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GBiddy
03-20-2007, 10:59 AM
First of all, hello from a new member. This site is a fantastic Aikido resource, and I look forward to participating and contributing to the discussions.

I'm relieved to find this forum because I have a problem that I'm not sure how to address.

I've been practicing for about 12 years now, and spent the last 3 years studying in Japan. I'm now back in North America, and at the dojo I'm attending I've been really surprised by the lack of martial knowledge and 'presence' of many of the shodan+ students.

Since I'm a lower 'rank' I have no right to suggest technique improvements or point out mistakes, but my time in Japan taught me much and I'd like to share it. But I don't know how to make suggestions without offending or coming across as arrogant.

Usually I would simply discuss this with my sensei or the students individually, but at this dojo our sensei is so incredibly aloof (to the point of not even saying a word to students, from change room to mats) that I'd like to get some other opinions on how to proceed.

Thanks!

GB

Beard of Chuck Norris
03-20-2007, 12:11 PM
I'm an aikinewbie.. only been practicing for a year or so.
We have had visitors come to our dojo and when i notice they were doing something incorrectly or "not how we do it" i would simply point it out to them. It was only after training that i discovered that they had been doing it for a lot longer than i have! I did feel slighlty embarrassed afterwards but it turned out that i knew things they didn't and vice versa.
You shouldn't feel haughty when trying to impart knowledge onto others. I've taught (not aiki) for a couple of years now and i always find that a passionate, honest approach works best. As long as you know in your heart that you aren't being arrogant there is no need to even contemplate it.

Like now, i am trying to help you out Mr. Biddy, you are a much more experienced aikidoka than i, but still i can pass on a little of what i know with no feelings of inadequacy or arrogance in the hope that some day someone will do the same for me.

If techniques are being done poorly i generally switch on the bastard in me so that it won't work unless done properly. but that is my failing as an aikidoka and as a teacher.

I wish you every success.

Jo.

Mark Freeman
03-20-2007, 12:11 PM
Welcome to aikiweb Gordon,

Why not start your own club, and teach what you know? Then you can set the agenda. You can even talk to your students between changing room and mats;)

All teachers have to guard against to challenge of 'ego' in the face of being in an elevated 'social' position. Some do better than others.

I like to chat away to all my students up to the moment we start the lesson. When I go to my teachers club, there is no talking to sensei on the way to the mat, as every student is sitting in place, awaiting the start.

regards,

Mark

mickeygelum
03-20-2007, 12:23 PM
Are you yudansha? Easy answer...start your own club or dojo.

If what you describe is true, you are in a very frustrating situation...and might possibly lead to animosity, separation and/or
confrontation.

If you are not interested in starting your own dojo...find another that suits your needs.

Michael

crbateman
03-20-2007, 12:33 PM
It sounds like it may be impossible in your particular situation to bridge the "culture gap" that exists. Many dojos are run by more open-minded teachers who encourage students with broader backgrounds to share what they know (with the instructor's oversight, of course), but your situation does not sound like it fits this description. It may be time to move on to a better fit. If you want to try to salvage it, let the teacher know exactly what your problem is, and maybe you'll get his eyes open, but he'll probably feel threatened by the chance for him to appear "lacking". You should absolutely NOT fall victim to the temptation to do the "let's stay after class, and I'll show you something" thing with other students. Right or wrong, it undermines your teacher in his own dojo, and that is a NO-NO. That said, even though you'll get good advice here, the final decision is yours to make, and you will be the one best able to make it.

Talon
03-20-2007, 12:36 PM
Just a s a curiosity, who are you training with?

GBiddy
03-20-2007, 02:42 PM
Thanks very much for the opinions. I'll try to find a way to diplomatically point out some of the issues, as I'd rather not leave this dojo. And as for opening my own dojo, I still have far too many techniques to learn and master.

I will continue to respect the sensei at this dojo, however I can't bring myself to water down the Aikikai Aikido techniques I practiced in Japan. So I will try to lead by example, silently.

GB

PS: I'd rather not say which dojo I'm at, as it's a small world in these parts and I don't intend to criticise anyone.

giriasis
03-20-2007, 09:25 PM
You know, if the shodan are like this perhaps the sensei of the dojo has a differing point of view towards martial training. He might have different philosophy towards "being martial" that he might feel is more compatible with Americans than Japanese. Ask him questions about where he is coming from rather than "to point things out." Then, talk about your experience.

MikeLogan
03-20-2007, 09:58 PM
I've recently moved to a new town, Gordon, and train there with some hesitation. I receive a bit of the "hmm, you're new in my dojo, therefore you are new in aikido." Some of it can be exasperating, combined with a hectic work day, it has made it easier to miss a few classes here and there.
Thankfully I've met 2 people roughly my age, build, outlook, and progress (give or take a little). Determining training partners that are on or closest to your wavelength will do wonders. When you train with this person(s) it acts as a nucleus upon which attention will grow if your training has all the outward appearances of viability. You will motivate each other, and perhaps, start opening up the thoughts of those around you.
It shouldn't be hard for you to pick someone who's favorable skill level is matched by a favorable personality. Or, if you recognize skill in a person who disagrees with your technique/approach, take it as a chance to objectively peek at yourself.

