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Old 08-17-2004, 11:47 AM   #1
Jim Saba
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Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Very interesting article. I agree with your idea about the unrealistic importance that is placed on titles and positions. Humans seem to need that for some reason. I do see some need to have some system , but I think that it's like anything else you need to temper your judgement when it come right down to it. There are too many people in this world who are too caught up in the own self- importance.


Thank You ,
Jim Saba
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Old 08-17-2004, 07:49 PM   #2
Jim Saba
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

The Article :
In another forum, someone was asking me about my ranks in Iaido and there was another inquiry about my ranks in Aikido. I can understand this kind of curiousity because I have been very quiet in my own dojo with a very busy teaching schedule and have really not gone out much in the last 20 years since I relocated to my present dojo in LIttle Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles in 1984 - about 19 years ago. I think that the older generation of Aikidoists all know me or heard of me very well, but perhaps the younger generation of Aikidoists within the last 20 years or so do not know me at all. Of course, it goes without saying that my rank in Aikido is from Hombu Dojo Aikikai - I never thought to be asked where it ever came from!

I posted an explanation of my Iaido ranks in that forum but then removed it after a while so perhaps the inquirer saw it hopefully while it was on. Otherwise, the question will remain not addressed. When I thought back to all of my promotions over the last 45 years or so, I realized that I have not kept very good track of them. This question really caused me to think back and I realized that I didn't even know the ranks of many of my Iaido teachers in the past. I think it was impolite to ask directly and I think it was not much of a concern for us then as ranks are now. I know I studied under many great teachers and even today I still respect and admire their skill and teachings although they are long gone and I still don't know what ranks they were exactly. I remember Takiguchi Yoshinobu Sensei was a 9th Dan in Kendo and an expert in Itto Ryu as well as Iaido. Coming to the US from the same village in Japan as my grandfather around the turn of the century, he gave me very special attention in my Kendo and Iaido training as a little kid.

There was Ebihara Sensei, who was perhaps the greatest of all of my Iaido teachers - I recall this must have been about 35 years ago or so when I was training. He had actual combat usage of Iaido during the war and because of those sad memories was very reluctant to teach us any Iaido at all. His Iaido left me breathless - he used a shorter sword because his Iaido was for actual battle. Regetably, I remember another Aikido teacher wanted to join our small group of three students. On his very first evening, he pushed the shoulder of Ebihara Sensei a little and said, "I don't think you are keeping your 'one point'." Ebihara Sensei just sat down and that was the last lesson anyone ever had, he did not say a word. This was the same as trying to ask for his rank and qualifications. This is how it was back in the old days! I still remember this incident very well in my head - such a great learning opportunity was lost due to unthinking rudeness. Mori Torao Sensei was a great genius in Kendo and his Iaido classes were always so exciting for me - none of us were capable of even remotely imitating what he could do with a sword. He studied several styles of Iaido - we just learned whatever he taught us. I don't remember what style he taught us - maybe Jikiden Eishin Ryu and Muso Shinden Ryu.

After I posted the explanation, I felt very bad inside of myself. If anyone misinterpreted that I was bragging about myself or boasting about my ranks, I could never forgive myself. I felt so ahamed about this and am relieved that this post is gone.

If someone wants to study under me, they should come to my dojo and meet me and begin training and of course, he should know my background and qualifications. I think he will soon know me from the training here in my dojo and from my students as he practices. If someone wants to know my ranks just out of curiousity and for more chit-chat with no intention of meeting me or ever training with me, I rather discuss something else.

I think attitudes are very different today and we are very rank conscious in these modern times. I think other "old-timers" like myself will understand and appreciate what I am saying. Maybe the younger generation of Aikidoists out there will think this conversation very strange and odd. This is another difference I see in students today. The older generation was very strict about modesty and humility and considered it a very important element of their practice.

