PDA

View Full Version : Does anyone truly "learn" anything at a seminar?


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


Joseph Madden
06-02-2008, 08:17 PM
Although I am deeply respectful of the teachers that I have seen at a few of the seminars I've been to, I really don't think I've learned anything "special" that my own sensei hasn't already taught me. My own belief is that these are merely opportunities to see the "rock stars" of aikido, as it were. For those that make a concerted effort to actually decide to start training with these men and women on a regular basis because they have something that they want is one thing. To all others, it just seems to be so much fan worship. You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars. Its great to meet new people and all, but I think the value of these seminars are no more important than the average Trek convention.:straightf

Osu

lbb
06-02-2008, 08:30 PM
Dude. The average Trek convention has a bookroom.

Joseph Madden
06-02-2008, 08:36 PM
But can you truly master Klingon in 2 days?
:)

rob_liberti
06-02-2008, 08:47 PM
When I first atteneded Saotome sensei seminars, I noticed that he did things differently. I held that image of what he looked like, how he held his body, what he felt like is in my body's memory so to speak. I couldn't copy him all that well, but as time went on I could copy him a bit more. I suppose at first, you just typically want to get an image. Later, you want to see if you can manifest that image with varying ukes.

Hope that helps.

And for God's sake, don't contribute to the rock star thing. That's not helping anybody.

Rob

Walter Martindale
06-02-2008, 08:55 PM
Depends... Do you understand what he's trying to get across? Does your sensei?
Sometimes a bit of Japanese lingo helps - and if shihan's command of the lingo in the country that's hosting the seminar isn't great, and there's nobody around who can translate from the shihan's (usually) japanese to the local language, he'll be hard pressed to get his messages across...
Sometimes, with my little bit of japanese, a judo background, and trying to follow the shihan's japanese and carefully observing the movements he's showing as "good" or "dame-desu", I've been able to figure some things out that were missed by the guy translating (also a native japanese speaker).
(helps to have a biomechanics background, too)
W

Joseph Madden
06-02-2008, 08:59 PM
When I first atteneded Saotome sensei seminars, I noticed that he did things differently. I held that image of what he looked like, how he held his body, what he felt like is in my body's memory so to speak. I couldn't copy him all that well, but as time went on I could copy him a bit more. I suppose at first, you just typically want to get an image. Later, you want to see if you can manifest that image with varying ukes.

Hope that helps.

And for God's sake, don't contribute to the rock star thing. That's not helping anybody.

Rob

Well said Rob. As Presley himself once said, "The image is one thing, the human being is another".
I think you may on occasion pick up a little hint of something, but we are talking about martial arts here and aikido in particular. This isn't about learning Windows in 5 easy lessons or Your Mac & You.
We are talking about YEARS of practice to even scratch the surface.

Peter Goldsbury
06-02-2008, 09:13 PM
Although I am deeply respectful of the teachers that I have seen at a few of the seminars I've been to, I really don't think I've learned anything "special" that my own sensei hasn't already taught me. My own belief is that these are merely opportunities to see the "rock stars" of aikido, as it were. For those that make a concerted effort to actually decide to start training with these men and women on a regular basis because they have something that they want is one thing. To all others, it just seems to be so much fan worship. You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars. Its great to meet new people and all, but I think the value of these seminars are no more important than the average Trek convention.:straightf

Osu

With respect, I completely disagree with such a blanket condemnation and I think you need to add YMMV with almost every sentence.

The only times I have ever met the late Saito Morihiro Sensei, for example, were precisely at such seminars. Once he spent a week at the New England Aikikai Summer Camp and I still refer to the detailed notes I took at the time. At that time, Saito Sensei went through much of the contents of his older Traditional Aikido volumes, including all the ken and jo suburi, kata, kumi-tachi & kumi-jo.

Similarly with the seminars taught here by Yamaguchi, Tada, and Arikawa. Of course, I was able to attend their classes at the Hombu, but Iwama is simply too far away from Hiroshima and regular training there would have meant a change of job, house etc. and abandoning the teacher we have here.

The seminars were part and parcel of the dojo training.

crbateman
06-02-2008, 09:20 PM
Speaking only for myself, I learn something from every seminar I attend. I even go and watch when I cannot train. Joseph, do you suppose it's possible that your prepossession that you won't learn anything is getting in your way?

senshincenter
06-02-2008, 09:41 PM
I'm with Joseph on this one - seminars are pretty much geared toward political acculturation - at least more than anything else.

I think for viewing a master's techniques, dvds are now the way to go, and/or, better, go to their dojo and train for however long you can, even if that is only periodically.

I think dvd's have come a long way, as I think seminars have changed a great deal since the times Peter may be referring to. They are sooooo crowded now, and the masses, more than ever (and not just because of a lack of space), are dictating that things remain not only overly basic but also overly non-martial.

my opinion,
d

Joseph Madden
06-02-2008, 09:44 PM
I'm a nidan in Yoshinkan aikido. My sensei is one of the greatest practitioners of aikido on the planet. I do not have a predisposition for not wanting to learn new things. Why would I study an art diligently for almost a decade, start a new art (jodo) unless I wanted to try new things. The seminars that I have been to have, for the majority, been about seeing the Greats in aikido and nothing more. I'm talking about learning. About taking something and going with it. This seems to be a sore point for some people on this site but the "cult" that has been built up around the Greats of aikido, as though by going to a seminar you will receive that miracle that will make you a better aikidoka is bulls&*#. It's only through years of hard, diligent training both physical and spiritual, will you get better.
Going to a three day seminar to make your aikido better won't happen. Will it make you happy to say you have witnessed one of the greats performing flawless technique. Of course. It would make me happy too. It won't make my aikido any better.

Thanks David

Joe

gdandscompserv
06-02-2008, 10:07 PM
I like to apply a principal I learned while teaching young people. "One thing." I once taught a young children's class and would always try to make sure they learned just one thing from each lesson. If I can take away one thing from a seminar and apply it to my training, I feel that it was worth it. Besides, I would not have had the pleasure of meeting and training with Francis Takahashi sensei if it weren't for a seminar. Aikido seminar's are very strange social events indeed, but I find that I enjoy them. I do think as much can be gained by simply attending a class or two at other dojo's as well though, and, it's alot cheaper.:D

Carl Thompson
06-02-2008, 10:55 PM
You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars.

Sorry Joseph but… how come you keep complaining (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13705)about people who go to seminars when you seem quite eager to attend them yourself on occasion?

If only I had the money. I'd be there in a minute.

I don’t see the problem of spending a day practising with a diverse body of people, especially if you don’t know them. I’ve only ever trained with Ken Cottier Shihan at seminars (three times in total), but I’ll never forget the moment he grabbed me by the throat and said “I could kill you” and I got the same feeling I had when I lost control of my car in the wet and felt the wheels leave the road…

:)

Buck
06-02-2008, 11:15 PM
Although I am deeply respectful of the teachers that I have seen at a few of the seminars I've been to, I really don't think I've learned anything "special" that my own sensei hasn't already taught me. My own belief is that these are merely opportunities to see the "rock stars" of aikido, as it were. For those that make a concerted effort to actually decide to start training with these men and women on a regular basis because they have something that they want is one thing. To all others, it just seems to be so much fan worship. You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars. Its great to meet new people and all, but I think the value of these seminars are no more important than the average Trek convention.:straightf

Osu

WOW, that sounds like a slap in the face with a bunch of sour grapes, it caught my attention. My question is why?

My comment
What is the alternative for those like me who could and do learn something. Who do become more educated from such experiences, like being able to take part in the process of a fine work. For example, how many Rock musicians would sell their souls at the chance to study under a great guitarist. Please don't under value such an experience for those like me who appreciate the opportunity. Aikido "stars" are far more generous then Rock and Roll stars.

What I learn isn't reduced down only to the mechanics of technique. You can learn allot from a person if your open to it.

Peter Goldsbury
06-03-2008, 12:12 AM
I think dvd's have come a long way, as I think seminars have changed a great deal since the times Peter may be referring to. They are sooooo crowded now, and the masses, more than ever (and not just because of a lack of space), are dictating that things remain not only overly basic but also overly non-martial.

my opinion,
d

Well, the seminars I am referring to are not the vast events given by people like Doshu, who shows basics in the middle of 1,000 mats with several hundred people present. I have stated elsewhere, and to Doshu himself, that such seminars are of limited benefit.

The seminars I mean take place in our own dojo and are given by the instructors who taught my own teacher. So numbers are only slightly more than at a regular training session and have the advantage of someone like Tada or Yamaguchi instructing for several hours continuously. The last seminar taught by Tada Sensei here involved ten hours of training, spread over two days. He never does that in his own dojo.

The NE Aikikai Summer Camp (I think in 1981) had more people present, but, again, allowed about 5 hours training daily, with tai-jutsu in the mornings and weapons in the afternoon, usually outside. I remember being up near the front, so I got to see everything and train with people like Bruce Klickstein. When he came to Hiroshima, Saito Sensei remembered me and so I got to partner him for all the weapons training we did on the second day, which was very valuable.

PAG

Joseph Madden
06-03-2008, 12:28 AM
WOW, that sounds like a slap in the face with a bunch of sour grapes, it caught my attention. My question is why?

