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Old 05-07-2005, 02:21 PM   #1
Paula Lydon
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rank does not = human developement

~~At a recent seminar, my sensei mentioned that he met many high ranking Aikidoka who were not so advanced as human beings. It was something I'd noted quite often over the years yet was surprised to hear him flat out state it like that. I've wondered also if somehow their Aikido training stunted their personal growth/developement. Especially these higher ranking people who seem to have gotten so far in Aikido because they centered their life on it. They, now in their 30s and 40s, seem the most stunted to me in regards their overall level of maturity/human conduct.

Any other thoughts on this? Perhaps that would have been their natures anyway, or perhaps without the Aikido focus things would have been worse. And I am aware that I'm measuring all of this on my personal scale.

Regards!

~~Paula~~
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Old 05-07-2005, 02:31 PM   #2
ChrisHein
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

I think it's like anything else. Like movie stars, or captains of industry, what have you, they get to many yes men around them, saying that they never do anything wrong, and that they are the bestest person in the whole wide world, and slowly their ego eats them. Aikido I think is particularly bad at this, because as teachers we are always having people fall for us, and ask us questions, thinking we know more then we do, etc. It's a sad but true thing.

-Chris Hein
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Old 05-07-2005, 05:22 PM   #3
samurai_kenshin
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

It's true that in any martial art, the ego can be bigger than life. A tameshigiri expert that woks for bugei (his name escapes me right now) was at aikiexpo a few years back. I wasn't there, but I heard from a sandan at the dojo that he, in terms of being a good person, should've ranked close to a 50th kyu.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
-Barry LePatner
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Old 05-07-2005, 06:32 PM   #4
Janet Rosen
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Oh, Paula, what a thread to start...stay tuned for the May "The Mirror" column (wicked grin)

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-07-2005, 07:16 PM   #5
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Quote:
James Matarrese wrote:
It's true that in any martial art, the ego can be bigger than life. A tameshigiri expert that woks for bugei (his name escapes me right now) was at aikiexpo a few years back. I wasn't there, but I heard from a sandan at the dojo that he, in terms of being a good person, should've ranked close to a 50th kyu.
James, since no other adult on this discussion board has taken the time to do this, I feel that I should.

As a thirteen-year-old, it is important that you learn that gossip such as this on the world wide web is very irresponsible. You state on another thread that you believe in culitvating certain values of personal developement through budo training. This behavior is not the way to gain headway in your attempts to learn what you are seeking.

Think about it, through no real experience of your own, you are willing to spread negative information about someone that you have never met and now you must take responsibility for that and gain the reputation for talking about things of which you have no real knowledge.

Please open your heart and think about how you'd feel if someone did the same to you.

Sincerely,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-07-2005, 10:55 PM   #6
RebeccaM
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Re: rank does not = human developement

It's not a phenomenon limited to aikido or martial arts in general. Science (I use this as an example because I am a lab rat) has plenty of very intelligent, very talented people who have grant money coming out their ears, publication records ten miles long, people vying to post-doc under them to jump-start their own careers, instituions begging to hire them, etc. but who are in fact miserable at being human beings. Part of the problem in science is it's very competitive, but I think it goes beyond that. Martial arts are run more or less as meritocracies. If you are good enough, you will get to that high rank...up to a point. Same is true with science. So in the course of becoming good enough it's very easy to start looking down on those who weren't good enough, and or let the things your admirers say get to your head. This is especially true if you're somewhat insecure to begin with, as is the case with my boyfriend's advisor. You're so constantly looking for ways to validate yourself, prove yourself, etc. that you don't realize what you're doing to the people around you. I also think that, in some of the cases with the big egos, these people have never really had a good lesson in humility or true challenge. It's easy to be proud when you've never had your face in the dirt.

I haven't hung around enough shihans to make this a universal truth for aikido (though of the shihans I've met what I'm about to say holds true) but, in science at least, I've noticed that while you'll see some huge egos and famous names among professors, when you start looking at division heads and department heads and foundation presidents, the people with a huge amount of political pull, the ego size begins to shrink. Full fluency in the social graces isn't always present (but that's true for a lot of people in science, right down to the undergrads) but the people in the high places, the people that everyone is afraid of offending, are typically very down-to-earth nice people. Being great at what you do will make you admired, but it won't make you a leader.
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:07 AM   #7
Anat Amitay
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Qoute:

Think about it, through no real experience of your own, you are willing to spread negative information about someone that you have never met and now you must take responsibility for that and gain the reputation for talking about things of which you have no real knowledge.

