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M Clarke
10th July 2001, 23:05
I have found Yamantaka's list of high ranked non-Japanese Yudansha extremely informative. All of the names were completely unknown to me except Thamby Raja Sensei. I have often heard members here refer to their shihan or note seminar with a visiting shihan and I have heard names like Saotome sensei and Chiba sensei. Would anyone have a list of Japanese shihan, which styles and where they have their dojo's? Or would know of any such list on the web? I am thinking that for people who wish to travel and take the opportunity of training with top shihan while on their holidays, it would be a valuable resource.
Many thanks

M Clarke
11th July 2001, 02:01
Ok, now I am getting suspicious! I definitely clicked on the show signature button for that previous post.

Time to get rid of the koi kickname and use my full name. Back to 0 posts for my total.

Mike Clarke

Mike Clarke
17th July 2001, 02:18
Is this a don't ask sort of question? Why the deafening silence?
Regards
Mike

Yamantaka
17th July 2001, 10:13
Originally posted by Mike Clarke
Is this a don't ask sort of question? Why the deafening silence?
Regards
Mike

YAMANTAKA : Sorry, Mike! No, not at all...It's just that you can't imagine all the trouble I got into making that list. And it just concerns high-ranking NON-JAPANESE, LIVING, yudansha (from 7th dan on). Imagine a list as you propose...(Remembering that SHIHAN has been used and is used in many meanings). It would be nearly impossible!:eek:
Best

P Goldsbury
17th July 2001, 11:39
I sympathise very much both with your question and with Yamantaka over his answer.

I have long been wanting to compile a datebase of yudansha in all the federations which are members of the IAF and I think you can see how valuable this would be. Nothing controversial, of course, just a record of all the active yudansha in the federation: who they trained with and where they practise (and teach, where applicable). Certainly nothing like Yamataka's ambitious list and not of Japanese yudansha only, which, quite rightly, would be regarded as discriminatory. My reasoning was that it should not be beyond the capability of the IAF member-federations to draw up a list of active yudansha and I assumed that they already had such lists and updated them regularly.

When I quietly raised this possibility at a recent IAF meeting, YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE the opposition it caused. And guess where the opposition came from (hint: I live here). But other member federations also seemed to be uncomfortable with hanging out their linen in public. The project was put on a back burner (but I have not forgotten it).

My initial reaction was, why should this be something to hide? The answer was given to me afterwards by a 9th dan aikido shihan and this is why Yamataka's list is regarded as so controversial. He bluntly demanded to know the advantages of advertising such information for all to see. Such a way of thinking did not conform to the ideals of budo as he understood it. He posed a number of questions, with his suggested answers: Why do you need such information (you probably don't)? What difference would it make to you--as a budoka (none)? Would knowing the answer make you a better budoka (no)? Clearly information & knowledge are not regarded as a morally-neutral commodites available to all.

Incidentally, I happened to see a report in "The Japan Times" for Sunday, July 15. The title was "Do As I Do: Following in the Master's Footsteps" and was a half tongue-in-cheek report about a blind man called Seminaru who played the biwa (Japanese lute). Basically, the contents of the article could be summarised in a few points:
1. Seminaru accepted his deshi only after the latter had stood every night for three years outside the master's house asking to be accepted and listening to him play. Even after accepting the deshi, he never taught the art to him. The student has to 'gei o nusumu' (steal the art);
2. Deshi should never practise 'deviant patterns', only what the master himelf has practised;
3. "Rikutsu o iu na". Do noit ask questions when you should be searching for the answer yourself.
4. Foreigners do not behave like Japanese (sigh).
5. No one in his/her right mind ever asks questions. Asking questions means that you really have no clue about what is going on.
I suggest that Japan residents who take the Japan Times look at the article (by Alexander Mackay Smith IV) and consider how it relates to their own experience of koryu or budo.

My reaction was that the 'traditional' aikido world (and possibly koryu) has yet to grasp the full implications of the Internet.

Best Regards to all,

Peter Goldsbury,
_____________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Mike Clarke
19th July 2001, 03:22
Yamantaka and Peter,
Thank you very much for your kind responses.

Yamantaka - I didn't realiase that you got into trouble for compiling your list. I can't image who with. I feel like a bumkin completely unaware of all the undercurrents.

One of our students went to the States recently. He rang up a dojo and asked if he could train with the shihan there. He was told no but he was welcome to join the beginners/general class. This he did. After the class the yudansha invited him to now join the shihan's class. This sort of thing is unheard of in... what? my city or style, not sure. I do know that our shihan is accessible to every one. The joy for us is that we get to train with visitors from all over the world, from all styles. We never know who is going to turn up next.

One of my great thrills in class is when one of the white belts, not getting a partner to practice a technique with, will be motioned by sensei to come over and practice with him. The honesty of his lack of airs impresses me hugely.

Am I naive to think (wish?) that aikido is not about stealing secrets, or political undercurrents? I guess we are just too sheltered in our little corner of the world.

Thanks again for the info. I'll be more careful of stepping one toes with my questions next time.

Regards

Mike

MarkF
19th July 2001, 08:32
Perhaps those toes are stepped on because some continually put their feet under those of others.

I suppose there is *some* truth to a boxer claiming he was robbed of a decision. "I don't know what the judges were watching, but I hit his fist with my head throughout the entire fight."

No, there are no reasons for compiling such a list, but then the organizations have them, otherwise I doubt it would be dismissed as out of hand if they didn't. There is no reason for listing people alphabetically either, or by grade in school Cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cumlaude or 4.0, 3.0, etc. There is no reason then to give dan-i grades either, for that creates a list with the second person in a given dojo receiving dan level.