My comment
What is the alternative for those like me who could and do learn something. Who do become more educated from such experiences, like being able to take part in the process of a fine work. For example, how many Rock musicians would sell their souls at the chance to study under a great guitarist. Please don't under value such an experience for those like me who appreciate the opportunity. Aikido "stars" are far more generous then Rock and Roll stars.

What I learn isn't reduced down only to the mechanics of technique. You can learn allot from a person if your open to it.

So, your going to learn how to play like a great rock guitarist at a seminar?
Remember, we are talking about a SEMINAR. And, if you paid attention to my original post you will see that I state that meeting new people is great. I'm not saying that they aren't fun. I'm stating that if you want to truly learn something of any great significance, you won't find it at a seminar. Becoming great at aikido requires more than being merely a fan.

OSU
And if you felt that having a shihan threaten your life as something significant and worthwhile, than......:disgust:

Carl Thompson
06-03-2008, 02:16 AM
And if you felt that having a shihan threaten your life as something significant and worthwhile, than......:disgust:

Hi Joseph,

I don't recall ever being threatened by a shihan. There are all kinds of things that can kill you and I appreciate having them pointed out to me in a friendly manner. Having a peer take the time however briefly to show me anything about aikido was worthwhile. It was just a glimpse but that doesn't mean I didn't remember it and learn something from it. For the most part, we get principles and ideas and it is up to us to consolidate them in our regular training.

BTW: So why did you want to go all the way to the UK to the Mustard and Thanbu Seminar?

grondahl
06-03-2008, 02:20 AM
I think the problem is that a seminar is not a seminar.
I have attended weekend seminars that did not give me anything at all except an opportunity to have a few cold ones with friends from other dojo afterwards but I have also been to really great weekend seminars that made a world of difference to my understanding of aikido.
And the gashuku-style seminars where you focus an entire week training for maybe 6 hours a day have always made my physical waza a whole lot better each time.

But of course, seminars are useless without the regular training in ones home dojo. And if you have shihan level instruction on a daily basis the need for seminars are probably a whole lot different than if your main instructor is a fresh nidan.

Nafis Zahir
06-03-2008, 02:53 AM
I feel as though these seminars have great value. Each Shihan shows various techniques in different ways then the other Shihans. But there many similarities involved and it is up to the individual to find them. Also, by seeing all of these Shihans and taking whatever I can get from them back to my own training at my own dojo had help me learn many things that I put into practice daily. These seminars have also taught me to always keep an open mind as well as the mind of a beginner. I know that some people may get tired of going away to a seminar and seeing the same techniques over and over again, but how many of us can do those techniques at that level? How many of us have seen a technique 1000 times and then on the 1001 time had a light go off? I know I have. Not to brag, but check out who I have had a chance to see in person:

Doshu
Shihans: Chiba, Yamada, Kanai, Sugano, Tamura, Shibata, Miyamoto, Saito Sr., Toyoda, Muryama (Hawaii), Berthuime, Waite, Halprin, Nour, DiAnne, and others who I cannot remember at the moment. So that is just to name a few.

I have also seen many guest Sensei's, many who have studied for many years under some of these Shihans. Do you really think that I haven't learned anything from some if not all of them? As for the politics of it all, I don't get involved in that stuff. I'm there to learn and grow and to one day be teaching at a seminar where I can pass on some of what I have learned from those I have mentioned and others.

Joseph Madden
06-03-2008, 03:55 AM
Hi Joseph,

I don't recall ever being threatened by a shihan. There are all kinds of things that can kill you and I appreciate having them pointed out to me in a friendly manner. Having a peer take the time however briefly to show me anything about aikido was worthwhile. It was just a glimpse but that doesn't mean I didn't remember it and learn something from it. For the most part, we get principles and ideas and it is up to us to consolidate them in our regular training.

BTW: So why did you want to go all the way to the UK to the Mustard and Thanbu Seminar?

I'd like to see Thambu sensei in person. I'm just as much a fan as anybody. But then again, I would like to have seen Elvis as well.
Would I learn anything from Thambu sensei? Probably not.And I dunno Carl. Having a shihan grab you by the throat and saying "I could kill you" sounds like a threat to me.If you want to call it friendly advice that's great. But comparing it to almost dying in a car crash doesn't sound to appealing to me. Whatever floats your boat.

Josh Reyer
06-03-2008, 04:03 AM
Does anyone truly "learn" anything in an hour-and-a-half regular class?

John Connolly
06-03-2008, 04:32 AM
Frequently, the seminar experience, where I get exposed to the feel of someone new's power, technique, posture, movement, creates a major "AAAH HAAAAAAA!" moment.

Take your revelations ("ah ha" moments) and diligently work to understand and develop their concepts in your own practice, at the dojo.

Mark Uttech
06-03-2008, 04:44 AM
Onegaishimasu. I would venture the notion that anyone who attends a seminar with the intent to study and learn something will not come away empty handed. I think the purpose of a seminar is to focus on a few points.

In gassho,

Mark

creinig
06-03-2008, 04:54 AM
Going to a three day seminar to make your aikido better won't happen. Will it make you happy to say you have witnessed one of the greats performing flawless technique. Of course. It would make me happy too. It won't make my aikido any better.

Then most of my aikido career must have bee one giant hallucination. Weird. It seemed so real.

A 3 day seminar with Kimeda sensei (your teacher, I assume) sparked my fascination with weapons work. A 3 day seminar with Chida sensei opened my eyes to the softness and relaxation in aikido. A 5 day seminar with Muguruza Sensei (admittedly almost personal instruction) did wonders for my kihon, and I'm looking forward to repeating that next week. And recently a 3 day seminar with Inoue sensei taught me a shitload of stuff about mental strength and focus.

And these were just the highlights of my ~6.5 years of training.

Paulo Barreto
06-03-2008, 05:08 AM
Although I am deeply respectful of the teachers that I have seen at a few of the seminars I've been to, I really don't think I've learned anything "special" that my own sensei hasn't already taught me. My own belief is that these are merely opportunities to see the "rock stars" of aikido, as it were. For those that make a concerted effort to actually decide to start training with these men and women on a regular basis because they have something that they want is one thing. To all others, it just seems to be so much fan worship. You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars. Its great to meet new people and all, but I think the value of these seminars are no more important than the average Trek convention.:straightf

Osu

We had Kevin Choate Sensei here in Portugal this year in March for a 5 days Seminar. For me it was a chance to see a different approach, learn new things (still trying to digest it all) and get some hands-on time with Choate Sensei.

So my experience is that you can learn a lot in a Seminar and that it may also provide you with a lot of things to work on in the Dojo (the Seminar and the training you do in the Dojo complement each other).

This was my first seminar though so i may have just been extremely lucky ;).

Back to the more experienced voices.

crbateman
06-03-2008, 05:30 AM
I do not have a predisposition for not wanting to learn new things.What you want or do not want is not the issue. The predisposition I'm referring to is the one you have that you aren't going to learn anything at a seminar. My point is that if you are convinced going in that it will be a waste of your time, then you are probably right... for you. But to make a blanket indictment of seminars in general, and to generalize that others won't be able to learn anything is presumptuous. If I didn't benefit, I wouldn't go. I have no fascination for "rock stars", but I do have considerable interest in listening to, and training with, those people who doubtless know a lot more about what we're doing than I do.

Ron Tisdale
06-03-2008, 09:18 AM
Although I am deeply respectful of the teachers that I have seen at a few of the seminars I've been to, I really don't think I've learned anything "special" that my own sensei hasn't already taught me.

My experience is pretty much at odds with yours, but then I go to seminars and training from a wide variety of organizations. I have found things of value at Yoshinkan, Aikikai, and unaffiliated seminars. Sometimes it's as simple as a point of reference for something my own teacher has taught, sometimes it's a very new focus for me.

My own belief is that these are merely opportunities to see the "rock stars" of aikido, as it were. For those that make a concerted effort to actually decide to start training with these men and women on a regular basis because they have something that they want is one thing.

I kind of have the idea that if you really want to understand what a shihan is teaching at a seminar, you have to

a) take the ukemi from the shihan or at least some of his/her senior students

b) understand that each one most likely has an entire system around what they teach...and that the basics, intermediate, and advanced things they teach are all meant to hang together in a certain way.

c) take the time to try to figure out how the different pieces hang together in the big picture.

To all others, it just seems to be so much fan worship. You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars. Its great to meet new people and all, but I think the value of these seminars are no more important than the average Trek convention.:straightf

Osu

No, that has not been my experience. There have been times when I realized that I have no clue how the system someone is teaching hangs together, or how the building blocks they show in the seminar add up. That was specifically the case with the Bill Gleason seminar I attended. What he was doing in many cases was so foreign to me that I just could not catch the feeling with my partners. There were a few things though that I did pick up, specific waza that I was able to reproduce the feeling with with other partners. So even there I did indeed learn something.

