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Old 04-18-2004, 11:26 AM   #1
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honorary dan ranking

Something has been bothering me and some others from our club for a long time now, and I needed a place to vent where others with experience could tell me if we were just over reacting.A long while ago an old guy at our club was awarded his nidan.Now this woundn't be so bad if he'd actually earned it.He was already given his shodan. He couldn't do the full test because of his age.Okay, I might be able to agree with awarding the guy an honorary shodan, but enough is enough.The guy doesn't really even train, and he doesnt even know basic dojo etiquette.Our instructor seems to have a big h--d on for this guy and can't see that it's really anoying to many including me.Is there anything we can do, can we talk to our teacher or do we just have to grin and bear it when this guy shows up for his yearly visit and is awarded his sandan?
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Old 04-19-2004, 01:10 AM   #2
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Happens all the time... becoming a huge financial supporter of the sensei/dojo/organization seems to be a common factor. It's particularly iritating when your kohai suddenly becomes your sempai right?
IMHO, it's bearable as long as you and others really now how he REALLY is (technique, etiquette, etc.); and this usually becomes apparent when these honorary-dan-holders are asked to teach, help with demonstartions, attend seminars, etc.
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Old 04-19-2004, 04:02 AM   #3
philipsmith
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Honorary gradings are awarded for a number of reasons, often to people who physically are unable to test (or even train) for whatever reason.

If it distresses you greatly ask the guy who awarded the grade why he did so.
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Old 04-19-2004, 10:22 AM   #4
"maki otoshi"
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Re: honorary dan ranking

So what?

I can understand how your instinctive gut reaction would be frustration at seeing someone "undeserving" handed ranks that the rest of you have to work for. But at the end of the day, how does that hurt you? As long as your dojo is still a good place to train and you are learning, other people's promotion, deserved or not, is not your problem.
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Old 04-19-2004, 06:01 PM   #5
Doka
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Re: honorary dan ranking

It's simple really - how does that affect your practice? If it doesn't then there is no problem. If the guy is now senior to you and making you change your Aikido for the worse, then you have a lot of questions to ask YOURSELF!!! Like "Do I want to keep training here!"

So is it restricting your Aikido or not?

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Old 04-19-2004, 06:31 PM   #6
DGLinden
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Anony..., oh, you know who you are...
Some of the things that beginners (anyone under sandan or 50 years old) don't understand about rank are: your life experience is considered when promotions are considered; your physical condition is considered when testing is considered; what you contribute to the dojo is considered when rank is considered; how you help the kohai is considered when rank is considered. Did you show up for the cleaning and fixing-up weekend? Did you spend sixteen hours setting up a promotion for the dojo? Are you available for white belts to talk to when they need some talking to...?
Beginners (anyone under sandan...) put so much to-do over rank. Rank is not important. Rank really does not mean anything in the long run. When people come to my dojo they rarely come because they know who I am. They come because they live within driving distance. They are shocked to find out that some people move from halfway around the world to train here as I did when I moved to Florida to train with Saotome Sensei. And when they realize that they are training in a 'real' dojo it makes them happy, but so what? Aikido is a cult of personality, like most martial arts. My students rarely know about Saotome Sensei when they start. They don't know about Osensei. They want to train in Aikido. After a time they get to feeling frisky about rank.

Listen anony... rank doesn't mean anything. I've known fifth dans who could not muster enough respect among their peers to get an invitation to a party. (and sixth dans as well) And I've know sixth dans who courted ikkyus who were connected somehow.

What matters is who YOU are. Train hard. Respect everyone regardless of rank and obey your elders. (You heard me right.) They were climbing mountains before you were born and the fact that they are still out there and training and being involved might just be beyond your comprehension right now. I've got a gentleman who just started who is 55 and a step slow, but he provides what we used to call leadership and is the most prominent person on the mat this month.

Oh, and by the way, look around at the next seminar. You just might see a group of old, fat, tired, gray-haired, balding, wrinkled, miserable, pain racked, limping, busted-up old wrecks that you usually refer to as 'shihans'. Go ask them about rank and old age.