If the answer is a constant "no" then why the oh so political answers?

I once asked the US Judo Federation for a list of high-ranking judoka and it came back in reply to my email in a few hours. I was trying to find out the grade of a teacher in an area where a former student was going to live (he wasn't on it). It was a list I could count on one hand (I found I all ready knew them, anyway).

Have you asked the organizations themselves? If they rank people then the list already exists and frankly, it makes no sense to not honor a simple request when done along the lines of research.

After all, you aren't a drunken brawler asking (slurring) to take on anyone or everyone in the place.;)

(There was something along these lines in a similar vein in the Jo forum, someone was asking a question concerning technique of jodo and jojutsu. Silence. Apparently that was a political bed of a redhot nails, too).

Mark

Jack B
19th July 2001, 15:41
I can only speculate, but here are some possible reasons: It would only serve to inflame the egos of the instructors and students. It would create jealousy and dissention amongst students and instructors within an organization. By inviting comparison between organizations, it would challenge the rank structure and encourage one-up's-manship and possible inflation (like bidding wars) or defection to organizations with more possibilities for recognition. It would embarrass the organization to publicly audit ranks, which might reveal inequitable promotion practices, especially on racial lines, amongst practitioners with equivalent or superior experience in the art (rank is based on judgment and loyalty not skill in the higher ranks). It is private and nobody else's business (ryu-based idea, not modern public organization).

These issues (group harmony, self-abasement, vertical control, intuition, favoritism) are all very deep in Japanese character. It is not surprising at all that the idea was not welcome.

Jack Bieler
Denton, TX

P Goldsbury
20th July 2001, 00:34
Originally posted by Jack B
I can only speculate, but here are some possible reasons: It would only serve to inflame the egos of the instructors and students. It would create jealousy and dissention amongst students and instructors within an organization. By inviting comparison between organizations, it would challenge the rank structure and encourage one-up's-manship and possible inflation (like bidding wars) or defection to organizations with more possibilities for recognition. It would embarrass the organization to publicly audit ranks, which might reveal inequitable promotion practices, especially on racial lines, amongst practitioners with equivalent or superior experience in the art (rank is based on judgment and loyalty not skill in the higher ranks). It is private and nobody else's business (ryu-based idea, not modern public organization).

These issues (group harmony, self-abasement, vertical control, intuition, favoritism) are all very deep in Japanese character. It is not surprising at all that the idea was not welcome.

Jack Bieler
Denton, TX

I am sure you are right and you have in fact applied a general principle to a martial art. It is a general principle and works in the same way in my university, which is a large institution with nearly 20,000 students and staff. Information is generally given on a need-to-know basis. If you need to know something, you will be told; if not, you will be left in ignorance. Remarkably, this has also been happened with the Internet. There is much information on the university's web site, but much of this not available to outsiders and in any case does not give any indication of the real issues. It is very unlikely that any information about the political discussions in the faculty meetings would ever get on the Internet. Nevertheless the Internet is definitely changing the way in which information is handled at the university and I am sure this applies also to koryu and budo.

I think it is true to say that the Internet, based as it is on the principle that information is immediately available, for all see, regardless of who they are, goes directly against the need-to-know principle, especially as this is applied to the martial arts. Thus, my 9th dan sensei was against the free dissemination of such a list, not against the list itself. On the other hand, the principle is a general principle applied to a specific instance and I am not sure that a martial art which is practised internationally by people who have very little need to accept Japanese culture in all its aspects should be required to accept this principle.

I would add that whenever I have asked for information about dan ranks from the Aikikai, it has always been given to me quickly. Presumably as the elected head of an aikido organisation directly connected with the Aikikai, I 'need-to-know'.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Goldsbury,
____________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

Jeff Hamacher
23rd July 2001, 02:02
it's interesting to note that my tea teacher once asked me out of the blue (and right in the middle of my tea service, as is his habit), "Mr. Hamacher, do you ever stop to question what we do in tea? I mean to say, have you ever simply wondered 'why must I do this action in this way?'" i explained that training in martial arts had taught me to not talk too much and to concentrate on listening and actually attempting techniques; to do otherwise would be considered rude behaviour towards the teacher. my tea teacher replied by agreeing in principle with what i said, but added that asking questions of him was no great offence.

indeed, he often takes opportunities to comment on certain aspects of the ritual that we perform, on its history or provenance, and i think that this adds to my learning experience. my martial arts teachers do likewise. perhaps in days of old such talk was considered useless since everyone was expected to understand the reasons for training in a certain way, but in the modern age it is of great benefit i think to talk at appropriate times in our training.

as for lists of teachers and other such information, i think Prof. Goldbury's teacher asked some very good questions. if the benefit of publishing such information is outweighed by the detriment, then it's probably better to avoid publishing. but that value judgment is not mine to make.:)

Yamantaka
23rd July 2001, 14:17
Originally posted by Mike Clarke
Yamantaka and Peter,
Thank you very much for your kind responses.
Yamantaka - I didn't realiase that you got into trouble for compiling your list. I can't image who with. I feel like a bumkin completely unaware of all the undercurrents.
Thanks again for the info. I'll be more careful of stepping one toes with my questions next time.
Regards
Mike

YAMANTAKA : Dear Mike,

sorry if I wasn't very clear using this medium. I "didn't get into trouble" because of my list, in a harsh sense. Some people didn't like the idea; other people thought that I wasn inviting "comparisons" between organizations (which I stressed I wasn't); and finally some thought that such a list was useless.
But many other people and organizations helped me and are still helping. And my work is still in progress. Very soon there shall be an update, with the newest informations available.
Be sure you didn't step on anyone's toes, specially mine:D
Best regards