View Full Version : Difficult situation
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10-29-2002, 03:03 AM
At my dojo, our sensei sometimes seems fancifull and speaks about all manner of metaphysical things. For the most part its bearable but sometimes it starts veering off into DragonBallZ territory. Needless to say, as someone who is interested in the serious pursuit of Aikido practice, this starts to grate a little after a while.
As an example, he recently discovered one of these mail-order empty-force qi-master courses, the website is here: http://www.innerpowercourse.com/
He has managed to infect some of the more gullible students with an interest in this crap and now they are all talking about ordering the course which supposedly costs about $600.
Should I just start going to a different dojo? The main reason I am there is because it is conveniently close and for all the fancifull talk and embarresing level of gullibility, the techniques are spot-on and our sensei moves with the grace and true inner power only someone who has been doing Aikido for 12 years possess.
I know what you mean - thats what often puts me off certain aikido clubs. I was talking to a Chinese man in my office about yin and yang about a year ago (and we're both scientists), and his view was that talk about ki/chi etc was a way to explain something we have not yet pinned down in science - maybe a bit like explaining lightening as God being angry. The phenomena exists, but it may not be quite what the mythology says it is.
This isn't to say I don't believe in it; just that its better to be able to utilise it and remain ignorant of its true nature, than pretend you know its true nature and not be able to utilise it.
10-29-2002, 08:36 AM
This is a tough problem. My first thought is that if the mystical stuff is not interfering with your training, you might be able to ignore it. On the other hand, if you tell us generally where you are located, maybe someone can recommend another dojo that's not too far.
10-29-2002, 08:59 AM
Luckily, I've so far avoided being a victim of much of this kind of thing. I've heard "extend a lot of ki when you do this" occasionally, but that's about it. I don't find this very helpful, because it doesn't say HOW to extend "Ki", but there you have it.
Also luckily, one of my first teachers was an engineer by education, like me. His instruction was that "ki" can be thought of as the knowledge of how to employ physics and mechanics to manipulate a mass, in this case, uke. Center is thus not a metaphysical site of concentrated energy, but the center of gravity which is where a force is most efficiently applied if one wants to move a body. For us less-than-enthusiastic-aikido-as-religion types, "ki" as physics is helpful in seeing through some of the more esoteric stuff.
10-29-2002, 09:29 AM
IMHO, if the technique/Waza is right on, then train on. Take the parts of the training that are most useful for you.
Well, here's the problem. If the sensei goes marching down this particular path of budo wisdom it's going to infect the technical practice before long. Pretty soon, you'll be throwing people with the power of KI.
I dunno, I think a lot of people go through a phase with this stuff. I saw it with Barish when people started throwing without touching. Seemingly it went on for a few years and then it went away. In other words, you might be able to wait it out. The question is whether you want to or not.
10-29-2002, 02:01 PM
Cool!! Where do I sign up?
Do you suppose he takes cash, too?? :D :rolleyes:
10-29-2002, 04:26 PM
the techniques are spot-on and our sensei moves with the grace and true inner power only someone who has been doing Aikido for 12 years possess.12 years of experience is really not much for an Aikido teacher, especially one with his own dojo. It is highly unlikely this person is even a full shidoin (certified instructor) at this point, as that requires at least 4th dan which usually takes at least 15-20 years of practice. You should look around at some other dojos and compare this person's technique to people who have been doing the art for 20, 30 or 40 years. It might be an eye-opener.
My personal thought is that if your dojo isn't quite offering what you want in your training, there shouldn't be anything keeping you from looking for a place that does.
As Giancarlo points out above, there's much to be learned by visiting other dojo. The primary motivation for attending a certain dojo shouldn't be its proximity but its quality of teaching/training and how much you yourself gets out of that teaching/training. I've changed dojo myself for those very reasons...
12 years of experience is really not much for an Aikido teacher, especially one with his own dojo. It is highly unlikely this person is even a full shidoin (certified instructor) at this point, as that requires at least 4th dan which usually takes at least 15-20 years of practice. You should look around at some other dojos and compare this person's technique to people who have been doing the art for 20, 30 or 40 years. It might be an eye-opener.
Just a quick note. Not all organizations have instructor certifications.
The primary motivation for attending a certain dojo shouldn't be its proximity but its quality of teaching/training and how much you yourself gets out of that teaching/ training. I've changed dojo myself for those very reasons...