Sometimes, sometimes we give rank because we respect the person doing aikido and what he has had to endure to get where he is. Sometimes we realize that if we had been faced with the hardship and problems we would have quit long before this person did. And sometimes, we realize that a person simply needs a promotion. They need it like we need a raise, or a yes to a marriage proposal, or to a home loan. It costs very little, and it puts the truth to the fact that aikido is about compassion, after all.

Last edited by DGLinden : 04-19-2004 at 06:43 PM.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 04-19-2004, 07:00 PM   #7
rachmass
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Very nice response Mr. Linden!
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Old 04-19-2004, 07:05 PM   #8
thatoldfool
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Well, I agree in general with the above post-

However, I think for things to function smoothly, the "honourary" promotee needs to to realize his or her position. The impression I get from the first post is that this person is trying to flex that new rank a bit, and people are, perhaps, rightfully resentful.

Nothing against honourary promotions, OR aikidoka of older age - as you mentioned, our Shihan's are getting up there - however, I once dojo practice is undermined by such promotions, then it becomes a problem.

...

"Best to be like water,
Which benefits the ten thousand things
And does not contend."
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Old 04-19-2004, 08:20 PM   #9
Joezer M.
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

I've heard several stories from friends about honorary-dan holders (usually shodan and nidans) who suddenly act like shihans, even during seminars with real shihans present, or during regular classes with higher ranking yudansha. Maybe the first post was refering to these kind of people?
I think that it isn't common, but it happens...
Other than sometimes being an annoyance, I can't see anything really wrong with that.
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Old 04-19-2004, 09:00 PM   #10
PeterR
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Can't be worse than the infamous 5th Kyu Shihan.

One of my favorite people started Aikido when he retired which was about 6 months before I joined the dojo. We did our Shodan together and in fact he was my uke for part of it - I nearly killed him in my enthusiasm. While I was away he was promoted to Nidan and now sort of matches the description given above. Lots of talking and to be blunt often goes off on some pretty strange tangents.

However, while I know my ability to actually physically do Aikido exceeds his, I also know that there are people junior to me in age and experience that far exceed myself. There also seems to be a variation in what's expected for the various grades or more to the point should a 70 year old man be required to take the same level of physical abuse that a 20 something athletic college student with a talent for Aikido should take. These are not honorary Dan ranks - these are adjusted Dan ranks. The truly honorary ranks never train.

Anyway Daniel is correct. Its not about rank its about your own Aikido.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-20-2004, 03:06 AM   #11
happysod
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Damn, this thread has made me start to change my opinion on gradings etc. and I really really hate that, especially when I further realise that I'm having to agree with Paul again.

I always considered a rank in aikido to be related to their ability in aikido and, while I can understand Peter's comment regarding changes in testing due to physical/mental competence of the testee, there should be a limit. Not impressed by the idea of honorary shodan+ rank in the slightest, even after reading Daniels eloquent missive (as usual, some people just have no disrespect for language, Daniel, start misspelling things please).

The idea that an honorary rank should try and flex muscle is positively bizarre and sounds like a good reason to forget the peaceful intent inherent in aikido. Oh well, off to vote "I don't do aikido" again...
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Old 04-20-2004, 09:12 AM   #12
senshincenter
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

How about this? If rank is nothing, is something which does not matter, then why give it meaning one way but not the other? Why not just not give rank? What can't someone help out the dojo, share his life experiences, continue to train to or within the limits of their abilities, etc., and simply do so with one rank to last them forever, one rank that marks not what is honorary but what is symbolic of a lot of physical investment in a martial art - that is ABILITY. And why can't that rank ever be a kyu rank?! Why?

Answer: Because everyone who makes use of such a system, those who reward themselves with rank, those who make use of such rewards, those that seek such rewards, those who hold such rewards from others, etc., know full well that without the enticement of rank said folks would have little meaning with which or by which to understand their Aikido training, their relationship to their teacher and to there dojo, and their allegiance to their federation, etc.

