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SeiserL
11-07-2010, 08:42 PM
Breathe in, model
Breath out, mentor
Mindfully

I must admit that I tend to agree with Charles Barkley when he says that he is a basketball player and not a role model. I would hate to think that someone would end up like me. When I became a father I realized I needed to clean up my act and must admit that it helped me a lot. Unfortunately, my sons still ended up a lot like me. I have already apologized to them several times.

Vicarious observational learning takes place often unconsciously through imitation and identification. It is very powerful. Advertising media uses it all the time. They have associated the unrelated facts that if we use their product we will be thin, attractive, smart, cool, and drive the right car while being very well dressed. All this just for purchasing and consuming their product.

This is a lot like a hologram, we don't just get a part of the message, we get all of it. There is some new research that proposes that the brain contains internal mirror-neurons that fire in association to external stimulation. If we watch an elite athlete learning a new skill or warming-up we will see their associated mental rehearsal with the event. Neurologically the brain does not know the difference between actual events and those of fantasy. Repeated fantasizing of mental rehearsal can imbed a new belief or behavior.

It happens in families all the time. As a counselor I am often asked to work with adolescents who have an attitude problem. When I meet their parents I see exactly where they learned their behavior. Membership has the entry criterion. The learned ego is based on imitation and identification. We have to be careful who we follow and mindful of those following us.

When my wife first saw a video tape of my old FMA/JKD instructor (Ted Lucauylucauy) she said that he moved just like I do. I corrected her by admitting I moved like him. This was a compliment to me (sorry Ted). When you see my Aikido, you see some of who taught me (Sensei Dang Thong Phong). Only he is so much better at it then I am. We behave, feel, and think a lot like those who taught us how to behave, feel, and think.

Modeling: to plan or form after a pattern/shape, to produce a representation to simulation, to construct in imitation

We don't have to say anything to been seen and accepted as a role model. It's often not our choice, but the choice of those looking for something and we just happen to be in their line of vision. The same goes for those we modeled after. We choose them. Perhaps that choice reflects some inner need in us. We model after those who match our needs, wants, and desires. Perhaps we project what we want our models to be and never see who they really are, This projection often leads to some real disappointments and disillusionments when we realize that our role models are not who we idealize they are but are just humans with all their human faults and frailties.

Mentoring: entrusted with the education, a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor or coach

In program we often use the cliché of walking the talk. Walking is our modeling. Talking is our mentoring. Just as people tried to save us some misery of self-learning, we too will share our experience and perspective in the hopes of helping others. Perhaps some just do it to sound intelligent and wise and gain respect. You can tell a great mentor because it is more important to them that you be impressed with who you are and what you can do than who they are and what they can do. A mentor wants the student to surpass the teacher. A mentor is like a catalyst to a chemical reaction that facilitates the change but does not really remain a part of it.

Mindfulness: bearing in mind, inclined to be aware, the art of staying conscious and aware of the present

Perhaps I don't have a very positive view of us as a human species because I think most of us are simply creatures of habit on automatic pilot. Whatever we were taught (through unconscious modeling and mentoring) we repeat without questioning for the next generation who model after us. This is how information can be transmitted and replicated without alteration. However, I am also aware of the old children's game of gossip by passing a message around a circle only to find out in the end that it is entirely different than it began. Perhaps this is why things get lost in translation and transmission.

Perhaps if we all became more mindful of our models and mentors and more mindful of those who choose us as their models and mentors, we could communicate with more clarity, conviction, and compassion.

Breathe in, model
Breath out, mentor
Mindfully

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!

crbateman
11-08-2010, 05:17 AM
Hello Lynn-san... I like what you have written. We are all products of the input we receive from any interaction, times the effect that we derive from it. It gives each of us the ability to be both mentor and learner in most any situation. While some might argue the point, I think that in any encounter there exists both the opportunity to teach and to learn. What we do with these opportunities is what distinguishes each of us.

Your example of Charles Barkley describing himself as "not a role model" has got me thinking. Is it really within his power to decide this? Or, is it more a function of how others might view him? I think that being a role model comes with the territory with celebrity or notoriety. Mr. Barkley may not want to feel any responsibility for the results of others who might look at him as an example, but I don't think he has any way to prevent them from doing so. It's human nature to be imitative, particularly of those who are successful, and especially if that success comes seemingly in spite of themselves or the status quo. I, for one, have much more respect for those who accept and embrace that unique opportunity to be helpful to others.

Thanks again for the thoughtful article. Looking forward to sharing time and space.

SeiserL
11-08-2010, 07:50 AM
Your example of Charles Barkley describing himself as "not a role model" has got me thinking. Is it really within his power to decide this? Or, is it more a function of how others might view him?
Yes agreed.

Others choose to see us as role models whether we like it or not.

Many of us would prefer not to be, believing that there are so many others so much more worthy of leading the way.

But ultimately, we must be mindful that we are following others and others are following us.

Darn!!!

Rei, Domo.

jonreading
11-08-2010, 10:38 AM
When Charles Barkley made those comments in the early nineties, professional athletes had not yet become sensationalized in the media for their...err... mistakes in judgement. The comment was controversial because many people still believed in the ethics of athletes. Athletes shook hands after playing, didn't take steroids, liked children and old people and signed autographs for free. Heck, some one might even hit a home run for a sick kid. Now if you ask for player stats you have to clarify between home runs and arrests.

I rant because sometimes we do not realize how much our actions speak for our character, nor do we realize what parts of our character resonate with those around us. There are many basketball players who can dunk a basketball - what Charles Barkley didn't realize was his popularity in the sport was the result of his character as much as his abilities (if not more than).

Humans are fallible. It's not when we fall from grace, but how we stand up after falling. The bigger the mistake, the harder we fall. One of the burdens leaders bear is to appreciate that responsibility. One of the burdens society bears is to mantle the proper leaders.

SeiserL
11-08-2010, 01:02 PM
Humans are fallible. It's not when we fall from grace, but how we stand up after falling. The bigger the mistake, the harder we fall. One of the burdens leaders bear is to appreciate that responsibility. One of the burdens society bears is to mantle the proper leaders.
I can model failure well and without much thought.

Randy Sexton
11-10-2010, 05:38 AM
Thanks for the insight. I liked the line "waklng is our modeling, talking is our mentoring"
Doc Sexton

SeiserL
11-10-2010, 03:21 PM
I liked the line "walkng is our modeling, talking is our mentoring"
Osu Doc,

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

Talk is important. Many of the principles in Aikido would never have made it to my consciousness if some one had not told me about it. I do tend to lead with my head.

Walk is also important. It lets me know its possible.

I need to know its possible and I need to know how.

Then the discipline is up to me.

Looking forward to sharing space and time again.

Rei, Domo.

Susan Dalton
11-10-2010, 04:27 PM
Jon said:
"When Charles Barkley made those comments in the early nineties, professional athletes had not yet become sensationalized in the media for their...err... mistakes in judgement. The comment was controversial because many people still believed in the ethics of athletes. Athletes shook hands after playing, didn't take steroids, liked children and old people and signed autographs for free. Heck, some one might even hit a home run for a sick kid. Now if you ask for player stats you have to clarify between home runs and arrests."

It's none of my business, but how old are you Jon? When I went to college in the 70's, I saw atrocious behavior by some athletes because they had been taught that the rules did not apply to them. Because they were gifted, they were special, and some believed they could do as they pleased.

One thing I like about aikido is that with improvement comes responsibility. And, no matter how good you are, you still clean the mat.
Susan

SeiserL
11-11-2010, 09:47 AM
One thing I like about aikido is that with improvement comes responsibility. And, no matter how good you are, you still clean the mat.
Yes agreed.
And many will mentor that this is the lesson to be learned.
Few will actually model that they have learned it.
On and off the mat, always mindful.
Thanks for reading and responding.

jonreading
11-11-2010, 11:46 AM
I can model failure well and without much thought.

I love it.

As for the question about my age, I am in my mid thirties. In response to the statement,
I saw atrocious behavior by some athletes because they had been taught that the rules did not apply to them. Because they were gifted, they were special, and some believed they could do as they pleased.

I couldn't agree more. But the point to which I was referring was that Charles Barkley was the first athlete to say Your kids should not idolize us - we are athletes, not heroes. The comment was made not because it was the first time an athlete was caught doing something stupid, but because the media's "new" methodology of de-constructing celebrities was casting a poor light on athletes.

The argument should not be, "well, this behavior has been going on for XX years..." the argument should be, "this behavior is unacceptable. It was unacceptable 20 years ago, and it is unacceptable now." The sad part of the story is we are not saying this.

SeiserL
11-11-2010, 02:03 PM
The argument should not be, "well, this behavior has been going on for XX years..." the argument should be, "this behavior is unacceptable. It was unacceptable 20 years ago, and it is unacceptable now." The sad part of the story is we are not saying this.
I am saying that.
Walk the talk.
We all already know the right things to do.
So lets just do it.

Fred Little
11-11-2010, 03:13 PM
The argument should not be, "x." the argument should be, "y."

Dear Jon,

Without regard for the values for which the variables "x" and "y" may be place markers, or the broader subject under review, it has been my general experience that making arguments about what "should or should not" be the case rarely has much utility unless I'm looking for an amen from someone in my own choir. YMMV.

Best,

FL

George S. Ledyard
11-11-2010, 06:14 PM
Dear Jon,

Without regard for the values for which the variables "x" and "y" may be place markers, or the broader subject under review, it has been my general experience that making arguments about what "should or should not" be the case rarely has much utility unless I'm looking for an amen from someone in my own choir. YMMV.

Best,

FL

Hi Fred,
While I get what you are saying, I think I'd like to put in a plug for the positive argument. I think most people are extremely dependent, social beings. They are essentially herd, or perhaps more kindly, tribal beings. Most folks want leadership. If you don't give them good leaders, they will follow bad ones.

So, when folks make statements about the way they think things should be and perhaps shouldn't be, I think it becomes part of the process of people actually deciding what it is that they think. The last thing one would want, in my opinion, is to have everyone as a "ditto head" for lack of a better message being put out there.

The quote, typically attributed to Edmund Burke but really a paraphrase, I think says it...
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
So, in a further distortion of the original I would say that all that is needed for bad ideas to flourish is for no one to state the good ones. Which is the only reason I can see to "fight the good fight" here on the forums.

Sure, let's be realistic, who doesn't like it when the choir gives you the big amen? But I do believe it is more than that. And one really needs to be very Zen about such things, putting the ideas out there with no particular attachment to whether anyone agrees or not.

SeiserL
11-12-2010, 05:52 AM
Without regard for the values for which the variables "x" and "y" may be place markers, or the broader subject under review, it has been my general experience that making arguments about what "should or should not" be the case rarely has much utility unless I'm looking for an amen from someone in my own choir.
There's an Aikido choir? How come no ones tells me about these things?

IMHO, as a therapist I often find that people are struggling to find the rights answers because they are asking the wrong questions.

IMHO, "should" just usually means it isn't the way I want it to be. We "should" be better role models an mentors means we already know that its not that way and we are falling short.

I do believe we/I can do better.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-12-2010, 05:59 AM
And one really needs to be very Zen about such things, putting the ideas out there with no particular attachment to whether anyone agrees or not.
Osu Sensei,

I wouldn't know what to do with agreement. Usually I am uncomfortable with it. I often just state/share what I perceive.

Agreement just means it matches for someone. Disagreement just means it doesn't. Its not right/wrong or good/bad. Each statement is only personal about that person's experience.

BTW, since I don't play well with others, I tend not to sing in choirs. A long time ago there were a couple Detroit rock/blues bands though.

Fred Little
11-12-2010, 10:21 AM
Hi Fred,
While I get what you are saying, I think I'd like to put in a plug for the positive argument. I think most people are extremely dependent, social beings. They are essentially herd, or perhaps more kindly, tribal beings. Most folks want leadership. If you don't give them good leaders, they will follow bad ones.

So, when folks make statements about the way they think things should be and perhaps shouldn't be, I think it becomes part of the process of people actually deciding what it is that they think. The last thing one would want, in my opinion, is to have everyone as a "ditto head" for lack of a better message being put out there.


George,

I agree entirely with the need for an affirmative argument, the need for positive examples, and the purity of the impulse that often lies at the root of a "should/should not" argument.

It's simply that my experience is that presenting binary choices -- with one of the two framed negatively-- alienates many of the people that need to be brought along.

Framed positively, I find that aspiration to best practices can be encouraged effectively. Framed negatively, I find that acknowledging that the world is a messed up place and that harm reduction is a worthy undertaking that may be more effective than insistence on an idealized and unrealizable standard based in abstract moral/ethical considerations is sometimes the only place to start.

Or so a semi-reformed abuser of the "should/should not" construction advises....:D

Cheers,

FL

jonreading
11-12-2010, 11:01 AM
This is gonna to tangent the thread. I promise I'll try to bring things back...
Dear Jon,

Without regard for the values for which the variables "x" and "y" may be place markers, or the broader subject under review, it has been my general experience that making arguments about what "should or should not" be the case rarely has much utility unless I'm looking for an amen from someone in my own choir. YMMV.

Best,

FL
My comments were in regards to re-aligning an argument that was heading towards permissive reasoning. I do not believe in permissive reasoning (Mom, can I jump off the roof? Jimmy down the street did it...).

Specifically, I was arguing that just because athletes abused their status at some earlier point in time does not mean their behavior becomes excusable at a future point in time. If it is factual that athletes abused their status at an earlier point in time and at a later point in time and it is factual that society does not support that behavior, then the presumptive logic here implies that between these two points of time [society would have taken] corrective action was not successfully applied to curb the abusive behavior of athletes. I was re-constructing the argument for my point. Anywho...

However, I think that our moral stances are weakening, which was the reason I read this post. I think Lynn gave some great insight into this phenomena. Remember Catherine Genovese? She was the girl killed in NY while bystanders watched her murder. We now call this effect the bystander effect. Good people doing nothing...

Its easier to stand up when others stand with you; it is lonely when you're the only one. So we stop standing. We stop arguing with those who present counter arguments. We concede opinions to avoid confrontation. We spend a lot of energy excusing our actions. Ichi go, ichi e, right? I wonder how many residents from that Bronx neighborhood would've called the police if they could have a do-over?

Aristotle says there are three types of audiences to debate: those who agree with you, those who disagree with you, and those who are uncertain. Aristotle advocates arguing to those who are uncertain because those who agree with you are firm in their conviction and you will not convince those who have set their conviction against you. If you are talking to those with like-minds, you are not engaged in rhetoric.

Kevin Choate used to advocate students should complete every technique, regardless of if it was the correct technique or another technique. One time... right? How many of us aren't ready when we stand in front of our partners? How many of us should act, but don't?

Should is fine as look as you stand behind it.

SeiserL
11-12-2010, 11:53 AM
Should is fine as look as you stand behind it.
Then its not a statement of what "should" be but a statement of what is.

I would rather stand alone than fall/fail with many.

Some things are just wrong and we need to courage to just say so. Likewise, some things are just right and we need the courage to act on them.

SeiserL
11-12-2010, 11:59 AM
Framed negatively, I find that acknowledging that the world is a messed up place and that harm reduction is a worthy undertaking that may be more effective than insistence on an idealized and unrealizable standard based in abstract moral/ethical considerations is sometimes the only place to start.
Yes agreed.

The world is a messed up place and in our humanness we are all a mess too.

Yes, those "idealized and unrealistic standards" are "the only place to start."

The decision is to walk in that direction and the daily discipline is to keep walking no matter what.

Barbara Knapp
11-13-2010, 10:48 AM
My experience is that it is very important to say and to hear others express a higher standard than many of us can achieve. Not in a critical or punitive way, which is what drives people apart - but just reminding ourselves that we are capable of being more than what we are, and that the standards remain even when we fail. In fact, I would suggest that a mentor who never made a mistake would be useless. It is their steadfastness and honesty that counts; their showing that anyone can get there from here.

Its important to speak up and act because its difficult to hang on to ideals when everyone around you seems to be denying them. We need a community, and its very difficult to be much better than the people around you. We are always creating the conditions for eachother to become a little better, or to do something we may really regret.

Isn't that one of the things aikido is about?

SeiserL
11-13-2010, 11:17 AM
My experience is that it is very important to say and to hear others express a higher standard than many of us can achieve.

Isn't that one of the things aikido is about?
IMHO, aikido is only a tool or a context in which we can practice this.

If it is achievable for one of us, it is achievable for all of us.

It is not a "higher standard", but the standard.

We have to quit accepting "less than" from others and ourselves.

Thoughts?

Janet Rosen
11-13-2010, 12:54 PM
In fact, I would suggest that a mentor who never made a mistake would be useless. It is their steadfastness and honesty that counts; their showing that anyone can get there from here.

The day the master seamstress who was my teacher came into class and confessed that the previous evening she had sewn in a sleeve inside out, I wanted to kiss her. Seriously, if folks put their mentor or teacher on a pedestal, then they remain acolytes, and never develop the mindset to let them become masters, mentors or teachers.

SeiserL
11-13-2010, 01:37 PM
Seriously, if folks put their mentor or teacher on a pedestal, then they remain acolytes, and never develop the mindset to let them become masters, mentors or teachers.
Most people figure that if I can do it (whatever it may be) then they certainly can.

Barbara Knapp
11-13-2010, 02:55 PM
If it is achievable for one of us, it is achievable for all of us.

It is not a "higher standard", but the standard.

Any thoughts?

A few:

Standards are there to work toward, not to be achieved once and for all? Everyone has bad days and good days. Failing is important. Its one of the things a mentor can teach. It is hard to do it well and gracefully.

I meant, that being good people depends in part on having/creating/sustaining a good community. also, that aikido practice, at least in part, is about demonstrating and experiencing compassion, and so creating a community that helps everyone grow.

I was in a class once where the teacher asked us to imagine we were a small village about to be attacked, and our survival depended on every single student being as skillful and strong as possible. Same thing, only different.

SeiserL
11-13-2010, 05:25 PM
Standards are there to work toward, not to be achieved once and for all?
This may be where we differ.

IMHO, standards (and high standards at that) are to be established, achieved, and maintained. That's the daily discipline.

Thoughts?

Janet Rosen
11-13-2010, 06:49 PM
This may be where we differ.

IMHO, standards (and high standards at that) are to be established, achieved, and maintained. That's the daily discipline.

Thoughts?

I'm not Barbara, but I'm going to raise my hand and guess that your difference may be semantic. There are standards as in goals - used this way in schools or workplaces sometimes - and there are standards as in principles - which is how I tend to use the term.

SeiserL
11-14-2010, 05:42 AM
There are standards as in goals - used this way in schools or workplaces sometimes - and there are standards as in principles - which is how I tend to use the term.
Yes agreed.

We know there are semantically different ways to use and definitions of any word. Its always been a problem in communication and mis-communication.

There are standards for the goals and standards for the process of getting there.

The question is do we lower the standards (as goals and process) so more people can achieve them or do we raise them and model and mentor more people in making the higher standards (benchmark) for their standard daily practice?

How do we make (higher) standards more standard and the standard practice?

Thoughts?

Barbara Knapp
11-14-2010, 10:05 AM
Yes, I think we are talking about slightly different things. I am very process oriented, and not much interested in end states. I am talking about guiding light standards, not standards for grading things, like eggs; or people's skills, like ranks in martial arts.

A thought - its the grading type standards that tend to divide people. Its ok to grade eggs, and important to divide incompetent professionals from competent ones. But it does create problems when we start imposing our personal standards, beyond basic health and safety, on other people. At least, its never worked well for me. Being judged, and being disappointed by other's failures to meet my standards, is no fun and not really all that useful...being shown the way by someone who cares and is still learning themselves, that is powerful.

Barbara Knapp
11-14-2010, 10:08 AM
...and I see I have turned your definition on its head. oh well.

SeiserL
11-14-2010, 02:08 PM
Yes, I think we are talking about slightly different things. I am very process oriented, and not much interested in end states.
I have never been very goal-directed end-state-oriented either.

But once I discovered I was direction-directed my life got better and I was able to surpass whatever end-state goal I would have set.

I find when I allow myself to be too process oriented I am not concerned with making any progress and usually do not.

The combination of process-orientation with direction-directed has allowed me to maintain a much higher standard for myself with forward progress than I found previously possible.

I do agree that anything that contains judgments of good/bad or right/wrong have not be useful for me.

Thoughts?

George S. Ledyard
11-15-2010, 12:24 AM
This may be where we differ.

IMHO, standards (and high standards at that) are to be established, achieved, and maintained. That's the daily discipline.

Thoughts?

The reason we call them "standards" is that we intend for them to be met. The things that we put out there to strive for, and perhaps never attain, are "ideals".

SeiserL
11-15-2010, 04:09 AM
The reason we call them "standards" is that we intend for them to be met. The things that we put out there to strive for, and perhaps never attain, are "ideals".
Nice distinction. Compliments.

How we think of things (intent) are not just semantics, but literal commands to our neurology on how to respond.

Thoughts?

Peter Goldsbury
11-15-2010, 06:11 AM
The reason we call them "standards" is that we intend for them to be met. The things that we put out there to strive for, and perhaps never attain, are "ideals".

Hello George,

I have just had dinner with Jun Akiyama here in Hiroshima and we had long talks about aikido, websites, Aikiweb etc etc. So, full of renewed enthusiasm about the wonderful possibilities of AikiWeb, I enter into the fray--and ask: Really, what is the cash value of the difference between intending and striving? You 'intend' to meet standards, or, more impersonally, to have standards met (by others?), but 'strive' to attain ideals. As someone famously asked: where's the beef?

And then Lynn adds:

"How we think of things (intent) are not just semantics, but literal commands to our neurology on how to respond."

Wow. Lynn, forgive me for having a 'Szczepan moment' here, but are you reporting what actually happens when we think of things or when we issue commands to our neurology? The force of 'literal' suggests to me that I actually issue commands to my (mind which then issues commands or my) brain to command my arm muscles to move the steering wheel in such a way that the car I am driving actually moves in the way I want it to.

Or are you simply suggesting what we (in our psychologically unenlightened innocence) think happens?

In general, my own thoughts echo those of Fred Little, but I would push the thought that you can never derive 'ought' or 'should' from 'is' rather more strongly than Fred did.

Best wishes,

PAG

SeiserL
11-15-2010, 07:01 AM
Wow. Lynn, forgive me for having a 'Szczepan moment' here, but are you reporting what actually happens when we think of things or when we issue commands to our neurology? The force of 'literal' suggests to me that I actually issue commands to my (mind which then issues commands or my) brain to command my arm muscles to move the steering wheel in such a way that the car I am driving actually moves in the way I want it to.

