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Old 02-27-2005, 12:30 AM   #1
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Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

AikiWeb Poll for the week of February 27, 2005:

How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Critically meaningful
  • Very meaningful
  • Somewhat meaningful
  • Not very meaningful
  • Not at all meaningful
Here are the current results.
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Old 02-27-2005, 08:49 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

They have rank? I usually don't notice and never ask. Its who they are and how they train that is meaningful to me.

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 02-27-2005, 05:48 PM   #3
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

I started out in clubs full of coloured grades but ended up liking Aikikai the best as they all wore white. It just made everyone a little more equal (until yudansha - some are more equal than others), especially on courses - when all wear white you can only go on skill when sussing out new people. It's kinda like taking the mirrors off your motorcycle for awhile - it makes you ten times more aware of what's going on behind.

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Old 02-27-2005, 07:44 PM   #4
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

As with the poll last week, rank is relative. My rank in the organization that I belong to is important to me, but only to a degree. It is secondary to my practice, but serves a purpose. Other peoples rank in Aikido is ultimately unimportant because my Aikido practice is more of a personal journey. However, someone else's rank may impact decisions that I make. For example, if I were to attend a huge seminar that offered multiple instructors teaching simultaneously. If I don't know anything but the rank of the instructors teaching, I would probably be more inclined to attend the higher of the two instructors. This would be assuming (quite possibly erroneously) that the higher rank denotes greater skill. Obviously, people attend seminars based on the information available to them about the instructor, their reputation and personal affirmations by a credible source of their ability. But, if you don't have that information, then you can only fall back on the rank. Someone somewhere deem the instructor worthy of the rank. So, they should (that's a big Should) have the requisite skills to entice you to join the seminar. There are obviously exceptions. I know firsthand of an instructor who is only a Nidan, but in my opinion has a great deal to offer anyone when he instructs, and I would highly recommend anyone to train with him. Rank doesn't tell all but lacking other information, it is a place to start.
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Old 02-27-2005, 08:30 PM   #5
AaronFrancher
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

I believe the ranks are mostly for the instructor's use. It is a reference to which they may quickly glance and assume how much each person knows, and what they can teach without confusing too many people. I wouldn't say that teaching the basics for an upper class would bore them. Although it could, reviewing basics can be very beneficial to everyone no matter how high of "rank" they are.

It is not simply a fight to the finish, it is knowing what to do once you have won.
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Old 02-27-2005, 08:33 PM   #6
MaryKaye
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

For me working with other students to prepare for their tests, and sharing vicariously in the experience of testing, is part of the whole community experience--it matters to me, even though the rank itself is not that big a deal.

We did testing for our 7-12 year olds yesterday, and I definitely felt good to be part of their accomplishments. I was especially pleased by the seven-year-old white belt. We told him that he didn't need the pin for koteoroshi at his rank, even though the yellow-belt kids did. He frowned thoughtfully, hunted me down at the break and said, "Teach me that pin." So I did, and he did it quite competently on his test. I like this kid, and I'm proud that I could help him.

So I said "somewhat." I would miss it if it went away; but I'm happy to train with people of any rank, and always learn from it.

Mary Kaye
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Old 02-28-2005, 10:42 AM   #7
Ed OConnor
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Somewhat... rank helps define the sempai - kohai relationship(s).

If a fellow Aikidoka has rank it is far beyond me to judge them based on my evaluation of their technical skill level alone (like I'm a better judge than Sensei, not).

Additionally, this does not consider how hard one has worked to improve themselves and how far they've come along their path. Which I believe to be of equal or greater importance than whether or not I think their Aikido is martially effective.

Who throws whom first or who lines up where in not important to me, but I do wish to give respect for the rank that's been earned in Sensei's eyes. Who am I to do otherwise?

Thanks & Peace,
eD

http://www.aikidocenters.com/
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Old 03-01-2005, 01:17 PM   #8
Eric Webber
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

I like to know rank when I'm at a seminar: I look for the oldest, nastiest, beat up, worn out, washed out was-black-is-now-frayed-grey belt I can find and track him down like cat on the prowl. Figure they're the safest people to train with because they've "been there and done that" and don't need to prove anything to my dinky little rank, other than show how kind they can be to cohai.
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Old 03-01-2005, 06:26 PM   #9
siwilson
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Eric Webber wrote:
I like to know rank when I'm at a seminar: I look for the oldest, nastiest, beat up, worn out, washed out was-black-is-now-frayed-grey belt I can find and track him down like cat on the prowl. Figure they're the safest people to train with because they've "been there and done that" and don't need to prove anything to my dinky little rank, other than show how kind they can be to cohai.
You obviously don't practice Yoshinkan! With the guys you are describing (old tatty belt), they will batter you! Some of them have required numerous Uke at demonstrations as they have broken the ones they started with!!! I mean broken bones, knocked unconcious, etc.

A world away from soft styles!

