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Amassus
03-17-2010, 01:53 AM
I was having a discussion with a fellow yudansha after training last night. He seemed a little down and said that the more he trained the more he realised he still had to learn and maybe it was pointless.
This got me thinking about something another aikidoka said to me once.
"At some point you have to become your own teacher."

Now, I think everyone has to be their own teacher at some level through their training. What I'm meaning here is there is a point when perhaps your sensei retires or moves on, or you even outgrow your sensei's teachings and you have to seek answers elsewhere. There seems to be a moment of transition for some people where they need to realise that to truely become comfortable with your own aikido you must look within for answers instead of continually seeking the next best teacher (in other words an external source).

Now, I'm not saying that you give up on good instruction but I think there comes a time when you must ask yourself some tough questions about what it is you are doing in your training.

I started teaching at a High School just over two years ago and during that short amount of time some of the questions the teenagers asked of me I found I couldn't answer (or at least not to a level that I was satisfied with). I had to go away and think about those questions and really pull apart my own training methods and reasons. It has been good for my training and I feel more invigorated than ever. I am quite satisfied by the discoveries.

I know of some cases where people have quit aikido because they didn't make that transition of becoming their own teacher.

What do others think?

I'm just throwing it out there :)

Dean.

aikishihan
03-17-2010, 02:56 AM
It is true that at some point in your self quest, you must learn to trust unconditionally in the teacher within, above all others. This may be called your integrity of purpose.

All other teachers can never be more than your assistant instructors, however accomplished they may be.

Nonetheless, choose them well, and exchange them without hesitation whenever you realize that your needs are changing..

Even as you give yourself the best you can afford, it remains your responsibility to incorporate all such gifts into your commitment to become the best you can possibly be. The best of food, rest, source of income and education at all levels are your choices to make, not every so often, but for the rest of your life.

I have found this unconditional commitment and self realization to be true of all the great artists and human adepts I have studied, especially the Founder of Aikido.

Best wishes for an astounding journey!

Abasan
03-17-2010, 08:24 AM
Early stages - the teacher teaches.

Middles stages - the teacher guides.

Later stages - you learn.

Marc Abrams
03-17-2010, 10:06 AM
Dean:

We are always responsible for our own training, regardless of whether we are a "teacher" or "student."

I wrote a brief blog on that subject for my students:

http://aasbk.com/blog/?page_id=61

I find that the earlier I can get students to focus on their own responsibility for being their own best teacher, the quicker that can learn from my guidance/instruction. This is simply a personal lesson that I know employ as a teaching tool.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

SteveTrinkle
03-17-2010, 10:19 AM
The kakejiku that we use in our group (AKI - Aikido Kenkyukai International) was brushed for our teacher, Takeda Yoshinobu Shihan by a Buddhist monk friend of his. (I think this kakejiku usually appears on my posts to akikweb...) When he received the scroll, Takeda Sensei asked why it only contained the characters for Ai Ki. His friend told him it was because each person must discover their own Do.

I always liked this story and continue to find the idea inspiring in my practice. I'm not certain it applies exactly to the question of the original poster, but it's one way I understand it at this time in my life.

phitruong
03-17-2010, 02:26 PM
i hate my own teacher. the bugger talked funny, and with a strange accent. looked kinda strange too, and sometimes smelled strange. very demanding. some days i want to sleep in, he would drag me out of bed and make to come to the dojo. never satisfy with anything i do with comments like: what are you thinking doing that move? you are too slow witted to understand that! you are not quick enough! are you talking to me.. are you talking toooo me? stop being a whiny, i'll kick your ass if my foot could reach your ass! :)

can one choke oneself to death with one's own hands?

Pauliina Lievonen
03-17-2010, 02:43 PM
Hey Phi, that's funny, that sounds exactly like my boss! :D

kvaak
Pauliina

Marc Abrams
03-17-2010, 03:29 PM
i hate my own teacher. the bugger talked funny, and with a strange accent. looked kinda strange too, and sometimes smelled strange. very demanding. some days i want to sleep in, he would drag me out of bed and make to come to the dojo. never satisfy with anything i do with comments like: what are you thinking doing that move? you are too slow witted to understand that! you are not quick enough! are you talking to me.. are you talking toooo me? stop being a whiny, i'll kick your ass if my foot could reach your ass! :)

can one choke oneself to death with one's own hands?