In Yoshinkan seminars specifically, there is an issue in that 98% of those are basics reviews from the point of view of the instructor. So much of our training focuses around the basics that this is almost unavoidable. Now, I still find value even in that, since the specifics of how an instructor performs the basics is very instructive on how their "system" hangs together. For example, from Chida Sensei (at least some years ago), I noticed just how forward his weight was, and how his body type was suited to that, and he has really long, penetrating movement forward and back. In his system (it seems to me), it is worth while to sacrifice some of the side to side movement to gain that extra forward focus and penetration. Another thing I picked up from him was what seems to be a strong focus on the inverted triangle on the lower back. These are just my personal observations...and they are the kinds of things I look for in seminars.

Best,
Ron

lbb
06-03-2008, 10:51 AM
You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars.

From my uninformed perspective, I'd say that depends on your definition of "learn" and your definition of "value"...no?

rob_liberti
06-03-2008, 11:02 AM
Well I learn things of great value to my aikido at seminars. I have been learning more and more and making the best progress I've ever made - all from seminars. So maybe it depends on the students and the teachers - and where they are in their training/teaching.

Rob

JO
06-03-2008, 12:00 PM
Seminars are an important part of my aikido learning. Though the core of my training is at my home dojo, it is a fairly small dojo and the only way I can get a chance to train with many people that are more advanced than myself is to go to the seminars. I think that is one of the most important aspects of going to seminars, the varied people you get to train with. In some ways this is as important, or maybe more, than getting to see the high ranking instructors. Often, there are several people training on the mat that are skilled enough that they regularly invited to give seminars themselves. I can still remember training with Harvey Konigsberg at one of my very first seminars several years ago. Chances like that don't come to you, you have to go to them.

Tharis
06-03-2008, 12:46 PM
What's so wrong with being a rock star? Part of the reason they're rock stars is because they're very, very good at rocking. It's the difference between listening to a local garage band and listening to Led Zeppelin. People pay big bucks to see these guys because they excel at what they do.

In a way, it's the same with the shihan, they also excel at what they do. That's the reason people flock to see them and seek to emulate them in their practice. In Saotome Sensei's case, at least, that fame is something earned, not something taken for granted.

Personally, I think I've picked something up from every seminar I've been to. It hasn't always been ground-breaking, but it's always something. I also get the opportunity to train with people who I would never encounter otherwise, which is also a key part of the seminary experience. As great as the "rock stars" of Aikido are, the students who travel to see them all bring their own offerings to share.

SeiserL
06-03-2008, 01:50 PM
Wow, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have learned at seminars. And don't even get me started on the Aiki Expo and the Aiki Web seminars. Too much. I am in overload just thinking about it.

Stay open.

George S. Ledyard
06-03-2008, 02:25 PM
I think that one can make a good case for both sides in this "pros and cons" discussion. For one thing, it very much depends on the teaching style of the instructor at a given seminar. Many of the highest level teachers, especially the Japanese Shihan, show material but do not explain. Ones ability to get much out of seminars of this nature is often proportionate to ones experience.

I think that beginner and intermediate folks often spend the majority of their time completely lost at seminars with these teachers. I'm not saying they shouldn't attend, though. It is very important that practitioners at all levels see, and ideally, feel what really high level technique is about.

But I also think that there are teachers who are better able to bridge the gap between the highest level Shihan and the average practitioner. That is certainly what I have tried to do. I have attempted to develop a systematic way to present the principles at work in the Aikido of my teachers. The feedback has been very positive on this... I have consistently heard that after training at one or more of my seminars and / or viewing my videos (most of which were filmed at seminars I taught) students have found that they are able to get much more from the seminars taught by our teachers because now they know what to look for and can see subtleties that they previously had been missing.

So I think it is important that folks distinguish between the highest level practitioners and the teachers with the best ability to teach. These are not necessarily, in fact seldom are, the same.

Exposure to new ideas is cumulative. One seminar is seldom life changing, at least technically. But repeated exposure to high level teachers begins to create a body of experience which eventually can gel into tangible knowledge.

Of course there are teachers out there who, in my opinion, are simply a waste. I have seen very senior teachers who seem to be simply going through the motions, showing precisely the same basic techniques, in the same order at each event they teach. Virtually no instruction is actually given as if, the point of the event is simply to bask in the presence of the great one himself. It's an embarrassment and for most, a waste of time and money.

On the other hand, I have attended seminars in which there was so much information imparted that I felt my head would burst by the end. I would have paid far more than was asked and gone well out my way to have had such exposure.

So it can go either way I think, depending on who is doing the seminar. Like Lynn, I think the importance of the Aiki Expos will someday be considered as pivotal events in American Aikido. They were truly transforming for those that were open to that transformation. On the other hand there were people there who came and went and changed nothing. So regardless of what the teachers are doing, it requires students who wish to learn for anything worth while to take place at a seminar.

Many people treat seminars as a sort of check list, like the 14,000 footer club where you "bag" all the peaks over 14000 feet. So they have a huge list of the teachers they have seen. My feeling about this is a big "so what?". Quantity means nothing. Seminars give exposure to teachers but repeated exposure is required if their skill is high. So I advocate finding those teachers from whom you wish to learn and go after them as much as you can until you no longer feel you are getting anything new out of them. Then find another teacher to go after. Merely checking off the list of Shihan you've seen is pretty much worthless I think.

If you have a teacher who sincerely wishes to teach and students who sincerely wish to learn, then a seminar can provide real, life changing depth. If you don't have that, they can be a waste.

Janet Rosen
06-03-2008, 02:44 PM
I've rarely had a CLASS where I didn't learn SOMEthing, even if it was just from my own opportunity to explore a weight shift or an expectation in context of working with a partner! And at every seminar I've attended there has certainly been something to take away - sometimes the kernel of an idea to play with for the next period of time, sometimes a neat variation, sometimes a whole new perspective, sometimes a different way to fall - you just never know.

DonMagee
06-03-2008, 03:03 PM
The too biggest parts of my bjj game I learned at seminars. It was not that I had not seen the techniques before, it was the way he explained them and the way he used those positions/techniques. It was almost life changing (in the bjj sense).

Stefan Stenudd
06-03-2008, 03:43 PM
In less than two weeks, Tamura sensei will come and hold a seminar in our dojo - and I am looking forward to it with the same delight that kids long for Christmas.
It's just a weekend seminar, but I know from before that he will make me feel like a complete beginner - and I will love it. Also, he will give me something to work on for years to come.

The very experienced teachers can do that, and they don't need many hours for it. They give lifetime lessons.
I am sure that I would have great trouble making my own aikido evolve, without those seminar bursts. It's not the quantity, but the quality.

rob_liberti
06-03-2008, 06:16 PM
What's so wrong with being a rock star?

I remember being at a seminar with Gleason sensei. The class was well over and we were all just hanging out outside. I was 30-40 feet away from him talking to someone and the person SHHed me becuase "sensei is talking". Give me a break. I rolled my eyes and laughed. I went over and told him my best jokes. It turned out that we ended up getting along a lot better...

Now I teach aikido, and I have learned that if someone puts me on a pedastol, I actually TEACH them not to do that.

Being the teacher is SO difficult on one's ego. You bow in, and everyone in the rooms gives you a bit of their power. If you are not ready for it, it can have negative effects on you. I know some "teachers" who are in it just for the power trip. The point of aikido - manifesting your true self - requires you drop your ego. You should have LESS ego as you progress. Making some higher level sempai/sensei out to be a rock star is doing them a disservice - even if they kind of really seem to want such treatment.

In my dojo I teach the following: Please make it your responsbility to never be put on a pedastol AND if you see someone on a pedastol please do them the curtousy of knocking them off of it.

Rob

tedehara
06-03-2008, 06:58 PM
Although I am deeply respectful of the teachers that I have seen at a few of the seminars I've been to, I really don't think I've learned anything "special" that my own sensei hasn't already taught me...I agree.

I don't go to seminars to learn.
I go to seminars to be inspired.

Not every instructor can teach a seminar.

Carl Thompson
06-03-2008, 07:09 PM
And I dunno Carl. Having a shihan grab you by the throat and saying "I could kill you" sounds like a threat to me.If you want to call it friendly advice that's great. But comparing it to almost dying in a car crash doesn't sound to appealing to me. Whatever floats your boat.

I never mentioned almost dying in a car crash (I described losing traction in the wet). Having the control taken away from you and feeling that your life is in another's hands is a sign that you're being handled by a superior martial artist. Having that process explained to you kindly, but in no uncertain terms, can leave a lasting effect. Obviously, a non-threatening atmosphere of respect and good humour is necessary and Cottier Shihan did not disappoint in that area either. He was a perfect gentleman at all times.

Mark Jakabcsin
06-03-2008, 09:45 PM
Joseph,
I am curious as to why you asked this 'question' since all you have done in the first page is tell everyone that disagrees with you that they are wrong. Were/are you sincere in hearing others opinions and experiences or are you simply interested in pushing your own agenda?

Frankly, given the attitude of your posts I agree you should suspend attending all seminars as it is highly unlikely you are capable of learning, no matter how great the teacher, how gifted the fellow students or how amazing the material covered. Garbage in, garbage out!

Good luck,

Mark J.