In other words, it's true that rank means nothing, at least ultimately or even personally, or rather it is true that it can, but certainly not in these cases. In these cases, rank means an awful lot. And that is the sad part. And making something out of nothing, especially when it is done with institutional support, effects everyone - sooner or later. This it does not because of the charlatans that eventually spring up by such actions, but this it does by the mere fact that what is worth nothing comes to be worth something. It's like a false market, sort of. He/she who has more nothing in the end, in the heads of an ever growing and perpetuating group, comes to feel they not only have more than others but are themselves wealthy. You do this enough, that is to say you participate in this market in order to make it spread, even if it is by your "let it be, it doesn't bother me" attitude, and sooner or later Aikido will be a market of nothing.

If rank is nothing, then treat it thusly - keep it nothing.

my opinion,
dmv
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Old 04-20-2004, 01:13 PM   #13
Dude
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Re: honorary dan ranking

[quote=DGLinden]Anony..., oh, you know who you are...
Some of the things that beginners (anyone under sandan or 50 years old) don't understand about rank are: your life experience is considered when promotions are considered; your physical condition is considered when testing is considered; what you contribute to the dojo is considered when rank is considered; how you help the kohai is considered when rank is considered. Did you show up for the cleaning and fixing-up weekend? Did you spend sixteen hours setting up a promotion for the dojo? Are you available for white belts to talk to when they need some talking to...?QUOTE]


As a member of the same club I would like to address this for clarification. If the guy in question did all of these things I could agree with what you are saying.But the problem in this case is that the guy doesn't do any of these things. He just shows up once and a while, talks with our instructor, and then leaves. He does not contribute to the club. The real kicker for some of us is when his picture was included on the club website.


[quote=DGLinden] Beginners (anyone under sandan...) put so much to-do over rank. Rank is not important.QUOTE]


As someone before asked, if that were true, then why give it at all? If the best that this guy can do is earn say 5th kyu, then why not award him that and be proud of it. If the dan rank is just our instructors way of showing gratitude and respect, then shouldn't shodan be enough?
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Old 04-20-2004, 02:39 PM   #14
John Boswell
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Quote:
As a member of the same club I would like to address this for clarification.
FIRST of all, this is the Anon board, meaning: the original poster is anonymous and for a reason

SECOND of all, being that the original person was anon, how do you know its not another dojo?

NOW... before you answer number two, first figure out... why go anon in the first place?
1) You need to go read Jun's post on why this forum is here
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4325
and
2) You need to knock off saying anything else specific.

Right now, people can determine your I.P. address and thereby the city and country of origin. From that, someone can learn just what dojo you are in and then who it is you are talking about here... on the Anon Board.

This is not a place to air out dirty laundry. This is a safe place to ask questions and get answers without hurting peoples feelings and reputations. With the introduction of John Somebody up there, we now have anonimity flying off into no where and people and reputations are now potentially on the line.

Think before you speak.

Better yet, get facts... ALL the facts first. So far, all I've heard here is opinion and speculation. I wonder if the original author EVER spoke to his/her sensei about this situation before coming here? I wonder if that John Person ever did?

Have a good day all. Tread lightly.

Last edited by John Boswell : 04-20-2004 at 02:45 PM.

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Old 04-20-2004, 03:34 PM   #15
Don_Modesto
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
FIRST of all, this is the Anon board, meaning: the original poster is anonymous and for a reason....
Have a good day all. Tread lightly.
Nice post.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 04-25-2004, 05:32 PM   #16
jamara
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Re: honorary dan ranking

I personally feel that if you cant pass the tests you shouldn't get the grade, because in my eyes it removes the whole point in grading. I personally like to train with dan grades because they are good enough to be dan grades and can swow me something worth learning. I cannot see that there is any point in awarding "honorary" grades at all, as they are only there to massage peoples ego's and if you are genuinly interested in aikido (the way of harmany) a "big ego" is not desireable.
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Old 04-26-2004, 02:32 AM   #17
robbsims
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Re: honorary dan ranking

If I may add something to this thread...