Phil:

A lot of us seem to have the same type of boss. The most annoying thing about my boss is that he has a chronic case of Athletes-Foot-In-The-Mouth Disease :yuck: ! Incurable I hear!

Marc Abrams

David Partington
03-17-2010, 05:28 PM
He who undertakes to be his own teacher has a fool for a pupil.

German Proverb

SeiserL
03-17-2010, 05:53 PM
While I agree that ultimately were are our own teacher (and enemy) I am cautious about where in the sequence of training I make that switch. IMHO, too many people want to be the teacher and skip the student part entirely.

eyrie
03-17-2010, 06:12 PM
Semantically speaking, you can't teach yourself - only others. Teaching implies imparting knowledge or skill, or to give instruction to someone (other than yourself).

Abasan
03-18-2010, 04:17 AM
Semantically speaking, you can't teach yourself - only others. Teaching implies imparting knowledge or skill, or to give instruction to someone (other than yourself).

Fair statement, but...

You can gain insight on your own. Revelations or inspirations.

Einstein used imagination to produce his famous equation on relativity.
The apple (or some fruit) helped Newton and his idea of gravity.

It is not the same thing as teaching per se, but it is knowledge...
In most cases, all paths can lead to the top of the mountain. Some get there quicker. Some traverses hidden dangers. The main reason you get a guide to lead you up a mountain is to avoid those dangers and provide you with a quick and safe trip.

Body skills is slightly different to theoretical knowledge. A generalised version of this is to compare normal universities against polytechnics. Universities impart great knowledge, wisdom and articulate reading. Polytechnics gives its students practical experience and real grease time. Some pick up theoretical knowledge like a sponge and can ace an exam. The same person might know a car inside out as an engineer but might have problems replacing his spark plug.

A teacher or a manual can tell him how to do it, but in the end the person must learn on his own. So here comes the point... someone without a teacher or a manual could instinctively do this on his own too... by observation, elimination or experimentation. Mayhaps he would even be better at it because he didn't inherit his knowledge but had to learn by his own analytical skills, thereby imparting deep understanding. I know someone who is an ace programmer and taught himself how to do it.

Programming in a way is easy to learn on your own because by its nature, the laws are definite. As you understand the concept, its a matter of writing the language within those laws. Aikido is harder because it is covered by different laws. Laws of physics, anatomy, the natural universe laws and etc. Sometimes those laws are at odds with one another and it becomes a mess to understand.

I however stand by my earlier remarks. A teacher as a guide is necessary. But learning is your own responsibility.

Walter Martindale
03-18-2010, 04:59 AM
"becoming your own teacher" - well... at some point you conduct your own research into how things work.

The more you know, the more you realise you don't know. Instead of taking that as a reason to hang it up, your disconsolate yudansha friend can see it as a challenge to learn more.

I read of a judo practitioner from before my judo career who said "I take my worst technique and work on it until it's not my worst technique any more. Then I take my worst technique and work... (you get the picture)... Eventually the first technique makes its way back to the bottom of the pack for more training.

I seem to recall reading something about O-Sensei saying something like "I think I've figured out Ikkyo" when he was in his 60s or 70s or something like that...

Hang in there.
Walter

Bob Blackburn
03-18-2010, 07:38 AM
This is a very traditional method of development. Shu Ha Ri in Japanese. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

You may always have a teacher; but, the more advanced you get the more self discovery you will do.

bulevardi
03-18-2010, 09:00 AM
O'Sensei became his own teacher. Of course, after learning lots of other arts and techniques before.