Joseph Madden
06-03-2008, 10:03 PM
Maybe I should have asked the question, "How many people who study aikido, and don't do anything else and are making it their life long ambition to become a sensei, because they can afford too actually feel that they learn anything from a seminar"? For the vast majority of students, studying aikido is not something they can do 24 hours a day. To them aikido is something that they do part time and then they have to deal with life as it happens. Family, friends, job etc. Almost every single person that I have meet who has gone to a seminar has had fun, seen some of the greats, and has been given some tips that within a week disappear because they are to busy living their lives. I'm sure there are some of you that have made it a life long ambition to study aikido and aikido only because you have the benefit of time(see my original posting for qualification). For those of you who rely on seminars for teaching I hope you can retain what you learn and the best of luck. But my original opinion still stands. There are no "Learn the secrets of Aikido" in a weekend seminar. That's a fantasy. Yet, that's how many of them are promoted and that's why they are pursued.

OSU

George S. Ledyard
06-04-2008, 12:56 AM
Maybe I should have asked the question, "How many people who study aikido, and don't do anything else and are making it their life long ambition to become a sensei, because they can afford too actually feel that they learn anything from a seminar"? For the vast majority of students, studying aikido is not something they can do 24 hours a day. To them aikido is something that they do part time and then they have to deal with life as it happens. Family, friends, job etc. Almost every single person that I have meet who has gone to a seminar has had fun, seen some of the greats, and has been given some tips that within a week disappear because they are to busy living their lives.
Is this the fault of the seminars? Or is it simply the case that people aren't willing to work hard enough on what they get at the seminars to come back later having made substantial progress? It's absolutely true that it won't make a darn bit of difference who is teaching, what is taught, or how it is imparted if people don't work at it after the seminar. When you list all of the things which prevent you from doing that, you are simply stating that it isn't important enough to you to make it a priority. Therefore it probably is a waste of your time and the teacher's, for that matter, for you to attend a seminar.

I'm sure there are some of you that have made it a life long ambition to study aikido and aikido only because you have the benefit of time(see my original posting for qualification).

Any of us who are in this position, got there by putting in a lot of time and effort. We made the trade-offs required. Unless you happen to be independently wealthy and have never had to work, have never had a family requiring attention, etc you have had to balance any number of factors to get to this point. It doesn't just happen... you have to want it and want it badly.

For those of you who rely on seminars for teaching I hope you can retain what you learn and the best of luck. But my original opinion still stands. There are no "Learn the secrets of Aikido" in a weekend seminar. That's a fantasy. Yet, that's how many of them are promoted and that's why they are pursued.

OSU

In 32 years of training, I have never heard of an Aikido seminar which was promoted as presenting the "secrets" of Aikido. I have never encountered anyone who went to a seminar thinking that they would be given any such instruction. I certainly do not believe that this is "why they are pursued"...

Since I, myself, my students, and others whom I know well have benefited many times over the years from instruction we have received at various seminars, I know that they can be very valuable, even crucial in developing ones Aikido on a deep level. But it requires time and effort after the fact. You seem to be maintaining that most folks don't do that, a fact with which I won't argue. It does not sound as if you have done so, hence your belief that seminars do not benefit folk's training.

Any training, whether at the dojo daily, or at seminars occasionally, requires effort to make progress. The less time one spends with a teacher, the harder one has to work in order to benefit from that exposure. To really benefit from attending seminars, one must be training steadily and frequently to create a context into which new information can fit. Failure to do this will not only make ones seminar attendance a waste of time but will also make daily progress slow to non-existent. This is an issue with the individual's training, not some fault with the idea of seminars in general.

If the folks who think seminars are not beneficial would stay home, there might be more space to train for the rest of us who do attend... That would be ok with me.

creinig
06-04-2008, 02:57 AM
Maybe I should have asked the question, "How many people who study aikido, and don't do anything else and are making it their life long ambition to become a sensei, because they can afford too actually feel that they learn anything from a seminar"? For the vast majority of students, studying aikido is not something they can do 24 hours a day. To them aikido is something that they do part time and then they have to deal with life as it happens. Family, friends, job etc.

Nope. I have a job, I have other hobbies and passions, I have a girlfriend I like to spend time with. I'm not a "professional" budoka, not by a long shot. But I want to learn. And I found that seminars are a great way to learn, and the learning done there is a great complement to the learning at the dojo.

There are no "Learn the secrets of Aikido" in a weekend seminar. That's a fantasy. Yet, that's how many of them are promoted and that's why they are pursued.

I've never seen a seminar promoted as that, and I'm sure all shihan I've encountered so far would be pretty bewildered or amused by that notion. Suggestion: Ask your shihan about that and send us a video of his reaction ;)

Osu

Amir Krause
06-04-2008, 06:44 AM
Joseph and All

first of, I think most here did not distinguish several very important points:

Seminnars do not come at a single size. Some seminras are small, and let most students get a first hands experiance with the visiting Shihan, others Seminars have so many students can only see the Shihan from a distance. In a large seminar, some of the students will still get "preferntial treatment" and train a little nit with the Shihan, others will not.

Teachers are not the same level. Some people study directly under a Shihan\Senior and vetran teacher. Others learn with a 1st Kyu leading their study group.

Seminar may have different purpose. Some seminars are aimed as an internal organization "social event" letting memers of all branches know each other. Other Seminars are pre-focused on some technical element (be it weapons or some principle). And others are entirely disperesed according to the teachers momentary decision. Further, some seminars are aimed mostly at advanding students of a certain level.

The participants level in a seminar varies.

Your teacher consideration of the Seminar. Does your teacher particpate in the seminar? Does he lead the group in memorizing and internalizing the ideas he captured in the seminar? Do you have othes to practice those principles with?

Your experince with the above combination almost determines your feelings and impressions on seminars.

Most of the Seminars I participated in were orgenized by my teacher, whom belongs to the senior side of the loop. Still, all were rather small, and I was senior enough to get preferntial first hand experiance with the teachers. Further, my teacher adhered to almost all the things the visiting Shihans showed in those seminars. Thus, I can easily say I learnt a lot from seminars, while I do not dedicate my life to Aikido.


There are no "Learn the secrets of Aikido" in a weekend seminar. That's a fantasy. Yet, that's how many of them are promoted and that's why they are pursued.
OSU
If anyone does as you wrote, he is missleading on the border of deciet. The ONLY way to learn the "secrets of Aikido" (or any M.A.) is to practice a lot, and then some more. A good teacher can help you ingaining some shortcuts, same goes for the greatest Shihan. M.A. is a thing to learn via practice. The teachers give you corrections and ideas, but you must be ready for you to even be able to try and adopt them.

Amir

jim312uav
06-04-2008, 07:46 AM
For the vast majority of students, studying aikido is not something they can do 24 hours a day. To them aikido is something that they do part time and then they have to deal with life as it happens. Family, friends, job etc. Almost every single person that I have meet who has gone to a seminar has had fun, seen some of the greats, and has been given some tips that within a week disappear because they are to busy living their lives. .

Alright, well let's see first to me this comes off pretty damn inflammatory. But to answer your question. I am a normal person with a full time job, spouse and soon to be ten month old son (oh and two very demanding beagles).

For me, as your "normal" person, I get a lot out of seminars. Yes, there have been a couple where I have gotten less out of then others but I always get something that helps to develop my aikido. If I didn't, to be blunt, I wouldn't bother to spend the money (as a "normal person," I or more likely my wife would be wanting the dollars to be going somewhere else).

My personal take on seminars is you should be going into them with an open mind and be accepting of what is being shown (meaning do things the way they are shown rather then how you are use to). Otherwise why the hell are you there? I find people who come out saying they have gotten nothing from a seminar are generally the ones that show up and do everything just the way they would at their own dojo. Sorry but then you aren't going to get anything out of it except a social experience.

Jorge Garcia
06-04-2008, 08:56 AM
Although I am deeply respectful of the teachers that I have seen at a few of the seminars I've been to, I really don't think I've learned anything "special" that my own sensei hasn't already taught me. My own belief is that these are merely opportunities to see the "rock stars" of aikido, as it were. For those that make a concerted effort to actually decide to start training with these men and women on a regular basis because they have something that they want is one thing. To all others, it just seems to be so much fan worship. You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars. Its great to meet new people and all, but I think the value of these seminars are no more important than the average Trek convention.:straightf

Osu

I think the answer has come out in all the answers. I have felt for years that the seminars are for Aikido and not for the participants. I think that they are a networking point for the leaders of Aikido to get to see in one room what the general population of Aikido is doing. It also helps to support the major teachers and we are all exposed to some different things. It is always good when those who are ordinarily not together get together.Seminars are a sacrifice to go to financially and in a learning sense but they get us out of our comfort zones and broaden our perspective as well. I think you have some good points but as in other oft asked questions, this one has an answer that is not easily found.

In a seminar, Aikido people are exposed to new training partners. For those in a small dojo, being in a seminar can be enlightening and give a great opportunity to learn from another Aikidoist rather than the teacher. Many people have given me one word of help that has stayed with me for years that I have not gotten again. When I was 5th kyu, Reed Fowler of the MAF said a quick word to me about a technique that has stayed with me for 15 years.

Learning is a much vaunted thing. I am surprised how little we learn from day to day in the dojo. I have had to see or image my Shihan for 10 years seeing him only in seminars but finally, I am doing some things he does through the image alone. His seminars for me are paying off years later as my skill and knowledge has increased, I can do some things now that I have seen him do and that learning curve may continue long after he is gone as most of the Shihan who saw O Sensei may testify of as well.

