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Old 07-28-2004, 08:02 AM   #1
Steven Scott
Dojo: Ki Shin Tai Aikido Kan
Location: Kilmarnock
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 18
Scotland
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Cashing In

A little background, followed by a question on which I have desired to post for some time and feel strongly about. I would greatly be appreciative of feedback.

My apologies in advance for the overdose of sarcasm in this article, but it is the only way I can find any humour in this situation.

I have noticed in the past few years (although it is quietening down again - calm before the storm most probably!!) a number of clubs sprouting up in and around our area (Southwest Scotland) that claim to be teaching Aikido. Unfortunately, these clubs fall widely short of the benchmarks required to be classed as reputable or of adequate standard and, I feel personally, bring the art and legacy of O-Sensei as a whole into serious disrepute.

I have observed that these can fall into two very general categories, clubs that claim to teach traditional (whatever style) Aikido, and those that claim to teach multiple arts of which Aikido is one particular discipline.

There are regular tell-tale signs of the presence of such clubs in the area:

1) There appear, out of the blue one or two (sometimes three) students sent out on a spying mission to your dojo who always think that they know better and continually remark "ah, but I was taught it this way" or (and this was actually said to me while assisting one of them with shiho nage "Ah, but at this point we'd just break their arm".

Always forgetting that ten minutes ago they had claimed to never study Aikido.

2) Somehow, somewhere you meet a student from the other club who knows you, whom you cannot recognise, and they engage you in the delicate art of wanting to demonstrate what they have been shown, generally of the "My instructor told me that if I was attacked I was to do this...<arms flailing>.." and you have to hide the 'what the hell.....' expression from your face in order to maintain professionalism while pulling them out of the way of a passing truck. They, misinterpreting this as an attack attempt to perform said manoeuvre and immediately show it up as so much tosh.

3) You are in a sports centre or facility and see a class bow to O-sensei, immediately thinking "Oh, Aikido I wonder of they would mind me watching...." before noticing that the instructor is wearing blue silk trousers and a Karate-gi jacket and has just begun instruction in using nunchaku to perform shiho nage. You walk away swiftly... (this is worse at courses, doubly worse if you pay in advance)

4) A new student arrived, points at O-sensei and says, "hey thats the guy we bow to in our Aiki-Jutsu Budoka-do class. He's the one who invented kicking, right. My instructor was graded tenth dan by him in Taiwan last year...."

Who are these people and where do they come from, do they live only in the UK and who instructed them - Sensei Don Quixote, possibly! Sensei Walter Mitty, most definitely.

Has anyone else in the big wide world had any experiences with or noticed these individuals cashing in on the art that is Aikido and demeaning all the honest training undertaken by the serious Aikidoka and reputable instructors ?

Yours in Aiki
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:16 AM   #2
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 515
United Nations
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Re: Cashing In

Short answer: Yes.

Long Answer: This seems to be a probelm in most areas of the UK (though more in some areas than others) and other countries too. There is no regulation of standards (e.g. I could award myself 12th dan and start an organisation).

What to be done is the question. One quite appealing idea is to find them and kill them (I believe this was one one very senior instructors advice to a student some years ago, who had a doddy dojo nearby). But alas, laws, morals, etc make this less than practicle (a common criticism of Aikido!).
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:26 AM   #3
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 515
United Nations
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Re: Cashing In

In some countries there has been legal action I believe, but this can become repressive. Who is after all to decide what is good Aikido?

Optimism: Evolution will kill off the bad schools as they will attract fewer students.

Pessimism: These schools spread quicker than good Aikido as they:

1. Compromise standards to appeal to the public
2. Can produce instructors at a quicker rate.

Some have commented that the British Aikido Board has allowed this situation to continue by not setting any technical standards (though they do require and teach coaching skills, first aid and a number of valuable related things). But I'm not sure if we want to open that can of worms...

Any sollutions anyone? This has probably been a thread before.

