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Simone Chierchini
11-08-2008, 08:33 AM
At least once every Aikido practitioner has had the opportunity to explain something to a partner during practice. This article will start from this simple and common act in order to give students clear information about teaching.
Traditionally in Martial Arts the Master is the unquestioned head of the school. Teaching passes directly from him to the pupils through personal instruction without any assistance. This teaching is based on a method which uses the minimum in terms of concepts and words. The student has to get used to the method of learning using his eyes more than his ears. Western culture, however, is different — we all are used to a rational way of learning and thinking. In Aikido practice the emphasis is put not on the rationalisation of its theory but on the re-awakening of what comes before the rational. Aikido focuses on the discovery of free and spontaneous forces that may sometimes spring out in our daily gestures.
This natural force is the only thing that can save you in case of a sudden attack. This force permits us to find immediately a correct answer for every situation we live daily. Such pre-rational method is based on the diligent and silent observation of every gesture of the Master, both onto the tatami and in daily life. The student repeats what he has learned exactly.
At a certain point in the student's training, what was once only repetition becomes an integral part of his being. At this stage the student is ready to put in practice what he has learned — both physically and spiritually.
It is obvious therefore that in a Martial Art school it is the Master and only the Master who is responsible for the line of the teaching. That is why he is the Master —he is responsible for creating and managing what we could call a sort of transfer. Constant and diligent Aikido practice creates that transfer between instructor and student.
Therefore no one must forget who has in charge of correcting the students' mistakes during the class. This is a basic point and must be kept in mind especially by the students who are practising a few years. Because they still have not much experience, they tend to overcorrect their partners' mistakes even if their partners do not request help. This may be even though they have understood only one part of the technique which may have a thousand aspects.
Living on the tatami the first rule is modesty. I say to former beginners e.g. 3rd Kyu that if the Master of 3rd Dan was to train with them and correct them in the same fussy way they correct the beginners, they would not progress. In comparison to the Master's level they too are doing the technique imperfectly.
Everyone must quietly permit their partners to make mistakes. Instead they must try to understand their own mistakes which surely must be many.
Students must be conscious that the Instructor is checking out and supervising those mistakes and giving the correct and appropriate amount of guidance — at the right time, directly to the student and not through an assistant. Good Instructors do never stop to look after the students and observe everyone's progress daily.
If for a special reason a senior student has to substitute for the Instructor, his duty is to stay as close as possible to the Instructor's way of teaching. One could, for example, repeat what was done in the previous class, giving everyone the opportunity to refresh and fine tune one's technique.
What is unacceptable in a Martial Arts dojo is that in an occasion like that senior students transform the class in a personal "show". This is selfish and a waste of time. It has nothing in common with the actual teaching of the Instructor and fellow students are there to learn his teaching.
The dojo only runs smoothly when there is total respect for everyone's role.

mickeygelum
11-08-2008, 10:05 AM
Mr. Chierchini,

Well said, thanks.

Train well,

Mickey

Jonathan
11-09-2008, 06:10 PM
Not every "Master" ought to be teaching. This thought occurred to me as I read your spiel. In a couple of local instances I can think of this is definitely true. One fellow has the all the people skills of a rabid dog and the other is so megalomaniacal you get the feeling he's surprised that he hasn't yet floated up to heaven in a hazy beam of light. In both cases, transmission of Aikido skills from teacher to student is extremely poor.

I think it would be worthwhile warning students before anything else to evaluate carefully who they choose as their "Master." Being skillful in performance of Aikido doesn't necessarily translate into an ability to pass on that skill.

I would be especially wary of the teacher outside of Japan who strictly imposes the Japanese way of learning on non-Japanese. Forcing non-Japanese to operate within a learning paradigm that plays to the strengths of Japanese is foolish and inefficient. The idea of "stealing techniques" from the teacher, in particular, I think is nonsense and will, ultimately, diminish the art.

Anyway, just a few thoughts that passed through my mind as I read your post.

Take 'er easy!

Jon.

Shany
11-10-2008, 07:37 AM
Even if the master is there to guide you, still learning is up to you. I rather listen to ueshiba's message that training should be fun experience insted of getting hard on your self and enjoy training as a spirit clensing tool.