On the poll, I said some-what. I have been Nidan for years, but my next grading may very well be to Shodan (or it may be Nidan, I don't know)! I have moved over to a different school and what I will say is that the grade is not who you are or your ability. You train, teach and your Aikido speaks for you! Everything else (eg. grade) is administrative.

I have friends who are in horror, that I may regrade lower than I am, but if I didn't trust the instructor running the grading, I would not be training there or grading with them.

Hey, just train and enjoy it!

The worst thing I have ever seen in Aikido is a guy walking up the line of Dan grades at a seminat asking each his grade, to make sure he sat at the correct place!!!! "What grade are you?" "Shodan!" "Well I'm Nidan!" Then he went up the line!!!

Get over it!

Osu!
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Old 03-02-2005, 01:16 PM   #10
Bronson
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Si Wilson wrote:
A world away from soft styles!
If by "soft styles" you mean "having a sense of compassion and humanity"

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 03-02-2005, 02:49 PM   #11
siwilson
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote:
If by "soft styles" you mean "having a sense of compassion and humanity"

Bronson
No,

Because I would never trash into the mat anyone who couldn't take it. What happens is those who put themselves forward to Uke without that ability! It is not the Sensei's fault in those situations, but the UKe, as those demonstrations require an Uke who can acceppt full on technique, and if they put their hand up to being that Uke, that is their issue!!! Uke needs to know there limits too!

Osu!
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:27 AM   #12
Bronson
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

I accept that we follow different traditions with different ways of doing things. In OUR tradition any sensei who broke their uke would be considered to have no control and I think would quickly find themselves getting a talking to by the other ranking instructors. Being raised in this type of aikido is why I am not as impressed by people who can launch their uke as I am by people who can put uke on the ground without uke knowing why they got there.

To be truthful I'm more impressed by to people who can do both depending on the situation (i.e. uke's skill, threat level, whatever)

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 03-03-2005, 12:51 PM   #13
Eric Webber
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Gee Si, sounds like those folks you are describing (referring to your 3-1 post) need some sensitivity lessons if they are that poor in judging their ukes' ability. Please don't mistake style for maturity and growth in spirit. Many of the very "softest" aikidoka I know are also some of the most ferociously powerful - when the situation is appropriate. However, happy training to you, however you approach it.
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:06 AM   #14
batemanb
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Ed OConnor wrote:
Somewhat... rank helps define the sempai - kohai relationship(s).

Actually Ed, that's not true. Rank has absolutely nothing to do with a sempai - kohai relationship, except maybe here in the west where it has a misconstrued understanding.

You don't become a sempai when you reach a specific rank, or have been studying for a specific period of time. The sempai kohai relationship is different between individuals, you are sempai in your dojo to anyone (regardless of rank) that joins your dojo after you. You are kohai to anyone (regardless of rank) to anyone that joined your dojo before you.

There are various posts here and on Aikido Journal, one in particular by Peter Goldsbury that outlines the relationship very well. Unfortunately I can't find a link to it right now .

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:14 AM   #15
Dazzler
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Si Wilson wrote:
You obviously don't practice Yoshinkan! With the guys you are describing (old tatty belt), they will batter you! Some of them have required numerous Uke at demonstrations as they have broken the ones they started with!!! I mean broken bones, knocked unconcious, etc.

A world away from soft styles!

.........

Hey, just train and enjoy it!
If this is the prevailing attitude then I must definitely be practicing a soft style.

Uke lends his body for Tori to practice with...not to abuse.

I've trained with Yoshinkan guys in uk....Terry Harrison I believe on BAB course.

Nice guy with good aikido. He...and none of his guys battered me. If they had tried it they'd have only tried it once.

Eric Webber is not wrong in seeking out guys/gals that have the self belief to practice controlled aikido without trying to big themselves up by battering anyone.

Just train and enjoy it? oh I do...but I expect to be in a condition to train tomorrow, next week and the week after that. I dont enjoy some fool trying to boost their ego, feeding off a pre determined attack at the expense of my physical well being.

This is not aikido.

Respectfully

D
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:52 AM   #16
siwilson
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Oops! Didn't put a smile in there did I! Reading back it does sound harsh! (That's the smile that should have been in that post - I ain't a monster!)

From how we prectice, we would never "batter" someone. We will apply the technique as hard as someone can take it though (and maybe a touch more to stretch them).

The breaking bones and knocking unconcious does happen though, and is known for some Shihan to require more than one Uke to complete a demonstration!

Last edited by siwilson : 03-04-2005 at 05:54 AM.

Osu!
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Old 03-04-2005, 06:06 AM   #17
Dazzler
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Fair enough m8.....I don't mind a battering as long as the guy is smiling....

I had a beer with Terry and his guys in Cardiff....2003 I think.

One of his guys said "you train like us"....I think this was a compliment so I can't be too down on you yoshinkan guys.


As for breaking bones...well ...I think it was a lot more common in the old days.

Maybe I'll find out more on that front at the Celebrating 50 years of British Aikido event......