Or are you simply suggesting what we (in our psychologically unenlightened innocence) think happens?
Neuroscience is very supportive of the inter-connectedness of the mind and body is a two-way street. What we do with body stimulates neuropathways in the brain. Also, what we consciously and voluntarily focus on in our minds gets neurologically transmitted to the body.

This is often studied in sport psychology through mental rehearsal.

In your example, if you look at something to the side of the road, yes your car will tend to drift in that direction.

I have a friend who told me that one of the problems he has in Aikido is he is trying to move in body in circles while his mind is still thinking in straight line.

In linguistics we often see the underlying implied meaning of the words we use often act as an indirect command.

Perhaps the congruence of body and mind is important.

Thoughts?

BTW: I am really enjoying and learning from our discussion here. Thank you to all.

Janet Rosen
11-15-2010, 09:37 AM
To me a standard is the expectation of how I will behave or perform - whether it is an external standard laid out by, say, my workplace or my inner self-expectations; the latter being a very harsh taskmaster.

On the other issue... research indicates the brain/nervous system is indeed much more plastic than we were taught in university thirty years ago. And not only is there greater capacity for remodeling or regeneration that previously thought, our neuroanatomy/physiology is literally changed by what we experience or see (interesting stuff scanning the brains of kids chronically witnessing violence around them) and also by the messages and beliefs that form each person's inner landscape.

George S. Ledyard
11-15-2010, 11:00 AM
Hello George,

I have just had dinner with Jun Akiyama here in Hiroshima and we had long talks about aikido, websites, Aikiweb etc etc. So, full of renewed enthusiasm about the wonderful possibilities of AikiWeb, I enter into the fray--and ask: Really, what is the cash value of the difference between intending and striving? You 'intend' to meet standards, or, more impersonally, to have standards met (by others?), but 'strive' to attain ideals. As someone famously asked: where's the beef?

In general, my own thoughts echo those of Fred Little, but I would push the thought that you can never derive 'ought' or 'should' from 'is' rather more strongly than Fred did.


Hi Peter,
I am simply using the terms in the way that folks seem to commonly understand them. "Ideals" seem to represent something that we'd like to see but most often don't even expect to, perhaps because of consistent disappointment, as in our politics here, but it's best if I don't start on that...

When someone who is said to be "idealistic" he is thought to be a bit out of sync with reality, a wishful thinker, one whose ideas don't really reflect reality, no matter how "nice" they are.

When someone seems to REALLY believe in his ideas and tries to actually live them, he is called a Saint. Given the history of Sainthood, not only would folks generally concede they are extremely rare, but most folks would admit to not really wishing to be one.

I think this is how most folks actually use the terms "ideals" or "ideally".

"Standards" however, are considered to be a statement or definition of quality or performance that is to be met. The expectation is that the standard MUST be attained or maintained. There is no wishful thinking here. Safety "standards" might be set by the government and failure to maintain those standards could even be actionable. Performance "standards" are the basis of ones performance review and determine whether one gets a raise or even keeps his job. If the "standards" are unattainable or too poorly defined, people get really upset and that is considered a form of bad management. "Standard" procedures are even used as part of a legal defense if one is being sued for negligence. One strives to show that ones actions were standard actions in the industry and not something out of the ordinary. So consistently when we use the term "standards" there is a connotation of expectation, even responsibility that simply isn't there when we use the terms "ideal" or "ideally".

So, the relevant question, since this is an Aikido forum, how this discussion applies to Aikido? In that realm I would say that the uses are perhaps a bit different.

I think that one of the great issues with Aikido is that we have treated the art and skill therein as representing some set of "ideals". The Founder was an "idealist" and perhaps even a "Saint" of sorts, and therefore we don't expect our technique or actions to meet that standard because it is seen as an "ideal", not really a "standard" that anyone expects to duplicate.

So, too often this extends all the way down through the whole "pyramid" of the Aikido endeavor. Performance at all levels is seen as a set of "ideals" rather than "standards". No one seems terribly upset when an "ideal" isn't reached. Yes, I would have liked it if he had done such and such on his test, but he's older, has kids, has a career, isn't very athletic, whatever... and it's the effort that counts anyway, so voila we have a new back belt.

This happens all the way to the top. No one seems terribly upset by the fact that his teacher has admittedly not measured up to the "standard" set by the Founder because it isn't really seen as a "standard" but rather as an ideal.

No one in my organization seems to be terribly upset that not a single one of their teachers has met the standard set by Saotome Sensei because it's been turned into an ideal. So much so that people go about their training telling themselves that they couldn't actually attain that level. It's ok to go to a seminar with Saotome Sensei and not understand a thing that happens from Friday night until Sunday night because Sensei is "amazing" and, of course, we are not.

All along the whole vertical hierarchy of the art we see people letting themselves off the hook for doing their jobs because they have turned what should have been "standards" into "ideals" and no one really expects or is expected to reach and "ideal".

I think that one of the definitions of Budo would be that one treats the "ideal" as the "standard". It is a continuous search for a perfection that, while truly unattainable, is sought with single minded, unflagging effort. This effort continues right up until ones death. Remember the Nike ad campaign "Just do it!". Well, that's more the Budo outlook. No excuses, no letting oneself off the hook. It's the attitude of shinken shobu or "live blade encounter". You either perform or you die. My wife Genie was a championship fencer. When entering the finals after a whole weekend of fighting matches to reach that place, there's profound level of exhaustion... the will is often the only thing that separates the winner from the loser on that day. "Be tired later" was her mantra.

So, in my opinion, Budo is an exercise of the will to keep one in pursuit of the "ideal". Aikido, in my opinion, is an extremely "idealistic" art. But it takes a strong will to pursue those ideals and treat them "as if" they were really standards. One could maintain that doing Aikido with some actual "aiki" should be a standard, that with no "aiki" it's, ipso facto, not even Aiki-do. Yet somehow we've ended up treating skill in "aiki" as an ideal, not something we insist on but a sort of unattainable "ideal" for most of us, that only a chosen few attain.

Since we are no longer a warrior culture, we can let ourselves off the hook. There's no serious negative consequence to not being any good at Aikido. It's not like we perform or die. Besides, it's just a hobby. It's supposed to be "fun". Folks who are too single minded about things make everyone just a bit uncomfortable. Believing that one could actually be as good or better than ones teacher would be seen, not just as unrealistically idealistic, but actually disrespectful, ones ego getting out of control.

So, for me, contrary to popular usage as I have defined it, in Budo, and therefore Aikido even more so, the "ideal" should be the "standard". I am going to understand what O-Sensei understood before I die. I am going to be every bit as good as my teacher, Saotome Sensei. Absolutely nothing stands between me and Ikeda Sensei but my own lack of resolve. If I am less committed to the pursuit of this "ideal", if I don't simply insist for myself that this "ideal" actually represents a "standard" for my performance, then it's just a short step from that to making the whole thing an "idealistic", pie in the sky, wishful thinking, hobby. And that sure as hell isn't Budo.

And, as a teacher, it is not only my job to do this for myself, it is my job to "set the standard" for my students. And here is the "road to Hell", for sure. I have a beautiful dojo with the commensurate rent and expenses. I need a certain number of students just to keep the doors open. If I am too "idealistic" about setting my "standards", I'll be training with two people in my garage. So, I have to compromise on what I would prefer to see as my "standards" and treat them as "ideals". Rather than insist on a standard, I set up easily attainable "minimum standards" that I can live with without feeling like I am running a McDojo, where I can look at myself in the mirror each day and not feel like I am ripping people off and then I try to cajole, inspire, push, interest, even trick people into slowly raising that standard towards an ideal that I know most will never be serious enough to attain.

The endeavor is a Sisyphean task for ones own training and as a teacher responsible for the training of others. It is a daily struggle. And that's what makes it Budo, I guess.

jonreading
11-15-2010, 11:30 AM
Semantically, I think the term "standard" requires an objective component against which to be compared. Standardized testing for example compares a solution against an undisputed answer; the question is either correct or incorrect. Industry standards for example set a specification that must be met by a manufacturer before they can sell a product. These are real expectations to be met by those who operate under them.

"Shoulds", "oughts" and "coulds" fall into a subjective realm. We use these terms to describe those things we believe are important, but maybe are factually ambiguous or morally defined or include some element of subjectivity.
As a personal comment, I think most people have difficulty structuring an argument and use soft language like "shoulds", "oughts" and "coulds" to soften their conclusion statements...just in case they are wrong. I don't think these people are wrong, but the quality of their argument should be questioned. Logic is used precisely to derive a "should" from "is" (classically, at least two "is" statement). We call this "should" a theory, theorem or hypothesis. The difference is that a logical "should" is substantiated by fact, and verified by examination (or experimentation). We have reached a point in our cultural dialogue that we neither require substantiating facts to support a claim, nor verify the concluding statement. So we stop using these concluding statements because heaven forbid we're wrong...

For what its worth, I believe Aikido falls into a more subjective realm. We are kinda the purple markers of the grading world (this is a joke about school boards encouraging teachers to use "less harsh" colored markers to annotate student work, seriously). I think it is tough to have [universal] "standards" in aikido beyond that which a dojo sets forth.

SeiserL
11-15-2010, 02:09 PM
To me a standard is the expectation of how I will behave or perform.
Yes a statement of intent and expectation of what you "will" do, not what your hope to do someday maybe.

SeiserL
11-15-2010, 04:27 PM
It is a daily struggle. And that's what makes it Budo, I guess.
As an admitted hobbyist I know I limit my growth. However, I know I can be a lot better by keeping my standards of practice high.

IMHO, too many people set their standards of practice so low that they limit their potential and guarantee disappointment and failure.

That's how we make the daily discipline into a daily struggle.

I am fortunate that I have been exposed to models and mentors that helped be get past many of my own limitation and get a glimpse of the possible.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-15-2010, 04:33 PM
I think it is tough to have [universal] "standards" in aikido beyond that which a dojo sets forth.
IMHO, standards are personal statements we make about ourselves, not from the Aikido world or our dojo.

Its not about what other people should or ought to do. Its about what I want to do.

I have been told I am very opinionated but not very judgmental.

I state what I belief based on my level of practice and understanding to date. With any luck and more progress it will change as my perspective changes.

IMHO, standards are not something I want to project out onto others, but to incorporate and integrate into my own life. If others see they are worthwhile and which to practice too, that's fine. If not, this is the direction I am walking.

Thoughts?

Janet Rosen
11-15-2010, 04:41 PM
IMHO, standards are not something I want to project out onto others, but to incorporate and integrate into my own life. If others see they are worthwhile and which to practice too, that's fine. If not, this is the direction I am walking.

Thoughts?

If I'm a friend, family member, peer, student, etc...then I agree.

If I'm an instructor or a supervisor, then it is up to me to set clear standards for those I'm instructing or supervising.

Semantically, this is where the difference between "standards" and "values" applies.

George S. Ledyard
11-15-2010, 05:49 PM
I am fortunate that I have been exposed to models and mentors that helped be get past many of my own limitation and get a glimpse of the possible.

I think that you find the teacher when you are ready. You and I met at the Aiki Expos. We trained in some of the same classes... I was at all three and was exposed to some of the most mind-blowingly talented martial artists I could have imagined. I had some of those teachers really reach out to me. Some of the folks I met there have become lifelong friends and colleagues. Some have taught at my dojo, others, I've had to travel to see again. A few I have even been able to co-teach with, an honor I value beyond my ability to express.

My point is that I was a part of a large event. A whole group of acquaintances were there... we went to the same classes, we saw the same teachers. Some of us walked away with our Aikido transformed, for us, it was a paradigm shifting event. Some of us formed a relationship with Ushiro Sensei, especially Ikeda Sensei, and we were able, over a period of years to take our Aikido to an entirely different level. For others, it was meeting Vladimir and Michael from the Systema. For me it was in some ways all of them but the most profound change came from putting my hands on Kuroda Sensei.

So for a group of us, these events were seminal events in our Aikido development. But there was a whole group of folks I knew that were there who walked away changing nothing. I asked a guy if he had seen Uhsiro Sensei... his response was "yeah, I saw Ushiro, he was good." All I could say was, "And? And?" But there was no "and". he saw these guys and went home.

So when you say you have been "lucky" I would say the same thing others say to me when I say I have been "lucky". Luck has had nothing to do with it, not really. We met these amazing teachers because we put ourselves in their paths. None of them ever came to my door looking for me. These people gave you their incredible gifts because you were the kind of student that they wished to invest in. You think they just give these gifts to everyone? My experience is that no, they do not. If you don't look hungry, if you don't look like you want to do the work, they won't spend the time. So, one has to work to make himself or herself in to precisely the kind of student that teachers want to teach. Any gifts we've been given were given because you looked like someone who wouldn't waste the gift.

So "hobbyist" or not, you've been serious. Or these "models and mentors" wouldn't have spent an ounce of effort on you. I do the same thing when I teach. I put it out there for all. I look to see who is receptive, who wants to do the work, who goes out of his or her way to keep getting exposure to what I am doing, then I give them all I can. The folks that don't want to work or who don't seem to value what I have to show, well, that's fine. Obviously they don't feel they need or want my help. It's not about who is, most talented or who gets the stuff the fastest.

Often I find that the people most excited about what I am doing are the folks who have had the toughest time over the years, the non-wizkids. These are the folks who have been left behind, who just could not get what our teachers were doing with the lack of systematic explanation provided, who weren't senior enough to be on some teacher's radar. I have these folks showing up at my dojo or attending some seminar I am teaching to the point at which I asked a couple if they were "stalkers" since I seemed to see them everywhere. Luck has nothing to do with what I give them. Every time I turn around they are there, hungry for help, better than the last time I saw them because they actually work on what you show them. These folks aren't "my" students. They train under other teachers, some aren't even in my organization. But they get every ounce of effort I can give them because they have shown they deserve it. Other folks I wouldn't cross the street to show anything. Some of these folks could be good but they don't want to do the work or they only want to do the work to look good at what they are already good at but don't want to work on what they REALLY need to work at, which is what they are not good at or are not comfortable with. They make look good now, but in the end they will amount to nothing.

I find that there are two kinds of students who attend seminars. There is one group who are doing the checklist thing (some dojos too). Oh yeah, I've seen Endo, I've seen Kato, I've seen Doran, Nadeau, Bookman, Ledyard, Seiser, whomever. It's like "peak bagging"... climbing all the peaks over 14000 in Colorado, or some such.

There isn't a teacher out there who has something of skill or depth to show that you can get it with only one exposure, or an exposure every five years. If that's what you are doing, it's only entertainment. It might be inspirational even, but you aren't learning what they are doing. If you find someone who really has the goods, attach yourself to him and work with him until you have mastered what he has to offer or don't feel it is your direction any more. The people who approach things this way get an investment from a teacher that goes far beyond the call of duty. The teacher actually looks forward to working with that student, will show him things after class, or take him off in a corner at the potluck. Being the person that teachers will do that for has nothing whatever to do with luck, although those of us who have relationships like that do consider ourselves lucky.

We just finished one of the finest and most amazing seminars I have ever attended. Gleason Sensei has taught at my dojo every year for thirteen years. It took me twelve years to get to the point at which I understood what he was doing and could do it myself. Then he shows up this year and his stuff was off the charts. Friday night class I was back to feeling like a developmentally challenged student. His work with Dan Harden, combined with his 40 years of Aikido experience has taken him up to another whole dimension.

Do I feel lucky that he is one of my teachers and is willing to work with me, sit up all night discussing what he's doing, mentor me on a very deep level? You bet I feel lucky. But I also attended every class he taught at any event which we both attended, I'd grab him to work with when Saotome Sensei was teaching, I had him every year, even when for the first five years I pretty much felt stupid when he taught. I sat with that and was rewarded with his instruction which has been totally unrestrained. I couldn't even begin to express how much I have been given by him. But "luck" really wasn't a part of it and I know it wasn't with you and your teachers. You went after it.

So many folks are training who don't even know what "being hungry" is... what really going after it is. They think it is going to come to them if they pay their dues and go to the dojo or show up at a seminar now and then. Well, it's not. You have to really want it. The folks who really have it did, that's how they got where they are. And they recognize it in others. No one gets the gifts unless they look like they want it. Now it might not be the gift they thought they'd asked for, especially if the teacher is really good. But it won't be given if the teacher thinks it will be wasted or it will never be offered again if the teacher sees it wasn't appreciated.

This whole teacher / student thing is completely co-dependent (in a good way). The teacher can't teach without a student who is prepared to learn. The student cannot learn without a teacher who is willing to teach. Each requires the other. And there needs to be a match. A great teacher is wasted on a mediocre student and a great student is nothing more than a "potential" with a mediocre teacher. When a great student finds his great teacher, then magic can happen. And when that great teacher inevitably turns out to be simultaneously a great student himself, then the process is functioning, the transmission is occurring, and the art is healthy. But "luck", no matter how "lucky" we may feel, isn't truly much of a factor.

Barbara Knapp
11-15-2010, 11:29 PM
Ledyard Sensei,

I always look for your posts, as so often I feel like standing up and cheering, especially when you go to bat for aikido as something worth doing seriously for all those reasons people shrug off as just ideals. I was avoiding the word, because it tends to suggest "something not practical which we can and even should ignore." I think that any serious practice is always a striving to become better - constantly resetting the standard ahead of where we are. By definition the pursuit of an ideal.

I also think the practice itself is what matters - otherwise, there would be an end point, when we could say, yeah, that is good enough. So I am going to be bold, and take you on.

If aikido really is a way to change the world, it has to address those who are not ever going to achieve on the highest levels and who know it and go on practicing anyway. If there is no place in aikido for the students who struggle to come two or three times a week, who are raising kids alone or taking care of older parents, who have a disability that limits them, or are just trying to hold down some crappy job so they can get by, or even just started old, or have some other art that comes first, then aikido is dead in the water as anything but a little known art form practiced by a bunch of cranks. The serious aikido student you describe will only become another martial arts instructor, after all. ;) The students who use aikido to change themselves, at whatever level they can, and take that out into whatever they are doing, are the ones who will change the world. We need the devoted teachers, but the students who just practice as best they can, are at least as important. Where would you be without them?

That is why achieving some set standard of physical technique for a belt is pointless. what matters is the quality of the practice. I do not see the link between perfect technique and perfection of character as all that strong.

George S. Ledyard
11-16-2010, 01:53 AM
Ledyard Sensei,

I always look for your posts, as so often I feel like standing up and cheering, especially when you go to bat for aikido as something worth doing seriously for all those reasons people shrug off as just ideals. I was avoiding the word, because it tends to suggest "something not practical which we can and even should ignore." I think that any serious practice is always a striving to become better - constantly resetting the standard ahead of where we are. By definition the pursuit of an ideal.

I also think the practice itself is what matters - otherwise, there would be an end point, when we could say, yeah, that is good enough. So I am going to be bold, and take you on.

If aikido really is a way to change the world, it has to address those who are not ever going to achieve on the highest levels and who know it and go on practicing anyway. If there is no place in aikido for the students who struggle to come two or three times a week, who are raising kids alone or taking care of older parents, who have a disability that limits them, or are just trying to hold down some crappy job so they can get by, or even just started old, or have some other art that comes first, then aikido is dead in the water as anything but a little known art form practiced by a bunch of cranks. The serious aikido student you describe will only become another martial arts instructor, after all. ;) The students who use aikido to change themselves, at whatever level they can, and take that out into whatever they are doing, are the ones who will change the world. We need the devoted teachers, but the students who just practice as best they can, are at least as important. Where would you be without them?

That is why achieving some set standard of physical technique for a belt is pointless. what matters is the quality of the practice. I do not see the link between perfect technique and perfection of character as all that strong.

Hi Barbara,
I know I often seem like a hard case and an elitist. In a certain sense I am but in others I'm not. But I have been given a unique gift... 35 years ago I stumbled upon a demonstration of this amazing art by Saotome Sensei, a man who spent fifteen years under the direction of the Founder. I have been doing Aikido ever since. The more I have put into it, the more I have gotten out of it.

It is because I was given such a unique gift, the chance to train with and learn from an array of truly amazing teachers that I find myself called upon to champion the art. Aikido, in the sense the the Founder intended it to be (as I understand it, not that everyone agrees) and as it has been presented to me by Saotome Sensei is endangered.

No one needs to "champion" the hobbyists, to put forth the cause of the average... There are so many of those folks... they are the vast majority. What there are not very many of is folks like my teachers, or even folks like me. I do not see students who remind me of myself when I started. Or like Raso Hultgren or Kayla Feder.

Look at the discussion of what Aikido is... what kind of art is it that the folks doing it can't even tell you what it is.? Why would young people wish to start an art that has such an identity crisis? Where is the excellence? The system is badly broken. Japan is no longer the heartland for the best Aikido. Overseas there are some remarkable teachers but I have seen almost none who look to have produced any students who are even close to their own levels.

What needs championing is excellence. What is lacking is enough folks who want to be good at the art that a critical momentum is maintained in which excellence defines the art while the less serious or committed participate and get what they can out of it. Aikido is becoming an art which is defined by the average, the hobbyists, the marginally committed. It used to be that there were only a few places one could study Aikido. The original teachers tended to be at the top of the field, they were the best. Gradually, moire and more dojos opened. There wasn't time to train high level instructors so more and more dojos were run by less accomplished instructors. Everyone loved Aikido and hung out for decades and that perseverance was rewarded. So we have Rokudans out there whose claim to fame is that they;ve been doing Aikido since the flood.

With so many folks at seniors levels who simply aren't very good, as nice as they may be as people, the art has declined. As a martial art Aikido is a joke. Serious martial artists make fun of Aikido, fifteen year old martial arts wanna be goobers have Aikido sucks month on Bullshido. And hardly anyone takes O-Sensei seriously, including his own grandson back in Japan. The philosophy is watered down, there's little "aiki" in the Aikido. Where there used to be both breadth and depth there is often neither. It is at the point at which Aikido folks don't even know the difference between good Aikido and bad Aikido. In fact that there have been a number of folks on these threads who basically maintained that there really isn't such thing as bad Aikido.

So, I try the best I can to tell people that they don't have to settle for less, that they can do this art the way their teachers can or better, that there is a spiritual and philosophical foundation to this art which is fundamentally connected to the techniques of the art as created by the Founder. It is absolutely true that everyone will never be at the top of the pyramid. Someone will always train just a bit harder, put in more time, have more inherent talent. But every single person could be far better than they currently are, top and bottom. And a change like that is never driven from the bottom up. It happens when that small group of folks who devote their lives to a practice start insisting on higher standards, representing excellence in their own practices, and inspiring those below them to do the same.