And, one thing that has helped me is ukemi. My home-dojo's sempai is an ukemi buff, and drills us on friday's for most of the practice. At my current dojo I get a lot of positive feedback on my ukemi from all manner of throw (technique and power thereof).

I'm rambling, but try to take what you're given and make the best of it. Regarding your previous experiences, write about what is still fresh to you, and review or add to it when the mood strikes.

keep it up.
michael.

charyuop
03-21-2007, 12:38 AM
I would approach the situtation in a different way. Instead of saying I do it this way coz my way is correct, I can actually improve your Aikido...
Try something like...Sensei sorry, I was taught this technique this way, can you explain me the difference between the 2 ways of carrying it out, pros and cons?

Amir Krause
03-21-2007, 02:18 AM
Gordon

Reading your posts, it seems to me you will never be satisfied in this dojo. Comments such as water down the Aikikai Aikido techniques I practiced in Japan
or sensei is so incredibly aloof (to the point of not even saying a word to students, from change room to mats)

After 12 years of learning you should have realized it yourself. You should look for some other place, this Sensei is not in you taste at present.
I have no idea how good he is, nor who is right and who is wrong on the technical side.
But it is clear that you are dissatisfied - look for some other place.

Amir

kifed_rebel
03-21-2007, 10:40 AM
It sounds like a real predicament.

I'm not sure about other federations but I have noticed in my study in the Ki Federation of Great Britian there is a rather unsettling emphasis on "sensei know's best" and "only one sensei at a time". My own sensei is a fantastic and dynamic Aikido instructor (and I am not referring to him with my qualms) - but as a 'mere' nidan; his opinion is often disregarded and even ignored at larger Ki Fed seminars and gatherings. It is a well known, yet unspoken, rule that if you have a query then you are to ask the highest rank in the dojo at the time - which can be a real pain if there are 70 keen students botching a Katienage form! In fact, I think the role of the sempai is almost extinct within the grand scheme of my seminar study (but not at my particular club).

I think it is hugely important for Aikido to be a subjective art and many interpretations should be welcomed (as acknowledged by the many forms of modern Aiki). If you feel unhappy with the current setup in the dojo, I wouldn't put up with it and perhaps consider opening a dojo/club yourself.

Best of luck anyway with your descision.

odudog
03-21-2007, 10:53 AM
I think you should do the techniques the way that you like unless the Sensei specifically tells you not to. If the students are aware and curious, they will notice the differences in your technique and inquire about them and not "correct" you. I too do somethings differently than the way my dojo teaches them. If inquired about and if the person is able to handle the technique then I tell them my way. They now have 2 ways of doing the technique and it is up to them to decide which way they think is better. I am currently an apprentice Sensei at my dojo and I teach all the time that there is your way and my way. If your way is "sound" then the Sensei won't say anything to you about it, but whatever way you want to do the technique, consistantly do it that way. Don't switch back and forth for that will only create confusion.

Largo
03-21-2007, 11:20 AM
I was in a similar situation. I trained in Japan for 4+ years, then came back to the states. Everything was different, and everyone wanted a piece of the "blackbelt from Japan". Personally, I just try to absorb everything I can from each dojo where I train, and don't really try to teach anything from my "home" dojo. Honestly, I try to avoid it (it's nice having something in reserve that they don't see coming). As far as understanding the whys, instead of pointing out what is different, if you have a private minute with the sensei or upper rank, ask them to show you the technique that seems different because you don't get it. Make the emphasis on wanting to learn their "correct" way. Most martial artists I know love to talk, and love to expound on why their way is the best for x reasons. May as well use that to your advantage. (well... it works for me at least)

George S. Ledyard
03-21-2007, 11:52 AM
I hate to say this but it may simply be a fact that if you really want to train, you need to move...

The West Coast is not the hotbed of hard training and the North West tends towards a less martially oriented practice. In the Seattle area, very few of the folks running dojos have done any other martial arts training. I am familiar with the Canadian West Coast Aikido scene, I've taught many times in Vancouver, and it's a lot like Seattle.

My point is that it is quite possible that your observations are simply correct... these folks don't train the way you have trained before, they don't have the martial depth you are looking for, and it is extremely unlikely that they will change. So, you either accept that fact and your Aikido will never go very deep because you have no place to train where you can take it that far or you move and find a place to train which meets your needs.

I don't mean to sound harsh but there are plenty of dojos where you can put in thirty years of almost daily training and you still won't know anything. The way that they train simply won't get you "there" wherever that is...

I had a guy who used to come cross country to our place to train twice a year. He really liked what we taught and how we practiced. He went back to his dojo and was dissatisfied. he spoke to the Chief Instructor, who was fairly senior in this case, but the teacher was uninterested in doing anything different. So this fellow has now quit Aikido entirely and is doing Systema because he could get what he wanted. I felt bad because he really liked Aikido but he couldn't get it the way he wanted it where he was.

