How Rank is Handled in the Bujinkan.

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Grey Eyed Bandit

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It seems many people crave the comfort of having some parental figure 'put them in their place'. I think the need for this is easily demonstrated, just look at the multitude of laws on the books that are simply intended to 'keep us from hurting ourselves' and tell us what is good/bad or right/wrong.

Martial Arts are no different; clearly they are made up of a subset of the same people and thus probably will have similar traits.

People crave being told where to go, what to do, who to train with. It's all so much easier that way!

Personally, I get nervous if I don't hear complaints in a while. I know of a person with third or fourth dan who's a beginner's instructor, has been training probably since the end of the 1990's, and who is visibly not aware of the fact that bending your back is wrong. Nobody is ever going to let him in on that in his current place (due to what they call an "open-minded" attitude towards training). That is someone I don't want to end up being compared to.

I find that those who are so concerned about rank tend to exhibit two qualities:

1. They often talk about how under-ranked they are compared to others. And talk about it CONSTANTLY. You know the kind - "LOOK! Did you SEE how HUMBLE I AM!?" This is usually followed up with, "I was offered an 87th dan, but I turned it down for my 4th kyu, do you see how HUMBLE that makes me!" Whatever. You get one or the other, take the rank or shut up. You don't get to brag about both.

I've never encountered these two qualities in one and the same person. We have someone at our place with fourth dan who's been training since the end of the 80's, went to Japan earlier this year and chose not to try the sakki test. You'll be hard-pressed to find people less concerned about rank.

2. Then tend to be the most *ahem* 'cultish' people in the Bujinkan. "Everyone else doesn't get it, except for MY teacher, who turns down rank all the time and doesnt train with Soke because he ranks people incorrectly/has gone soft/doesn't train correctly."

I know of such people, though I wouldn't label them cultish in regards to the Bujinkan, since they're probably already on their way out of said organization. The cultish people in the Bujinkan tend to be those who train with Soke and a couple of other shihan and talk about what they're doing in class as "real fighting".
 

saru1968

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Hello,

I just wanted to make a quick note here for clairity. It is not my intention to start any arguments here, but there are some mistakes in the quoted text. I would like to clear these up for the sake of correct information.

While in the bujinkan Tanemura Sensei had the rank of 9th dan and vice president at a time when ranks stopped at 9th dan (10th being the next grandmaster).

In addition, he held menkyo kaiden in many of the arts Mr. Hatsumi was Soke of.

Since he left 23 years ago, he has been awarded menkyo kaiden and Soke in various ryu ha. He has had many teachers since being in the bujinkan, Sato kinbei, Kimura Sensei, Fukamoto Sensei etc. He is still training with Suzuki Sensei and Nagao Sensei from whom he received menkyo in Daito Ryu and mugen Shinto Ryu Iai.

So these are some examples. There are more...

I hope that helps shed some light on this subject concerning Tanemura Sensei.

Carry on.. :)

Sincerely,


No point really as the subjective matter is 'Bujinkan Ranking' of which many outrank him now, skill level is another thing.

Best not to get too defensive for no good reason.

:barf:
 

makoto-dojo

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No point really as the subjective matter is 'Bujinkan Ranking' of which many outrank him now, skill level is another thing.

Best not to get too defensive for no good reason.

No no.. I'm sorry if you took it as me being defensive. I truly was not. I understand the subject of the thread, and appologize for in any way causing thread drift.

If you look at the text that I quoted, you will see that it said that Tanemura Sensei did not have menkyo kaiden or go pass 5th dan.

Then we start heated discussions about someone not having Menkyo Kaiden or not recieving more than a 5th Dan (Robert Bussey, Ralph Severe, Stephen Hayes, Shoto Tanemura, etc.)


This was an inaccurate statement, I simply wanted to give the proper information. Often times people see things on the internet and then it becomes "fact". I hope you can understand my position and intention.

It is very true that many outrank him in terms of Bujinkan grade.

In any event, I hope you can now understand why I wrote what I wrote. Again, I appologize to everyone enjoying this thread for any thread drift, please see it for what it is and lets move on.

Sincerely,
 

rutherford

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More so in the Bujinkan, from my understanding. The 5th Dan test is one of the only ranking with strident conditions (that I am aware of). You also can open your own dojo. The ranking per visit is a bit silly though...

To clarify, you can reach Godan and not ask for license to teach.

On the other hand you can also apply as shidoshi-ho, or run a training group long before.