So, yes, your statement, where would we all be without the non-stars, the average folk, the hobbyists, is a good and relevant one. Those people are important and I think that if Aikido is to be some sort of trans-formative practice that can change the world, it absolutely has to reach those folks and speak to them. No question. But those folks are not capable of fixing the art or raising the standard. Bad Aikido isn't trans-formative, it isn't good spirituality and it isn't good martial arts. For the practice to be trans-formative it has to have depth, it has to be taught by excellent teachers who are skilled and thoughtful. There has to be a core of folks who think the art is worth devoting ones life to perfecting. Everybody likes the idea of doing Aikido when they can, when they have time, if they can afford it, whenever something else isn't more important. Someone else will be the one who does the heavy lifting, who sacrifices for the art, who adds something to the art by his or her participation rather the just taking from the art. It's just not me, I am a hobbyist, someone else should be responsible for keeping the art strong and vibrant.

So, yes, when I write, I don't spend much time telling folks that things are ok when I don't think they are. The fact that so many people seem quite content with the mediocre Aikido that is being presented to them is not a positive thing for the art. In the old days in Japan, if someone came in to your dojo and beat you up in front of your students, the students wold leave. There was a certain expectation that the art and the teacher could really do what they were saying. How many Aikido dojos would there be if that were how things worked still?

People will talk at length about O-Sensei and Aikido philosophy and they know almost no history, haven't ever had a subscription to Aikido Journal, aren't familiar with the modern history of the development of the art. I know Rokudans for whom this is true. They simply didn't have the interest to educate themselves. So how can anything they say be treated seriously?

It is so bad that teachers no longer represent the standard properly. So if they do not, how can one think the students will figure it out? It is excellence that we need, not more numbers. We need truth tellers and not more validation. We absolutely require a core of practitioners who will practice every day, not just the three times a week I said is needed to be competent. We need more Aikido fanatics who will take their training to the limit. That's where the next generation of excellent teachers will come from. It shouldn't be a bunch of mediocrities who have gotten rank because they've been loyal to some also mediocre teacher for decades.

So yes, when it comes to the survival of the art, I am an elitist. I am judgmental. I think that a number of "teachers" should commit hara kiri out of embarrassment over what a mediocre model they've been. I want to support and encourage the ones who want to do more, be better, I want to empower people to go for it and do a better Aikido, to be better than what they've been shown. It is completely doable. Aikido could transform itself in one generation if folks simply decided to do it.

I don't spend a lot of time worrying or talking about the "average" practitioner. To my mind, the best way I can help him or her is to do my best to raise the standard of instruction. I don't have any problems with average folks training any way they wish, as often as they wish, as hard or as soft as they see fit. It's the teachers I have a problem with and I see no need to be tolerant or forgiving when it comes to folks who open dojos and set themselves up as teachers who can't do the job due to lack of effort and commitment to being excellent at the art.

Peter Goldsbury
11-16-2010, 04:20 AM
Hello George,

Many thanks for the response (Post # 35).

I am aware of the differences between standards and ideals, both as these are commonly understood, and as they are sometimes used in aikido.

However, my questions, to you and Lynn, did not really concern these terms. You used the terms 'intending' and 'striving' and Lynn used the word 'literal'.

In response to your post about standards and ideals, Lynn mentioned that 'how we think of things (intent) were literal commands to our neurology.' I asked for an explanation and gave a concrete example, about driving, but Lynn did not really give an explanation. If I look at something at the side of the road, my car might well drift to that side, but I am not a professional psychologist and I need some explanation of how this is relevant to issuing 'literal commands to our neurology'.

(The only other professional psychologist I know [non-American, I hasten to add] who practices aikido is famously / notoriously bad at giving explanations about virtually anything, since he claims that nothing is ever 'objective', but is a mishmash of subjective aims, intentions, strivings, emotions and motivations. For him aikido is a martial way of undergoing counseling.)

So, here is another question. In his training seminar, did Mr Gleason discuss the role of 'intent' in personal training? Of course, I am not talking here about the general standards and ideals that you so eloquently argue are not being met--virtually anywhere. I have in mind something much more basic: the role of intent in personal training exercises: exercises like, for example those that Mr Gleason must have done at the hands of Mr Harden and exercises that O Sensei certainly did alone. (My own training exercises here are from Mr Akuzawa.)

Finally, I believe that saints are not noted for doing what they believe, so much as living lives of heroic virtue. There is a religious connotation here and I think the cognate concept to 'saint' is holy. The way you described the popular idea of sainthood in Post #39 would also apply to Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

As always, best wishes.

PAG

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 05:08 AM
Semantically, this is where the difference between "standards" and "values" applies.
Yes agreed, we differ.

I don' change my standards or expectation based on who others are or what context we are in.

IMHO, it is a personal choice and statement about the level of my standards.

I personally value high standards.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 05:13 AM
[QUOTE=George S. Ledyard;268298]No one needs to "champion" the hobbyists, to put forth the cause of the average... There are so many of those folks... they are the vast majority.

What needs championing is excellence.[QUOTE]
Yes agreed.

Even as hobbyist there is a level of excellence far beyond what we can imagine and we can get closer to it than the think.

IMHO, we have made it easy to be good at AIkido because we have set the bar so low. (BTW, I say the same thing about being a good man.)

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 05:21 AM
I think that you find the teacher when you are ready. You and I met at the Aiki Expos. We trained in some of the same classes... I was at all three and was exposed to some of the most mind-blowingly talented martial artists I could have imagined.
Yes agreed.

The Expos blew me away. I will always be grateful to Sensei Pranin for the experience.

While I didn't see anything I didn't see everyday from my Sensei, I saw it from different perspectives and applications and realized that some of it was not only outside the box, but that there was no longer a box.

I have found most teachers (yourself included) would honestly teach if I honestly wanted to learn and put forth some effort to try what they were offering.

Hopefully as I model and mentor (not always by choice) that my models and mentors know how much I appreciate what they have invested in me by my humble attempts to pass the lessons on.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 05:29 AM
That is why achieving some set standard of physical technique for a belt is pointless. what matters is the quality of the practice. I do not see the link between perfect technique and perfection of character as all that strong.
Yes agreed.

I value mindful practice that pays close attention to the application of the principles. The principles can be generalized to other contexts.

While many say the "devil is in the details", I often respond "so are the angels".

IMHO, it is the integration and expression of those principles (not the techniques) that can be transformative and generative.

One of those principles (for me) is to accept and appreciate all with the courage to show up, dress out, and bow in.

Thoughts?

Peter Goldsbury
11-16-2010, 05:41 AM
Edit to my last post.

To George: my comments about sainthood refer you your post #35, not #39.

To Lynn: I pointed out that my professional psychologist aikido colleague was non-American, in order to avoid any suggestion that my judgment also applied to your good self.

Best wishes,

PAG

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 05:54 AM
In response to your post about standards and ideals, Lynn mentioned that 'how we think of things (intent) were literal commands to our neurology.' I asked for an explanation and gave a concrete example, about driving, but Lynn did not really give an explanation. If I look at something at the side of the road, my car might well drift to that side, but I am not a professional psychologist and I need some explanation of how this is relevant to issuing 'literal commands to our neurology'.
Sensei,

Just because you did not understand or accept my brief explanation to a complicated process does not mean that I did not really give one. It only means that I somehow failed to communicate it.

I find this often in teaching clinical and forensic psychology (as well as Aikido) that my words are very inadequate to convey/communicate the images/talk in my head to the images/talk in your head.

IMHO, the studies of neuroscience and applied kinesiology support that the images and talk within our heads have a neurological and physical response within the body appropriate to the content of the thoughts.

If we think a positive thoughts, our muscles test (applied kinesiology) strong and when we think negative thoughts our muscles test weak.

Likewise if you vividly imagine doing an activity (as in sport psychology's use of mental rehearsal and in hypnosis's use of ideomotor signals), the mind sends signals to the body to respond accordingly. That pathway appears to be neurological.

In Aikido I was taught that where the head goes, the body tends to follow. I find truth through practice that this applies to the mind in our heads, our hearts, and our center/hara. Where they go, I tend to go too. Especially if they are all pointed in the same direction. When I connect with another individual in practice and in life I sense an application of the same principle.

I agree with your friend that its a very subjective world and that what might be an explanation to me, does not necessarily meet your requirements/criteria as an adequate explanation especially if you are looking for a totally objective one (which I did attempt to convey).

Thus it the challenge of interpersonal communication especially in a limited context such as this. But like the Socratic method, the questioning helps refine the argument/explanation. It is yet another opportunity to grow.

BTW, I trained with you at the first Aiki Expo and have always valued the experience.

Thoughts?

MM
11-16-2010, 06:44 AM
However, my questions, to you and Lynn, did not really concern these terms. You used the terms 'intending' and 'striving' and Lynn used the word 'literal'.

In response to your post about standards and ideals, Lynn mentioned that 'how we think of things (intent) were literal commands to our neurology.' I asked for an explanation and gave a concrete example, about driving, but Lynn did not really give an explanation. If I look at something at the side of the road, my car might well drift to that side, but I am not a professional psychologist and I need some explanation of how this is relevant to issuing 'literal commands to our neurology'.


Hello Peter,

If you would be so kind as to allow me a stab at this ...

It wasn't until recently (um, 3-5 years) that I heard the Chinese saying of Yi leads Chi. I found it surprising that Yi can be translated as "intent" and that some Chinese Martial Arts (CMA) actually have "Yi" in their title. YiQuan for example. As someone I know has said (paraphrasing), Somewhere in history, founders of some CMA must have thought that Yi (intent) was very important.

Jumping to Aikido, we can see throughout that Ueshiba Morihei placed importance on his "spiritual" frame of mind. In fact, in one very overlooked (Call it a Rosetta Stone moment), Ueshiba actually translated what being part of the Universe meant to him physically (he had someone push on him and because he was one with the Universe he couldn't be pushed over). I don't think it's a far stretch to say that Ueshiba viewed mind/intent as an important part of his aikido.

I've been told that intent is very important. I can see, from the CMAs, intent is important. I can see, from Ueshiba's discourses, that intent is important. And from personal experience, I know that intent training is very hard. The hardest part, though, is understanding in a very physical manner how intent training works on the physical body.

Looking to the side of the road while driving and then drifting that way can actually be a side effect of musculature rather than intent. Not saying that it can't be an effect of intent, but the body is built a specific way ... an interconnected way.

Training the intent is training to rewire how the body functions on a physical level. A small example to experiment with is using a cup of coffee or tea. While sitting, hold the cup parallel (forearm is parallel, too) with a desk/table about 2 inches above. Use your intent to start the process of lifting that cup to your mouth. You must get to the exact point where the cup is just about to physically move but don't let it. Hold that intent of lifting. You really want to bring that cup to your mouth but you keep it held statically, unmoving.

Your body is physically doing *something*. That is just half the exercise. While keeping to that exact point, use intent to have your forearm/hand bring that cup down onto the desk. Get it to the point where it almost physically starts moving downward and hold that. Keep *both* intents going at the same time.

If you are just holding the cup, thinking about this exercise, you won't be doing anything. You actually have to have that strong intent working and not just thinking it. I would argue that "thinking of things" is not the same as "intent". I can think of bringing that cup to my mouth all day long and not actually be doing anything physical. If I really want to move that cup to my mouth, I have to use intent to start the physical process and then follow through by allowing my physical movement to complete it.

To me, "thinking of things" would be mental only. "Intent" involves the mental leading the physical in "literal commands to our neurology". Although I wouldn't limit it to just "neurology", but expand it to other functioning systems of the body.

Mark

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 08:23 AM
Looking to the side of the road while driving and then drifting that way can actually be a side effect of musculature rather than intent. Not saying that it can't be an effect of intent, but the body is built a specific way ... an interconnected way.
Hi Mark,

And welcome to the discussion.

Yes, interconnected. Connect the dots.

The mind is connected to the brain. The brain is connected to the nervous system (both sympathetic and parasympathetic). The nervous stem is connected to the musclulature. The musculature is connected to movement.

If I visualize movement from a dissociated spectator position, I am not telling my body to move. If I visualize from a participatory associated position, neuroscience can trace activity in the nervous system and the corresponding muscles. Different commands.

If I auditorially tell myself I will "try" to do something, I am not telling my body to "do" it, only to "try" to do it. Likewise, the neuropathway in the brain and the body activate on the "do" not the "try". Different commands.

I do not have a good kinesthetic or energetic sense, but accept that energy goes where I focus my mind (unbendable arm and extending ki). Because I have yet to develop the necessary tools of discernment, this still sounds subjective to me, but accept for others with these tools this is their objective experience. I look forward to and train in that direction.

I was training with a man one day and he admitted that his biggest obstacle in Aikido was that he didn't believe he could make it work. He laughed and said he knew that mine did.

Mental training and focus will never replace the sweat on the mat, or vice versa. Combined they tend to work pretty good.

Thoughts?

jonreading
11-16-2010, 11:40 AM
IMHO, standards are personal statements we make about ourselves, not from the Aikido world or our dojo.

Its not about what other people should or ought to do. Its about what I want to do.

I have been told I am very opinionated but not very judgmental.

I state what I belief based on my level of practice and understanding to date. With any luck and more progress it will change as my perspective changes.

IMHO, standards are not something I want to project out onto others, but to incorporate and integrate into my own life. If others see they are worthwhile and which to practice too, that's fine. If not, this is the direction I am walking.

Thoughts?

I will not describe this well... Ultimately, I believe that I will be content when I understand myself. Standards and goals are tools that help me plot a path for my life and maintain that path. Along the way, I may not understand what personal standard to set for myself, or a personal goal to direct my efforts. In these cases, there should exist aggregate standards against which to compare my personal standards.

Our culture has reached a point where we believe "standards" to be a critical observation, not an evaluation. Someone who does not get a "A" is stupid and someone who does not win a trophy is a loser. So what do we do? Teachers are pressured to give everyone "A"s and everyone who plays little league gets a trophy. But guess what? There are still poor students and losers in the world, but we have now removed an tool to evaluate and gauge how to perform better next time.

My earlier purpIe pen comment about aikido is directed to this observation - Aikido grants great leniency to its students in executing kata and we seldom provide critical feedback that is necessary to truly improving beyond a rudimentary level. I think that is why some of the new teaching that has a stronger structure entering aikido is well-received - we do not have time to train the wrong move for 5 years until some instructor finally says, 'hey, you know that thing you do with your hand? It's not right, here is the right way."

Listening to Frank Doran Sensei describe to you why your movement is bad is satire; you usually end up agreeing with him and feel like an idiot to boot. It's only better when you are in front of class...

My personal standards should reflect the proficiency and competency I desire to express in my aikido. Those standards will eventually be consumed by junior students who are looking to set their own personal standards. The aggregation of personal standards within the dojo will set forth a dojo standard, and so forth.

There is a mindset that correlates outside approval with personal success and becomes dependent upon others to structure personal success. The clinical term is "Opra fan club"; I'm kidding. I think we need to understand that not everyone is an "A" student, not everyone is a "winner"; I think our first step is insulating our self-confidence and self-image from outside influence.

George S. Ledyard
11-16-2010, 11:50 AM
(The only other professional psychologist I know [non-American, I hasten to add] who practices aikido is famously / notoriously bad at giving explanations about virtually anything, since he claims that nothing is ever 'objective', but is a mishmash of subjective aims, intentions, strivings, emotions and motivations. For him aikido is a martial way of undergoing counseling.)

On a certain level I don't have a problem with this idea... it's just that, in my own experience, the majority of the folks who take this approach are so "process" oriented that they completely lose any martial integrity. They get so concerned with how it all "feels" that they simply don't pay enough attention to what is really happening physically. An exception would be someone like Richard Heckler. His Aikido is solid yet he takes a fairly "process" oriented approach. I would suspect that the same would be true of someone like Robert Frager, although I haven't had the good fortune to actually train with him.

Whereas I think I am pretty clearly on record as believing that Aikido is not about fighting, I absolutely believe that it is the martial paradigm of our training which gives us our feedback about the level of understanding we have. Without the checks and balances of the martial paradigm the whole thing can get so "cosmic" that no one knows what is going on. I mean energy balls at 20 feet, etc.

So, here is another question. In his training seminar, did Mr Gleason discuss the role of 'intent' in personal training? Of course, I am not talking here about the general standards and ideals that you so eloquently argue are not being met--virtually anywhere. I have in mind something much more basic: the role of intent in personal training exercises: exercises like, for example those that Mr Gleason must have done at the hands of Mr Harden and exercises that O Sensei certainly did alone. (My own training exercises here are from Mr Akuzawa.)

Yes, the seminar was virtually all on that subject. My folks have been getting exposure to Dan Harden's work through both Gleason Sensei and Howard Popkin so they had some foundation already. This seminar Gleason Sensei really did an amazing job of connecting that work to the art of Aikido. It was brilliant. I think everyone on the mat, regardless of level, came away having made a jump in level. That's an achievement for just a weekend seminar and certainly an exception from my experience. I'd love to see what you are doing with Akuzawa's stuff... You have the background to do what Gleason Sensei is doing and taking it back in to Aikido and that's crucial for the art. I think that there's a certain confusion about "aiki" and Aikido being the same, and it isn't. Dan is an "aiki" master (and I don't use that term lightly, in fact hardly ever) but he isn't doing Aikido. Akuzawa has a ridiculous structure but he isn't doing Aikido. I'm not convinced that there aren't substantial differences between our "big three" Dan H, Mike S and Ark. I'll wait until I am better at this stuff before I decide.

There are a number of folks who have started training with these guys but few that I have seen understand very well how to take it back in to their Aikido and still have it be Aikido. Most are still at the stage at which the two have a separate form. Gleason Sensei, with his forty years of Aikido and his weekly exposure to Dan in the last year is changing exponentially. Last year was the first year I had been able to do everything he taught the way he was doing it. But this year it was like starting over on some level. I am far better than I was a year ago. My Aikido is continuing to change all the time. But when I saw Gleason Sensei his pace of growth had so outpaced mine that it was humbling in the extreme. Friday night I had one of those moments like some of the famous English musicians had back in the day when they first saw Hendricks in London. Peter Noone (Herman's Hermits) said he saw Hendricks and his first thought was "I should just quit." So I had my "Aikido's stupid, I quit" mental tantrum. My wife, who finds Aikido quite frustrating at the best of times was completely unsympathetic. She thoroughly enjoyed seeing me so frustrated.

By Saturday am I had my equilibrium back and, not surprisingly things started working again. It was a paradigm changing seminar along the lines of many of the classes at the Aiki Expo. So we did quite a lot of Aikido, but attempting to use internal power to execute the techniques and when he saw people needed to, he'd take us back to the solo and paired internal power exercises to get us making the right connections. I don't know how the other folks fared but I did some things this past weekend that I pretty much would have considered voodoo at some point in the past. I did a couple things where my partner was saying, "what was that?" and my own brain was caught in between telling itself that what I'd done couldn't possibly have worked and saying to itself "Way cool!!!"

Finally, I believe that saints are not noted for doing what they believe, so much as living lives of heroic virtue. There is a religious connotation here and I think the cognate concept to 'saint' is holy. The way you described the popular idea of sainthood in Post #39 would also apply to Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

And that's the hook... that's how the truly "great despots" got regular law abiding folks to go along with totally psychotic behavior. In order to get regular people to act really badly you simply have to appeal to their ideals and mix it with getting them fearful and they'll do pretty much anything. My general rule of thumb is "if you have to go find the Saint, you are probably ok, if the Saint is coming to you, run."

Thanks for the response Peter! I hope at some point I can get over there and visit. I'd love to see what you've been doing with all of this. It's very exciting.
- George

George S. Ledyard
11-16-2010, 12:21 PM
In Aikido I was taught that where the head goes, the body tends to follow. I find truth through practice that this applies to the mind in our heads, our hearts, and our center/hara. Where they go, I tend to go too. Especially if they are all pointed in the same direction. When I connect with another individual in practice and in life I sense an application of the same principle.

Totally agree... One will hear that Aikido is about Mind / Body / Spirit Unification. I think that proper practice is about realizing that this isn't true. Mind / Body / Spirit is already unified. You can't un-unify them. Initially we train to "connect" with the partner... hopefully, through hard training, we get to the point at which we realize that this isn't what it's about at all. We are already connected. We cannot be separate.

So it's really the same as Buddhism. We aren't training to get Enlightened, we are already Enlightened, but we are too stupid to understand that. Suffering is acting as though we are separate because we just don't get it.

So, the whole seminar with Gleason Sensei one could see that, the more one stopped trying to act on the partner and simply focused on integrating oneself, the less the partner could effect you, the less "effort" you put in, the better things worked. The end point of this process is to realize that there is no separation. That's what the Founder said when he stated that there "is no attacker". Training when it is done properly is entirely directed at this realization.

It's not just an idea or concept, it is a reality that you can feel and demonstrate. But only if the training is being done properly. Most of what we see in Aikido is simply reinforcing the idea that the partner / attacker is separate and the goal is to apply strong, integrated, balanced force to his weak lines to prevail. That kind of practice will not lead to the kind of realization I am talking about. It might even work at a sort of rudimentary level for purposes of self defense but it will not reveal the kind of underlying truths that O-Sensei talked about when he lectured about Aikido.

One of the working definitions of "aiki" I have been using is to say that what I am doing is moving the partner's Mind so that his Mind moves his body. But especially after this weekend, I can see that this is still only a beginning level understanding. What we did all weekend was to experience that when I use my Mind to integrate my structure so that it stands alone, complete and independent, the partner / attacker is simply a part of that. When I use my Mind to move me, my partner's Mind is moved automatically. When my Mind moves my Body, his Mind moves his Body.

So I come away with another Aikido Koan to work on... It seems that the more I learn to stand alone, the more "connected" I am. Now that ought to keep me busy for quite a while.
- George

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 12:52 PM
My earlier purpIe pen comment about aikido is directed to this observation - Aikido grants great leniency to its students in executing kata and we seldom provide critical feedback that is necessary to truly improving beyond a rudimentary level. I think that is why some of the new teaching that has a stronger structure entering aikido is well-received - we do not have time to train the wrong move for 5 years until some instructor finally says, 'hey, you know that thing you do with your hand? It's not right, here is the right way."
Yes agreed.

At first I learned slowly by just copying my Sensei. I think they called it "steal the technique", but I was never a great thief and really thought I was doing what I was shown.

I finally asked about the difference between my movement and his movement. He showed and explained the difference. It gave my training direction.

For some people the body may get it first and then the mind, but my body was never that smart. The mind usually had to get a glimpse first to direct the body and then because the feet were so far from the head, it still took a while.