You sound as if you may be in the same situation... move and find an Aikido teacher with whom you can go far, or switch arts (assuming that you have someone teaching that art who is really good). Frankly, Robert Mustard Sensei is up there in Vancouver I believe. Call him up and talk to him. He is exceptional and he didn't get there by dancing around. He may have a suggestion for you. Victoria is a bit off the mainstream and that is often the price you pay for getting a bit more away from it all. It's all about choices.

GBiddy
03-21-2007, 11:55 AM
I could move to another Dojo, but I've decided to instead practice the way we did in Japan. When a senior student tries to correct my technique, I will quietly point out that this is how I learnt it in Japan and how I prefer to practice it.

We're talking nuances and very minor variations; stuff only senior students would even catch. Should someone mention this to sensei, I'll use that as an opportunity to discuss the difference approaches.

Thanks again for all the comments...

GB

Mary Eastland
03-21-2007, 06:15 PM
Thanks very much for the opinions. I'll try to find a way to diplomatically point out some of the issues, as I'd rather not leave this dojo. And as for opening my own dojo, I still have far too many techniques to learn and master.

I will continue to respect the sensei at this dojo, however I can't bring myself to water down the Aikikai Aikido techniques I practiced in Japan. So I will try to lead by example, silently.

GB

PS: I'd rather not say which dojo I'm at, as it's a small world in these parts and I don't intend to criticise anyone.

How noble of you.

My feeling is if you want to teach, open a dojo.
Don't come to mine and show how you are better....because you are not. You are just different.

If you want to train at our dojo you should practice what we are teaching to the best of your ablity....otherwise go somewhere else.
Mary

mriehle
03-21-2007, 06:44 PM
If you want to train at our dojo you should practice what we are teaching to the best of your ablity....otherwise go somewhere else.


This is the meat of your comment. I attended a seminar this weekend where the instructor has radically different ideas from what I'm used to. There is no doubt in my mind that some of it is just style differences that I will eventually ignore.

But...

While I'm on the mat with him I do it his way. Period. Otherwise I will not learn from him and may disrupt his class.

I'm not likely to go train at his dojo, but if I did I wouldn't go in saying, "Well, we did it this other way where I used to train".

As a teacher I've had people come in to train with their own ideas about how things should be and it really makes it difficult to teach a coherent class. I pretty much don't put up with it anymore at all. When I was a really green teacher I allowed it through lack of confidence, but I just step on it now.

As a student I've had to move from one dojo to another and adapt to a new way of doing things. It's a difficult transition, but it's always been worth it to me.

Karen Wolek
03-21-2007, 07:32 PM
I'm with Mary and Michael. Actually, when I read your reply earlier today, Gordon, I was a little shocked....I didn't respond because I'm only 1st kyu. But what the hell, ha. Anyway, I have been brought up in aikido that you always do whatever the sensei wants you to do, even if it's different, even if you think it's wrong, even if you think you know better. His class, his dojo, his way.

I have taken classes in other dojo, I have taken a ton of classes from other sensei at seminars. I would never ever tell someone that I choose to do it differently because that's how it was done in my dojo. That's not respectful at all.

Nick P.
03-21-2007, 09:26 PM
The dilemma in that dojo....is you.

Reverse the roles for a moment. If you were training in the dojo you just came from (Japan), and a new student arrived who refused to even try, or attempt to try, and follow what was being taught, how would you and the other students, and sensei, deal with you?

At best, the "My way only, if you don't mind" -student would be considered more than an odd egg and eventually be relegated to "That guy" who would be tolerated, because frankly, every dojo has to have one.

I'm all for keeping and honing what one believes to be the "true" path, but what you propose, at best, will likely undermine not only your fellow students' pursuit of their path, but yours as well.

Find a better fit, for everyone's sake, and good luck.

crbateman
03-21-2007, 10:32 PM
Gordon, if you're testing your diplomacy skills in this thread prior to trying them in the dojo, then you need to work harder. I'm going to have to say that I'm with these recent posters who have issues with your attitude. It is very disrespectful to go to another person's dojo and presume to train the way you want, with little or no regard for the fact that, right or wrong, your way may not suit them, or is contrary to what others may be trying to accomplish. I told you that you ultimately would have to decide how you wish to train, but not how those around you have to train. Aikido is about blending, and your attitude blends like oil and water.

I was hopeful that your reasoning in coming here was to sincerely seek some useful advice, but your statements make it seem more like you had made up your mind beforehand, so those well-intended people who spoke up here have wasted their time. Respect is earned, not imposed, here or in the dojo, and if you go anyplace and insist on training your own way, you will most likely be shown the door. Consider the chaos that would ensue if suddenly everybody in the dojo decided to follow your "example" and insist on their own way of doing things. Impossible.

Rupert Atkinson
03-22-2007, 05:03 AM
I understand exactly as I was in the same boat at some point past. Best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut and train. Try to do it their way and see if there is something to it. From what I saw on returning from Japan, many dojos are barking up the wrong tree. However, I also discovered that there are some dojos that are better than in Japan. Just keep your eyes open - the truth is out there.

