View Full Version : Thoughts vs. Words

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10-01-2001, 12:26 AM
Amazingly, I've had this problem all my life. It seems that I like to speak out what I think, usually costing reputation points as I go, but my thought are usually very complicated. They make all the sense in the world, as long as they are inside my head. But when it comes to speaking them out... oh dear...

It's like they were so cleverly encrypted that it's almost impossible to speak them out clearly. This is sometimes a problem in the Dojo as well as in Real Life. I mean, there are many complicated things you, as a senior practitioner, understand but how do you explain those things in a beginner's course. I find myself dying to tell them about them but I find no words for it. And I can't come up with any clever tasks to do my work, like in the karate kid movie.

10-01-2001, 06:00 AM
There's a very famous zenrin:

"Those who speak do not know,
those who know do not speak"

Unfortunately I suffer from a similar problem to yourself. I spend a lot of time talking about aikido, but I'm sure most of it doesn't get understood in the context in which I mean it. After a lengthy and overcomplicated explanaition of something down the bar one night a friend told me about his tai chi training, in which the instructor, when asked about something, just replied - "carrying on training and you will understand". And, strangely enough, he said after several years of training he did understand.

It made me realise that philosophising and talking about aikido is irrelevant without the training. Often beginners have the most questions, but the least experience with which to understand the answers. Now I try to give very brief explanaitions, in the hope that it abates their intellectual curiosity until they can understand what we're doing with their bodies.

This is related to a point I was thinking of recently - that people trained with Ueshiba (and many other top martial artists) because he had proven martial arts ability. One difficulty now is that people don't take everything you teach them without question because the instructor doesn't have a reputation for real self-defence. You have to explain the 'physics' etc behind it.

Other than being unethical and starting fights or encouraging challengers, is there any other way of giving students confidence in the utility of aikido?


10-01-2001, 06:50 AM
what we're doing with their bodies.

I like how that sounds ;-)

Other than being unethical and starting fights or encouraging challengers, is there any other way of giving students confidence in the utility of aikido?

I've personally learned that students want to feel like they are taking classes from the right person. So your self-confidence is everything. They want to know that your teachings are the right once. This is often diffecult in my dojo since we don't have one style that all would follow, but everyone rather follows their own "idols". In my case the situation is even more diffecult 'cause I don't follow anybody, not perfectly anyway. Now even my own teacher, who commonly smiles and says that I walk a path between styles. So, like you said I often have to explain things from A - Z before I'm understood.

But there are other ways then just walking around with a ego size of the ceiling. Students often also appreciate characteristics (I hope I spelled that right) and personality.

Richard Harnack
10-03-2001, 08:42 AM
Ian, I am amazed that you left out of your comment Hamlet's instructions to the Players. "...Suit the action to the words..." :)

On a personal note, your self description sounds like a specific form of "dyslexia" in which the intended thought comes out differently when reaching the tongue.

When giving explanations in class, keep in mind why your students are there. Sometimes we achieve a level of insight which we need to share. However, many times our students just need to practice, practice, practice.

Practically all Aikido instructors would greatly enhance their reputation by actually thinking through their insight and quite possibly write it out and make the necessary clarifications PRIOR to presenting it to their students. We tend to "shoot from the hip" and hope that it comes out "right".