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OwlMatt
11-08-2013, 10:36 AM
I was recently watching a video of a class led by a very famous aikido instructor. In the course of teaching the class, he told the story of how his instructor had corrected students by whacking them with a shinai (a bamboo sword used in kendo). When, for instance, his elbow was out of place in the middle of a technique, whack! The elbow felt it. He called this practice a very effective method of teaching, and blamed "treehuggers" for the fact that it is no longer in use.

I was recently part of an online discussion with an aikidoist who had just joined a new club. He was frustrated by the club's different way of doing things, and wasn't sure whether to continue with them or to try the next-nearest club, which was an hour's drive away. One person, a devoted aikidoist who had immigrated to another continent to follow a particular instructor, responded harshly, telling him that his interest in aikido was merely "superficial" if the distance to the dojo mattered to him.

It's worth noting at this point that both the hardass instructor and the intercontinental traveler probably know more about aikido than I ever will, and are probably better at aikido than I will ever be. Their devotion and sacrifice are undoubtedly keys to their skill and knowledge. Here's the thing, though: I just don't care that much.

I don't care enough about aikido to endure being regularly beaten with a stick while I practice it. I don't care enough about aikido to pack up and move across the ocean so that I can train with a particular instructor. In fact, I don't even care enough about aikido to drive a two-hour round trip every night I want to train: I would barely get to spend a waking moment with my wife on those days, and two or three days a week of that would get old quickly.

Maybe that makes me a "treehugger"; maybe that means I'm only "superficially" into aikido. I can live with that.

I have nothing against people who are willing to make great sacrifices for their arts. In fact, I'm very glad there are such people; they often become great resources for the rest of us. I certainly don't want to disparage that kind of devotion. I just don't have that kind of devotion myself -- at least not to a martial art -- and I'm not particularly interested in listening to people tell me that I should have it.

I used to have an aikido instructor who told me that aikido should be the third most important thing in my life, after God and my family. I nodded to him politely when he said this, but I knew it would never be true for me. My priorities are not his. I'd rather be a great musician or a great writer than a great martial artist, and my martial arts interests are not limited to aikido (though the time and the money I budget for martial arts training currently are). By telling me how important aikido needed to be to me, he wasn't helping me; he was alienating me.

The veil over the martial arts is being lifted. As more and more information about them becomes available to the general public through the internet and sports like MMA, more people see through the myths. The martial arts are not a shortcut to enlightenment. They do not offer us supernatural powers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsSzSflkns8). They are not inherently moral or noble (http://www.24fightingchickens.com/2010/03/04/your-karate-practice-is-not-noble/). Only a few of them are trained in a way that really prepares (http://bullshido.org/Aliveness) practitioners for the rigor of combat, and even those are virtually useless against modern weapons. We are running out of reasons for the martial arts to be important.

The increasingly obvious truth is that the martial arts are only as important as the people who practice them choose to make them. To be sure, some people really get into the martial arts and make them into a way of life, just as others do with cars, basketball, or writing poetry. But we aren't all like that. In fact, I suspect most of us aren't like that.

The people telling us that we must endure this hardship/make this sacrifice/rearrange these priorities for the sake of our martial arts aren't trying to help us get what we want out of the martial arts; they're trying to convince us to want the same things they want. I have a different idea: what if we all just tried to help our training partners achieve their own respective goals?

(Find the original piece here (http://yghmartialarts.blogspot.com/2013/11/i-dont-care-that-much.html).)

Kevin Leavitt
11-08-2013, 02:59 PM
Thanks for your honesty. I'm pretty committed as a budoka. It has changed my life in many ways and led me down paths and made connections that I could never imagine. I found myself just this afternoon by chance of luck helping to introduce jiu jitsu to Senegalese in Dakar. Tomorrow I am going to their national judo dojo to teach. I am excited to help provide opportunities to others. I hope it changes their lives and is as helpful to them as it has been to me. All I can do is give what I have received.

I have no expectations on what others may or may not receive. I teach a 6 am class to beginners in Germany 3 days a week for free. Whoever shows up shows up. I have several regulars and they work hard when I am not there. They grow slowly but we have a good time.

I don't prostelyze or do I really care what they do or don't do. Only that they give their best.

However I don't really desire to waste my time with those that really are not committed and only want to come to entertain themselves. I think the way we train though prevents this.

Anyway..I'd say train or don't train...u get out of it what u put into it.

NagaBaba
11-08-2013, 03:35 PM
Excellent post Kevin, as usual! :)

"I have a different idea: what if we all just tried to help our training partners achieve their own respective goals?'
If you don't care about aikido, why instructor has to care about your goals?
Let me quote again Kevin here: "u get out of it what u put into it. '

Eric Winters
11-08-2013, 03:42 PM
Hi All,

I agree with the OP but... My problem is when that same person asks me how to get better and I tell them to train more. They always nod enthusiastically and then go on doing same stuff as before.If you are not willing to dedicate yourself to training that is OK, just don't expect to get better.

I also agree with Kevin. I take my budo seriously if you are a person who does not, just train with like minded individuals because you are pretty much wasting our time. I would much rather train with someone not very talented but dedicated to getting better than someone who is not.

Have a great weekend,

Eric

Gerardo Torres
11-08-2013, 04:10 PM
I actually identify and agree with all the comments so far to one degree or another.

The OP brings an interesting point that I think is one of the by-products of the over-reach of aikido as a budo practice, where everything and anything nowadays can be called aikido, and which will invariable attract a huge variety of expectations and opinions, ranging from the extremely dedicated to the casual hobbyist. I am currently not nearly as dedicated to aikido training as others so I definitely identify with the OP. I hope to reverse this situation in the future, but for now I do not expect anybody, especially the teacher, to adjust to my own personal goals. I'm conscious of not getting in the way of anybody's progress, especially those in line for leadership roles.

