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Paula Lydon
05-07-2005, 02:21 PM
~~At a recent seminar, my sensei mentioned that he met many high ranking Aikidoka who were not so advanced as human beings. It was something I'd noted quite often over the years yet was surprised to hear him flat out state it like that. I've wondered also if somehow their Aikido training stunted their personal growth/developement. Especially these higher ranking people who seem to have gotten so far in Aikido because they centered their life on it. They, now in their 30s and 40s, seem the most stunted to me in regards their overall level of maturity/human conduct.

Any other thoughts on this? Perhaps that would have been their natures anyway, or perhaps without the Aikido focus things would have been worse. And I am aware that I'm measuring all of this on my personal scale.

Regards!

ChrisHein
05-07-2005, 02:31 PM
I think it's like anything else. Like movie stars, or captains of industry, what have you, they get to many yes men around them, saying that they never do anything wrong, and that they are the bestest person in the whole wide world, and slowly their ego eats them. Aikido I think is particularly bad at this, because as teachers we are always having people fall for us, and ask us questions, thinking we know more then we do, etc. It's a sad but true thing.

-Chris Hein

samurai_kenshin
05-07-2005, 05:22 PM
It's true that in any martial art, the ego can be bigger than life. A tameshigiri expert that woks for bugei (his name escapes me right now) was at aikiexpo a few years back. I wasn't there, but I heard from a sandan at the dojo that he, in terms of being a good person, should've ranked close to a 50th kyu.

Janet Rosen
05-07-2005, 06:32 PM
Oh, Paula, what a thread to start...stay tuned for the May "The Mirror" column (wicked grin)

Chuck Clark
05-07-2005, 07:16 PM
It's true that in any martial art, the ego can be bigger than life. A tameshigiri expert that woks for bugei (his name escapes me right now) was at aikiexpo a few years back. I wasn't there, but I heard from a sandan at the dojo that he, in terms of being a good person, should've ranked close to a 50th kyu.

James, since no other adult on this discussion board has taken the time to do this, I feel that I should.

As a thirteen-year-old, it is important that you learn that gossip such as this on the world wide web is very irresponsible. You state on another thread that you believe in culitvating certain values of personal developement through budo training. This behavior is not the way to gain headway in your attempts to learn what you are seeking.

Think about it, through no real experience of your own, you are willing to spread negative information about someone that you have never met and now you must take responsibility for that and gain the reputation for talking about things of which you have no real knowledge.

Please open your heart and think about how you'd feel if someone did the same to you.

Sincerely,

RebeccaM
05-07-2005, 10:55 PM
It's not a phenomenon limited to aikido or martial arts in general. Science (I use this as an example because I am a lab rat) has plenty of very intelligent, very talented people who have grant money coming out their ears, publication records ten miles long, people vying to post-doc under them to jump-start their own careers, instituions begging to hire them, etc. but who are in fact miserable at being human beings. Part of the problem in science is it's very competitive, but I think it goes beyond that. Martial arts are run more or less as meritocracies. If you are good enough, you will get to that high rank...up to a point. Same is true with science. So in the course of becoming good enough it's very easy to start looking down on those who weren't good enough, and or let the things your admirers say get to your head. This is especially true if you're somewhat insecure to begin with, as is the case with my boyfriend's advisor. You're so constantly looking for ways to validate yourself, prove yourself, etc. that you don't realize what you're doing to the people around you. I also think that, in some of the cases with the big egos, these people have never really had a good lesson in humility or true challenge. It's easy to be proud when you've never had your face in the dirt.

I haven't hung around enough shihans to make this a universal truth for aikido (though of the shihans I've met what I'm about to say holds true) but, in science at least, I've noticed that while you'll see some huge egos and famous names among professors, when you start looking at division heads and department heads and foundation presidents, the people with a huge amount of political pull, the ego size begins to shrink. Full fluency in the social graces isn't always present (but that's true for a lot of people in science, right down to the undergrads) but the people in the high places, the people that everyone is afraid of offending, are typically very down-to-earth nice people. Being great at what you do will make you admired, but it won't make you a leader.

Anat Amitay
05-08-2005, 12:07 AM
Qoute:

Think about it, through no real experience of your own, you are willing to spread negative information about someone that you have never met and now you must take responsibility for that and gain the reputation for talking about things of which you have no real knowledge.