My Zen master, the late Bishop Kenko Yamashita, practiced Kendo before the war in Japan. I never knew his rank until one day it just happened to come up in another conversation in the temple and he mentioned in passing that he was 5th Dan. I think 5th Dan in those days is equivalent to maybe 8th or 9th Dan today. But we were all surprised because he never talked about his Kendo days before. Although he was in his 80's at the time and never practiced for over 50 years, for us, he took a Japanese sword out of his closet in the office and instantly cut a thick telephone book into two very cleanly - we were all shocked! Even his own daughters did not know he could do this. He let me look at the sword right after this, I was shocked again to know that a famous modern swordsmith had made this sword especially for him on the occasion of his journey to America! It was inscribed on the tang of the blade. When I asked how he got this, he said, "Oh, Watanabe (the swordsmith) is an old acquaintance of mine." I was so shocked again. Talking a little more about his Kendo, I then discovered that he practiced everyday in the same dojo as Nakayama Hakudo Sensei, one of the first pioneers of modern Kendo and the "father" of modern Iaido. Again, I was totally shocked that he never ever mentioned this to anyone until now in such a casual conversation. My Zen master is about the same generation as O'Sensei and 2nd Doshu - I think all great teachers were like this in those days - so humble and modest, - now so long ago.

These are just a few memories from the past of my training and how it was many years ago. . . . . . I just thought to share them with you here. Thank you.

My Response :
Very interesting article. I agree with your idea about the unrealistic importance that is placed on titles and positions. Humans seem to need that for some reason. I do see some need to have some system , but I think that it's like anything else you need to temper your judgement when it come right down to it. There are too many people in this world who are too caught up in the own self- importance.


Thank You ,
Jim Saba
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Old 08-17-2004, 08:38 PM   #3
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

I'm a bit lost, what ranks in aikido and iaido exactly has M.Kensho Furuya and who were his teachers?
By teacher I mean instructor with whom M.Kensho Furuya practiced REGULARY during years, not occasional seminars.
I found it is very suspected he doesn't give honest, straithfull answer.

Nagababa

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Old 08-17-2004, 10:12 PM   #4
Charles Hill
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I found it is very suspected he doesn't give honest, straithfull answer.
Then I guess we'll have to go by the words he has written (which always seem enlightening and insightful to me) and the tv shows in which he has appeared (his technique looks solid and interesting to me.)

Charles Hill
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Old 08-18-2004, 01:06 AM   #5
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

I do agree that a lot of emphasis is put on rank these days, and I am certain that it has a lot to do with the type of culture that we live in today. We like to measure our progress in a given thing, and in Martial Arts a rank or grade is the easiest why to do this.

With regard to teachers/instructors in some ways it is a good why to judge their technical knowledge, but as has been pointed out many times on this forum technical knowledge doesn't always make for the best teachers. I think it would be naive, but understandable, of someone starting out in any MA to choose a teach on rank alone.

Thanks,
Rob

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"Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear."
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Old 08-18-2004, 01:15 AM   #6
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
I'm a bit lost, what ranks in aikido and iaido exactly has M.Kensho Furuya and who were his teachers?
By teacher I mean instructor with whom M.Kensho Furuya practiced REGULARY during years, not occasional seminars.
I found it is very suspected he doesn't give honest, straithfull answer.

He covers a lot of it in an old post here

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ghlight=furuya

Snippet taken

Quote:
Kensho Furuya wrote:
Btw, someone also asked about my rank in Aikido - this is, of course, from Aikikai Hombu Dojo, received from 2nd Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei. Sorry, I forgot how many years ago that was. . . . . Thank you.