Russ Q
01-14-2009, 03:49 PM
Well said Simone and a good point from Jonathan. I think once you've chosen the right teacher for you, absolutely you should (as is oft repeated here) shut up and train.....My teacher has always instructed us (on the matter of teaching your partner) to show/teach with your ukemi, to only speak to your partner if you are asked a direct question (answer succinctly & directly and keep moving). She is fond of telling the story of one of her early trips back to Japan. She was "teaching" a lower ranked student who was her partner and her teacher (Morito Suganuma Sensei) tapped her on the shoulder and politely said "If you teach him everything I will have nothing to do...". So, she now likes to make this point clear with her students...and rightly so.

Cheers,

Russ

PhilMyKi
10-30-2009, 07:28 AM
Just a thought as I really should be doing what I am paid to do! But it is Friday afternoon :)

Over the past few months there have been a few people at my dojo that like to share their own particular / peculiar spin on what sensei has been showing. I can neither confirm nor deny if I am a culprit, but I do make an effort to call over sensei if my partner is having issues rather than relay my own understanding. Last night when there were only seven people going through jo suburi and three voices ‘instructing'! The instructor quite rightly pointed out that he should be the only one teaching and focus should be on him.

I got to thinking last night, how do you deal with a training partner that insists on lecturing. I have tried avoidance and / or deafness. Sometimes the instructor on the night will intervene, but they can not catch it every time. I personally do care for what one culprit says most of the time, I am happy in my own little world with a good bunch of people who can show as much as they tell. But what do you do if you see someone lecturing without qualification.

Shadowfax
10-30-2009, 07:44 AM
Really nice post and very well put. I always appreciate feedback form my partners but sometimes it can go a little overboard. Generally I think that the "lecturer" is just so excited about what they have learned that they can't help trying to share it. They forget their place.


But what do you do if you see someone lecturing without qualification.

I let them have their say, usually tune them out, and then when they are done I go back to working on what the teacher told us to work on. ;) Its a great excercise in patience. And sensei will more than likely handle it if it needs to be handled.

mickeygelum
10-30-2009, 07:45 AM
(snip)...how do you deal with a training partner that insists on lecturing....

As the Old Aikido sage once uttered, " Shut up and train!" ;)

Train well,

Mickey

drabson
10-30-2009, 09:31 AM
I got to thinking last night, how do you deal with a training partner that insists on lecturing.

This happened to a friend of mine at a seminar, amusingly after we had been talking about the exact same problem on the drive up there. She let him finish whatever sage advice he was giving and then said, "You do your thing and I'll do mine". All was fine after that :)

PhilMyKi
10-30-2009, 09:37 AM
This happened to a friend of mine at a seminar, amusingly after we had been talking about the exact same problem on the drive up there. She let him finish whatever sage advice he was giving and then said, "You do your thing and I'll do mine". All was fine after that :)

Pretty much what I think to myself! :D But, they sometimes never get the hint and they move onto another 'victim'!:grr:

Marc Abrams
10-30-2009, 09:56 AM
I spend a lot of time teaching students how to give good, constructive feedback as both uke and nage, so that the students can become their own best students. The teacher is simply a guide. Teaching students to become acutely aware of what is happening inside of their own bodies and being acutely aware of the connection with the partner is a very important feedback loop that is critical in helping the learning process to be more efficient, effective and within the realm of control of the student.

People may not want to hear certain feedback, but if something is not working and the same process is being repeated, bad habits are simply being reinforced that will later we harder to become undone. Everybody can offer some useful advise if they are taught how, when and what information can be of help.

Marc Abrams

Budd
10-30-2009, 10:04 AM
Well, it's tricky . . in a traditional Japanese dojo everyone is trying to model their teacher, their senior, etc. But then if part of what's demonstrated is to lecture and teach at the microcosmic level, then everyone will model that to some degree. If you're told not to do that, but then that's what modeled . . you see the disconnect? There's no easy fix, it's just something to be mindful of that may need to be addressed at some level in some way (even if it's just to reconcile it within yourself).

Marc Abrams
10-30-2009, 10:46 AM
Well, it's tricky . . in a traditional Japanese dojo everyone is trying to model their teacher, their senior, etc. But then if part of what's demonstrated is to lecture and teach at the microcosmic level, then everyone will model that to some degree. If you're told not to do that, but then that's what modeled . . you see the disconnect? There's no easy fix, it's just something to be mindful of that may need to be addressed at some level in some way (even if it's just to reconcile it within yourself).