Jun, you and I have done similar Aikido commutes and as such we're more or less agreed in practice on this. Still, I think continued practice will be far more likely when proximity is less of an issue. It takes a special kind of insanity to drive an hour to class after work. So, while it may not be the prime factor, and I agree that in most cases it shouldn't be, I'd argue that it is one of the primary factors.
10-30-2002, 12:06 AM
I have personally experienced such a school and after leaving and training where I'm at now, my eyes were opened up after just a couple of months. I'm very thankful to be where I'm at now -- very thankful.
My old school really made a lot of similar talk and had people going to similar kind of seminars. (You know the Combat Ki people? They were on that TLC program recently with the ninja guys. I was pretty close to being on that show myself.) For example, my old instructor would demonstrate a "ki punch" where people stood lined-up front to back and the instructor punches the first person, and then everyone goes backward. He explained that we all fell backwards because of his power of ki when in fact it was just basic physics. Please, please realize I'm not talking about people saying "extend ki" or "focus your ki, here" or using ki exercises. I'm talking about people who truly believe and profess to have special abilities -- think: "Jedi-like" or "DragonBallZ-like." Most of this is just basic physics in the guise of special abilities that takes "special training" to learn. Some people will just call them parlor tricks. My suggestion is to find someone more focused and balanced in their approach.
I'm sorry your instructor is getting involved in this. I know how it feels. It could be a phase so don't burn bridges. But do go look around and see what else you have available. May be train some where else and visit every now and then to stay in touch.
11-09-2002, 04:38 PM
[I'm sorry your instructor is getting involved in this. I know how it feels. It could be a phase so don't burn bridges. But do go look around and see what else you have available. May be train some where else and visit every now and then to stay in touch.
I whole-heartedly agree: Don't burn bridges, if you can help it.
If this is a "difficult situation," it shouldn't be. If you feel like your becoming "soaked in" to a dojo, and can't leave without feeling big guilt, take a break, visit other places.
This may sound flammable, but the fact is that there is indeed some things to do with some esoteric practices that are..."real."
By this I mean people do things with them. If this sounds spooky, well, maybe it should.
All I'm saying is that it's nothing do play around or diddle with. If you ever feel pressured to get into something your not comfortable with: take heed. these folks don't usually make a show of what their up to and do not publicize!
If you want to continue with this sensei, you might let him know how you feel. If he is not aggreable or doesn't understand your questions, I really would leave,myself.
Question: Does your sensei seem like a "sober" person? Mature? Level-headed? Experienced? How old is he/she?
Everyone is a beginner at something.
Have fun with Aikido! Be enthusiastic! To do Aikido with an open heart it is necessary to be able to trust and rely on your teacher.
11-10-2002, 12:20 PM
The situation doesn't have to be difficult. I know you may feel guilty about leaving your current sensei if you choose to do that. It's hard not to. But something my teacher told me may help:
9 out of 10 aikidoka drop out before testing for 5th kyu.
9 out of 10 drop out between 5th kyu and 1st dan.
In the long run, that's a 1% retention rate. Senseis should be used to this; it's just a fact of life. So if yours loses you, it will not be the first time - or the last. Go ahead and explore other dojos.
Here's wishing you great luck with your aikido!
11-10-2002, 09:33 PM
There is some validity to learning to prompt the body with thoughts in the mind, but you must find the keys to what makes your body respond.
Sometimes there are clues in books, sometimes people get weird about phenonmenon they don't understand, but the fact is, anyone can cultivate Ki, and learn to do things that are somewhat ... amazing.
I don't believe you need to spend any more than a couple of dollars on a few books, or if you have a good library, you can order in most of the books you need to read, so put out of your mind any strange ki or chi courses.
It will take a whole lot of training, and some basic studying to provide clarity on your part in order to understand the mental prompts from the mind that make the body do things beyond normal.
I can give you a few ideas about extending energy, to reach across the room instead of reaching in front of an object which will increase your strength considerably, and it won't take a $600 course to learn! Punch to the rear of an object, through it as it were, and you too can knock down six people.
It takes a little training, a lots of mental practice to achieve.
You can listen to what you learn from your Aikido teachers, seminars, and consider how you can apply techniques so they will work for you, or you can not listen and physically practice, butting your head up against the wall, day after day. Your practice, your choice.
