Age, rank, and knowledge

Aiki Lee

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I took no offense, I just didn't understand. Thank you for clarifying your statement.

Thanks for the link Jadecloud, for the longest time I believed that soke was a "grandmaster" title, until my teacher told me that it doesn't really refer to that meaning.
 

STEPS

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Here is a snippet from a 2005 public interview in Kwoon with Dr. Kacem Zoughari of the Bujinkan. He speaks of rank in the organization and his own journey. The complete interview can be found HERE.

Kwoon: You seem to be steady at fourth dan even though, from what I know, progression in the Bujinkan seems to be much faster in terms of Dans and Menkyo. It definitely appears to be something which is voluntary on your part, can you explain this?

Corollary: How are your relationships with other Shidoshi in the Bujinkan?


Kacem Zoughari: Who is that question from? (laughs)

I started when I was quite young with Sylvain Guintard, it was in 1986 and I remember before this my father had been transferred to Algeria and I was studying at a French high school. I even kept my first registration paper from the dojo. I started in a club called the Yamatsuki club and it was located in Charonne. Four years later, in 1989, I left for Japan. Just before leaving for Japan the atmosphere in the dojo (Sylvain had changed the dojo three times, first the Sanshin dojo in Portes des Lilas, then one at Main dOr in Bastille, then at Vincennes) had changed a lot, and technically speaking I had my doubts, especially after having seen Hatsumi senseis videos. I saw that there was a mixture of techniques from the different schools in order to cover up a flagrant
lack of knowledge, and he also wanted to become part of the FFKMA (French Karate and Martial Arts Federation). So many factors contributed to me taking the major step of going to Japan, or should I simply say that it was my time to go.

When I got to Japan (in 1989) I was only seventeen years old, and I had a real shock at my first class with Ishizuka sensei who was, and still is, one of Hatsumi Senseis oldest students. After that, I said to myself that everything I learned in France before was a load of... so I was duped, and that really hurt me because my parents and I had both invested so much and I was lied to. You might not believe it, but for a seventeen year old kid, this was pretty heavy... and I said to myself that I was stopping with everything and everyone who called themselves pioneers.

During the time I was a student of Guintard everyone was there: Arnaud Cousergue was his student and right hand man, there was Dominique Thibault, Marie Valerie Saumon, Jean Jeacques Kocevar. There were those who came occasionally to give seminars like Bernard Bordas and Tarik Mesli... and others whose names I completely forget. In any case I knew them all and saw them climb their way up.

I still remember everything that was said and done and how things worked. Like many families there were secrets and tricks which, in retrospect, I find stupid and completely unnecessary to the practice of the martial arts. Many years later I lived in Japan as a Lavoisier Grant Recipient [from the French Dept. of Foreign Affairs] and I met with Arnaud Cousergue several times (he goes to
Japan two or three times a year and always stays around ten days) and translated for him with Hatsumi sensei and even during the classes, but I also did that for many people over there, for the English, Americans, Swedish, Germans, Spanish, Brazilians, Canadians, etc... so I met a lo of people in japan.

So my relationships with these people are amicable, though as far as martial arts goes, thats another story, everyone does their own thing, and its the same case for everyone in the Bujinkan whatever the country.

I know Bernard Bordas well but I havent seen him in quite a while. We send each other messages from time to time and I saw him in Japan in 2002 I believe, while I was over there, I think he sojourned for about fifteen or twenty days. We went to the restaurant with Hatusmi Sensei and, like for everyone before and after him, I translated to the best of my abilities. And like with everyone, we maintained friendly relations.

Kwoon: In what way does your view of grades influence these relations?

KZ: As far as I am concerned, I have always held the same opinion about grading from the beginning and I might be a little too old school or uptight for some. First of all, there are no grades in Ninjutsu and there should not be any. In the past, and there is substantial historical evidence, there was a system of menkyo like the one in the classical bujutsu which still exists in certain schools in Japan today. However, in the process of opening up to Westerners, Hatsumi sensei adapted himself to the needs of the time, even if he knows deep within himself that it doesnt really mean anything. Its important to realize that the foreigners who come to Japan, and this goes for every style, do so merely to leave with grades, with something legitimate to show or to use as proof. Its in
this way that Hatsumi Sensei gives grades, but the person who receives it assumes all responsibility, and in the end its only a piece of paper.

Kwoon: You give them no importance?

KZ: Well, I dont give them any importance, but I do. They represent a certain amount of work, and the work has to be done. This means that if you say you are a fourth, fifth, or even fifteenth dan, would it not be wiser to place some value upon that which you present to others either in public or private?