This is an important point from Nagababa:

If you don't care about aikido, why instructor has to care about your goals?
When somebody wants to join our koryu group, we tell them straight: we don't care about your goals or expectations, we only care about what you can bring to the ryu-ha. It may sound snobbish but that sets the record straight. If somebody doesn't want to train regularly, he gets ignored or let go. The training goals are clearly defined, so we expect that people either love doing it or not -- otherwise everybody's time is being wasted. I think this would be nearly impossible to do in aikido given the popular appeal set forth by organizational leaders. The best an aikido dojo could manage is have the usual bell curve distribution of students vs. dedication, if the student is out of place in the dojo, it's best to find a more suitable training environment.

Kevin Leavitt
11-08-2013, 04:31 PM
I think our society is one that has grown to be very transaction or contractual based. that is, I pay the same price as the guy next to me, you are obligated to provide me with the same service. This mentality removes the obligation of the payer to participate in the relationship. Unfortunately, budo doesn't work that way. You have to pay to play, and you have to...well...play!

Not everyone should get a trophy, and not everyone is equal....some will be better than others, and some or worth spending more time with than others....some will be worth showing things to because they have both the willingness and the capability to benefit from training.

I spend alot of time on willingness and capability in my job working in Africa with militaries. We talk about this alot. It is not enough to have one and not the other. You have to have both.

As a few have pointed out...if you don't care "that much" then you lack willingness. why should your instructor invest anything at all in you? or maybe he simply should care "that much" which probably isn't alot..

Conrad Gus
11-08-2013, 05:07 PM
The veil over the martial arts is being lifted. As more and more information about them becomes available to the general public through the internet and sports like MMA, more people see through the myths. The martial arts are not a shortcut to enlightenment. They do not offer us supernatural powers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsSzSflkns8). They are not inherently moral or noble (http://www.24fightingchickens.com/2010/03/04/your-karate-practice-is-not-noble/). Only a few of them are trained in a way that really prepares (http://bullshido.org/Aliveness) practitioners for the rigor of combat, and even those are virtually useless against modern weapons. We are running out of reasons for the martial arts to be important.
here (http://yghmartialarts.blogspot.com/2013/11/i-dont-care-that-much.html).)

Supernatural powers? Inherently noble? Combat preparation?

That's a pretty naive list of reasons to study aikido. I certainly wouldn't agree that if you take those three away then we are "running out of reasons". It sounds you were looking at aikido through that veil and now that you have a little bit of experience the veil is gone and you're not sure what you're looking at.

I think it is common to begin aikido with certain idealistic assumptions and then become disillusioned after a period of time. The question is whether you give up or keep going. For those that keep going, the deeper reality becomes fascinating and inspiring. The loss of the original naive view, looking back, is just an inevitable part of the natural growth process.

Good luck to you.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-08-2013, 05:57 PM
Supernatural powers? Inherently noble? Combat preparation?

That's a pretty naive list of reasons to study aikido.

For sure, but Aikido marketing has been offering them to attract customers.

Conrad Gus
11-08-2013, 06:39 PM
For sure, but Aikido marketing has been offering them to attract customers.

It's the old "bait and switch"! :D

OwlMatt
11-08-2013, 06:45 PM
Excellent post Kevin, as usual! :)

If you don't care about aikido, why instructor has to care about your goals?
Let me quote again Kevin here: "u get out of it what u put into it. '
Anyone who is willing to invest time and money in aikido cares about it. You are mistaking not caring the way you care for not caring at all -- which is exactly what the blog is about.

OwlMatt
11-08-2013, 07:12 PM
However I don't really desire to waste my time with those that really are not committed and only want to come to entertain themselves.

I also agree with Kevin. I take my budo seriously if you are a person who does not, just train with like minded individuals because you are pretty much wasting our time. I would much rather train with someone not very talented but dedicated to getting better than someone who is not.

I bolded some key words in the above quotes to call attention to an extra dimension you guys are bringing into the conversation that I never really addressed in the blog. You guys aren't talking about telling other people what to do or how to think; you're talking about choosing the kind of people you like to work with. I would never question anyone's right to do that.

I will say, though, that I think there is some area for compromise here. A person doesn't have to make aikido the most important thing in his life to be good at it and to be a good training partner for even the most devoted aikidoists.

Eric Winters
11-08-2013, 07:40 PM
Hi Matt,

Aikido or (anything else) does not have to be the most important thing in your life for one to be dedicated. :)

I don't know why an instructor in anything worth being taught would waste their time teaching someone who did not care about getting good.

Best,

Eric

ryback
11-08-2013, 11:07 PM
I was recently watching a video of a class led by a very famous aikido instructor. In the course of teaching the class, he told the story of how his instructor had corrected students by whacking them with a shinai (a bamboo sword used in kendo). When, for instance, his elbow was out of place in the middle of a technique, whack! The elbow felt it. He called this practice a very effective method of teaching, and blamed "treehuggers" for the fact that it is no longer in use.

I was recently part of an online discussion with an aikidoist who had just joined a new club. He was frustrated by the club's different way of doing things, and wasn't sure whether to continue with them or to try the next-nearest club, which was an hour's drive away. One person, a devoted aikidoist who had immigrated to another continent to follow a particular instructor, responded harshly, telling him that his interest in aikido was merely "superficial" if the distance to the dojo mattered to him.

It's worth noting at this point that both the hardass instructor and the intercontinental traveler probably know more about aikido than I ever will, and are probably better at aikido than I will ever be. Their devotion and sacrifice are undoubtedly keys to their skill and knowledge. Here's the thing, though: I just don't care that much.

I don't care enough about aikido to endure being regularly beaten with a stick while I practice it. I don't care enough about aikido to pack up and move across the ocean so that I can train with a particular instructor. In fact, I don't even care enough about aikido to drive a two-hour round trip every night I want to train: I would barely get to spend a waking moment with my wife on those days, and two or three days a week of that would get old quickly.

Maybe that makes me a "treehugger"; maybe that means I'm only "superficially" into aikido. I can live with that.

I have nothing against people who are willing to make great sacrifices for their arts. In fact, I'm very glad there are such people; they often become great resources for the rest of us. I certainly don't want to disparage that kind of devotion. I just don't have that kind of devotion myself -- at least not to a martial art -- and I'm not particularly interested in listening to people tell me that I should have it.

