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Old 07-27-2005, 10:38 PM   #1
Tubig
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Students that surpass their sensei

There was a karate teacher that once said that One would know that they are good if they can beat their own master.

I heard a few students that left their teacher and went Japan themselves and surpassed their old sensei's rank. So who becomes the sempai now?

Also a burning question in me is that given that Osensei was beaten by Sukoku Takeda initially (apparently that is the reason that Osensei became Takeda Sensei's student). In the end did Osensei eventually surpass Takeda sensei's skill? If they ever had a duel considering that they both are in the pinnacle and prime of their martial art. Who do you think would have won?
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Old 07-27-2005, 10:45 PM   #2
Aristeia
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

I am now one grade higher than one of my orgininal teachers. It was kind of awkward at first but thankfully we're both pretty sensible so it's really not a big deal.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 07-27-2005, 10:56 PM   #3
Kevin Temple
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

I'd say surpassing someone in belt rank shouldn't change a relationship at all, nobody suddenly loses all of their knowledge just because you have a little certificate saying you are a rank higher than them. I think if you can outrank someone and still let them be the teacher, thats when you've truly earned the rank... however to be fair, i started up pretty recently and don't outrank anyone, so it doesn't quite apply to me
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:03 PM   #4
Tubig
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Etiquette wise. Who bows lower and who takes over the class?
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:04 PM   #5
PeterR
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

The who could beat who question is vulgur and has no meaning. I've never heard any story of Takeda beating Ueshiba M. in a fight - what's your source for that? There are a couple of stories of Ueshiba M. being challenged but even here one has to wonder to what degree the challenge was hard core or just a strong attack with a "lets see what you can do" attached. There is one (self serving in my opinion) story of Ueshiba M. whimpering in the corner when he fisrt joined Takeda's dojo but - well its happened to all of us at one time or the other.

Your original teacher will always be sempai. That can never change.

Last edited by PeterR : 07-27-2005 at 11:09 PM.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:13 PM   #6
PeterR
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Now who takes over class that is a separate more interesting question.

I regularly have two people two dan ranks above me join my dojo. They are also sempai. I still give the class but of course use their knowledge well. Depending on what I want/need to do they get periods of time, groups of students, etc. Of course when our collective teacher comes - the whole class is his.

Bowing all depends on how much more of a sempai he is and how much more you outrank him. If at all unsure - bow equally.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:17 PM   #7
Tubig
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Peter My apologies for the 'vulgar' word. Fortunately most people can read between the lines, find meaning and actually join the conversation without being the word and technicality Nazi. So I guess the 'Vulgar' word will just have to stay. Also I would have thought that you would have known the Takeda and Ueshiba meeting in an Inn in Shirataki Hokaido with your calibre of information that you know about everything. I think I can leave that incident to you to find out yourself being a good research scientist and all.

After surpassing the old sensei in grade, would one dare to offer advice on their old sensei's technique?
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:18 PM   #8
Aristeia
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Quote:
Cromwell Salvatera wrote:
Etiquette wise. Who bows lower and who takes over the class?
In my case he had been ducking grading since I started. He moved away for a time and when he came back I was a grade higher because I hadn't been ducking gradings
I tried to still give him the senior position in the line up, the first technique when we trained together, all that stuff you would normally give to a senior, but he wouldn't have it.

There's some debate about this. Particularly because alot of people stop grading at a certain point because they feel it's no longer bang for buck (cost of grading is another topic so I'll try not to get distracted)
So you get a Nidan that's been training 20 years and some sandans who have been training 10. Some people say the nidans in this case are still senior and should be afforded that ettiquette, others say rank is the final arbiter. I'm in two minds. The only real difference it makes is in sending to the juniors the message of who's Aikido is more mature so they have some guidance as to who to model their technique on.
The problem is it's hard to differentiate between the nidan who hasn't graded because he's ducking it and the nidan who's crap, which makes grade the more sensible thing to go by.

At the end of the day though this is one of those pieces of minuture about training that you can spend alot of time navel gazing about but it really doesn't matter.
For instance in the case with my old teacher, by his insistance I take the lead spot in the line up etc but apart from that it's just good training with us both contributing to the others progression.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 07-27-2005, 11:52 PM   #9
PeterR
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

I used the same word that Shishida and Nariyama used when describing the question "which art is better Aikido or Karate" in the book Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge. I found both questions revolve around the same false premise.

The question of greater skill, especially in a non-competitive???? art really is quite base (is that word better) and does have no meaning. How is skill level evaluated. Rank and the sempai/kohei relationship are organizational and it is expected that actual ability does not necessarily correspond especially in the day of different ages, training time, etc. More to the point what does one persons Aikido have to do with your own unless they can teach you something.

Technical tips I've recently gone down to kyu level students that had been polishing something I was pretty rusty at and likewise I've had higher dans come to me for the same reasons. I've even, albeit very carefully, offered and accepted, suggestions going the other way. This is totally normal with any training I have done here.