We cant simply bury our heads in the sand by telling ourselves that we exist in some different martial universe. If you are fourth, fifth, or sixth dan we need to be at that technical level, that is to say the same as others in their respective disciplines. Moreover, in Ninjutsu which is the art of a spy, we must be able to handle any style under any condition. This is where the idea of being harder on oneself and against oneself in practice and with respect to the level which we have attained comes from. I will also add that the martial arts in general are based on some common points like: speed, stability, uprightness, rectitude, flexibility... If someone holds a very high grade and is not able to stay upright on their own two legs, loses balance, etc... I sincerely believe that this isnt normal. We need to be honest with ourselves about our own abilities.

Nevertheless, we mustnt lose sight of the true significance of the term Dan (degree, level, grade, stage, etc.) and the fact that it originates from an image that is outside martial reality as it was created for martial sports after the Meiji period whose forms were touched up after the Second World War. So this image cannot really explain the level of a person who practices the Koryu. Of course we search for an equivalence but it will always be just an equivalence.

My approach remains voluntary. I have a teacher; Ishizuka sensei, and I would feel awkward accepting a 10th Dan when he holds this grade! That isnt normal for me. Even if one day (which I seriously doubt) I become better than him, for me I would always be lower than him. Its a respect within a respect. This is very difficult for me to explain, but this is the way it is for me, and as long as I work with him I will never hold back because a true relationship must be based in the moment of combat or the moment where the technique is realized in real and for reach the reality. So if I want to get the right feeling I have to go all the way. If the master is good he will know how to make me feel it without destroying me, this is one of the fundamentals of mastery in Ninjustu and in all martial arts in general.

So automatically I have a fourth dan which I received in 1994, I believe. Since then I have refused every grade that was offered to me. Why? It is very simple, it doesnt interest me. A lot of people have gotten involved in the race to be the first to obtain a certain grade or to get some recognition, this is their choice. Some other people will [say] I received from someone and they could not say no. I understand and I respect their choice. I always thought differently.

Whereas I felt uncomfortable with a 4th Dan where the expectations are already very high in even the basic, fundamental techniques. For me, being a Fourth Dan means being capable of doing and realizing all of the techniques from the first three levels (shoden, chuden, and okuden) of the nine schools, weapons included... this was and still is the requirement.

I think that I am at the level of a Third Dan and I am working and practicing hard to someday, and of course God willing, be worthy of a Fourth Dan. It is also a question of honesty with respect to practice, and with respect to the art. It may be [an] old fashioned way for many people in the Bujinkan, but I'll not accept something that I dont deserve by real practice and deep studies.

The rest, what other people do and aspire to doesnt matter to me. They do what they want. But once again, I think that we shouldnt bury our heads in the sand with regards to titles and high grades as there is nothing to acquire in the classical martial arts and particularly in Ninjutsu.

I have always had the habit, and I think you already know, that when a person comes to one of my classes and asks what grade I am, I answer by saying: You come, watch the class, and give me the grade you want.

Kwoon: Do you feel that a Fourth Dan is a good middle ground between that which you demand of yourself and the level of requirement...

KZ: That which I demand of myself is far beyond anyone elses requirements. The people who come here, the people who know me can see it for themselves. Besides, I never make a display out of my capabilities nor of my grades or activities. As for my articles or seminars, other people or editors create phrases that are catchy or attractive to get people to come or to buy. The only thing that I can use is the fact that I am a doctoral candidate and thats because it is what I am doing. Within the martial arts I am but
one small researcher and but one small student of Ishizuka Sensei. I follow Hatsumi Senseis classes just like all the others who go to Japan and pay their dues. I have never presented myself as a student or direct disciple of Hatsumi Sensei as that would be a great lie. I do not consider myself a student of Hatsumi Sensei and even if I must admit to having some kind of relationship to him, the nature of that relationship has yet to be defined. I think that a lot of people do not understand the difference between being a student or what really means being recognize as a real disciple is. This difference is the same as "show", "teach" and "transmission". People love to hear and create things or their own story and tell to everyone how great they are, using the name of Hatsumi Sensei to back them up is natural and it exists in other organizations too. I dont think that doing it like this can help you to move better or to understand better the art. So once again, I follow the rules of the Bujinkan for the practice and fellow the rules presented by the Hatsumi Sensei. But because I respect him and the art very deeply I can not accept thing that I dont really deserve.

So, yes, I am very demanding of myself and I hope that it shows in my work and my articles, if not then I shall have to double my effort. I have also made these requirements clear to the people who come to my classes, however I am not responsible for their level and even less for their actions and their attitude. After the class is over, twice a week, I no longer see anyone. Everyone leads their own life.