I used to have an aikido instructor who told me that aikido should be the third most important thing in my life, after God and my family. I nodded to him politely when he said this, but I knew it would never be true for me. My priorities are not his. I'd rather be a great musician or a great writer than a great martial artist, and my martial arts interests are not limited to aikido (though the time and the money I budget for martial arts training currently are). By telling me how important aikido needed to be to me, he wasn't helping me; he was alienating me.

The veil over the martial arts is being lifted. As more and more information about them becomes available to the general public through the internet and sports like MMA, more people see through the myths. The martial arts are not a shortcut to enlightenment. They do not offer us supernatural powers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsSzSflkns8). They are not inherently moral or noble (http://www.24fightingchickens.com/2010/03/04/your-karate-practice-is-not-noble/). Only a few of them are trained in a way that really prepares (http://bullshido.org/Aliveness) practitioners for the rigor of combat, and even those are virtually useless against modern weapons. We are running out of reasons for the martial arts to be important.

The increasingly obvious truth is that the martial arts are only as important as the people who practice them choose to make them. To be sure, some people really get into the martial arts and make them into a way of life, just as others do with cars, basketball, or writing poetry. But we aren't all like that. In fact, I suspect most of us aren't like that.

The people telling us that we must endure this hardship/make this sacrifice/rearrange these priorities for the sake of our martial arts aren't trying to help us get what we want out of the martial arts; they're trying to convince us to want the same things they want. I have a different idea: what if we all just tried to help our training partners achieve their own respective goals?

(Find the original piece here (http://yghmartialarts.blogspot.com/2013/11/i-dont-care-that-much.html).)
It's one thing to be doing aikido as a hobby or activity and another thing to be an aikidoist. It's pretty obvious that you are not as dedicated as it would take for you to qualify as a true budoka and that is fine if you ask me. The only person's time you are wasting is yours, no instructor would have his time wasted by someone who doesnt care so much.
But what i find surprisingly annoying is the fact that you refer to some kind of veil being lifted off martial arts.
You don't have enough dedication to get hit or drive far for your martial art, yet all of a sudden you have a strong opinion about the shortcut to enlightenment, super powers nobility and martial effectiveness just because you read it on the internet or some kind of silly new fashionable trendy sport such as MMA advertises so.
Martial arts are not a shortcut to enlightenment, they are a huge journey to it. If there was a shortcut, it wouldn't be enlightenment but a mere sunday walk.
As for martial effectiveness, let people who really practice have an opinion, whether they agree with me or not, because it takes a lot of hitting, a lot of long drives a lot of weekends without your family and millions more of things that you wouldn't do, as you say, to know what really works in a fight and how to make it work.
Aikido training is my number one priority. I respect every opinion in this world, but some things sound very insulting to me. I have spent years on the mat doing what i love most and now someone who "doesnt care so much" is claiming to know about the new found truth that exposes martial arts as ineffective, in order to find an excuse for his lack of dedication...
You simply added another drop in the vast ocean of ignorant information that people like you love to read and write about instead of walking to blocks down and enter the dojo.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-09-2013, 05:40 AM
'true budoka', ' silly new fashionable trendy sport such as MMA'....

OwlMatt
11-09-2013, 07:32 AM
I don't know why an instructor in anything worth being taught would waste their time teaching someone who did not care about getting good.

And I don't know why anyone would do anything they didn't care about getting good at.

Mary Eastland
11-09-2013, 07:52 AM
A person must train for their own reasons. Listening to others can be informative but in the end we all either show up on the mat ready to train or we don't. That is all there is to it.

All the talk in the world will never make that different.

OwlMatt
11-09-2013, 08:19 AM
It's one thing to be doing aikido as a hobby or activity and another thing to be an aikidoist.
You're splitting semantic hairs here based on your own arbitrary judgement. There is no way to define aikidoist except as someone who trains aikido.
It's pretty obvious that you are not as dedicated as it would take for you to qualify as a true budoka and that is fine if you ask me.
What on earth is a "true budoka"?
The only person's time you are wasting is yours, no instructor would have his time wasted by someone who doesnt care so much.
Aikido is certainly not a waste of my time. If it was, I wouldn't do it.
But what i find surprisingly annoying is the fact that you refer to some kind of veil being lifted off martial arts.
You don't have enough dedication to get hit or drive far for your martial art, yet all of a sudden you have a strong opinion about the shortcut to enlightenment, super powers nobility and martial effectiveness just because you read it on the internet or some kind of silly new fashionable trendy sport such as MMA advertises so.
First, what makes you think I came by my opinions "all of a sudden"? Read more of my blog and I think you'll find that's not the case at all. Second, MMA is not any sillier than aikido (which, by the way, many people find very silly), and is not new.
Martial arts are not a shortcut to enlightenment, they are a huge journey to it. If there was a shortcut, it wouldn't be enlightenment but a mere sunday walk.
Right, just like every other activity that requires time, focus, effort, and sacrifice.
As for martial effectiveness, let people who really practice have an opinion, whether they agree with me or not, because it takes a lot of hitting, a lot of long drives a lot of weekends without your family and millions more of things that you wouldn't do, as you say, to know what really works in a fight and how to make it work.
The only way "to know what really works in a fight" is to get into fights. Unless you're doing that, or at least learning from someone who has done that, you don't know what really works in a fight, no matter how devoted you are to a particular martial art.
Aikido training is my number one priority.
Congratulations. My number one priority is being a husband and a father. My number two priority is the music that has been my life's work. I don't have a problem with your priorities being different from mine, so why does it bother you so much that my priorities are different from yours?
I respect every opinion in this world, but some things sound very insulting to me. I have spent years on the mat doing what i love most and now someone who "doesnt care so much" is claiming to know about the new found truth that exposes martial arts as ineffective, in order to find an excuse for his lack of dedication...
First of all, what you call my "lack of dedication" doesn't need an excuse. The fact that I do not feel the way you feel does not have to be justified. Second, make sure that when you use quotation marks you are actually quoting me. What I said was, "I don't care that much." The word that denotes specificity. I don't care enough, specifically, to go multiple days a week without seeing my wife, to uproot my family, or to be regularly beaten with a stick. Are you suggesting that every aikidoist needs to be willing to do these things?
You simply added another drop in the vast ocean of ignorant information that people like you love to read and write about instead of walking to blocks down and enter the dojo.
Except I do walk those blocks and I do enter the dojo. I acknowledge all this "ignorant information" and yet am still willing to devote a significant amount of my time to training. I think that suggests that all this "ignorant information" isn't the threat to aikido that you think it is.

sakumeikan
11-09-2013, 11:30 AM
You're splitting semantic hairs here based on your own arbitrary judgement. There is no way to define aikidoist except as someone who trains aikido.

