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  • An interesting situation...

    Hey everyone, I was talking to a friend the other day about his learning kendo...He practiced for about 10 years, but I have no idea why he didn't take a test until the ninth year (he took the shodan and got it [after 10 years you would think so] and now he's 2 dan). When I first met him i only practiced around 2 years and was absolutely shocked he never took an exam.

    I thought he wanted to take advantage of tourneys or something, (but he never competed!), and he told me he just couldn't be bothered to walk around with a rank or take the test. I find that really weird but I respect that as well.
    Mind you, he can beat me to Japan and back without breaking a sweat. And most of the sensei acknowledge him as really strong which is cool.

    Anyone ever had such an experience? Fighting someone with no rank but lots of experience? (I mean i myself practiced 2 years before I took my first a test so it's not exactly uncommon...but 10 years!! (i thought my 2 years was bad enough))

  • #2
    Exctremely fascinating really.

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    • #3
      I knew a guy who practiced just for the sake of practice. He didn't feel like going to the all the hassel of driving off to test for rank or tournaments where you may only participate for 5 minutes but take the whole day to get to and from and experience the tournament. It is just a different mindset. Some people just really enjoy the practice for the act of practicing itself. They have no desire to be ranked or compete. The fun is in the training and not in the comparisons of ourselves to others.

      I like the different mindset that tournaments bring about. I like gradings for the feedback they can get you. I also suffer from wanting to be tested so I can see what my level is. It's like food for my ego. I know I am not the best, but it's just nice to get a pat on the back every now and then.

      Some people just don't work this way. Maybe they have a stronger self image than other people... or maybe they are scared of failure... who knows, just as long as they enjoy the training for the training then more power to 'em...

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      • #4
        the sensei of the dojo near my house is 84 years old and is mudan .Alwais had alot of admiration for him.

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        • #5
          10 years.. thats a long time. I don't know off hand of anyone going that long without doing something outside the dojo (ie promotion or tournament), but I do know of several people that have gone years (like 5 or so) without doing any promo/tourney participation. As Nodachi said many don't feel a need to get ranked or do shiai in a tourney setting. I actually admire people like that, especially ones that are very good but still don't feel any need to get ranked. I myself am usually pretty laid back also about rankings and stuff, but not to that extreme. I am presently nidan (for almost a year now) but probably won't even think about sandan for a few years still.

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          • #6
            Friend of mine got shodan with me and then decided he simply didn't care about rank. That was 20 years ago this month, and he's still practising. He's never taken another test.

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            • #7
              Our Sensei has told us of someone that he has practiced with in the past. The person was really good at Kendo but did not have a rank. Sensei said that the only problem with him not having a rank is that it is hard for other people to know how to treat him.

              For instance, if he was practicing with a godan or rokudan, how would they know what advice to give him as they may give different people different advice or instruction depending on where they are at in their kendo career. Do they treat him as sempai or kohai?

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              • #8
                My first teacher is still nidan, 27 years after his last exam...
                At the time I started studiing kendo, he was already nidan for ten years.

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                • #9
                  I took shodan last year and from my original school have three kohai who are sandan and one who is yondan. Where I train now I guess technically I'm sempai to almost everyone. There were numerous reasons for not testing over the years and time just rolled by. Problem was that I like competition and unless there was a senior category, like over 50yrs old but without the added sandan and above qualification, there was nothing to enter except teams.
                  It was kind of embarassing to have to take 2kyu then 1kyu before shodan but nobdy ever died of embarrasment. I understand that now you have to take 3kyu first.
                  Since I now have access to a large pool of really good players rank is not so important but here you need 3dan to judge and as I think Neil pointed out in another thread, judging would also improve your kendo. So I have decided to keep testing, partly as a goal to keep myself alive.

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                  • #10
                    FWIW, for several years, the Memphis (TN) club was not associated with the SEUSKF or the AUSKF. For years, the only rank anyone had in class was sensei (Harry Dach), who had passed yondan in Japan ages ago and two other guys who travelled to Japan to test for shodan (one later returned, I *think* to test for nidan). Until our group joined with the SEUSKF and AUSKF again (I want to say somewhere around 1997(?)), that was it. I think Eddie Miller (Orlando Kendo Kai) was the first kendoka from Memphis to receive a dan ranking in the United States.