Do you personally know of anybody who receives rank on every visit to Japan?
 

mrhnau

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To clarify, you can reach Godan and not ask for license to teach.

On the other hand you can also apply as shidoshi-ho, or run a training group long before.
Thanks for the clarification :)

Do you personally know of anybody who receives rank on every visit to Japan?
Those I -do- know that travel to Japan don't go that frequently, so a promotion per visit is not all that unreasonable. I'm assuming, based on conversations I've heard here, that people are getting ranks more rapidly. IRL I don't know all that many in BBT, and most of those don't travel on a regular basis, so I'm not the expert on the topic :)
 

bencole

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This was an inaccurate statement, I simply wanted to give the proper information. Often times people see things on the internet and then it becomes "fact". I hope you can understand my position and intention.

I think it is important to point out errors in your comment then....

You wrote, "While in the bujinkan Tanemura Sensei had the rank of 9th dan and vice president at a time when ranks stopped at 9th dan (10th being the next grandmaster)."

This is untrue. Hatsumi-sensei had discussed the issue of 15th dans as early as 1983 *BEFORE* Tanemura left.

Moreover, you are clearly not the first one to imply that ranks are meaningless today but somehow they were meaningful "back in the day." Steve Hayes, Alex Mordine, Wayne Roy and Brian McCarthy all use this tact. Highlighting Tanemura's "9th dan" as meaningful is simply silly--about a silly as someone complaining that someone is too young to be a 15th dan.

Moreover, in light of the comments in this thread about *WHY* people are given certain levels within the Bujinkan, to point out that Tanemura was "vice president" but to *NOT* point out that he was also Hatsumi-sensei's cousin (by marriage) is a bit misleading, in my opinion. Wouldn't you agree? ;)

makoto-dojo said:
It is very true that many outrank him in terms of Bujinkan grade.

And skill.... ;) Anyone with "the eyes to see" can see that....

Remember the point of this thread: rank reflects a personal journey and should not be equated with skill or compared across individuals.

Get the eyes. Carefully evaluate your teachers. Train with them because of what they can do and what they can teach you. Do *NOT* train with them because they have a lot of certificates on the wall.

Cheers!

-ben
 

bencole

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I'm assuming, based on conversations I've heard here, that people are getting ranks more rapidly. IRL I don't know all that many in BBT, and most of those don't travel on a regular basis, so I'm not the expert on the topic

Then why comment on it?

If you do not know what you are talking about, and you are assuming based on conversations that you've read on the internet, then what business do you have actually feeding the misperception beast?

Sounds like you need a knock in the head, too....

Anyone else?

-ben
 

Tenguru

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If bujinkan ranks do not uniformly imply a relative standing or position, why make the ranks known? If it really is just a personal barometer, do you even need to know "so-in-so's" rank? Wouldn't it make more sense to just say "this person is a Shidoshi/Shihan and this person is not" or "This person was granted Menkyo Kaiden (sp?)", and leave it at that.

Just curious.
 

Kreth

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If bujinkan ranks do not uniformly imply a relative standing or position, why make the ranks known? If it really is just a personal barometer, do you even need to know "so-in-so's" rank? Wouldn't it make more sense to just say "this person is a Shidoshi/Shihan and this person is not" or "This person was granted Menkyo Kaiden (sp?)", and leave it at that.

Just curious.
Well, it's tough to build your own private Ninja Empire without advertising rank. :rolleyes:
 

Dale Seago

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If bujinkan ranks do not uniformly imply a relative standing or position, why make the ranks known? If it really is just a personal barometer, do you even need to know "so-in-so's" rank? Wouldn't it make more sense to just say "this person is a Shidoshi/Shihan and this person is not" or "This person was granted Menkyo Kaiden (sp?)", and leave it at that.

That's how I always handled it until I got whacked with a 15th dan -- never listed my actual rank on my website. The only reason that changed is because I got "outed" by someone on a couple of martial-art forums before I even got back from Japan, so there was no longer any point. . .
 

Tenguru

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That's how I always handled it until I got whacked with a 15th dan -- never listed my actual rank on my website. The only reason that changed is because I got "outed" by someone on a couple of martial-art forums before I even got back from Japan, so there was no longer any point. . .

My hat is off to you.
"Respect!" as some of the young people say ... LOL
 

rutherford

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If bujinkan ranks do not uniformly imply a relative standing or position, why make the ranks known?

Dale is only the second Bujinkan poster on MT of whose rank I am aware.

I was surprised one day to find my Bujinkan instructor was 2 ranks higher than I had thought.
 

