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happysod
03-27-2003, 08:47 AM
Dear All,

Q - Have you ever felt you've surpassed your teacher in aikido - while they were still alive and actively practicing?

As many of the threads across the various forums deal with teaching, finding teachers, being a teacher I was just wondering if anyone has ever actually felt they have become "better" at aikido than the person(s) who taught them.

My own experiences have been, no, not really. No matter how long it's been since I trained with them, my older teachers still have that ability to make me feel a newbie on the mat. Is it just me, a function of the relationships found in the dojo or just good old fashioned "age=respect"?

twilliams423
03-27-2003, 10:16 AM
The moment I express the belief that I feel I have "surpassed" my teacher I hope somebody smacks me a good one. That being said, I would like all of my students to surpass me.

JMCavazos
03-27-2003, 10:30 AM
I don't think that a student can surpass their teacher in aikido while the teacher is actively training. (of course I am talking about a high ranking Sensei)

I think it is the teacher's job to give the students the foundation to surpass them if the teacher stops teaching or passes on. Then a student could possibly surpass the Sensei: it depends on how long the student lives, whether they continue to train and the ability to learn, teach, and execute aikido.

This is just my opinion on this matter.

paw
03-27-2003, 11:21 AM
Of course a student can surpass a living, breathing, actively training teacher. It happens all the time in judo, wrestling, brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, muay thai ... I bet it happens in Tomiki style aikido as well (Peter, can you help me out here?) and why not?

That doesn't mean that the student cannot learn from the teacher or that the teacher has no role to fill.

Regards,

Paul

jimvance
03-27-2003, 04:44 PM
There are several classical examples within budo folklore of students surpassing their teachers. This normally involved the student creating some new synthesis that they had either received from divine providence, spiritual insight, or understanding of higher principles. Three respective examples of this would be Morihei Ueshiba, Tesshu Yamaoka, and Jigoro Kano. I believe my own teacher, Chuck Clark, has done the same thing in his creation of the Jiyushinkai.

We live in a very adaptive world compared to the Japan of these gentlemen, and so we are caught between the two poles of total abandonment (of the budo's parent culture and all its nuance) and total preservation (given to closing the door on more modern thought, allowing the budo to change only slightly from generation to generation). I hope that one day I will surpass my teacher, but I doubt that I shall do so while he is still alive. But who knows, providence, insight, or understanding of principle could happen to me yet.

Jim Vance

Chuck Clark
03-27-2003, 05:25 PM
Jim,

I am doing what my teachers taught me to do. Fortunately, they taught me how to practice and how to grow.

Another fortunate thing is that I am very stubborn and will not give up.

Thanks for putting me in such fine company but I don't deserve the honor. I'm just doing what I was taught to do and am trying to teach others to do the same.

deepsoup
03-27-2003, 06:41 PM
Of course a student can surpass a living, breathing, actively training teacher. It happens all the time in judo, wrestling, brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, muay thai ... I bet it happens in Tomiki style aikido as well (Peter, can you help me out here?) and why not?
A student might beat his teacher in shiai, but that wouldn't be the same thing as suppassing the teacher's aikido because there is so much more to aikido than shiai. Actually, I'd say that applies to judo as much as it does to (Shodokan) aikido. I dont know about the other things there - never tried them.

But I dont see why it shouldn't be possible for a student to surpass a teacher just as you say. Maybe you could have a teacher who teaches better than he does and a talented student training hard.

In sport its common for competitors to develop skills that far exceed those of their coaches. (Because its the coaching skills that really count on the teaching side of the equation.)

In music, I bet there aren't many concert pianists who aren't more skilled players than their first piano teachers. So why not?

Sean

x

paw
03-27-2003, 07:30 PM
A student might beat his teacher in shiai, but that wouldn't be the same thing as suppassing the teacher's aikido because there is so much more to aikido than shiai. Actually, I'd say that applies to judo as much as it does to (Shodokan) aikido. I dont know about the other things there - never tried them.

Who said anything about shiai?