You can always learn new things yourself, self-study, self-teaching, but it's always with trial and error.

chris crull
03-18-2010, 01:20 PM
aikido isn't a solitary endeavor. the true teacher is the encounter. we learn (or have the potential to learn) something about ourselves or our aikido from every person we train with, regarless of that person's experience. we just have to be open to receiving the knowledge. i think that's the point of cultivating the "beginner's mind."

phitruong
03-18-2010, 02:39 PM
Semantically speaking, you can't teach yourself - only others. Teaching implies imparting knowledge or skill, or to give instruction to someone (other than yourself).

what if you have multiple personalities? would one personality be able to teach the others?

stop that right now! *sorry, evil phi #2 made some rude gestures*

it could be done, right? might not be at the same time, but in asynchronous time?

no, i am discussing with aikiweb folks! go away! *sorry again, evil phi #999 keeps asking for things to do*

just trying to find out if there is a good chance that i can teach myself. :)

Eric Winters
03-18-2010, 03:22 PM
This is a very traditional method of development. Shu Ha Ri in Japanese. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

You may always have a teacher; but, the more advanced you get the more self discovery you will do.

Read this it is a informative. You could also go the Takamura Ha Shindo Yoshin Kai web site and they have a very good article on Shu Ha Ri. Basically you do everything your teacher tells you for a number of years and when you have reached a particular skill level of skill you do your own exploration. IMHO You can really only do this after having a good solid base in martial arts and body mechanics.

Best,
Eric Winters

trademark8806
03-18-2010, 05:40 PM
This is an inrtsting blog. I think that we all must be our own teacher. We lurn form others , but we also lurn from our selfs what we lurn from others.

eyrie
03-18-2010, 06:05 PM
Fair statement, but...
You can gain insight on your own. Revelations or inspirations.
... I however stand by my earlier remarks. A teacher as a guide is necessary. But learning is your own responsibility. Hi Ahmad, I think we're pretty much saying the same thing. But I don't necessarily agree that a teaching guide is always required. One can still achieve some level of practical proficiency thru self-paced and other learning methods, e.g. discovery, example, analysis, debate, synthesis, reflection, intuition and application.

If you're interested in the subject, there's a swathe of reading material in the field of systems thinking and knowledge management related to the subject of cognitive and applied learning - e.g. Ackoff, Kolb, Fitts and Posner etc. Certainly too much to get into in a medium designed for a largely different use.

And in answer to Phi, suffice to say, we are ultimately responsible for our own education - in the broadest sense of the word. To mangle a quote, learn all you can learn, be all you can be, share what you know.

"Teachers" are like Buddhas... you know what to do if you see them on the road... ;)

Budd
03-19-2010, 09:30 AM
Well, I'm at the kind of place where I almost "have to" be my own teacher for a bit . . recently moved to a new environment . . have a young child and another on the way . . not looking to do someone else's version of aikido - pretty set in continuing to work within the aikido shape as Ellis Amdur developed at the Itten Dojo - while also pursuing my obsession with internal strength training - while also occasionally getting around to "scrap" *cough* I mean train with other folks (really, I smile and am friendly) . .

But given that life is going to keep me from regular formal classes for a while . . and that I am not looking to change what I'm working on (especially given the progress I feel like is being made) . . I'll probably end up seeing if anyone else wants to do what I do at some point and if a small study group forms, cool, but not worrying about it too much at this point. I'm pretty selfish in chasing what I want to work on.

phitruong
03-19-2010, 09:50 AM
H
"Teachers" are like Buddhas... you know what to do if you see them on the road... ;)

road-kill? this is going to mess up my car. :)

Amassus
03-20-2010, 12:27 AM
Thanks for the replies.

Concerning my fellow yudansha I mentioned in the OP. I was thinking just now, why not give it up if that's the way he feels. I mean, aikido is not for everyone, all the time. He has been at it on and off for 10 years, he has given it a good nudge. Maybe other things should take priority.
(I am playing devil's advocate here).

Dean.

aikishihan
03-20-2010, 01:54 AM
Free advice may not be worth the price to both give and receive it. You get what you pay for, no more, no less.

I have been told that advice must be given in a miserly fashion, only when it is specifically requested, or if an emergency exists.

Wizard's Second Rule may apply. "The greatest Harm may come from the desire to do the greatest Good."