Basia Halliop
03-22-2007, 08:41 AM
It isn't really clear to me why you want to study at this dojo at all. If you don't feel like you are learning a lot from the sensei and are unimpressed by the results of his teaching, it seems like kind of a waste of time and money at best.

tenkan
03-22-2007, 09:39 AM
I, like many know this situation well. After coming back from Jp after 10 years I went to the local club. Everyone from 2nd time in class students to the instructor told me I was doing it wrong. At first I just smiled then one class I had enough and when the instructor was doing his thing, taking turns throwing all the students, I did a very aiki thing and went with his energy and threw him on his ass. He tried to scratch and poke my eyes becoming visably enraged and said I could do many other things to which I laugh, pushed him out of the way said I don't want to fight I was just showing you the "wrong way"
Since then the cobra kai attitude from all the other students really showed and I left. I started my own school, although I have few aikido students, these people have spread the word and I get calls from local Universities wanting a self defense teacher ,so it has worked out. Do what makes you happy

Erik Calderon
03-22-2007, 09:51 AM
When I came back from Japan, I was pretty much in the same position as you.

I opened my own dojo and it has been and is the best thing I've ever done!

www.shinkikan.com
aikido shinkikan
Erik Calderon.

GBiddy
03-22-2007, 10:00 AM
Great and thoughtful replies. The Ki is certainly flowing; too bad about the unwarranted judgements.

However perhaps I am at fault: I didn't clearly explain myself. What I am referring to is poor technique, not techniques which are different from what I may be used to.

This distinction makes a world of difference.

As I said, I will continue to respect this sensei. And I know all about training to what the sensei teaches, regardless of how different it may be from what one is used to learning. Long ago I abandoned the idea that anything I had been taught was superior to something I had yet to learn.

And like most students of Aikido, I revel in the differences of technique; in many ways this is the essence of Aikido. As we progress, the diversity of this art becomes more and more breathtaking (in more ways than one).

My dilemma in the dojo is that I don't know how to diplomatically and effectively point out poor techniques to students and instructors who may out rank me by belt, but not by depth and breadth of experience.

So again I pose the question, this time hopefully more clearly and with apologies for wasting anyone's time: how best to address this?

Yes, I could run to another dojo that 'suits' me. How does this serve the Art? How does this help other students? And how does this give back to Aikido that has given so much to me?

It does none.

As I said, I will try to lead by example in the dojo as I do in life; effecting change from within.

GB

Ron Tisdale
03-22-2007, 10:10 AM
Dude, why should YOU be the one to teach in someone else's dojo??

If you want to teach, get the rank in their organization, and teach.

Or open your own place.

Or be a student.

Full stop.

Best,
Ron

Basia Halliop
03-22-2007, 10:25 AM
I think I see what you're getting at, but disagree... the students at that dojo have chosen that dojo and are paying that instructor to teach them, they have not chosen you as a teacher, even if you are right and you really are better (entirely possible). If they are impressed by your technique or notice that you do something well, and come and ask you, that's one thing, but if they aren't asking, they may simply not want you as a 'teacher'. And unless the sensei has hinted otherwise, I doubt he wants you as a teacher either.

If you are interested in teaching I would find a dojo where you can learn from the instructor and help him or her with his support, and where the students there will be there by their choice, or start your own dojo. Other then that you could try tentatively commenting on something (I've found it useful to..., someone once showed me a way to...) and seeing if someone seems interested, which they may be if they find your comments genuinely helpful to them, but I wouldn't go much further than that, and even that might be too much if you're basically going against what the dojo instructor has taught and promoted them for.

But my concern isn't just a matter of whether it 'suits you' or not -- it doesn't sound like a place where you are learning, and if those people are higher ranked and do truely have poor technique then, well, the sensei has chosen to pass them, so it reflects on the instructor as well. However, he has a right to run his dojo how he wants, and his students are free to come or go, they don't need rescuing.

Personally, I think you will help 'Aikido' more by finding a teacher whose technique and teaching you admire.

Obviously I can only go by what I understand from what I read, so I could be wrong and take that for what it's worth.

Erik Calderon
03-22-2007, 10:42 AM
My dilemma in the dojo is that I don't know how to diplomatically and effectively point out poor techniques to students and instructors who may out rank me by belt, but not by depth and breadth of experience.

So again I pose the question, this time hopefully more clearly and with apologies for wasting anyone's time: how best to address this?

GB

Give a sincere attack, if technque doesn't work, don't take ukemi. If it works, then it might not be that weak after all.

www.shinkikan.com
aikido shinkikan
Erik Calderon.

mriehle
03-22-2007, 11:03 AM
You say this:


As I said, I will continue to respect this sensei. And I know all about training to what the sensei teaches, regardless of how different it may be from what one is used to learning. Long ago I abandoned the idea that anything I had been taught was superior to something I had yet to learn.

But then you go on to say this (in apparent contradiction of the above):


My dilemma in the dojo is that I don't know how to diplomatically and effectively point out poor techniques to students and instructors who may out rank me by belt, but not by depth and breadth of experience.

The answer to the question above is "Don't".