Regards,

Paul

(who admits to using Shodokan as a hook)

acot
03-27-2003, 07:56 PM
Very few NFL,NBA,MLB coaches have ever played their respective sports professionally.

Ryan

Kung Fu Liane
03-28-2003, 06:13 AM
i'm an aikido beginner, so no i haven't experienced it. however, one of my teachers says that his senior student (also one of my techers) is coming very close to teacher's level. when he did say was that ash (the senior student) would eventually be better than teacher and probably in teacher's lifetime, but not in all areas, and thats because everyone's way is different. he hasn't told ash this, and i reckon its because it would be pretty difficult to live with the thought that you'd outgrown your teacher. what would you do then, stay with your teacher, find another teacher, or start your own school?

i was thinking about this the other night after tai chi training. i'd been partnered with older brother, who has been training for about three years longer than me, and is my adopted 4th teacher. we were playing sticky hands, and as usual he was trying to catch me out and land a strike. he's been playing this game ever since i started training, and he can always catch me out with something, so sometimes it seems like i'm not progressing, because i can't 'beat' him. its a really weird feeling, and makes it difficult to see if i'm progressing. but because older brother continues to gain experience as i do, i'm not overtaking him. so if a teacher with 20 years more experience still continues to learn more, and so do their students, it must take an amazing student to catch up with a 20 year lead

-Liane

aikidoc
03-28-2003, 07:57 AM
This is an interesting thread. One of the things that happens to all of us is the physical deterioration of aging-sorry but we cannot escape it. So, from a physical perspective the younger students may develop better physical skills and their technique may be technically superior if their instructor is older or in physically poor health. I'm sure O'Sensei did not have the same physical skills at the end that he possessed at his peak. That being said, I doubt that a student will surpass the knowledge base of an instructor that continues to train and learn. If the instructor stops his or her personal growth then I could see the student surpassing them.

ian
03-28-2003, 08:39 AM
Unfortunately teachers don't get to train as much as students! Therefore progression of students can be expected to be more rapid. However many teachers have a vast experience in aikido, and when they teach they only touch a small part of this. What you don't see are the stages that person has gone through to develop the aikido which they are now teaching you. Students may exceed their teachers ability, but to be able to teach as well may require a far broader experience.

MikeE
03-28-2003, 09:22 AM
I want my students to become better than me. It's like wishing your children to have a better life than you have had. I think it should be natural for a teacher to wants students to become all they can be.

Lyle Bogin
03-28-2003, 12:08 PM
There was an excellent article written on this subject, specifically regarding tae kwon do instructors, in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts.

Czarnecka, M. "The saga of the modern martial arts student-instructor relationship in north American schools"

Vol 10 No. 2, 2001

JMCavazos
03-28-2003, 01:00 PM
I think that students surpass their teachers in martial arts & in sports, where youth, speed, etc... is extremely important in those situations.

In aikido, it is different though! Timing is more important than speed, ki development is more important than strength, etc...

Therefore, I stick to my first statement. In AIKIDO, I don't think that a student can overcome a teacher of high rank. I DO think that a student can overcome another person(teacher or not) that is 4-5 ranks ahead. (EG. a yellow belt could surpass a shodan in 8 years if the yellow belt picks up and trains in a more positive manner than the shodan does in those same 8 years).

I hope that I am making sense. I know that there is no way I could ever have been at Bill Sosa Sensei's level. Even after his passing, I doubt that I will be at his level if I live to be 80! There would have been no way to be at his level had he been alive when I was 80. (Does this make any sense to anyone)

Kelly Allen
03-29-2003, 01:55 AM
what about the rare prodogies? The odd person who seems to pick up the technics the phylosiphy like a duck takes to water. Wouldn't those people tend to surpass their teachers?

erikmenzel
03-29-2003, 02:40 AM
I know my teacher would be greatly disappointed if we didnt try to surpass him.

It is like parents towards their child. (most) Parents want their children to surpass them in life, want their children to go further and be better/ more succesful/happier then they were themselves.

