View Full Version : But wait!... that's not what I was taught....

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09-15-2002, 02:47 PM
Hello everyone. I just started at new dojo after my move to Pasadena, California from Portland, Oregon. It is true what they say; you don not truely appreciate something until it is gone. The group of people, I started aikido with and continued to train with at Multnomah Aikikai were all fantasic people and most excellent aikidoka. I encourage each, everyone of you to partake in a little piece of the great aikido pie in Portland. You won't be dissapointed.

Onto the topic;

Like I said, I recently moved from Portland to Pasadena. I found a dojo which seems like a good group of people, and is very convient (5 minutes away from my house). Everything is well and good, albiet they only have 2 training days a week. Sunday, we had a intructor I had never trained with before. By observation he was out of shape (we wont get into that again :D) and seemingly his techniques were "lacking". They just didn't seem to have that specific element that most dansha have.

I don't know how to explain it exactly... but I just felt his aikido was not up to "par".

This all leads to my question. The class was training tenchinage. He walked over, and corrected me. Insisting that I was praciticing the technique wrong. Instead of taking the balance and projecting forward, he told me the correct and apporiate way, was to raise both hands completly above my head and project down trough uke's arms.

It felt awkward and when I took ukemi for him, I recieved his force comming directly into me, and had to turn and forward roll because his projection was trough my arms into my kara. Interestingly enough, this was a technique (perhaps a variation =/) for teaching beginners the basics of backwards rolling.

I don't mean any disrespect of course, and on second consideration it very well could have been an exercise/variation that I am unformiliar with.

The root of my question lies is not the physical, is it right or wrong, but rather I'd like to know your toughts on accepting, not accepting, applying and not appling techniques you have a underlying conflict with. Whatever that may be.

Just to make it clear, my approach is to gain what I can from all different approaches, if for nothing else, to have it as a option in my brain.

Discounting a technique based on variation/differences is bluntly, ignorant. How do you go about questioning a technique based on the skill of the teacher, precieved notions of a specific technique, etc? What conclusions have you made when questioning the aformentioned?


09-15-2002, 02:54 PM
hi, i sent you a private message, check your user control panel

Bruce Baker
09-15-2002, 05:22 PM
I know, not all teachers are physical in their practice accentuating the physical elements of jujitsu or judo in their Aikido practice, but they sometimes have an interesting projection of energy that awakens you to other possibilities within practice. Obviously, you have encountered one of those opportunities.Consider it, keep your eyes open for uses, and reflect upon your observations of slightly out of shape teachers. Many times the slight variations of hand to hand practice have roots in other training, such as weapons, or multiple attackers. Consider. There is always more than meets the eye.

09-15-2002, 06:51 PM
If I recall correctly, from an etiquette standpoint, it is considered improper to question sensei's technique during class if you are a visitor (or new student from another style, etc.). That rule attempts to cut down on the "That's not how my teacher showed me" statement.

At Bukou dojo, we whole-heartedly encourage questions like these -- to the point where we don't disrupt class and students. If someone truly has issue, I usually ask them to "disprove" the technique after class is over. If I EVER encounter technique I don't like, then I try to find out the truth of why I dislike it: is it crap? or is it better than what I knew and I'm jealous? Search for the damned awful truth. :) Regardless, practice as sensei shows, and take mental notes and impressions.

What I'm getting at is Bruce is correct -- you don't know sensei's motivations for his way of doing things. They may be more correct than your old ways and you just don't know it. Or, your intuition is correct, and he's hacking is way through.

Either way, consider this: it is always hard to find a "replacement" for something we held dear. Think of your search as a search for "new" aikido in a "new" town, and avoid a comparison shop to your old dojo. If you can't resolve yourself to "Wait and see" if you like a style of aikido, try someplace else. If you simply can't reconcile the differences at this dojo, simply look around more. :)

You've given this a lot of thought, and you sound like you have your own opinion. Your instincts are screaming, but you're double-checking them, which sometimes isn't a bad idea. But if you cannot resolve an internal conflict like this (masakatsu agatsu / True Victory), how you will you train?

Good luck!!

09-16-2002, 02:58 AM
I myself try to practice at as many dojos as possible in order to learn as many variations and styles as I can. It happens quite often that I feel very uncomfortable with some teacher's technique and I get frustrated. Some time I never return to this dojo again. However after a while I do discover the purpose behind that particular technique which seemed to me so incorrect at the time.

As for questioning the teacher's technique, there is a very simple way to do it. Just resist it and prove it wrong. If you are able to do that, then you're right. I never respect a teacher whose technique I can resist. Most genuine teachers do not mind that, in the countrary, they are happy to test the effectiveness of their technique.