Please open your heart and think about how you'd feel if someone did the same to you.

Dear Clark,
I think (and that's just my opinion) that you were a bit harsh on Paula, she might be thirteen, but that doesn't mean she has a good eye to 'see people'.
Secondly, she never mentioned names, so why have you been thundering at her about spreading negativeinformation on someone? How do you know who she met and who not. She mentioned a sentence her sensei said and found it true to people she sees in her own environment.
Though there are many things Paula has yet to learn, and that's fair enough, she is young, nothing wrong with that, she still has a right for her own mind about things, as long as she keeps check of how she expresses herself in words, I see no harm, and I think she didn't mention anything that hurt someone specific that anyone but her can name out.
Clark, I'm not attacking you, but it just seems you really got too upset about something that as a side viewer, I find no reason for. You have every right for your own view of things, but just as much as me or Paula. Please take no offence.
Now Paula, I don't know if this is what you meant, but I think that what makes me feel the same sometimes is that my sensei always says that we need to control our ego in Aikido, that ego is what will prevent us from really finding the path in Aikido, and I believe that's true, if you are really looking for your own path, and it's fine. But then we go to other dojos, seminars etc, and see people just full of themselves and their ego and it comes in full contrast with what we believe.
Well, there are many different people all over the world, and each acts as he or she finds it right for them, even if those around them don't like it. There are many talented people in certain fields that can get really high "ranked" (like in science or the army) but are lousy in human relationships.
As you grow, you'll see it more, but you'll also find those that think like you and you'll probably surround yourself with these as friends.
That's the way of the world, people are different and that's what's making it interesting! :)
My two cents
Anat

PeterR
05-08-2005, 12:25 AM
Anat - he was taking James to task. With a little bit of research it is very easy to find out who James was talking about.

As for ranking - it represents skill and knowledge of a curriculum. In Aikido neither fighting ability (another oft used cliche) or human development is tested or evaluated.

One would like to think Budo develops the human being but there is no guarantee of that.

samurai_kenshin
05-08-2005, 12:26 AM
That wasn't aimed at Paula, that was aimed at me...

Anat Amitay
05-08-2005, 12:33 AM
Clark and Paula,
I'm truely sorry, I thought that Clark was reffering to what Paula wrote and not James, so forgive me for the mis- understanding.
Anat

Charles Hill
05-08-2005, 12:33 AM
I understand that there are many advanced meditators who have been described as horrible people. I wonder if there is a parallel between that and this topic.

Charles

Jeanne Shepard
05-08-2005, 12:45 AM
I've heard it said that there are many enlightened people in the Zen community who are not very successful in their relationships with other people.
It seems to be true everywhere that success at something doesn't guarentee success at everything.

Jeanne

Anders Bjonback
05-08-2005, 12:57 AM
This reminded me of "spiritual bypassing," a term which I heard in a Buddhism class at Naropa University. Basically, it is using one's spirituality to bypass unresolved psychological issues. "I'm a spiritual person now, I am adopting this good behavior, so I don't have to deal with that stuff." I think this can be like adopting a certain spiritual practice or outlook that makes you feel better about yourself, one that does not bring up the side of yourself that you would rather would not look at. Using a spiritual practice to escape social and personal problems and psychological issues can also lead to stunted growth. This leads to people being so-called "great meditators" or "great teachers" who are really immature people.

I think that this can also be seen in people who devote themselves to anything, including martial arts.

However, I also think another good point has been brought up repeatedly--being praised by other people as somehow "better" than them can lead to an inflated ego. If everyone around you has a sort of "hero worship" attitude towards you, then of course, if you're not careful, it can lead to some problems.

Anders Bjonback
05-08-2005, 01:21 AM
Some people (like people at my dojo) may be aware that I haven't been on the mat for quite some time, and I may not be for awhile (like until I get out of college). Considering I'm not training, I probably shouldn't be on an aikido message board, but I am mainly addressing this topic from the standpoint of a spiritual practicioner rather than a martial artist.