Now I appreciate models and mentors who talk too much. I feel it has allowed this hobbyist some small measure of progress.

I often feel I get that through the discussions here even if I don't always participate verbally. Somebody is always pointing in a direction I never would have considered by by own thinking.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 01:03 PM
So it's really the same as Buddhism. We aren't training to get Enlightened, we are already Enlightened, but we are too stupid to understand that. Suffering is acting as though we are separate because we just don't get it.
...
When I use my Mind to move me, my partner's Mind is moved automatically. When my Mind moves my Body, his Mind moves his Body.
...
So I come away with another Aikido Koan to work on... It seems that the more I learn to stand alone, the more "connected" I am.
Yes agreed.

There is another story I like.
When seeing a flag waving in the wind, the monks were asked what is waving. One said the flag and another said the wind. The third smiled and said, the mind was waving.

Another answer would be there is no wind, no flag, and no mind.

Ultimately, there is no separation. It is an arbitrary distinction the mind makes out of ignorance.

As I think you once taught me, "its already done".

Someone else once asked "how it could be any other way?' as if it was inevitable.

Thoughts?

MM
11-16-2010, 01:10 PM
One of the working definitions of "aiki" I have been using is to say that what I am doing is moving the partner's Mind so that his Mind moves his body. But especially after this weekend, I can see that this is still only a beginning level understanding. What we did all weekend was to experience that when I use my Mind to integrate my structure so that it stands alone, complete and independent, the partner / attacker is simply a part of that. When I use my Mind to move me, my partner's Mind is moved automatically. When my Mind moves my Body, his Mind moves his Body.

So I come away with another Aikido Koan to work on... It seems that the more I learn to stand alone, the more "connected" I am. Now that ought to keep me busy for quite a while.
- George

Has the sayings of Ueshiba Morihei started to make more sense yet? When asked what is aikido, he answers, I am aiki. His intent is upwards into the heavens, his intent is downwards into the earth, so strongly that he is the Universe. When people contact him/Universe, they cannot push him over. As the Universe moves/he moves, such that people move with him. There is not two people at that moment, but all are within the Universe. Izu and Mizu are the contradictory forces which guide the way. Intent before movement such that the Universe/Ueshiba is already inside uke's movement before it starts and then it is one. Ueshiba is the bridge/point where people connect to him/Universe. It is their energy that fuels him/Universe.

And it all is founded upon aiki. No need to follow Ueshiba's specific spirituality because most can be substituted. But, the aiki cannot. That component must be taught, trained, and built. Daito ryu aiki ... a secret nearly lost to us all. Thank Ellis Amdur for single handedly saving many martial arts. :)

SeiserL
11-16-2010, 03:48 PM
Thank Ellis Amdur for single handedly saving many martial arts. :)
Yes agreed.

Another person I train with every chance I get.

Peter Goldsbury
11-16-2010, 09:53 PM
Hello Peter,

If you would be so kind as to allow me a stab at this ...

It wasn't until recently (um, 3-5 years) that I heard the Chinese saying of Yi leads Chi. I found it surprising that Yi can be translated as "intent" and that some Chinese Martial Arts (CMA) actually have "Yi" in their title. YiQuan for example. As someone I know has said (paraphrasing), Somewhere in history, founders of some CMA must have thought that Yi (intent) was very important.

Jumping to Aikido, we can see throughout that Ueshiba Morihei placed importance on his "spiritual" frame of mind. In fact, in one very overlooked (Call it a Rosetta Stone moment), Ueshiba actually translated what being part of the Universe meant to him physically (he had someone push on him and because he was one with the Universe he couldn't be pushed over). I don't think it's a far stretch to say that Ueshiba viewed mind/intent as an important part of his aikido.

I've been told that intent is very important. I can see, from the CMAs, intent is important. I can see, from Ueshiba's discourses, that intent is important. And from personal experience, I know that intent training is very hard. The hardest part, though, is understanding in a very physical manner how intent training works on the physical body.

Looking to the side of the road while driving and then drifting that way can actually be a side effect of musculature rather than intent. Not saying that it can't be an effect of intent, but the body is built a specific way ... an interconnected way.

Training the intent is training to rewire how the body functions on a physical level. A small example to experiment with is using a cup of coffee or tea. While sitting, hold the cup parallel (forearm is parallel, too) with a desk/table about 2 inches above. Use your intent to start the process of lifting that cup to your mouth. You must get to the exact point where the cup is just about to physically move but don't let it. Hold that intent of lifting. You really want to bring that cup to your mouth but you keep it held statically, unmoving.

Your body is physically doing *something*. That is just half the exercise. While keeping to that exact point, use intent to have your forearm/hand bring that cup down onto the desk. Get it to the point where it almost physically starts moving downward and hold that. Keep *both* intents going at the same time.

If you are just holding the cup, thinking about this exercise, you won't be doing anything. You actually have to have that strong intent working and not just thinking it. I would argue that "thinking of things" is not the same as "intent". I can think of bringing that cup to my mouth all day long and not actually be doing anything physical. If I really want to move that cup to my mouth, I have to use intent to start the physical process and then follow through by allowing my physical movement to complete it.

To me, "thinking of things" would be mental only. "Intent" involves the mental leading the physical in "literal commands to our neurology". Although I wouldn't limit it to just "neurology", but expand it to other functioning systems of the body.

Mark

Hello Mark,

It is the vocabulary in which you couch the whole exercise that I have a problem with and I have similar problems with much of Lynn's discussion. I have much difficulty understanding is being described verbally here, for I think language is being used rather too loosely. You say that Yi can be translated as 'intent', which is an abstract noun. Is Yi an abstract noun in Chinese and did the Chinese mean it as such? You then move on to 'using intent' and ‘intent’ training and take it for granted that this is what Ueshiba was actually doing. I read him in Japanese and an unconvinced that he can be translated into post-Cartesian concepts so easily.

Best wishes,

PAG

SeiserL
11-17-2010, 03:52 AM
I read him in Japanese and an unconvinced that he can be translated into post-Cartesian concepts so easily.
Sensei,

I am always impressed with your depth of resources and knowledge.

Agreed. Translations (vocabulary) often change meaning and is never easy but is always important.

Specifically what was he saying and how can we apply it to our training?

Peter Goldsbury
11-17-2010, 06:05 AM
Sensei,

I am always impressed with your depth of resources and knowledge.

Agreed. Translations (vocabulary) often change meaning and is never easy but is always important.

Specifically what was he saying and how can we apply it to our training?

Hello Lynn,

I assume you have read and pondered on all the English translations of M Ueshiba that have been produced so far. To make a training manual specifically based on his discourses (translated as accurately as possible and also annotated) is an attractive project, though it would probably not be publishable, at least commercially. I have long thought that a critical edition of Ueshiba's discourses is necessary, one which also takes account of insights like those given by Mark, which are clearly the product of his own training.

The best that has been achieved so far, in terms of careful translation, is the bilingual edition of Budo Renshu, translated by the Bieris.

Best wishes,

PAG

MM
11-17-2010, 07:17 AM
Hello Peter,

I have difficulties finding the right words to convey my meaning. So, yes, I agree with you. Words and language is very difficult and online gives varied personal definitions. Wish I could just step on over to your side of the world and have these conversations in person.

And yes, I do take some things for granted. A slight failing in me. :) But, when I'm wrong, it gives me a better feedback mechanism to adjust my ideas. I have no doubts, though, that understanding Ueshiba's spiritual discourses is a rather hard task. While I think some things seem to make sense, I am still open to the idea that I could be wrong.

I think the idea of a training manual/critical edition based on Ueshiba's discourses is a good idea, too. Unfortunately, something beyond my current knowledge. Maybe in 5 years I'll be in a better place to start something like that.

As an aside, this article (I found it on the RSF forum) conveys similar meanings about intent and exercises. You'll notice that it also talks about opposite forces.

http://wulinmingshi.wordpress.com/2009/09/04/wang-jiwu-on-hidden-power/

SeiserL
11-17-2010, 07:21 AM
I have long thought that a critical edition of Ueshiba's discourses is necessary, one which also takes account of insights like those given by Mark, which are clearly the product of his own training.
Yes agreed.

When I was a child we used to play a game where we would sit in a circle. The first child would whisper something to the second child who would whisper it to the third child and around the circle it would go. By time we got to the end it had been transformed into something totally unrelated.

Its what I often feel here. How very much I project in with my own understanding, experience, and language. I often stay away from the topics of what O'Sensei really meant because I am sure I have no clue.

But through dialogue and discussion perhaps we can get a glimpse of it.

Yes, I have quite a bookshelf full of Aikido books. I will track down a copy of the one you recommended.

crbateman
11-17-2010, 08:15 AM
Yes, I have quite a bookshelf full of Aikido books. I will track down a copy of the one you recommended.Scarce and expensive... I'll help you find one, or you know you're welcome to borrow one of mine. (If memory serves, I may have gifted you one some time ago... It's hand-bound, reads back to front, and comes in a tan cardboard slipcover with a reddish-pink ribbon...)

MM
11-17-2010, 08:19 AM
Scarce and expensive... I'll help you find one, or you know you're welcome to borrow one of mine.

Do you know how much a copy is going for? I have yet to see one for sale anywhere.

Patrick Hutchinson
11-17-2010, 09:21 AM
Hi Mark,
if you're quick off the mark you might get it here: http://tinyurl.com/32n5cjt
(Though it might be in Turkish)
Patrick

MM
11-17-2010, 10:04 AM
Hi Mark,
if you're quick off the mark you might get it here: http://tinyurl.com/32n5cjt
(Though it might be in Turkish)
Patrick

I have a copy of a "normal edition" Budo Renshu. The book Peter and Clark are talking about is the 1973 (I believe) bilingual edition. If you look at publication dates, you'll find that this Budo book has several editions (including the one your link goes to). They have a "forward" by Bieri but are not bilingual. The bilingual edition is rare. I have yet to see it for sale anywhere. That's why I was asking about it.

Mark

Keith Larman
11-17-2010, 10:48 AM
Just to toss something into the mix...

"Intent" is a difficult topic to discuss and there is no shortage of philosophical discussion on it. "Intent" is one of those words that tends to vex our understanding due to any number of reasons. That said we tend have a "common" usage in English but the closer you try to nail it down the more you realize that deconstruction of the term exposes a tremendous amount of difficulties.

Mark, if you remember I was at the Dan Harden seminar (had a blast, thanks again). You made a comment about how in your experience people coming from Ki Society lineages (we split 30 years ago, but yeah, that's my lineage too) tended to understand what you meant when you guys used the term "intent" in terms of the physical manifestation you were looking for.

That combined with a private discussion I had later with Dr. Goldsbury left me with a great deal to think about. Dr. Goldsbury is quite right in pointing out "loose" usage of words. It left me wondering how I had come to understanding what we had talked about at the seminar without any sort of flags going up in my brain. Especially after having spent a couple seemingly neverending terms in college trying to understand German/French Existentialist thought and the role "intentionality" played. So one comment by Peter and I spend the next few days pondering. Rusty brain...

My thoughts lately... We use the term "intent" quite freely and I do wonder if maybe it is a byproduct of our lineage. Maybe that first generation of Tohei's students here in California and Hawaii started using the terminology to communicate something they felt. Certainly we have various "exercises" with "walking with ki" which is also often couched in terms of "walking with intent". Then we start adding things like "extend ki" in your arm and will often say "it is like you have to intend to keep your arm straight without using muscle to do it. Kind of like touching them first without actually moving." Those sorts of comments.

But we need to keep in mind that the word intent is being used in different ways in different contexts. And that's where problems always sneak in. We can talk about intent as meaning a choice to attempt to attain some outcome. This is a purely mental thing. We can also say things like "acting with intent" and by that mean we do something physical which is an expression or manifestation of the mental intent. But in a way that is somewhat trivial -- most thing you choose to do you do with intent, otherwise you wouldn't do it. In one sense you cannot start walking forward without intent. So saying "you need to walk forward with intent" sounds quite self-evident.

Anyway, after thinking about this stuff for a while I wonder if intent isn't a good word to use, even if we decide to agree to use a more common, less strict definition. So many concepts seem to get conflated and I wonder if we're not just replacing one bit of "loose talk" (extend your ki) with another (put it out with intent). So we've changed from something that most westerners (and most Japanese) I daresay think is somewhat obscure (ki) and move to something else that may "feel" more familiar, but is in the end just a different "placeholder" (intent).

What this raises is that I think there are really valuable areas of study. What some of the internal guys are doing is I think critical. I have little doubt that much of Aikido has lost touch with "whatever" that stuff was that these early guys were doing. However, we now seem to be experiencing a world where people are quibbling over different models and words used all while not necessarily drilling down better into a physical understanding of what is really happening. At some point we end up more confused by assumed meanings of the words chosen to represent things that in the end folk are having a really hard time explaining.

Sorry, the post was a bit of a ramble but I'm still trying to gather my thoughts on the topic. And I didn't want to dive into a long discussion of intentionality because I don't think that's really the way we should be going.

I do think Dr. Seiser has a very good underlying point about how we learn, how we "do" things, the role of visualization, and the incredible complexity of physical movement. Psychobiology is a wonderfully rich field now and growing fast. But it is going to be critical that we be increasingly careful about our choice of words and start to examine what we *really* mean about some of these concepts. So a big thank you to Dr. Goldsbury for the reminder about intent. It spurred a long internal discussion. Then I come along and see this thread. Good stuff.

What I hope for the future goes two directions (since this forward looking aspect seems to be an underlying theme in this thread). We need to look back to try to understand what Ueshiba Morihei was doing. We need a better understanding of his training even if we can't hope to do it ourselves. We need to see what he was doing that allowed him to do the things he could do.

On the other side we need to look forward and try to develop better physical models of what this "aiki" thing is and how it is expressed in the body. What that means in hard, physical terms. Is it fascia? Muscle and fascia? Is it how all are used together? Does it include building "different" structures in then learning to use those structures in a particular way? Then how does the mental fit in (or is it simply we need to talk about things like intent solely to learn how to do it but then finding intent irrelevant once we can do it "automatically". i.e., it is a heuristic device to train the body.). We need better models and a better understanding of what's really happening because it seems like many of the contentious debates are about whether the expression of person using model A fits the model used by people doing model B. In the end you're left with wondering if the critique is of the skills or of the fit to a model that is itself poorly defined. In other words we spend way too much time talking about symbols rather than what the symbols are there to represent. We need models that map better so we can have these conversations and be more productive.

I do see and feel similarities across a lot of people. And I see similar things when I go back and look at videos of Ueshiba. Same with Tohei. Same with some sensei. Same with some guys today doing amazing things. Kuroda moving like a cat. Dan delivering a powerful punch in an incredibly small space. Mike generating a powerful push. Threadgill being able to "play" with your center with such apparent ease. So...

Sorry, rambled on and went in a 1000 directions, but that's where my brain is currently going.

SeiserL
11-17-2010, 12:22 PM
Sorry, rambled on and went in a 1000 directions, but that's where my brain is currently going.
Greetings and welcome to the discussion Keith.

Rambling is always welcomed. That's I I tend to ponder thing.

The benefit here is that a bunch of use get the ramble together and help each other define better what we mean. So many things make sense inside my head until I try to explain it to somebody.

If we accept each other's positive intent, we will all continue to learn and train together.

SeiserL
11-17-2010, 12:25 PM
(If memory serves, I may have gifted you one some time ago...)
You have always been too kind and too generous. That specific title does not sit on the shelf next to your other gifts. I will look it over the next time I am down there.

Peter Goldsbury
11-17-2010, 03:19 PM
When I was a child we used to play a game where we would sit in a circle. The first child would whisper something to the second child who would whisper it to the third child and around the circle it would go. By time we got to the end it had been transformed into something totally unrelated.

Hello Lynn,

You should try doing this in Japanese. The game is a regular feature of any group activity that involves a lengthy trip by bus.

PAG

Keith Larman
11-17-2010, 03:28 PM
When I was a child we used to play a game where we would sit in a circle. The first child would whisper something to the second child who would whisper it to the third child and around the circle it would go. By time we got to the end it had been transformed into something totally unrelated.


It is a feature of all behind the scenes communications...

Peter Goldsbury
11-17-2010, 03:59 PM
I come from a philosophical background and this includes a study of two big names. I wrote a masters thesis on Aristotle's problem of how one can intend to do some action, yet not do it--and be held morally liable, or how you can do some action intentionally, but be accused of doing some other action at the same time, equally intentionally, which you did not in fact do. There are two issues here: the moral or ethical issues involved in intentional action; and the issue of actually describing what you are in fact doing, or intending to do.

For the second issue, the discussions of J L Austin, G E M Anscombe and D Davidson are all highly relevant, as is the later philosophy of Wittgenstein. At Hirodai I taught a graduate course on Wittgenstein's later studies of intending and acting. The students on this course were very bright Americans and Japanese--and the course was taught bilingually, with a Japanese translation of Wittgenstein, as well as the English / German original.

So you can use words loosely: sometimes there is no other option and English is occasionally vague. But sometimes you need a high degree of precision and you also need to be aware of how precise / imprecise you are at any one point. In an earlier post I mentioned Cartesian ideas. Descartes is probably the dividing point between the existentialists / phenomenologists whom Keith Larman mentioned, and those I have mentioned above, all following in Wittgentsein's footsteps, who ground their thinking in as precise an analysis of language as they care capable of.

Best wishes to all,

PAG

SeiserL
11-17-2010, 04:31 PM
following in Wittgentsein's footsteps, who ground their thinking in as precise an analysis of language as they care capable of.
My undergraduate study was a double major in psychology and philosophy.

Having spent most of my life as an auditory learner (some one who actually thought you should spell phonetics phonetically and when the teach said sound it out I told her I was) I attempt to be very precise in my language since I am very aware of their power as direct and indirect suggestions.

That's why I enjoy these conversations.

Keith Larman
11-17-2010, 05:34 PM
Dr. Goldsbury.

Over the last few years I've come to the realization that those philosophers I was most interested in during my college days ended up being those who were of the least significance to my thinking today. There were a few I studied who I didn't give any particular weight to their ideas *at the time*, Austen and Wittgenstein in particular. Interestingly enough they were the ones who had the most long term and profound effect on my thinking. Wittgenstein ruined me. Austen ruined me. So in class I struggled with Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre enamored with the "glamor" of the whole existential movement. But Austen and Wittgenstein just keep pulling me back down to earth.

I am going to have to dust off my old copy of "How to do things with Words".

crbateman
11-17-2010, 07:17 PM
Do you know how much a copy is going for? I have yet to see one for sale anywhere.
On those infrequent occasions when a copy appears "out there", the price is usually in the $300-450 range, depending on condition. The majority of the copies I've seen offered have been located in Japan.

Keith Larman
11-17-2010, 08:09 PM
Just to clarify...

I have Budo Training in Aikido that says it was produced by the Sugawara Martial Arts Institute. Copyright 1997 by the late doshu, printed October 2001. Translation by L Bieri. Is this the same book? If so, is the only difference the inclusion of the source Japanese or is the translation itself somewhat different?

Just trying to keep things straight.

Thanks!

crbateman
11-17-2010, 10:45 PM
Just to clarify...

I have Budo Training in Aikido that says it was produced by the Sugawara Martial Arts Institute. Copyright 1997 by the late doshu, printed October 2001. Translation by L Bieri. Is this the same book? If so, is the only difference the inclusion of the source Japanese or is the translation itself somewhat different?

Just trying to keep things straight.

Thanks!
The Sugawara edition has the same drawings and translated English content. The earlier publication, with the traditionally hand-bound pages and slipcover, has all the Japanese text as well.

Keith Larman
11-17-2010, 11:09 PM
Ah, great, thank you. That's what I thought but I realized I wasn't sure. Thanks!

Peter Goldsbury
11-17-2010, 11:53 PM
I am going to have to dust off my old copy of "How to do things with Words".

Hello Keith,

I think you will find Sense and Sensibila and some of the essays in his Philosophical Papers of more relevance to the topics being discussed here.

Best wishes,

PAG

Keith Larman
11-18-2010, 07:38 AM
Hello Keith,

I think you will find Sense and Sensibila and some of the essays in his Philosophical Papers of more relevance to the topics being discussed here.

Best wishes,

PAG

Thank you Dr. Goldsbury. Also, all apologies to the late John Austin -- I notice I keep typing Austen. I'm going to blame him for naming his book Sense and Sensibilia with a name so close to Jane Austen.

Of course she borrowed the name from Aristotle herself...

jonreading
11-18-2010, 11:28 AM
Loose language is often a product of competency and accountability. When you become a politician in the US you also get a Rosetta Stone tutorial in loose language.

One of the things I liked about Dan Linden's book was that he used a straight-forward language that removed much of the Japanese terminology that required interpretation.

Sometimes I hear aikido conversations that start in English but then includes gooey Japanese terminology that not only requires translation but also interpretation. At some point in time authors of aikido instruction will need to present [instructional] conversations in a uni-lingual (and uni-cultural) format. These authors will need to be competent to interpret with accuracy the presentation and they will be accountable for mis-interpretation if the presentation is found faulty.

While I appreciate a brain boggle ever once in a while, at some point we need to move past this "bend like a reed in the wind" master on a hill stuff and begin instructing with a defined curriculum. And for the record, many instructors are already doing this...

While I understand the enlightened education of self-revelation, don't you just want to tell people where they can stick satsujinken and katsujinken when you ask them to clarify WTF they mean and they give you the "if you don't know, I can't tell you" members-only BS?
Oooohhh - maybe we need jackets!!?

George S. Ledyard
11-18-2010, 02:29 PM
While I appreciate a brain boggle ever once in a while, at some point we need to move past this "bend like a reed in the wind" master on a hill stuff and begin instructing with a defined curriculum. And for the record, many instructors are already doing this...

While I understand the enlightened education of self-revelation, don't you just want to tell people where they can stick satsujinken and katsujinken when you ask them to clarify WTF they mean and they give you the "if you don't know, I can't tell you" members-only BS?
Oooohhh - maybe we need jackets!!?

Hi Jon,
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning. So, on a certain level there is quite a bit of "if you don't know, I can't tell you" material in Aikido. I could show you, I could teach it to you given time, but without some mat time, I really can't explain it to you. All the really good stuff is like that. The stuff that can by easily explained to someone of lesser experience is really basic that's why it can be explained easily.

As far as referencing Mr Linden, well, he's the guy that says "ki" is bullshit. Doing an art called "Aikido".