Your teacher (or O Sensei for that matter) is not your god in aikido, he is just your aikido parent (or for O Sensei ancestor).

deepsoup
03-29-2003, 03:10 AM
Who said anything about shiai?
I thought you did, when you said:
It happens all the time in judo, wrestling, brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, muay thai ... I bet it happens in Tomiki style aikido as well (Peter, can you help me out here?) and why not?
If not shiai, what does Shodokan aikido have in common with judo, wrestling etc.. that other styles of aikido dont?

Sean

x

Unregistered
03-29-2003, 03:21 PM
Long post...

This is something I've thought about a lot recently, actually. Our head instructor, at a university club, took over/was put in charge of the university dojo a number of years ago before he was a shodan.

After he began teaching, there was not, in my opinion, enough input from his instuctors at our home dojo on a regular basis. That is to say, I think that it was incumbent on them to send a yudansha to our dojo at least once a month (or more often) to ensure that things were going well, and that techniques were being taught properly.

This was before my time, so I don't know how things came about as they did, but Sensei didn't get that type of support from our home dojo, and there is still a little bit of emotional grinding between him and them over that type of thing; that is, they may want a change in something, but Sensie doesn't feel kept in the loop. (our style is relatively small in the U.S., with only a few schools here).

As a result, Sensei, over the years, developed a number of habits in his technique that we are now told we shouldn't do... everything from posture, to the correct form of a variety of techniques, even some basic exercises, like funikoge (sp?). Admittedly, Sensei's technique is sometimes not well-centered, and much less effortless (?) than I would expect from someone at that level

Let me stress that I have tremendous respect for Sensei as a person and martial artist (he has trained over 20 years in various arts), and have known him for a number of years, even before beginning my Aikido training.

When I began preparing for my shodan test a few years back, I travelled the 3 hours to our home dojo at least once a month, per Sensei's request, and was able to take my technique to a new level. I still make that drive regularly to train now, and always receive some specific instructions to make sure that our students are doing this or that in the particular way that our school teaches.

Sensei's mindset is not one of "the technician", and his techniques, while very powerful , are not what our shihan is looking for, especially for testing. And there are a lot of times that I feel like he doesn't really have me when we train, and I often feel that I'm teaching people to do "not what he does", if that makes sense.

To some extent, he knows that he's not quite in line with the other school, and as tests get closer, he tries to focus more on the "right" way to do it for testing. But I always feel, when watching testing, that there are students from the main dojo, who, say at 4th kyu, look tremendously better than our 3rd, 2nd, and even our 1st kyu students.

Again, I have great respect for Sensei, and would never say something like, "You don't teach this correctly...", nor would I ever not respond well as uke in class, making him look bad. Occasionally, off the mat, I will mention some particular point made to me at the other dojo that I've been asked to pass on, but on the mat is certainly not the place for that.

I do, however, feel that I've learned a great deal of my aikido, except the most rudimentary basics, from other instructors at our main dojo.

It makes training hard for me sometimes, and not as enjoyable. I know that when our students test soon, the higher yudansha, and Sensei's intstructor, too, will have lots and lots of corrections to everyone's techniques.

Things are made a little more difficult by our close connection to our Japanese dojo, headed by our Shihan there, and the close control he likes to have over how things are done.

A bit of a ramble here, and I'm not sure if I've actually made a point here or not, but it's given me a place to put down a number of thoughts I've had in the last 6 or 8 months, and I've posted it anonymously instead of logging in, which I've never done here before, out of respect.

I would appreciate any feedback or thoughts from all of you here who have been on the Aikido journey longer than I have been.

Hopefully, no one will slam me too hard, and I can find a good way through the minefield... .

I don't think that I feel that I've surpassed my teacher, but we are definitely coming from different places.

Thanks for listening.

paw
03-29-2003, 07:31 PM
Sean,
If not shiai, what does Shodokan aikido have in common with judo, wrestling etc.. that other styles of aikido dont?

