Last week, we reported that Masaaki Ueki Shihan might had become the the first 10th Dan holder in the history of the JKA. We came to this conclusion because the JKA website indicated the award. However, no public announcement was made.
Right after our report speculations occurred. Some supposed that it was high time for Shihan Masaaki to receive the award because Hirokazu Kanazawa and Teruyuki Okazaki already had been awarded 10th Dan. They are the same generation like Ueki Masaaki. Thus, the award was only consequential.
Others asserted that the award was given because of internal promotions within the Shihankai of the JKA. Takeshi Oishi, for instance, was awarded the 9th Dan. In order to maintain the hierarchy within the organization the promotion of Shihan Masaaki was a necessary step.
We wanted to know it directly from the JKA-HQ. That is why we wrote an email to the headquarter and asked about a statement. Yesterday, we received the short answer. The JKA-HQ wrote:
“Shihan Ueki was awarded 10th dan by recommendation of Shihankai. The first and second chief instructors were given the award too.”
As the most of you have speculated, it was an internal decision. Why the JKA did not report about it, is still up for speculation. But it seems theoretically plausible that such a forced promotion due to hierarchical and/or seniority reasons is not deemed as prestigious and honorable by the JKA in comparison to a granting of a 10th Dan by the Kokusai Budoin like Hirokazu Kanazawa received. One would expect the JKA to utilize and explain this huge step. Because it is an important selling-argument for such an organization and a decision that only takes place every few decades. In the history of Shotokan, only a handful of people have hold a 10th Dan. The awarding should therefore be something special and highly valued. Under those kind if circumstances it seems odd that the JKA did not announce the award. We again requested an official press release by the JKA in which they might explain the decision and to prove all speculations wrong. The answer is still pending.
However, for many JKA members this might also been sad. The social media response on our report showed that many had wished to celebrate the award with Shihan Masaaki. Some might also be disappointed because the JKA did not inform its members about the decision. That reveals a gap between the Shihankai and the members. Some members might have felt left out although they are strongly committed to the organization, its values, and their chief instructor. We hope the JKA finds a way to solve this issue.
If we receive further information we will report immediately.