I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic or not with respect to knowledge but I genuinely asked for the source. The accounts I heard were of a chance meeting between Ueshiba and Takeda at the Inn and it was quite mundane. No challenge match or fight was involved. Some authors are known to embellish.

This is a pretty reliable source.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=226

Last edited by PeterR : 07-28-2005 at 12:07 AM.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-28-2005, 12:10 AM   #10
PeterR
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

For a description about Ueshiba and Takeda's first meeting try
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=226

I find Tokimune Takeda usually quite balanced and fair with respect to his father's relationship to Ueshiba M.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-28-2005, 12:26 AM   #11
Joe Bowen
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

When I'm scheduled to teach a class, I teach the class. If someone senior attends, I may or may not, offer them the opportunity to teach depending on whether or not there is something specific I want to do during the class time.

I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to have trained with some very skilled people. Since I established the dojo on the military base and have run it for a number of years, when folks senior to me in Aikido move to the area temporarily, I maintain the teacher's position in the dojo on the military base.

My first "run-in" over issues of rank started before I was even shodan. At the time, my Sensei taught the classes on the base and we were joined by a shodan from another style of Aikido. One day, my Sensei was not able to make the class and called to instruct me on what to teach. I asked him if he would prefer the shodan instruct the class instead of me and he said no. To his credit, the shodan remained through the class but, I assume, was somewhat insulted by having to receive instruction from me as he never returned.

The second occurrence was much better. After administrating the class for a number of years and receiving my shodan, my Sensei had me teaching more frequently. A US Air Force officer, whom I had met years before in Japan moved into the area and was assigned to the base where I taught. He was a Sandan and I was Shodan. From the beginning, he told me that this was my dojo, not his and he would teach only when I asked it of him. Otherwise, he was just there to practice. In my opinion, that is the proper attitude on the part of the senior ranked visitor. It was truly a blessing having him participate in the dojo. He taught periodically and influenced my Aikido, even when he was not instructing. Truly a model to be emulated. He even helped me to prepare for and pass my Nidan test.

There also is the case of the 20 some odd year practitioner that just hasn't tested in a while here. Even though his somewhat low ranking is not commensurate with his skill (there are several here that "out-rank" him) he is always afforded the respect that his ability affords him, and whenever I can convince him to visit my dojo on the base, I always afford him the opportunity to teach, primarily because I want to learn from him.

Rank does not always equate to skill. When someone of higher rank attends the class, I generally do not critique their technique unless what they are doing is inhibiting their partner. In that particular type of case, I'll utilize them as uke in order to "explain" the technique to their partner. This subtle methodology typically works. Generally speaking though, this seldom if ever, happens. The atmosphere of the classes that I teach is open enough for cordial exploration of variations in the techniques. Sometimes, I'll even consult with the senior ranked people on the technique during the class.

Etiquette wise, I cannot give you any type of answer. I personally offer the same etiquette to all people regardless of rank. I am not aware of any hard and fast rules regarding "who bows lower"; if I respect that person, I bow low.
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Old 07-28-2005, 05:14 AM   #12
eyrie
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

A truly excellent post Joseph!

Ignatius
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Old 07-28-2005, 05:40 AM   #13
Kyudos
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

I don't know what it's like in other countries or other organisations, but we are only allowed to give up our class to visiting sempai if they are qualified and insured.

If not, whatever their rank, the qualified and insured person must take the class.
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Old 07-28-2005, 05:50 AM   #14
mj
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Quote:
Cromwell Salvatera wrote:
Nazi.
Oh dear.

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Old 07-28-2005, 06:19 AM   #15
Sonja2012
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Quote:
Cromwell Salvatera wrote:
I heard a few students that left their teacher and went Japan themselves and surpassed their old sensei's rank. So who becomes the sempai now?
AFAIK, sempai refers to a person who started (I believe it literally meant: walked through the door) to train in a dojo before another person. Am I mistaken here?

So, unless this is wrong, I am with Peter: whoever is your sempai will always be your sempai - this is nothing that one can "catch up with" or "overtake".
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Old 07-28-2005, 06:54 AM   #16
grondahl
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Quote:
Sonja McGough wrote:
AFAIK, sempai refers to a person who started (I believe it literally meant: walked through the door) to train in a dojo before another person. Am I mistaken here?