Please open your heart and think about how you'd feel if someone did the same to you.

Dear Clark,
I think (and that's just my opinion) that you were a bit harsh on Paula, she might be thirteen, but that doesn't mean she has a good eye to 'see people'.
Secondly, she never mentioned names, so why have you been thundering at her about spreading negativeinformation on someone? How do you know who she met and who not. She mentioned a sentence her sensei said and found it true to people she sees in her own environment.
Though there are many things Paula has yet to learn, and that's fair enough, she is young, nothing wrong with that, she still has a right for her own mind about things, as long as she keeps check of how she expresses herself in words, I see no harm, and I think she didn't mention anything that hurt someone specific that anyone but her can name out.
Clark, I'm not attacking you, but it just seems you really got too upset about something that as a side viewer, I find no reason for. You have every right for your own view of things, but just as much as me or Paula. Please take no offence.
Now Paula, I don't know if this is what you meant, but I think that what makes me feel the same sometimes is that my sensei always says that we need to control our ego in Aikido, that ego is what will prevent us from really finding the path in Aikido, and I believe that's true, if you are really looking for your own path, and it's fine. But then we go to other dojos, seminars etc, and see people just full of themselves and their ego and it comes in full contrast with what we believe.
Well, there are many different people all over the world, and each acts as he or she finds it right for them, even if those around them don't like it. There are many talented people in certain fields that can get really high "ranked" (like in science or the army) but are lousy in human relationships.
As you grow, you'll see it more, but you'll also find those that think like you and you'll probably surround yourself with these as friends.
That's the way of the world, people are different and that's what's making it interesting!
My two cents
Anat
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:25 AM   #8
PeterR
 
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Re: rank does not = human development

Anat - he was taking James to task. With a little bit of research it is very easy to find out who James was talking about.

As for ranking - it represents skill and knowledge of a curriculum. In Aikido neither fighting ability (another oft used cliche) or human development is tested or evaluated.

One would like to think Budo develops the human being but there is no guarantee of that.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:26 AM   #9
samurai_kenshin
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

That wasn't aimed at Paula, that was aimed at me...

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:33 AM   #10
Anat Amitay
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Clark and Paula,
I'm truely sorry, I thought that Clark was reffering to what Paula wrote and not James, so forgive me for the mis- understanding.
Anat
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:33 AM   #11
Charles Hill
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Re: rank does not = human developement

I understand that there are many advanced meditators who have been described as horrible people. I wonder if there is a parallel between that and this topic.

Charles
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:45 AM   #12
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

I've heard it said that there are many enlightened people in the Zen community who are not very successful in their relationships with other people.
It seems to be true everywhere that success at something doesn't guarentee success at everything.

Jeanne
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:57 AM   #13
Anders Bjonback
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Re: rank does not = human developement

This reminded me of "spiritual bypassing," a term which I heard in a Buddhism class at Naropa University. Basically, it is using one's spirituality to bypass unresolved psychological issues. "I'm a spiritual person now, I am adopting this good behavior, so I don't have to deal with that stuff." I think this can be like adopting a certain spiritual practice or outlook that makes you feel better about yourself, one that does not bring up the side of yourself that you would rather would not look at. Using a spiritual practice to escape social and personal problems and psychological issues can also lead to stunted growth. This leads to people being so-called "great meditators" or "great teachers" who are really immature people.

I think that this can also be seen in people who devote themselves to anything, including martial arts.

However, I also think another good point has been brought up repeatedly--being praised by other people as somehow "better" than them can lead to an inflated ego. If everyone around you has a sort of "hero worship" attitude towards you, then of course, if you're not careful, it can lead to some problems.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 05-08-2005, 01:21 AM   #14
Anders Bjonback
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Some people (like people at my dojo) may be aware that I haven't been on the mat for quite some time, and I may not be for awhile (like until I get out of college). Considering I'm not training, I probably shouldn't be on an aikido message board, but I am mainly addressing this topic from the standpoint of a spiritual practicioner rather than a martial artist.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 05-08-2005, 09:57 AM   #15
SeiserL
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

IMHO, Aikido development is not physical development, is not mental development, is not emotional development, is not social development, is not spiritual development, etc. ...