What on earth is a "true budoka"?

Aikido is certainly not a waste of my time. If it was, I wouldn't do it.

First, what makes you think I came by my opinions "all of a sudden"? Read more of my blog and I think you'll find that's not the case at all. Second, MMA is not any sillier than aikido (which, by the way, many people find very silly), and is not new.

Right, just like every other activity that requires time, focus, effort, and sacrifice.

The only way "to know what really works in a fight" is to get into fights. Unless you're doing that, or at least learning from someone who has done that, you don't know what really works in a fight, no matter how devoted you are to a particular martial art.

Congratulations. My number one priority is being a husband and a father. My number two priority is the music that has been my life's work. I don't have a problem with your priorities being different from mine, so why does it bother you so much that my priorities are different from yours?

First of all, what you call my "lack of dedication" doesn't need an excuse. The fact that I do not feel the way you feel does not have to be justified. Second, make sure that when you use quotation marks you are actually quoting me. What I said was, "I don't care that much." The word that denotes specificity. I don't care enough, specifically, to go multiple days a week without seeing my wife, to uproot my family, or to be regularly beaten with a stick. Are you suggesting that every aikidoist needs to be willing to do these things?

Except I do walk those blocks and I do enter the dojo. I acknowledge all this "ignorant information" and yet am still willing to devote a significant amount of my time to training. I think that suggests that all this "ignorant information" isn't the threat to aikido that you think it is. Dear Owlmat,
Now you have told everybody that you dont care that much about aikido, why not just get on with your life?Do your own thing bet it art, music or domestic chores or a bit of aikido or whatever?For my part how you perceive aikido is your business.Nobody [i think ] minds one way or another what you do.Have a nice day, cheers, Joes
By te way some people would pay loads of dosh to be beaten with a stick .That tingle up /down the spine can get quite addictive.

Belt_Up
11-09-2013, 11:48 AM
I don't have a problem with your priorities being different from mine, so why does it bother you so much that my priorities are different from yours?

You're telling a good number of people that something that is very important to them isn't that important to you. Don't be surprised when some people's reactions to that aren't all smiles and sunshine.

OwlMatt
11-09-2013, 01:22 PM
You're telling a good number of people that something that is very important to them isn't that important to you. Don't be surprised when some people's reactions to that aren't all smiles and sunshine.

I am a little surprised; I think this is a mindset that is pretty rare in activities other than the martial arts. I don't think Kobe Bryant disparages the guys who play basketball a couple times a week at the YMCA. I don't think Eric Clapton gets angry at the guys who strum chords around the campfire. I don't think Bob Woodward has a problem with the average blogger.

In the martial arts, though, I think there are a lot of people who, perhaps because of the pseudoreligious way some martial arts are taught, come to imagine that their activity is objectively, universally important rather than just important to them. And once that illusion has a hold of you, it starts to seem reasonable to insist that everyone value your particular activity exactly the same way you do.

I like aikido. It's fun, it's interesting, it's challenging, it's a good workout, and it has taught me a lot, including things that apply to life outside the dojo. I acknowledge that it requires time and effort. A select few take aikido further than that, and that's cool. I just take issue with the ones who think I need to be exactly like them.

sakumeikan
11-09-2013, 02:37 PM
I am a little surprised; I think this is a mindset that is pretty rare in activities other than the martial arts. I don't think Kobe Bryant disparages the guys who play basketball a couple times a week at the YMCA. I don't think Eric Clapton gets angry at the guys who strum chords around the campfire. I don't think Bob Woodward has a problem with the average blogger.

In the martial arts, though, I think there are a lot of people who, perhaps because of the pseudoreligious way some martial arts are taught, come to imagine that their activity is objectively, universally important rather than just important to them. And once that illusion has a hold of you, it starts to seem reasonable to insist that everyone value your particular activity exactly the same way you do.

I like aikido. It's fun, it's interesting, it's challenging, it's a good workout, and it has taught me a lot, including things that apply to life outside the dojo. I acknowledge that it requires time and effort. A select few take aikido further than that, and that's cool. I just take issue with the ones who think I need to be exactly like them.

Dear Matthew,
Do I get the feeling you are a bit sensitive and a tad tetchy?You just take issue??with people who thinks you should be like them??Why the last statement?Cannot say I have noticed anybody saying your wrong or whatever in your choice to be a student who has other priorities in life apart from aikido. Psuedoreligion, illusion, universally important, these phrases alone make me wonder
where you train.I can tell you that in my own experiences most of my aikido has been hard work physically .If I had wanted a religious flavour I would have went to a monastery or whatever.Like I said earlier why not just get on with your life as you see fit?Is someone trying to pressgang you into a dojo???Go when you feel like training in aikido, do something else if you are so inclined.Cheers, Joe.

Mary Eastland
11-09-2013, 02:54 PM
I think, Matt, that you like to argue and also might get off a bit on feeling like you have been victimized. I don't mean that disrespectfully. I don't think... you are aware of it yet. Aikiweb is a excellent place to see how we come across to others.

For me, aikido training is about deciding how to respond. Sometimes it is okay just to side step the sho-men or duck under the yokamen.