- George

Keith Larman
11-18-2010, 03:02 PM
Hi Jon,
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning. So, on a certain level there is quite a bit of "if you don't know, I can't tell you" material in Aikido. I could show you, I could teach it to you given time, but without some mat time, I really can't explain it to you. All the really good stuff is like that. The stuff that can by easily explained to someone of lesser experience is really basic that's why it can be explained easily.

Mr. Ledyard.

I think this cuts to the heart of the problem we have in transmission of these skills. The question is whether the "ineffability" of these things is a result of them being, well, ineffable as a fundamental feature *or* if the limitation is one of our language to express it. To riff a bit on the philosophical side of things, Wittgenstein had a great quote (among many) "The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for." We can quibble about what exactly that means, but I think his point is well taken.

I recently told someone else that I truly despise the concept of "It Has To Be Felt". Not because I don't "get" that it is apparently the most common way to transmit this stuff. But because back to Wittgenstein's point the real issue to me is whether we are suffering from a lack of understanding as the real core problem.

I would point out that some folk out there right now (Harden, Sigman, Threadgill, Akuzawa, Kuroda, Ushiro, etc.) teaching their students to do these things much faster. And each seems to have similar but varied conceptions of how this "magic" works. I think it is interesting that each person tends to be "attractive" to certain folk over others. And how passionate some get about their comparisons (or contrasts) and how very much emotional attachment there is to each individual's approach -- it is like a religious argument at times.

I think this situation implies that these people have models of how this stuff works and/or how to transmit the skills that is more efficient than what many had been doing in the recent past. That does not, however, mean that each model is equally valid or that any of them is correct, just that it is able to convey the knowledge faster than just "hey, feel this and try to do it".

All of the aforementioned guys do a lot more than IHTBF (tm, patent pending). They all couch it in a model of how it works with what appears to me to be internally consistent explanations.

So we are seeing improvement. Which means that I don't think the issue is one of ineffability but one of insufficient vocabulary. Which implies our understanding of what is going on "under the hood" is quite incomplete. Which quite frankly doesn't strike me as all that controversial of an idea. Most of the folk teaching it acknowledge they're often using metaphors and imagery to convey a feeling.

So to me this all cries out for a better understanding of the physiological. Of the dynamic. Of how these people can do these things. Then we can focus in on defining proper terms that are more physically descriptive, more precise, and as a result less "poetic" so we can get rid of some of the "mental masturbation" exercises we tend to see (even on these forums -- I'm thinking of one kanji thread right now).

To use a friend's rather colorful terms, our models to describe what we do suck. Some guys are offering up new models that suck less.

So when I read of someone like Mr. Linden saying "there's no such thing as Ki" within aikido, I don't really have an argument. Which 'ki" is he talking about? And who out there has even come close to defining what the hell it is in the first place anyway?

I'm a firm believer of the concept of standing on the shoulders of giants. It is the very foundation of many advances. But sometimes as you climb up on the shoulders you see things a bit differently, maybe a bit more clearly. However we in Aikido seem terrified of changing anything our sensei before us have said. No, sensei is never wrong. I just don't see it that way. We should thank our sensei for doing their level best to show us what they knew. Then take it, improve what we can, find maybe better ways to describe what we're doing so we can more easily transmit the beauty of what they taught us. To me it is the ultimate in sincere respect. To run with that ball.

It is happening. But I really hesitate when I hear "It has to be felt". Yeah, in some respect people need to feel it to realize that it might be something other than what they think. But it also implies we are not up to the task of describing what we're doing. Which tends to imply we may not really understand it in the first place. So I repeat Wittgenstein's quote...

"The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for."

Toby Threadgill
11-18-2010, 11:47 PM
Hi Keith,

It has to be felt....Hummmm. I've probably been guilty of saying that, but you're right. As teachers (models) manifesting these skills, we should be able to explain (mentor) them without resorting to a hands on demonstration. I think I have done this with some success, but I know I can improve.

Describing the physical and mental processes going on internally in the TSYR Nairiki no Gyo is quite a challenge for me. To exacerbate this situation is the fact that my teacher had a rather limited english vocabulary. I had to modify his explanations and further invent my own terminology to describe what I felt was going on in my body. I've likewise been forced to constantly redefine and re-examine how my body has been influenced by this area of study. During my last visit to Japan I discussed this topic with Kuroda Tetsuzan over dinner. We both acknowledged how difficult it was to teach this stuff and both admitted experimenting with new methods of transmission. One very important but basic skill I am stressing to my students is developed thru our omote Nairiki no Gyo. It is developing a level of internal sensitivity very similar to the external, tactile sensitivity we all are familiar with. Without achieving this level of sensitivity to structure and musculature, I'm convinced much of what is generally identified as "IS" is difficult to manifest. Internal sensitivity is my personal benchmark for determining if a student is making the initial progress needed to gain the skills we in TSYR identify as "nairiki" (internal power).

I admire the other guys who are teaching this stuff but it was plainly obvious to everyone reading their posts that written communication (modeling and mentoring) was failing miserably. (What wasn't failing was improved awareness of the subject) Despite all the talk of creating agreement and a general IS lexicon, there never really was universal agreement on who was doing what and how well. Consequently, heated arguments followed with many of the readers left shaking their heads over communication styles and terminology that seemed to change weekly. It was at that point I walked away from such discussions because they were not beneficial to me on my quest to improve my pegadogical approach. Among other distractions, sematics was proving to be a tough nut to crack..

As time moves forward I will hopefully improve in my ability to convey the subtle factors required to internalize our nairiki skills. Fortunately, in TSYR we have a clear and concise set of forms and drills handed down to us that serve as the foundation for our study. That a similar pedagogy did not exist in aikido highlights how these skills were evidently neglected and marginalized. For future generations, this must be addressed. In TSYR, the Nairiki no Gyo have proven quite successful at preserving the knowledge and practices that allow us to manifest and maintain this portion of our mokuroku. It is from there I must as a mentor, continue my quest to improve and ensure the transmission of these skills.

Regards,

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Keith Larman
11-19-2010, 08:11 AM
Hey, Toby, good to see you here.

I think another issue that has confounded the problem is how these skills are integrated into a particular art.

If we start by assuming there is some degree of commonality to what is happening, then the next issue to address is how is it used and to what end. I think this is also a source of tremendous misunderstanding in discussions.

There are those who are pursuing these skills in isolation. In other words, trying to develop the body/power/skills for their own sake. They would probably say they are in pursuit of "complete and pure" IS.

But then there are those who are pursuing these skills trying to "fill in the blanks" in their art. To fill the holes left as time went by and the lack of transmission resulted in fundamental changes to how things were done as well as the understanding of what these things meant back when compared to what we think they mean today. This is a sign of a paradigm shift that will hopefully allow the person to realize the art in a different way.

Then there are those who never lost the stuff and continue along their way quietly shaking their heads and enjoying an occasional seminar and good food and dinner afterwards (that's where I'd place you guys). :)

Anyway, my point is that the expression of these skills necessarily varies among the various approaches. Those pursuing IS for its own sake (the purity group) will see anything less than a full, complete expression as not doing the same thing. And if we are careful in how we use words we can say they have a point -- those not doing the full expression completely and all the time are not doing pure IS. That is absolutely true. However, this raises the issue of "how much" and "how used".

I find your comments about the internal sensitivity development to be a good example. In a "normal" jujutsu art without these skills the primary issues in training are ones of leverage and positioning (practitioners please let's not argue here, there are many more skills involved and I'm not diminishing the practice). However, if your art is geared to develop the sensitivity you're talking about ("I can feel his center through his body via my relaxed structure and as a result I can use my bodily structure to affect his center") then arts will be trained differently. Again, Wittgenstein's quote is relevant. What we know, what we do affects what we understand. The understanding of the "confrontation" is fundamentally different depending on the training model. And here some of the IS skills come into play and are used as a fundamental feature. But that doesn't mean they will be the only skills in play (thinking in contrast to the "pure" crowd). So one group may point and yell that "Hey, that's not pure IS". And the only reasonable answer is "well, of course." Then you shrug because the IS is but only one component of a much larger context.

So someone demonstrates these arts. One group walks away grumbling "that's not the real deal because they didn't do A, B, and C." They may grudgingly give you props for some aspect, but they wander away unimpressed because it isn't "pure". So someone who moves with incredible speed and agility like Kuroda gets dismissed by some because they aren't doing the same thing with those skills. Or expressing them in the same way. And yet I can't for the life of me come up with any sort of explanation of some of his stuff without appealing to aspects of internal skills. He uses what he needs to do what he does. And I would never want to be facing that man with a sword in his hands. Unless I was 30 feet away with a machine gun. And beta blockers in my system to steady my hands...

So here we're talking about cross purposes and the confusion that will introduce. All while people are doing amazing things.

As I've told you privately I'm somewhat envious of your approach. You have a set curriculum and as you are teaching an art with history and defined concepts it is more incumbent on the student to figure it out. Those of us outside stamping our feet saying "Explain it to me on *MY* terms" really have no right and miss the bigger picture of the responsibilities involved in transmission of an extant ryu.

In the end I'm left with the same conclusion. We need to find someone with the skills to train with. And to pick someone who is expressing the skills in a fashion that fits what we want to learn. Or if we are in a position where we suck *that* much, maybe we need to chuck it all and start over completely. Then when all that is done... We need to suck it up, shut our mouths, and train.

So on that note... Time to train. And to make some decisions myself.

I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure it out what I think in the first place... ;)

Nicholas Eschenbruch
11-19-2010, 08:56 AM
(...)

I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure it out what I think in the first place... ;)

Great post anyway! :-)

Keith Larman
11-19-2010, 09:01 AM
Great post anyway! :-)

Thanks. And now I notice the sentence you quoted was terrible and I'm past the edit window... :eek:

Should have read...

I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure out what I think in the first place...

SeiserL
11-19-2010, 10:27 AM
I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure out what I think in the first place...
Both!
That's what makes for a great discussion.

Keith Larman
11-19-2010, 10:37 AM
Both!
That's what makes for a great discussion.

Very true. Over the years I've had people "confront" me with things I've written on topics like sword polishing and mounting saying I was being inconsistent or contradictory. It usually just makes me laugh -- most of what I post is a result of me struggling to understand something. And if my opinions do not change, well, I'm not struggling hard enough, neh? Hopefully I don't end up doing a 180 too often, but as the rabbit hole gets deeper things do tend to look different.

Anyway, just getting back to the original point a bit... The whole modeling metaphor is really interesting to me. Having this discussion reminded me of something I had totally forgotten about and I now wonder how much of an impact this one book had on my thinking today. Interesting... When I was just about to start high school (and before really discovering the joys of girls which derailed a lot of things I had been doing) I played a *lot* of tennis. My coach at the time got tired of me constantly asking questions about how things were done. I wonder if I was as much a pain then as I am now. Regardless... He gave me a copy of "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Tim Gallwey (had to look up his name). From what I remember it affected me greatly in terms of awareness of what was going on inside me and my mind when I played. Unification of mind and body... Hmmm, no wonder that term resonated with me when I started Aikido...

Wow. Thanks for the thread Dr. Seiser -- I hadn't thought of that book in 30 years. Now I have to wonder how much of what I eventually ended up doing (and thinking and trying to learn) was related to the effects reading that book at a young age.

Off to check my local library to see if they have a copy...

SeiserL
11-19-2010, 10:43 AM
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning.
Yes agreed.

There is so much that cannot be put into words. And even if there was a word, we all may interpret that word differently.

Even if we experience it, we tend to store that experience/information into our own understanding and language which may or may not have any relevance or relationship to the way our model/mentor meant it.

One of the reasons I love the cross training, training with different instructors, and conversation is that I helps me get a slight glimpse of the common denominator of the direction they are all suggesting I go.

I would probably do better if I heard a single clear explanation and demonstration by a single person, but as a mosaic thinker that has never been my way.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-19-2010, 10:47 AM
As teachers (models) manifesting these skills, we should be able to explain (mentor) them without resorting to a hands on demonstration. I think I have done this with some success, but I know I can improve.
I have always enjoyed that about training and talking with you.

You have always tried to get my head and body pointed in the same direction.

Compliments and appreciation.

SeiserL
11-19-2010, 11:00 AM
Very true. Over the years I've had people "confront" me with things I've written on topics like sword polishing and mounting saying I was being inconsistent or contradictory. It usually just makes me laugh -- most of what I post is a result of me struggling to understand something. And if my opinions do not change, well, I'm not struggling hard enough, neh?
Yes agreed.

Inconsistencies and contradictions in communication often just point out that I still have some inconsistencies and contradictions in my thinking about a subject. I was taught that higher levels of logic and intelligence (like Taoist) often include their complimentary opposites.

I also find that how I express myself at one time with one person may be different than I express myself at another time to another person because of their level of understanding and experience. Communication is like that.

I hope I never stop the struggle, which I quite enjoy, because I don't really want to have it all figured out. I like letting the mysteries of life unfold.

BTW, if you cannot find a copy of Inner Games let me know. Last I checked I had a few old copies lying about. I got interested in the self-application of sport psychology which dramatically changes the way I do clinical psychology. Elite athletes don't wants to be normal and accept and appreciate the physical and mental discipline. As I said earlier, I think we set our standards in life (and Aikido) far too low.

Thoughts?

jonreading
11-19-2010, 11:34 AM
Hi Jon,
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning. So, on a certain level there is quite a bit of "if you don't know, I can't tell you" material in Aikido. I could show you, I could teach it to you given time, but without some mat time, I really can't explain it to you. All the really good stuff is like that. The stuff that can by easily explained to someone of lesser experience is really basic that's why it can be explained easily.

As far as referencing Mr Linden, well, he's the guy that says "ki" is bullshit. Doing an art called "Aikido".

- George

Thanks George, I see you point and I may need to clarify... aikido has colloquialisms, idioms and other expressions which are subjective in both translation and interpretation that will remain enigmas. I would argue to consider these enigmas the exception, not the rule. I would also argue that many of these concepts are [more] appropriately fully introduced during advanced training [learning] (that is not to say the concepts may not be introduced at abridged levels during earlier training stages).

In other academic realms I would construct my curriculum around several factors, one being the level of education. I would not teach algebra to an elementary student for example. Instead, I would structure a curriculum to teach the elementary components of math in preparation for a later education in algebra. Conversely, in aikido the first thing I blurt out to a new student is some esoteric phrase they will not understand for some time. Then I'll show them something they cannot do for the same length of time. Why? It's like there is a mad rush to fill students full of things they cannot possibly understand for 10 years. (for the sake of conversation, I understand inspiration plays a role in demonstrating where we "want" to go, I am speaking more specifically about the role of education).

I guess the point I am driving at is that there is serious training to be conducted under subjective, gooey, touchy-feely, spooky, (fill in the blank) instruction. Under the best conditions there are few instructors who can adequately teach this material and a limited audience to receive this instruction. We don't need to make our elementary education any more complicated than necessary in our preparation to undertake an advanced education. As an instructor, I believe that my role is to prepare students to undertake this advanced education by building a foundational education on which my seniors (the yondans, godans, shihans, etc.) can build their education.

For example, in my day-to-day instruction I do not teach the ikkyo George Ledyard shows; I teach the ikkyo my students can use to to identify what is ikkyo when Ledyard sensei shows it, or Hooker Sensei, or Messores sensei, or Saotome Sensei or any of my seniors. If that ikkyo is incorrect I should get a ninja-gram from Florida saying, "You teach a terrible ikkyo that we cannot use when we are teaching at a seminar. You need to improve your instruction." In this sense, I am both accountable for my instruction and the competency under which my instruction is applied. Thankfully, spooky aikido is still above my pay-grade...

Does that make sense?

George S. Ledyard
11-19-2010, 01:11 PM
Hi Keith,

It has to be felt....Hummmm. I've probably been guilty of saying that, but you're right. As teachers (models) manifesting these skills, we should be able to explain (mentor) them without resorting to a hands on demonstration. I think I have done this with some success, but I know I can improve.



Ok, maybe I am just a slow student... but working with Dan, Mike, Akuzawa, and you yourself, there have been things that no amount of explanation was going to result in my being able to reproduce what was happening.

Dan had us doing some exercises in which we were extending out the middle finger, drawing back with the little finger and forefinger, then setting up cross body connections which you'd feel in a rib or in a toe on the other side of the body. So, I got a visual by watching him, I got his verbal explanation which was certainly essential as far as I am concerned. But there was no substitute for the paired hands on. He would grab me and I would do what I THOUGHT I was supposed to do, he would then say no, no, occasionally, yes. We would switch and he'd do it with me holding on and I'd go, oh, that's different than what I had thought. I am convinced that, without this hands on, I would never have figured out what could be communicated in a fairly small amount of time with the mix of good verbal, clear demo, and hands on.

Even the teachers seem to need the hands on to really know what is happening. Look how often Mike or Dan has said, "I'd have to feel it" when trying to decide on someone's skill level. There's a place at which it can't be adequately described and it can't even be seen.

The human brain tends to filter out input that it can't readily categorize or name. I made a shift of my intention while working with a guy doing a static technique. His whole body moved when I did it but when asked if he "felt it" he said, no he had not. I pointed out that his whole body had moved a bit when I did it and everyone watching had seen it happen. then it was a bit strange that he didn't register feeling it. But once I told him what to look for and did it again, he said, "Oh, I felt THAT..." Until he felt what I was doing and had an associated concept in his brain for what I was doing, his brain simply filtered it out. That's the kind of thing I think requires feeling it before any amount of clear verbal description will really be understood.

I have to be one of the most "verbal" people I know (yes, go ahead and laugh your asses off, my friends). If I understand it, I can explain it. But there are a number of things which I have to let the student feel first before my explanations penetrate. If he hasn't "felt" what I am talking about, it's just a concept and he has no actual associations in his body for what I am describing. Once he has "felt" it, my descriptions then have some body centered associations and he can start making connections. This is why having a really top level teacher is so important because you actually start feeling what he is doing often long before he even starts talking to you about it as a discrete element to start training. This is also why junior folks who almost never get to take ukemi at seminars etc are not getting what they should out of the training.

Personally, I had felt Saotome Sensei doing certain things with his intention from the time I was a beginner. When I finally encountered the conceptual explanation and terminology for what he was doing (not from him) I was able to understand what was meant. If I had never worked with anyone functioning on that level, I would not have been able to understand what was really meant in those explanations because i wouldn't really have understood what was being explained.

Just my take on it...

SeiserL
11-19-2010, 01:21 PM
Thankfully, spooky aikido is still above my pay-grade...Does that make sense?
It certainly makes sense to me because its above my pay-grade too.

Yet, with the right models and mentors, it won't always be above our pay-grade.

It only looks (sounds and feels) spooky from here.

Thoughts?

George S. Ledyard
11-19-2010, 01:25 PM
. Thankfully, spooky aikido is still above my pay-grade...

Does that make sense?

I understand what you are saying... and I don't really disagree. I would just caution you, you will only find answers to the questions you are asking. One of the reasons that Aikido, even when done by some of the top instructors, is simplistic and unsophisticated, is that at some point the art went in one of two directions. Either folks "drank the Kool Aid" and tried to do the so-called "spooky stuff" with no idea what they were doing and not enough solid foundation to pull it off. Or they went the other way and spent 30 or 40 years on what should have constituted Shodan Nidan level basics that they left behind years ago.

We saw very high Dan ranked Aikido at the Aiki Expo that I wouldn't have passed on a Dan test for anything over Nidan and I wouldn't have been happy with that. It was nothing but strength and muscle, not an ounce of aiki and martially a bad joke. I had to sit with the Systema boys and see them looking at each other and shaking their heads. It was a total embarrassment. Forty years of Aikido training, but bad Aikido training.

Start looking for the goodies right from the start and they will present themselves. Otherwise you too can have many decades in and still have missed the good stuff entirely. You get what you train. Look at Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei and figure out how one gets there... that's what they are waiting for. Decide its above your pay garde and you risk never getting there at all.

SeiserL
11-19-2010, 01:28 PM
The human brain tends to filter out input that it can't readily categorize or name.
Yes agreed.

The mind tends to try to understand something in reference to what it already knows. Unfortunately, this can limit our growth by filtering out new input.

Therefore we often practice, teach, and perpetuate what has been a part of our past experience. Again, very limiting.

IMHO, it takes courage and humility to actively seek out models and mentors who make you feel like you are the dumbest one in the room. (My wife says I go out of my way for this experience and have a smile on my face when I come home.)

Thoughts?

Toby Threadgill
11-19-2010, 04:38 PM
Ok, maybe I am just a slow student... but working with Dan, Mike, Akuzawa, and you yourself, there have been things that no amount of explanation was going to result in my being able to reproduce what was happening.


Hi George,

I figured out early on that my best path for progress was to be the best uke around. Being an exceptional uke was the best way to guarantee direct hands on experience from my teacher.

These were my rules:

Never tank for a teacher.
Never resist unrealistically.
Be able to survive any fall.

Once Takamura sensei realized I could be counted on to stay within the kata and take almost anything he threw at me, I got copious amounts of hands on experience. Without that, I'm convinced I could not have figured out what he was up to, even if he had explained it thoroughly. So yes, some things must be experienced because the tactile path is much more direct and efficient than words can ever be. It's one thing when I say:

"I'm softly going feed pressure into your structure via the outside of your radius bones and this is going to cause tension that you'll feel between you shoulder blades. As I roll my humerus forward in my shoulder socket this tension will sink into you hips and you'll be locked on the ground."

It's another thing to feel that in person. Without the tactile experience you may intellectually grasp what happening but you'll never replicate it without feeling it youself. Language has its limits.

But.....We all know teachers who can do things that they are utterly incapable of explaining. Sure, as an uke, you feel what's happening to your body but you can be totally in the dark as to how a teacher is accomplishing it. I continue to work hard in refining and expanding my abilities to convey not only what is happening to the uchite in our kata, but to convey exactly what I am doing as shite inside my body and mind, to get the result I am looking for.

Takamura's mantra was, technical skills and teaching skills are seldom equally evident in a martial artist. Just because you can "do" does not mean you can "teach", and the same is true in reverse. Angelo Dundee was a master trainer who took many boxing greats their highest levels but he was a mediocre boxer himself.

All too often a great technician arrogantly assumes himself to be a great teacher, when the truth is utterly different. Teaching is a skill separate from and every bit as difficult, as doing.

All my best,

Toby

Keith Larman
11-19-2010, 05:19 PM
Really I don't disagree that some things (obviously) require simply doing. My profession and the number of hours spent just getting to where I am (total beginner) is a testament to that. There is a catch-22 in these things -- you need both understanding and experience. And heck, at this last seminar Dan H was correcting my posture and alignment in tiny increments. That is of course something that has to be hands-on.

