Christian Tissier has recently published an open letter to the heads of the French Aikido in response to the recent polemic surrounding his potential promotion to the 8th Dan. Since I find his attitude exemplary, I have translated his letter in English and posted it here to allow the numerous non-French-speaking Aikidoka who are interested in this Sensei to read his words. Please note that the translation is my own and if any misquoting or approximation existed, it would be my sole responsibility.
Before giving you the translation of this letter, I feel that I need to give you a bit of background about the situation that has led to this polemic. French Aikido is organized around two main state-recognized federations: the FFAAA to which Christian Tissier belongs, and the FFAB which was under the technical direction of the late Tamura Sensei. Both federations regroup about 35,000 practitioners each. The French state, through its Ministry of Sports and Youth and the CSDGE (Commission Spécialisée des Dan et Grades Équivalents), is the only accredited entity to sanction the attribution and use of Dan grades on the French territory. Grading sessions are conducted jointly before juries selected from both federations.
Only those who have grades recognized by the French government can legally use the term "Dan" in their communication and only those amongst these who have qualified with the Brevet d'État (teaching certificate) can teach in exchange to a remuneration and be covered by insurance. Practitioners from abroad wishing to set-up a dojo in France therefore have to apply for a grade equivalence before the Sports Ministry. Also, an agreement exists between France and the Aikikai Hombu Dojo which stipulates that the attribution of an Aikikai grade to a French-registered practitioner is conditional to the having been previously awarded the equivalent French grade. This is however not automatic and it is down to the judgement of the particular Shihan awarding the grade (and the will of the practitioner himself to apply and pay for the grade).
This peculiar arrangement is one of the conditions necessary for an Aikido dojo to receive funding and be granted access to public training facilities. Although it has greatly helped the development of French Aikido over the past 60 years, this will of the state to control grades and unify the two federations has unfortunately been a constant source of disagreements and frictions between the two federations that have often led to difficulties in processing Dan promotions, culminating in the issue put forward today.
For more information, you might find of interest the interview I did with Christan Tissier a while ago since we spoke, amongst other things, about his past and current involvement in the foundation of the FFAAA and the split with the FFAB.
Open letter to the heads of French Aikido
I have been informed that the FFAAA, the federation to which I belong, had requested my promotion to the rank of 8th Dan during the past meeting of the CSDGE.
Although the grading comity of the FFAB [translator's note: the other of the two accredited French federations] is on principle agreeable to the motion, it has decided to render its agreement conditional to the solving of a past contention between the two federations in a way that is exclusively beneficial to the FFAB. This places my nomination at the center of a shocking blackmail that is totally independent of the technical and human values that such a grade is supposed to reflect.
In return, the use of this "veto power" has resulted in the suspension in the processing of all other exceptional nominations for both federations.
Therefore, in order not to be awarded a grade upon criteria others than those that it is supposed to sanction, and in order not to penalize other practitioners of value in their respective nominations, I have decided to ask Maxime Delhomme and the members of the CSDGE within my federation to withdraw their request for my promotion to the grade of 8th Dan.
July 15th 2012
To go further:
- Read the extensive Biography of Christian Tissier
- Read the orignial version of this letter by Christian Tissier on the FFAAA website
- Read the interview I did with Christan Tissier where he discusses about his role within the FFAAA
- Read the official CSDGE regulations for Aikido (in French)
- Christian Tissier's official website (in French)