I put Shodokan in the list instead of "aikido" as a hook -- figuring that someone would say, "better in shiai don't mean better over all" (which is a statement that I would agree with)

But it does raise the question of what "better" means? Is higher rank a clear indication of "better"? Is training lineage a clear indication of "better"? Teaching ability? Technical ability? Reputation? Character? All of the above?

Personally, I find many things that some of my fellow students use as guidemarks that indicate "better" to be extremely subjective. I also have concern that the attitude "I'll never be better than ...." to be self-limiting, self-depricating and not healthy in the long run.

Although I couldn't find the exact quote, I recall a bjj black belt, who after winning the Mundials (World Championship), made a statement to the effect of his students, at the very least, must reach his ability for the art not to stagnate. For the art to continue to grow and evolve, his students must exceed his ability.

But I digress....

Regards,

Paul

cindy perkins
03-29-2003, 10:17 PM
A teacher in an isolated area could have difficulty finding practice time with one as skilled or more skilled than s/he is. Therefore, a student could overtake her or him. I think perhaps the painful difficulty (for the student particularly) might be accepting that it has happened.

cindy perkins
03-29-2003, 10:25 PM
To the anonymous poster of #19:

What would it mean if you HAVE "surpassed" your instructor? Because it seems to me that you may have.

Another question: Are you really showing respect by taking ukemi even if he doesn't really have you, and not telling him even privately that he may have something incorrect? I think if I were Sensei I would really want to know that sort of thing.

Maybe if you respect each other, you could work privately once or twice to sharpen some of these things. If you think he could hear any suggestions without getting angry/defensive. It just seems somewhat pitiable to me for him to be mis-teaching students, having senior students cover for him by not resisting poor technique, etc. Not something I'd ever want to happen to my sensei!

tedehara
03-30-2003, 11:37 AM
I want my students to become better than me. It's like wishing your children to have a better life than you have had. I think it should be natural for a teacher to wants students to become all they can be.MikeE really gives an accurate viewpoint from a teacher's perspective.

While we may have "feelings" of respect and modesty, I've always been taught:The only way to truly repay your teacher is to become better than he is.To my way of thinking, that is the ultimate sign of respect.

deepsoup
03-30-2003, 03:13 PM
I put Shodokan in the list instead of "aikido" as a hook -- figuring that someone would say, "better in shiai don't mean better over all" (which is a statement that I would agree with)
Looks like I fell for it then. :)

happysod
03-31-2003, 02:12 AM
Anonymous, quick question, are you saying your dojo's students are actually performing under par as regards others in the same association or is it just a matter of style (sorry, couldn't decide which you meant). The reason I ask is that it's very easy to be given the impression of incompetence in aikido when actually it's just a different way of doing it - if the link between your dojo and the rest is as tenuous as you say, a different style is bound to develop. A common one I've found is between the "hard" and "soft" styles (done both, prefer the "soft" for the lack of strapping needed) where their different approaches to blending can cause problems.

As for the rest of us, we should be ashamed of ourselves! All of us wanting our students to excel beyond our own megre efforts and not one of our students shouting out a resounding "yes" on the board... (this is a joke by the way - I'm trying to be more obvious with them these days).

Thanks to all those who answered, more please.

ian
03-31-2003, 05:27 AM
I am quite a new isntructor myself, and have encouraged many of my students to train with higher grade instructors on courses because I don't want them to see me as the personification of aikido. Although during demonstration my students are quite obliging; often because during demonstration you do many of the techniques slower and stop to point various things out. However I make sure I train quite intensively with the more senior students and often they catch me out (e.g. grab my leg as I walk away from uke, or show me that they can strike me when I am doing a throw). As long as this is no competitive and they are understanding the principles I am teaching rather than just being awkward I am more than happy when this happens as I need to improve as well.

It is likely that any instructor that does 1000 throws will not have every one which is right. I say to my students that we are like live training dummies - we want to achieve our self-defence capabilities as much as possible, and this means at times being more awkward and at other times going with it; knowing when to do this is the secret of being a good uke.