The problem facing the top instructors today is whether they can find ways to improve instruction to ensure transmission in today's world. In my world the Japanese are concerned that many arts and crafts will die out as so few are willing to devote the time, energy and backbreaking work to get there. And they may be right. In the martial arts we have the same problem. And one thing I've long said is that the popularity of Aikido is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

But over the last few years compelling arguments have been made that there needs to be a focus on skills lost in part in some groups, and maybe lost completely in others. We will never be successful getting those things back into our beloved art unless we come up with a means of transmission that transcends poorly defined mystical terminology. We use words like "ki" and "connection" and "intent" like everyone knows what we're talking about. But try to get a solid, clean, and objective definition and you will be in for a really long night. Most using the terms really have no idea what they're doing. And when you go to seminars and see the incredible variety of what people are doing, well, sometimes I wonder if maybe I should just focus on my sword crafts...

We need better models of what these things are. We need a richer, more evolved vocabulary to better express the sort of things Toby so carefully described above in anatomical terms. How do these things work? How to develop them? And so on. Is the martial body fundamentally different? Does it require specific training to the body to get there? I think so. So now the question is *what* is it we're developing? What structures? How do they work.

I remember years ago a top teacher of mine demonstrating something with me. He'd ask "there, did you feel me take your center?" My honest answer was no. So he'd throw me and yup, he had it. This repeated over and over. Then he'd grab me. And he'd say "No, no, no. That's not right. Grab me. Just relax and feel my center." Of course it didn't happen. But years later I started to feel something. And more. I've still got a long way to go but I now find myself saying the same damned thing to people I'm training.

I am quite compelled by the idea that we build a body that can do these things. So the reason a new student can't do what his sensei is demonstrating is that he simply doesn't have the parts in place. It's not a question of position. It's not a question of posture. It's development of something fundamental and physical. The sensei with 30 years of hard training develops the ability to feel things. The problem is that without any understanding of this they have no idea why the student can't feel what they feel. So they say "come on, just relax. Extend. It's simple..." Yes, for them it is, but they aren't really telling the student anything that will help them because they lack the physical structures to do what he is doing. Sure, after 20 years of hard training it comes about. But even those 20 years don't guarantee that if the training wasn't right (we've all met those guys, neh?). So... what is that development? What is being "built" or "conditioned". Each of these guys teaching the IS stuff seems to have slightly different answers.

There are some out there giving us exercises and training tips. We need to run with those things, learn them, implement them, and do a better job of carefully describing what they are. Then we can better communicate exactly what it is we're trying to model to our students. Or maybe better first better understand ourselves what it is we're trying to do so we can get better. And hopefully maybe even start to understand how someone can link their body up in the amazing ways some demonstrate.

On the IHTBF idea... My concern with it isn't that many things require being felt. There is no question of that. My problem is that all too often it becomes a simple way to wave away any responsibility. If we cannot express what we are doing, maybe we should take a long, hard look at whether we actually understand it to begin with. Then while we may still say IHTBF, we can at least do a better job of beginning the process of transmission without using poorly defined, ambiguous and often meaningless terms.

Sorry if this is a bit fuzzy, but the back is seized up at the moment and the Soma really does make me fuzzy...

George S. Ledyard
11-19-2010, 11:45 PM
Sorry if this is a bit fuzzy, but the back is seized up at the moment and the Soma really does make me fuzzy...

No, you are not being "fuzzy". I am purposely trying to keep the discussion on the issue of explanation vs feel, feel without explanation, or explanation with and without feel from the standpoint of someone who really knows what he is doing.

When folks use amorphous terms to hide the fact that they are simply incompetent,well, I've already done enough tirade time recently on the subject of sub standard practice and especially teachers.

As Toby has said, we all know folks who can "do" at a level that they cannot "teach". I think that one might say that a teacher who can "do" at a high level but cannot teach what he is doing very well will never create any students who are as good or better than he is. But a teacher who can teach what he knows better than he can "do" it can certainly create students who go much farther than they did.

Sloppy explanation is useless or possibly even detrimental to the learning process. But good explanation coupled with good hands on "feel" will optimize the whole learning process. Perhaps on some aspects the explanation can precede the "feeling" experience but on some of the most advanced material, I think that "feeling" it either precedes or is done at the same time as the explanation.

kewms
11-20-2010, 09:00 PM
How do you discuss art with a blind man?

Even high level topics in the hard sciences are very difficult to teach unless the student has a solid foundation. The fine arts have well-defined curricula for teaching the technical basics, but still don't seem to be able to produce "shihans" with any consistency.

As for Wittgenstein, I think his dependence on language has more to do with the poverty of his own experience than with any kind of universal truth. I'm a writer, and I struggle with the limits of language all. the. time.

Katherine

SeiserL
11-21-2010, 04:57 AM
All too often a great technician arrogantly assumes himself to be a great teacher, when the truth is utterly different. Teaching is a skill separate from and every bit as difficult, as doing.
Yes agreed.
The one who can do can be a great model.
The one who can teach can be a great mentor.
The one who can do both is a great find.
To find several, I have been blessed by the martial gods.
Deepest respect and appreciation /gratitude to all.

SeiserL
11-21-2010, 05:03 AM
We need better models of what these things are. We need a richer, more evolved vocabulary to better express the sort of things Toby so carefully described above in anatomical terms. How do these things work? How to develop them? And so on. Is the martial body fundamentally different? Does it require specific training to the body to get there? I think so. So now the question is *what* is it we're developing? What structures? How do they work.
Yes agreed.

And these open discussions on AikiWeb gives us the opportunity to develop better questions so we can search for better answers.

I certainly don't have any answers, but I am enjoying holding the question like a zen koan.

SeiserL
11-21-2010, 05:18 AM
The fine arts have well-defined curricula for teaching the technical basics, but still don't seem to be able to produce "shihans" with any consistency.
Yes agreed.

Besides discussing models and mentors of teaching, perhaps we should broaden the scope and discuss the role and responsibilities of the student in their our learning.

While I am certainly no model for good teaching, I have made some effort to be a decent model of being a good student.

Whatever we do in whatever capacity, we have the opportunity to practice what has been modeled and mentored for us and to pass it on.

Art is in the eye of both the artist and the one who observes/experiences it. Its a very inter-connected inter-dependent relationship. If one is not willing to open their eyes, minds, and hearts they will never know and appreciate the art of the opportunity that has been given them.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-21-2010, 05:23 AM
Sloppy explanation is useless or possibly even detrimental to the learning process. But good explanation coupled with good hands on "feel" will optimize the whole learning process. Perhaps on some aspects the explanation can precede the "feeling" experience but on some of the most advanced material, I think that "feeling" it either precedes or is done at the same time as the explanation.
Yes agreed.

We only get to good technique/feel through practicing through our sloppy technique.

Perhaps to get to more precise and accurate explanations, we have to practice through our sloppy attempts to talk about what we may never be able to communicate.

I certainly enjoy both practices/processes even if I fall short in both areas.

Tim Ruijs
11-22-2010, 06:06 AM
Very interesting read.

Over time our frame of reference changes. The things we think we see, we feel, we understand will without a doubt change. I have come to understand why my teacher told me not to make a model of Aikido. To not define a goal. Be in here and now and train to best of your ability (with the frame of reference you have at that time).

Do you really need to 'feel' a technique in order to understand? I am not so sure. I already know I will only understand it to some extent (frame of reference). To make the technique mine, I need to work on it...my way.

On many occasions I have found that to verbally explain a technique or have the student 'feel' the technique does not make too much difference at the receiver's end. As a teacher I need to identify the problem of the student. The better I can do that the better I can help. How do I help? Different tools are available: let the student struggle some more, have the student 'feel' it, explain it directly or explain it indirectly through other techniques.

The first and last are good: it makes the student work on the problem. The teacher is 'only' there to 'explain' there is a connection/relation between the techniques. Obviously the last option gives the student direction where to look...

to change his/her frame of reference...:D

MM
11-22-2010, 09:36 AM
Rereading Lynn's column, I am reminded of a variety of things.

Ueshiba Morihei's solo exercises were not passed down to Modern Aikido.

Ueshiba Morihei stating that his art was formless (which, btw, was what his teacher and his peers in Daito ryu said).

Modern Aikido is solely focused on teaching techniques.

Ueshiba Kisshomaru stated that a few years was all that was needed to learn techniques.

Tohei noted that some students had learned techniques from only books and had no glaring errors in the techniques themselves.

Mochizuki stating that Ueshiba Morihei had trimmed the Daito ryu syllabus.

Some of the "greats" of aikido only studied 5-10 years to get very good. And no, that wasn't "extensive" training in the dojo.

We have Modern Aikido people who have anywhere from 20-40 years and have not reached the skill level of the "greats".

The mindful modeling and mentoring in Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido has failed while Modern Aikido has all but been labeled an art form with only the spiritual focus its saving grace. 2-3 years of many martial training (judo, bjj, kali, mma, etc) will outshine and surpass most who have 10 years in aikido.

And Ueshiba Morihei, himself, stated he was not a religious man -- that his primary study was budo. A world of top rated martial men challenged him on just those grounds and walked away either impressed or begging to become his student. Of note, the same was said of Takeda, Sagawa, and Horikawa (Kodo).

The entire basis of Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido was in his budo, specifically Daito ryu aiki. His spirituality was seamlessly intertwined and he melded the two in an incomprehensible manner to most. Without the aiki ... we have Modern Aikido, a mostly spiritual art that lacks the martial veracity.

The Japanese version of Mindful Modeling and Mentoring has failed. Where Takeda strove and threatened to only teach 1 or 2 select students the "secrets", those few throughout the years have dwindled and regressed rather than exploded and surpassed. It takes a hard look at the Aikido/Daito ryu world to see this.

While we don't have the greats with us today (Takeda, Ueshiba, Sagawa, Kodo), I expect to see some appear in 5-10 years. This time, though, it will be from *our* Mindful Modeling and Mentoring. This time it will be on us as to the future of Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido. And it will be interesting to reread Saito's proclamation that in the future, the Japanese will come to foreigners to learn Aikido. Not because the Japanese *can't* produce top rated martial men. They have. Many times. But, they have not reproduced those successes nor exceeded them, and instead the skills have nearly become extinct.

SeiserL
11-22-2010, 09:58 AM
to change his/her frame of reference...:D
Yes agreed.

I often ask people how they stop themselves from feeling or understanding something. The implied message is that it is already there and we have to do something not to get it.

Learning the change the body is important.

Learning to change the mind is crucial.

How do we stop ourselves from changing our frame of reference to a higher level?

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-22-2010, 10:08 AM
The entire basis of Ueshiba Morihei's Aikido was in his budo, specifically Daito ryu aiki. His spirituality was seamlessly intertwined and he melded the two in an incomprehensible manner to most.
Yes agreed.

IMHO, what may have been modeled and mentored was the congruence of practice/intent.

The is a synergetic power that comes together when the psychology, sociology, philosophy, and spirituality are congruent instead of its usual state of adversarial contradiction, confusion, and chaos. The sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

I often think that moving from the "one point" is moving so that everything is pointed in one direction.

Thoughts?

jonreading
11-22-2010, 03:18 PM
I understand what you are saying... and I don't really disagree. I would just caution you, you will only find answers to the questions you are asking. One of the reasons that Aikido, even when done by some of the top instructors, is simplistic and unsophisticated, is that at some point the art went in one of two directions. Either folks "drank the Kool Aid" and tried to do the so-called "spooky stuff" with no idea what they were doing and not enough solid foundation to pull it off. Or they went the other way and spent 30 or 40 years on what should have constituted Shodan Nidan level basics that they left behind years ago.

We saw very high Dan ranked Aikido at the Aiki Expo that I wouldn't have passed on a Dan test for anything over Nidan and I wouldn't have been happy with that. It was nothing but strength and muscle, not an ounce of aiki and martially a bad joke. I had to sit with the Systema boys and see them looking at each other and shaking their heads. It was a total embarrassment. Forty years of Aikido training, but bad Aikido training.

Start looking for the goodies right from the start and they will present themselves. Otherwise you too can have many decades in and still have missed the good stuff entirely. You get what you train. Look at Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei and figure out how one gets there... that's what they are waiting for. Decide its above your pay garde and you risk never getting there at all.

I think that is the thing that sucks most about teaching. You get this heap of responsibility to help your students maximize their training, then you still have to carry on your personal training too. I made a commitment to myself years ago that I would never let my instruction get over my head and that put constant pressure on me to better understand principles and communicate them in class. But then I go to a great seminar and it's like, "WTF was that?" I somehow have to figure out what happened, practice it, educate myself on where it fits into my knowledge of aikido, then break it down so I can disseminate it to others.

Right now I am thankful for the dans who speak shihan to help break down these concepts, its with their help that I can focus more on my personal training and my instruction and get some help with the homework. I think we should all be thankful for these individuals and I look forward to their leadership as they transition into larger roles within aikido. I also an thankful to have a model to base and I undertake greater roles in my training.

Does that make sense?

SeiserL
11-22-2010, 05:05 PM
IRight now I am thankful for the dans who speak shihan to help break down these concepts, its with their help that I can focus more on my personal training and my instruction and get some help with the homework. I think we should all be thankful for these individuals and I look forward to their leadership as they transition into larger roles within aikido. I also an thankful to have a model to base and I undertake greater roles in my training.
Yes agreed.

I certainly second the sentiment.

I love those "WTF" moments.

Toby Threadgill
11-22-2010, 07:05 PM
The Japanese version of Mindful Modeling and Mentoring has failed. Where Takeda strove and threatened to only teach 1 or 2 select students the "secrets", those few throughout the years have dwindled and regressed rather than exploded and surpassed. It takes a hard look at the Aikido/Daito ryu world to see this.


Mark,

This is a bit fuzzy. Perhaps you mean't "Takeda and Ueshiba's version of Modeling and Mentoring failed." In fact, their methods were not very "Japanese".

Takeda and Ueshiba did not follow Shu Ha Ri, nor have virtually any modern aikido instructors, Japanese or foreign. Nihon koryu have long taken jibes for being antiquated or technically irrelevant but to the chagrin of their critics many are now being re-examined for the wisdom they preserved thru a pedagogy based on direct transmission and Shu Ha Ri. I am not suggesting that Sh Ha Ri is the pinnacle of all teaching methods but compared to other systems, including western methods, Shu Ha Ri has been quantifiably successful. There are virtually no western forms of martial practice that can be favorably equated to the Nihon koryu.

Takeda and Ueshiba tried to pass their knowledge forward with a very loose structure to a limited number of practitioners. I guess it seemed good at the time but as you indicate, it did not fare well in actual practice. Although many koryu have degenerated, others quite old, remain vibrant and solid examples of their past generations.

Everything is a double edged sword. Koryu are supported by but also constrained by tradition. Modern budo enjoys a potential advantage over the classical arts called freedom. They are free to experiment and adopt new methods to pass knowledge forward.... but, they must not employ this opportunity in a haphazard or poorly thought through manner, otherwise hard won knowledge and wisdom can be lost or neglected....neh?

Best regards,

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Keith Larman
11-22-2010, 07:40 PM
Mark,

This is a bit fuzzy. Perhaps you mean't "Takeda and Ueshiba's version of Modeling and Mentoring failed." In fact, their methods were not very "Japanese".

Honestly I'd argue their methods of transmission weren't very good regardless of where you're from. Japan, England, US, ... But then again neither man appeared to be all that concerned about transmission in the first place.

Tim Ruijs
11-23-2010, 01:54 AM
Yes agreed.

I often ask people how they stop themselves from feeling or understanding something. The implied message is that it is already there and we have to do something not to get it.

Learning the change the body is important.

Learning to change the mind is crucial.

How do we stop ourselves from changing our frame of reference to a higher level?

Thoughts?

I am afraid not everybody is able to recognise the effort it takes to really progress. You must be in constant wonder about what, how, when and why. A proper teacher will get you going and have you find the way (to progress). First obstacle: does a newby know this? not likely, how could he? How can a newby judge the capabilities of his teacher? Over time you will hopefully be able to judge and decide whether or not you need to change (teachers).
Herein lies the danger: the student himself is responsible for this; to stay critical. In a sense you need to become your own critic (and a sharp one at that). In all honesty, not everybody is capable of doing that. Again it takes a good teacher to 'shove' you along and willing student to pick up on that push.

So how do we stop changing our frame of reference?
The slope start to slide when you think you know something for a fact (and forget that 'fact' is related to your current frame of reference).
Going through the motions in class...
without isolating a single aspect you want to change....
That one time you accept mistakes from yourself, or others...
That moment you think it was good enough...

In the end it is more important to find out how to keep going? Sho shin. beginners mind. Train like you know nothing. Always. Do not ever think you know. Never.
The WTF moments mentioned above should not occur. You should be able to recognise what is shown, smile and in the best case already know why you are not yet capable of doing that.
Your teacher has simply presented you a problem to work on. Wonder why he choose that specific technique.

Observation is key. Learn to 'read' the body movements of your teacher. Understand them and make them your own. Start to teach. This requires you to explain your movements, your intent within the technique, direction. It demands you to observe your students, identify their problems and find a way to help them progress.

This constant cycle in the end is what makes you progress.
It is a martial discipline....

MM
11-23-2010, 05:50 AM
Hi Toby,

When it comes to koryu, I defer to more knowledgeable people. There is a depth and richness there that most spend a lifetime uncovering.

Which brings me to an understated point. I did not include koryu as part of my post. It was centered on aikido and daito ryu (the argument of daito ryu being koryu is another topic). I apologize for the confusion.

If you look through the entirety of aikido and daito ryu, you will find that this version of Mindful Modeling and Mentoring has failed. We can trace that back to Takeda. He was the one who stated, teach the secrets to only 1 or 2 people. Tokimune, Kondo, and Sagawa all but verified this.

So, I would disagree that it was just Takeda and Ueshiba. It was the whole of both systems. From Takeda through today. Truthfully, I feel really badly for all the students who weren't those 1 or 2 people but yet were trying very hard to learn. You spend a lifetime dedicated to a martial art only to find that the very core of what made that art "special", the core that made that art martially exceptional, the core training to exemplify a martial body was withheld. Without that core knowledge, there would never be another Takeda, Sagawa, Ueshiba, Kodo.

I'm still working on the theory that Takeda, Ueshiba, Sagawa, Kodo, etc went through Shu Ha Ri, but really can't put forth a good argument right now. Give me a few years. :)

Thanks,
Mark

Mark,
This is a bit fuzzy. Perhaps you mean't "Takeda and Ueshiba's version of Modeling and Mentoring failed." In fact, their methods were not very "Japanese".

Takeda and Ueshiba did not follow Shu Ha Ri, nor have virtually any modern aikido instructors, Japanese or foreign. Nihon koryu have long taken jibes for being antiquated or technically irrelevant but to the chagrin of their critics many are now being re-examined for the wisdom they preserved thru a pedagogy based on direct transmission and Shu Ha Ri. I am not suggesting that Sh Ha Ri is the pinnacle of all teaching methods but compared to other systems, including western methods, Shu Ha Ri has been quantifiably successful. There are virtually no western forms of martial practice that can be favorably equated to the Nihon koryu.

Takeda and Ueshiba tried to pass their knowledge forward with a very loose structure to a limited number of practitioners. I guess it seemed good at the time but as you indicate, it did not fare well in actual practice. Although many koryu have degenerated, others quite old, remain vibrant and solid examples of their past generations.

Everything is a double edged sword. Koryu are supported by but also constrained by tradition. Modern budo enjoys a potential advantage over the classical arts called freedom. They are free to experiment and adopt new methods to pass knowledge forward.... but, they must not employ this opportunity in a haphazard or poorly thought through manner, otherwise hard won knowledge and wisdom can be lost or neglected....neh?

Best regards,

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

SeiserL
11-23-2010, 06:27 PM
I am not suggesting that Sh Ha Ri is the pinnacle of all teaching methods but compared to other systems, including western methods, Shu Ha Ri has been quantifiably successful.

First learn the form.
Then learn variations of the form.
The abandon the form

First learn the craft.
Then learn the art.

Sequential learning always make sense to me.

SeiserL
11-23-2010, 06:36 PM
IIn the end it is more important to find out how to keep going? Sho shin. beginners mind. Train like you know nothing. Always. Do not ever think you know. Never.
Curious,

I often ponder this.

Is shoshin beginners mind as in knowing nothing?
Isn't that muchin, empty mind.

Perhaps beginners mind is an open mind?

If I know nothing I never move past day one.
If I keep my mind open I can add day two to what I learned day one.
Looking forward to day three.

Perhaps knowing is a constant process.
I know what I know.
And I know there is much more to know.

I remember being at the AikiExpos and watching high level Sensei's take off their hakama and step on the mats to train. Always open to learn.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-23-2010, 06:50 PM
You spend a lifetime dedicated to a martial art only to find that the very core of what made that art "special", the core that made that art martially exceptional, the core training to exemplify a martial body was withheld.

It may have been withheld then. I don't know. I wasn't there.

Is it being withheld now or is it just not common knowledge? Can you withhold what you don't actually know? How do we make it common knowledge? Or can we? Should we?

Excellence is truly not a common characteristics. Either in a teacher or in a student.

If a normal distribution is a bell shaped curved, we can see where the majority will always be in some state of mediocrity.

We must take personal responsibility to seek out and practice under those teachers (models and mentors) who demonstrate and encourage excellence.

But by definition, excellence will always be a rare experience.

But one worth seeking after.

Thoughts?

Tim Ruijs
11-24-2010, 01:49 AM
Curious,

I often ponder this.

Is shoshin beginners mind as in knowing nothing?
Isn't that muchin, empty mind.

Perhaps beginners mind is an open mind?

If I know nothing I never move past day one.
If I keep my mind open I can add day two to what I learned day one.
Looking forward to day three.

Perhaps knowing is a constant process.
I know what I know.
And I know there is much more to know.

I remember being at the AikiExpos and watching high level Sensei's take off their hakama and step on the mats to train. Always open to learn.

Thoughts?
It would impossible to make yourself know nothing.:) Sometimes we forget, but in the end we'll remember. We never did not know; for some reason just could not access the information.

For me it says not to make assumptions, each and every time try to understand as if for the first time. Obviously you will judge the same (is it really the same?) situation differently because your frame of reference has changed due to earlier experience.
In effect your judgement of any situation improves and you learn to adapt to a specific situation better and better every time.

So your statement: I know what I know for me is strongly related to your current frame of reference. Rid yourself of your assumptions, sharpen your judgement and open the door to progress.
How to get rid of your assumptions? Here comes open mind into play. Stay open to new experience, new views, new understandings, but do not accept just any. You will have to judge everything and see what is useful and what is not.

