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Re: A Question of authority?
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Thank you Mr King, I did mention in my first posting in relation to this topic that "my question centers on" I do apologise if you felt this was directed towards you in particular, but those who know me, will tell you I would have been very direct about the focus of that/the discussion(just ask Billy), as Mr Dumas pointed out very eloquently there are indirect and direct methods employed within our art, this topic may help address these methods, if only to draw attention to them, by asking simple questions, to which sometimes there are no simple answers....M

Posted on: 2007/4/9 9:28
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Re: A Question of authority?
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Quote:

Yamazu wrote:
Quote:

Robert J. Hartung wrote:
They [15th Dans] could, I suppose, work together and share information between themselves, but, that seems unrealistic.

Perhaps, we could look towards History to understand what is going on and where the Bujinkan could possibly be headed...
No bloody battles but, political upheavel of sorts leaving a trail of bruised egos and isolated groups. This seems to be the case for the most part as many Bujinkan groups seem to leave and branch of on thier own, as a result of politics and or their own egos.


Can't see why it seems unrealistic... from where I'm looking.

If it is egos... well... we all have that, and I suppose we should, but letting it get sour, letting the "sour ego" get the best of us and start dictating our actions, maybe veering us towards an unwanted direction from the bigger picture pow...

Makes me think what the "ego" might be wanting, too....

"Power corrupts... And absolute power... that's kinda neat!"

"With great power comes great responsibility."

PS. might one also think that "together we are strong"... but when separate... maybe... not so? And on the issue of following rules -control... peer pressure, anyone?


I agree, it would be nice and not unrealistic, but based on experience and amoung other things it probably won`t happen, people want to do their own thing too much in the states. Such as the way people rank, the way they teach "Under the Bujinkan Name" (scare quotes people, scare quotes ) other arts, and others just doing whatever without regards to the the quidelines. Which by the way, are plain and simple to read.

And, then there are those that are squimish at the sight of harsh treatment, as a teaching tool or a communicative tool. This is BUDO not kindergarden. Then there are others that want to hold hands and skip down the yellow brick road. I think healthy conflict between two budoka is a healthy thing if it drives them to become better. My recommendation find a good rival.

But, I digress. I would like the shihan talk to each other and actually talk about the sticking points the have about each others training. It would be healthy if they would be rivals in the martial arts more than in the political stream. But, perhaps some already do this. But, there will always be different flavors or the Bujinkan I suppose...

Posted on: 2007/4/9 19:34
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Re: A Question of authority?
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I also would like to see more of the judan level talking with each other in a courteous way. That already is happening with many of us and is of great benefit to the students. When we recognize that the way "we" do things is not the "only" way to teach or pass on this art and give the freedom to others to find "their" way, then a lot of problem goes away. There ARE many flavors in the Bujinkan even in the shihan in Japan as we all know. The bottom line is simple does it work? If the instruction creates in the student movement that DOES work then why should it be criticized simply because it was not the way "you" thought it should be done? I agree that there are times when the "harder" demonstration is needed for some people especially if your skills are "questioned" in a teaching situation and I for one will respond that way. ( As I think most instructors will) The preference for me is to transmitt the information without someone being injured, so that they can have fun while learning and enjoy the experience. Others have the option to do it differently. The student must choose their teacher and accept the results of that teaching. The more we network the better off all in this art are. Things like this last Australian Tai Kai, Jack Hoban's Buyu Camps, the Bufest in Springfield, IL, and many others, are all examples of the way we should be going ---- toward greater cooperation.

Posted on: 2007/4/9 21:35
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Re: A Question of authority?
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interesting thread and I think it deserves a few more words to clear up a few issues. I think Mark probably has a good handle on the ways of the Bujinkan anyway but threads like this are very useful for low dan ranks and new shidoshi.

To my mind, and as I was asked to explain many things to people living in Japan when I was living there, there is a simple and fairly flexible hierachy in the Bujinkan.

Students should train with a Shidoshi level teacher. There are very few areas of the world where there is not a shidoshi within travelling distance and so the "shidoshi-ho" title is almost extinct.

Shidoshi do not need to train with any shihan in their area or otherwise if they do not wish to. At this level they are expected to have some form of direct relationship with Soke - even if tenuous it is there. and so the teaching can be taking as "one to one". However it has been Soke's direct words to strongly suggest that shidoshi do maintain a training relationship with a shihan or several. Generally in Japan a student will look to one of the shihan they train with to be their main mentor and their grading instructor. If there is a situation where one shihan tries to grade anothers student, then the student informs that shihan that he has been graded recently by the other (his main teacher) and it is too early for another grade. I have seen this happen several times and it is not at all impolite.

Should a shidoshi, by geography or by choice, not have a shihan that they look to as mentor and grading approval, then the student can say so at any Shihans class or Soke's class in Japan. Usually one of Noguchi, Oguri, or Nagato Shihans will observe the shidoshi at that class and let them know what they think by the end of it. That has been something that Soke has been aware of as necessary for some time.