Budd:

Although I train in a traditional dojo in NYC and with Ushiro Sensei here and in Japan, I do not teach in that manner. I specifically do so because I do not believe that it is the most efficient and effective teaching model. I am careful not to let the feedback loops destroy the continuity and flow of practice. The feedback loop is critical in stopping the reinforcement of mistakes at an earlier stage, while setting up the awareness of "burning in" better movements. My teaching style is in development as I seek to find the best teaching model. That means effective, efficient teaching that allows my student to hopefully go beyond me.

Marc Abrams

PhilMyKi
10-30-2009, 10:54 AM
I spend a lot of time teaching students how to give good, constructive feedback as both uke and nage, so that the students can become their own best students. The teacher is simply a guide. Teaching students to become acutely aware of what is happening inside of their own bodies and being acutely aware of the connection with the partner is a very important feedback loop that is critical in helping the learning process to be more efficient, effective and within the realm of control of the student.

People may not want to hear certain feedback, but if something is not working and the same process is being repeated, bad habits are simply being reinforced that will later we harder to become undone. Everybody can offer some useful advise if they are taught how, when and what information can be of help.


Whilst I agree with the thread of your point Marc, there are times where the feedback that is given would entrench worse sins than being currently committed or is like introducing calculus to preschool children - they just will not get what is being said and will only become more confused. I think when discussing technique whilst training you should keep in mind a) the limitations of the recipient and b) your own limitations! I recall a post on another thread that was dealing with attitude / ability after grading that discussed just because you have proved that you can do a technique to required standard does not qualify you to correct others ad nauseum.

I am becoming a greater advocate for the "shut up and train" school of thought; like I said in my original post, but it still takes effort on my part but I will get there!!

Lyle Laizure
10-30-2009, 11:52 AM
Nothing wrong with students helping each other while training. So long as too much talking doesn't take place, but there is only one Sensei in a dojo.

Marc Abrams
10-30-2009, 12:07 PM
Whilst I agree with the thread of your point Marc, there are times where the feedback that is given would entrench worse sins than being currently committed or is like introducing calculus to preschool children - they just will not get what is being said and will only become more confused. I think when discussing technique whilst training you should keep in mind a) the limitations of the recipient and b) your own limitations! I recall a post on another thread that was dealing with attitude / ability after grading that discussed just because you have proved that you can do a technique to required standard does not qualify you to correct others ad nauseum.

I am becoming a greater advocate for the "shut up and train" school of thought; like I said in my original post, but it still takes effort on my part but I will get there!!

Phillip:

Absolutely agree with you about your observations. That is why I spend a lot of time teaching students what and how to recognize important information and how to provide timely and appropriate feedback. I think that the "shut up and train" routine should be respected in those who seek that. Frankly speaking, if I can identify where your posture fails, where unnecessary tension is being introduced, you would pick things up quicker if you gave a pause in that thinking and solicit feedback from people you respect as to what they experience in themselves and you when you are practicing.

Marc Abrams

ps.- off to my practice in NYC now - YEAH!!!

MattMiddleton
10-30-2009, 01:24 PM
I defer to the sensei when they correct my movements, but I do like to get feedback from my partner if they feel there's something I need to adjust.

Marc Abrams
10-30-2009, 01:39 PM
I defer to the sensei when they correct my movements, but I do like to get feedback from my partner if they feel there's something I need to adjust.

Matthew:

How many times during a class do you get that kind of specific attention from your sensei? How many times in a class do you serve as uke for your sensei? How many times in a class does your sensei serve as uke for you? What is it about feedback from a partner that you do not like?

Some of the best feedback that I receive is when my teacher is an uke for me. That obviously does not happen very often. Even serving as uke for my sensei only happens (typically) less than five times in a 2.5 hr. class. I realized a number of years ago that I had to be personally responsible for being my own best teacher. That meant that I had to become much more sensitive to what happening both inside me and with my partner. Teaching this ability has a directly positive impact upon my students.

I hosted Ushiro Sensei at my dojo this past weekend. I received a lot of comments from attendees about how they were amazed at the nature and quality of feedback that my students were able to provide and how helpful that was to them.

Dan Harden said something very powerful and true at the instructor's seminar that he ran. He said that you do not know what you do not know. That means that just going through the motions will not necessarily help you. Learning how to receive and give proper feedback is a critical part of a learning process, regardless of the venue.