SeiserL
05-08-2005, 09:57 AM
IMHO, Aikido development is not physical development, is not mental development, is not emotional development, is not social development, is not spiritual development, etc. ...

thisisnotreal
05-08-2005, 11:55 AM
I'm curious - What kind of development is it then, Lynn?

bryce_montgomery
05-08-2005, 01:16 PM
...It's Aikido development! :D

Bryce

Fred Little
05-08-2005, 04:42 PM
If you don't know where someone started out, how can you possibly know how much they have developed?

FL

SeiserL
05-08-2005, 10:14 PM
What kind of development is it then, Lynn?
IMHO, rank is just a statement of someone's personal perception of where they see you or where you are by their standard on any given day.

I just don't think rank should be taken too seriously or personally.

I have met lots of people who can do excellent techqniue, but don't have other aspects of their lives together. So I guess I was just trying to support the original post.

xuzen
05-09-2005, 03:07 AM
~~At a recent seminar, my sensei mentioned that he met many high ranking Aikidoka who were not so advanced as human beings. It was something I'd noted quite often over the years yet was surprised to hear him flat out state it like that. I've wondered also if somehow their Aikido training stunted their personal growth/development. Especially these higher ranking people who seem to have gotten so far in Aikido because they centered their life on it. They, now in their 30s and 40s, seem the most stunted to me in regards their overall level of maturity/human conduct
Paula, what your sensei mentioned should only be taken so far as his opinion only and should not be taken as gospel truth. Rank does not equal morality. A rank is given after a person has done a certain amount of techniques and the examiner deemed him competent enough to wear that rank. It should not equate to level of morality.

Boon.

Bridge
05-09-2005, 04:11 AM
The dojo can be a weird little bubble of a world, or a nice retreat from the rest of life. If you had a bad day, you can walk in and leave it all at the door, get on with training and pick it all up again when you leave. Perhaps your personal development within your trainig/ in dojo being spread into the rest of your life is a personal choice. So you can get people who are fantastic practitioners and wonderful to practise with, who are awful people in other areas of their lives.

I have come across people who are extroverts in training but wouldn't say "BOO!" to a goose in regular life, and I imagine it's perfectly possible to have high ranking types who aren't so good with people in "real life".

That said, if you don't choose to take the benefits of training into the rest of your life, then aren't you losing out?

tedehara
05-09-2005, 08:36 AM
...That said, if you don't choose to take the benefits of training into the rest of your life, then aren't you losing out?That is a very good point!
:D

samurai_kenshin
05-09-2005, 11:03 AM
That said, if you don't choose to take the benefits of training into the rest of your life, then aren't you losing out?
I agree. I try my very hardest to take the spiritual values of my martial arts to my everyday life. It does seem a waste not to.

jonreading
05-09-2005, 12:51 PM
I have noticed that occassionally (more so than I would like to admit), individuals of influential aikido rank do not represent the morality or standards of a typical "good person." Aikido instructors are people that students attempt to emulate; they are heroes.

I firmly believe in the concept of an Idolatry. Idols exist everywhere today from sports to academia to religion. Idols are individuals that represent what we want to be; they are our heroes. But America is starting to become the home of "Fallen Idols" (no pun intended for you American Idol fans), or less-than-perfect idols. Where else can we discover gossip about our idols, or revel in their sins? Where else do we give acceptance to adulterers, murderers, drug users, and white-collar frauds?

If our society accepts imperfect idols, why should aikido (especially American aikido) be excluded? Rank is nothing more than the color of a belt. Some times that belt does not represent the person, sometimes it does.

In many ways, it is diffcult to publically curb poor aikido. People practice for different reasons, and not everyone is going to have the personility to best represent what aikido is. I love to say that, "you can't hide who you are on the mat", and that holds true in many respects.

Ketsan
06-06-2005, 06:30 PM
Most of the senior Aikidoka I've met seem to lack personality and a lot of them give me the creeps. There's no specific reason that I can lay my finger on for this all I can really say is that a lot of them have no presence what so ever. If you weren't looking at them or if you couldn't hear them you'd forget they were there. Others seem to carry deeply negetive energys around with them.

Actually I can't really think of one you could actually sit and chat with. Unless it was about Aikido.

Kevin Leavitt
06-07-2005, 02:06 PM
Last time I saw Saotome Sensei he still smoked. (he may have quit, it's been a few years). I certainly have great respect for his aikido and his dojo. Personally I don't really know much about his personal life or his values, but I assume they are emulated in the dojo and on the mat.