Three Shihan are needed to nominate a shidoshi for 10th dan, effectively making 10th dan shihan. 10th dans have their name placard on the wall of the hombu and as is Japanese tradition this makes them a "named student" and so an important representative of the dojo. In the Bujinkan this means that named students are therfore also shihan/10th dan. Shihan are those of 10dan and above. In the old days it was a group of a few Japanese, none were at that time 10dan. When 10dans started getting issued to westerners it was generally accepted by the existing Japanese shihan and by Soke that these people were now Shihan.
Ten votes can kick someone out +/- Soke's rubber stamp. So it is largely a self regulating community worldwide.

It is a rank of responsibility to Soke, to the Bujinkan dojo, and to the students/shidoshi that look to you for guidance. Something not to be taken trivially, not to be abused for personal gain, and is not a rubber stamp for anything else you like to study to then be brought into the Bujinkan. If you have teaching qualifications in other things then great, but don't combine it with the Bujinkan even if you think it would help your students. It is up to Soke to say what you are qualified to teach as part of the Bujinkan.

At times some people will be given specific jobs to do. Peter has had one given to him recently. I was given the job (without knowing there was one) of helping at the hombu, at Soke's house for those with requests on Sunday's, and sometimes on other days as a general dog's body. Specifically I got stuck with two taikai in Australia - and I choose those words carefully because both times nobody else put their hands up to run them. The first one came about because at Soke's house we talked about how he would like to go to Australia and so far no invites had come even though people knew. Some were scared he would break their "control over their dojo's", other were just too lazy. I was going hime and was told I could do it if I wanted. I could see no good reason to say no to the request. Same happened a year later for Sydney - not one person made an approach to Soke so I got it again.
A few years later one particular Australian sent out a letter concerning Bujinkan Instructors needing government accreditation due to some new laws. There was indeed some new laws but this guy was using it for his own ends. In response Soke wrote a letter to the Australian authorities stating that for any matter in regard to the Bujinkan they were to contact me. Some take that as being "Soke's representative" full stop for Australia. I don't, it makes me responsible for certain affairs sure, but it is not a position where I hold authority over the Bujinkan in Australia, it is a comment to the Australian government that they should seek me out before they make rulings affecting Bujinkan people here. There is a big difference.
Some may know I have been given other tasks, some distasteful ones at that. Soke knows I couldn't give a rats backside for peoples opinions of things if it is the right thing to do, or it is a direct request from him.

As for the Australian Shihan, most are good people. Some are exceptional. In particular I would like to mention Tim Bathurst, Duncan Stewart, Gillian Booth, Duncan Mitchell, and Andrew Beattie. They are standouts to me of what it takes to be a good shihan. I know all had had more than a few challenges with politics (mostly of the personality conflict type), and commitment levels, but all have persevered and done their best to represent Soke, and their students in an openhearted and responsible way. None even think of answering to me, nor would I in my wildest dreams expect them to. One of my dearest memories is standing next to Tim as Soke's chosen bodyguards for the Takamatsu Sensei Memorial Taikai. I know in my heart, and from what Tim told me his too, we had no friends that day, but a job to do. I would love for other students of the Bujinkan to understand this sort of thing. We were offered a job, much like you are offered rank, and accepted it. By accepting it you accept the responsibility and consequences of that choice.

To put it more clearly, if you don't want the responsibility then don't accept the rank or task. Check the 10dan recommendation letters people get: kata, waza, kokoro, tomin, is what is written on mine - techiniques, form (or flow), heart and community spirit is what I write on other peoples.

What Mark is complaining about is a lack of community spirit. If he feels it is so, then it is so. That is something the American Shihan will have to address. Some of this I think does come from a history of "groups" forming. Groups where some outsiders were not as welcome as one of their own. It has happened in all countries I think, but Australia seems to be sparse on the personality cult types and so things may be a little better here, who knows.

Posted on: 2007/4/9 23:02
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Re: A Question of authority?
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Here's a question:

How do we listen/respect Judans who have been ranked extremley quickly in the Bujinkan?

Example: There is/was a member promoted from white belt to Judan in less than 5 years. I know Sensei has his reasons for rapid promotions, I'm not going to argue that. But how can we say that we respect or want to show anytime of leadership position to this Judan? Because they make so many trips to Japan or because they network with the right Shihan for rank.I just use him as an example, I don't even think he's in the Bujinkan any longer, I believe he's independent or Genbukan still.

In Florida we have a 15th Dan, his name is Dick Severance. Shihan Severance has been in the Bujinkan for over 20+ years. In my opinion, this is what I would call a true Shihan. Not only has he done his time but the real life experience he brings to his teachings are incredible.

So I ask, who deserves the Authority? The Shihan who has put his time in or the Shihan that networked his butt off?


In the arts,

Posted on: 2007/4/10 0:23
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Re: A Question of authority?
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Quote:

jackal wrote:
Here's a question:

So I ask, who deserves the Authority? The Shihan who has put his time in or the Shihan that networked his butt off?