Over the years, I have had to learn to drop my ego and learn from everybody, including rank beginners. You never know when superb feedback will be given. To me, always being open to it and actively soliciting it is important in my training.

In the end, I respect your desire to practice how you see fit. I am just interested in becoming a better teacher in that I can teach my students how to be their own best teachers.

Marc Abrams

MattMiddleton
10-30-2009, 01:49 PM
Hi Mark,

I think you might've misread my comment - I LIKE getting feedback! :D In fact, I received some feedback from the person I was practicing with a couple of days before my 6th Kyu test with regards to my Katatetori Shihonage that gave me the "aha!" moment I needed to do the technique less badly ;)

What I was trying to say is that feedback from my partner is valuable, but that I always defer to my sensei's advice, since it's their class and they have my respect.

With respect to your question about how often I practice directly with the sensei, at our dojo they generally work with most/all students, by moving between each of the pairs and observing them. If the students are having trouble, the sensei will provide additional instruction, and on occasion step in as one of the partners to explain the technique.

Shadowfax
10-30-2009, 09:27 PM
People may not want to hear certain feedback, but if something is not working and the same process is being repeated, bad habits are simply being reinforced that will later we harder to become undone. Everybody can offer some useful advise if they are taught how, when and what information can be of help.

I agree and as others have said I value feedback from my partners very much. Several of my fellow students have been valuable in helping me to prepare for my recent test.

That said there is a difference between feed back and all all out lecture that no only takes up valuable training time but also prevents me from listening to what my senses are trying to tell me. Sometimes it really helps to just shut up and just feel what is going on until you can understand it. At least for me that's a very necessary part of learning.

Lucky for me I get to work one on one with my sensei's quite often since we have a smaller group. One of the best training experiences I have had was just me and two sensi's in the dojo for an hour. I counted myself very fortunate to have had that opportunity.

Walter Martindale
10-30-2009, 10:00 PM
Uke is your instructor. Beginners are your instructors. Sensei are your instructors. Learn from every attempt to do a technique, and learn from every technique you receive. There's so much going on in even the simplest movements.

When you've been practicing with someone a few dan higher than you, and you think you've seen everything he has to offer and all of a sudden Whoops! What was THAT! Wakey-wakey this ukemi's gonna be special WHAM!

That's also a pretty good instructor...

Walter
Confused, in even my most lucid moments.

PhilMyKi
10-31-2009, 02:17 AM
That said there is a difference between feed back and all all out lecture that no only takes up valuable training time but also prevents me from listening to what my senses are trying to tell me. Sometimes it really helps to just shut up and just feel what is going on until you can understand it. At least for me that's a very necessary part of learning.

:D

I think there is also a differentiation between an instructor and learning partner, both can serve the same purpose and 'teaching' can overlap. IMHO to maintain a consistent learning thread and momentum there can be only one instructor on the mat.

Joe McParland
10-31-2009, 12:51 PM
Looking at this askance a bit: There are so many threads dealing with maintaining a connection between Uke and Nage during practice. Here there are points of view that disregard Uke altogether.

The connection is more than the grab or the strike, right?

Shadowfax
10-31-2009, 03:05 PM
Here there are points of view that disregard Uke altogether.

Really? What points?

Uke is your instructor. Beginners are your instructors. Sensei are your instructors. Learn from every attempt to do a technique, and learn from every technique you receive. There's so much going on in even the simplest movements.

I don't see anyone here disagreeing with that.

The experience this thread is referring to I have only run into a handful of times. But I can certainly tell the difference between learning from and with your partner and being "given instruction" by someone who is perhaps pushing a bit beyond proper boundaries. Sometimes said instruction gets in the way of being able to examine and learn from those simple movements and attempts.

ninjachamp15
12-30-2009, 12:19 PM
Becoming an expert in a martial arts discipline takes years of study and hard work. Let’s face it, the gold standard is a black belt, and without one you probably shouldn’t be instructing (though non-black belts can gain valuable teaching experience from helping out at their school).

The majority of the teaching skills will be gained from modeling past instructors. Further, martial arts schools tend to ask their higher belts to teach their lower belts; take advantage of this to help bolster your teaching skills. Finally, you can also gain valuable experience in martial arts instruction by way of teaching at community centers and schools with little or no money down.

Shadowfax
12-30-2009, 02:26 PM
I am given to understand that in Martial arts there are no experts. Only people who know a whole heck of a lot more than I do. If someone considers themselves and expert I'll do my best to avoid them.