So, unless this is wrong, I am with Peter: whoever is your sempai will always be your sempai - this is nothing that one can "catch up with" or "overtake".
OTOH Some dojos have "official" sempai. And in Kyukushin Karate my understanding is that all instructors below sandan have the official title sempai (even when they have a dojo of there own), so I guess that the answer is "It depends".
Strange things happens when words and titles are taken out of it´s cultural context.
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Old 07-28-2005, 08:48 AM   #17
Qatana
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

My sensei outranks every teacher at the dojo he trains at, except for his own sensei. When he is a student, he is a student, no matter the rank of the person teaching.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 07-28-2005, 08:50 AM   #18
Sonja2012
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote:
OTOH Some dojos have "official" sempai. And in Kyukushin Karate my understanding is that all instructors below sandan have the official title sempai .
I didn´t know that. Does any one happen to know the literal meaning of the word/kanji?
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Old 07-28-2005, 09:09 AM   #19
happysod
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Speaking as one of the "surpassed" (being a veteran grade dodger) it all depends - if it's my night to teach, I teach, if not I just get thrown but best of all I get to train, so who gives a monkeys?

I would presume this all really depends on how formal the club is, how large and where it is in the world. I've also found other arts do seem to use sempai to denote rank rather than time served (normally brown belt or equivalent is what I've experienced).

With regard to a more senior rank turning up to my dojo, no they wouldn't teach unless I'd invited them myself or I was confident in their ability from first-hand knowledge. If this upset them, tough, I would not hand my students over to an unknown under any circumstances (and to be honest, some of the "known" would be asked just to leave)
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Old 07-28-2005, 12:13 PM   #20
Daphne
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Sadao Yoshioka Sensei had the following to say about the Sempai/Kohai relationship:

". . .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."

http://www.trussel.com/aikido/f_sens.htm
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Old 07-28-2005, 03:03 PM   #21
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Quote:
In the end did Osensei eventually surpass Takeda sensei's skill? If they ever had a duel considering that they both are in the pinnacle and prime of their martial art. Who do you think would have won?
Sorry, I'm with Peter, I think vulgar is the appropriate word. But hey, nobody cares what I think.

It is well known that Ueshiba was notably absent on occation when Takeda showed up unannounced, and that Ueshiba never 'took back' the dojo Takeda took over...but personally I think we make too much of that stuff some times. In my mind, avoiding the confrontation was just a way of showing proper respect. Not to mention the fact that personally, knowing someone who is old school enough to always carry (and be able to use) a blade would be enough for me to avoid the confrontation...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 07-28-2005, 04:56 PM   #22
Lan Powers
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

> But hey, nobody cares what I think. <
Not quite true....
Over time, it has become quite apparent who's opinions I wish to hear ....
Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 07-28-2005, 10:42 PM   #23
Tubig
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

The reason for me posting this is at one point in the dojo we had a talented kyu grader that went to Iwama and studied under Saito sensei and with Hitohiro sensei for nine months as uchideshi. I must admit he's gifted in martial arts. He came back with his shodan. He has surpassed alot of sempais with skill and rank. No one really minded him being sempai for he was really humble about his rank, he took the class from the regular sempais. I always wondered what was the protocol with that.

Peter and Ron my apologies for being vulgar. I always wondered who would win if the two great senseis went for a duel, I just thought I would hear from more informed practitioners like the regulars in the forum. Peter I checked out the link. Youre right Tokimune sensei is fairer in regards to Osensei. It is just majority of authors and books that I have read about the meeting in Shirataki denoted that there was a challenge and a bout.
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Old 07-28-2005, 11:11 PM   #24
PeterR
 
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Cromwell;

Just to be clear - I was referring to this class of questions as vulgar not you or anyone who asks them. It might be a fine line (I asked therefore I am) but it was not meant as such.

Is Karate better than Aikido?
Is Saito better than Tomiki?
Is Superman better than Batman?

There are just so many variables and at their respective pinnacles they themselves would not engage in such a contest. Well maybe Superman and Batman would but Batman (while having a way cooler car) would be an idiot for trying.

As I understand it after the initial meeting at a Daito-ryu seminar in Engaru at the Hisada Inn. Ueshiba later invited Takeda to Shirataki and they trained at the local inn. Again no challenges and by that time the student teacher relationship was already established. Try
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=25 for more detail of the first meeting and the early relationship.

Cromwell can you provide a source for the challenge match if possible. I really am curious.

By the by - the returning student you mentioned sounds like he learned his lessons in Iwama well. Too often people go and train at a Honbu for a relatively short time and just don't get it. Back in their own countries some act as if they are God's gift. He should be complemented.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:17 PM   #25
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Students that surpass their sensei

Quote:
Joseph Bowen wrote:
The second occurrence was much better. After administrating the class for a number of years and receiving my shodan, my Sensei had me teaching more frequently. A US Air Force officer, whom I had met years before in Japan moved into the area and was assigned to the base where I taught. He was a Sandan and I was Shodan. From the beginning, he told me that this was my dojo, not his and he would teach only when I asked it of him. Otherwise, he was just there to practice. In my opinion, that is the proper attitude on the part of the senior ranked visitor. It was truly a blessing having him participate in the dojo. He taught periodically and influenced my Aikido, even when he was not instructing. Truly a model to be emulated. He even helped me to prepare for and pass my Nidan test.
Was that Mike C.? Sounds like him.

Rock
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