It seems though that you are frustrated at a lower level of sorts. We were always told to train with people we had never trained with before. That was always enlightening and helpful to me. Another thing was that after our seminars in our dojo, they always had everyone that went present to the group one new thing they had learned and it was amazing what came out collectively form the group! I think our Sensei was helped by what he heard as well because that told him where everyone was at.

Where you do have a point is here. That if you attend a seminar of a person you don't know well and he has an involved and complicated system, it is impossible to duplicate or even fathom what he is doing but then there are other good reasons to be there and as we grow and progress, we can get it later. If the higher level people have been helped though by bringing the master to where the group can benefit from him, then we have all been helped, whether we know it or not.
Best wishes,
Jorge

raul rodrigo
06-04-2008, 09:04 AM
I've had a lot of breakthroughs at seminars, so I can't complain. If you think that the seminars you've attended haven't lived up to your expectations in terms of learning, then perhaps you might want take a second look at your expectations, or how you go about learning. I think the learning is there for you to pick up. My mentor in grad school used to say to me: "When the student is ready, the Buddha will come."

best,

RAUL

Ron Tisdale
06-04-2008, 10:14 AM
I mentioned specifics in my post of things I personally took away from seminars as recent as last October, and as distant as 2 or 3 years ago.

Gee, I must be slipping... :D

Best,
Ron

aikispike
06-04-2008, 12:00 PM
You simply are NOT going to learn anything of value at these seminars. Its great to meet new people and all,

Osu

ya... i go mostly for the beer and pizza.

Dathan Camacho
06-04-2008, 01:16 PM
Amir wrote:
Teachers are not the same level. Some people study directly under a Shihan\Senior and vetran teacher. Others learn with a 1st Kyu leading their study group.

This has been a primary driver for me.

My first instructor didn't consider himself a veteran so he strongly encouraged us to attend any seminars possible.

My second instructor was a shihan and I didn't attend any seminars during my time with him (not even his seminars! :o )

My current dojo operates like a study group, where the class is usually led by mudansha and our instructor visits periodically. I didn't realize it till this thread, but I believe I'm watching the seminar link more closely as a result. Any opportunity to train with our instructor or other veterans is a treat I've learned to appreciate!

Please host more seminar's in Kansas City, Tulsa, Dallas, or Little Rock please...or Fayetteville Arkansas! ;)

Joseph Madden
06-05-2008, 02:47 PM
Excellent point Jorge and well taken. If these seminars make money for the senseis and their respective dojos, than so be it. We all know you don't get rich teaching aikido. And its great to meet and greet and see the difference between the various training methods and schools of thought with regards to aikido. In my own dojo I train to defend myself. My sensei is, in his words, "a simple self defense guy". That's why I train with him and only him. If you see something at a seminar that you want to pursue and take your training elsewhere, go to. Someone very wise once said, all the great martial art masters stole from the best. I guess because I have the best, I don't see the point in going to a seminar. Except for fan worship.

OSU

lbb
06-05-2008, 03:47 PM
I guess because I have the best, I don't see the point in going to a seminar. Except for fan worship.

I suppose if you went, then, it would be a case of fan worship.

HL1978
06-05-2008, 03:50 PM
I sure did at the one I was at last weekend.

You could learn from the formal instruction offered/tips.

You can learn because you get to play with different bodytypes/backgrounds than your dojomates.

Both are very valuable.

Mike Sigman
06-05-2008, 04:53 PM
I suppose if you went, then, it would be a case of fan worship.Ah, Mary. You are still my idol, after all these years. Never change... you're the best of all of us from the old rec.martial-arts days. ;)

Carl Thompson
06-05-2008, 10:04 PM
How many of us have seen a technique 1000 times and then on the 1001 time had a light go off? I know I have.

“All memories are not created equal. I was at the front of a large room chairing a session at a scientific meeting in Portland, Oregon when someone came into the room and handed me a slip of paper. The message said simply that President Kennedy had been shot.”
‘Memory and Emotion’, James McGaugh 2003

The creation of vivid, lasting memories has been termed by psychologists as ‘Flashbulb Memory’.

Dazzler
06-06-2008, 05:43 AM
ya... i go mostly for the beer and pizza.

....good choice.

I'm not convinced that you can learn too much in a seminar - although its not inconceivable that you just might pick up some seed that if cultivated in your own dojo could change everything.

What I do know is that the hands on practice you get with others can tell you a lot about them or their Aikido.

I've met a few Aikiweb chaps on courses over the years and some hands on soon clears up who is good with words and who is good in practice.

I don't expect too much from courses - If I get something thats cool and if not I'll enjoy these secondary benefits of good company, good fun and hopefully good beer.

Cheers

D

CitoMaramba
06-06-2008, 06:26 AM
I can say from personal experience that Daren is great fun to be with during seminars :D
I'll see you at Bath in August, Daren!

Cito

Dazzler
06-06-2008, 06:53 AM
I can say from personal experience that Daren is great fun to be with during seminars :D
I'll see you at Bath in August, Daren!

Cito

Cheers Cito.

Met some good people on the kobayashi courses so thumbs up to Jeff and Mac.

I see Mac has forgotten his tai sabaki and is a selected instructor for BAB annual course.

I'll be there to see how his Bristol flavour goes down. :)

All the best

D

lbb
06-06-2008, 08:44 AM
Ah, Mary. You are still my idol, after all these years. Never change... you're the best of all of us from the old rec.martial-arts days. ;)

And I'm still a thief -- I stole the estimable Ms. Radner's circus ponies. Damn, but they come in handy! :D

How's things with you, Mike?

phitruong
06-06-2008, 08:46 AM
learn good at every seminar, even the bad ones (what not to do). shoshin, mushin and zanshin apply to learning, is it not?

shoshin - leave your previous martial arts experiences at the door
mushin - assume nothing (just because folks wear white belt doesn't mean their experiences are white belt, same go for black belt)
zanshin - aware of everything (including your own ego)

jennifer paige smith
06-06-2008, 10:07 AM
. Aikido "stars" are far more generous then Rock and Roll stars.
if your open to it.

Not these rock starts. ::) STS9....... http://sts9.com/?page_id=6.

Scott Stahurski
06-06-2008, 11:09 AM
I've got to throw in my 2 cents here for what its worth (2 cents? :)

In training in a seminar, even though you you may not learn something new, and the technique may be old hat, practicing with people outside of your dojo always has its merits. I came from a small dojo, where there was never more than a handful of people, and after a while, you do get tired of the lack of diversity. But in a seminar, where you might run into that 6'5" 250 lb partner, your practice changes greatly....as well as your ukemi.

Also, with seminars, you will learn something new, guaranteed, unless you are only going to your own dojo's or groups ...I don't think I can even count the different ways of Irimi nage I have seen.
And if you dont see this, then I would suggest that you do go outside of your dojo's affiliation and you will see a lot of different things.....

Also, take the attitude in a seminar to mimic what that instructor is doing, not what you know the technique to be....

I've seen great diversity in every seminar, even among sensei and student. I've taken a LOT of tricks, and even laughed at times when I went back to my home dojo and showed what I had learned and placed it into practice.....doing that is so much fun and only can add to the depth of your dojo and your aikido.

Sorry I just cant see your viewpoint

Joseph Madden
06-06-2008, 02:38 PM
learn good at every seminar, even the bad ones (what not to do). shoshin, mushin and zanshin apply to learning, is it not?

shoshin - leave your previous martial arts experiences at the door
mushin - assume nothing (just because folks wear white belt doesn't mean their experiences are white belt, same go for black belt)
zanshin - aware of everything (including your own ego)

shoshin-Impossible. You CANNOT leave your previous martial arts experience at the door. I don't care how good you think you are.

mushin-Assume nothing. Fair enough.

zanshin-I'm aware of the egos in the room and the fan worship, myself included. I'm also aware that there's not enough space to move.

OSU

Joseph Madden
06-06-2008, 02:51 PM
I've got to throw in my 2 cents here for what its worth (2 cents? :)

In training in a seminar, even though you you may not learn something new, and the technique may be old hat, practicing with people outside of your dojo always has its merits. I came from a small dojo, where there was never more than a handful of people, and after a while, you do get tired of the lack of diversity. But in a seminar, where you might run into that 6'5" 250 lb partner, your practice changes greatly....as well as your ukemi.

Also, with seminars, you will learn something new, guaranteed, unless you are only going to your own dojo's or groups ...I don't think I can even count the different ways of Irimi nage I have seen.
And if you dont see this, then I would suggest that you do go outside of your dojo's affiliation and you will see a lot of different things.....

Also, take the attitude in a seminar to mimic what that instructor is doing, not what you know the technique to be....

I've seen great diversity in every seminar, even among sensei and student. I've taken a LOT of tricks, and even laughed at times when I went back to my home dojo and showed what I had learned and placed it into practice.....doing that is so much fun and only can add to the depth of your dojo and your aikido.