Look, I believe you, the technical abilities at the dojo are sub-par (okay, maybe I don't actually care whether they actually are, I believe you believe it). So, either find a better dojo or start one of your own. Didn't you say there was a small group training to their own standard and that the instructor has asked the group to disband (or something to that effect)? So, get this group to go train on their own somewhere.

If you are really motivated by a desire to train at a high standard and not by one-upmanship you will find a way.

Every dojo has a couple of yudansha who can privately complain to the sensei about things he is doing and he will listen. Usually this is because they've proven to be people whose judgement he trusts. If you are one of these people, then have a private meeting with him. If you are not, then get over it or move on.

You don't have to embarass the sensei or create any kind of acrimony between the two of you (it isn't even a good idea). Just do what really needs to be done. Either train or move on.

crbateman
03-22-2007, 11:04 AM
As I said, I will try to lead by example in the dojo as I do in life; effecting change from within.
I'll say it again: This is not your place. You have not been asked to do this. It is up to the chief instructor to decide your responsibility and sanction your conduct in his dojo. For you to do otherwise, regardless of your personal motivations, is both disrespectful and presumptuous. Want to be the engineer? Get your own train. Otherwise, there will be a wreck.

And I would be careful about labeling peoples' judgements as "unwarranted". If you hang your laundry out in here, you're going to hear what people think. Your real concern should be that the reaction you have gotten from the majority who have offered here is so opposed to your own judgement (which I am assuming from the tone of your comment is the "warranted" one). Even those who understand and/or sympathize with your situation have advised that your perceived right to do as you please in someone else's dojo is misplaced. You will probably be just as put off by the reactions of those in the dojo to your personal crusade to correct them.

Horse has died. Bowing out.

mriehle
03-22-2007, 11:09 AM
Give a sincere attack, if technque doesn't work, don't take ukemi. If it works, then it might not be that weak after all.

Normally I'd agree with this statement. Okay, actually, I still do.

I just question the sincerety of an attack which is intended to demonstrate that the instructor doesn't actually know what he's doing. A sincere challenge is one thing (as an instructor I can tell you that sometimes they're cheap entertainment and I learn from them even when they aren't), but active attempts to embarass the instructor are another.

Understand, I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm only suggesting that some people might attempt what you are saying with the wrong motivation and do more harm than good. In other words, they might think they are attempting your suggestion but are actually doing something else entirely.

Fred Little
03-22-2007, 11:26 AM
I've heard it said that when Sugano Sensei was at Aikikai Hombu Dojo, one of the things that made him stand out was that whoever he trained with, whatever their level, he always trained in such a way that he was just a smidge better than they were.

That's worth emulating.

FL

Karen Wolek
03-22-2007, 12:22 PM
However perhaps I am at fault: I didn't clearly explain myself. What I am referring to is poor technique, not techniques which are different from what I may be used to.

This distinction makes a world of difference.

GB

I certainly can't (and won't) speak for anyone else, but I personally understood perfectly what you meant. Therefore, my advice still stands.

We have an unofficial motto in my dojo, "Shut up and take ukemi."

If you don't want to do that, then you should find another dojo. Or start your own.

But as others have said, YOU aren't the teacher in the dojo. There is only one Sensei on the mat. And that isn't you.

I guess this isn't what you wanted to hear.

GBiddy
03-22-2007, 12:49 PM
It's surprising, and reflects rather poorly I must say, that on an Aikido forum the prevalent attitude seems to be "my way or the highway."

The aggression in some of the responses to my questions seems especially out of place. To the authors I say ask yourself how far off the path you are and how much further you have to go.

A point of note: at the three dojos I practiced at in Japan, I noticed that the more senior the student or instructor, the more talkative, friendly, welcoming, and approachable they were.

This contrasts sharply with what I've experienced at most of the dojos I've trained at in North America, where senior practitioners are too often aloof, arrogant, silent, and unwelcoming.

I'm think starting to understand why.

Nevertheless, I'm going to try to work for positive change at my dojo. If my sensei is half the man he appears to be, I'm certain he'll either welcome my input or set me on a path towards deeper understanding (as he should).

Given the interest this topic has generated, I'll certainly let everyone know how it goes.

GB

Ron Tisdale
03-22-2007, 12:56 PM
Ah, yeah, good luck with that...

I've trained a fair amount with two Japanese instructors. Neither one would tolerate what it seems you are suggesting. Open, friendly and welcoming...not a problem.

Act up...take the ukemi.

As I said...good luck with that.

Best,
Ron

Robert Rumpf
03-22-2007, 01:20 PM
First of all, hello from a new member. This site is a fantastic Aikido resource, and I look forward to participating and contributing to the discussions.

I'm relieved to find this forum because I have a problem that I'm not sure how to address.

I've been practicing for about 12 years now, and spent the last 3 years studying in Japan. I'm now back in North America, and at the dojo I'm attending I've been really surprised by the lack of martial knowledge and 'presence' of many of the shodan+ students.

Since I'm a lower 'rank' I have no right to suggest technique improvements or point out mistakes, but my time in Japan taught me much and I'd like to share it. But I don't know how to make suggestions without offending or coming across as arrogant.