However if someone far more experienced than me is willing to share knowledge I am more than willing to learn from them.

Mark Uttech
12-31-2009, 08:21 AM
Onegaishimasu, "everyone is an instructor" is actually nothing more than sloppy thinking.

In gassho,

Mark

Kevin Leavitt
12-31-2009, 08:50 AM
There are three basic things I think:

1. Information
2. Knowledge
3. Wisdom

The learning process is a complex one and is multi-level and multifaceted.

"Everyone is an instructor" is a very broad statement.

Sure, on one hand that is true. Everyone should share information and knowledge that they have regardless of rank. It is how we cooperate and learn from each other. so in that sense ..okay "everyone is an instructor".

However, in the more focused view...systems such as Aikido are alot more complex than a collection of individual techniques...it should be a systematic and integrative approach to development and refinement.

It takes alot more than simply "knowing stuff" or "knowing more than the next guy".

To be a Sensei, Instructor, Teacher, Leader etc...it requires alot of things other than information or knowledge.

Being able to communicate consistently and effectively to many different people of varying abilities and ways of learning. What works for one person may not work for another.

It means being able to look below the superficial and reach down and help people find qualties that they do not see in themselves.

It requires looking at the system, the community, and the individual holisitcaly and still implement on a personal level.

So, "everybody is an instructor" is again, one of those phrases that can mean alot of things depending on how you look at it.

I prefer "everybody should play nice together and help one another".

To me being an instructor requires a great deal more vetting and development than the phrase "everyone is an instructor" would imply.

It is probably why Koryu systems don't allow all black belts to teach and why Koryu systems have maintained there quality and integrity thorughout the years.

Shadowfax
12-31-2009, 08:59 AM
So, "everybody is an instructor" is again, one of those phrases that can mean alot of things depending on how you look at it.

You got that right.

In the horse world I often say everyone is a horse trainer. Meaning anyone who interacts with the horse teaches it something. Sometimes what they teach is positive and good, sometimes what they teach is negative and bad. But all are teachers.

The advantage we human learners have over animals is that we can choose who we learn from. Even if someone wishes to impart to us their perceived wisdom it is we who decide whether to accept it and use it or to ignore it and discard it or file it away for future consideration.

I also say, in the horse world, you can learn something from everyone. Even if what you learn is, what not to do. ;)

Kevin Leavitt
12-31-2009, 09:07 AM
and yet, on of the disadvantages that we have is that we have intellect. What I mean is..yes...we can choose who we can learn from in the basic sense of intellect. Yet how do most of us make our choices? How do we decide who is qualified to teach us? How to we measure how well someone teaches us? In Aikido sense it is usually who ever is available.

What about when we can't "let go"? what about when our own "intellect" gets in our way and we stand by the thoughts, paradigms, and experiences that are comfortable, safe, and convienent?

I think one of the biggest challenges we face in budo is this whole problem of intellect. How do we separate it from ego? how do we become more objective?

Buck
12-31-2009, 01:07 PM
Everyone I encounter on the mat teaches me something. Do I teach them something? Maybe I do, though I don't do it intentionally, or want to. And that is where I think am able to separate the ego from intellect by having this perspective. It is when we THINK we can teach someone something is the problem of ego and intellect becomes one.

Jacqueline von Arb
01-01-2010, 11:32 AM
How about turning the whole thing around and looking at it as in "everyone's a beginner"?

At a weekend seminar, I got talking with the guest sensei, who eventually enquired which grade I was. Embarassed at being a 6th or 5th kyu at the time, I tried to dismiss the question with an "oh, me? I'm just a beginner", upon which the sensei (6th dan...) answered "aaah! me too!".

One of those great lessons... beginner's mind...

Ever since, I actively (best I can...) look for whatever lesson every type of partner I surreptitiously end up with can bring me, be it a quiet one, a lecturing one, a laugh-at-me one, good-contact one, no-contact one, stiff one, overly elastic one, no-belt or dan-notched ones...

and I often find that the lesson isn't necessarily the disected understanding of a particular technique... and not always the one they had intended to teach me...

Sometimes I learn those lessons by "shut up and train" and at other times I learn them by contributing a few words - and in the latter case, it's usually least offensive in the form of a question.

Ron Tisdale
01-01-2010, 11:49 AM
it's usually least offensive in the form of a question.