Sorry I just cant see your viewpoint

So,
Your teacher allows you do start doing techniques in class that are completely contrary to the way he teaches you. Also, this idea of diversity. Does everybody come from a dojo where everyone is the same size and shape? And moves the same way? I guess my dojo isn't as cookie cutter as some others. The only thing I have ever taken away from a seminar was where I was invited by one of my senior instructors to an aikikai seminar to see how they move and do techniques in comparison to yoshinkan. Some of the students actually decided to study yoshinkan and left their dojo. No one decided to study aikikai. Nuff said.
This is the last time I'll be replying to my original post.

Seminars- Have fun, drink beer, eat food, meet new people, make some money for the dojo, sweat, recruit some newcomers. As far as learning is concerned......I learn who can handle hashi. I learn who has bigger egos. I've learned that you can't turn a sows ear into a silk purse. For those of you that rely on seminars to augment your training because you come from a small dojo, than yes, you may actually come away with some knowledge (depending on how many seminars you go to). But, a two to three day seminar three times a year......

OSU

Ron Tisdale
06-06-2008, 03:13 PM
Talking about big egos...

Nuff said.

Best,
Ron

edshockley
06-06-2008, 04:06 PM
I am a musican and have played a tune like "Autumn Leaves" since childhood. I still discover new chord progressions, rhythmic possibilities, voicings, etc. every time I sit down to practice. When I stop to listen to a master like, say, the late Oscar Peterson then my entire conception of the song is expanded or exploded. This is what an Aikido seminar is. Anything less is more likely a comment upon myself and not the instructor.

Al Gutierrez
06-06-2008, 05:23 PM
Joseph,

I'm impressed, you must really know a lot for a nidan!

Perhaps if you think can't learn much of value from seminars, then you should start teaching some? I'm sure lot's of folks would like to learn from somebody who's reached such a level.

Perhaps you could also join in the discussions of internal strength and give us your take on ki & kokyu since most folks seem to agree that Gozo Shioda and some of his better deshi had/have at least some goods in that department?

Al Gtz.

Buck
06-07-2008, 12:06 AM
So, your going to learn how to play like a great rock guitarist at a seminar?
Remember, we are talking about a SEMINAR. And, if you paid attention to my original post you will see that I state that meeting new people is great. I'm not saying that they aren't fun. I'm stating that if you want to truly learn something of any great significance, you won't find it at a seminar. Becoming great at aikido requires more than being merely a fan.

OSU
And if you felt that having a shihan threaten your life as something significant and worthwhile, than......:disgust:

A seminar is an opportunity to learn. If an Aikido "star" is doing the seminar his or she is there to teach. How it is taught or what someone gets out of it, is an individual experience. Even if the Sensei sits in a corner never uttering a word, or making a move, I still learn. Yep, from the people around me. Has this ever happened to me, nope. Have I ever disagreed on how the seminar was taught, yep. Was I being limited in my perspective then, yep. If I change my perspective it allows a different angle of learning that I might not have exercised before. Yes, there has been times where I was limited in my thinking and disagreed or wasn't satisfied. But, when I change my perspeceptive it was a wind fall of learning.


I seen on Youtube where Segovia was giving a seminar and all he was doing was admonishing and being overly nit-picky and rudely critical of the players. The students didn't leave in hoards after they watch and heard Segovia rip into and apart the first guitarist to pieces. Nope it was just the opposite, they were eager to go next, to be thrown in the jaws of the lion. Did the learn something, you darn tootin' they did.

It is all about perspective. You can live your life jaded and angry, or not. Life is what you make it. :)

Buck
06-07-2008, 12:25 AM
Joseph,

I can respect your views, I may not agree with them based on that I am a different person and I have had different experiences. I think you got a thorn in your foot.

What gives you the sense that everyone shares the same experience as you do, or sees seminars the same way you do?

We all learn at different rates, have different goals and reasons for doing Aikido, and going to seminars. Shouldn't that be respected?

If we stop and think for a moment and collate all our bad days where we didn't learn anything in the dojo, and didn't look at all the good productive days no one would be doing Aikido.

Sometimes it isn't them (Aikido "Star"), but it is us who have done more damage to ourselves because of our attitudes, because of our unwillingness to be flexible-only wanting it our way, our expectations, and our inability to put ourselves in others shoes. Sometimes it is about us, our selfishness, our self absorbed obsession of our needs and wants, and how we think things should be. Sometimes it isn't them at all, but us. The us who doesn't look in the mirror, or realize it isn't all about us.

Scott Stahurski
06-08-2008, 03:00 PM
So,
Your teacher allows you do start doing techniques in class that are completely contrary to the way he teaches you.

Aikido is a learning experience, and there are several interpretations....why would you go to a seminar to 'forget' what you have learned? Maybe you learn something about a technique that your instructor didn't know...doesn't mean you have to keep it to yourself....maybe your instructor entierly forgot some minor detail....the list could go on.

If your instructor said that his/her was the 'only' way I'd start looking for another dojo....if there is anything that I have learned about Budo is that you cant know everything.


Also, this idea of diversity. Does everybody come from a dojo where everyone is the same size and shape? And moves the same way? I guess my dojo isn't as cookie cutter as some others.


Lucky you! You can find everything in one dojo! Small dojos can get a little flat....reason 1 to go to a seminar.


The only thing I have ever taken away from a seminar was where I was invited by one of my senior instructors to an aikikai seminar to see how they move and do techniques in comparison to yoshinkan.

So maybe you did learn something from a seminar....

CNYMike
06-09-2008, 01:24 AM
..... I don't see the point in going to a seminar ....

Then don't go to seminars. If you're not required to go and you don't want to go, then don't go. Makes sense to me. Me, I got in the habit of going to seminars with Sifu Dan Inosato and Sifu Fracis Fong and others whil doing Kali, so it's not big deal for me to go to an Aikido seminar. That's me. You go your way, I go mine. Live and let live.

Dazzler
06-09-2008, 06:10 AM
Joseph,

I'm impressed, you must really know a lot for a nidan!

Perhaps if you think can't learn much of value from seminars, then you should start teaching some? I'm sure lot's of folks would like to learn from somebody who's reached such a level.

Perhaps you could also join in the discussions of internal strength and give us your take on ki & kokyu since most folks seem to agree that Gozo Shioda and some of his better deshi had/have at least some goods in that department?

Al Gtz.

Have to say I find this a bit sarky.

And when did grade have any bearing on what people are allowed to post here?

Of course its a free forum - anyone can post what they like as long as its inoffensive..so you are entitled to post what you like Al..

I'd just like to say I personally prefer to see people discuss the relative merits of varying forms of training.

In my opinion posts like the one above contribute nothing other than to make me exit this thread.

D

natasha cebek
06-09-2008, 06:19 AM
Once upon a time in my training I was given these great words of wisdom. " If you can take one thing home from a seminar, no matter how big or small-good, you've learned something" and to this day, I apply this idea in every aspect of my life.

"Does anyone truly "learn" anything at a seminar?"
Perhaps, you should open your own Dojo - apparently you have mastered all the basics (as well as the hundreds of layers, within each technique)
My favorite classes are the beginners classes. Advance classes are great, but a beginners class is a gold mine.

lbb
06-09-2008, 09:36 AM
Of course its a free forum - anyone can post what they like as long as its inoffensive..so you are entitled to post what you like Al..

I'd just like to say I personally prefer to see people discuss the relative merits of varying forms of training.

In my opinion posts like the one above contribute nothing other than to make me exit this thread.

Well, if you've already exited, you won't read this...but I think there's a valid point to be made about beating a dead horse:

1. Person A says, "Category X activity is NFG."
2. Persons B through Z give counterexamples and counter-arguments, all the while conceding that certainly, some instances of category X activity can be pretty bogus.
3. Person A says, "No, no, no, it's all totally NFG."

I don't think anyone expects to convince Joseph of the value of seminars. My own comment, which you could also label as snarky, was intended to point out that if you approach a situation expecting a negative outcome, and you expect to see certain flaws, you're very likely to "see" them and have a negative experience. It is almost impossible to have a positive experience in a situation that you are convinced will be otherwise...which would seem to indicate that you ought to stop belaboring the point and just not have anything to do with that situation.

Dazzler
06-09-2008, 10:31 AM
Well, if you've already exited, you won't read this...but I think there's a valid point to be made about beating a dead horse:

1. Person A says, "Category X activity is NFG."
2. Persons B through Z give counterexamples and counter-arguments, all the while conceding that certainly, some instances of category X activity can be pretty bogus.
3. Person A says, "No, no, no, it's all totally NFG."

I don't think anyone expects to convince Joseph of the value of seminars. My own comment, which you could also label as snarky, was intended to point out that if you approach a situation expecting a negative outcome, and you expect to see certain flaws, you're very likely to "see" them and have a negative experience. It is almost impossible to have a positive experience in a situation that you are convinced will be otherwise...which would seem to indicate that you ought to stop belaboring the point and just not have anything to do with that situation.

Hi

I came back..just can't keep away I guess. although I did exit so that makes me a man of my word!

Its a free forum Mary - everyone can write what they like and if they want to put a sarky ...(as in sarcastic...is that the same as snarky?) ...slant on it thats cool.

I just prefer it to be wrapped around some argument or counterargument.

Sarky on its own just winds me up a bit.

As a subject I think this is quite an interesting thread - in my own experience I come from an organisation with good structure in teaching and development of students, we have long term strategies in place to develop students and have our own high grade teachers with a lesson to deliver.