When I put an idea out onto Aikiweb I can watch the responses and then notice what reactions I have to the responses. If someone agrees with me it matters as much as if someone disparages my ideas. The practice is to participate and then learn about myself.

OwlMatt
11-09-2013, 03:41 PM
I think, Matt, that you like to argue
I definitely do like disagreement, at least where my own blog is concerned. When I write a post like the last one I wrote ("Lessons From a Long Weekend of Aikido"), and just talk about having a good time and learning a lot, there is never any response. No one wants to talk about that. They think, "Oh, that's nice," and then move on to something else. Disagreement means I've made people think something or feel something, and to me that's a lot more interesting than, "Oh, that's nice."
and also might get off a bit on feeling like you have been victimized. I don't mean that disrespectfully. I don't think... you are aware of it yet. Aikiweb is a excellent place to see how we come across to others.

For me, aikido training is about deciding how to respond. Sometimes it is okay just to side step the sho-men or duck under the yokamen.

When I put an idea out onto Aikiweb I can watch the responses and then notice what reactions I have to the responses. If someone agrees with me it matters as much as if someone disparages my ideas. The practice is to participate and then learn about myself.
There is a lot of sense in this. Thanks and I'll keep this in mind.

Eric Winters
11-09-2013, 08:38 PM
Hello,

Actually I am not angry. Just don't expect people that care and are dedicated to aikido to care about training with you. No big deal to me, we have plenty of people that aren't dedicated to aikido training where I practice I just train with them as little as possible.

Best,

Eric

OwlMatt
11-10-2013, 06:47 PM
Hello,

Actually I am not angry. Just don't expect people that care and are dedicated to aikido to care about training with you. No big deal to me, we have plenty of people that aren't dedicated to aikido training where I practice I just train with them as little as possible.

Best,

Eric

You have been most courteous, Eric. I don't think anyone has accused you of being angry.

lbb
11-10-2013, 07:53 PM
I don't care enough about aikido to endure being regularly beaten with a stick while I practice it. I don't care enough about aikido to pack up and move across the ocean so that I can train with a particular instructor. In fact, I don't even care enough about aikido to drive a two-hour round trip every night I want to train: I would barely get to spend a waking moment with my wife on those days, and two or three days a week of that would get old quickly.

Well, I don't care enough about aikido by any of those standards, either -- not when you put it that way. On the other hand, I do care enough about aikido to put up with, shall we say, rather blunt and not uncommonly physical expressions of frustration from my sensei. I do care enough to give up my evenings for class time plus a 45 minute drive each way, and it would be pretty hard to get me to move away from my dojo at this point. So what are we really talking about here? You can't quantify commitment in terms of the actions you'll put up with, the distance you'll travel or the time you'll spend, because they all mean different things to different people. Moving continents means one thing for a 22-year-old gap-year kid, and another thing for a homeowner with a mortgage that won't just put itself on hold because you feel the need to train. You can't use the same yardstick to judge the dedication of different people, because different circumstances have different definitions of what it means to have some skin in the game. And that's the measure of dedication: what it costs you. The cost of a cup of coffee is trivial to the average middle-class office worker, but is all he has to a homeless person. I've seen poor people give to those with even less, while better-off people rationalized how the poor person didn't deserve it, wasn't doing enough to help himself...wasn't dedicated enough, I guess...and used that rationale as an excuse to give nothing. Compare the cost of training of a parent of three kids who gets to training two or three days a week on average, and the 22-year-old uchideshi-wannabee with no responsibilities who trains daily. Who is paying more for their training?

OwlMatt
11-11-2013, 09:05 AM
Well, I don't care enough about aikido by any of those standards, either -- not when you put it that way. On the other hand, I do care enough about aikido to put up with, shall we say, rather blunt and not uncommonly physical expressions of frustration from my sensei. I do care enough to give up my evenings for class time plus a 45 minute drive each way, and it would be pretty hard to get me to move away from my dojo at this point. So what are we really talking about here? You can't quantify commitment in terms of the actions you'll put up with, the distance you'll travel or the time you'll spend, because they all mean different things to different people. Moving continents means one thing for a 22-year-old gap-year kid, and another thing for a homeowner with a mortgage that won't just put itself on hold because you feel the need to train. You can't use the same yardstick to judge the dedication of different people, because different circumstances have different definitions of what it means to have some skin in the game. And that's the measure of dedication: what it costs you. The cost of a cup of coffee is trivial to the average middle-class office worker, but is all he has to a homeless person. I've seen poor people give to those with even less, while better-off people rationalized how the poor person didn't deserve it, wasn't doing enough to help himself...wasn't dedicated enough, I guess...and used that rationale as an excuse to give nothing. Compare the cost of training of a parent of three kids who gets to training two or three days a week on average, and the 22-year-old uchideshi-wannabee with no responsibilities who trains daily. Who is paying more for their training?

That's kind of my point. Things all have different value to different people, based not only on their interest in the thing in question, but also on their circumstances. In light of this, I think it's very arbitrary and largely futile to try to judge who cares enough.

SeaGrass
11-11-2013, 10:01 AM
'We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.'

-Archilochus (Greek Soldier, Poet)

Kevin Leavitt
11-11-2013, 10:44 AM
I am a little surprised; I think this is a mindset that is pretty rare in activities other than the martial arts. I don't think Kobe Bryant disparages the guys who play basketball a couple times a week at the YMCA. I don't think Eric Clapton gets angry at the guys who strum chords around the campfire. I don't think Bob Woodward has a problem with the average blogger.

In the martial arts, though, I think there are a lot of people who, perhaps because of the pseudoreligious way some martial arts are taught, come to imagine that their activity is objectively, universally important rather than just important to them. And once that illusion has a hold of you, it starts to seem reasonable to insist that everyone value your particular activity exactly the same way you do.

I like aikido. It's fun, it's interesting, it's challenging, it's a good workout, and it has taught me a lot, including things that apply to life outside the dojo. I acknowledge that it requires time and effort. A select few take aikido further than that, and that's cool. I just take issue with the ones who think I need to be exactly like them.