Mark (UKA)
x

p.s. Just out of interest who is your teacher Mr Scott? Not a challenge, just getting some background.
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:47 AM   #4
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
Location: London
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 899
United Kingdom
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Re: Cashing In

Hiya Steven,

Well I know where at least one group came from, just surprised at the geographical location... Prior to a few dojos going it on their own as independents, my first dojo was affiliated with a group down south. Just as we were leaving them, there was short, but nasty, tussle for headship and I forgot about them for a few years. Small world syndrome happened and whilst in a dojo in the NE the instructor mentioned a bunch called [censored 'cos who knows].

He was particularly enamoured at how they had adapted a womens kimono to denote dan status and white-hakamas for the main three. Inquiring into their names, I realised I'd know them in a previous incarnation as rather workaday first dans.

So my theory is there's groups of independents who, having lost their big cheese, sort of drift into strange territory...

The only solution is to ignore them, they'll all be changing their name to use Brazilian or Combat or "alive" somewhere along the line and the aikido will be dropped altogether

Note: before anyone thinks I'm bashing non BAB etc. - I is a happy part of (and always have been part of) various independent assocs in the UK. However, you do have to recognise potential dangers in any assoc and for the small ones, this can happen.
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Old 07-28-2004, 09:22 AM   #5
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 515
United Nations
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Re: Cashing In

Similar thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5986
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Old 07-28-2004, 09:23 AM   #6
Steven Scott
Dojo: Ki Shin Tai Aikido Kan
Location: Kilmarnock
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 18
Scotland
Offline
Re: Cashing In

Hi Mark,

My instructor is Stefan Kristiaan who takes his lead from Daniel Andre Brun of the CEA (Confederation of European Aikido) whom I believe trained under Tadashi Abbe Sensei.

Not than lineage goes for much, I have also studied under instructors trained by Saito Sensei and Chiba Sensei, some of whom were exemplary in their spirit and ability, and some of whom were a little more.... unconventional (for want of a better word).

The phrase, "just do it how you want, its all Budo..... " springs to mind.

Yours in Aiki
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Old 07-28-2004, 09:39 AM   #7
Steven Scott
Dojo: Ki Shin Tai Aikido Kan
Location: Kilmarnock
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 18
Scotland
Offline
Re: Cashing In

I should add that its not just about credentials, its also about what is done and the attitude of these instructors to the students they have and the art they are (supposed) to be studying.

Many years ago I taught a reasonably syccessful Karate Class in Scotland, affiliated to a well-known and respected group and had been training for about 14 years. There was a point, however, (learned through my training in Aikido I must add) when I no longer felt the same calling for this art. I had contemplated taking it in a new direction by adding some of the applications of Aikido (I had just turned Shodan Aikido at the time) and creating a bastard art, but immediately dismissed the idea because of a few reasons:

1) Having trained for so long in Karate I had learned a lot of respect and humility for those who could give themselves over to a lifetime of study of it, for me to take this and 'tweak' it is a total disrepect to everyone who had assissted me and supported me over the years, instructors, students , family, etc.It was difficult for me to close down my class, and I let a lot of people down. The only way I could live with myself is that I knew it was the right thing to do and that I would have let them down more by falsifying myself and the art.

2) In studying Aikido to the level I had, it had become absorbed into me to such an extent that I had changed as a person, I knew that this is what I wanted to do and felt very comfortable about committing myself wholly and comp[letely to its study. I was no longer so immature about myself or insecure about my ability not just to learn and teach, but to fail as any regular human being does, that I would rely on gimmicks to prostitute what I wanted to do.

We (my students and I) have a simple attitude to training, what you see is what you get. Traditional Aikido and nothing more.

This attitude does not make me better or worse than any other instructor out there, but I do not and will not sell something to students that does not belong, and I always give them 110% of the 100% I can muster during any training session.

Sorry to be ranting on, but like any genuine Aikidoka, the art is a very precious and personal endeavor to me.

Yours in Aiki
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