Counsel gently, listen compassionately, and encourage courageously, but refrain from usurping the person's right to choose.

Any decision made privately, may be changed without fan fare. A decision made publicly, may well invite the unwitting bondage of wounded pride, false ego and the fear of embarrassment. Being a friend, means allowing each other to be human, and to learn from acting as one. Acting in Aiki, may well form the basis for the best support possible.

In this way, we will truly become our own teacher

ChrisHein
03-20-2010, 01:04 PM
I think what you are talking about is the point at which you become A teacher. When you teach the system from your perspective, and not just parroting what your teacher said.

I've watched lot's of Aikido practitioners take over one of their teachers classes. All of them sound like a little copy of their teacher. Eventually most of them, over time, start to get their own voice, and their own answers. This is when you really start to become a teacher. When you teach Aikido (or whatever) from your personal experience and your not just spouting off what your teacher told you.

SeiserL
03-20-2010, 03:47 PM
Counsel gently, listen compassionately, and encourage courageously, but refrain from usurping the person's right to choose.
Osu Sensei,
Spot on and beautifully said.
Rei, Domo.

David Yap
03-20-2010, 10:48 PM
Free advice may not be worth the price to both give and receive it. You get what you pay for, no more, no less.

I have been told that advice must be given in a miserly fashion, only when it is specifically requested, or if an emergency exists.

Wizard's Second Rule may apply. "The greatest Harm may come from the desire to do the greatest Good."

Counsel gently, listen compassionately, and encourage courageously, but refrain from usurping the person's right to choose.

Any decision made privately, may be changed without fan fare. A decision made publicly, may well invite the unwitting bondage of wounded pride, false ego and the fear of embarrassment. Being a friend, means allowing each other to be human, and to learn from acting as one. Acting in Aiki, may well form the basis for the best support possible.

In this way, we will truly become our own teacher

Thank you very much for your kind wisdom, sensei.

I wish you have had come on board the forum much earlier, cause it would have saved me from enduring so much grief.

Warm regards

David Y

Marc Abrams
03-21-2010, 11:19 AM
Free advice may not be worth the price to both give and receive it. You get what you pay for, no more, no less.

I have been told that advice must be given in a miserly fashion, only when it is specifically requested, or if an emergency exists.

Wizard's Second Rule may apply. "The greatest Harm may come from the desire to do the greatest Good."

Counsel gently, listen compassionately, and encourage courageously, but refrain from usurping the person's right to choose.

Any decision made privately, may be changed without fan fare. A decision made publicly, may well invite the unwitting bondage of wounded pride, false ego and the fear of embarrassment. Being a friend, means allowing each other to be human, and to learn from acting as one. Acting in Aiki, may well form the basis for the best support possible.

In this way, we will truly become our own teacher

Francis:

Beautifully spoken words of wisdom! One of my mentors in my graduate psychology training simplified things by explaining things in terms of the law of supply and demand with therapeutic interpretations. He said that the supply of valid interpretations far exceeded it's legitimate demand.

If a person is not ready to receive the information, they they simply will not. I think that the importance of a teacher is to be a guide so that a student will know how to explore what they need to learn.

Marc Abrams

gregstec
03-21-2010, 04:26 PM
Well, I'm at the kind of place where I almost "have to" be my own teacher for a bit . . recently moved to a new environment . . have a young child and another on the way . . not looking to do someone else's version of aikido - pretty set in continuing to work within the aikido shape as Ellis Amdur developed at the Itten Dojo - while also pursuing my obsession with internal strength training - while also occasionally getting around to "scrap" *cough* I mean train with other folks (really, I smile and am friendly) . .

But given that life is going to keep me from regular formal classes for a while . . and that I am not looking to change what I'm working on (especially given the progress I feel like is being made) . . I'll probably end up seeing if anyone else wants to do what I do at some point and if a small study group forms, cool, but not worrying about it too much at this point. I'm pretty selfish in chasing what I want to work on.

Hi Budd,

Sorry to hear you left the area - what you intend to do is what we do here at E-town Aiki-Kurabu. We all have a focus on Aiki and essentially teach each other during our study group sessions. However, due to our associations with Howard Popkin and Dan Harden, we have two excellent sources of knowledge that leads our training and helps us grow.