I think it depends on what is important to you and why you would follow this person's teachings? To me, I think it's important to try and understand or see WHY Soke had awarded the person such status. I've trained with Shihan and Shidoshi who weren't technique scholars, but just had that feeling that told you they 'get it'. On the same note, I've trained with my share of technique experts who can teach you layer upon layer of goodies in each kata. But, maybe they may not 'get it' yet as far as what Soke is looking for. Or maybe it's their technical knowledge that's what Soke is awarding their rank on. Only Soke knows.

Each person is given their ranking (or 'nod' as was said in another thread) based on things we may not even understand. Do we let our own criteria for judgements influence what value we place on that person in our own growth?

I know a person who rose quickly and became judan+ at a relatively young age - in fact, I remember when this person was brand new. I will honestly admit I wrestled with this for some time because I felt that this person's youth and lack of life experience was a hinderance to my learning from them. At times, his words and actions would support my bias.

I found the real problem, however, was me and my own inflated ego. I'll even humble myself by saying I was jealous of him. When I finally just got over myself, showed up and just trained with him, I was amazed with his taijutsu and how 'grown up' he really was (I know that sounds bad). I can see why he progressed so quickly, because I can see it in his taijutsu - and it's not even in his technical knowledge at all. I don't think it's even in his teaching or his words. It's something else - a something that Soke and the Shihan saw which made them believe he was ready. I'm not in any way qualified to evaluate such qualities, but if those things are obvious to my thick headed perceptions, then I know this person deserved it.

I just need to trust Soke enough to accept his decisions sooner or risk missing out on something important in my growth that my own blind ignorance would prevent me from seeing.

Posted on: 2007/4/10 2:14
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Re: A Question of authority?
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I think Darren is talking about "you decide... but see for yourself first!", right? Not basing the opinion on... whatever. But 1st hand knowledge.

Posted on: 2007/4/10 3:00
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Re: A Question of authority?
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Well what ever office or station your running for, you get my vote Darren(if I may), As for complaining, Im not. The question was raised simply because it needed to be, We either work it out openly and say yeah we will all co-operate for the greater good, or we go our seperate ways with our seperate empires and get on with our lives. Me personaly I couldnt give a rats arse either way, those that are Budoka's and know me understand where Im coming from, and those that are interlopers dont realy like me or care for me much, thats my job/purpose. There are many able bodied practioners here in the States, and around the world that take the art extremely seriously for others its a pastime , a distraction from an otherwise boring existence, when you look a their lives and then how they portray themselves in the Dojo it just doesnt add up. As for whether or not there is structure to the art here in the states, I think not, it doesnt really need one, it doesnt even need a hierarchy. Its purely my own opinion, and one that is not shared by many in the community.
"We are like beacons of light perched like lighthouses on the rocks in a perilously dark sea of ignorance, our purpose is to guide others onward on their journey, not to attract them towards ourselves." If you understand our bow in prayer, this concept will make sense to many, if it doesnt , thats life. The future of the art is full of potential, we are nearing a point in our history/society when the art will be needed more than ever, my suggestion is to keep training, remember when it gets really shitty out there, they will come looking for us/your help, be prepared,and if everything works out great and there are no problems then, thats a good result, simply thats our job, no noteriety, no accolades except from our peers, no fortunes made, ......M

Posted on: 2007/4/10 6:45
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Re: A Question of authority?
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In my humble and limited opinion, I think this is why Soke says rank means nothing...

Don't we trust Soke and in turn his teacher Takamatsu?
Didn't Soke say Takamatsu recieved menkyo kaiden (in Takagi Yoshin-ryu) at age 16? In fact, several years later Toda handed him the densho for 6 other schools and tells him he is the heir to these traditions.

Hatsumi has said he felt he was handed his responsibilites way too early, is it possible he is doing the same to us?

Just some thoughts to add into the mix...

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Posted on: 2007/4/10 6:51
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Re: A Question of authority?
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Mr Lomax's comments have to be the best description of how ranking and pecking order works in the Bujinkan. It what I have always believed but not been able to express. If people would worry about their own growth and not about who is good, who sucks there would not be any of these kind of issues. The reason I always liked the Tai Kai/ Daikomyosai events was to see and learn from all the various and very different people. Lower rank or higher didn't matter. Everyone had something to offer. My former teacher always complained that it was a waste of time to view the other peoples methods and he only wanted to watch Hatsumi Sensei. He now is no longer a member or teacher of the Bujinkan and thats allright too. He had to follow his own heart. I have been forced to bounce from several different teachers, and forced to try and absorb many different understandings of the same material. It makes it very hard, but maybe in the end it will make me a better warrior. I have respect for all the shihan, even the ones that people percieve to be less skilled. I think they all have something to share and add to the community of he bujinkan. Thank you Mr. Lomax for your great post.

Posted on: 2007/4/10 15:02
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