Consequently we are not overly reliant on external seminars - I go to plenty to validate my own Aikido, to pick up some hidden gems and to enjoy myself, but I dont expect an instant panacea to my aikido ills...which are plenty.

These require long term treatment mostly within our own organisation.

But I accept that there are others with a different model - years ago when the likes of Tamura came to us on a regular basis we fell over ourselves to get to his seminars and then spent months chewing over tapes of his stuff trying to understand.

I think this has been a good thread so far with different opinions presented , mostly with some validity.

as for your own comment ..I'll dig down for it once I've commited this message and have a read...I thought it would be nearer the bottom of this thread so could refer back to it...Would you like me to let you know if I consider it snarky?

Sounds like you had something to say so I probably wouldn't object to it though.

Happy days.

D

Marc Abrams
06-09-2008, 01:18 PM
We are PRIMARILY responsible for OUR learning. It is tiresome to hear people complain about what they do not learn with a teacher, in a class, in a seminar,......

I would respectfully ask us to be responsible for our learning. When we do not learn something from a class, a person, a seminar...., it is HIGHLY LIKELY that our minds were simply not open enough to learn. The poster who talked about Shoshin was right on target. I have two philosophical pillars at my school: SHOSHIN- Beginner's Mind (KEEP IT OPEN TO LEARNING); MUSHIN- Empty Mind (KEEP IT CLEAR SO YOU ACTUALLY HAVE ROOM TO LEARN).

If someone cannot learn from a particular person or venue, maybe that person should first address their own issues as to why they are not open to learning, before seeking to place onus/responsibility elsewhere.

Marc Abrams

crbateman
06-09-2008, 03:24 PM
I have two philosophical pillars at my school: SHOSHIN- Beginner's Mind (KEEP IT OPEN TO LEARNING); MUSHIN- Empty Mind (KEEP IT CLEAR SO YOU ACTUALLY HAVE ROOM TO LEARN).These are two of the five fundamental "spirits" of budo (shoshin, zanshin, mushin, fudoshin, and senshin). There must be a good reason...

lbb
06-09-2008, 03:41 PM
Hi

I came back..just can't keep away I guess. although I did exit so that makes me a man of my word!

Its a free forum Mary - everyone can write what they like and if they want to put a sarky ...(as in sarcastic...is that the same as snarky?) ...slant on it thats cool.

It's a free forum up to a point -- there is moderation. It's not "hold hands and sing kumbaya" moderation though."

I just prefer it to be wrapped around some argument or counterargument.

Even if the argument is one you've made before, and that has been ignored? I think that at times (not always) in this thread, OP was guilty of hand-waving away these arguments and examples and just saying, "Naaah, seminars suck," rather than addressing these points. I understand that he's speaking from a place of frustration; OTOH, when you put out a question or raise an issue in a public forum, don't you owe it to those who give you a serious answer to consider what they say? If you don't do so, are you really engaging in the discussion that the forum was intended for, or are you instead creating a thread for your own soapbox?

Ron Tisdale
06-09-2008, 04:21 PM
I call SoapBox, all the way. But hey, that's just me...

Best,
Ron (trying not to be sarky, or snarky) :D

Bill Danosky
06-09-2008, 05:13 PM
I'm a nidan in Yoshinkan aikido.

Different people really do experience events in different ways. I have to suppose that a nidan in Yoshinkan Aikido studying in Canada has attended Robert Mustard and Jim Jeannette, Senseis' seminars.

Personally, I can list many things I saw for the first time and developed a good grasp of at both their clinics. But more than anything I learned to have a huge respect for Aikido.

As a result of attending seventh dan instructor's workshops, I've had the opportunity to actually partner with fourth dan instructors for whole afternoons and learned lots that way, too.

So even though it's fun to party with the rockstars- (because c'mon- Robert Mustard Sensei is what- maybe the Gene Simmons of Aikido?) I can honestly say I go for the right reasons (too).

Dathan Camacho
06-09-2008, 06:12 PM
Gene Simmons?! LOL :yuck:

Basia Halliop
06-10-2008, 11:41 AM
So don't go to seminars.

I'm not really seeing the problem.

Personally, the times I've gone I liked getting a couple of hours of classes with a slightly different teacher's take on similar stuff to what mine teaches (they may explain the same thing slightly differently, or have a different body type, or whatever), and with some training partners I'd never met before. It was an interesting experience. If that isn't your experience, though, just don't go...

There, I solved your problem and saved you some money too :)

CarrieP
06-12-2008, 11:06 AM
Maybe I'm too new, but I'm not quite getting how a seminar is all that different from a regular dojo practice.

I have only been to one seminar, so I'm not speaking with a ton of experience or authority here. Which is why I'd like to get others' perspectives.

From my perspective, a seminar is like a class in that there's someone leading the teaching, there's demonstration of technique, there's time to practice the technique and get observed and corrected by the instructor.

A seminar is different because the instructor (and way he teaches) is different, the aikido style might be different, the people you work with will be different and probably larger in number.

So how is this, fundamentally, any different than daily training?

CarrieP
06-12-2008, 11:08 AM
Also, I need to stick up for the value of Star Trek conventions. (Only somewhat tongue-in-cheek.)

The enthusiasm of Trekkies is what kept the franchise going in the nearly 20 years between the cancellation of the series and the first movie. Without that, there would be no Star Trek as we know it. So the Star Trek conventions is a celebration of that esprit de corps and a way to keep the fans of the show motivated and energized.

(And yes, I'm a Star Trek Fan :D)

Dazzler
06-12-2008, 11:26 AM
Maybe I'm too new, but I'm not quite getting how a seminar is all that different from a regular dojo practice.

I have only been to one seminar, so I'm not speaking with a ton of experience or authority here. Which is why I'd like to get others' perspectives.

From my perspective, a seminar is like a class in that there's someone leading the teaching, there's demonstration of technique, there's time to practice the technique and get observed and corrected by the instructor.

A seminar is different because the instructor (and way he teaches) is different, the aikido style might be different, the people you work with will be different and probably larger in number.

So how is this, fundamentally, any different than daily training?

Hi

I can't speak for all dojo's clubs or organisations - but usually my own group conducts classes which are targeted over time towards certain goals.

As an example beginners classes might have a short term goal of grading for 6th kyu after x number of weeks.

Consequently - the individual classes cover the prerequisites to meet this goal and are linked.

Seminars (and I'm thinking external) are not in my experience targetting specific goals over a period of time but are more of a snapshot of practice.

Having said that - for senior students who's targets have simply become 'to practice' then a seminar is probably less different than a normal class except that the Sensei is likely to provide a refreshing change.

So fundamentally not so different for some.

Regards

D

Ron Tisdale
06-12-2008, 11:35 AM
So how is this, fundamentally, any different than daily training?

Hi Carolyn, good posts!

There is a fundamental difference, especially accross styles, but even to some extent between teachers and dojo in the same style.

Think of it this way...if each teacher has thought through what they do in terms of pieces of a puzzle that fit together to create a whole system, then even having a piece that is shared between puzzles, but that is a slightly different shape or size, can throw off completion of the puzzle.

So, we all do basics. And of those basics, let's say stance and pivot are two.

Now, in yoshinkan, in basics, we tend to have a forward weighted stance, and we tend not to enter before we pivot.

Aikikai (in general) has those two same basics...but they are taught a little differently. In my experience, the weight tends to be central or a little back, and I've almost always been told to enter first before pivoting.

These simple differences fit into the larger scheme of waza, methods, strategy and other things. Because these same basics are a certain shape and size, the resulting preferred waza are often just a little to a lot different. If my weight is forward I actually tend to enter more and differently. I move in certain directions better than others...while a different stance might favor different movement. Thus yeilding different preferred waza or methods.

None of this is right or wrong...these are trade offs. In daily training, you get to understand this gradually, and build toward an overall system that has a certain orientation. Seeing other ways of doing these basics and getting a glimpse of an overall system that is different can actually lead to deeper understanding of my chosen system, and martial strategy over all. If I am open to it.

But unless I make a concerted effort, I shouldn't think that one or two or three seminars in a different system is going to make me proficient in that system. Daily training is needed for that.

Best,
Ron

MM
06-12-2008, 12:05 PM
Maybe I'm too new, but I'm not quite getting how a seminar is all that different from a regular dojo practice.

I have only been to one seminar, so I'm not speaking with a ton of experience or authority here. Which is why I'd like to get others' perspectives.

From my perspective, a seminar is like a class in that there's someone leading the teaching, there's demonstration of technique, there's time to practice the technique and get observed and corrected by the instructor.

A seminar is different because the instructor (and way he teaches) is different, the aikido style might be different, the people you work with will be different and probably larger in number.

So how is this, fundamentally, any different than daily training?

Seminars can be vastly different than regular dojo practice and they can be nearly the same. If you go to a seminar within your school, it'll probably be close to what you're learning in your dojo. But, some seminars from outside your school can be very different from what you're learning in your dojo.

In addition to that, the format for seminars can vary, too. If your dojo has 10 people in it, then you're probably getting quite a bit of hands on time with the instructor. If you go to a seminar with 60-100 people, you probably won't get much hands on time with the instructor -- if any.

