View Full Version : teaching without the teacher?

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Bruce Baker
10-05-2002, 12:12 PM
I know ... we should always have a teacher to help us clarify th techniques of practice, but have you ever wondered why certain practices need prompts, exagerated movements, or have logical reasons for the follow moves?

We were doing Jo practice today. Stike at your partners knee, then they would step to the outside ... but wait a minute, if they stand properly, where is the opening to strike the inside of the knee so the technique is valid?

Oh, you need to give a slight opening the draws them into thinking they can strike at you!

How many times has this happened to you in practice, validation of a movement of a planned practice, but it seemed plain stupid to attack a protected area?

Maybe it is my training from karate/ jujitsu that has to validate movements, openings to justify use following movements, and still provide a margin of safety, but isn't that about the time you begin to teach yourself without the teacher?

I have been thinking like this since my first year of martial arts, and although I am not the only one who attends on a weekly or by weekly basis, I start to wonder what the other members are thinking when they are having a much harder time than they should because theyshould because they attempt to mimic the teacher without validating the reason they are doing movements and putting techniques together for practice sessions?

Any thoughts on this type of teaching yourself without a teacher?

10-05-2002, 10:18 PM
Your point is very interesting, and while contemplating it I came to an interesting conclusion. Does the absence of sparring in all aikido, do a disservice to those who practice it for the very reasons you mention?

Bruce, I very much would like to hear your opinion, all other welcome as well!

On a similar note, is sparring inherently negative? Done in a healthy environment does it become positive, and or change the environment? Is there an aikido equivalent to what Bruce described as, "Valid movements"?

I let you guys toss it around a bit.


mike lee
10-06-2002, 03:48 AM
Every student should become his own best teacher. :do:

L. Camejo
10-06-2002, 02:56 PM
I think free practice with increasing levels of resistance, even to the point of uke using counter attacks to block techniques/combinations whenever an opening appears, can greatly help with realising what works and what doesn't and why.

The way much (not all) of Aikido is taught and trained, we tend to forget that the uke has the free will to do anything that comes to mind to protect him/herself. Including attack any openings that may show themselves while tori is applying technique.

I for one like to qualify my kata movements as much as possible, so when tested in randori and other free exercises, they naturally develop into variations that work well with a seriously resistant uke who will try counters if my techniques are not sound. It can be a great humbling experience and an invaluable training tool:).

As has been indicated elsewhere, it is good to explore these things on your own, this is where the Aikido learnt from your teachers begin to develop into your own Aikido.

I really think this sort of training is important to obtaining some significance to the "martial" part of this "martial way."

Just a thought.


10-07-2002, 09:53 AM
IMHO, life and Aikido is a craft and an art.

First learn the craft from a competent teacher. Learn to read before you write your own book.

Then apply your craft through your own uniqueness and it become an art.

I am glad I have had some competetnt teacher to point the way. If I had to figure it all out myself I'd still be a blob sitting on the floor somewhere in Detroit.

Bruce Lee had similiar ideas. So did O'Sensei. But, IMHO, they took in advanced students who had already learned the basic craft of martial before learning the art. I have seen too many who try to become artist first, and their art to be sloppy and mostly ineffective.

Until again, (and yes, there will be an again)


Alan Drysdale
10-07-2002, 12:10 PM
"Does the absence of sparring in all aikido,"

Of course, there is at least one style in which sparring is practiced - Tomiki (Shodokan) Aikido.

"On a similar note, is sparring inherently negative?"

Not in my opinion. However, it may not be part of your aikido style, in which case you'd have to do it elsewhere to find any benefits.

I believe that Kano made a distinction between two types of sparring. In one, two people compete to see who can win. In the other, they compete to see what they can each learn. The latter has more lasting and widespread benefits.

"Done in a healthy environment does it become positive, and or change the environment?"

It certainly changes the practice and the environment, and in ways that at least one person (O Sensei) thought to be detrimental.

"Is there an aikido equivalent to what Bruce described as, "Valid movements"?"

If you mean can you tell a good movement from a bad one by how they feel, certainly. And you don't need to be a high rank to feel the difference. However, there are valid movements that are not part of the way we do things in aikido, and so if you don't follow a teacher, then (a) you have to "reinvent the wheel", and (b) where you end up probably will not be doing aikido.


Bruce Baker
10-07-2002, 02:32 PM
I must agree about going to the basics, but half the time I am thinking back to many of my days of training in jujitsu, and kenpo karate.

Some of the dilution I talk about in Aikido, is that the technical skills needed in these other two disciplines come into play with Aikido too, after you get past the barest of basics. I know we have talked about cross training, and checking out the movements of other styles of martial arts, this is, or at least should be, the awakening call for your learning without a teacher.

The question of when does the teacher become the student, and the student become the teacher is up to you. Your drive to learn, to understand the mastery of your practiced discipline in realition to other martial arts is purely done on your own. No one is gonna give you the world with all its complexities, but some teachers can help you to find tools you need to understand your practice.

So, as far as teaching without the teacher, I would think it is expected that the student have some degree of consciousness that allow them to learn/ teach themselves the lessons without the teacher.

Every one of us learns from either people, books, or the great game of experience, most of those who excell learn to teach themselves without the teacher at some point.

This could also be the point where the bird is pushed out of the dojo nest and expected to fly ... or not. The universe can be cruel, but then we do try to ease the pain of reality by our tolerance.

All I know is that at seminars, I can usually guess which set of movements certain teachers will use ... maybe because they are looking at me messing up the beautiful practice with every third or fourth turn changing to something else as I laugh with my partner on how well that modification worked?

I have to stop doing that.

10-07-2002, 07:21 PM
Hmmm... maybe I didn't explain my perpsective as well as I thought. The questions I posed in relation to sparring were not related to sparing in itself, or for the matter, its placement in aikido.

So... on that note, Clarifing what I was trying to say; Sparring in its very essence provides a enviroment for "Self discovery" and/or "teaching without a teacher". It allow the applications of many different facets of the art (much more than just the practitical). So to rephrase my intentioned question; Does the lack of sparring, and/or the ability to apply "teaching without a teacher", in aikido subtract from the self discovery of validating ones on movements in the art?

I hope that makes sense?


10-08-2002, 10:20 AM
IMHO, even in the process of learning from others, you remain always your own teacher. If you remove the distinction of external and internal and the resistance to beinb taught, you are more open to letting information in and having the opportunity to making it your own knowledge, experience, and wisdom.

I think relying on your own teaching and trying to figure everything out yourself too early in the process only means you have a fool for both your teacher and you student for they are both limited by the same information and processes.

I am always grateful there is someone ahead of me that has the compassion and patience to share with me what they have learned. Perhaps I am just too old to feel I have to learn everything the hard way.

Until again,