Cheers

D
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Old 03-04-2005, 06:51 AM   #18
Ed OConnor
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
Actually Ed, that's not true. Rank has absolutely nothing to do with a sempai - kohai relationship, except maybe here in the west where it has a misconstrued understanding.
First of all I said HELPS define... not exclusively defines. And your assumption that it has _absolutely_ nothing to do with it seems a bit extreme as there are no absolutes in anything.

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
You don't become a sempai when you reach a specific rank, or have been studying for a specific period of time. The sempai kohai relationship is different between individuals, you are sempai in your dojo to anyone (regardless of rank) that joins your dojo after you. You are kohai to anyone (regardless of rank) to anyone that joined your dojo before you.
I disagree. By your definition someone who joined a dojo 10 years ago, practiced for a month, never tested for rank, took 9 years off and just returned, is Sempai to someone who started any time after (even a month), has been practicing 4-5 days a week, and has achieved any rank (including Shodan+), right?

Your black & white definition does NOT promote what is important about the relationship... namely who is able to pass on what has been taught and practiced on the mat with greater experience and care.

In my experience the Sensei defines the relationship. After that there are no questions.

Quote:
Bryan Bateman wrote:
There are various posts here and on Aikido Journal, one in particular by Peter Goldsbury that outlines the relationship very well. Unfortunately I can't find a link to it right now .
I'd be interested in reading it when you find it. However, that doesn't mean it's gospel, as much as I respect Mr.Goldsbury's research and scholarly approach.

However, Yoshioka Sensei is one who felt differently, as have others (you'll have to scroll down about 2/3 the page to find the topic). Here is a quote:

http://www.trussel.com/aikido/f_sensei.htm

Quote:"Going back to student position, if two students start Aikido the same day, the older person will be sempai, or senior. When two students take the same kyu test at the same time, the older person will be sempai, or senior. Regardless of when you start, if someone who is your junior puts in more hours and takes the next promotion test before you, that person, who was your junior, will be your sempai from then on. So attending class regularly, and taking tests when you're qualified is very important in the long run, because of your status as sempai or kohai. With two persons taking the same test at the same time, age will make a difference, and the older person will be senior, sempai. When you receive your black belt, the date of your test for promotion will be considered your date of sempai/kohai." END Quote

Strict belief in any one definition/tradition leads to foolhardy practice and does not promote an open mind IMHO. I think one has to think how much sense does this make in today's training environment.

I hope this clarifies my understanding and beliefs

Respectfully and in Peace,
eD

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Old 03-04-2005, 07:08 AM   #19
siwilson
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
Fair enough m8.....I don't mind a battering as long as the guy is smiling....

I had a beer with Terry and his guys in Cardiff....2003 I think.

One of his guys said "you train like us"....I think this was a compliment so I can't be too down on you yoshinkan guys.


As for breaking bones...well ...I think it was a lot more common in the old days.

Maybe I'll find out more on that front at the Celebrating 50 years of British Aikido event......

Cheers

D
HI Darren

I will be on the mat with Terry in a couple of weeks, plus my Sensei, Garry Masters and Roger Bish.

He will be at the Ken Shin Kai dojo in Portmouth for one of our extended sessions, where all parts Ken Shin Kai come together and train.

Are you going to come to the annual Gozo Shioda Memorial training day in High Wycombe? It is run by Ken Shin Kai and Garry, Roger and Terry will all be teaching there.

All the best,

Si

Osu!
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:54 AM   #20
batemanb
 
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Re: Poll: How meaningful are other people's aikido rank to you?

Quote:
Ed OConnor wrote:
First of all I said HELPS define... not exclusively defines. And your assumption that it has _absolutely_ nothing to do with it seems a bit extreme as there are no absolutes in anything.
Hi Ed,

It wasn't an assumption as much as a conclusion I gained from reading quite a few articles I found whilst researching the subject.

Quote:
Ed OConnor wrote:
I disagree. By your definition someone who joined a dojo 10 years ago, practiced for a month, never tested for rank, took 9 years off and just returned, is Sempai to someone who started any time after (even a month), has been practicing 4-5 days a week, and has achieved any rank (including Shodan+), right?
I'd agree with that. But I would suggest that someone who only trained for one month and then went away for 10 years didn't really join the dojo in the first place, even if he paid membership dues.

Quote:
Ed OConnor wrote:
Your black & white definition does NOT promote what is important about the relationship... namely who is able to pass on what has been taught and practiced on the mat with greater experience and care.
Maybe my post was a little too black and white, there are exceptions to most things, but I still believe that overall it is factual f rom the research I did. Having said that I can think of at least two instances in my own experience that go against it .


Quote:
Ed OConnor wrote:
In my experience the Sensei defines the relationship. After that there are no questions.
The sempai kohai relationship is something intrinsic to Japanese society, it applies in companies and sports clubs as well as the martial arts. I don't know that it was something defined by the sensei per se, but I'm open to the possibility.

Regards

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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