My teacher always explains this with an example:
Imagine a table with many items on it, some edible, some not.
A turtle would slowly walk around and investigate everything it encounters and every now and then finds something of interest.
An eagle would circle around and pick the items of interest...

The learning process of Aikido is difficult to comprehend. Each and every day all this boggles my mind. But I also think it is exactly this struggling, the constant questioning, that helps me understand Aikido and improve my technical abilities, and last but surely not least those of my students:D .

Tim Ruijs
11-24-2010, 01:52 AM
We must take personal responsibility to seek out and practice under those teachers (models and mentors) who demonstrate and encourage excellence.

But by definition, excellence will always be a rare experience.

But one worth seeking after.

be the best you can be...:cool:

Tim Ruijs
11-24-2010, 02:38 AM
We can trace that back to Takeda. He was the one who stated, teach the secrets to only 1 or 2 people. Tokimune, Kondo, and Sagawa all but verified this.

So, I would disagree that it was just Takeda and Ueshiba. It was the whole of both systems. From Takeda through today. Truthfully, I feel really badly for all the students who weren't those 1 or 2 people but yet were trying very hard to learn. You spend a lifetime dedicated to a martial art only to find that the very core of what made that art "special", the core that made that art martially exceptional, the core training to exemplify a martial body was withheld. Without that core knowledge, there would never be another Takeda, Sagawa, Ueshiba, Kodo.

Would the journey not be more important than the destination?
Even 1000 mile walk starts with a single step?

Perhaps I have misread, but the secrets you speak of are necessary to make one's Aikido special? Would the Aikido displayed by experienced masters to the inexperienced eye not be special, masterful, mystic even?

O Sensei on many occasions amazed people with some of his techniques that to the untrained eye look humanly impossible, displayed great strength, but in reality 'only' display his deep understanding of body mechanics. Agreed, it would be hard to find that out on your own. Hard, but not impossbile. should you wish to master such feat. But is that Aikido...really?

Old kung fu movies often have reference to secret information only to be attained by students after rigorous training and testing.
Some of these scrolls have been found in the past and gave information on what would be a good location for a home, near water, mountain northside, woods. So the student could provide for himself....nothing martial there...no secret...Could he have found that out himself? Sure. Easily? Probably not...

SeiserL
11-24-2010, 11:58 AM
Would the journey not be more important than the destination?
IMHO, without a direction or destination in mind, the journey can just go around in circle, stay in the same place, or be entirely dstructive.

I think that is what some of us are saying: too often the journey (the training) is of no distance (no progress).

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-24-2010, 12:04 PM
For me it says not to make assumptions, each and every time try to understand as if for the first time.
Is it "as if for the first time" or with an open mind to see further, deeper, and wider?

In program we honor "one day at a time" but also honor how many "one day at a time" we have lived. Yet even there, I often hear this as an excuse not to learn or progress.

The only assumption I make is no matter how far I may progress there is always so much more to learn.

Thoughts?

Tim Ruijs
11-25-2010, 01:40 AM
IMHO, without a direction or destination in mind, the journey can just go around in circle, stay in the same place, or be entirely dstructive.

I think that is what some of us are saying: too often the journey (the training) is of no distance (no progress).

Thoughts?
I see what you mean. There are two sides. The first is about the way we practise. The other is what goals we set for ourselves (and others in case we also teach).

I really feel this is where the discipline part comes in. Adhere to some basic rules while training and you will progress without exactly knowing where you will end up (how 'good' you will become). My teacher explained this to me: try to teach to many people as you never know who will truly advance.
Danger lurking in this is that many make Aikido popular to attract many students...well, that is for a different thread I guess...

We cannot predict what we will learn on our journey. ...when all challenges are known in advance, many will never start the journey at all...

To have true confidence/faith in the art requires discipline.

Tim Ruijs
11-25-2010, 04:20 AM
Is it "as if for the first time" or with an open mind to see further, deeper, and wider?

In program we honor "one day at a time" but also honor how many "one day at a time" we have lived. Yet even there, I often hear this as an excuse not to learn or progress.

The only assumption I make is no matter how far I may progress there is always so much more to learn.
The first time ever you practised Aikido you did not know what to expect in Aikido...allthough perhaps you already assumed a few things about it.

The frame of reference applies. strongly. The second Aikido class you enter, your frame of reference has already changed because of your first training experience (both physically and mentally). You found out your initial assumptions were wrong, but by now have made new ones...
Each lessons you make new assumptions, a new model. Continue to do this and after a while you will have forgotten many of your assumptions, but these will still affect your Aikido at present. And probably limit your progress.
An old thread "what are the pillars of Aikido" comes to mind.;)

At some point it appears that we think we know what to expect in Aikido. We assume...

Your last statement that there is (probably) much more to learn is exactly the correct mindset. However, it is incomplete. It lacks focus (allthough I am sure you 'get this'). What is it we need to learn to improve/progress our Aikido? more techniques?...faster?...:confused: I for one do not believe so. Purification. Remove everything that has no place in Aikido.
Question is how to judge. What makes Aikido Aikido?

SeiserL
11-25-2010, 05:20 AM
I see what you mean. There are two sides. The first is about the way we practise. The other is what goals we set for ourselves (and others in case we also teach). I really feel this is where the discipline part comes in.
Yes agreed.

I call it "D":
Decision
Direction
Daily Discipline

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-25-2010, 05:24 AM
At some point it appears that we think we know what to expect in Aikido. We assume...
Yes agreed.

I love the old saying about how to spell assume.

Perhaps beside training our bodies, we are also training our minds to enter, blend, and redirect our minds/assumption to accept and appreciate what is.

I often tell people its why I still write with a pencil.

Thoughts?

Peter Goldsbury
11-25-2010, 06:20 AM
Anyway, just getting back to the original point a bit... The whole modeling metaphor is really interesting to me. Having this discussion reminded me of something I had totally forgotten about and I now wonder how much of an impact this one book had on my thinking today. Interesting... When I was just about to start high school (and before really discovering the joys of girls which derailed a lot of things I had been doing) I played a *lot* of tennis. My coach at the time got tired of me constantly asking questions about how things were done. I wonder if I was as much a pain then as I am now. Regardless... He gave me a copy of "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Tim Gallwey (had to look up his name). From what I remember it affected me greatly in terms of awareness of what was going on inside me and my mind when I played. Unification of mind and body... Hmmm, no wonder that term resonated with me when I started Aikido...

Hello Keith,

Have you read Golf in the Kingdom by Michael J Murphy? I think there are also sequels and deep discussions about the 'inner game' of golf, as well as tennis. And there are a whole load of books on the inner aspects of long-distance running, which is what I did before starting aikido.

When I was young (and certainly foolish), I read Castaneda. (Nowadays people perhaps read Eckhart Tolle.) This was when I had the time, the enthusiasm and the mental & physical stamina to do aikido training intensively for several hours each day. Luckily, I was also studying Wittgenstein very intensively and had a tutor at London University who had a passion for clarity and conceptual/intellectual precision that rivalled Austin's. So my philosophy tutorials became intense arguments validating my aikido experiences (such as I understood them--I had about ten years experience and was shodan level) in the face of pitiless questioning about such concepts as 'being centred' and 'extending ki through your finger-tips'. The one thing I could never rely on was IHTBF.

One poster suggested that Wittgenstein's preoccupation with language was the result of the ‘poverty of his own experience'. I do not believe this to be true at all, but to explain this in detail would entail too much thread drift. But just one example. Wittgenstein studied engineering and then turned to philosophy. He wrote the book that would eventually earn him a PhD in his spare time, while serving in the trenches as a stretcher-bearer in World War I. He survived the war and gradually repudiated his earlier thinking--and this is also why he is famous: he admitted that his earlier thinking was mistaken. I think there are lessons for aikido here.

Finally, shihan does not simply mean teacher: it also means model and I am somewhat surprised that no one has mention this in the present forum.

Lynn, in what way should a shihan be a model?

Best wishes,

PAG

Keith Larman
11-25-2010, 08:05 AM
Hello Keith,

Have you read Golf in the Kingdom by Michael J Murphy? I think there are also sequels and deep discussions about the 'inner game' of golf, as well as tennis. And there are a whole load of books on the inner aspects of long-distance running, which is what I did before starting aikido.

No, I haven't. I checked a copy of the Inner Game of Tennis out from my local library for a reread, however.

I also just started rereading some of Searle's writing and am enjoying it immensely. The Tennis book is going to have to wait. I find Searle lucid and compelling.

When I was young (and certainly foolish), I read Castaneda. (Nowadays people perhaps read Eckhart Tolle.)

Funny, a friend recently asked me if I had read any of Tolle's stuff. I admitted I managed to get about two pages into one book before I started laughing. Just couldn't do it. I had a similar reaction to Castaneda as a young man.

This was when I had the time, the enthusiasm and the mental & physical stamina to do aikido training intensively for several hours each day. Luckily, I was also studying Wittgenstein very intensively and had a tutor at London University who had a passion for clarity and conceptual/intellectual precision that rivalled Austin's. So my philosophy tutorials became intense arguments validating my aikido experiences (such as I understood them--I had about ten years experience and was shodan level) in the face of pitiless questioning about such concepts as 'being centred' and 'extending ki through your finger-tips'. The one thing I could never rely on was IHTBF.

Now that's an image. When I started Aikido I had left my study of philosophy and was working in Psych research (what, you don't hire people to do philosophy?). I had to have been a difficult student on the best of days. I was chatting with two of our Shihan recently and they asked me how many times I had considered quiting over what I thought was "silly things" and "poorly formed concepts" over the years. I admitted I had no idea. But it was certainly more than once.

One poster suggested that Wittgenstein's preoccupation with language was the result of the ‘poverty of his own experience'. I do not believe this to be true at all, but to explain this in detail would entail too much thread drift.

I let that go as it is simply wrong. The Wittgenstein family was an amazing family. And Ludwig, lord, there was an enigma. With his name and family influence he could have easily avoided serving on the lines in WWI, but he felt it was his duty to be at the very front. In some of the most horrific battles of WW I. And his entire life of science, engineering, mathematics, and then philosophy was powered simply by his will to understand everything. Absolutely a brilliant living his life according to standards that I can barely comprehend. And on an intellectual level it seemed the only person who could keep up with Wittgenstein was B. Russell. And even he had to find him difficult at best. Then his equally gifted brothers who commit suicide, his sister, and on and on. As a guy with a computer background as well I find it interesting that apparently one of the few to ever directly challenge Wittgenstein in his pronouncements was Turing. Also interesting given orientation issues. Wow, it must have been an amazing time. Poverty of experience? Wow. This was no arm chair philosopher. But I am drifting too.

Finally, shihan does not simply mean teacher: it also means model and I am somewhat surprised that no one has mention this in the present forum.

Interesting. I suppose I knew that but it never occurred to me even in the context of this discussion.

SeiserL
11-25-2010, 08:43 AM
Finally, shihan does not simply mean teacher: it also means model and I am somewhat surprised that no one has mention this in the present forum. Lynn, in what way should a shihan be a model?
Thank you.

I did not know its actually meant "model".

IMHO, it isn't that we all should or shouldn't be models, but simply the fact that we all are.

Some of us will be a model for what to do (or how to live) and some will be a model for what not to do (or how not to live).

Unfortunately, not everyone has the discernment to make the distinction of the "wisdom to know the difference".

Thoughts?

Tim Ruijs
11-25-2010, 09:08 AM
Please forgive me my wish to elaborate...:sorry:


I did not know its actually meant "model".

IMHO, it isn't that we all should or shouldn't be models, but simply the fact that we all are.

Some of us will be a model for what to do (or how to live) and some will be a model for what not to do (or how not to live).

The way I understand "shihan" is that it reflects a person that (positively) inspires people to improve themselves; is exemplary in his/her ways. The term "role model" would perhaps somehow fit. But please do not take it too literal ;)


Unfortunately, not everyone has the discernment to make the distinction of the "wisdom to know the difference".

Many have already indicated the importance of a good teacher (shihan). But I hasten to add to not blindly 'follow' your teacher.:D

kewms
11-25-2010, 09:41 AM
One poster suggested that Wittgenstein's preoccupation with language was the result of the ‘poverty of his own experience'. I do not believe this to be true at all, but to explain this in detail would entail too much thread drift. But just one example. Wittgenstein studied engineering and then turned to philosophy. He wrote the book that would eventually earn him a PhD in his spare time, while serving in the trenches as a stretcher-bearer in World War I. He survived the war and gradually repudiated his earlier thinking--and this is also why he is famous: he admitted that his earlier thinking was mistaken. I think there are lessons for aikido here.


Very interesting... I must say, though, that some engineers do tend to take an overly reductionist view of the world, believing that things that can't be measured don't exist. (I know this because I am one -- no insult intended to an other engineers present.) But where does that leave love, or justice, much less things like "ki?"

Katherine

kewms
11-25-2010, 09:56 AM
I let that go as it is simply wrong. The Wittgenstein family was an amazing family. And Ludwig, lord, there was an enigma. With his name and family influence he could have easily avoided serving on the lines in WWI, but he felt it was his duty to be at the very front. In some of the most horrific battles of WW I. And his entire life of science, engineering, mathematics, and then philosophy was powered simply by his will to understand everything. Absolutely a brilliant living his life according to standards that I can barely comprehend. And on an intellectual level it seemed the only person who could keep up with Wittgenstein was B. Russell. And even he had to find him difficult at best. Then his equally gifted brothers who commit suicide, his sister, and on and on. As a guy with a computer background as well I find it interesting that apparently one of the few to ever directly challenge Wittgenstein in his pronouncements was Turing. Also interesting given orientation issues. Wow, it must have been an amazing time. Poverty of experience? Wow. This was no arm chair philosopher. But I am drifting too. .

Okay, then what's his excuse for such a wrong-headed view of mind and language?

Sorry to be so combative, but I've seen the Wittgenstein pronouncement you quoted in other contexts, and it always grates on my nerves. First because it is entirely out of line with my own personal experience, and second because it is often used to rhetorically dismiss another person's experience. Which is fine if you're trying to score debate points, but not so useful as an approach to life.

Katherine

SeiserL
11-25-2010, 09:59 AM
I was chatting with two of our Shihan recently and they asked me how many times I had considered quiting over what I thought was "silly things" and "poorly formed concepts" over the years. I admitted I had no idea. But it was certainly more than once.
Yes agreed.

One of my jobs in high school was being a library page Wasn't much of a reading but they were going to pay me to put books back on the shelf. By time I left I was an avid reader and "I don't know" was were the journey started. I read almost anything I can get my hands on even if I cannot initially (or eventually) get my head around it.

Many things (including Aikido) is like a well written mystery that keeps me interested and moving forward. Even if the final chapter will not be in this lifetime.

I don't quit when I want to quit (for several of the reasons you cited and more) because I know I will be back to continue the journey.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
11-25-2010, 10:07 AM
First because it is entirely out of line with my own personal experience, and second because it is often used to rhetorically dismiss another person's experience.
Yes agreed.

Many of my conflicts and much of my confusion (and some combat) has come because someone else's experience or expression do not match mine. I guess I finally accepted that it doesn't have to and not to take it personally.

I may be dismissing theirs just because it doesn't match mine too. I I would be missing out on so much if all I had to learn from is my own experience when some people who are far more intelligent than me have something very valuable to offer.

If other people dismiss my experience or expression, its just because it doesn't match theirs. In some regards that is how this fine discussion and many excellent conversations start,

Thoughts?

Peter Goldsbury
11-25-2010, 04:00 PM
Your post was in response to Keith Larman, but I want to make clear here that Wittgenstein's view of language with which I myself am concerned, and which I think has direct relevance to aikido, is to be found in his later writings, from around 1931 onwards. The view of language espoused there--dealing with such topics as languages games, family resemblances, rule-following, private language, forms of life--is certainly not wrong-headed, at least in my opinion.

Best wishes,

PAG

Okay, then what's his excuse for such a wrong-headed view of mind and language?

Sorry to be so combative, but I've seen the Wittgenstein pronouncement you quoted in other contexts, and it always grates on my nerves. First because it is entirely out of line with my own personal experience, and second because it is often used to rhetorically dismiss another person's experience. Which is fine if you're trying to score debate points, but not so useful as an approach to life.

Katherine

Keith Larman
11-25-2010, 10:03 PM
Sorry, been away due to the holiday here in the US. Just wanted to post quickly before the wife catches me on-line...

What Peter said... That's the first thing. Wittgenstein's early work put logic front and center. Later work was on language and how we communicate. His work is anything but "wrong-headed" especially with respect to the issues discussed here. I am somewhat puzzled by how anyone could say that about Wittgenstein. Heck, even his early stuff depending on how you interpret it is probably relevant as well. But this will have to wait. The kid has soccer games to play this long weekend and I have my priorities... One of the benefits of being a dad later in life -- I have no conflict about what comes first. For now... A little girl who is about to turn 10 and who has a couple really important soccer games. At least in her world.

I'll come back to the thread later. Dad duty first...

Peter Goldsbury
11-25-2010, 11:51 PM
I have discussed the Japanese kanji for teaching and learning elsewhere in this forum, but paid more attention there to sensei than to shihan.

Shihan is composed of two characters: SHI 師 and HAN 範 (both Chinese ON readings).

The basic meanings for SHI given in the dictionary are: teacher, master, army, but there are not many compounds with the last meaning. The primary compounds have to do with teacher or master, but in the sense of a profession. Here are a few examples, apart from shihan: koushi 講師; kyoushi 教師 (the difference in nuance reflects the difference between 講 = lecture or study and 教 = teach or educate); genshi 厳師 (strict teacher).

However, it loses this specific meaning of teacher when coupled with other characters. Here are ten random examples: 技師 gishi engineer; 占い師 uranaishi fortuneteller; 庭師 niwashi landscape gardener; 研ぎ師 togishi polisher of swords; 野師 yashi charlatan, quack; 道化師 dokeshi clown; 馬具師 bagushi saddler; 漁師 ryoushi fisherman; 猟師 ryoushi hunter; 詐欺師 sagishi swindler, con man. There is a clear sense here of people earning a living or exercising a profession, but not necessarily teaching.

The basic meanings of HAN given in the dictionary are example, pattern, limit.
Examples: 範囲 han'i extent, scope, range; 範疇 hanchuu category; 典範 tenpan model; 規範 kihan standard, norm, criterion (this is the Japanese name for Doshu's two books on aikido, translated as Best Aikido); 軌範 kihan model, example; 模範 mohan model, exemplar.

Thus, while both shihan and sensei can mean teacher, there is a clear difference in connotation. However, I do not think the Japanese term has the wider meaning (good or bad model) you appear to give below.

Best wishes,

PAG

Thank you.

I did not know its actually meant "model".

IMHO, it isn't that we all should or shouldn't be models, but simply the fact that we all are.

Some of us will be a model for what to do (or how to live) and some will be a model for what not to do (or how not to live).

Unfortunately, not everyone has the discernment to make the distinction of the "wisdom to know the difference".

Thoughts?

Allen Beebe
11-26-2010, 08:15 AM
Don't believe him Keith. (What does Peter know? He clearly lives in an ivory tower.) Take it from a guy living in the "trenches," Shihan means something completely different. Let's take a quick look at its component parts:

First: Shi, comes from "oshiko." (Not to be confused with shikko (a way of proving the durability of neoprene), or shiko (descriptive of the movement one performs after getting bit of one's "bits" pinched when one's fundoshi is cinched up.) We all know "oshiko" means "to pee." "shi" being "pee" and "ko" meaning "small," as in "Please excuse me, I need to (take a) oshiko." So "shi" is "pee."

Second: Han means "odd." Anybody that watches just one episode of Zatoichi knows that. It is a in-yo, or yin-yang reference typically heard in the phrase, "Han . . . Cho!"

So clearly, "Shihan" is translated "Pee-Odd." One can't fully understand the meaning of this phrase unless understands the meaning of "Sensei."

Sen means "stream" and Sei means "strait or true." So "Sensei" means "straight stream."

When one holds the meaning of Sensei (strait stream) in juxtaposition with Shihan (Pee odd) their omote meanings become clearer.

Then there is their Ura meaning. This is where the two seemingly opposing sides (or oppositional forces) unite as one whole, but this is a deep subject, rarely disclosed publicly.

George S. Ledyard
11-26-2010, 11:54 AM
Don't believe him Keith. (What does Peter know? He clearly lives in an ivory tower.) Take it from a guy living in the "trenches," Shihan means something completely different. Let's take a quick look at its component parts:

First: Shi, comes from "oshiko." (Not to be confused with shikko (a way of proving the durability of neoprene), or shiko (descriptive of the movement one performs after getting bit of one's "bits" pinched when one's fundoshi is cinched up.) We all know "oshiko" means "to pee." "shi" being "pee" and "ko" meaning "small," as in "Please excuse me, I need to (take a) oshiko." So "shi" is "pee."

Second: Han means "odd." Anybody that watches just one episode of Zatoichi knows that. It is a in-yo, or yin-yang reference typically heard in the phrase, "Han . . . Cho!"

So clearly, "Shihan" is translated "Pee-Odd." One can't fully understand the meaning of this phrase unless understands the meaning of "Sensei."

Sen means "stream" and Sei means "strait or true." So "Sensei" means "straight stream."

When one holds the meaning of Sensei (strait stream) in juxtaposition with Shihan (Pee odd) their omote meanings become clearer.

Then there is their Ura meaning. This is where the two seemingly opposing sides (or oppositional forces) unite as one whole, but this is a deep subject, rarely disclosed publicly.

Allen, you are truly demented and I love it!

kewms
11-26-2010, 12:40 PM
Your post was in response to Keith Larman, but I want to make clear here that Wittgenstein's view of language with which I myself am concerned, and which I think has direct relevance to aikido, is to be found in his later writings, from around 1931 onwards. The view of language espoused there--dealing with such topics as languages games, family resemblances, rule-following, private language, forms of life--is certainly not wrong-headed, at least in my opinion.

Look. I'm not going to argue Wittgenstein's genius. It's not relevant to the topic, and I honestly don't care that much anyway. My argument is entirely with this statement, posted upthread:

"The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for."

Which, in my opinion, is simply wrong.

A thought experiment, if you will. Consider the most profound experience of your life. Could be the birth of a child, could be that perfect sunset on the beach in California, could be sitting with a dying friend. Whatever. Now, taking as much time and as many words as you need, describe it in sufficient detail (using words alone) that a reader -- who was not there and doesn't know you -- will understand that moment as you understand it, and will be moved by it as you were moved.