                    I think Dach-sensei has been a yondan for more than 20 years now....and an iaido godan at least as long.
                    (And on a side note, Dach-sensei's iaido instructor, Nakagaki Takeshi-sensei (3-time all-Japan iaido champion) I *think* never tested beyond godan..)

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                    • #11
                      Im sureprised to hear or teachers with no rank or low rank compared to what they should be. I can see students who take kendo forever but have no ambition for a title but taking kendo from someone who has nothing (but true skill of course) to show for his/her experience.

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                      • #12
                        I think in many cases, it's a problem with logistics. I guess here in the States, the opportunity to test for yondan and up doesn't come but a few times a year... and if those testing dates don't jive with your personal life (work, finances, whatever), then, so sorry. Them's the breaks.

                        In the old days, we had many students who had been doing kendo for several years without ever having tested. Did we care? No... we just cared about getting better at kendo.

                        What does it really matter? If I get my ass reguarly kicked from a no-rank kendoka who's been doing kendo for 20 years, I'll be more than happy to receive instruction from him.... Personally, I don't feel my instructor's (low) rank (for 25+ years in kendo) negatively affects his ability to teach effectively in any way. On the contrary --- In the past 7 years or so, we've had class only once a week for at most 2 hours a class. We've had about 4 students who are REGULARLY in class over those years... maybe 4 more who are off and on due to work and life... to his credit, there are 3 sandans, 4 or so nidans and a slew of shodans... Personally, I think that says *something* about him, regardless of his rank.

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                        • #13
                          I am curious about these people who have been practicing a long time (and are presumably pretty strong) but either have no rank, or low rank.

                          What is the rank composition of the clubs they are in? I am specifically wondering if they, despite their rank, sit on the sensei side of the dojo or if they sit in the middle of the student line. Are they given responsibilities to teach as if they had rank appropriate to their experience, or do they just behave as the other low/no ranked students in that sense?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hyuna
                            I am curious about these people who have been practicing a long time (and are presumably pretty strong) but either have no rank, or low rank.

                            What is the rank composition of the clubs they are in? I am specifically wondering if they, despite their rank, sit on the sensei side of the dojo or if they sit in the middle of the student line. Are they given responsibilities to teach as if they had rank appropriate to their experience, or do they just behave as the other low/no ranked students in that sense?
                            I cannot speak for every dojo out there, but at our dojo, it works like this...

                            Sensei (4.dan) sits up front.
                            All students (at this time, everybody 3.dan and below) line up by rank with highest ranking to the far right (facing shomen). If no one had rank, they would line up by "experience".. so the 3-month guy with no-rank lines up more to the right of the the 2-month guy with no-rank... etc.etc.

                            Visitors who are instructing (for us, that generally means 3.dan and above) will normally be invited by sensei to line up front with him. Otherwise, they would take their place in the student line, again, by rank.

                            If sensei does not teach class (he's out of town, whatever), then anybody sandan and above (although there is no one else above sandan right now) will line up front. The senior sandan would normally be expected to be the official guy in charge, but in our case, the senior sandan normally relegates it to me. Why? I dunno. He just does.

                            To a certain extent, especially because we don't have a ton of ranked "instructors", just about anybody with a dan-grade works as an "instructor" during class. Right now, we've got only dan-grades and a whole bunch of newbies. Nobody really takes "official instructor"-type status during class, per se, but they offer some instruction to whoever might be in front of them during practice.. (I hope that makes sense).
                            In any case, all of them (us) regularly line up before and after class on the student-side.

                            I imagine that if any of us makes yondan (to equal our sensei's rank), we will probably still line up on the student side, unless specifically invited to line up with sensei. Out of respect, I would imagine that rule would still hold true should anyone in our group eventually make it to godan.
                            Last edited by tango; 20th December 2005, 06:14 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Well, yes, I understand that. But my question was specifically about people who have a lot of experience but no (or little) rank.

                              Say you are in a "typical dojo" where 4-dan and 5-dan sit on the sensei side, and everyone else sits on the other side. Say you have a person there who has no rank at all, but in terms of level is in between the 4 and 5 dan people. Where does this person sit? Is the person expected to behave like someone of that level despite their lack of rank? Or are they expected to behave like a 0-kyu, since that is what they are?

                              I am sure this depends on the specific dojo, but several people have mentioned dojo with people with a fair amount of experience, so I am curious as to how it is done at their dojo.

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