Martial Arts Associations/Foundations/Federations/etc.

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by dbell, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. dbell

    dbell Blue Belt

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    Over the last two years that I have been paying attention to the MA world on line, and listening to back chatter when at MA events, I have heard a strong thread of people wanting to know what Martial Arts Associations/Foundations/Federations/etc a person was affiliated with. That this affiliation was important in deciding how the person was ranked, etc.

    How do you feel about Associations/Foundations/Federations/etc? Are they required to validate rank?

    Here is my take on the associations/etc I have looked at over the past two years:

    With the exception of VERY few, they all appear to be organizations that say "if you aren't with us, you are not legit." Then they require you to pay money, and in many cases lots of money, to open a school under their name, get belted, etc. In most cases they appear to be more political than MA related from my outside looking in.

    From my looking at it, you either send your students to a annual or twice a year or four times a year event (often a LONG distance from where you may be) and have them pay the Association/etc a fee to test them. If you are not able to send them to the “group test”, some may allow you to pay 5 or more “Senior Black Belts of 5th Dan or higher, depending on the student getting tested, the cost of travel to your area, room and board, and the testing fees. They feel that your Soke (Head of Family (person in charge of your style/art)) is not able to decide who has the knowledge HE (some SHEs too!!) feels is part of the Ryu (School).


    I’m 100% sure I do not agree with this stance! After 40 years of martial arts, 38 of which was studying Kendo under Hasumi-sensei, the Soke of the Hasumi Ryu Kendo, the title passed to him by his Father, and on up the line back 184 years, Hasumi-sensei felt I had learned Hasumi Ryu Kendo well enough for him to pass the Ryu on to me as Soke at his death. He gave me the right to assign rank up to 5th Dan (this school has only 6 Black Belt ranks,and 10 Kyu (student) ranks) (I have since changed this to a 10Kyu/10Dan system at the request of many people, inside and outside the School) in this Ryu. He did not give that right to any Association, Federation, or group out there. There are “Secrets” (and I use the term secrets loosely!) to stance and such that each Ryu has that another Ryu may not know or use, etc. How do these 5 or more Black Belts of other Ryus/Systems get off on telling me if a student of mine has the needed skills and knowledge to be a X degree Black Belt?

    My Sensei's family started a Kendo school a bit over 184 years ago (not called Kendo back then), based on the need to live. They developed their system of "stick fighting", and joined in competitions with other families and schools for bragging rights etc (my words, not theirs!). Over the years they accepted Kano's belting system (although they still used the Menkyo system as well) and created a 10Kyu/5Dan (since changed to 10Kyu/10Dan) system. They were approved and accepted by Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, which was required by the Emperor or they couldn't have a school.

    My Sensei also studied Aikijutsu, and later Aikido, and Judo, achieving Menkyo Kaiden or senior black belts in each, being authorized, by his instructors, not associations, to teach others and to open his own school in each art.

    Prior to the 40's or so, I don't see associations being all that paramount. In fact, I can't find any that have a beginning before then.

    Those associations I have looked at all appear to be "new" and appear to be mainly money machines for the founders/head people.... (The experience I personally had with two such associations very much was that way.)

    I'm not sure an association is a valid indicator of a person's rank or skill...[FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
     
  2. dancingalone

    dancingalone Grandmaster

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    I regard goju-ryu karate and aikido as my two arts. In the former, I come from a Jundokan lineage, but I am not a member of any organization. So far it hasn't hurt my practice. :) Most of the people who seek me out to train with barely know such things as karate orgs exist.

    In aikido, I am a member of the US Aikido Federation. I am a member primarily because my teachers are members, so I honor their ties as well. This too doesn't affect my day-to-day practice much, although any rank promotions made in our dojo are registered with the USAF. Membership also carries some seminar opportunities, but truthfully, I am not a hard-line font of orthodoxy and I frequently train with Ki Society and Seibukan people too.

    In the end, none of those pretty little laminated cards will do a thing for you in an actual fight. I agree they're really not needed.
     
  3. celtic_crippler

    celtic_crippler Senior Master

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    Based on my personal experience; I don't subscribe to them.

    I can tell if somebody knows what they're doing when they step on the mat. To borrow a phrase: Action speaks louder than words. LOL

    Organizations lend themselves to politics, in-fighting, and restrictions to expanding one's knowledge; most often to the detriment of the arts.

    That's my 0.02 since you asked for it. :) Opinions vary of course.

    Now I do think that a beginner should probably go with someone who they can verify as a legit instructor, but once you reach black belt you should be able to recognize skill and I think that's a good time to go out and experience other perspectives in order to expand upon your skill and knowldege.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  4. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I am planning to join the UIKA (http://www.unitedisshinryukarate.com/) soon. The reasons are basic for me, and kind of selfish, but oh well.

    First, they recognize rank. This means that I could (if I needed to, and I hope I never will) go from one Isshin-Ryu dojo to another that is also a member of the UIKA and know that the hard work I've put in won't be ignored; I won't have to 'start over' or whatever.