Good Luck in your new location.

Greg

(ps: say hello to your wife for me - it was always fun training with her when I stopped in at Itten)

aikishihan
03-22-2010, 02:15 AM
Hello Marc,

Interesting analogy to a basic scientific principle, valid for economics, psychology and whatever else.

Perhaps being an effective teacher is kind of like being a river, bringing life preserving sustenance, not to individuals, but rather to an area of need, and not being concerned as to which parched plants and animals get their share.

I have found it beyond my ability to predict which students would or could benefit from training or instruction, being content to see which ones actually do over a period of time. My function is to keep "putting it out there" and accept whatever happens.

It is especially gratifying to observe the few that do get it, as they evolve into being self reliant and inner motivated teachers in their own right.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and your experiences. I really enjoy your perspective on things. Please keep the faith!

francis

Budd
03-22-2010, 11:16 AM
Hi Greg:

No idea what I'm going to end up doing at this point. There's enough trappings in various "budo" models that I want to avoid to get to the "cut-through-the-shit-and-train" stuffs . . but given what I hope to continue working on - not sure how much to hold onto versus eliminate, so some questions to ask myself and others as I go along. I'll probably go play with the aikido, bjj, judo and mma folks up in this area to start with after the next kid is born, just to see what they're up to.

Dan is fun to train with and I hope to see him again at some point. Howard I have enjoyed chatting with offline and will hopefully meet up with him at some point in the near future. At this point, I am pretty happy working on what I've got to work on, rather than collecting much more "new stuff". Love the efficient model of Ellis's riff on aikido. Love working on internal strength training. Love meeting up and banging with people that have a good attitude. Just trying to keep it simple.

Students, belts, organizations, clubs, belonging to a tribe somewhere beyond just training . . meh . . . not so much.

I'll tell K you said hello - she had fun making you go "splat". ;)

gdandscompserv
03-22-2010, 08:54 PM
Thank you very much for your kind wisdom, sensei.

I wish you have had come on board the forum much earlier, cause it would have saved me from enduring so much grief.

Warm regards

David Y
Takahashi Sensei also exemplifies this same spirit in person. Truly one of the giants of our aikido world.

gregstec
03-23-2010, 08:44 AM
Hi Greg:

No idea what I'm going to end up doing at this point. There's enough trappings in various "budo" models that I want to avoid to get to the "cut-through-the-shit-and-train" stuffs . . but given what I hope to continue working on - not sure how much to hold onto versus eliminate, so some questions to ask myself and others as I go along. I'll probably go play with the aikido, bjj, judo and mma folks up in this area to start with after the next kid is born, just to see what they're up to.

Dan is fun to train with and I hope to see him again at some point. Howard I have enjoyed chatting with offline and will hopefully meet up with him at some point in the near future. At this point, I am pretty happy working on what I've got to work on, rather than collecting much more "new stuff". Love the efficient model of Ellis's riff on aikido. Love working on internal strength training. Love meeting up and banging with people that have a good attitude. Just trying to keep it simple.

Students, belts, organizations, clubs, belonging to a tribe somewhere beyond just training . . meh . . . not so much.

I'll tell K you said hello - she had fun making you go "splat". ;)

Not sure how far Rochester is from you, but there is an Aikido group there that also trains with Howard - a great group of people to train with.

Going 'splat' was fun - she was good at it, as well as some other folks :)

Good luck

edshockley
03-25-2010, 03:52 AM
In Swahili there is no word of "learn." "Funza" means "to teach." Placing "ji" in front of a word makes it reflexive so the "jifunza" means "to teach oneself." This altered cultural perspective requests a different attitude from the pupil. No matter who is leading the class, the teacher is always the student who must actively pursue awareness. I find that the longer I train the more carefully I must search to find the lesson in the technique or sword cut that I have performed thousands of times. That willingness to search combined with the faith that there is something to be found and the gift of a talented guide (sensei/uke/video/seminar) is for me the meditation of aikido.