My point is, not everyone is perfect, and we don't have to emulate all that we see in a person to learn from them. It does become tough to choose where to draw the line sometimes I suspose. It is something that I think we must think about all the time.

It can be hard to find your value base in a melting pot of emotions, priorities, politics, and opinions!

Nick Simpson
06-16-2005, 07:10 AM
You dont really paint your organisation in a positive light, do you Alex?

What about Mr Smith? I really hope he's not included in your list of 'creeps and non-people'?

More for your sake ;)

Kyudos
06-16-2005, 09:04 AM
I agree with the original post - from what I've read, lots of high ranking aikidoka seem to be quite flawed personalities (smokers, serial womanisers, alcoholics etc.). Of course what you consider flawed is entirely your own opinion.

But then the meritocracy idea also applies. You don't have to be a good person, or a nice person, or any other kind of person off the mat...if your aikido is good on the mat, you can at least be respected for that (and rightly so).

I think the line to walk is to try to emulate your sensei's aikido, not his/her personal life.

Ketsan
06-17-2005, 06:51 AM
You dont really paint your organisation in a positive light, do you Alex?

What about Mr Smith? I really hope he's not included in your list of 'creeps and non-people'?

More for your sake ;)

The ones that give me the creeps aren't from my organisation. I tend to move around the country a lot for gigs and stuff and if there's a dojo there I drop in.
I like Mr Smith up to a point. That point being just outside the reach of his right hand. :D

Nick Simpson
06-17-2005, 07:04 AM
"I like Mr Smith up to a point."

Dude, I was a bit shocked when I read that until I saw the next sentance! I know what you mean, I had the honour of being punched with his right hand last september. Didnt wash that cheek for months... :)

Bradence
06-29-2005, 04:53 AM
Just thought I'd drop my unqualified 2 cents here. I just got back from the summer camp in Victoria, B.C. and I was very impressed with the people that I worked with there. I would say that there were two or three people that I had a mildly unpleasant experience with, but for the most part the rest of the people there were excellent. On the way to and from the dojo there was always a pleasant conversation. I can easily say that I was one of the worst aikidoists at the camp and I found a wealth of patience and help from the others at the camp, particularly some of the senior dan ranks.

Obviously this kind of exposure doesn't let me judge anyone's personal life, but I'm not qualified to do that anyway. I CAN say that aside from a small minority of people I met on the mat who were curt with me or irritated at having to work with me (many of whom were white belts), everyone else had a smile and a hand up when I needed it.

The two experiences that were most poignant for me involved two high ranking black belts. One involved a few conversations between myself (a lowly aikido slug) and the black belt who was taking ukemi from Kawahara Sensei. No ego at all, just an extremely pleasant person who wanted to offer some words of encouragement and make sure everything was going well for me.

The other involved a conversation I heard between a black belt (not sure the dan rank, but he had his own dojo so he had some experience under his belt) and a brand new white belt who's first few classes were at the Summer Camp. She was worried that her inexperience might bother everyone else and the black belt took her aside and told her that she was an excellent partner for an experienced aikidoist because her reactions were natural and that she should try to grab as many black belts as partners that she could.

I can honestly say that my experiences at the Summer Camp (particularly with the more experienced black belts) have made me proud to be in the company of these people.

I agree that having a particular rank will never mean that a person is a great human being, but it seemed to me that it was the black belts that impressed me more often than the white belts. A black belt with no ego is much more impressive to me than a white belt with no ego. After working towards something like a dan rank and finally achieving it, managing to avoid the ego trip shows strength of character. Black belts have more demands on their characters, the higher the rank the higher the demand it would seem to me. In a very general way, I see more development in the higher ranks. I'm speaking outside of someone's personal life here; I'm talking about attitude and demeanor in and around the dojo. I apologize if that's not speaking enough to the OP.

Peter Goldsbury
06-29-2005, 07:03 AM
I've wondered also if somehow their Aikido training stunted their personal growth/developement. Especially these higher ranking people who seem to have gotten so far in Aikido because they centered their life on it. They, now in their 30s and 40s, seem the most stunted to me in regards their overall level of maturity/human conduct.