    Second, they maintain strict standards, and that makes me feel as if I am getting the best training (which I knew already, but this is 'official').

    Third, this is part of my particular Isshin-Ryu lineage. These are 'my people' and if this is the organization they belong to, then I want to belong to. There are other Isshin-Ryi associations, and I believe they're all good and fine, but this one represents the lineage my instructors come from, so it's for me.
     
  5. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    I belong to no-one except my instructor linage, I hold rank with the KKW for the sake of having it, also I belong to the A.A.U. for competition and fair play for my sport minded people for my elite athletes they belong to USAT, my are purely selfess as well, you see to play in the Olympic game to need to have that foundation for your players and since my sons would like to try and make the Olympics one day I am committed to being a part but when all is said and done I belong to my instructor and that is good enough for me.
     
  6. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Association pfhhht I don't need no rank or stinking association I do TCMA :mst: :D

    There were no major association or rank n Traditional Chinese Martial arts, other than families and lineage, until the PRC appeared and frankly I do not have much use for associations
     
  7. Guardian

    Guardian Black Belt

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    Unfortunately, associations or organizations have become all powerful in todays society (well it started about 20 years ago) and now they are fortified and dug in and many systems/styles almost have to become one with them in order to be crediable or as put here get rank certified throughout other organizations of the same systems/styles. I didn't say I liked it, but it's a part of life that they have grabbed a hold of and it would take an extra ordinary effort to unlock those little hands now. Some of accomplished the feat of not getting involved with them, others have had no choice.

    JMVO
     
  8. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    We belong to an association that accepts all styles and doesn't interfere with anything any club or style does. They provide the insurance for us plus things like advice on Health & Safety law, child protection laws etc. They don't have anything to do with gradings or rankings nor do they have any say in the running of the club, it just does the admin we need doing. There's several such associations here like that. We don't belong to any style associations just do our own thing.
     
  9. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    I think the basic human assumption, especially here is the west is that the bigger an organization the worse it is. Which of course is both true and not. Not all small clubs or small associations of clubs are perfect, we all have great examples of that and not all large associations are incompetent.

    I am a member of the Canadian Kendo Federation, (CKF) which is under the All Japan Kendo Federation, (ZNKR), but is independent in its operations.

    I have never had an issue with them, nor has anyone I know had a major issue with them. Personally I think it’s great having independent dojo’s, of many different schools around the country and the world associated with the ZNKR.

    No one is forced to join, and clubs may leave as they will. You are there because you wish to be.
     
  10. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    We joined the association we are with because it can negociate with the insurances companies for all its members rather than each club/school trying to do it and not getting such good quotes through being a one off. The more members the better the association can bargain for us.
     
  11. GreatLakes

    GreatLakes White Belt

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    Most martial arts organizations these days are composed of people with no real fight records but have super duper titles and "ranks".

    A good example is the organization of frauds called the International Martial Arts Council.
    It's like the special olympics of martial arts, everyone is a winner. They all have 10th-15th degree black belts, phony PhD's, and uber titles.
     
  12. Blade96

    Blade96 Senior Master

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    i belong to an association :)

    i like it. Our association has/had ties to Tsuruoka-sensei and Nishiyama-sensei, an actual student of Funakoshi himself :)

    and these guys helped to found the JKA which helped create people such as the likes of Hirokazu Kanazawa-sensei. and helped bring karate to canada (tsuruoka) and create the first karate competition (again tsuruoka)

    Some disagree that belonging to one or having affiliation to one is unnecessary, but i think it certainly helps prove your legitimacy if you do and can show your lineage. One reason for this is that its one of the ways you can show your dojo isnt a mcdojo if you can show a lineage. That's one of the reasons I agree with dojos joining to and having association membership.

    i carry my card and they told us we'll get a new one of 2010 but we havent got one yet.

    and yes it requires students to attend annuals and sometimes travel for these and belt testing at times. I didn't have to attend the one that was held around october 2009 (as a rookie white belt) but will have to attend the ones after for 2010 and thereafter (as for the next ones i wont be a rookie white belt anymore)
     
  13. SahBumNimRush

    SahBumNimRush Master of Arts

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    My Kwan Jang Nim was one of 5 Korean Grandmasters that formed the USTW; 501C federal not-for-profit entity. The USTW's mission is the preservation of traditional taekwondo. With all of the first generation Korean immigrants to the U.S. retiring or passing away, they want a vehicle of preservation of standards. Although rank conversions are available, we do not test under USTW. There are "ronin" schools where the original instructor has passed away and the new head of the schools has no way to test further, and the USTW provides that opportunity.

    I do not support turn key revenue generators within an association. There is no incentive to join such an organization, IMHO. The USAT has it's mission, and the USTW has it's mission. These are two different missions, and although not mutually exclusive are different. I know there are hundreds of associations out there, but I think one key thing to look for is the "not-for-profit" status. This ensures federal regulation of funds, which keeps much of the curruption of politics out of the association and the large revenue generation for tests, seminars, and what not.