I agree with Charles, we take the man at face value (as I do with everyone) based on how they write and conduct themselves on the boards. One's character will be pretty much evident after a while.

rgds

Bryan

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Old 08-18-2004, 06:19 AM   #7
Peter Seth
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

There seems to be a need for humans to be 'important' at something, to stand out, maybe its a survival imperative - looking a good bet for a mate, etc? - I don't know.
But as I have told my son, status is only within an individual sphere of activity.
And, most important to remember that 'Everyone is NOT important somewhere'!
So you could be a 20th dan at whatever, but that means nothing to someone who has no interest in your sphere of activity. So I think its a good idea to just be nice, don't throw your ego at people, treat everyone with respect no matter who they are. You will find that the 'status' this develops brings both respect and warmth from your fellows.
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Old 08-18-2004, 08:07 AM   #8
ian
 
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Wise words Peter; you have been awarded 10th Dan of the aiki-web forums ;o)
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Old 08-18-2004, 01:53 PM   #9
tony cameron
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

cheers to peter! your son is fortunate to have such a humble and wise teacher for a father. there are probably numerous times in this life that we pass near a master on the street unbeknownst to us. even Hakuin apparently travelled the japan countryside as a common begger only to greatly humble those unfortunate and stupid enough to disrespect him. respect= dignity and honour i say. i pray that i am fortunate enough to meet and train with Furuya Sensei in this life. he probably doen't even know that he is a living Master.

respect to all

tony1
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Old 08-18-2004, 08:57 PM   #10
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
He covers a lot of it in an old post here

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ghlight=furuya

Bryan
thanks! So basically he is a second dan(Nidan). And after leaving Hombu dojo he didn't have any instructor to teach him.

Nagababa

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Old 08-19-2004, 03:56 PM   #11
AsimHanif
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Yes, I was wondering about that. He may be a very good instructor and a very nice person but since he never answered the question regarding rank it makes me think there may be an issue. He answered a lot of other stuff and added a lot of "enlightening" conversation but never the original question.
If rank truly is no big deal why avoid it? It is what it is.
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Old 08-20-2004, 05:16 AM   #12
Peter Seth
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Thanks to tony and ian for your kind words.
Though it seems to be somewhat unpopular at the moment its NICE to Be NICE, nice things happen. Have you ever read 'Desiderata' - Words found on a gravestone in St Pauls around 17??.
Something everyone should read!
Pete
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Old 08-20-2004, 05:25 AM   #13
Peter Seth
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Smile Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Hi its me again, I have a challenge!
Please see my post in this forum 'Making good use of our art'! see what you think. I think it would be tremendous if everyone put in a little effort along the same lines for such positive reasons.
I'm sure this is one way O'sensei would want his universal message to manifest itself.
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD.

Cheers
Pete

Last edited by Peter Seth : 08-20-2004 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 08-20-2004, 05:55 AM   #14
AsimHanif
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

NagaBaba I noticed that Furuya Sensei has posted on his website his aikido and iaido ranks. I didn't notice this before although I'm sure it was there.
He lists his ranks as 6th Dan in aikido and 6th Dan in Iaido.
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Old 08-22-2004, 10:40 AM   #15
tedehara
 
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Quote:
Peter Seth wrote:
..Have you ever read 'Desiderata' - Words found on a gravestone in St Pauls around 17??.
Something everyone should read!
Pete
Sometimes you have to go beyond common beliefs to find the truth.

I have noticed Furya Sensei is an impeccable scholar.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 08-23-2004, 04:24 AM   #16
Peter Seth
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Brilliant, Thanks for the info Ted, as you say 'common beliefs'? But it is still a brilliant piece, U agree?
Pete

PS: What is 'correct' practice and who establishes 'correct'? I have found my practice is constantly modifying itself as 'I' proceed. Also, what is 'perfect' and whose interpretation is it? (Maybe the unobtainable)? Mmm?
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Old 08-24-2004, 12:08 PM   #17
Blake Ashley
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Hi All,

I was a student of Furuya Sensei's for about five years in the 1980s. He would probably not approve of my commenting here, but I know many people look to this site for information when looking for a dojo. So it is important that I contribute what I know.

Furuya Sensei was 4th Dan when I was his student in the 80s. He was affiliated with the USAF and hosted many seminars at his dojo including Osawa Sensei (then Chief Instructor at Hombu), Sugano Sensei, and Chiba Sensei (several times). For what it's worth to you, Steve Segal (in his pre-movie star phase) came to the opening celebration of Furuya Sensei's dojo. So when Furuya Sensei says that he was well-known to the old timers, that rings true to me.