I don't think Kobe, Eric, or Bob would disparage amateurs or dabblers simply because they don't care and they are not on their personal radar. They have more important things to do and have "filters" and "access" gates set up to really prevent amateurs and dabblers from wasting their valuable time.

I don't think you have many people complaining and griping about equal and fair access to Kobe, Eric, and Bob either. I would think most reasonable dabblers understand that they simply are not going to have access to them.

However, people in martial arts will gripe that an instructor or sensei is not willing to spend time with them or is spending time with certain people more than others. I don't get that. Personally, If you are a dabbler...I wouldn't really even think about you enough to disparage you....you simply would not be on my radar. I think it is probably as simple as that.

On Facebook Peter Boylan posted an interesting link to a musician that wrote a letter to a film company that was requesting his music for free. Why is their an expectation in the "arts" that people have a right on an entitlement to ask if they can "borrow" or have it for little or nothing?

lbb
11-11-2013, 10:53 AM
It strikes me, Kevin, that it's a false dichotomy to label anyone not at the elite level as a "dabbler". Is that really how you see things?

Kevin Leavitt
11-11-2013, 11:31 AM
No Mary....not at all...over generalization for sure. Certainly there is a huge gap between the examples Matt provides of Kobe, Eric, and Bob....and amateurs/dabblers. Would you not agree?

Out of those amateurs though there does need to be programs to recognize and develop budding talent. and certainly, these guys would make themselves available simply for the passion of their arts/professions.

Not sure though that they would really have much incentive to hang out and spend time with someone that was not passionate or committed...regardless of their talent level...hence a dabbler.

jonreading
11-11-2013, 12:02 PM
I will sound like a broken record because I have said this before. Our commitment to train should be a reflection or our expectation of gain. This post sounds like we are talking about valuing our training, and then comparing that value to our expectation.

I think amateurs are not professionals. I think hobbyists are not amateurs. We all struggle with prioritizing our commitment and following through with that commitment. I think no one takes issue with the claim that life sometimes requires different priorities than we would like. I think the problem usually comes in the delivery of expectation - especially when that expectation is less. I think we often mistake commitment as lacking sacrifice. money, time, whatever. We are sacrificing ourselves in some form to gain in our understanding of aikido. That sacrifice should be valued against the expectation of gain.

It is no small thing to excel in anything. When you step on the mat with someone of excellent quality, they have likely reached that level through no small effort. To either minimize their commitment or maximize yours is inappropriate. To comparatively argue you are the same is inappropriate. If the sacrifice of your commitment is appreciated by your peers they will respect your commitment, regardless of your skill. Eventually the value of your sacrifice will coordinate with your commitment and hopefully your expectation.

Pauliina Lievonen
11-11-2013, 12:15 PM
In music there's a pretty clear system in place - there are professionals and there are amateurs, and an amateur can certainly get lessons from a professional if they pay for the lessons. BUT usually the very top teachers teach at institutions where you won't get in without serious talent and practice. Otherwise you'll have to be content with a private teacher like me. :-)

In aikido the problem is I think that we all just practise together in one big jumble and there aren't that many places where someone could go who wanted to practise with the goal of getting to an elite level. If music conservatories had to accept everyone who came in the door, I can imagine the grumbling that would cause, both from the teachers and the students.

And afaik most of my colleagues recognize that especially for adult students, work and family come first and practising their instument only after that - for example, I always tell my students to come to a lesson whether or not they have practised - stuff happens, sometimes life interferes, that's ok, we'll just practise in the lesson instead.

Now if one of my students told me that they wanted to become a professional musician, that would be an entirely different situation. I'd be much tougher on them then.

Pauliina

lbb
11-11-2013, 12:44 PM
No Mary....not at all...over generalization for sure. Certainly there is a huge gap between the examples Matt provides of Kobe, Eric, and Bob....and amateurs/dabblers. Would you not agree?

Oh, absolutely! That's why I was a bit surprised at your earlier comment.

Out of those amateurs though there does need to be programs to recognize and develop budding talent. and certainly, these guys would make themselves available simply for the passion of their arts/professions.

Not sure though that they would really have much incentive to hang out and spend time with someone that was not passionate or committed...regardless of their talent level...hence a dabbler.

Right, but (and maybe this is where the analogy breaks down) there are very few Kobes or potential Kobes, regardless of passion and commitment.

Carsten M÷llering
11-12-2013, 03:33 AM
In aikido the problem is I think that we all just practise together in one big jumble and there aren't that many places where someone could go who wanted to practise with the goal of getting to an elite level. Hi Pauliina :-)
When I read over this thread I was wondering, why a teacher would or should demand a certain amount of "how much" or a certain way of "how" some practioner cares about aikid˘. I was asking me that because I don't experience such "one big jumble".

Sure, at a first glance it seems so. But when you take a closer look you may detect a lot of differentiation. At least this is true in my experience. It's clearly not comparable to the world of teaching and studying music.

But ...
... there exist different classes ...
Mostly they are accessible for every member of a d˘j˘. But you have to meet certain requirements for advanced classes. You have to do more to participate in the classes which are preparing for dan-gradings. And there may even be classes to which certain students are invited by a certain teachers / the teacher of the d˘j˘.

... and different seminars.
Seminars do have a special charakter, they are "more than" the daily practice. And some people are going very often, others go seldom, some never do.
And while most seminars are free for everyone to attend, there are a whole lot of seminars which are restricted. Be it by a certain grade like shodan or even sandan. Or you can take part only by invitation. Or only certain students of the teacher are allowede to attend. ...

... aikid˘ is taught in a teacher-student-relation.
So during class everybody practices. But only the "declared" students of the teacher are taught in the proper sense. This is true at home in the d˘j˘ and it is even more true during seminars. You can go there and practice but the teacher will not teach everyone but only his students. The others "only practice", they only take part and have to watch, to steal.