Huh! I was just trying to explain that principle to someone...
Best,
Ron

Buck
01-01-2010, 12:10 PM
I want to add, that "too many cooks spoil the soup." If you run a school class room you will have peer to peer learning. This is very effective.

But none of the students see themselves as the "teacher," they instead have a genuine interest in helping their peers. The communication between peers is on a level of sharing and receiving information, not instruct in the formal definition.

No student sees themselves as a "teacher." Their ego is not tied in with the title or position, or the importance of that title as pointed out in this thread.

Micro classroom-teaching, similar to micro management -as mentioned in the first post- is damaging to the students. It makes the student overly self-conscious and undermines self-confidence, but most of all retards the learning process. Teaching, therefore, doesn't happen.

But for some reason- I think it could be do to rank, hence ego, or something- students in many learning environments like an Aikido class fail to be and act like students as they would in a more traditional classroom environment.

I remember reading somewhere about something the author called kyu-shihans, I wish I could remember where I read it. From what I remember it was about how students who reach a certain kyu level think they know it all, and go around instructing others as if they are shihans. Here again is an issue of ego and how students lose perspective, and hamper their own progress. I would not doubt these students do become unsatisfied with Aikido. They become jaded, and/or not committed to Aikido or what it is about. And for those students who suffered from the kyu-shihan end of things are effected negatively becoming jaded, dissatisfied, and stopping practices.

It is a huge problem I think for many dojos to have these issues as illustrated in the first post and though out the thread. And it is almost unique to the martial arts in many places. What ever the solution is, it has to be at the individual dojo level. Therefore, a solution for this problem, aside from those already mentioned, might be strong leadership in the dojo.

Shadowfax
01-01-2010, 12:31 PM
and yet, on of the disadvantages that we have is that we have intellect. What I mean is..yes...we can choose who we can learn from in the basic sense of intellect. Yet how do most of us make our choices? How do we decide who is qualified to teach us? How to we measure how well someone teaches us? In Aikido sense it is usually who ever is available.

What about when we can't "let go"? what about when our own "intellect" gets in our way and we stand by the thoughts, paradigms, and experiences that are comfortable, safe, and convenient?

I think one of the biggest challenges we face in budo is this whole problem of intellect. How do we separate it from ego? how do we become more objective?

How do we decide anything in life? How do we choose a piece of fruit in the grocery store? How do we know which fruits we will like or not like? How do we know if a particular piece is ripe for eating or not? The only way we can learn to choose fruit is through experience. Sure someone can give us tips based on their own experience. But we cannot truly choose fruit until we have experienced choosing and its results many times..... right?

And what about trying new fruits? Those we are unfamiliar with? Are we adventurous enough to try new tings or do we shun them as not for us without every having given it a chance?

On a very basic level choosing who we learn from is very much like selecting fruit. Its personal and must come from within based on our own experiences. Assisted by others but our decision alone. Maybe our decisions are not always right. Welcome to life.

One person may say that yundasha or even kyu student, so and so, has nothing to offer me..... while someone else may say of the same person... they really helped me to look at this in a way that I could apply to my personal skill.

One person may love kiwis while someone else cannot bear them. Does that mean we listen to the advice of the person who loves them or that of the person who does not. Or should we ask someone who has never tasted a kiwi?

ok enough of this philosophy... I think I'll go have myself a banana. :rolleyes:

George S. Ledyard
01-03-2010, 09:31 AM
I am given to understand that in Martial arts there are no experts. Only people who know a whole heck of a lot more than I do. If someone considers themselves and expert I'll do my best to avoid them.

However if someone far more experienced than me is willing to share knowledge I am more than willing to learn from them.

I disagree with this, I think. An "expert" is merely someone who has achieved a high degree of competence in something. In that sense I am an "expert". Were I not an "expert" I would have little business going around the country teaching seminars etc. It would be rather fraudulent to do this and get paid for it unless I were an "expert".

I think you are confusing the meaning of "expert" with how the term "master" is often used (incorrectly I might add) with a connotation of having entirely "mastered" some course of study. In this sense of the word, I would agree that I tend to shy away from the use of "Master" as some kind of title, although I know some very good people whose organizations use the title master interchangeably with Sensei. Still, it has a sort of grandiose feel to it... as if there weren't more to learn, which is ridiculous.