Cryozombie

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I mention Mine, but only to show my lack of knowlage, cuz I dont even have my shodan yet.
 

bencole

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If bujinkan ranks do not uniformly imply a relative standing or position, why make the ranks known? If it really is just a personal barometer, do you even need to know "so-in-so's" rank? Wouldn't it make more sense to just say "this person is a Shidoshi/Shihan and this person is not" or "This person was granted Menkyo Kaiden (sp?)", and leave it at that.

I do. Only Soke and myself know my rank.

Even when I am asked to teach seminars, the advertising flyer says simply, "Benjamin Cole, Shidoshi"

In the past, I have had sponsors request to place my rank on the flyers. They explained that, "Unfortunately, people become more interested in attending when they see big numbers, rather than small numbers."

My answer has always been: "I am not interested in teaching people who will only come because they see a big number. If that means fewer people in attendance, and subsequently less money, so be it. The 'right people' will still be there."

They always are.... ;)

-ben
 

Seattletcj

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What do you say to the fact that a high percentage of BJK websites advertise the rank of the instructor though ? It dosent seem that they are aware that their ranks are not to be used as a method of measurement.
Do you consider this immoral or just naive, that they (a high percentage of instructors) dont even understand the ranking system themselves ?
 

bencole

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What do you say to the fact that a high percentage of BJK websites advertise the rank of the instructor though ?

Is it "advertising" or just placing information about themselves on their website?

If it is meaningful to a person that her/his teacher believes that s/he has achieved a level of improvement over numerous previous such evaluation times, then is is "bad" for that person to show publicly that the assessment is meaningful?

It was very meaningful to *MY TEACHER* (and thusly me) when Soke first ranked me. The rank told my teacher that his own assessments were generally correct and that he was teaching in a way that even Soke recognized as providing a field for growing.

Certainly, most people would agree that the assessment of certain people can be more meaningful than the assessment of other people. It means a lot to me when Mr. ABC provides me with a positive assessment of my accomplishments than when Mr. ZYX does.

I wouldn't consider that "advertising," personally, but maybe you would....

Seattletcj said:
It dosent seem that they are aware that their ranks are not to be used as a method of measurement.

Perhaps, they do. Perhaps, they don't.

Perhaps just the ones that have websites do.... ;)

I know quite a few Shidoshi who have no website and do not display their ranks. I know many, many Shidoshi who share my perspective that any student who wants to train with them solely because of the size of their number on their certificate should be swiftly shown to the door. Many Shidoshi go through tremendous pains to only let the "right students" stick around. I include Soke in this grouping as well. ;)

Seattletcj said:
Do you consider this immoral or just naive, that they (a high percentage of instructors) dont even understand the ranking system themselves ?

I would argue that a high percentage of Shidoshi do *NOT* even have a website, but that's just my opinion based on nothing more than my own personal rolodex of people I know and how darn difficult it is to find them when my batteries go dead on my Palm. LOL! ;)

As to your question about naivety, this is why it is very important for people to train regularly in Japan. People need to get knocked around a bit for asking stupid question and thinking stupid things. Over time, their views start to change.

Granted, it sounds like a lot of you folks here are concerned with these darn trips to Japan and how people come back with ranks. LOL! (shake head)

Like I said, get exposure to the "right people" and all these petty questions just seem to disappear.

-ben
 

bencole

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More often naive than immoral, I suspect.

In all fairness to those with little familarity with Japan, and thus a greater naivety regarding the meaning of rank emanating from Japan, I turn to one of my favorite authors on cultural differences, Edward T. Hall.

"A high context (HC) communication or message is one in which most of the information is already in the person, while very little is in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message. A low context (LC) communication is just the opposite; i.e., the mass of the information is vested in the explicit code."

Unfortunately for us all, as Americans, we are low context. This means that we seek explication on everything and desire the message (i.e., the rank) to carry all necessary information.

The Japanese, however, are high context. This means that very little information is embedded within the message. This is because they have been exposed over and over again to the message in other forms, such that the message itself carries little information.

This is why exposure to the Japanese (and naturally trips to Japan will do this for you ;) ) is so important. Without understanding the Japanese way of contextualizing information, you can never have a "Japanese heart." Without an understanding of the Japanese heart, you can never understand Soke or his actions.

Make the trips. Don't get bogged down on your low context view of the world. Go higher! ;) You'll be much happier in the Bujinkan if you are willing to do this.

Cheers!

-ben
 
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