I have no particular credentials to back up my opinion, but I always thought he was a fine teacher. His deep understanding of Japanese martial tradition, and his sense of humor, often came out in his teaching. I always felt challenged and felt that my progress was important to him. That was in the 80s. I can only speculate that twenty more years of training, teaching, and practicing zazen has improved his teaching.

I think that anyone in the Los Angeles area would do well to train there.

Blake
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Old 08-24-2004, 10:10 PM   #18
tedehara
 
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Quote:
Peter Seth wrote:
Brilliant, Thanks for the info Ted, as you say 'common beliefs'? But it is still a brilliant piece, U agree?
Pete

PS: What is 'correct' practice and who establishes 'correct'? I have found my practice is constantly modifying itself as 'I' proceed. Also, what is 'perfect' and whose interpretation is it? (Maybe the unobtainable)? Mmm?
I certainly agree it is a brilliant piece. It's popularity also shows how timeless the message is.

Perfect for me is to keep mind and body coordination to the best of my ability. If I violate the Four Basic Principles, then I know my practice is incorrect, even if the uke falls down.

For The Record
I think questioning the credentials of an instructor like Furuya Sensei is a little nuts.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 08-25-2004, 06:20 AM   #19
jeffbowden
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

For The Record
I think questioning the credentials of an instructor like Furuya Sensei is a little nuts

I can't agree more with this statement. There seems to be too much time spent on scrutinizing the details of Furuya Sensei's life. Granted, his notoriety has been enhanced specific to his television appearances, however, what seemingly goes unnoticed is the work that has been accomplished. His teachings and the success of his dojo speak for themselves. The fact that he (as well as many others) have taught unselfishly for so many years should be the focus of attention. I think it's time we start noting the work effort and the lifelong dedication to spreading Aikido. Anyone else agree ?

Jeff Bowden
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http://www.lpaikido.com
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Old 08-25-2004, 08:53 AM   #20
AsimHanif
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Jeff and Ted,
I agree with you in principle regarding questioning the credentials of Furuya Sensei. I actually have 3 of his tapes and find them useful. So I can base an opinion of his "credibility" by what I see of his technique as well as his writings.
But in reality, I don't see anything wrong in questioning someones credentials, especially for someone who may be new to aikido. Don't we do this everyday in business or when we purchase products? I think it's part of making an informed decision. I don't think questioning anyone's credentials has to be mean-spirited though. When I go to see a doctor, almost immediately I looking for that paper on the wall to let me know what medical school he attended. That may or may not tell me about how good that doctor is but it gives me some sense of what he's been exposed to.
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Old 08-25-2004, 11:27 AM   #21
twilliams423
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

I've been training with Sensei Furuya for approximately 8 years now. He, along with a couple of other SoCal teachers were promoted to 6th Dan 9 or 10 years ago by second Doshu. The general details were handled primarily by Fujita Sensei. In the time that I have been with him, we have hosted several Hombu Dojo shihan, including Senseis Fujita, Ichihashi, Yonemochi. In fact, Yonemochi Sensei came out for our 30th Anniversary celebration recently ( I was highly honored to receive my 4th dan certificate from him). Ikeda Sensei and many other US based high ranking teachers have visited and continue a friendly connection with the ACLA dojo. It is, IMHO, an excellent dojo, and Sensei is, again IMO, a masterful instructor. I have been around a while and have trained, literally, around the world, so that's for what it's worth. I am sure anyone visiting LA would be welcome to join practice and see for yourself. Hopefully, this thread can eventually be put to rest and everyone can move on other things.
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Old 08-25-2004, 12:41 PM   #22
jeffbowden
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Asim, I agree that from a business perspective, questioning the rank of an instructor that you plan to study with or have a business relation with is acceptable. If I were walking into a new dojo today, I would most certainly ask (in a respectful way) the credentials of the teacher.

What is not necessary IMO is the continued focus on this reputable teachers history by the Aikido community for no other reason than to seemingly "have something to do". It's just not fair. My expectation are higher for the future of Aikido.