... finally both aspects come together.
There are students of a teacher who are following him more to his abroad seminars than other. Only few attend the international seminars in his home d˘j˘ (maybe in Saku in Japan) regularly or visit him there (maybe in Paris, France) once a week.
And only a handfull lives in the d˘j˘ as uchi deshi for some years, or at least near to the d˘j˘. This may only be three or seven students.

This is at least how I experience the structure of the student body in aikid˘: To me it is clearly a pyramid.
And maybe living and practicing directly with a shihan for some years, even living in the d˘j˘ as a uchi deshi, is a little bit like being student at conservatoire.

So I have to admit I didn't really understand the point of this thread.
I think everyone can care about aikid˘ just the way he or she does. That's fine. Because everyone hast to choose his or her own way through one's life.
I myself never experienced a teacher to make demands of a student where there was no relation and who only wanted to practice and nothing more.
Demanding to overthink the way one cares about aikid˘ I only know from situations where the practioner has to care "enough" to become a declared student, or to care "enough" to take part in a certain training or seminar or to be graded. Or to fulfil whatever to reach a certain aim.
I never experienced a teacher to accuse a student to not care enough, when the interest of this practioner only was to just practice.

jonreading
11-12-2013, 09:30 AM
That's kind of my point. Things all have different value to different people, based not only on their interest in the thing in question, but also on their circumstances. In light of this, I think it's very arbitrary and largely futile to try to judge who cares enough.

My instructor used to say, "you cannot hide who your are on the mat." There are a number of indicators to help us assess this subjective decision. We have attendance records, belt ranks, leadership positions in the dojo to name a few. We also have implicitly given some measure of control to our instructors to make this decision - we have an obligation to keep them informed of our personal decisions and such so they may make an informed decision. So we are empowered to make a fair guess at who is training to a level of expectation set forth by their personal circumstances. Of course, we then need to consider the answer and adjust our training accordingly...

I think the problem is not deciding who cares enough. I think the problem is that we often think we care enough and that perception is inconsistent for our expectation of skill. I think the Western model of buying access to excellence causes confusion. Here we have people who pay to touch the robes of our shihan and other high ranking aikido people. They take our money and train with us. They stay at our house. And they politely refrain from telling us our aikido is poor because we train 2-3 times a week for 1-2 hours, usually. Well, except on holidays, too. You want to train with an instructor who gives tough love? See how many people are on the mat... Sometimes we need to look at alternative solutions. Can't be on the mat? Does your dojo offer solo exercises that you can do at home? Do you do them?

Then there's performance on the mat. Yes, there are some lucky people out there who are just good. Bo Jackson once remarked that he actually did very little to maintain his body prior to college. But most of us have to work at it. Most of us make mistakes. And most of us are not nearly as good as we imagine in our heads (where surprisingly few damsel butt-grabbing, ex-convicts on drugs in a bar escape our imagined, cool, even-handed control until said assailant realizes the error of his ways and enrolls in a self-help clinic).

Finally, sometimes we step away from our investment because it help insulate us from being hurt by criticism. Sometimes, I think students are intimidated by a fear of criticism. The defense mechanism is simply to "not to care enough," to be hurt by the criticism. I think as instructors, we need to always be considerate of what we say and how we say it. I think aikido has experienced a period of instruction that was not considerate, with individuals who maybe were gifted martial artists but poor instructors. We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors. I think aligning with instructors who are considerate is important to introducing better means of constructively adjusting our training.

phitruong
11-12-2013, 09:58 AM
personally, i only care enough about my practice and leave others to their own care or not care. i don't live their lives or walk in their shoes (some are very stinky) so they don't bother me much. as long as they don't whine too much on the mat, i really don't care that much.

Keith Larman
11-12-2013, 11:13 AM
Pfft... I do my best whenever I'm on the mat. I do my best when I have any free time by myself at home. When I teach, I do my best to show whatever I can and communicate whatever I can. Period. The rest, well, that's up to someone other than me and with respect to them, well, there ain't much I can do about that part of the equation.

FWIW I also get a monthly or so random contact from someone who wants to know "the secrets" of polishing swords. Or wrapping sword handles. Or whatever. I give the same answer -- lots of time, lots of sweat, lots of study. No secrets. And nothing someone can tell you in an email or even standing in front of you will get you anywhere other than maybe a millimeter further along that path. The rest involves walking it. Doing it. Getting training. Doing. Studying. Thinking. Making mistakes.

So do I spend much time answering specific questions from folk like this? Nope. Because no answer I give will be understood without all that other stuff they haven't done yet, even if they are willing to do the work. Once they've started doing the work, well, that's another issue. But still there's always the question of whether someone knows enough yet to even begin to understand the questions they ask. Or maybe more accurately, how more often than not the questions they ask are the very things they should be least concerned with as the unasked ones are often vastly more relevant.

So... Do you care about what you're doing? How much time does one who has spent decades honing skills devote to helping those who are trying to learn? How much time do they give to those who are just coasting? How much time do you give to dabblers?

Me, when I'm in the dojo my job is to teach to the best of my ability. And I try knowing full well there are those out there for whom the message will be missed. But I do my best. When it's the random guy contacting me out of the blue telling me I have a responsibility to share what I've worked so hard to learn because the world "needs" to retain this info and yet they're completely unable to understand answer? Nah, no time for that. I've got stuff to do...

So mixed feelings on my part. And it depends on context.

I'll also touch on one thing already mentioned -- we've seemingly moved from a world that views virtually everything as market based. Many seem to feel entitled to whatever they want simply because they've paid for something. Or want to know what it is they have to pay to get. Well, not everything works that way. And no one is entitled to anything. There are some things money can't buy. Sometimes it takes building trust and confidence. Sometimes it takes friendship. And quite frankly the things I've learned from some in the martial arts that were based more on a long-standing friendship turned out to be vastly the more valuable lessons of all.

And in saying that I realize I need to make a few phone calls to some old friends.