But expert doesn't have that same feel. It merely means that one is very good at what one is doing. I can't imagine why someone would wish to train with anyone who did not possess some level of expertise. If one possesses a fair amount of expertise, one is, ipso facto, an "expert".

gdandscompserv
01-03-2010, 09:52 AM
Aside from being an expert, are there some ethical/moral obligations that come (should come) with being an "instructor?"

Kevin Leavitt
01-03-2010, 10:18 AM
Good question Ricky. Yes I think so. What should they be?

Well I think that depends on the parameters of "instructor" or "expert".

I mean how does an organization determine who the instructors and/or experts are and what code of ethics and obligations have they set forth for them to follow and teach?

I think today the internet has definitely changed how people communicate and receive information and knowledge. Do we really just rely on our local Sensei or Shihan or our respective organizations for information and knowledge? No not anymore.

So how does thisrelate?

Well I think it relates in the fact that our view on what we consider "experts" or "instructors" has changed I think.

I was just reading a book on Rock Climbing. The author was lamenting the very same thing. In Rock Climbing apparently, they have a bunch of "experts" now that are focused in a particular niche or area of climbing. Whereas it used to be that an "expert" was well rounded and had breadth as well as depth.

I think we have the same thing going on today. A few guys pick up a few things, they possess maybe a fair degree of depth in a particular area, yet they may or may not have the breadth.

I think also that the "experts" of years past have to work harder to keep up to their job of being an "expert". They have to compete with You tube, forums, and folks sharing information and knowledge across the old boundaries of yore.

I do think though that there is something that cannot necessarilyi be replaced and that is the role of a mentor. Someone that we learn to rely on and trust that helps us grow and develop in ways that things like the internet, techniques, and what not cannot tap into. Sure, we can figure out alot on our own, but I still hope that the role of a mentor is vital. It has been for me.

Also I think that we need to consider the role that cooperation, interdependence and trust play in the overall development of a person and a martial community. On one hand you might say that the internet has maybe destroyed this...that is we are so transactionally based now that we don't form deep and meaningful relationships....

On the other hand, I think maybe, that it is even more important since we are operating across greater distances in more brief connections and therefore we must work harder to maintain and establish relationships.

Not really sure...but it is what it is.

I think though that the world has changed. How we view experts, our relationship with them, and each other has changed and we need to consider that those changes have affected the very things you address...that is what are the roles, relationships, and responsibilities of both instructors/experts and students.

I don't think the models and definitions of 20 years ago necessarily apply today.

Alec Corper
01-05-2010, 10:40 AM
You can learn from anyone, if you have the attitude and desire to learn, if you can keep "beginners mind". However learning from a fool about what not to do was not what the fool was trying to teach. In fact he or she was most likely not intending to teach anything. Before discussing the ethics of teaching should we not first ascertain if the individual has intellectual and technical competence married with good pedagogics. I have trained with some shihans who were technically brilliant, but were very poor teachers, unable to bring across what we needed to learn in order to do what we are being shown. I have practised martial arts for 30 years and have taught aikido for the last 9 and I begin to understand just how difficult it is to really "teach" anything. I tend to believe increasingly in the old fashioned view that people must "steal" the art, which requires a special blend of dedicated "learners" and "teachers" in the right place at the right time. I personally distrust the overly liberal idea that everyone is an instructor, too many people just can't shut up and train!

gdandscompserv
01-05-2010, 11:17 AM
You can learn from anyone, if you have the attitude and desire to learn, if you can keep "beginners mind". However learning from a fool about what not to do was not what the fool was trying to teach. In fact he or she was most likely not intending to teach anything. Before discussing the ethics of teaching should we not first ascertain if the individual has intellectual and technical competence married with good pedagogics. I have trained with some shihans who were technically brilliant, but were very poor teachers, unable to bring across what we needed to learn in order to do what we are being shown. I have practised martial arts for 30 years and have taught aikido for the last 9 and I begin to understand just how difficult it is to really "teach" anything. I tend to believe increasingly in the old fashioned view that people must "steal" the art, which requires a special blend of dedicated "learners" and "teachers" in the right place at the right time. I personally distrust the overly liberal idea that everyone is an instructor, too many people just can't shut up and train!
So "good" students are actually "teaching" themselves, no?:D

Alec Corper
01-05-2010, 11:21 AM
So "good" students are actually "teaching" themselves, no?
Pretty much, yep!;-)