Any other thoughts on this? Perhaps that would have been their natures anyway, or perhaps without the Aikido focus things would have been worse. And I am aware that I'm measuring all of this on my personal scale.

Regards!

Hello Paula,

Were these high ranking people Japanese men? To see what the average Japanese male is up against in becoming a mature human being, I suggest you read a book by Ian Buruma. The US title is, Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters and Other Jaspanese Cultural Heroes.

In Japan aikido does not have a mission to make its practitioners better people, understood in terms of personal growth as individuals. It might have this mission in the US and actually this was my experience when I trained in the States during the early 1970s. In this respect my experience in the US was quite different from that in the UK and Japan.

Best regards,

Rupert Atkinson
06-29-2005, 11:26 PM
Do you think all doctors live healthily?
Do yo uthink all lawyers are honest?
Do you think accountants never fiddle the numbers?

We all expect them to be perfect, but something tells me reality is a little different.

Arianah
06-30-2005, 08:17 PM
Question: Should rank reflect personal development? Not necessarily "is the person a nice person?" but Aikido-related personal development. Should people that toss beginners as though they were blackbelts (turning away who knows how many) get promoted? At a certain point, should some more personal attributes like taking care of your partners, fulfilling responsibilities around the dojo, being respectful be as or more important in rank evaluation?

For myself, I took ukemi on a test the other day from an overzealous guy I avoid like the plague during practice. He jacked a nikyo on my *taped* wrists and tore a couple of muscles :uch: . A contortionist couldn't have taken that lock without being damaged. Now, obviously, the decision isn't up to me, but I'm kinda of the mindset of "you crash the car during the test, you're not getting your license." Now, he did the technique right, so obviously his technical ability is fine. But should his lack of control be taken into consideration?

I often wonder at some of the yudansha I've seen at seminars (few thankfully) that toss the brand-new whitebelts that have just barely learned to roll like ragdolls. To me, it seems like such selfish behavior, since they are putting their own practice before the safety of their kohai. It seems that at some point an instructor should have said, "I'm not going to promote you any farther until you get your act together. You can stay at sixth kyu forever if you want."

*Shrug* What do you teachers think? Do you look at these things when you promote?

Sarah

Joe Bowen
06-30-2005, 09:23 PM
Our senior ranking Aikido practitioners are all human beings, nothing more and nothing less. Our disappointments in their behavior stems more from our preconceived notions about what they ought to be rather than what they are. If you open your eyes, you will see that applies to all walks of life. Let go of you "yodaesque" ideals. Realize that even the Buddha and Jesus were both human....
In my personal experience, I've met many high ranking Aikido instructors both inside the US and out (mostly out, in Japan, Korea, Thailand). The majority of them are very ordinary people and are very approachable and likable. Sure, they have flaws, as we all do, but on the whole, I'd rank them as fairly developed human beings.

Nick Simpson
07-01-2005, 05:43 AM
Im sorry that you got hurt Sarah, I dont condone injuring anyone on the mat. Most techniques involve pain, but it should be transient and not result in lasting injury. Perhaps the tori should have been penalised for his lack of control, i cant say as i was not there. To be honest, I have been in that toris shoes, pre test i was asked to do a mock grading. My uke was a 4th kyu and the senior kyu grade in that dojo at the time, I was going for 2nd kyu. I believe that I did not perform any technique over zealousy and my intent was definately not to injure this person. I merely wanted to do effective technique. A few weeks later i learned that I had 'broken his wrists' during the mock grading. Imagine my surprise! Apparently it was so bad that he could not lift a pen to write. Now they werent broken, but apparently he has brittle bones. During the mock grading he did not tell me this, nor did he ever tell me to lower the level of my technique. He never even gave me the inkling through his body langauge. So who's fault was this?

I have taken some very severe nikkyo from senior dan grades, shihan and other instructors, at times i have felt that my arm was going to break. The only solution to this is to drop down to the floor as fast as possible as soon as the nikkyo begins, I have even had to go from standing up attacking to lying flat out on the floor to escape a particularly vicious nikkyo.

You should have had the option to inform the instructor that you did not wish to be uke for this person, as long as you state this wish respectuflly and bow out, there is no shame in it :)

Peter Goldsbury
07-01-2005, 06:06 AM
Hello,

I do not know you, but I think your post deserves a constructive reply. If you don't mind, I will add responses and comments to each paragraph.