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 05-08-2005, 11:55 AM   #16
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Re: rank does not = human developement

I'm curious - What kind of development is it then, Lynn?
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Old 05-08-2005, 01:16 PM   #17
bryce_montgomery
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

...It's Aikido development!

Bryce
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Old 05-08-2005, 04:42 PM   #18
Fred Little
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Re: rank does not = human developement

If you don't know where someone started out, how can you possibly know how much they have developed?

FL
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Old 05-08-2005, 10:14 PM   #19
SeiserL
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote:
What kind of development is it then, Lynn?
IMHO, rank is just a statement of someone's personal perception of where they see you or where you are by their standard on any given day.

I just don't think rank should be taken too seriously or personally.

I have met lots of people who can do excellent techqniue, but don't have other aspects of their lives together. So I guess I was just trying to support the original post.

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 05-09-2005, 03:07 AM   #20
xuzen
 
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Re: rank does not = human development

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
~~At a recent seminar, my sensei mentioned that he met many high ranking Aikidoka who were not so advanced as human beings. It was something I'd noted quite often over the years yet was surprised to hear him flat out state it like that. I've wondered also if somehow their Aikido training stunted their personal growth/development. Especially these higher ranking people who seem to have gotten so far in Aikido because they centered their life on it. They, now in their 30s and 40s, seem the most stunted to me in regards their overall level of maturity/human conduct
Paula, what your sensei mentioned should only be taken so far as his opinion only and should not be taken as gospel truth. Rank does not equal morality. A rank is given after a person has done a certain amount of techniques and the examiner deemed him competent enough to wear that rank. It should not equate to level of morality.

Boon.

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Old 05-09-2005, 04:11 AM   #21
Bridge
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Re: rank does not = human developement

The dojo can be a weird little bubble of a world, or a nice retreat from the rest of life. If you had a bad day, you can walk in and leave it all at the door, get on with training and pick it all up again when you leave. Perhaps your personal development within your trainig/ in dojo being spread into the rest of your life is a personal choice. So you can get people who are fantastic practitioners and wonderful to practise with, who are awful people in other areas of their lives.

I have come across people who are extroverts in training but wouldn't say "BOO!" to a goose in regular life, and I imagine it's perfectly possible to have high ranking types who aren't so good with people in "real life".

That said, if you don't choose to take the benefits of training into the rest of your life, then aren't you losing out?
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Old 05-09-2005, 08:36 AM   #22
tedehara
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Quote:
Bridget Chung wrote:
...That said, if you don't choose to take the benefits of training into the rest of your life, then aren't you losing out?
That is a very good point!

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 05-09-2005, 11:03 AM   #23
samurai_kenshin
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Quote:
Bridget Chung wrote:
That said, if you don't choose to take the benefits of training into the rest of your life, then aren't you losing out?
I agree. I try my very hardest to take the spiritual values of my martial arts to my everyday life. It does seem a waste not to.

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
-Barry LePatner
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Old 05-09-2005, 12:51 PM   #24
jonreading
 
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Re: rank does not = human developement

I have noticed that occassionally (more so than I would like to admit), individuals of influential aikido rank do not represent the morality or standards of a typical "good person." Aikido instructors are people that students attempt to emulate; they are heroes.

I firmly believe in the concept of an Idolatry. Idols exist everywhere today from sports to academia to religion. Idols are individuals that represent what we want to be; they are our heroes. But America is starting to become the home of "Fallen Idols" (no pun intended for you American Idol fans), or less-than-perfect idols. Where else can we discover gossip about our idols, or revel in their sins? Where else do we give acceptance to adulterers, murderers, drug users, and white-collar frauds?

If our society accepts imperfect idols, why should aikido (especially American aikido) be excluded? Rank is nothing more than the color of a belt. Some times that belt does not represent the person, sometimes it does.

In many ways, it is diffcult to publically curb poor aikido. People practice for different reasons, and not everyone is going to have the personility to best represent what aikido is. I love to say that, "you can't hide who you are on the mat", and that holds true in many respects.
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Old 06-06-2005, 06:30 PM   #25
Ketsan
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Re: rank does not = human developement

Most of the senior Aikidoka I've met seem to lack personality and a lot of them give me the creeps. There's no specific reason that I can lay my finger on for this all I can really say is that a lot of them have no presence what so ever. If you weren't looking at them or if you couldn't hear them you'd forget they were there. Others seem to carry deeply negetive energys around with them.

Actually I can't really think of one you could actually sit and chat with. Unless it was about Aikido.
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