks below shihan to each organization. Here in Japan, I have never heard of fukushidoin at all, and shidoin appear to exist only in the Aikikai Hombu. There are established customs regarding the shihan title here and one aspect of this is that certificates have never been issued. The Aikikai is now issuing shihan certificates to selected foreign individuals residing outside Japan and in this respect the measure is not without controversy.
Quote:
Jack Simpson wrote:
This would of course be difficult to implement in the west with the focus on short range goals, and yes, bucks. Although I agree that the older menkyo system no doubt had its own way of extracting monetary or other payment.
I am sure there are important financial aspects to dan system, as there are with any other certification system and I, too, know a few horror stories. I suppose a crucial question here is the degree to which we expect a dojo to be profitable and a shihan to be wealthy.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-29-2004, 06:40 PM   #16
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Re: menkyo

Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
I don't believe Kano started the ranking system to make money. I do believe some people have abused the system for that purpose.
And my point is simple - the Menkyo system is open to the same level of abuse.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 01-30-2004, 06:33 AM   #17
ian
 
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Re: Re: menkyo

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
I am curious where and when you heard this and in relation to which organization. In the Aikikai dan ranks do not of themselves indicate teaching proficiency; the main teaching title is shihan, for which a certificate is already issued. Thus there is no need even to consider a menkyo system.

Best regards,
However the majority of teachers are not Shihan. The benefit of a teaching certificate and nothing else is that the quality of the aikido will relate to the lineage. Currently you can train in a certain style and teach, but be very poor at aikido (the dan grade may not even be awarded by a Shihan). Thus you are teaching others poor aikido.

Not sure of a solution, other than to have smaller groups of full time students who are being taught specifically to get teaching certificates. In my mind a teaching certificate is given when the instructor has taught them all they can (for that style). Whereas dan grades are just proficiency in the art.

Personally I would go for the single teaching certificate method - there are so many crap instructors out there (myself included).

Ian
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Old 01-30-2004, 06:48 AM   #18
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IanD, I have to disagree with you here. All I've ever heard/seen of extra teaching certificates etc. is more paperwork, more cost for limited results and often at the cost of creating even more "castes" within an association. The only area I can see a "need" for a teaching certificate is (possibly) if you're working with children.

You brought up two distinct issues regarding teaching in your post. One, quality of teaching, normally a poor teacher will just not keep students and the dojo will fail if they're the primary teacher, so I feel it's relatively self regulating. The second is even more interesting, if the person has "proven a proficency in the art" (dan grade etc) why shouldn't they teach what they know? The proficiency issue should be handled already by peer review/competition within their association.
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Old 01-30-2004, 01:17 PM   #19
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Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Quote:
In fact the Aikikai pretty well leaves teaching ranks below shihan to each organization. Here in Japan, I have never heard of fukushidoin at all, and shidoin appear to exist only in the Aikikai Hombu. There are established customs regarding the shihan title here and one aspect of this is that certificates have never been issued. The Aikikai is now issuing shihan certificates to selected foreign individuals residing outside Japan and in this respect the measure is not without controversy.
That seconds an article I saw written by David Lowry that the only real title that matters in Japan is "Sensei". And indeed, this was reserved for only the highest ranking individuals of a particular ryu. Other high ranked yudansha were thought of, quite respectfully, as sempai. There is no fuku or shidoin, etc. I think in the most traditional way of thinking this makes sense and is as it should be.

I remember attending a seminar with a high ranking shihan and receiving help from one of the more advanced people, a teacher as well. I told her "thank you, Sempai" and she looked at me for a moment and then nodded. Later she told me I was correct as there can be only one Sensei on the mat.

I think the teaching titles help in the US from the very pragmatic standpoint of marketing and competing for students with TKD, american karate, Joe's pretty-good jujutsu, etc. Aikido ranks tend to come fairly slowly, and if you're trying to market your club as a 3rd dan against some TKD school with a "7th" dan, people from the outside looking in, with no martial arts experience, may say, "Hey, he's 7th dan, that must be better than 3rd dan", regardless of whether they know what aikido or TKD are. The teaching ranks allow you list another credential that can help somewhat in these types of situations.

In the end, I agree that the only title that really matters is Shihan, or most traditionally, "Sensei". And I'll leave for another batch of electrons the controversy over awarding non-japanese the title of Shihan. While my ear may not be as close to the ground, even I've heard that train rumbling on the tracks.

Best Regards,

Jack
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Old 01-30-2004, 02:14 PM   #20
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Re: menkyo

Quote:
Ted Ehara (tedehara) wrote:
I don't believe Kano started the ranking system to make money. I do believe some people have abused the system for that purpose.
If I recall aright, Kano instituted kyu/dan rankings for encouragement, ie, student retention. I'd call that a profit motive, in and of itself not something I'd condemn. Profit and abuse is a distinction sometimes overlooked in the context of martial arts. Ya gotta pay the bills and even us spiritually purer aikido apostles gotta eat.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-30-2004, 02:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
and even us spiritually purer aikido apostles
[cough, cough] Excuse me? Did you say... [cough] Spiritually purer?