K

Basia Halliop
11-12-2013, 12:16 PM
Personally, I don't see why I should care one way or another how personally dedicated my training partners are or what thoughts they have about aikido in their head, or what right I have to even ask them. In your head is private. It is simply none of my business one way or another what role aikido has in the life of someone I'm training with, or what they do or think about when they go home, or even really how likely they are to keep training for years, unless we happen to get in a chat and we feel like talking about it. I'm sad sometimes if someone leaves or doesn't train often, but that's my problem, not theirs. They don't 'owe me' their training, and I would find the idea disturbing. I don't own anyone's life but mine.

How they train in those minutes that they're training with me is important to me. (Or in those minutes when I'm teaching them, in the event that I'm teaching a class). That matters.

Basia Halliop
11-12-2013, 12:32 PM
I also kind of agree with Carsten a bit. There are plenty of ways for more driven or more advanced students to seek out more training or more teaching.

As we all keep saying, 'what you get out of it is what you put into it', which means that everything basically sorts itself out. The person who shows up rarely will get less teaching and will learn less, the person who really concentrates will make the most of the time they have, the person who seeks out seminars or seeks people after class for extra training will get more and different training experiences, the person who brings themself to a certain level will be allowed into advanced classes and given extra help by sempais. And so on.

It seems kind of fine to me.

lbb
11-12-2013, 03:12 PM
We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.

...which, to put it bluntly, is stupid.

Basia Halliop
11-12-2013, 04:33 PM
'We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.'

Isn't there, though? There's usually a kind of informal apprenticeship, from what I've seen, where students watch how their teachers teach and are gradually given more and more teaching responsibility themseves for kohais. I certainly feel like I've gotten a lot more support to develop my teaching skills through aikido than in situations where it was my actual job (e.g., as a teaching assistant in a university).

Although of course such a system can pass on harmful teaching methods as easily as it can pass on helpful ones.

jonreading
11-13-2013, 12:30 PM
'We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.'

Isn't there, though? There's usually a kind of informal apprenticeship, from what I've seen, where students watch how their teachers teach and are gradually given more and more teaching responsibility themseves for kohais. I certainly feel like I've gotten a lot more support to develop my teaching skills through aikido than in situations where it was my actual job (e.g., as a teaching assistant in a university).

Although of course such a system can pass on harmful teaching methods as easily as it can pass on helpful ones.

Yes, I think the sensei/sempai/kohai relationship was intended to be an apprenticeship process. I think that relationship structure is being changed in Western aikido dojos and that is damaging the basic foundation for learning responsibility and instructing others. Sure, there are groups of good instructors developing good instructors, but on any given day you can simply read the threads column here and find a thread about a poor instructor, or sempai, or whatever. I am not sure if that is a criticism or simply an observation about our most prominent method of "teaching" instructors how to share what they know.

In ASU, we are invited annually to the Shrine in Florida for a seminar for instructors. The idea is to share ideas about what to teach, when, and how. Plus, Sensei usually yells at us about something. But, its a forum for instructors to ask how to better instruct. I support that idea which I why I go. I also am blessed to have relationships with seniors whose teaching ability and aikido I respect. I work very hard to develop a methodology of instruction, a curriculum and a process of evaluation to positively push the training in the right direction. That is a difficult endeavor for me and I do appreciate it when someone gives me advice or new direction that helps me be better.

I think beyond apprenticeship is also the art of effectively sharing knowledge with interpersonal communication. Kinda the 'ol "the best players don't always make the best coaches" observation. I think there are bad instructors. I think there are great instructors. Plain and simple. Most aikido instructors fall somewhere in the middle.

When I read this thread, the perspective that jumped out at me was, "Is there anything I can do to make my students care more?" In high school I had an English teacher who made me care more about English than I would have thought possible. He didn't get paid more for it. I didn't learn it from the other students. He did it. Sharing inspiration and encouragement is tough - any teacher knows that. I try to thank everyone I meet that shares their inspiration and encouragement.

PaulF
11-14-2013, 05:33 PM
We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.

Hi Jon,

There is in the UK, the British Aikdio Board has a coaching accreditation programme that runs to 11 different courses at three levels. This covers all affiliated organisations across many styles of aikido and the coaching level 1 is a prerequisite for insurance cover under the BAB. This in turn sits under a wider scheme called Sports Coach UK. There's even an online searchable database of everyone's qualifications, pass dates and certificate numbers.

I guess this could be seen as anywhere from a bureaucratic straitjacket to a comforting level of professionalism depending on one's perspective :)

Cheers,

Paul

jonreading
11-18-2013, 11:37 AM
Hi Jon,

There is in the UK, the British Aikdio Board has a coaching accreditation programme that runs to 11 different courses at three levels. This covers all affiliated organisations across many styles of aikido and the coaching level 1 is a prerequisite for insurance cover under the BAB. This in turn sits under a wider scheme called Sports Coach UK. There's even an online searchable database of everyone's qualifications, pass dates and certificate numbers.

I guess this could be seen as anywhere from a bureaucratic straitjacket to a comforting level of professionalism depending on one's perspective :)

Cheers,

Paul

That's right, you guys run your insurance through your board.

Ironically, here in the states we require a college degree to baby-sit our kids; not to mention websites where you can perform "security checks" on individuals. But you got a black belt? Well, obviously we should just trust you... Where can I drop my child off to practice a violent fighting system for an hour? Ohhh? Weapons, too? Excellent. We're like a comedy skit waiting to happen.

jurasketu
11-18-2013, 01:34 PM
That's right, you guys run your insurance through your board.

Ironically, here in the states we require a college degree to baby-sit our kids; not to mention websites where you can perform "security checks" on individuals. But you got a black belt? Well, obviously we should just trust you... Where can I drop my child off to practice a violent fighting system for an hour? Ohhh? Weapons, too? Excellent. We're like a comedy skit waiting to happen.

And remember - the most important reason to send a child to martial arts class is so that they can learn discipline. So, naturally - you get very undisciplined children, because that's what we claim we teach. And they do things like suddenly FLING themselves into a mirror or a wall - while you go "GAHHHH... WHAT ARE YOU DOING???"

JLRonin
12-06-2013, 04:00 PM
Thank you OwlMatt
Your OP really really really made my day and year.
God Bless!