View Full Version : The Spirit Of Learning

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Peter Boylan
03-27-2014, 07:13 AM
Ive been thinking about how I receive instruction and advice. My big focus has been on all the times when I think, and sometimes say I know that. Is there a better spirit to approach even unwanted and unnecessary instruction? I think Ive finally found a way to keep the dreaded I already know that from floating through my mind and heading for my lips. My blog post about it is at


How do you handle advice you already know?

03-27-2014, 09:23 AM
This is a good topic.
When I was young and beautiful I was often annoyed with unwelcomed advises. Particularly from not well trained students – I could see they can’t do it by themselves, but still give advices to others. So I immediately proceeded physically to show them how they can’t walk their talk. It increased much intensity of training(that was good!!) and sometimes outcome was quite unproductive. Took me a time to understand they can’t learn that way to shut up and simply practice more and more. I forgot old saying from Himalaya “you can lead horses to the water but you can’t make them drink”.

Now, when I’m very old and a bit wiser, I simply observe how their advices reflect their level of understanding of aikido. Usually such advices are quite simplistic (note that I didn’t say primitive LOL ) because they are taking in consideration only one particular aspect of interaction.

When high level instructors give advice, usually it is a pointer in certain direction, not solution to particular detailed problem. That happens because they understand that aikido teaching is based on principles and if you apply principles correctly all kind of small details will be executed correctly as par miracle  When I receive such kind of advice, I also can see a level of understanding of such particular instructor and I can appreciate it. Some instructors are not giving any advices – a reason is simple – at certain level of training, you have to simply train more, and discover stuff by yourself, there is no shortcut anymore. Usually when you discover by yourself, your body remember it to the end of your life. The advices, you forgetting it right after the end of the practice…

I personaly don’t need to ask my students what I’m doing wrong – it is enough for me to look at them, they are reflecting my teaching. So I can correct myself any time I want 

03-27-2014, 09:31 AM
I must admit, while I try to be open to all input/feedback as possibly valid, I tend to consider the source.
If they have good technique and intent, I am more likely to listen.
Remember, whatever advice you get, it will get you what it got them.

Janet Rosen
03-27-2014, 09:46 AM
I have been eliciting feedback from partners, not detailed critiques, but things that I feel I have erred with and can be answered quickly in a low voice so we continue to train: "did it feel like I gave your balance back to you as I turned?" for instance....not seeking especially from juniors any suggested corrective action but accurate reality testing/feedback that helps me learn, yes, in the middle of that turn, if it FEELS that way to me then I probably did let uke regain structure but if it feels this way to me I did not. I believe in empty hand practice this is a sensitivity it is easy to shrug off developing by going faster or using muscle....I want my training time to be spent improving.

Mark Uttech
03-28-2014, 01:13 PM
Onegaishimasu, when I come across something familiar, I try to just look at it again
whether it's a technique, a reflection, a teaching,or any type of dojo etiquette.
My two cents,

03-28-2014, 02:49 PM
I like the point about questioning whether you really do know "the advice you already know". Maybe this reaction comes from a feeling that "I'm full up right now". The metaphor of the full cup of tea is often used in martial arts to try and teach the lesson that we need to let go of what we know to learn new things, but I think we need to remember that emptying the cup isn't that simple. Sometimes your cup is full because you keep hanging on to things; sometimes it's full because you're overwhelmed (by information, by circumstances, whatever). If you present an overwhelmed person with something very simple ("We're ordering pizza, what do you want on it?"), they may not be able to give you an answer. Being overwhelmed does that to you. An overwhelmed person can't just empty their cup as a simple act of will: they need to process what's in it first. If you try to give more information to an overwhelmed person, no matter how relevant, no matter how helpful the spirit in which it is given, it won't be helpful.

Adam Huss
03-29-2014, 04:45 PM
"Do what you see, not what you know" is advice regularly given in my organization's seminars. This is particularly poignant for us as we often host instructors from various styles of aikido as well as non-aikido martial arts. Heck, a seminar I went to last year we had to separate Yoshinkan instructors teach the same technique in different ways (Yoshinkan is often very regimented in their curriculum making it largely universal as to its execution). Both versions of the technique effected were executed with quite different emphasis, but both had the same result. I thought it was super interesting - both in teaching multiple approaches to a technique, but also to teach humility, attention to detail, and open-mindedness.