Question: Should rank reflect personal development? Not necessarily "is the person a nice person?" but Aikido-related personal development. Should people that toss beginners as though they were blackbelts (turning away who knows how many) get promoted? At a certain point, should some more personal attributes like taking care of your partners, fulfilling responsibilities around the dojo, being respectful be as or more important in rank evaluation?
PAG. Your dojo seems a rather rough place for beginners to train. However, I think "Aikido-related personal development" is as difficult to judge as whether X is a "nice person". In my dojo (I am chief instructor) all the above personal attributes are in evidence, but they were from the beginning. Culture is a set of values embraced by people in social groups. I think there are dojo cultures, but they are grafted on to general cultural values. Student numbers are quite small and the three instructors always train when they are not teaching. So we regularly take ukemi from every single student in the dojo. However, I am not out to improve their personal development, whether aikido-related or not. I think it would be arrogant of me to presume to do so.

For myself, I took ukemi on a test the other day from an overzealous guy I avoid like the plague during practice. He jacked a nikyo on my *taped* wrists and tore a couple of muscles :uch: . A contortionist couldn't have taken that lock without being damaged. Now, obviously, the decision isn't up to me, but I'm kinda of the mindset of "you crash the car during the test, you're not getting your license." Now, he did the technique right, so obviously his technical ability is fine. But should his lack of control be taken into consideration?
PAG. In grading tests here, the instructors decide who will partner whom and I would not permit someone with an injury that needed a taped wrist to take uke in a test. Do others avoid the "overzealous guy" like you do? If so, is the instructor aware of this and doing anything to deal with it? It seems to me that, rather than punishing such a person through grades, the instructor should train him through regular practice, in particular by taking ukemi himself.

I often wonder at some of the yudansha I've seen at seminars (few thankfully) that toss the brand-new whitebelts that have just barely learned to roll like ragdolls. To me, it seems like such selfish behavior, since they are putting their own practice before the safety of their kohai. It seems that at some point an instructor should have said, "I'm not going to promote you any farther until you get your act together. You can stay at sixth kyu forever if you want."
PAG. I agree that seminars present a different problem from regular training in one's own dojo. There is usually a guest instructor, who might practise differently, and other perhaps unknown participants. I would never use such seminars as a yardstick in grading one of my own students. Yudansha tossing brand-new white belts around like rag dolls is something I have not seen here outside university clubs and I suspect that the white-belts have a good idea what will happen when they sign up. Nevertheless, this practice, known as kakari-geiko, does not usually happen until after the summer gasshuku training, that is, after the white belts have been training (five times per week) for six months.

*Shrug* What do you teachers think? Do you look at these things when you promote?
PAG. I should also state that there is considerable difference between a 4th dan grading examination and a 4th kyuu grading test.

Best regards,

Adam Huss
07-04-2005, 02:48 PM
Now, he did the technique right, so obviously his technical ability is fine. But should his lack of control be taken into consideration? Sarah

Actually his technical ability is more on the lower end. This is not fine at all. Having control is what Aikido is all about...harmony with uke, and snapping wrists is not all together that harmonious...in my opinion anyways. If you apply nikyo/nikkajo and your uke comes towards you and drops to one knee...you have done the technique with pain as the controlling factor. Well, some people don't feel the pain, don't care, or they even like it! How would you then have an effective technique? You need to find the katameru of each technique. The katameru is the 'point at which uke can no longer resist." When nikkyo/nikkajo is done properly, uke should feel lots of stress in his/her lower back...uke's knees should start to give way and his hips should bobble side to side. This is the point of kata meru for this particular technique. When you see this start to happen you shuffle in (for omote) and uke will be more on his bum and side pushed into a haphazard ball away from you, rather than on one knee leaning toward you ready to grab at your genitals, toes, belt, or whatever else.
Pain is the lowest controlling principal in aikido. The highest level is to control uke ergonomically to the point where they just simply can not resist what is happening to them. Is this level hard to achieve....well most certainly yes!!! Very hard...but it is (or should be) the goal of all techniques. There, understandingly, is the learning process and techniques will invariably have to be pain-based until more proper control is achieved, but the goal and "correct technique" should be benevolent, but complete and total control of uke.
As for injuring each other on tests, for us, if you injure an uke and they can not continue you automatically fail. There was a 4th dan test in which the testing candidate dislocated his uke's shoulder in free style and the uke continued on so that his teacher would not fail his test. Pretty amazing to see. But also quite appropriate. My teacher very much likes to see that attitude. The testing candidate, of course, didn't want to hurt his partner but at the end of a two hour yondan test you get a bit tired and invariably these things will happen, which is understandable (but the rule still applies, if your uke doesn't continue...neither do you)...but you should also not focus your technique on hurting others, if just simply for the fact that that isn't a completely reliable control factor.
Osu!

