Praise from the big man – Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan Iaido and Roukudan Jodo

Rudolf Reindeer was laughed at by all the other reindeer until the big man said his skills were good and so all the other reindeer loved him and said he would go down in history.

The end.

So zero to hero because the guy in charge said you were of some use to him. Pretty old fashioned, sort of like the old system where we were told how good we were at our martial art by our sensei. Not like now when we have regular tests in front of a panel to check if we’ve reached standardized skill levels.

In this era of self-esteem and Harrison Bergeron equality, it’s good to know that we don’t have to submit to the tyrrany of the big man. If our sensei tells us we are garbage we can go somewhere else and take a grading and pass, therefore revealing our true brilliance in a way our sensei can’t dispute. After all, someone else says we’re OK so we must be OK.

Well, perhaps not, after all we’d better take a look at those panels. They might not all be equal. Is your local panel as good as one from Japan? Does your sensei trump the local panel but the Japanese panel trump your sensei?

Hey, does that mean you’re now above your sensei because you are rating his judgement against others? Cool, you get to decide which big man or big men are above which, that means you’re the biggest man doesn’t it?

This must be true, I’ve been told that a grade obtained in Japan is better than one obtained elsewhere. I’ve been told that by people who got their grades in Japan and I’ve been told by big men who sit on panels in Japan so that’s conclusive. Those who haven’t got their grade in Japan might disagree but…

Last night I was practicing jodo with a student who will be grading for 6dan in Japan in the new year. The floor in the dojo was its usual skating rink and I was garbage. Then I put on some fluffy slippers and suddenly my skills were much improved, I could keep up with the kata.

I wonder what would have happened if there was a panel watching. Would I have passed with the fluffy slippers or would I have failed for improper uniform? Certainly I would have failed with bare feet on the slippery floor, no way I could have met the current objective standard.

Now, maybe you, as a big man, might have looked at me and the floor and my student and said to yourself “taking into account the conditions of the battle, and looking at the way both of them are slipping and sliding, they did OK”.
But how arbitrary, how old school is that?

Kim Taylor
Dec 21, 2016


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