Unregistered
03-31-2003, 09:57 AM
Anonymous, quick question, are you saying your dojo's students are actually performing under par as regards others in the same association or is it just a matter of style (sorry, couldn't decide which you meant).
I would say for the most part that technique is under par. We do have students who come to the university from different styles, and generally that isn't an issue for us. As a matter of fact, some of our best students have come from other styles, and have a better grounding in the basics.

But new students aren't always really learning to use their center;e.g., way too much muscling, pulling and such going on at the 1st and 2nd kyu levels.

I make a point to point out (in a nice way) when my partners don't have my center, and let them feel the difference between muscling uke, and not muscling uke.

Larry Feldman
03-31-2003, 12:54 PM
My original Aikido teacher learned West Coast (of the US) 1960's style Aikido. When I tested for my Black Belt I found out that he had stopped his own learning many years ago - and more importantly was not interested in learning anything new.

I met people who offerred to train me on the 'new' curricula required by the organization we belonged to. I drove 3 hours each way once a month for a weekend of training (you are not alone anonymous!). While I learned the 'new stuff' which I did with his approval, I also learned 'newer' ways of doing the 'old' stuff. When I tried to practice this way - I was told flat out, my way or the highway.

It was the highway for me - 7-8 years of training 'remotely' once a month.

Did my Aikido surpass his, undoubtably yes.

It was a difficult but rewarding path for me. I started (and continue to) train under the Senior student of one of O-Sensei's uchi deshi, and the Shihan himself. No comparison to my first instructor.

bbaker
03-31-2003, 02:13 PM
It is the hope of all teachers that some of their students will surpass them, or at least have a broader/ deeper understanding of the lessons they teach.

The humble student will only surpass their teacher in the eyes of students.

I don't think we should dwell on such things, anymore than we should consider ourselves more practiced than our partners. We do what we must, we find knowledge where we can, and we try to use what little brains we have is the best manner possible ... praying our teacher doesn't decide to thrash us like rag doll because our heads have become swollen from praise.

Unregistered
04-01-2003, 04:47 AM
what about the rare prodogies? The odd person who seems to pick up the technics the phylosiphy like a duck takes to water. Wouldn't those people tend to surpass their teachers?
I think Kelly has hit the nail on the head, this definitely happens. I read an article on Wudang mountain Tai Chi where the master was explaining about large (not a true translation) people who need very little teaching compared to others. Obviously no one can cheat natural progression but quality of teachers, time put in, type and quality of practice, natural talent and thought in daily life can produce astonishingly varied results in students. Spirtual experiences can be a factor, but that is a personal subject.

Unregistered
04-01-2003, 11:08 AM
so if you change teachers is your original teacher still your teacher?

if you're a prodigy and can't learn anymore is your teacher still your teacher?

if you are not competing against your teacher how can you surpass your teacher?

Unregistered
04-03-2003, 08:23 AM
Thanks for all of your input everyone; it does make me feel a bit more relaxed about my situation.

I hope to be able to talk to the head instructor at our main dojo about the situation as well, to get his ideas.

The thought of starting another dojo locally has crossed my mind, and as a group we would like to leave the college to have more flexible training schedules, etc. That setup would have me teaching more, and passing on other ideas to the classes, which I like.

Going it alone would be tough, I think, as we're in a small town that may or may not support two dojos (as well as the gazillion other m.a. schools on campus and in town). And, of course, there would be the traditional "splitting of the students" over who to follow.

And Sensei has talked about going on sabbatical next year, too, which would leave me teaching almost all the classes for 6 or 8 months.

We'll see what happens.

Domo Arigato, y'all

Unregistered
04-10-2003, 05:26 PM
The first place I trained was in a strip mall. It actually had the word "Masters" in the title. Anyway, I learned some ukemi in the two months that I trained there, but was soon aware that the place was garbage. However, I had the good fortune and participating in a true Aikido school (my current one).

I left the 'Masters' one and was presently sued by my "sensei." Eventually he won over $800 from me (with court costs and all). Anyway, I haven't been back to see their Aikido from my educated eyes, but I know his Aikido is crap. Someday soon I will pay that bully a visit, and throw his a@@ around.