Jeff Bowden
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Old 08-25-2004, 01:52 PM   #23
Kent Enfield
 
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

I am one of the people who questioned Furuya sensei's credentials, and I still do. I was mostly curious about his iaido rank, as I do kendo and iaido myself. As he doesn't seem to be a member of the All United States Kendo Federation, the largest organization that grants ranks in iaido in the US, I asked when and from where or from whom he received the rank of rokudan renshi in iaido.
Quote:
Where is Furuya sensei's iaido rank from? Nowhere on the dojo's website does it say.
There's nothing wrong with that question. It's no different than asking what aikido organization or instructor someone is affiliated with. His response was to state under whom he started kendo training when he was eight, then to list a whole bunch of aikido credentials.
Quote:
I started my Kendo traning at 8 yrs old. And soon after started Iaido training under my teacher, Yoshinobu Takiguchi. I have continued Iaido training under many various teachers who have been few and hard to find. . . . [Aikido curriculum vitae snipped] . . . I hope this answers your questions and comments.
I responded that he did not in fact answer my question.
Quote:
I don't mean any offense, but this doesn't actually answer the question. Is your iaido rank from the All Japan Kendo Federation, the All Japan Iaido Federation, or somewhere else? If "somewhere else," where specifically?
He didn't give any further response about his iaido rank in that thread. He did continue to discuss what he wanted to accompish by showing aikido on that awful television show that prompted the thread. What he did do was post on the "voices of experience" forum, where I and most other people cannot reply directly:
Quote:
In another forum, someone was asking me about my ranks in Iaido . . . I posted an explanation of my Iaido ranks in that forum but then removed it after a while so perhaps the inquirer saw it hopefully while it was on. Otherwise, the question will remain not addressed. . . .
Further on in the same post he wrote:
Quote:
This question really caused me to think back and I realized that I didn't even know the ranks of many of my Iaido teachers in the past. I think it was impolite to ask directly and I think it was not much of a concern for us then as ranks are now.
The infamous "rank is not important and you're rude for asking" tact. To me, this is an enormous red flag. If rank isn't important, why is it the first thing about himself that he put on his own website?
Quote:
Rev. Kensho Furuya is a 6th Dan in Hombu Aikido and 6th Dan Kyoshi in Muso Shinden Ryu Iaido
In my opinion, if you don't think your rank is important, don't put it on your website. On the other hand, if you do put it on your website, expect to be asked where it came from. Rank is only as valid as the issuing organization or instructor.

I stopped my inquiry at that point having decided that he was being intentionally evasive, another warning sign. Since I dropped the matter, I havn't made the following opinion public. Because he put his iaido rank out publically, but refuses to tell who awarded it to him, I consider him a potential fraud. I simply don't know, and he won't tell.

I was letting the issue lie, but since people are bringing it back up, I decided to post about my take on the whole matter.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 08-25-2004, 02:00 PM   #24
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Hello Kent,

You asked in your way and he answered in his way.... very Japanese, I think.

By they way, I heard some good things about you from the training at Ft. Warden.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
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Old 08-25-2004, 02:22 PM   #25
AsimHanif
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Re: Response to an article by Kensho Furuya

Jeff, points taken and I do agree that Furuya Sensei has been put to task quite a bit on these forums probably for fair and unfair reasons.
I do know that there is a great deal of concern in the aikido community concerning credibility, especially as some of the older Shihan are passing on so the need for (respectable) inquiries of an instructors credibility is getting greater. I don't think it's fair to single out Furuya Sensei or anyone else in particular, I think this has to be across the board. For those that happen to know of a particular instructors lineage and ability, this would not be an issue and hopefully not an insult. For those people especially new to aikido and seeking a good instructor, questioning is necessary.
The disrespect should stop though. I think we have to ask ourselves how would we approach this issue if we were face to face with the instructor in question and not hide behind this virtual wall. I'm quite sure we would find a better way to put our questions if we were in a real world situation. I have to remind myself of this as well.
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