 

HeisaaReborn

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Soke originated as a Chinese word (Mandarin zongjia) with strong familial and religious connotations. Etymologically it is written with glyphs indicating a family that performs ancestor rites. In Chinese texts it designates either the members of a household belonging to the same clan or the main lineage within an extended clan, the head of which was responsible for maintaining the ancestral temple on behalf of the entire clan organization. In Japanese texts as well, soke always implied a familial relationship replete with filial duties. Japanese use of this word was not limited to consanguineous contexts, though, since many kinds of social relationships were organized around pseudo-familial models. Religious societies, commercial enterprises, and teaching organizations all employed familial vocabulary and observed rites of familial etiquette. In these contexts, the term soke often implied exclusivity and commercial privilege, with less emphasis on formal religious duties.

This is all from your above link. Now a couple of points:

1) Thank you for squaring me away on my spelling - admittedly it is terrible

2) Hatsumisensei was not the only student of his master - there were others and only those who are of the most closed minded variety would believe there were not other second and third gen students of Hatsumisensei's master teaching a non-glitzed up version of ninjutsu

3) When we speak of secrets etc. they are not these mystical secrets that they are made out to be - it is simply for public forum usage - different uses of weapons that were common to each ryu, ways of making a person look bigger or look as if they could accomplish something that would be impossible- no different than what SF does today

4) Any traditionally run budo style school should be run as a family and therefore know their family lineage. It would also make sense that any budo system new or old would have one soke followed by those who hold the menyko or hanshi. It had to start somewhere unless you are giving way to the superstition you debunked above.

5) While my master does hold a sokeship menyko for the art he is addressed as kaiso sensei by his students and by the way he does have Japanese blood so that is also one heck of an assumption to make.

I wish you peace,
 

HeisaaReborn

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Heisaa you can take the issue with Mr. Bodhiford who:

http://www.koryu.com/bio.html#wbodiford

The quotes were his not mine.
Also the Kanji from this site is wrong.
http://www.budoikiryu.com/imagelib/...ucertupload.jpg&target=tlx_new&title=Sensei's Ninjutsu Certification

Again you only show your ingnorance and I will respond to you in exactly the same way I responded to you on the other thread where you made this allegation against the Ryu in which I belong:

No Jade Cloud and your response is both highly offensive to my master, my family, and my Ryu. If you check the site again that certification came from his Shidoshi in Japan so I apologize if your wife takes issue with it or you feel you need to create drama on here but you would be the first to question the validity of those certificates which is why they are there for everyone to see. I can also personally attest to the day they came to the house. I have seen many like you that go out of your way to question the validity of others. Maybe it says something of your own confidence.

Peace be with you
__________________
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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As I said on the other thread:

Ok let me explain to you why it is wrong.
The sentence on the Menkyo looks weird.
What is Gun-jeijyutsu? Gun-Army Jeijyutsu-art so what army art?
So what is Gun you meant army or group or what?

"Budo no tassei sareta ranku" Is what it says on the Menkyo which is not correct Japanese sentence. Correct is
Tassei sareta budo no ranku.


The name says:Kuriji Batsuto
The correct name is Kurisu Ba-to

Obviously a Japanese did not write this.
You can tell the handwriting is not Japanese.

I have no problem taking each Kanji and translatiing it and if you do it says what I said it says.

http://www.budoikiryu.com/imagelib/...ucertupload.jpg&target=tlx_new&title=Sensei's Ninjutsu Certification

Anyone who can read Japanese can see it for what it is.

A native Japanese says a Japanese would not write this as such nor make such common mistakes. If you want we can break it down Kanji by Kanji I have no problem with that.
 

HeisaaReborn

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As I said on the other thread:



I have no problem taking each Kanji and translatiing it and if you do it says what I said it says.

http://www.budoikiryu.com/imagelib/...ucertupload.jpg&target=tlx_new&title=Sensei's Ninjutsu Certification

Anyone who can read Japanese can see it for what it is.

A native Japanese says a Japanese would not write this as such nor make such common mistakes. If you want we can break it down Kanji by Kanji I have no problem with that.

The handwriting on Menyko was never claimed to be Japanese and is not. Take another look and see who the Menyko is from. Secondly, yes the certs are mostly certainly from a native Japanese speaker and writer who I am guessing unless your wife is much older than you are is much older than your wife with much more practice.

This is all I will say more on the topic.

Peace to you,
 

STEPS

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If you both could take up this matter with each other elsewhere, that would be great. I think it's best we get back on topic.

Thanks
 

HeisaaReborn

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OK, just a couple more things from the husband who told me not to get too worked up because he is unconcerned.

1. There are many different regions with many provincial language differences. Your wife can probably attest to that as well.