And then ... along came Jones -- er, um, sorry. Throwback to another era and a song. :) Seriously, and then you have the differences in instructors. If your dojo is led by shodan to yondan (1-4th degree), then going to a seminar and getting hands on with a rokudan (6th degree) can be very different.

In the dojo, the instructor leads a class from the very beginning student through to upper levels, so there's a progression training going on. Some might not notice, but it's there. With a seminar, there might be a progressive training element (as with the AikiWeb seminar, the instructors building off of each other), but it won't be nearly as detailed, time consuming, or exhaustive. A seminar lasts days while dojo training lasts years.

Which is why the original post is not very good in terms of details. It's like saying "aikido sucks". Well, okay, maybe in places it does, but in other places it doesn't. So, the answer isn't nearly as simple as seminars are good -- or even seminars are bad. It's all in the details. :)

rob_liberti
06-13-2008, 08:33 AM
Another thing about seminars is that sometimes you get to run into people who are just cock sure that they know everything and think that they can force their lame technique on everyone. You typically find them dominating the juniors. I love meeting these people and working with them for the rest of the class. You just stay friendly, encouraging, and WITH THEM like luggage. You always take their ukemi, but they are well aware that you are taking it and that they are ineffective. Sometimes they try to escalate and that is always interesting. If you meet someone like that who is a nidan, maybe they have had enough situations like what I would do with them that they just hate seminars now... :) They can always change, but instead they'll just avoid anyone (and any situation where they might meet someone) who might make them think about their need to change.

Rob

Basia Halliop
06-13-2008, 10:38 AM
But unless I make a concerted effort, I shouldn't think that one or two or three seminars in a different system is going to make me proficient in that system. Daily training is needed for that.

I have gone to only a couple of seminars so far, but one thing I have found cool about a few of them was the opportunity to train with other highly experienced teachers who trained very similarly (same school or whatever). So it had more of the feel, to me, of looking at the same thing from a new angle than like looking at a different thing.

Comparable to training with different more senior students in my own dojo, except that at seminars a similar thing was replicated at a higher level of experience and skill...

G Sinclair
06-13-2008, 04:23 PM
While I rarely post any replies this topic becons feedback. Not that I am trying to convince Mr. Madden of anything his mind seems quite made up, but instead this is directed more at anyone whom reads this thread and thinks,
'Hmmm, maybe I will just skip this upcoming seminar."

I recently signed up for a seminar with Toyoda sensei. I have always been a big fan of his aikido and take every opportunity to spend time on the mat with him. When I arrived at the seminar, I was excited and ready to get down to three days of Aikido. I was stunned when another guy walked out on the mat and bowed us in. He identified himself as Frank Gallo and apologized that Toyoda sensei could not make it. I was instantly deflated. Not only was I not going to get to pick of the brain of one of my favorites, I did not even know who this guy was. In any case, I figured it was Aikido and I would just try to enjoy what he had to offer.

Boy was I stunned when I took ukemi for Gallo sensei. The way he moved and just 'disappeared' opened my eyes. While I had been going through the motions of Aikido for years I felt like I never really understood it until that moment. By following what seemed to be minor corrections he offered my technique changed drastically. Suddenly my arms became loose and relaxed, my posture straightened and my technique seemed to be far more fluent and based in my feet.

I am not sure Gallo Sensei even noticed what to me, felt like a huge tranfiguration, but I can not wait to see him again to thank him.
I have always believed I can learn something from anyone. Now more than ever I know that to be true.

So while some may find nothing of interest on the mat with "the greats's" sharing thier knowledge and expirence, others may discover 'the way'

Jennifer Yabut
06-14-2008, 07:29 PM
I love seminars. Can't get enough of them; I've been to ten (not counting the USAF Summer Camp; I was only there for a day) since last summer.

I didn't really see the value in seminars when I first started Aikido, because I was too busy trying to get the "basics" down pat. I attended a couple hosted by my dojo, but didn't travel to outside seminars until I tested for 3rd kyu - and felt *slightly* more comfortable with my ukemi and overall technique. Since my dojo doesn't have any female blackbelts (yet), I specifically wanted to train with female instructors. Four of the seminars I attended over the past year were run by women instructors (Lia Suzuki, Barbara Britton plus two other women teachers, Lorraine DiAnne, Jane Ozeki). I found those seminars to be especially helpful in my training; men and women *teach* differently, and *move* differently.

Overall, I've felt like I *learned* something from every seminar I attended. Being able to work with others *outside* my dojo was useful unto itself. Oh yeah...the social aspect rocks too; I've made some new friends along the way. :)

Marc Abrams
06-15-2008, 09:14 AM
Every class should be different. Every seminar should be different. It is only when we get into the lazy habit of not keeping an open mind and beginner's mind, that we begin to think that things seem the same and we question whether we are learning anything.

WE are responsible to be our own best teachers. If we keep and open mind and beginner's mind, we will look at every class, every seminar, every turn as nage, every turn as uke as an opportunity to learn something new about what we are doing. Our teachers are our guides. If we are not open to learning, do not expect them to be open to our progress.

Maybe we can work hard at refocusing on our personal responsibility to be our own best teachers. Ask yourself to look harder at what you do, what your teacher does and what your partner does. If you are still seeing the same thing, your mind is probably closed.

Marc Abrams

Dennis Hooker
06-19-2008, 11:56 AM
I for one taking teaching seriously, when I teach a seminar I have a teaching plan for each class and I try and make sure the people paying me to teach get their monies worth. A few months ago I was teaching at a seminar and after it was over one of the students who had been training for about a year came up and informed me he understood most of what I was saying and could actually do much of the stuff I taught to some extent. Then he said a while back we had **** Sensei here and he did stuff I could never hope to do. Man what a great teacher he is. Some people go to a seminar in hopes of seeing a great performance and that is what they pay for, some go looking to be taught and that is what they are paying for. If you want a performance I will give it for free. There are people like George Ledyard and I and many others that give a lot a thought to class plans and teaching curriculum and it is a fact that there are a lot of people that want to impress folks with their skill and are not very good teachers.

rob_liberti
06-19-2008, 12:17 PM
Seems like the most reasonable thing to do is annouce on the seminar flyers what is planned in terms of teaching. Wehn I teach class, the plan is do basics, evaluate what the worst skill level is in the class, and teach to that person primarily. I then go around and help people individually if I think they are in a place where they would be open to another suggestion. I gave up trying to force learning on people a long time ago.

When I do seminars, I tend not to do that too much. I think about what is the most important aspect of aikido that is typically missing that I have to give. Then I explain it, show it, highlight it in techniques, and come up with drills to focus on it - then go back to waza so people can feel the difference for themselves. If it seems to haven gotten threw, then I thnk of the next most important aspect that I have that seems to be missing and do that one in the same way.

People tend to get a repuation for what they do at seminars and that gets them invited/re-invited or not. I gave a great seminar in my mind once and a couple years later noticed I hadn't been invited back. Didn't hurt my feelings. I only want to put my time into people open to what I have to give. My approach seems to shake up complacency. But maybe they just didn't like my personality. That's fine too. I'd rather be learning than teaching anyay. I only teach when asked becuase I feel obligated to give back - when asked.

Rob

jonreading
06-19-2008, 12:48 PM
I once heard an instructor say during a seminar, "I am not here to teach you aikido. I will not show you a technique you can learn in two or three classes. Your instructor's job is to teach you aikido. My job is to show you something from another perspective; to make you think differently about something you may have seen before. Or, make you think about something you have not seen before."

I think seminars are worth their money only if you learn something. I thank the instructors who think about their seminars and engage the students - its harder than we sometimes give them credit for...

Dennis Hooker
06-19-2008, 01:02 PM
Hello Jon. That does ring a bell, and it is true. Drop me a private email and update me on things will you?

Stefan Stenudd
06-19-2008, 03:18 PM
Then he said a while back we had **** Sensei here and he did stuff I could never hope to do. Man what a great teacher he is.
I've been to many of **** Sensei's seminars :D

Actually, the experience of a teacher impossible to copy is a learning experience, too - but of course, only if that skill is accomplished through long and diligent training.
People are easy to impress, especially if I am the teacher and set the rules. That's not interesting at all.
Those who truly excel, they give me something that helps me develop my own aikido - even when I hardly understand what they are doing.

On the other hand, and I guess that is what Dennis is aiming at - a great teacher is not the one who impresses the students, but makes them excel.

Mike Sigman
06-19-2008, 03:53 PM
I think seminars are worth their money only if you learn something. My personal thinking for years, whenever I do a workshop, is that if the student doesn't leave being able to do something he couldn't do when he came in the door, then I wasted his time and he wasted his money. When someone says, "I went to a workshop by so-and-so and it was such a good workshop", I always say (not meanly; very politely and with interest) "show me what he taught you to do".

Too often people go to workshops for cameraderie and social aspects... when they'd probably have been better off if they'd spent that time in solo exercises. Right now there are a couple of workshops that I'd like to go to by some very high-level teachers, but I force myself to stay home and work out because I already know far more than I've taken the time to practice and acquire.

Taking the time to do the exercises and motivating yourself to do them correctly is like "going to heaven".... everyone wants to do it, but not just yet. ;)

YMMV

Mike