The Grading Lottery
If in the 1950’s and 60’s you saw a 5th or 6th Dan you would be in awe of him. I now see so many multi grades and to be honest they would not be graded first Dan in the old days. They make these claims knowing that if they are ever challenged and prove their mettle they know they can claim that this is against the principals of Aikido.
Mitsusuke Harada Sensei “5th Dan”
Harada Sensei was my Karate teacher in the 1960’s, he was then and still is a 5th Dan at the Shotokan dojo in Tokyo. he was graded by the founder of modern day Karate Gichin Funakoshi Sensei.
He taught Karate to the USAF at the Kodokan dojo after the second world war. He was graded 5th Dan by Funakoshi Sensei in 1957 and is still 5th Dan after 45 years, stating that “Any grade above 5th Dan is totally pointless”.
This is exactly the feeling of Sensei Derek Eastman and myself, although we are two of the only remaining four of the original group left of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei’s group from the 1950’s, we both agreed that there were too many “Harry Potter” grades around, we then decided that like Harada Sensei we would make 5th Dan the highest level in our organization.
I will take a break now that these articles are complete and do some serious “Toe breathing”. This will be my last article for CyberKwoon for a while, I would like to thank Master Fabien Sena for allowing me to air my views on a subject most would try to avoid. I do not know what direction the Martial Arts will take when all the “Old Timers ” are gone.
As one of the comments (to the Cyberkwoon site forum) said “We can still make a difference”.
To the one who asked after my father, he was not a martial artist, just a hard man who started working at the age of 13 years two miles underground in the South Yorkshire coal mines.
Sensei Henry Ellis.