2. No there is no name on it. Shidoshi retired and wanted to be left in peace because that is what we practice- the only reason there was any certificate at all is because in America pieces of paper are important.

3. Check your own spelling and English grammar. One could look at your own profile and make the assumption you were not an American yet you are from Miami. This would be incorrect. Think about it.

4. If you wish to question my husband's translation abilities - why don't you look at the translations he did. Not the ones that others presented him with.

Peace,
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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The handwriting on Menyko was never claimed to be Japanese and is not

But you said:

If you check the site again that certification came from his Shidoshi in Japan

And:
he does have Japanese blood

Take another look and see who the Menyko is from. Secondly, yes the certs are mostly certainly from a native Japanese speaker and writer who I am guessing unless your wife is much older than you are is much older than your wife with much more practice.

No they are not and I already presented evidence showing it is not native Japanese. The only person who is listed that I see on the site who gave a Menkyo is Christa Jacobson who is not Japanese and her Tomo ryu is most likely her creation.
But you know what let other people who can read Japanese see it and tell you the same thing I said I have no problem with that. I presented my case why don't you answer these questions:

Ok let me explain to you why it is wrong.
The sentence on the Menkyo looks weird.
What is Gun-jeijyutsu? Gun-Army Jeijyutsu-art so what army art?
So what is Gun you meant army or group or what?

"Budo no tassei sareta ranku" Is what it says on the Menkyo which is not correct Japanese sentence. Correct is
Tassei sareta budo no ranku.


The name says:Kuriji Batsuto
The correct name is Kurisu Ba-to

Obviously a Japanese did not write this.
You can tell the handwriting is not Japanese.

1. There are many different regions with many provincial language differences. Your wife can probably attest to that as well.
Yes but still does not justify why the Ninjutsu rank. Which part of Japan then?? Who is the teacher and where in Japan so I can call Japan and ask him myself.
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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Here lets talk in Japanese:

jya anata ga kaita sono menkyo wa, nihon no doko no kotoba desuka?
soreto mouhitotu, sono kami ni kaite aru "gun geijyutsu" towa nandeshouka? setumei shitekudasai.
kami ni kakareteiru anata no namae wa mattaku chris burt towa yomemasen.

In english it basically asks what is Gun geijyutsu and who is the Japanese teacher and why is Chris Burt is spelled wrong.
 

HeisaaReborn

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Referring to our basic stance as Kehon no kamae. the "no" is because it is a fixed non-moving stance and not a movement. would that mean saying kehon kamae as a description from a fixed stance into a movement such as when doing the happo subaki would be incorrect language? no it wouldn't because t's about the context of how it is used..just like english and every other language in the world.



The Japanese language has different methods of writing including Kanji, Katakana and Hiragama as the most practiced methods. Just as in America we have different ways of writing and speaking english between city and country so does Japan depending on region and method of writing.


Some people say the only way to write a menkyo for a Gaijin is in Katakana; some say it has to be Hiragama. It comes down to the writer of the Menkyo, their region and what they decide to use. We in america can choose to write in manuscript, cursive or abbreviations. This is the same situation. However any true student of the budo ways would never question a student about their teacher. That is not proper also.

I will not reply as I will not allow for more disruption than this has already caused. I will take it as a learning lesson - as far as my master's master's name that is not of your concern. He is retired and wishes to stay at peace.
Peace,
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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I will not reply as I will not allow for more disruption than this has already caused. I will take it as a learning lesson - as far as my master's master's name that is not of your concern. He is retired and wishes to stay at peace.

:BSmeter:

:bs:
 

HeisaaReborn

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If you both could take up this matter with each other elsewhere, that would be great. I think it's best we get back on topic.

Thanks


Thanks STEPS - my humble apologies to everyone - it is a family issue. :asian: Also I just wanted to say - what does think about these schools that put black belts on kids. Personally I don't think it is a good idea. I don't understand how a kid can be a leader when they can't even drive or sign themselves out of school.

Peace,
 

Sukerkin

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Gentlemen, whilst it is understandable that such matters are bound to be a cause of some debate from time to time, MartialTalk is not the place to do it.

'Fraudbusting', as it is commonly termed, is not one of the options for conversation and no matter how clear or emotive some issues might be, if they must be discussed then it must be elsewhere.

This is not just a question of politeness or good manners, it is part and parcel of the rules and regulations that everyone agrees to when they sign up. Please desist.
 

exile

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Folks, we really do need to get this thread back to the OP topic!

It's also the case that MT has a policy against fraudbusting, which people do need to comply with. Read 禮1.10.3 particularly carefully. There's only one place on the site for discussion of issues such as the one the current conversation has drifted to... and the Ninjutsu forum ain't it! :)
 

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