;>

Ron Tisdale
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Old 01-30-2004, 02:42 PM   #22
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Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
[cough, cough] Excuse me? Did you say... [cough] Spiritually purer?

;>
Nah! Never happened. And even if it did, I wasn't there when it did.

;p

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Old 02-17-2004, 11:47 PM   #23
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Re: Re: menkyo

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury (Peter Goldsbury) wrote:
I am curious where and when you heard this and in relation to which organization. In the Aikikai dan ranks do not of themselves indicate teaching proficiency; the main teaching title is shihan, for which a certificate is already issued. Thus there is no need even to consider a menkyo system.

Best regards,
Hi Peter,

As someone else pointed out, the majority of folks teaching over here do not have a Shihan certificate. Since the Aikikai is issuing Shihan certifications, what does that signify? If it is a sign of teaching proficiency, does that mean that those without such a certification are perceived as somehow being less than proficient? I am interested in what the certification means or is thought to mean by those doing the issuing?

George S. Ledyard
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Old 02-18-2004, 12:23 AM   #24
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Quote:
Jack Simpson wrote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:That seconds an article I saw written by David Lowry that the only real title that matters in Japan is "Sensei". And indeed, this was reserved for only the highest ranking individuals of a particular ryu. Other high ranked yudansha were thought of, quite respectfully, as sempai. There is no fuku or shidoin, etc. I think in the most traditional way of thinking this makes sense and is as it should be.

I remember attending a seminar with a high ranking shihan and receiving help from one of the more advanced people, a teacher as well. I told her "thank you, Sempai" and she looked at me for a moment and then nodded. Later she told me I was correct as there can be only one Sensei on the mat.
Just want to interject a thought. Sensei as a title is used far too frequently in Japan to have particular carriage by itself. There are however, like many things, shades of meaning.

I use sensei for my child's teacher, my dentist and the old guy next door. In the dojo I use it for the people who teach regularly, for those that are Shiodin and basically my elders in both age and rank. Things like sempai and the Shiodin are known but not spoken (we only have one teaching rank). We do use Shihan but in the world of Shodokan Aikido there are only two. Of all the people I will use the sensei title with - only one I refer to as my sensei. Perhaps Dave Lowry's description is a little bit romantic - things tend to be a bit more relaxed in definition and in practice - or perhaps he was referring to the latter case.

Anyhow - as long as teaching proficiency is not a requirement for rank a parallel system makes sense. The idea in Shodokan Aikido within Japan is that only Shiodin can award Dan ranks and only Shihan can grade above Yondan. The system is designed to control quality.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-18-2004, 06:24 PM   #25
Peter Goldsbury
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Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
Hi Peter,

As someone else pointed out, the majority of folks teaching over here do not have a Shihan certificate. Since the Aikikai is issuing Shihan certifications, what does that signify? If it is a sign of teaching proficiency, does that mean that those without such a certification are perceived as somehow being less than proficient? I am interested in what the certification means or is thought to mean by those doing the issuing?
Hello George,

I think it is hard to escape the fact that the Aikikai's international regulations are exquisitely Japanese in character, but attempt to deal with organizations outside Japan. It should be remembered that, as with any Japanese regulation, the regulation itself and the application of the regulation, possibly backed up with sanctions, are two different things.

The best example I can think of is the rules laid down by the Japanese government restricting employment. A few years ago a few of our part time teachers were suddenly told that they had to stop teaching\immediately. When the university protested that this would cause havoc with classes and staffing, the relevant immigration official answered that the law had changed two years previously, but they had only begun to apply it then. The immigration office relented and allowed the teachers to finish their contracts, but someone in the immigration office had decided on a particular interpretation of a case-by-case law, which he was entitled to do, by the way.

Another example is the law regulating speeding. On expressways there is a margin of about 30 kph above the limit and you are unlikely to be caught if you keep within this margin. On the other hand, one afternoon the police set up a roadblock not far from the campus and stopped every driver, without exception. A few were booked, but the rest were merely cautioned about speeding, drinking and driving and illegal parking. No one on motorized wheels escaped.

Among the older Aikikai regulations is the rule that organizations have to send a report on their activities to the Aikikai every three months. I think there are about 80 or so recognized organizations, so that would be over 300 reports per year, even apart from the question of what language they would be written in and who would read themc Frankly the rule is quite unrealistic and is a throwback to a bakufu control mentality. It does not appear in the latest revisions.

The international regulations also have the rule that some sort of certificate is issued to those who have been appointed shihan. However, this regulation, plus the regulation that shihan are selected from among those of 6th dan rank or above who are proficient in practice and teaching, has never been changed. The application of the rule has lagged, but the present practice is the beginning of a response to the question, that has been asked at IAF meetings, why there have never been non-Japanese shihan. I think the Aikikai is working towards a situation overseas where there are no emaverickf shihans, in the sense that the title is part of a teaching structure put in place by recognized organizations. I do not think that those who have not been appointed shihan are not competent to teach, but that the individuals do not yet fulfill all the conditions timewise or gradewise, or that the organization itself has not made the request. And, of course, the final decision in a particular case rests with the Aikikai as it always has.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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