Usually I would simply discuss this with my sensei or the students individually, but at this dojo our sensei is so incredibly aloof (to the point of not even saying a word to students, from change room to mats) that I'd like to get some other opinions on how to proceed.

I think this is where you have to decide for yourself what type of Aikido you're interested in practicing. If you're interested in the spiritual practice of Aikido, you may end up losing out on some of the physical practice. Likewise with the converse.

You're running into a massive contradiction, which is inevitable and common.. How much "wrongness" are you willing to accept to blend with the harmony of the situation? There are some who accept none, and so they cannot abide others except as students. There are some who will accept anything. Most people are in-between.

Do you look for the truth in yourself and your understanding (and its apparent antecedents), and choose to spread that, or do you starting looking for the truth in other people's understandings (no matter how flawed or inferior) and embrace that? Or maybe you do a bit of both.

There is this great Zen quote to the effect of: "A great actor appreciates any part, no matter how small, while a poor actor has nothing but complaints." Damn.. I need to look that up, to avoid misquotes.

Regardless of what these people say on Aikiweb about propriety in a dojo, or about the importance of correct and robust Aikido technique, you need to design your training for yourself and decide what your priorities are. That decision will have consequences with respect to your future relationships (or lack thereof) with others in the dojo (and in real life), with whether or not you are even training there, as well as with your Aikido technique, both physically and otherwise.

The only other thing I can say is specific complaints about a dojo or persons can be touchy. You perhaps should have posted anonymously, so that this doesn't come back to haunt you later in case you say specific things that you might regret in terms of hurting people's feelings or something like that. There's not much of a delete function on Aikiweb.

Good luck,
Rob

Mark Freeman
03-22-2007, 06:56 PM
It's surprising, and reflects rather poorly I must say, that on an Aikido forum the prevalent attitude seems to be "my way or the highway."

The aggression in some of the responses to my questions seems especially out of place. To the authors I say ask yourself how far off the path you are and how much further you have to go.



Interesting,

you asked for opinions, you got some!

You are proposing that some of the opinion/advice givers ( many of whom I agree with ) need to examine their own position in relation to the aikido path. Mainly on the basis that you don't agree with them.

I think you really would benefit from opening your own dojo, you will only really appreciate a student like yourself when you have one to teach.;)

Good luck

Mark

George S. Ledyard
03-22-2007, 07:16 PM
It's surprising, and reflects rather poorly I must say, that on an Aikido forum the prevalent attitude seems to be "my way or the highway."

Gordon,
It's not that people aren't supportive, it's just that you are pretty much ignoring what's been said because it conflicts with what you want to hear.

I have had my own dojo now for twenty years. I have periodically had people come in who had the proverbial "full cup". They were so busy trying to show everyone what they knew, they couldn't take in anything I had to teach. There is simply no point in doing that.

A dojo is not a democracy. You don't go in there intending to set the teacher right... As a student you have absolute power to find a teacher. You can check things out and if it doesn't suit you leave. if that isn't convenient for you then shut up and train. You don't get to go in and change things no matter how misguided you feel what they are doing actually is.

As I said before, it is quite possible that the dojo you have found isn't for you. You may be absolutely right about the various faults in their practice when compared to what you did in Japan. But at their place it is the job of the dojo cho to set the agenda and not up to you. Perhaps after quite a long time training at and investing in that dojo, you might have earned the right to have an opinion and express that to the teacher. But as a new guy you have not done that yet.

One of my former students moved away and went to another dojo out of state. I heard later that he was making it hard for the teacher there because he didn't feel the training measured up to ours. I called him up and let him no in no uncertain terms that he was to do what they did as long as he chose to be there. It reflected badly on me that he didn't know how to behave in someone else's house. And that place is someone else's house until you have been there long enough to earn a place in the family.

Nick P.
03-22-2007, 08:25 PM
Your clarification is much appreciated, thank you.

IMHO, just train, and as you said, lead by example.
The act of simply being there and doing your best to follow the sensei's teaching will likely be all the catalyst required to effect the change you think is required. Most everyone knows when they are in the presence of someone they can learn from, junior or senior, and rarely is that moment of learning augmented by words; it usually just happens while training.

If the changes don't occur, fine.
If they do, fine.

Best,
-Nick

charyuop
03-23-2007, 10:18 AM
The other day I was doing a kata and did a movement different....not because who knows why, just didn't remember the correct one (I am just a beginner).
I guess Sensei thought I was trying to go my way and he told me that the movement I did was not wrong, but it was not the way he teaches it. Being in his dojo I have to learn his movements being him my Sensei (perfectly fine with me hee hee coz I got nothing to teach him...not even how to blow my nose).

I perfectly agree with this way of seeing things. After all if you opened your dojo and a student from your Sensei comes to your dojo you wouldn't want him to keep doing the techniques the old way.

That is way in my previous message I suggested to face the situation in a comparative way instead of a "teaching" way. If you go up to your Sensei and compare the way you do your techniques and his way I am sure that will awake your Sensei interest in the way you do them. That doesn't mean he will say ok teach them in my dojo, but at least he will be more open to your Aikido and not see as errors some things that might come out in your practice from the things you learnt in Japan.

