Francis Takahashi pick: Aikiweb discussion on Non-Japanese Shihan

“I too, was told by Senseis Kobayashi Yasuo, Kanai Mitsunari, Fujita Masatake, and others, that the traditional understanding was similar to what Leyard Shihan alluded to. Anyone who was in good standing with Aikikai, was actively teaching the Founder’s Aikido, and was awarded 6th dan, were automatically considered ‘Shihan’. There were no separate certificates, no special announcements, and there was no need to maintain a formal hierachical classification that gave favored status to one individual or nationality over another.”

“The current position of the Aikikai’s Foreign Department is what it is, and one can be bothered by it, or simply focus on the real reasons why one trains in Ueshiba Aiki to begin with. After all, we have always been free to develop our own appreciation for the Founder’s gift, in our own way, with our own standards, and our own discoveries.”

Just wanted to suggest reading the entire thread on Aiki Web regarding the subject of non japanese receiving “shihan” certificates from Hombu. There is much more to the conversation, which involves a lot of the same issues we confront for ourselves, our dojos, and our identity as Ueshiba Aiki students.

Looking forward to discussing mutual points of interest in the near future.

In Oneness,

Francis Y Takahashi


  1. There is probably a valid point that there are “uniquely Japanese” aspects to instruction by a Japanese. The Japanese-Gaijin cultural divide is awesome. The question is, if this art is “uniquely Japanese” why should a gaijin bother with it, except to fully appreciate his/her inferiority?

  2. Just imagine what citizens of other countries are thinking, when they see what the citizens of America enjoy, simply by being allowed to live, work and pursue their fondest dreams in such a relatively utopian world. As long as they remain where they are, they may well feel justified in their sense of inferiority and hopelessness. What if there was a way for each and every one of them to enjoy the same opportunities and benefits just where they are?

    Then, what if some amazingly insightful person gave them the vision, means and opportunity to actually join the ranks of those lucky Americans, dispelling forever the awful notion that they are undeserving. Imagine, by a aimple change of attitude, they could change their latitude, not to mention their longitude and altitude. They were just as worthy.

    Yet, despite this gift of insight to freely join this new “nation” called Aikido, the old habits of self effacement, self doubt, and the lack of an honest and affirmative self image, all serve to deny this misguided individual, his or her rightful due. Now, that would be a real tragedy, and a totally unnecessary one at that.

    The Founder, affirmed by the late Doshu, made it abundantly clear that Aiki, and all of its awesome possibilities, is way too vast for any single mind to comprehend. The example of the Founder, to create his Aikido from such a resource, is what we need to appreciate today. He never exhorted others to copy, emulate or exhalt what he accomplished. At the end of his life, he admitted to only reaching the first stage of his potential development and understanding of his personal quest. We can, and should do no less for ourselves.

    The Aiki Principles are for anyone with the vision, courage and focused energy to pursue unconditionally, and to apologize or explain to no one, what, why or how they apply them to their own lives in the manner in which they choose to do.

    A Japanese genius discovered a way to access the principles of Aiki. He was not the only one. Look throughout the history of mankind, and the landscape is replete with similar examples of great accomplishment. Let us give the Founder his due, as a marvelous pioneer in Aiki discovery, development, and appreciation. Let us not misinterpret his priceless gift to us, by putting him on an unachievable pedestal or observed through artificial imagery. He would be insulted, and deeply aggrieved.

    Let us gratefully take his example, and those of his students we may choose to admire, and be inspired to join them in fashioning an Aikido we can proudly call our own.

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