The importance of Rank is a very, shall I say, western ideal. A different color belt for each level. An elaborate procedure for receiving your certificate.

At the Hakodate dojo, if a certificate arrives, and the student is present, Sensei will call a rest break. Everyone lines up and the student is called forward. The student receives the document and returns to their place in line. In the case of a new Shodan, we all wait until the Hakama is put on and then continue preacticing. There is no member board to show status.

In Japan, you never know if the guy infront of you on the street is a 6th dan Karateka or Judoka. To be honest, I have respect for all the members of the Dojo regardless of rank. Anyone at anytime can be in a position to help you improve.

If your Sensei decides to give an honoary level to someone, what is it to you? Ask yourself. "Who are you to second guess your instructor?" or perhaps, "What does my Sensei know that I dont? If after this you still have a bug up your ###, then go and ask your Sensei point blank.

I mean really, having all this anxiety over someone elses rank is really silly. I am not trying to offend anyone, just put things in there proper perspective.

If I have offend, oh well...

Robert Sims

PS I almost forgot. To the Anon who started this thread...
if you have a beef and want to vent it, at least have the cajones to use your name. I might take your problem a little more seriously.

Last edited by robbsims : 04-26-2004 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 04-26-2004, 02:50 AM   #18
PeterR
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Hi Robert;

We have a member board and rank is displayed. I suppose a certain amount of distinction is also made but really not that much. We have a strongly developed curriculum so what you practice is dictated by rank and who teaches you is also dictated but generally people know who's hot and who's not. There is not an immediate run to the highest rank for everything. It really is just a rough guide just as the sempai/kohei thingy.

We also use colored belts for regular members (i.e. non-students). Generally it works out to one color change a year after that you get stuck with uninspiring black. The first color (light blue) is just so chic. It does serve a certain purpose in a larger dojo and in the early days might even provide a little prize for hard training but personally I could go either way. I just wanted to comment that colored belts may have been Western in origin but some Japanese dojos latched right on.

One thing that always makes me wonder is the concern for status at mudansha rank. It's just so transitory - one kyu grade more or less is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Neither of course is yudansha rank <---politically correct observation.

Agree with most/all of your post. Just tossing in some added perspective.

Last edited by PeterR : 04-26-2004 at 02:57 AM.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-26-2004, 07:46 AM   #19
SeiserL
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

IMHO, if your instructor has earned the right to give rank, than they can give it for whatever criteria they feel is appropriate. You can do the same when you get there. Not everyone will agree with you either.

Beware of jealousy, it says more about you than it does about the person you are jealous of.

Worry more about the "honor" in your own practice than the "honorary" in some one else's rank.

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 04-26-2004, 09:16 AM   #20
deepsoup
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Quote:
SeiserL wrote:
Worry more about the "honor" in your own practice than the "honorary" in some one else's rank.
Thats very nice, I like that.

Much further up, I noticed:
Quote:
Somebody anonymous wrote:
It's particularly iritating when your kohai suddenly becomes your sempai right?
Don't confuse the sempai/kohai thing with the ranking thing. (Most of us in western dojos aren't doing the sempai/kohai thing, btw, even if we think we are)
If you have a kohai and that person is promoted above you, they don't become your sempai. They're still your kohai, they just happen to outrank you.
The Shihan to whom I look for inspiration, for example, has quite a few sempai whom he outranks. It makes for interesting politics.

Sean
x
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Old 04-28-2004, 05:47 PM   #21
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Re: honorary dan ranking

What if you have a rapidly progressing kohai who doesn't outrank you (yet), but likes to pretend as if they do?
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Old 04-28-2004, 08:18 PM   #22
PeterR
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

You can do nothing but be annoyed. There's always someone like that.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-29-2004, 03:41 PM   #23
Doka
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Re: honorary dan ranking

Quote:
Anon wrote:
What if you have a rapidly progressing kohai who doesn't outrank you (yet), but likes to pretend as if they do?
Quote:
PeterR wrote:
You can do nothing but be annoyed. There's always someone like that.
Yeah, it happens. Often with people from the Hombu (not just mine) - they are from the "Hombu"! Funnily enough they tend to be promoted way too fast as well!!!