P.S. Ledyard Sensei, if you are as good in Aikido as you are in finding the right words to express your wise thoughts I give you a 10th Dan ad onorem. I always enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for giving us some of your time.

tarik
03-23-2007, 05:41 PM
Gordon,

How noble of you.

My feeling is if you want to teach, open a dojo.
Don't come to mine and show how you are better....because you are not. You are just different.

If you want to train at our dojo you should practice what we are teaching to the best of your ablity....otherwise go somewhere else.


Mary is quite correct. While I disagree with her assessment that different is just different and not necessarily better, no one should be required to practice in a way that doesn't suit them.

Speaking from direct personal experience, I'll just say that if you honestly feel that there are issues with training in the dojo, you must speak with the head of the dojo and try to fit into his or her intentions.

You can try to be a sincere and positive example and assist in improving the training, however this can be impossibly challenging and it really is something that, done silently, becomes a passive aggressive invitation to bigger trouble.

Talk to the dojo-cho, be open about what you want to do, and if it doesn't work out for any reason, find another place to train or start your own dojo.

Regards,

Tarik

mjhacker
03-23-2007, 09:49 PM
I've decided to instead practice the way we did in Japan.
I find this approach to be terribly disrespectful. If someone in my dojo were to act in this manner and refused to do things our way, I would "ask" them to leave and not return. The teachers and seniors in my dojo are all of the same mind on this matter.

You don't have to like how I arrange the furniture in my home, but certainly you don't have the right to start moving things around. If where I place my couch really bothers you, the only choice you have is to find a new place to hang out.

I understand wanting to honor what your teachers taught you and continue to work on it. But someone else's dojo is not the place to start interjecting your own ego. In my mind, the only proper thing to do is to create your own practice partners and pass on what you have learned in another setting.

Largo
03-30-2007, 12:21 PM
I agree with Michael. I couldn't imagine anything more frustrating to a teacher than that kind of attitude. I would wonder why you are continuing to come and "learn" from me. If you want to quit because the teacher isn't that great, then quit. If you want to challenge him, then challenge him. If you want to learn from him, then learn.

gdandscompserv
03-30-2007, 12:39 PM
In my dojo we have an "agreement." If a student can "stop" my technique then they can feel free to critique it and we will analyze it for weaknesses and I will allow them to demonstrate how it might be improved upon. If they can't stop my technique then they simply shutup and train. Personally, I would never presume to correct anybody's technique in someone else's dojo. It is not my place to do so. That is the responsibility of the dojo cho, not mine. That is one of the reasons I enjoy visiting other dojo's so much. It alleviates me of the burdens of being "sensei.":D

Largo
03-30-2007, 12:56 PM
Nice agreement.:D You don't happen to teach in Ohio do you?

gdandscompserv
03-30-2007, 01:12 PM
No, Paul, I don't teach in Ohio, but if you're ever in Barstow, feel free to stop in. And if you stop my technique I'll turn the class over to you.:D
I hope you don't think that I think my technique is unstoppable. I have trained with some real aikido wizards that have had no problem stopping my technique. In fact, I wish they were all at my dojo and I wouldn't have to teach another class. I could go back to being a student again.

mjhacker
03-30-2007, 01:17 PM
I have trained with some real aikido wizards that have had no problem stopping my technique.

Would you explain what you mean by "stopping technique" and why you think this is a good/bad thing?

gdandscompserv
03-30-2007, 02:01 PM
Would you explain what you mean by "stopping technique" and why you think this is a good/bad thing?
No
:D

Shannon Frye
04-07-2007, 10:23 AM
My suggestion would be NOT to say a thing. I've found that most people within the art do not take kindly to help from anyone other than the head instructor. I'm not saying that your info isn't valid and valuable. It just probably wont be welcomed.
I saw it was suggested to form your own club, based on your training and experience. Either that or keep searching till you find a dojo like my current one - where experienced input is welcomed, and even the higher ranks are humble enough to say "tell me if you see something wrong or different, I'm human and I make mistakes".

Carlos Rivera
04-07-2007, 08:52 PM
Just some advice, if you want to be diplomatic use the Socratic method, which is heavily used in law school here in the US. In other words, pose your explanations through the use of questions (not open ended questions, though). This allows you the flexibility for a respectful exchange with those senior to you. Believe me, this will give you the room to maneuver without losing face or causing your sempai to lose face.

And please do not take this the wrong way, but you need to examine any implicit reasons why you are staying in a situation which you apparently do not agree with. There are times when we stay with things that are familiar to us just for familiarity's sake. Remember the only thing permanent in life is change and perhaps you may need to change a few things (approach to other students, Sensei, or moving to a different dojo if need be) in order to keep progressing in Aikido.:circle: :square: :triangle:

Best Regards,

Carlos

msorses
04-09-2007, 03:52 PM
Personally, I think you have three options, all as stated in other posts:
1) Move on to a different dojo and keep doing so until you find one that you will benefit from;
2) Start your own club, there is no reason why you still can't look for another dojo to further your training to learn new techniques (after all, 12 years or 20 years, you will still be learning new stuff - wasn't O'Sensei still practicing Ikajo/Ikkyo on his death bed?) or;
3) Stay and learn what they are doing and make those techniques effective, a 'different' way can still be effective, it is all down to the individual.