    It is also important to understand the mission statement of the association, and determine whether the association truly lives up to their own mission and if your opinions align with that mission.

    Rank means little outside of your school, and rank means nothing without students. What is a general with no army to lead?
     
  14. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I must be quite fortunate. The UIKA is nothing like that.

    http://www.unitedisshinryukarate.com/

    No fake titles, no doctorates, real fight records, and it was founded by Sensei Mitchum, the American with the most direct training time on Okinawa with Master Shimabuku, the founder of Isshin-Ryu.

    I hear a lot of stuff about fake associations, and I'm sorry to hear they're out there. When I was new on MT, I posted some info on my Sensei being elected to the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame, and was promptly informed that all HoF's are fake, junk, garbage, and anyone elected was obviously a fraud and bought their way in. I came within an ace of quitting MT right then and there. I have since come to the conclusion that there must be a lot of fraudulent societies, associations, and HoF's out there, so that explains why people have such a negative opinion of many of them.

    I'm sorry you feel the way you do - and perhaps you have good reason. But my association is not fake, not fraudulent, and does not 'give away' titles, degrees, belts or anything else. It exists to ensure that the principles of Isshin-Ryu karate as taught to Master Mitchum are taught correctly, and that belts granted by Sensei's who are UIKA members are able to transfer students with belts intact. They also teach seminars and are members of the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame (http://www.ihof.us/), which many Isshin-Ryu associations recognize and take part in.

    It hurts me to hear someone dismiss my association as a fraud, or my Sensei as a fake. I can't convince anyone who doesn't want to be convinced that some associations are quite real, but it is a fact in my opinion.
     
  15. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Thats the second time you have made that accusation without anything to back it up. This organisation may or may not what you accuse it of being but this isn't probably the place to run your vendetta against karate, it's styles,katas and organisations.
     
  16. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    Stop sugar coating it. :lol: :lol: :lol: I wanna know what you really think. :D

    Seriously, there was a time I cared about this stuff, but it's long past. It's like comparing what school you got your degree at. Useless in predicting how successful one will be in the field.
     
  17. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I really do not care about any association. Some are good and fill a need and well we all know there are a few bad ones out there two. Most associations that I have belonged to were all about getting some dues and then really providing no type of service at all. That does not mean that there are not good ones out there or that you do not need to belong to one based upon your system or style. Still in the end they do tend to cost!
     
  18. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    Associations are usually formed to promote the teaching of a certain style of martial arts. They serve as a focal point and a means of standardization for the style as well as a means for rank standardization.

    But sadly they often stray from that focus and have issues with politics and pride and ego. They then lose their way, and that is a sad thing.
     
  19. dbell

    dbell Blue Belt

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    Near as I can tell, Associations started for the purpose of competition, and as you said, standardization for competition purposes.

    From what I have seen, many of the "defense or combat" systems were not part of Associations until the recent years, and then because people felt the need to be part of an association to be "legit". I don't buy that though.

    If a Family has an art that they are passing on to others, and originally an art was family based, then friends of family, then employees of the Ruling class were allowed in, etc, that family head controls the ranking, etc. Associations today take that ranking authority away from the heads of the art and give it to the heads of the associations, which in many cases seem to be well distanced from the heads of the family. In some cases there is such a political agenda that the art has left the premises it seems!

    Don't get me wrong, there may be some associations that do not have that problem, but I sure haven't seen them!

    The concept of an association, if approved by the "Family Head" of that style, is already in place in the "family" concept, so it is not needed (if combat or defense oriented). The concept of a sport association makes sense, provided that the art is the focal point, and not money or politics.

    The associations I have looked at were either money oriented (mostly this category) or politically driven to push one system over another. Neither way is good.
     
  20. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan Grandmaster

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    I often ask because who the association is in conversation because it tells me what flavor of art a person may be practicing. For example, if you're a Kukkiwon taekwondoist, you are performing taegeuk poomsae (forms) and sparring under WTF rules most likely. If you are ITF, you are practicing under Chang Hon tuls (forms) and sparring under ITF rules. Neither one is good or bad, but it helps me to avoid making assumptions that they just do what I do.

    In general, organizations serve mainly one purpose: to have a group that is larger than your school through whom your rank can be validated and who determine what standards must be met for that rank. That is really about it. Some do more, some do little more than act as a papermill. None of them make you inherently better or inherently worse.

    Some arts organizations are much more vital than others and in some cases, some organizations are almost all encompassing. Such as with Japanese Kendo, for example, the All Japan Kendo Federation and its affiliates dominate the art to such an extent that everyone pretty much has to play by their rules if they want more than just local tournaments to compete in.

    None of this is good or bad. All organizations have their list of bylaws, features, and perks, etc. Find the art you want to practice, find a good teacher, train diligently and be ranked in your school's organization. Or if the school is independent, be ranked at your school.

    As long as you are not writing your own dan certificates (i.e. promoting yourself), and as long as you feel that your organization is serving your needs, then as far as I am concerned, tis all good.

    Daniel123
     

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