You have to take the view, does it affect my training. Normally no! If it does (or bother you that much) you have to ask serious questions of yourself!

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Old 05-08-2004, 02:49 PM   #24
Arch
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Re: honorary dan ranking

[Dan, was very impressed by you reply o;n dan ranking. you sure covered all the bases very clearly. I've read other postings by you a know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are a wonderful asset to akido and I take my hat off to you so you will know a shining grasshopper when you see one. Very,very best to you. Arch,the shining grasshopper.QUOTE=DGLinden]Anony..., oh, you know who you are...
Some of the things that beginners (anyone under sandan or 50 years old) don't understand about rank are: your life experience is considered when promotions are considered; your physical condition is considered when testing is considered; what you contribute to the dojo is considered when rank is considered; how you help the kohai is considered when rank is considered. Did you show up for the cleaning and fixing-up weekend? Did you spend sixteen hours setting up a promotion for the dojo? Are you available for white belts to talk to when they need some talking to...?
Beginners (anyone under sandan...) put so much to-do over rank. Rank is not important. Rank really does not mean anything in the long run. When people come to my dojo they rarely come because they know who I am. They come because they live within driving distance. They are shocked to find out that some people move from halfway around the world to train here as I did when I moved to Florida to train with Saotome Sensei. And when they realize that they are training in a 'real' dojo it makes them happy, but so what? Aikido is a cult of personality, like most martial arts. My students rarely know about Saotome Sensei when they start. They don't know about Osensei. They want to train in Aikido. After a time they get to feeling frisky about rank.

Listen anony... rank doesn't mean anything. I've known fifth dans who could not muster enough respect among their peers to get an invitation to a party. (and sixth dans as well) And I've know sixth dans who courted ikkyus who were connected somehow.

What matters is who YOU are. Train hard. Respect everyone regardless of rank and obey your elders. (You heard me right.) They were climbing mountains before you were born and the fact that they are still out there and training and being involved might just be beyond your comprehension right now. I've got a gentleman who just started who is 55 and a step slow, but he provides what we used to call leadership and is the most prominent person on the mat this month.

Oh, and by the way, look around at the next seminar. You just might see a group of old, fat, tired, gray-haired, balding, wrinkled, miserable, pain racked, limping, busted-up old wrecks that you usually refer to as 'shihans'. Go ask them about rank and old age.


Sometimes, sometimes we give rank because we respect the person doing aikido and what he has had to endure to get where he is. Sometimes we realize that if we had been faced with the hardship and problems we would have quit long before this person did. And sometimes, we realize that a person simply needs a promotion. They need it like we need a raise, or a yes to a marriage proposal, or to a home loan. It costs very little, and it puts the truth to the fact that aikido is about compassion, after all.[/quote]

Bearded Shining Grasshopper!
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Old 05-08-2004, 09:55 PM   #25
Nick P.
 
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Re: honorary dan ranking

If your Sensei (or better yet the Doshu) showed up one day with belts, hakamas and (insert dan rank here) certificates for everyone, do you REALLY think anyone's Aikido would change, just like that? I hate to answer my own question, but of course not! So, who cares what rank the other person has?

You would all go back to doing what you all have done up until this point; train. My irimi-nage would still suck, her tenchi-nage would still be awesome, etc, etc. As the years and ranks went by, I hope my irimi-nage would suck less but that is not why I continue to train. I train because I enjoy it. See the "Too Many Aiki-Fruities?" thread for some real "You call THAT Aikido?" lines. Classic.

Yes, rank has is it's place, and to a CERTAIN degree it is important. But only your rank should concern you and no-one else, and vice-versa.
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