On a personal note, I have just returned to training after a few years off and a relocation, I come from a Yoshinkan based background and I am now training in an Aikikai based school. Much of the stuff I now do is different and I have lapsed back into what I was origionally taught, this will be cured by repetition and 'slowing' my mind down etc. Much of what I was taugh before I find more effective - or is that easier due to previous repetition? - but I am learning new ways to do the same things.

Obviously the 'time out' creates a different scenario to what you are facing but in some ways it is also similar. Much the same as previous posts, I would suggest 'doing as they do' and learning from it. The Master/Soke of my previous school was quoted as saying 'Aikido is Aikido, there is only one!' - personal effectiveness, teaching styles, ukes and approaches aside, is that not true?

Before I ramble and spout the proverbial. . . I hope that helps in some ways?

Chris

gregg block
04-09-2007, 04:22 PM
I believe a good instructor who is secure with his or her own abilities is always open to listening from the experience of others. Being all puffed up and feeling one is so good that there is nothing one can learn from others is a sure sign one cannot grow. I love to learn new ideas and techniques from others regardless of their rank. Brue Lee said it best " absorb what is useful and throw the rest away" . The only thing is you have to be constantly looking, listening and learning to absorb what is useful .This can only be accomplished by keeping an open mind.

ikkitosennomusha
04-10-2007, 11:29 PM
Dear Poster,

I understand your dilema and do believe your intent for suggestions are sincere. My advice may seem contradictory but I hope we achieve some clarity in the end.

Position one, it is best to adhere to the methodology of the sensei and respect rank/authority and rules as others here have clearly stated. This is the obvious path.

Position 2, your journey has taken you to a certain level of accomplishment that perhaps is beyond the competentcy of general members and maybe even sensei.

So, what is the right thing to do? Adhere to position one while acknowledging position 2. So now what?

Well, I have found that making suggestions, even privately, to certain members, especially sensei, is not well taken. Even a decent sensei should be understand but after all, he is human and unfortunately, most humans do not like being corrected, especially from a, in their mind, subordinate.

So do this, continue to train and lead an example through your technique. If you are as good as you say you are, others will catch on and notice. They will eventually ask questions which will then be the appropriate time to divulge suggestions.

Or, you are probably frustrated and feel you are digressing and need to be surrounded by talent in order to progress from your current plateau and need proper instruction to take you there. So, the best thing to do is leave.

Others have suggested to start your own club. That takes money. So, the best advice I can give is that if it is too much burden to tolerate classes with a respectful attitude and a humble serving demeanor, you have to leave. Find another dojo. If this is not possible. Train by yourself for a while or simply start your own club. If funds are lacking, train in a gym, a backyard, anywhere that will suffice until you can do better. There is no question to silly to be asked as long as they are sincere.

Mark Uttech
04-12-2007, 04:38 PM
It seems that everyone simply has to decide if they are a student, or someone visiting a dojo.

In gassho,

Mark

mwible
04-15-2007, 08:07 PM
hold on, didnt you just say that uve been studying aikido for around 13 years? wouldnt that make u anywhere from 2nd -5th dan? and it sounds to me like u need to find a new dojo if your sensei is as "aloof" (as you put it) as you say. one of the reasons i love aikido so much and get so much out of it is because of how much i love my sensei. he is one of the greatest men i have ever met.

happysod
04-16-2007, 03:06 AM
There's been a few similar threads like this over the years, even one at the moment talking about clapping and furtively muttering Japanese in the dojo as though they're trying to smuggle a lads mag into their teenage bedroom without mum knowing.

It always strikes me as akin to being bored by your colleagues latest failed relationship.

You know the one, it always starts with the "Whoo, I've met someone wonderful and new, they are so in tune with me etc [insert sparkly bits and starry eyed glaze]". Then comes the first rumblings "I love them but I wish they wouldn't/would..." [insert minor annoyance/lack of correct flower buying here]. Finally its the tearful "They just wouldn't connect with me/Couldn't change/Won't buy brown bread" breakup. In short - its the old "If you loved me you'd change", often followed by the "you've changed, so I don't love you any more".

People often approach a dojo in a similar manner, expecting compromise and an open display and sharing of feelings, compromise and a special relationship to the rest of the dojo. However, where a dojo does differ is to be frank, a dojo doesn't actually need you. Harsh, but true. A good dojo is dynamic and will change over time, but why people feel it should change its practices to suit their own personal needs is beyond me. You join a dojo, warts and all, if the dojo doesn't do it for you, leave.

James Stedman
04-17-2007, 06:05 PM
Gordon,
it sounds to me like you are in the "wrong" dojo.As Amir stated, you have already suggested you are very disappointed with your own words.
No good sensei is aloof and uncommunicative with his/her students.All sensei learn from interaction with students.
It might be helpful to ask your sensei for a few moments in private and lay this problem out for him to see.he might very well surprise you with a solution you would accept.