Christopher Biazak wrote:
Let me be more specific; I clouded my question with the rank reference.
Does anyone know why one Aikikai-affiliated organization (like the USAF East or West) use the titles, yet another equally affiliated organization (like CAA) does not?
If the titles are part of Aikikai, via Aikikai Hombu, why don't all affiliated organizations use the titles?
It's a reasonable question and I believe the answer is basically historical.
The USAF, arguably, has the longest continuous history and is (now) likely the largest of all such orgs in the United States. But it was not always so.
To a much greater extent than is the case today, throughout the Seventies and perhaps into the early Eighties,many comparatively junior people who were actively training were permitted to start USAF-affiliated dojo in areas where no other opportunity for training exists.(This pattern has been visible in other orgs as well) It's a big country and the spaces between San Diego, Boston, Chicago, and New York are pretty vast, so that covers a lot of territory.
Over a period of years, Yamada Sensei publicly expressed concern about whether many of those individuals were adequately maintaining their own training. During the same period, Chiba Sensei instituted an intensive senshusei program. These two initiatives seem to have conjoined in the issuance of USAF Shidoin and Fukushidoin licenses.
As John Riggs put it, "these are titles and not ranks." It is my understanding that, unlike dan rankings, they are also subject to annual renewal. This provides a means for the issuers of the licenses to maintain quality control, both explict and implicit.
From a larger organizational point of view, this is a fairly typical development for a group which has moved out of its intensive growth phase and into a consolidation phase in which it actively prepares for pending transitions in leadership.
CAA, on the other hand, was the first major bloc of aikido dojo to move beyond the "one country, one organization" top-down model enshrined in the original IAF by-laws. In a variety of respects, it is quite different from the USAF, having been organized by by a number of now senior American aikidoka by a process of discussion, negotiation, and mutual agreement, operating more as a confederacy than a federation to use a governmental model, or to use a sectarian religious model, rather more Congregational than Diocesan.
Fortunately for all concerned, over the years, the previous Doshu, Ueshiba Kisshomaru, took a rather more tolerant and conciliatory attitude toward such developments than some of his students, who favored a strict reading of the IAF by-laws in this particular matter.
But to return to the initial question, while possession of a fukushidoin or shidoin license will be taken by many outside the USAF as a not insignificant measure of Yamada or Chiba Sensei's opinion of an individual's skill or potential skill as an instructor, it's an internal document most likely to be useful in circumstances involving either licensees moving to a new area which has a dojo but no one so licensed, or a difference of opinion between comparatively junior yudansha who are certified as shidoin or fukushidoin and more senior yudansha who have never been given such certification or who once had such certification and no longer do, for whatever reason. (Whether, in fact, anyone issued one of these licenses has had it pulled subsequently is an interesting question, and I too would be interested in the answer.)
Like the CAA, most of the other organizations in the US arose from conscious decisions not to affiliate with the USAF, so it would simply seem counter-intuitive to expect automatic emulation of the USAF model as it develops, for good or ill.
Hope this helps,