View Full Version : Right or Wrong #5 (its ok, I'm a Soke)

John Lindsey
21st June 2002, 16:16
Grandmaster A is the soke of a koryu sword martial art and lives in Tokyo. One of his senior students (Student A) runs a dojo in Kyoto and has many students. The student teaches via the kyu/dan system and has a well organized kyu system. Suddenly, Grandmaster A starts awarding dan ranks to his Student A’s brown belts without the consent of Student A.

Student A complains to Grandmaster A that this is not proper etiquette and is undermining his teaching process. Grandmaster A tells him since he is the Soke, he can do what he wants….

Is the Grandmaster correct in his actions and reasonings?

21st June 2002, 16:28
The grandmaster is correct when he says he can do what he wants, BUT: whether his actions are correct depends on whether there is a prior understanding that the grandmaster will handle dan-level promotions. Without a prior understanding, the student has a valid complaint and the grandmaster's actions are not correct. If there is a prior understanding, presumably the student will have and make no complaint.

We all know that it is not uncommon for the grandmaster or a higher-level teacher to do this sort of thing, but in every case I have ever seen, there is a prior understanding of how this is to work. The grandmaster wants to control the teachings and level of practice of the system, so controls the grading of dan-level students. But if his senior student did not have this understanding, and the grandmaster is undercutting him to his students, the students will no longer look to their original teacher for guidance and training.

I do not think it should matter whether it is a koryu sword system, or what kind of system it is -- the student/teacher dynamics are, or should be, essentially the same.

Steven Malanosk
21st June 2002, 16:53

You catagorized this as a KoRyu situation.

Whether or not, it is the bloodline inheritor of an old school or the chairman of a new, this has a tendancy to happen.

In prospective, I suppose it is figuratively his right, but it does lead to problems, ie, decention in the ranks "literally," and at times " more times than not," when the head person has little prospective as to the actual level that the student of others has actually accomplished, leads to premature elevation for whatever reason.

This is why there are so many offshoots, break aways, new organizations, systems, ad infinitum..............................

Delegation of authority is necessary.

But once again, you catagorized this as a KoRyu problem, and in that perspective, I suppose that in a school of thought that entertaines a feudal era mentality as to leadership, it is very much the right of the Soke.

Sorry if I am rambling, but the situation has not changed much over the years.