Remember, there is some grain of truth to all lies, but that doesn't mean you have to believe everything someone else believes?
Read. Think. Practice. Study.
Hey, if a poor schumuck like me can get a handle on it, you of the modern society should be able to get it that much quicker.
Put a little effort into it, and you will discover scientific explanations for previous unexplainable feats, or acts of strength ... even in Aikido.
11-10-2002, 11:14 PM
i think that whole concept of physics and science itself is mind blowing. why because we have equations and formulas and 'explinations' for the basic tenets of physics does it suddenly become common everyday accepted principles?
if anybody here can tell me they truly (and i mean truly) understand electricity (not just how to harness it), i will be thoroughly impressed.
whilst there is a lot of mumbo jumbo and people thinking they can harness all kinds of super powers dont discount anything because we can or cant understand it.
too many people get caught up on if it hasnt been explained by a scientist then it isn't possible. science is really just the documentation of phenomena, scientists cant place limits upon things just because they cant see it or explain it. science is also based upon the assumption that things behave in a uniform way. there is no proof of this, only evidence gathered from a short period of time in the life of the universe and only a small corner of the universe to support what is just a theory.
and also dont become too dependant on basic physics explaining things, the whole world of physics and science has been turned upside down many times before and im sure it will again.
i like your explination of mental prompts bruce.
sorry i dont offer a solution to the problem, all i can say is take any oppurtunity to train and try to learn something from everybody, we all have something to teach no matter how trivial.
sorry this is so long. im just a kid anyways.... what useful things could i have to say? probably not much.
11-11-2002, 11:05 AM
whilst there is a lot of mumbo jumbo and people thinking they can harness all kinds of super powers dont discount anything because we can or cant understand it.
Damien, there have been huge threads and debates on E-budo and smaller ones here regarding "Empty Force" and "Combat Ki". This is a whole separate debate and thread. The problem for this poster, it seems to me, is that he is uncomfortable in his present environment because his sensei is studying and encouraging his students to study this "empty force" stuff.
After being a member of the organization that professes to do "combat ki". I can assure your there a lot more hullabaloo an mumbo jumbo going on than real and legitemate phenomena. Another word for it is "palor trick". It has an explanation, and there is something real that is going on. Just not what they are leading you to believe.
I know people would like to believe in the unexplainable. And I accept that there are unexplainable phenomena in the world, but Combat Ki and Empty Force, are not one of them.
The "secret" behind these things is that there really is no "secret". It is a way of conning people out of their money by feeding into their need or desire to believe in the unexplainable.
Yes, I have strong opinions about this. I was duped myself and don't like seeing others being duped.
11-20-2002, 04:11 PM
Western-wise martial arts are all basically combat sports - I hoped Aikido would be different but it is infected by this attitude; what gives us no advantage is worthless, ie. worth = relative advantage. This is a scientific-worldly perspective, not even philosophical, let alone mystical. The problem as I see it is that talk is sort of pointless beyond what is scientific-worldly. We need to practice. Aikido and meditation will teach us things we cannot put into words - it doesn't mean they are invalid. These practices may not fit well into the category of offering an obvious relative advantage but life is bigger than logic and time will demolish every personal advantage eventually anyways.
Having said that, really the question is who you want to associate with. Not that you have much choice in reality... For that matter you might chose a very sensible thing like Aikido and wind up having to deal with real idiots. In which case - a fine opportunity to learn a lesson! But hey, don't get caught up, just go on and keep improving your practice - you can do that in a thunderstorm can't you? So why worry?
Personally I like Damien's answer the best - like; don't get arrogant, who are you to think you know it all? HaHa, I like it. Okay, maybe there's some people going off the deep end, just go on and practice. Aikido isn't going to offer you super powers unless you practice and the funny thing is - if you do get super powers (by hook or crook...) it's not pleasant or useful to show off. Even a super-Aikido practitioner is a beginner when they get on the mat.
12-16-2002, 11:34 AM
Comment from a member of the peanut gallery - from what I've read/heard, some of O Sensei's aikido students seem to have felt the same way (bewildered) about O Sensei's involvement with Omoto-kyo. I'm not denigrating Omoto-kyo or anything, just my little two cents. He apparently didn't try to push it on them, though.
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