If he technially is my first sensei, which disgusts me, I want closure.

BTW this post flies in the face of Ueshiba's vision. Perhaps one day my heart will catch up to my intellect and I wont be forced to embarrass the slime infront of his students.

tedehara
04-11-2003, 11:07 PM
...If he technially is my first sensei, which disgusts me, I want closure.

BTW this post flies in the face of Ueshiba's vision. Perhaps one day my heart will catch up to my intellect and I wont be forced to embarrass the slime infront of his students.You already know what the right thing to do is. Sometimes it's just hard to do it.

Forget about it and move on. Why compound an error?

mike lee
04-12-2003, 07:38 AM
Why compound an error?
To boost an ego. :D

Unregistered
04-12-2003, 07:08 PM
If you are lucky and start with a good teacher

you may surpass him/her someday in rank but he/she

will always know you better than you know yourself and will

always be able to find that opening to GET YOU! also no matter what you may say or think

you will always look for that expression on thier face when practicing for thier approval.

Unregistered
05-01-2003, 10:05 PM
This seems to me to be a rather foolish discussion. We are not intended to be so focused on finding flaw in our instructors and senior students, we are supposed to be focused on finding flaws in ourselves, and working to repair them. If you are so gripped with flaws in your instructor's technique, move on. There is no chronic shortage of schools to train at. Otherwise, a proper student should have his or her eyes turned inward and focus on his or her own development.

PeterR
05-01-2003, 10:12 PM
But you see - your peers are a mirror. Your sensei's weaknesses, unless you are aware of them, will become your own.

We can learn from both sides of the coin.

kironin
05-02-2003, 12:26 AM
Unfortunately teachers don't get to train as much as students! Therefore progression of students can be expected to be more rapid.
Who says teachers don't get to train as much as students ?

That's a funny assumption.

Craig

SmilingNage
05-02-2003, 08:27 AM
Humility is what makes a good student. Humbleness allows your mind to open for instruction. Certainly, I think our teachers' hope that we will surpass them, but its something that is better left unsaid. If you feel you have surpassed you teacher, I would think you have lost some humility.

My biggest fear would be not learning enough of my Sensei's teachings before he passes(which is an event that ought to be well far off into the future). Without humility, you cant be taught

bbaker
05-24-2003, 08:45 PM
With any luck, and open mind, there is that chance we allcan surpass our teachers, but isn't there always another student who will surpass us also? Damn silly thing to consider, but it means you have seen that glitch in the armour of your teacher and considered him/her to be your peer ... interesting dilema, eh?

Well, no matter how good any of us get, or are, we are all human. That is to say, there will come a time when skills dull, physicality is reduced to that of helplessness, and only the good graces of friends or our spirit will prevent others from doing us harm, if we live that long. Part of the great circle of life, the student replaces the teacher, just as the teacher becomes the student, no big deal.

It is quite interesting when one comes upon that enlightenment in training. Now ... that you have that idea, what can you do with it? What relevence will it be in teaching you respect or reverence, or will it swell your head with power? It becomes a test of sorts, and a problem we all must confront at one time or another, wanting to be equal to, or overtake our teacher ....

Oh well, choose wisely, or learn from your choices, wisely chosen or poorly chosen.

SeiserL
05-25-2003, 12:40 PM
Overtake my teacher? I don't think so. If I did, I would probably be training someplace else.

Unregistered
05-31-2003, 12:16 PM
If I ever suppress my sensei it will probably be a very good day for him and sort of sad for me. Cause it is sad to overgrow those who always seemed so high and great. Cause it is a wonderful feeling when your students overgrow you. It is a development. It is how it should be. There is no sense in your art or skill if your student (or his student at least) doesn't make it better. Because we are continued in our students. We get old and weak but our art goes forward. And the best part of us, the part of our heart and soul we have put in our students, it goes forward. It leaves forever and grows forever in the students of our students.