Adam Huss
07-04-2005, 03:16 PM
I train in Aikido to become a better person. For me it is self-development and self-mastery. One day when I was my teacher called me into his office (when I was uchideshi) he told me that the yudansha (especially sandan and above) have incredible responsibility for the spiritual and technical growth of the students. Training them to discover themselves and achieve personal growth and power. We teach them techniques that can be very dangerous and destructive if used improperly (or even just by accident) so it is our business to worry about the character of everyone. Not in my aikido dojo, but in my karate dojo, I have seen my teacher very hesitant to teach a prospective student because he got a bad impression of him. Seemed like the kind of guy that would learn this stuff just to hurt people. Sensei gave the guy the benefit of the doubt, and they guy ended up quitting after a couple of weeks anyway so that problem was avoided, but all the same..there is great responsibility in what we learn and/or teach.
Seeing that, in my opinion, Budo is about bettering yourself ("The goal of Budo is to die!" not sure who said that though) then, consequently, people who achieve high rank should be a high level person. I'm not saying that they need to be a Gandhi, Buddha, or Christ, but over the years and years of training that it takes to get to that level...they should definitely be at a higher level than the average person. I mean, why else put all those years, tears, sweat, and blood into training that it takes to achieve that level? I've been lucky enough that all of the high-ranking people in the organization that I belong to are pretty darn great people. And many people do speak very highly of their chief instructors as human beings. I was just discussing this with another Aikiweb member who was saying that Ikeda Sensei is not just a great technician but a great human being as well...and this is how it should be.
There are seminars where I've seen very high-ranking teachers who are excellent technicians...just brilliant, but man...there seminars are just not fun at all. You sit in seiza for 20+ minutes while the teacher and his uke are in chairs. You listen to talk about how aikido has made him so powerful, he is so healthy for his old age and has taken a younger (like 15 plus years) beautiful woman as his wife and aikido has allowed him to do that and talks about aikido in this mystical sense, like its some kind of magic and not *everyone* can achieve that level if they really dedicated themselves. Then you stand up and your knees are a little stiff and he says "oh, well you non-Japanese people don't understand aikido and can't sit in seiza (even though he was in a chair), and then you do basic tai sabaki/kihon dosa for over 45 minutes (even though almost everyone there is shodan and up) and then maybe do one or two techniques all the while being told that your doing them wrong because you aren't Japanese. One of the only times I've seen people leave a seminar frustrated and upset...no one is talking, they all have their heads down. Aiki? Wa? A seminar with a high ranking instructor should have everyone leaving totally pumped up, ready for more, happy, excited...etc.
Eh, but maybe I'm optimistic.
Oh well.

Osu!

Adam Alexander
07-09-2005, 03:17 PM
Any other thoughts on this?

My experience is that when all I'm doing is technique, as I feel the proficiency develop, I become rather arrogant. I think because, as someone's signature says,"when all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail," everything becomes relevant only to my physical prowess (can I beat you up?).

However, I find what's most helpful is when I'm confronted with a situation where my option is between 1)pummel the person into a pulp for what he just did and then go to jail for a very long time, or 2)recognize that I have higher goals in life and in reality, technique, per se (I really don't know what that means, but I think it fits:)), really doesn't solve my problems directly.

Then, all the arrogance I developed in relation to my technique gives way to a recognition that I need to work on my coping and people skills.

I think this reflects the adage about "not learning patience in a vacuum."

The point: If someone doesn't have their poor ideologies challenged, problems will arise. Problems like you've described.