I doubt you can do it. This is the central challenge of literature, and very few people in the history of humanity have even come close. Clearly there are human experiences out there that cannot be captured in words.

My comment about the presumed poverty of Wittgenstein's experience springs from that fact. How would *he* put his profound experiences into words? Did he have any? Did he try? If so, how could he write something so clearly silly?

(And if the answer is an argument about what it means to "know" something, well, maybe the quote shouldn't be asked to stand alone without that context.)

Katherine

SeiserL
11-26-2010, 02:30 PM
Which, in my opinion, is simply wrong.
In linguistics there is a factor of referential index, or lack of.

Mr. W expressed his opinion.

You expressed yours.

All of us express ours.

As a therapist I know that people are often limited by the mental map or model they hold in their minds. And we know that "the map is not the territory" but the map is the one we most often use to make sense of, describe, and navigate the territory.

I certainly agree that in my experience and opinion, there are far more mysteries in the world than my limited internal mental visualizations and verbalization can even begin to understand or describe. Aikido being one of them.

Please lets accept and appreciate the differences in perception, perspective, and discription here without the right or wrong or silly judgments.

If people would like to further the discussion of Mr W (who isn't here to defend himself) in another thread (other than how it applies to modeling and mentoring), I respectfully request it be taken up there.

SeiserL
11-26-2010, 02:32 PM
Allen, you are truly demented and I love it!
I'll certainly second that.

I know when I am learning the most, when I am laughing and not taking myself too seriously.

Peter Goldsbury
11-26-2010, 04:55 PM
Look. I'm not going to argue Wittgenstein's genius. It's not relevant to the topic, and I honestly don't care that much anyway. My argument is entirely with this statement, posted upthread:

Which, in my opinion, is simply wrong.

Katherine

Look, I'm not going to argue Wittgenstein's genius either. It is, as you state, not relevant to the topic, and I also honestly don't care much anyway. However, I myself first mentioned Wittgenstein in Post #74 and I believe his later thinking, not the earlier logical atomism that you are thinking of, is relevant to the way one describes in words 'internal' actions, such as IS training and intentionality, being 'mindful' and acting with 'intent'.

Yours sincerely,

SeiserL
11-26-2010, 05:01 PM
I myself first mentioned Wittgenstein in Post #74 and I believe his later thinking, not the earlier logical atomism that you are thinking of, is relevant to the way one describes in words 'internal' actions, such as IS training and intentionality, being 'mindful' and acting with 'intent'.
Yes agreed.

I for one, in initial learning, rely heavily on my internal dialogue/language as a guide. My mind is full (mindful) with talk. Later I have to drop it and my mindfulness is more external awareness than internal absorption. Told you I was a sequential learner.

Many philosophers have talked about acting with intent. Very relevant and very important.

Thoughts?

Peter Goldsbury
11-26-2010, 05:26 PM
As a good example of 'mindful modeling and mentoring', which I believe is the subject of this thread, I need to comment on Allen's superb analysis of bodily functions. :D ;) :D

Pee is indeed oshikko おしっこ, but in English it needs a double k and the addition of a verb like する suru, or 漏る moru for the action, as in 'to pee', or 'to pee one's pants'.

If one were so inclined, one could take the analysis of 漏る moru (to leak) a little further. Unlike SHI or HAN, moru, also read as RO, is composed of elements called bushu. There are three: 水 (water or liquid), 尸 (door), and 雨 (rain). So oshikko wo moru (to pee one's pants) could be analyzed as 'opening the door and allowing it to rain'. Beautiful. :) :)

In addition, shikko (two ks) can be written in four other ways and shiko (one k and both without the o), in 22 different ways, but I fear this would take us too far away from this thread. :straightf :straightf

PAG

SeiserL
11-27-2010, 04:38 AM
I am enjoying the depth of intelligence and humor.
A true blending of opposites.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-27-2010, 07:20 AM
Hi Seiser,

Do you consider intelligence and humor as opposites? How so?

SeiserL
11-27-2010, 05:42 PM
Do you consider intelligence and humor as opposites? How so?
I do not personally think of them as opposites. In fact, I think they go together very well.

Yet when I look and make general observations, I see a lot of people thinking and demonstrating that intelligence is taking thinks too seriously and too personally. Perhaps this is (IMHO) lower or developing intelligence. Its demonstrated a lot in this forum by people having just enough intelligence to think that not are they right, but they are the only one who is right.

I like the model and mentors who are secure enough in their intelligence to laugh at themselves and accept and appreciate their humanness.

Humor often shows the level of the intelligence of the person finding it funny.

Thoughts?

jonreading
11-29-2010, 11:17 AM
Too much turkey...

While I cannot speak to the role of instruction under Takeda Sensei, many of O'Sensei's students related that much of what O'Sensei did was not "instruction," certainly not during the later part of his life. Consider if I elected to teach golf using my mnemonic tempo device of thinking "money" as I swing my club. This mental trick helps keep my tempo correct, but what if I taught that trick to someone else? Is that instruction? Let's be honest, O'Sensei does not come to mind when we talk about good instructors...
I think much of what O'Sensei did made sense to him and much of what he demonstrated was directed at a "short cut" to enlightenment through aikido. I think a flaw in this model was in addition to curbing the [aikido] martial curriculum, the students entering aikido had diminishing martial education prior to enrolling in aikido. Throw in O'Sensei - who walks in, conducts a WTF moment, yells at the students for not praying to kami and leaves.

WTF moments are great to aspire us to train and study harder. WTF moments are great to remind us that aikido is not hard, but a study that requires time, patience and perseverance.

Instruction is about effectively expressing reproduce-able results with an audience. Instruction is not opinion, which I believe is a point of confusion for many of us and a point of abuse for many of us. That's also not to say that opinion is not a valuable source of information on which to base theories. Once we begin dabbling in opinion as fact, there becomes problem... This is a problem with gooey aikido - the "aiki" part of aikido. I believe aiki requires a foundational knowledge on which to base the personal experience of aiki. Without employing that foundational knowledge to successfully reproduce "aiki", we are left with WTF. That is why we need to prepare to understand why we feel what happens [to our body] during our aiki training.

Climbing down from that pedestal of knowledge is tough, but I think our instructors need to differentiate between instruction and opinion and understand the difference. I think that is a fundamental step in progressing students to understand that aiki is unique to each union and each time that union takes place. For example, if I can only make ikkyo work some of the time as kata, what will my chances be of making ikkyo work during each of these uniques encounters (waza)? Well, I guess if uke falls down...

SeiserL
11-30-2010, 11:36 AM
Climbing down from that pedestal of knowledge is tough, but I think our instructors need to differentiate between instruction and opinion and understand the difference. I think that is a fundamental step in progressing students to understand that aiki is unique to each union and each time that union takes place.
Yes agreed.

The people I select as mentors and models offer instructions and understanding, not just the WTF demonstrations that leave me more confused and convinced I cannot do it.

I like the models, mentors, and instructors who work hard so that I can impress myself with what I can do and not just try to impress me by what they can do.

But I as a student must be willing to step up and outside my comfort zone and conceptualization to be open to something new.

They cannot teach me if I am unwilling to learn and I cannot learn from them if they are unwilling to instruct.

In blending uke and tori become one. In aikido, the instructor and student becomes one. Perhaps a part of the lesson is to let go of duality?

Thoughts?

Tim Ruijs
12-01-2010, 03:51 AM
Instruction is about effectively expressing reproduce-able results with an audience. Instruction is not opinion, which I believe is a point of confusion for many of us and a point of abuse for many of us.
I am not quite sure of this. Instruction to me is to tell what to do to achieve a certain result. To teach is about passing knowledge, conceptual ideas, at least I think so. In effect learn people to make their own decisions based on the knowledge the acquired and even more important how they can keep learning on their own.
It is easy to instruct Aikido techniques, but ever so difficult to teach Aikido.
The importance of a shihan was already mentioned. Would you consider a shihan an instructor?

A good teacher challenges you physically, but also mentally. How he goes about doing that is his way, his opinion on how to make you progress.

SeiserL
12-01-2010, 04:12 AM
A good teacher challenges you physically, but also mentally. How he goes about doing that is his way, his opinion on how to make you progress.
Yes agreed.

A good instructor (model or mentor) challenges you in ways that allow you to progress.

I have no problem with instructor's opinion as long as they do not pass it on as O'Sensei fact.

Thoughts?

Mary Eastland
12-01-2010, 07:05 AM
Some random thoughts of mine from this thread:

I am responsible for my own training. When I noticed a teacher acted badly after class I chose not to be around him. When my teacher stopped training with that teacher I was able to relax.

One of my best examples of how to be a good student is Dora, one of my students.

A good teacher is mindful of each student in the moment...then intuition will lead and courage to speak will follow.

I think Charles Barkley was spot on.

And last about humilty: is it true how you speak of yourself, Lynn, or are you being self deprecacting? (asked with interest)
Thanks,
Mary

Tim Ruijs
12-01-2010, 07:40 AM
I think Charles Barkley was spot on.


yet you mention


I am responsible for my own training. When I noticed a teacher acted badly after class I chose not to be around him. When my teacher stopped training with that teacher I was able to relax.


How is it that when you fail to respect your teacher, but not see him as 'role model' you still chose to stop practise.
Would not a role model be exemplary in his ways, both on tatami and off? Like mentioned before: the dojo is where you practise. Practise is always, everywhere....

please forgive me if this comes across a bit direct. Hard for me to find the right words. :)

Mary Eastland
12-01-2010, 08:38 AM
His aikido was strong, beautiful and relaxed. His behavior off (and sometimes on) the mat was not what I want to be around.
I chose to continue to train with my teacher who left his teacher when he was ready. Not when I was ready.
I learn from anyone. I don't have to become like them in all ways.
Mary

jonreading
12-01-2010, 09:01 AM
I am not quite sure of this. Instruction to me is to tell what to do to achieve a certain result. To teach is about passing knowledge, conceptual ideas, at least I think so. In effect learn people to make their own decisions based on the knowledge the acquired and even more important how they can keep learning on their own.
It is easy to instruct Aikido techniques, but ever so difficult to teach Aikido.
The importance of a shihan was already mentioned. Would you consider a shihan an instructor?

A good teacher challenges you physically, but also mentally. How he goes about doing that is his way, his opinion on how to make you progress.

Tim-

I think you have some good points, most of my comments are opinion and subject to discussion. I choose to differentiate between instruction and teaching mostly at the level of fact; your definition would certainly also be a valid differentiation. I make my distinction because I have experienced good instruction but poor teaching and good teaching but poor instruction that has required me to rationalize how to classify these experiences. Teaching definitely carries a larger social mentor/model role than simple instruction (unless you're working with stereo instructions). To that extent, I think you couldn't be more correct, instructing Aikido techniques is different than teaching Aikido.

To this point, I also think that teaching carries a burden of learning. An older use of the term "learn" we no longer use describes "teachers learning students," or "learned individuals" as a reference to their competency. I think there good teachers not only instruct, but illustrate how to learn aikido.

In this sense, I think shihan shed the role of instructing to undertake larger leadership roles. That is not to say shihan no longer instruct, but I think instructing becomes a secondary role delegated to senior belts. I think this is not a poor delegation as their exists a significant education gap between a shihan and lower black belts (and certainly white belts); often, a senior black belt instructing to lower belts fills this education gap. I think of it as delegating elementary math to a quantum mathematics professor, sure you can do it but its better to use the resources of the mathematician to teach quantum math. Find a elementary school teacher to teach elementary math.

*oh, and I disclaim those shihan and senior instructors to come to a seminar and teach kihon waza to remind us of how to do aikido because we're idiots...

SeiserL
12-01-2010, 12:08 PM
And last about humilty: is it true how you speak of yourself, Lynn, or are you being self deprecacting? (asked with interest)
Do you mean do I really suck at Aikido? I think so. Not self-deprecating but a statement of perception.

Is that what you were asking?

SeiserL
12-01-2010, 12:13 PM
*oh, and I disclaim those shihan and senior instructors to come to a seminar and teach kihon waza to remind us of how to do aikido because we're idiots...
Referential index please?

Kihon according to who?

I find many different Kihon variations in Aikido.

I personally never feel I can get enough basics and don't feel like an idiot because I am reminded. Okay, yes, sometimes (most of the time) I am an idiot.

Keith Larman
12-01-2010, 01:58 PM
Been away from the thread for a while for a variety of reasons. Mostly not much to add.

On one poster's problems with Wittgenstein, well, I agree with Dr. Goldsbury that Wittgenstein's work, especially his later work is of tremendous relevance here. As a matter of fact I've spent the last few weeks rereading much of Wittgenstein's work along with Searle. And while I think it goes well beyond the scope and maybe experience of a forum like this, I'm not so sure even Wittgenstein's earlier logical atomism wasn't also relevant, just on a different level. But I agree that the thread drift is tremendous as the discussion that would have to occur to flesh this out would be way beyond the scope of Dr. Seiser's "intent" in this column.

I personally never feel I can get enough basics and don't feel like an idiot because I am reminded. Okay, yes, sometimes (most of the time) I am an idiot.

The best corrections I've ever had have been the small basic corrections made by people who are very, very good teachers. Rod Kobayashi had a saying that "advanced techniques were just simplified basics". I used to wonder what the hell that meant. But over the last few years that statement has resonated more and more with me. Amazing how words can take on so many levels of meaning. And sometimes that meaning is only accessible once you have enough time and experience to allow it to be accessible.

Then again I could just be reading what I want into it. Another self-delusion.

So I read my Searle and train more. Still wondering. Still thinking that more rigor and insistence on clarity and "defining our terms" would go a long way. Transmission through modeling and mentoring. Thank you for the mental exercise Dr. Seiser. :)

jonreading
12-01-2010, 02:07 PM
I absolutely refuse to tell who - that will just get me in trouble because I nod my head enthusiastically during the seminars as if I get it. :)

Kihon according to whom? This is actually a great question. Since I am ASU, I was specifically referring to the kihon waza I see in most of our ASU instructors, in whom I can usually find a main thread around which is wound each instructor's own variations and styles. Believe it or not, I have found the exposure to several variations of a technique to be most revealing as you can identify those elements present in each successful technique. It's like Clue, but without Colonel Mustard, Ms. Plum, the revolver or the Conservatory.

Mary Eastland
12-01-2010, 03:06 PM
Do you mean do I really suck at Aikido? I think so. Not self-deprecating but a statement of perception.

Is that what you were asking?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lynn Seiser PhD

Yes....some people really are not naturals at aikido but rarely does anyone suck. ;o)
best Mary

kewms
12-01-2010, 05:56 PM
Kihon according to whom? This is actually a great question. Since I am ASU, I was specifically referring to the kihon waza I see in most of our ASU instructors, in whom I can usually find a main thread around which is wound each instructor's own variations and styles. Believe it or not, I have found the exposure to several variations of a technique to be most revealing as you can identify those elements present in each successful technique. It's like Clue, but without Colonel Mustard, Ms. Plum, the revolver or the Conservatory.

Yes. If you want to know what ikkyo is, look for the common thread that ties together the many different versions. The moon is not the many pointing fingers.

Katherine

Tim Ruijs
12-02-2010, 02:13 AM
To this point, I also think that teaching carries a burden of learning.
In this sense, I think shihan shed the role of instructing to undertake larger leadership roles.

I think of it as delegating elementary math to a quantum mathematics professor, sure you can do it but its better to use the resources of the mathematician to teach quantum math.

Last night I thought a bit more about this instructing and teaching aspect. And I came to the same conclusion you describe.
At some level instructing 'telling people what to do') is required to get them started. At a higher level the teacher has to rise above this instruction in order to progress himself (e.g. undertake larger leadership roles)


Amazing how words can take on so many levels of meaning. And sometimes that meaning is only accessible once you have enough time and experience to allow it to be accessible.

Exactly. Your level of understanding changes. In previous posts I referred to this as your frame of reference; it changes over time. It takes time to learn to observe at another level.

Tim Ruijs
12-02-2010, 02:33 AM
I learn from anyone. I don't have to become like them in all ways.
Mary
You could learn from any person, but you choose whom to learn from.
My comment was primarily targeted at your agreement with Barkley in relation to the situation you described. He [Barkley/teacher] himself may think he is not an example, but others will react to his overall behaviour, like your teacher and yourself. In that light I do not understand you agreement with Barkleys remark.
...is all..;)

Mary Eastland
12-02-2010, 07:44 AM
I guess I am taking that point more literally. I do learn from everyone even if what I am learning is how not to be.

If I remember correctly (and that could be in question) Charles Barkley was talking about children not looking to him as a role model...that they should look to their parents instead. He is not a teacher ...he is a basketball player. Just because someone makes a lot of money and is on TV doesn't mean they accept responsiblity that is really our own.
Mary

SeiserL
12-02-2010, 10:51 AM
But I agree that the thread drift is tremendous as the discussion that would have to occur to flesh this out would be way beyond the scope of Dr. Seiser's "intent" in this column.

Still thinking that more rigor and insistence on clarity and "defining our terms" would go a long way. Transmission through modeling and mentoring.

As I taught this morning I became aware that the initial agenda/intent I started with had evolved/drifted based on who was present and participating.

Transmission is a dialogue.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
12-02-2010, 10:57 AM
Kihon according to whom? This is actually a great question. Since I am ASU, I was specifically referring to the kihon waza I see in most of our ASU instructors, in whom I can usually find a main thread around which is wound each instructor's own variations and styles. Believe it or not, I have found the exposure to several variations of a technique to be most revealing as you can identify those elements present in each successful technique.
I am not ASU but I attend a lot of Ikeda Sensei seminars and actually see very few people modeling after him.

I also agree that seeing kihon from different perspectives and descriptions is very revealing. Its that common denominator factor.

(BTW, your co-instructor Mike Magno Sensei did a brilliant workshop at the Roswell Friendship Seminar and you could certainly see the lineage. Your students who attended were all well trained. Compliments.)

SeiserL
12-02-2010, 11:00 AM
Yes....some people really are not naturals at aikido but rarely does anyone suck.
You obviously have not seen my Aikido.

Yes agreed, I do not have natural abilities and did not take to Aikido easily. But I knew with practice I would obtain what I was looking for.

Part of my reality perception of my skills has to do with what level of models and mentors I compare myself too. As I have been advocating, I tend to aim very high.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
12-02-2010, 11:04 AM
Yes. If you want to know what ikkyo is, look for the common thread that ties together the many different versions. The moon is not the many pointing fingers.
Yes agreed.

That common denominator factor from many perspectives.

I love the WTF from cross training and hearing confusing and contradictory explanations and demonstrations of the same things. Makes me go "WTF" and look deeper.

All fingers are pointing at the moon from their own relative position on the hand of the person pointing. But they point the way.

Thoughts?

SeiserL
12-02-2010, 11:08 AM
Your level of understanding changes. In previous posts I referred to this as your frame of reference; it changes over time. It takes time to learn to observe at another level.
In an old quoted from Out Of Africa, Robert Redford says that this is why the world was round, so you can only see so far down the path. If you want to see further, you have to walk further down the path.

IMHO, the level and depth of kihon changes.

As Admur Sensei suggests in his title, Hidden In Plain Sight, it was always there but I was not in a position to see it YET.

Thoughts?

Tim Ruijs
12-02-2010, 12:25 PM
@Mary
Please do not get wrong. I understand what you are saying.
He [Barkley] may not be a teacher, but still people look up to him and may follow his example. True, that is their responsibility, but I cannot help think some applies to him too.
Like the saying goes: With great power comes great responsibility.

@Lynn
I concur completely.

Mary Eastland
12-02-2010, 02:00 PM
Part of my reality perception of my skills has to do with what level of models and mentors I compare myself too. As I have been advocating, I tend to aim very high.

Thoughts?
Yes, I do have some thoughts. I don't compare myself to anyone because I am not interested in what I think...I am interested in how it feels. I train....I know I am better than I was. Every day and every uke is different. I am the common facter to be explored in each instance. How can I relax ? Accept? Blend?
I am the best me I can be each time.
I think I understand what you are saying better now though. Thank you.
Mary

jonreading
12-02-2010, 02:56 PM
Thanks Lynn, I appreciate the comments.

Ikeda Sensei is something of an oddity (right now, Endo Sensei also falls into this category for me). He is one of those instructors who is almost impossible to decipher because of his skill and experience; he has to exaggerate his movement for anyone to figure out what he did. I remember seminars from years back where he would demonstrate something, say "understand?" then have all us idiots (nodding enthusiastically) go run off to do something that was almost completely not what he was doing. He was so freakin' good no one really knew what or how he worked - I think during this time he would have been difficult to emulate as a model of aikido. I'd give him some time... if he keeps doing what he has been doing he'll have a group fall in line and they'll have something to share with us.

Over the last several years Ikeda sensei has refined his seminars (personally, I think his time with Ushiro Sensei has a lot to do with his changes). His more recent seminars have been some of the most interesting and useful seminars I have attended in recent years. Ikeda sensei is one of those instructors who teaches kihon in his kihon waza and you feel like an idiot because he talks about it like we've been doing it all along... but we haven't. It makes me feel like those elitist college kids that drop names at a coffee shop and you answer just to feel cool. "Well, you've read Keats, of course?" "Yeah, she's awesome." Dang.

SeiserL
12-02-2010, 03:57 PM
Ikeda Sensei is something of an oddity (right now, Endo Sensei also falls into this category for me).
So what do we have to do to get them in the ATL on a regular basis?

Peter Goldsbury
12-02-2010, 04:03 PM
So what do we have to do to get them in the ATL on a regular basis?

What is ATL?

SeiserL
12-02-2010, 06:24 PM
What is ATL?
Atlanta, Georgia USA

Do you ever get our way?

Peter Goldsbury
12-02-2010, 09:36 PM
Atlanta, Georgia USA

Do you ever get our way?

Well, since the IAF General Secretary lives in Boulder CO, right next to Mr Ikeda, there is a possibility. Perhaps in 2011 or 2012, which will be ten years since the first Aiki Expo.

PAG

SeiserL
12-04-2010, 06:26 AM
Well, since the IAF General Secretary lives in Boulder CO, right next to Mr Ikeda, there is a possibility. Perhaps in 2011 or 2012, which will be ten years since the first Aiki Expo.
I attend every Ikeda seminar I can and have for years.

The 3 Aiki Expos changed me and my Aikido. If Pranin Sensei does it again, I will certainly be there.

crbateman
12-04-2010, 10:04 PM
The 3 Aiki Expos changed me and my Aikido. If Pranin Sensei does it again, I will certainly be there.
From your lips to O'Sensei's ear, Lynn-san, but alas... :sorry: