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Charles Hill
06-18-2005, 03:29 AM
I have noticed that at many dojo there are often yudansha that obviously have "transfered" from other dojo. They do techniques in different ways from the teacher. This might be fine in itself but I wonder about the effect on newer students. I have also often seen this kind of person teach students during practice. I think that this is due to the open nature of Aikido. I also think that this must be irritating and problematic for teachers.

I would really like to hear from teachers who have had to deal with this kind of thing. It would also be great to hear from students who have been "taught" by seniors in ways differing from what the teacher is teaching.

Thanks,
Charles Hill

charron
06-18-2005, 10:56 AM
I think that the longer you stay with it, you'll see that seniors, even in the same dojo, do the same techniques differently from each other. This is just part of the growing process, and the internalization of techniques. Instead of looking at the differences, focus instead on the whole process. Try to see each person's focus on the technique, and learn a little bit from each one. You'll get a more rounded experience of the techniques, and be in a better position to eventually decide which way is best for you. Don't think that there is only one right way to do a technique. Good luck.

RebeccaM
06-18-2005, 11:19 AM
This is why, unless the beginner I'm working with is doing something grossly wrong, I let the teacher handle it...

senshincenter
06-18-2005, 11:58 AM
At our dojo we don't do "style for style's" sake Aikido. Our forms represent what we consider to be a particular ideal energy print and its corresponding response. Thus, our subjective applications of forms come to a unified expression but only out of an intent to match that ideal energy print with its corresponding response. In the end, we all look the same and/or try to look the same - for the reason offered above. In this way, variation from this orientation is either noted as "doing something different/not working what we are working on" or it is noted as "wrong/not 100% in providing relevant details." For this reason, when senior students are doing something "different" they are instructed to please work on what we are working on or they are corrected so as to help them more closely resemble the ideal energy print and its response in all of its details.

Because of the role seniors play as examples to junior students, we never stray from this paradigm during forms training.

our take,
dmv

eyrie
06-18-2005, 08:25 PM
What an excellent post David!

maikerus
06-18-2005, 11:31 PM
Even between instructors I think there are differences, as has been said already. My instructors have always told me to look for what's the same...not what's different...to find the core Aikido principles.

Differences based upon height or something like that should still follow the core principles, but advice on dealing with taller/shorter uke's can be different from different people depending on whether they are taller/shorter themselves.

Of course, that being said, the people who have transferred from other dojos/styles should probably make an effort to understand/emulate what the instructor teaches. If they don't like it they can go someplace else...

My few yen,

--Michael

Charles Hill
06-19-2005, 12:45 AM
Hi,

Thanks for the replys. My thinking on technique is the same as David`s (if I understood all `dem high falutin words:)) I think that it is reasonable to say that the goal of a beginner is to copy the teacher as close as possible. So what happens when that beginner gets paired up with a "transfered" yudansha who does the technique in a different manner from the teacher. I`m asking for teachers` perspectives, especially in the situation where you think the technique is being done incorrectly. What do you do?

David, I am very interested in hearing about how what you wrote actually plays out. It is my experience that it is very difficult to instruct and correct yudansha who have gotten their rank from another teacher. Any advice on how you might get your instructions and corrections to stick?

thanks,
Charles

Charlie
06-19-2005, 03:08 AM
Why has it been difficult in your past experience?

There are many ways for an instructor to interject on behalf of the beginner when a yudansha is in need of an adjustment. Anything from a subtle suggestion to something more commanding.

Part of being a yudansha is understanding the roles of everyone involved. If the instructor is unable to control what is happening on the mat while the class is in session then why are they teaching.

maikerus
06-19-2005, 03:20 AM
As an instructor, I haven't had very many yudansha who have moved to my dojo from another, but of the two that have...they have always checked with me first and called me over to oversee/double check what they suggest.

With those students that have gone visiting to other dojos, they usually come back with some questions on various things...and ask them after/before class.

cheers,

--Michael

MaryKaye
06-19-2005, 09:59 AM
The core teachers of my dojo come from several different lines within Ki Society, and they don't do things exactly the same, nor does it seem practical to make them do so. We have instructors' classes to work on getting a consensus on the core material, but for everything else we just tolerate the variation.

The head instructor gave a statement on this: When you are training under someone, try to do what they are showing you, even if it is different. This shows respect for the teacher, and it gives you a wider breadth of experiences from which you will eventually develop your own aikido.

If a student is coaching in another teacher's class, though, s/he had better be showing the same thing the teacher is. We are very tolerant of student coaching but it's not appropriate to contradict the teacher.

If a dojo wants all its senior people to teach the same, I think regular, stringent instructors' classes are a must.

Myself, I like the diversity and I don't mind the confusion. (Aikido is so confusing anyway, what's a little more?) I don't suppose I'll end up looking exactly like my head instructor (though I once had a Ki Society instructor in another town correctly peg where I came from just by watching me, so there's clearly a good deal of influence) but I'll still end up reflecting her principles and teaching, and that's enough for me.

Mary Kaye

giriasis
06-19-2005, 04:52 PM
We have a lot of transfer students come into our dojo both yudansha and mudansha of different styles and/ or associations. The way my sensei handles it is to allow them to maintain their own style, but if he wants to emphasize a point that he wants them to practice that isn't part of their style he'll tell them that he doesn't want to take away from their usual style but he would like for them to work on this particular point. But he doesn't expect them to change their sytle, just change something on one particular technique for the night in class just to experiement in something different. There is no chastisizing, no demeaning, and definently no "we do it better in our dojo so you must do it just like us."

In essence, he doesn't treat them as a "problem." If they are yudansha, he'll often allow them their own class where they can teach their style of doing things. As a result, I've been exposed to ASU, Saito/ Iwama and Chiba (Western Region) teachings.

senshincenter
06-19-2005, 10:06 PM
Hi Charles,

I think there are a few issues here, and the thing is that they only overlap in certain areas, so any response from one area is not going to cover the whole of this topic. In particular, I think there is the issue of getting folks to work on what is being asked to be worked on; and then there is the issue of having reason behind one’s tactical architectures. Underneath both of these issues is the discourse that wants to suggest that Aikido waza is relative and prone to extreme forms of subjectivity.

Let me state up front that I do not believe that Aikido waza is subject to extreme relativism. For me, ideal phases, or waza, can be held in judgment by the constraints of consistency and reason, and thus, within their own assumed environments, they can be deemed valid or invalid. Hence, not all waza interpretations are equal.

Secondly, I do not want to suggest that every dojo need operate as ours. Some places do just fine operating under the paradigm of “I’m okay, you’re okay.” However, because of agendas particular to us, we have found that this model does not work toward our desired-for ends.

In answer to your question Charles, I think one presses the kind of paradigm I am suggesting in several ways. Of primary importance, I feel the overall dojo environment is the element that provides the context most needed to get folks to work on what is being worked on with the least amount of intrusion and/or direct attention. If you have a traditional culture going, and it is functioning harmoniously with the wants and desires of your student body, folks have more tendency to do what is being demonstrated, to see what is being demonstrated, and to quest after what is being demonstrated, than if your dojo is less traditional-like.

If enough folks are practicing this culture, when newbies and/or visitors come to such a culture, they almost always jump right in line. It is like in a very formal dinner. If you make it formal enough, even someone from a less-cultured table will put his napkin on his lap and find the right fork to eat with, regardless if they have never done such a thing before in their lives. So my first answer: If you want folks to work on what is being worked on, develop a culture that feeds that context and do not develop a dojo culture that is counter to it.

Assuming you have that culture in place, should such action continue, you simply ask them to work on what is being worked on. With the culture in place, you have context to your request. Simply note to them that they are doing a different version and that you require them to work on what is being worked on for the sake of the juniors involved – period. With the culture in place, such a request takes on a great deal of weight, and thus it will take a great deal of weight to refuse it. Most visitors do not want to carry that much weight. Of any that might, you now know you are not dealing with such an innocent thing as a lack of details and/or an over-appreciation of “all variations being equal.”

Next, be sure to have an avenue open by which any questions and/or concerns can be addressed. Provide a platform through which they will fill free to discuss the ideas that might have been supporting their practiced version of the technique. A question and answer period after class is great for this. Open the floor up to questions and/or comments and address them in as professional a manner as you can – being open and sharing with one’s knowledge and one’s ignorance. In conjunction then, one needs to know his/her own reasons for doing what he/she is doing, as well as the reasons for not doing what he/she is not doing. On the other side – one might learn something new – which is always great.

As a final note, we also practiced under spontaneous conditions, and this goes quite far in supporting our perspective regarding what we consider reasonable and not reasonable. For example, we have had folks come to our dojo doing tenkan one way, different from ours, and after feeling the culture, after showing their way to junior students, after being told to work on what we are working on, after discussing and addressing any underlying questions, after dealing with the reasoning in the two variations (for example), and/but after their tenkan failing time and time again in spontaneous training, they come up and say, “How does that tenkan go again?”

In the end, every one is working on what is shown. The place for variation and/or personal expression of this kind is left to other areas of training – where more elements that are spontaneous are provided for. However, as I hinted above, practicality there as well tends to produce a certain type of singularity.

david

Charles Hill
06-20-2005, 12:20 AM
Thanks again for the replies. It has been my experience that yudansha often are so used to what they have done before that they are quite unconcious to the differences between what they are doing and what the teacher is showing at that time. Not necessarily a concious defiance. My father in law is a shakuhachi shihan. He says the hardest thing to do is to teach a person who started with another teacher. However, with the shakuhachi, a student`s bad habits won`t affect another student. In Aikido, it`s different. As David has written, the culture of a dojo is what imprints itself on the beginning student most strongly. Another point for me is that I am dealing with all Japanese students, which I see now to have it`s own characteristics.

David, thanks for the detailled reply. I will think carefully about it.

Charles

Charlie
06-20-2005, 04:44 AM
...It has been my experience that yudansha often are so used to what they have done before that they are quite unconscious to the differences between what they are doing and what the teacher is showing at that time...Not necessarily a conscious defiance...

I have to disagree, Charles. Part of "doing" aikido is to be conscious of your surroundings. If a yudansha is doing something outside of what the instructor is doing then they have failed on a major part of aikido - adaptability.

I have attended dojos outside of my style. In doing so, instructors have commented that my technique looked nothing like they "thought" it was going to look like. All I can say is…But of course, when in Rome!

I can do this without a problem because my instructor stressed to me early on to learn the basics. Learn them real good. If you do, then you can go anywhere and practice regardless of styles. Why? Because Aikido is Aikido! The basics of Aikido are relatively similar no matter what the style. If you have the basics down then you can concentrate on whatever points that the instructor or ‘style' is emphasizing.

If someone is so used to doing what they do and attend someplace outside of their norm and STILL do what they are used to doing is just plain rude and says a lot to me about the level of quality of that yudansha.

Usually it boils down to a loss of ‘beginner's mind'.

Dazzler
06-20-2005, 06:08 AM
If someone is so used to doing what they do and attend someplace outside of their norm and STILL do what they are used to doing is just plain rude and says a lot to me about the level of quality of that yudansha.

Usually it boils down to a loss of ‘beginner's mind'.

"And you can take that to the bank"! (little quote for the Segal fans!)

Agree a lot with this Charles....Not all dojos are the same of course, but where I teach these days, we employ a structured development programme to take students to shodan and beyond.

Its a fairly long process which is easily hampered by visitors who offer 'help' completely out of context.

Don't get me wrong folks...I'm up to speed on variety being the spice of life and not necessarily bad aiki...sometimes its may even be better than whats on offer.

But jumping into someone elses class when they are working over a period of years with students....and acting as if your aikido is better for the student than that of the instructor who is there week in week out is a bit out of order.

If you are only trying to help - keep one eye on the instructor at the very least when offering up your experience...If he's going purple and shaking his head then maybe back off a bit!

Loss of beginners mind....hmmm. Yes - says a lot.

Thanks.

D

rachmass
06-20-2005, 08:25 AM
I disagree about the loss of beginners mind thing.

Aikido is learned through the body. If you have been practicing taking rolls with live toes for 20 years, I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to have dead ones when taking ukemi. The same thing goes for how you hold your feet, your hips, your hands. You have to be extremely conscious of it at all times not to get stuck. While I ALWAYS try to do what the teacher is doing, sometimes my body does not. It takes extreme concentration and energy to do it the way it is shown, and while we certainly try to do that, it doesn't always happen immediately. Switching styles takes time, and the longer you have practiced, the longer the shift takes. This said from someone who has been practicing over 20 years and has switched styles dramatically once (from a Ki style to Aikikai) and less dramatically once (Western Region to Eastern Region).

In the end it is all aikido though

mj
06-20-2005, 08:30 AM
"And you can take that to the bank"! (little quote for the Segal fans!)
The Blooood bank.

Dazzler
06-20-2005, 09:16 AM
I disagree about the loss of beginners mind thing.

Aikido is learned through the body. If you have been practicing taking rolls with live toes for 20 years, I can tell you that it is extremely difficult to have dead ones when taking ukemi. The same thing goes for how you hold your feet, your hips, your hands. You have to be extremely conscious of it at all times not to get stuck. While I ALWAYS try to do what the teacher is doing, sometimes my body does not. It takes extreme concentration and energy to do it the way it is shown, and while we certainly try to do that, it doesn't always happen immediately. Switching styles takes time, and the longer you have practiced, the longer the shift takes. This said from someone who has been practicing over 20 years and has switched styles dramatically once (from a Ki style to Aikikai) and less dramatically once (Western Region to Eastern Region).

In the end it is all aikido though

Can't speak for anyone else...but I'm very tolerant of those that bring something else to the party. I also acknowledge that it is very hard to switch styles - to this end I do not expect anyone to become a clone and for sure a lot of experience would be lost this way.

I am situated in a major uk city located right next to the major railway station. We are also a very large and active dojo.

As such we get a lot of one night only or temporary visitors all of whom are made welcome.

My issue is when they start trying to teach it without any commitment to the long term or even to the short term lesson plan in progress.

I don't expect them to change what they do...just enjoy the practice give and take a little.

We don't try and force our aikido onto them...and as visitors we hope they have the courtesy to respect our classes.

99% have no problem with this.

Cheers

D

Lyle Bogin
06-20-2005, 09:20 AM
I have no problem with yudansha from other dojos showing their stuff, as long as it does not involve really harsh contact and is at least realted to what the main topic of the lesson is. My response is usually to try to learn what it is they are doing so that we can talk a bit.

I don't believe in demanding conformity unless there is immediate danger. Infact, it seems a bit odd to get twisted about it, since I have never met two yudansha with identical aikido anyway.

The one thing that does bother me is the excuses, or defenses, I have heard, particularly what call the "natural defense". This happens when someone says something like "oh, I used to do it that way, but this way follows the natural bend of the joints much better". It's the fall back point in a lot of arguments, and to me it has absolutely no meaning since the body is flexible and so many "natural" positions.

DaveO
06-20-2005, 02:48 PM
We've had some dealings with this in our dojo - not much; but a couple of occasions. It is to be sure a very, very nice thing to deal with - new friends, new skills etc.
The way we look at it; If the visitor wishes to show us what he/she knows and has different ideas of movement etc. great! We learn more. However while learning technique; the instructors expect that all participants practice the technique being taught. If someone is doing something different; we'll say something like "That's an excellent technique - I'd love to learn it later. It's just not the technique we're doing right now."
IOW there's a time and place for experimention, showing your own skills, etc. and a time for doing what the teacher says. :) A good dojo I think balances those 2 times out well. :)

Misogi-no-Gyo
06-20-2005, 04:24 PM
While I read each of the replies with interest, I was a bit surprised by the perspective adopted. What I mean is, the question seemed to indicate, "…as uke" how do we feel about someone who doesn't seem to be doing what the teacher is doing? The key phrase being as uke.

As uke our role is very specific. As uke we:


focus on our committed attack of Nage
focus on maintaining our attack of Nage
focus on protecting ourselves during our attack of Nage

above is active/action ------------------ below is passive/interraction

focus on following Nage's center
focus on our ability to sense and feel, thereby "receiving" nage's waza, and not opposing it
focus on improving our ability to transition from one attack to the next via rolling
and in the advanced stages, understanding how to transition from receiving nage's waza to applying kaeshi-waza (reversals)


Nowhere in that list will you find "judging nage's waza" regardless of the fact that as uke we will have some opinion about Nage's waza.

As a teacher, I remember clearly being a student. As a student, I remember often hearing the teacher say, "…when I hear talking I begin to think that people know everything there is to know about a technique…" which brought about something that I have been known to say from time to time, "When in doubt, try to find the answer by taking ukemi." When I see students focusing on how to throw, either as uke or as nage, I know they have yet to reach an intermediate level of learning, that being learning how to learn (as uke) or teaching how to learn (as nage). It is not that this is necessary to improve, rather it is a preferred model for any dojo. Of course, only the rarest of students comes in with any understanding of how to learn, so fact is that the focus tends to be on what to learn, rather than how to learn.

Teachers should encourage any seasoned senpai at their dojo, irrespective of whether they are native to that dojo, or not, to take uke who are junior to them through a process of learning, sensing where they are stuck, limited, unconscious, overconfident, ...etc. rather than the typical egotistical exercise of showing themselves what they already know they know, and uke what he or she already knows he or she doesn't know. Nage should be leading uke on a physical level, but not only on a physical level. In each and every interaction, they should be using their experience and seniority to assist uke to gradually move the next level.

When one looks at the totality of our aikido experience over the lifetime of our practice, any particular interaction with any particular person amounts to only an infinitesimally small percentage of our training. While the question is very valid, it indicates a need for a change in the mindset of the person asking the question as opposed to indicating anything about the person about whom he is asking the question. Outside of practice that borders on injury, as uke we should merely focus on improving ourselves. Of course, that applies to nage as well, but that is not the focus of this particular thread.



.

senshincenter
06-20-2005, 05:44 PM
Here's the part of what Charles wrote that I think most folks are trying to relate to (I know I am):

"This (i.e. folks not doing what the teacher is doing) might be fine in itself but I wonder about the effect on newer students. I have also often seen this kind of person teach students during practice. I think that this is due to the open nature of Aikido. I also think that this must be irritating and problematic for teachers.

I would really like to hear from teachers who have had to deal with this kind of thing."


In other words: Is this a problem or not a problem for a teacher and/or a dojo. If it is not a problem why not? If it is, why, and how do you remedy it? For me I understood Charles to be asking us to contemplate over pedagogical and institutional matters of curriculum and not necessarily the personal trials and tribulations of simultaneously being an uke and a kohai.

However, I may be mistaken - perhaps Charles can reword his question so as to make things more clear.???

dmv

cguzik
06-20-2005, 07:46 PM
I believe that awareness of differences between what is being shown by the teacher and what is being executed by students is one of the most interesting aspects of my training. There are many different reasons why such differences occur as we are training, only one of which is stylistic difference due to ingrained prior training. A person's observational skills, and their ability to relate what they observe to their practice should develop naturally as a result of training. If they do not, then a core component of the development of their ability to learn is missing.

Considering the situation where a junior student and a senior student are training together, I believe that it is the senior's duty to his partner to help develop this sense of awareness. This may even include pointing out the difference and the reason for it. Previous training, different body types, getting it wrong, different situation arose. ...All good reasons for differences.

Depending on what the teacher is emphasizing, it may be appropriate to ignore a particular difference or to focus on it, slowing down and working through why it is occuring. In this way both the senior and junior student are learning, and neither is allowed to operate on auto-pilot.

Chris

Rupert Atkinson
06-20-2005, 09:39 PM
I think most dojos go through this. There are two kinds of Yudansha: The first type readily adapt and are the ones who continue to learn; the second do not adapt and do not learn new stuff, either by intent as they like their old stuff (which is OK if good), or by design in that they just don't get it. Beginners need sameness but after awhile, a healthy dose of difference is also necessary.

I am an TESOL English teacher and recognise that students need to understand American, Australian, British, Scottish, Irish and all other kinds of English. But in the beginning they need something constant to get started.

Charles Hill
06-21-2005, 01:53 AM
David summed up my questions pretty well. I have been thinking about these things for awhile, but after watching a video of a particular teacher`s class, I was inspired to think about it again and to post here to get some opinions.

On the video were three classes.

I have never visited the dojo.

The teacher is Japanese, the dojo is in America, and the students are mixed; Japanese and American.

The teacher taught some very distinctive movements. The students can be said to be in three groups; high level students who move like this teacher, high level students who didn`t move at all like they were showed, and beginners who struggled with the techniques (naturally, of course).

On the tape there are two moments where two people (in different pairs) are doing the same wrong movement. The teacher carefully watches both. He helps the one who is a beginner, who finally gets the movement. The teacher doesn`t say anything to the other, who is a yudansha and is paired up with a partner from the first group,ie. his own high level student. I`m guessing that the teacher is thinking something like, "you can`t teach an old dog, new tricks." (this is a guess, just like my guess that there are 3 types of students.) I think that there will be some on this forum who would criticize the teacher, but I think he is correct to do this. I`d like to hear other opinions on this.

In another class on the tape, the teacher shows a kokyu nage. Then the tape shows a yudansha verbally instructing a beginner on how to do the technique, even though (in my opinion) the yudansha is doing the technique wrong and obviously different from the teacher. We can see on the tape that the teacher is aware of what is going on and chooses to ignore it. I think that I would not. I`d like to hear opinions on this, too.

The teacher, in my opinion, is a master Aikidoka. From what I have seen and heard, I think that he is also a master teacher. There are also undoubtably factors that can`t be known just from watching the tape. That is why I wrote in general terms, as I think that this kind of thing is very common.

Also, I would like to give my basic framework of thinking towards the practice of Aikido. I think the correct progression of aikido is to first solidly copy one`s teacher to the point where another can tell who your teacher is just by watching your technique. Then there is the stage of doubt and experimentation. A student at this level can benefit by visiting other dojo, seminars, and watching videos. The next level is where the basic feeling is internalized and one`s own Aikido emerges. This is my understanding of shu, ha ,ri. I write this because I know that many disagree with it, and don`t approach the above situation with the same basic thinking as I. To hear this kind of person`s opinion is interesting but not exactly what I am looking for.

Sorry about the length,
Charles

Charlie
06-21-2005, 03:27 AM
What was the context of the class? Was it a seminar or a regular class at his own dojo? If it was a seminar then there is usually not enough time to completely cover all that may be necessary to touch upon (including corrections). David hints at this in another thread:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=106026&postcount=30

Another read that touches on elements of this thread can be found here:

http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/05_traditions/05_traditions.html

If it was a seminar was it in Japan or else where? All the different variables make a difference.

[Hope you don't mind the quote David]

happysod
06-21-2005, 03:29 AM
Charles, don't know if this is what you're wanting, but here goes.

If a high level person was not practicing what I was teaching, I'd intervene only if one of two aspects applied.
i) they had already shown they could do the technique in the manner in which I had demonstrated, so were just being lazy and falling back into old habits
ii) their own variation was either useless or dangerous, if I felt it had merit I'd probably just get them to explain the difference and ask why they were using it over the technique shown.

Otherwise, I'd be inclined to practice with the person myself next time round and see if the differences were deliberate or just a fault in understanding and/or my teaching.

For me, it's a similar problem to when you over teach a beginner in an attempt to get their technique word-perfect. I prefer to sacrifice conformity for flow of the technique, assuming (perhaps incorrectly) repetition will smooth out the bumps in future.

Dirk Hanss
07-09-2005, 05:40 PM
two aspects:

when we do things different from what we are supposed to do, we here:
"This is a variation. You often see shidan doing this in demonstration. But for this exercise I want to focus on ..."
And we know it is wrong. Wrong due to other experience or simple misunderstandings or lack of ability, but wrong. One can vary with "good solution", "This is great aikido.." (which you are not yet able to ...). The point is it is not what we were shown.

As a mudansha, who likes to visit other dojos and other style's# seminars, I can say, yes it is sometimes difficult, when I am corrected by my partner, and I think it is different from what the actual instructor showed or told. In about 50% of the cases I get the same corrections from the instructor a few minutes later ;), but even if I wonder what a stupid guy that is telling me this nonsense, I try to do what I was told. And in 25% the instructor corrects me back to what I thought was right.

But I do this for two reasons.
I like to train and not to argue on the mat.
The more different aspects I learn, the more flexible can I react in other situations. Even if I realize that it does not work on the mat, I learned my lesson.


Dirk

jonreading
07-13-2005, 11:37 AM
I'm with David on this one. The dojo is a structured place. You can't have everyone going around doing what they want. Students need to follow instruction from sensei, and carry out training with the focus of what sensei has demonstrated. Good yudansha understand that they should not undermine sensei by providing their own instruction or ignoriing what sensei has demonstratted themselves.

Sometimes yudansha (or sempai in general) do not realize they undermine the authority of the sensei when they essentially ignore instruction. For the sake of argument, I believe that if I demonstrate technique and a student chooses to perform that technique differently than demonstrated they are ignoring instruction. If they ignore instruction, what kind of role model do they make for junior students?

Here's the tricky part...If the yudansha is senior to me, I offer them the venue of guest instruction. If the yudansha is junior to me, then I explain that they need to focus on what we are practicing. The atmosphere should be no different than a seminar atmosphere (you know - everyone desperately trying not to look incompetent while trying a technique they've never seen...) :)

The bottom line is that a good student that visits or attends class should not put sensei is a position that may affect the dojo as a whole. My opinion is somewhat severe, but my job is to protect my students and the dojo. What if the visitor hurts a students practicing their technique (i.e. a technique foriegn to your students)? What if the visitor demonstrates technique that a student replicates and inflicts injury on another student?

cck
07-13-2005, 01:20 PM
I imagine it would be really irritating if you thought the yudansha was deliberately ignoring the instruction. But is that likely? I am not yet ranked, so you'd think I'd pay attention; I will sometimes watch my instructor show a technique and in my mind go "Oh, shihonage, thank goodness, that's one I know" - completely missing the point the instructor was trying to make.

senshincenter
07-13-2005, 01:41 PM
I don't think Jon was only talking about deliberate attempts to ignore instruction. I was reading him, rather, to be talking about those cases where instruction is ignored (for whatever reason). The reason a line is not drawn between what is deliberate and what is mere ignorance is because from the point of view of self-responsibility (which is key to Budo training) there is no difference. Under both perspectives, one is supposed to prime him/herself to do what was shown - to take responsibility for seeing what was shown and then for doing it as shown. Sure we may often come up short, but this ideal remains in place and thus our training should be oriented accordingly.

If we stray from the ideal, other real things that are also based upon that ideal will also falter. This they will do whether or not we become irritated (which Jon never mentioned - BTW) as instructors. This is how I understood Jon when he asked, "If they ignore instruction, what kind of role model do they make for junior students?" For me, and I imagine it is like this for Jon as well, it's all like math. You do this and that, and you get this. If you don't do this or that, you won't get this. Emotion (e.g. irritation) has really nothing to do with it. Something is shown, it should be well presented. In Kihon Waza training, deshi should cultivate themselves to see what was shown; Deshi should cultivate themselves to doing what was shown (no more, no less). How do you do this? By making this your ideal and by then orienting all of your training according to this ideal. When every one in the dojo can do this, the dojo itself will come to support many of its substructures by this ideal. Through this, a dojo stops being a place to workout and actually becomes something more much - it becomes a place for the Way.

An interesting side note: Once my sensei asked me to take over for filming Summer Camp. He told me to not just film it. He asked to me to look through the camera lens to see how many folks were doing what was shown and how many were not. He told me that I should not be surprised if no one was doing what was demonstrated. Of course he told me this because he held the exact duplication of technique to be part of our total cultivation - a thing I hold as well. So, there I was filming, and while I had done many Summer Camps up to that point, I was still surprised by what I saw through the camera's eye. He was right, no one was doing what was demonstrated.

Aiki Teacher
07-13-2005, 01:44 PM
I'm with David on this one. The dojo is a structured place. You can't have everyone going around doing what they want. Students need to follow instruction from sensei, and carry out training with the focus of what sensei has demonstrated. Good yudansha understand that they should not undermine sensei by providing their own instruction or ignoriing what sensei has demonstratted themselves.

Sometimes yudansha (or sempai in general) do not realize they undermine the authority of the sensei when they essentially ignore instruction. For the sake of argument, I believe that if I demonstrate technique and a student chooses to perform that technique differently than demonstrated they are ignoring instruction. If they ignore instruction, what kind of role model do they make for junior students?

Here's the tricky part...If the yudansha is senior to me, I offer them the venue of guest instruction. If the yudansha is junior to me, then I explain that they need to focus on what we are practicing. The atmosphere should be no different than a seminar atmosphere (you know - everyone desperately trying not to look incompetent while trying a technique they've never seen...) :)

The bottom line is that a good student that visits or attends class should not put sensei is a position that may affect the dojo as a whole. My opinion is somewhat severe, but my job is to protect my students and the dojo. What if the visitor hurts a students practicing their technique (i.e. a technique foriegn to your students)? What if the visitor demonstrates technique that a student replicates and inflicts injury on another student?

Exactly!

A few months before my Yudansha test some visitors from another dojo in another city came to visit. One of the nikyu students from that dojo decided not to follow the direction of the sensei and was either locking down on students, or was doing a totally different throw or pin than what the sensei demonstrated. This hubris ended up getting me injured when he decided to put a thumb lock on me instead of the normal pin for kotegaeshi. Totally streched my thumb back before I could react to stop him. Said he was showing "a police lock."

Charles Hill
07-13-2005, 10:26 PM
He was right, no one was doing what was demonstrated.

So David, would it be fair to say that your teacher, at some level, condones this behavior? If everyone at the camp was not doing what is demonstrated, the teacher is somewhat responsible, no?

I think that there is a Japanese idea of waiting for the student to reach some point where he/she is ready for the teaching and to teach before this point is a useless gesture. I completely understand this. However, the reality is that in Aikido, we touch each other so mistakes in "senior" students affect others much like an infectious disease. (Aiki-syphilis?:)) I am not convinced that this is a proper way to teach a martial art where two people must work together to make a "kata" and is not based on competition.

Charles

maikerus
07-13-2005, 10:50 PM
So David, would it be fair to say that your teacher, at some level, condones this behavior? If everyone at the camp was not doing what is demonstrated, the teacher is somewhat responsible, no?

I think that there is a Japanese idea of waiting for the student to reach some point where he/she is ready for the teaching and to teach before this point is a useless gesture. I completely understand this.

As a caveat I would like to say that I have only watched a couple of non-Yoshinkan classes at 5 different dojos. I have also never attended an open seminar or a non-Yoshinkan based seminar. During the non-yoshinkan classes I have watched, I always saw the behaviour David described (students not doing what teacher demonstrated) to differing extents and thought it was part of the training methodology.

What happened was that everyone would attack the same, but then some people who do the technique shown and some would do a completely different technique (often more than half of those training).

When I asked about it, it was explained to me that if the attack was different in some way and not appropriate to that technique or if the person was unable to do the technique they were supposed to flow into some other technique which was made available to them by the way uke was moving/grabbing/pushing/pulling or whatever.

Was I mistaken? If I was...why was it so prevelant. I should point out that one of the 5 dojos was the Aikikai Hombu (no idea who teaching...sorry) and 3 of the 5 were in Japan.

FWIW...I have no argument that the sample size is really too small to form a valid opinion...I also admit that I did form an opinion and thought I saw a trend. But maybe I was just (un)lucky in my choice of dojo and day to observe.

Comments?

--Michael

senshincenter
07-13-2005, 11:22 PM
Hi Charles,

I love the term - Aiki-syphilis - seems to hit the nail right on the head.

I see what you saying - about responsibility starting at the top. I try to follow that premise in my own dojo. So at some level, I must not agree with my teacher's choice of action (or lack of action). On the other hand, I can also acknowledge just how fruitless it would be to try and get everyone to see what was being shown and then to do it accurately at a summer camp.

That's why I'm so contrary to the usual support one hears concerning summer camps. For me, such camps were always more an interruption in my training than anything else. However, that is just me.

Thanks for the reply,
david

Tim Gerrard
07-14-2005, 07:13 AM
Could the variations be a result of mistakes, and 'doing something' rather than getting into the habit of freezing up? I know this could not account for an ENTIRE mat not practicing correctly, but could excuse a couple of isolated instances.

Just a thought,
T

Dirk Hanss
07-14-2005, 09:13 AM
Could the variations be a result of mistakes, and 'doing something' rather than getting into the habit of freezing up? I know this could not account for an ENTIRE mat not practicing correctly, but could excuse a couple of isolated instances.

Just a thought,
T

Tim, I guess you're right. You should watch carefully and do it the best you can. But that is no excuse for trying to re-educate the others or to do a "police lock" variation. Maybe the last one could be allowed if you have a b*** f*** uke, who does not allow you to make the required technique properly. ;)

Dirk

jonreading
07-14-2005, 12:20 PM
I think it is also important that we differentiate training methods. I make a point in class to tell students when they are allowed to "change" technique and when they should practice what was demonstrated. For example, I am less stringent when correcting nagare waza technique then when correcting kihon waza technique. I think the discussion at large is focused on those individuals that do not simply make a mistake or accomodate a variation of a technique, but the ones that habitually practice technique in a different manner than demonstrated.

It all boils down to rules. Rules exist to protect and my job is to protect my students and the dojo. I use rules to minimize injury, breaches in etiquette, and even training on the mat. Doing what the instructor showed is a rule, nothing more or less.

Seminars are a different atmosphere. My instructor once told us after a seminar, "I don't get it. People pay hundreds of dollars to go to a seminar for instruction from another instructor. Then they ignore everything the instructor demonstrates and do what is comfortable for themselves. Why pay all that money to waste the instructor's time and practice what you could've done in your own dojo?"

Tim Gerrard
07-14-2005, 01:46 PM
Maybe the last one could be allowed if you have a b*** f*** uke, who does not allow you to make the required technique properly.

Dirk

:D

Steven Gubkin
07-27-2005, 05:14 PM
I agree and disagree with some of the points made in this thread. While it is good to try and do a technique the way an instructor is showing it, this is not always practical. If the instructor is 4.5 ft tall and their Uke is 6.5 ft tall, the technique will should look very somewhat different when you do with a partner who is your size.

Charles Hill
07-27-2005, 08:35 PM
Hi Steven,

I think you missed the point of the thread. If an instructor has a specific point he/she wants to make and sees students (non-beginners) missing that point, what should be done? For example, I have a video (not the one I mentioned above) of a seminar given by Micheal Friedl. Mr. Friedl clearly has a training progression in which he wanted students to do an irimi version first and then he shows a tenkan version. However, many students did the tenkan version in the beginning. Clearly they were not focusing on what was being taught. Mr. Friedl's reaction is to make a joke and chastise the people a bit. This was a seminar so he could hardly be blamed for not doing more. What would you do in this situation, especially if it were your dojo and your students?

Charles

Mark Uttech
07-28-2005, 05:50 AM
Hallo Charles, I have been in this situation more than once. I simply stop the class and demonstrate again. The students first look for what is different, and then they realize there might just be something they missed the first time. You, (as an instructor) can notice pretty early on
if what is being practiced is what was demonstrated. The students pick up on it pretty quick when the practice is abruptly halted. In gassho

Dazzler
07-28-2005, 05:59 AM
Hi Steven,

I think you missed the point of the thread. If an instructor has a specific point he/she wants to make and sees students (non-beginners) missing that point, what should be done? For example, I have a video (not the one I mentioned above) of a seminar given by Micheal Friedl. Mr. Friedl clearly has a training progression in which he wanted students to do an irimi version first and then he shows a tenkan version. However, many students did the tenkan version in the beginning. Clearly they were not focusing on what was being taught. Mr. Friedl's reaction is to make a joke and chastise the people a bit. This was a seminar so he could hardly be blamed for not doing more. What would you do in this situation, especially if it were your dojo and your students?

Charles

Havent read the whole thread...

But to this question there are many things that can be done

Repeat the teaching and EMPHASISE the differences.
Break it down ...whole part whole as the 'coaches' would say.
Use related excercises to clarify
Use weapons ...or any other teaching aid.

There are many things you can do to change the message if it isn't being understood.

But...there are occasions when students simply refuse to accept.

They've seen Sensei X do it differently and thats what they like...or they've always done it this way and aren't about to change for anyone.

D

"some seed fell on the good ground"

Jenn
08-15-2005, 11:19 AM
I havn't read this whole thread (and I suspect much of it is over my head anyways), but I thought I'd give the perspective of a new student.

At our dojo, the beginner class is taught by three different instructors by design. One for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday respectively. It was explained to us from day 1 that each instructor might teach a technique differently, and to just do it the way it was being taught that day. Personally, I enjoy the different perspectives and I think it has helped me tremendously. However, perhaps that is just condusive to my learning style.

We also have "senior students" present at each class, but for the most part they sit with the class, listen to what the instructor is teaching, and if they assist, they do it consistent with the way the teacher is teaching it that day.

Occassionally we will have other students (one student in particular comes to mind), that blazes in less formally and will suggest things inconsistent from what the teacher is teaching that day, but I think most of the beginners have learned to focus on what we are learning that day and to take the inconsistent student's advicve on 'file away' status.

Of course this is just the perspective of a beginner, but I have gotten the impression that the senior students that are sitting in on our class formally and the instructors work together to maintain consistency in class on a particular day, as well as being frank with us (the beginners) that there will be variation in technique from day to day. I think this approach has had minimal confusion while still exposing us to diversity/fluidity whatever that you can see between different approaches.

Charles Hill
08-15-2005, 12:46 PM
Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for participating. I have a question for you. How much do the more experienced students help/teach you as opposed to just train with you? Also, how do you feel about that?

Thanks
Charles

rtist
08-16-2005, 06:45 AM
Charles,
I would like to weigh-in on this discussion. Speaking as a student, we need to keep our minds open, but take reponsibility for our own instruction. We are paying for this, after all.
My Mom used to tell me "When you walk out that door, every idiot you meet can teach you at least one thing you didn't know before so try to pay attention."
I have been involved in Aikido now for 6 years (I'm sankyu) and it has been my experience that one will always run into those in whom the urge to teach always bubbles to the surface no matter how they may try to supress it (if indeed they try to supress it at all). As a student I view it as my responsibility to learn whatever I can from whomever I can, then accept or reject that knowledge as I see fit.
Since we are the sum of our experiences, our Aikido will grow and evolve with us only if we keep an open mind. If I pick up a bad habit or a flawed technique from a seminar, at some point my sensei will point it out and correct it. I trust him to do that. That's why I go to the dojo. Or perhaps at the next seminar, I'll work with someone who will exploit the inherent weaknesses and I will learn from that. Some have the notion that once you learn a flawed technique its "too late" or at the very least "very difficult" to go back and correct it. Personally I think thats a load of garbage.
If someone is "instructing" me at a seminar or a class, I listen to what they have to tell me, try what they have to show me, and if it doesn't work - find another partner for the next technique.
Michael

Jenn
08-16-2005, 01:54 PM
Charles, to answer your question, I prefer to receive instruction from the students. To that end, as little as I know, I will likewise offer some small tip to a fellow beginner who seems to be struggling more than me if I am partnered with them. Even if the instruction isn't perfect, the instructor can't be watching everyone at all times, so in the interim, better to do something slightly-less-wrong during practice than just-completely-wrong.

I think your mother is a wise woman, Michael. I firmly believe everyone has something to teach me - right down to my 3-year-old daughter. Even when the student I mentioned who blazes in to the beginner class informally and starts loudly proclaiming advice that is completely contrary to what my teacher was just telling me.. I listen. I just try to be selective and think critically about what I put into practice (not just talking about Aikido here, but anything.)

Adrian Price
08-16-2005, 06:06 PM
Interesting question,

For me my main instructor will demonstrate a technique 8-9 times before sending us to practice, however he will demonstrate a basic form for the beginners, and then demonstrate more advanced/shorter versions of the technique before going back to the basic form, where he will cover the main points of the basic form slowly.

At times this does confuse some of the yudansha that are assisting with the classes, however as we watch beginers develop the technique you can see them practice the basic form, and then move onto the advanced/shorter version of the technique.

I have also at times watched yudansha struggle with a more advanced technique, where something is not quite right and they are trying to gel with the technique.

Charles Hill
08-17-2005, 12:22 AM
Thanks so much guys. I consider myself a beginning teacher and your comments are very helpful to me.

Charles

Hanna B
08-24-2005, 02:59 AM
It has been my experience that yudansha often are so used to what they have done before that they are quite unconcious to the differences between what they are doing and what the teacher is showing at that time.
Absolutely! You see "shomenuchi sankyo" and maybe you notice one or two details that are different to you standard way of doing it, but you don't see that lots of stuff change because of a difference in basic positions and angles... or similar.

As a student, I have learned - it took me long time, but finally I learned that when someone from other types of aikido tries to teach me something that is different from what the teacher did, you can say it although the other person has higher rank. "Actually, I do think his foot was on the outside and not on the inside." It can be said without defiance, and the natural thing to do next is to ask the teacher to come over. When I have done it, I have always had very good response.

As a teacher, when the group is established it is not so difficult to tell the people from other places "actually, I do it somewhat different". One doesn't have to go into rights and wrongs, just show: this is how I do it. If one doesn't feel it is a big problem, it isn't. If one gets irritated before saying something... then it is a lot more difficult to handle.

I was trying to build a university dojo from scatch, all beginners (possibly with one term of experience from someplace else) plus two third kyus. Both of the third kyus had their ways, from their previous teachers and styles. Both had good attitudes. As can be expected - the one with more different style was more aware of the differences. Still I didn't want to be to hard on them regarding what I wanted, since I didn't want to loose them. Building a group of beginners from scratch, where no one has any experience and you have no experienced uke to show technique on, is so difficult... Today, I would have set my priorities slightly different assuming that if they came to train for me, they were interested in what I taught.

It worked out well with time; but had one of the third kyus not wanted to adapt I could have built myself a situation that was difficult to handle since I did want to try and teach my style aikido, and let that form the dojo. Actually, those who had trained one term someplace else were the ones whose minds were hardest set on their image of what aikido was and took the longest time to change.

I guess when I started out this venue, I didn't know how to politely say "I do it slightly different".

Tim Ruijs
08-24-2005, 06:09 AM
Lesson within lesson...This is a teacher's nightmare :disgust:

Students attend your class because they think you have something interesting to teach them.
Any directions given by students to other students must comply with the lesson at hand, no matter what style one is accustomed to. Students that give directions that are out of scope for the lesson at hand should be corrected by either other (older) students or the teacher.
Obviously the ability to understand the lesson depends on the experience of the student, but also the teacher.

Aikido is hard as it is to start with, but becomes near impossible to learn with multiple 'teachers' on the tatami.

Lyle Bogin
08-24-2005, 08:24 AM
"Aikido is hard as it is to start with, but becomes near impossible to learn with multiple 'teachers' on the tatami."

This has been my experience in every class I have ever taken. Multiple teachers is what I would consider a normal and healthy state of training.

Tim Ruijs
08-24-2005, 08:49 AM
This has been my experience in every class I have ever taken. Multiple teachers is what I would consider a normal and healthy state of training.
Please do not get me wrong here. I am not to say that it is wrong to have multiple teachers on the tatami ;)
What I have read here is about students imposing style differences or have different focus on the exercise shown by the teacher, hence lesson within lesson. These 'teachers' one can do without :D

Aiki LV
08-25-2005, 05:16 PM
I'm in a situation similar to what is described in the original post. Only I'm not the Sensei, I'm the "transfer" student. I' ve been practicing at my current dojo for about 1 1/2 years now. I came from a different aikido association with a dan rank, but have since joined there association. At first I have to admit it was really hard for me to train in a new place. I learned some techniques and other things differently than my current Sensei was teaching them. In a way I had to train my body all over again, because I was so accustomed to doing something a certain way. Many times his take on movement and technique were very different. I always tried to go with the flow of Sensei. If he wanted me to do a movement or technique a certain way, I did it his way. There are times I did not always agree with what he was doing, but I did it anyway. Not so much for myself, but out of respect for him in his dojo. From my observation of others in a similar situations sometimes people might do things different on purpose, but sometimes people don't realize what they are doing is different because the details are so subtle. Granted if you are of a higher rank you should be able to detect these differences, but it doesn't always happen that way. I think the main thing is that there is a mutual respect. As long as someone isn't doing something totally egregious the student should just go with what the sensei wants when working with newer students. It isn't the transfer student call, it's the sensei's.

Paul D. Smith
09-06-2005, 05:12 AM
To me, this is simple. Yudansha or not, experienced or not, I expect students to find their Aikido through their bodies. With a qualified instructor on the mat, I think it wrong for anyone to be teaching but, well, the teacher. All else in my mind shortcircuits the student's finding the marriage of body, mind, waza. After class, or during free training periods, great - I love learning what others do; but during class, I presume the teacher has a purpose behind what they are doing, and I want to capture the principles therein.

This is how I train, and how I teach, at any rate.

Mark Oosterveen
09-06-2005, 04:21 PM
I think this is a fascinating thread! Especially because the opinions seem to differ quite dramatically.

Here's my opinion then. I am a (starting)teacher and a student. In my experience it has always been a part of Aikido training that sempais are teaching kohais during class. This is more or less a natural thing to do.

Last Monday, for instance, there was a young man who was at the dojo for the first time. Off course he did not know how to do anything. Therefore the seniors were showing him how to do ukemi and also how the various techniques should be executed.

All of us have been that young man (or woman) at some point in our life. And as our practice in Aikido progressed, most of us will have been in the position that we trained with an absolute beginner and explained how the techniques should be executed.

For a teacher in a dojo with more than ten pupils it is almost impossible to constantly correct everybody. Therefore the help of senior students to give pointers to beginners, is welcome and, in my opinion, necessary.

However while those seniors try to explain the technique that the teacher showed, they are really showing their interpretation of the technique that the teacher showed. And that technique is almost never exactly the same as the one the teacher was showing. I however don't experience that as a problem. As the pupil progresses he or she will eventually get more and more insight in the technique and the way that the teacher is showing it. Eventually the pupil will develop his or her own Aikido and the way he or she has been tought by his or her teacher will show through his or her Aikido and also in the way he or she is explaining it to the beginners.

odudog
09-27-2005, 11:39 AM
I think that the problem lies with the yudansha that is doing the extra teaching on the mat. If the person that he/she is working with is a complete novice, then they should help instruct the person on doing the technique in the way that is was demonstrated. They can do the technique their way, but guide the novice in the Sensei's way. I'm not a yudansha yet but I am one of the sempai in my dojo and I do a lot of things differently. I tell the novices not to follow me and do what the Sensei demonstrated. With the other people, I just tell them that there is a veriation if they are wondering what I'm doing.

aikiwolf
09-29-2005, 07:22 PM
I've spent the bulk of my Aikido training being a "visitor". All of my basic Aikido instruction was under instructor A, who, following my beginning instruction, transferred out of state. We had small classes, with a lot of one on one instruction, and he encouraged to attend any and all seminars so we can learn how others do techniques--primarily to understand how to blend with something unexpected (different from what we are used to).
I do my best to understand the movement the Sensei (Instructor B,C,D...) is doing, and I have had to catch myself when my training partner asks me about a particular techinique. I've learned it best to do a quick "Sensei, is this right?" And I will either get a nod or a correction as needed.
I am very thankful to my initial training as I have often heard, "Your basics are very good. Who did you train under?" To be honest, its not always easy to leave my ego at the door. But when I realize that I will gain more knowledge by listening, watching, and practicing, it makes me excited about learning variations.
As was mentioned previously, "learning how to learn" is important. Not just on the mat, but off as well. Being able to adapt to a given situation and respond accordingly is at the heart of Aikido--at least that's what I think.

John

Mark Uttech
10-01-2005, 07:54 AM
Half the time being nage and half the time being uke is a 'whole time' practice. One teaches by 'being nage' and by 'being uke'. Any questions go to the appropriate sensei, and yes, there is no such thing as "spare time."

Peter Seth
10-14-2005, 07:11 AM
Hi all.
I think a good 'teacher' should not mind any differences in style, approach etc which any yudansha brings to their class. I positively encourage any input, so long as it is 'aiki based' and not in my opinion, dangerous. I learn more from my students than from anywhere else - from their 'experiments' with form, flow, movement and the unbelievable diversity it can create in technique
Saying that, it can sometimes be a little frustrating when 'young ego's' come along to 'test' their newly aquired skills on us 'old hands'. You know - 'mines better than yours' sort of thing, but again, this can be a positive, sharing experience if handled in an 'aiki' way.
Nuff said
Cheers
Pete

NagaBaba
10-14-2005, 10:13 PM
I'd use Yoshinkan method, put ppl in two rows and bum! everybody do exactly the same way.This is the best way to deal with big group of students like on summercamp.

tarik
10-18-2005, 01:38 PM
The more sincerely I train, I find that if I am training with a senior, junior, or even a peer, whether I am taking ukemi or practicing techniques, I find it impossible NOT to teach my partner or be instructed by my partner, even if we do not exchange a single word.

erikmenzel
10-19-2005, 10:31 AM
As "experienced" student one has several responsiblities. One of those responsibilities is to be an example and cause one never know when other students might look at the "experienced" student to see an example the "experienced" student simply does not have the freedom to deviate from what the teacher is doing at all.

Another question would be why an "experienced" student would come to the lessons of the teacher if he/she is not following the teachings given by that teacher?

giriasis
10-19-2005, 12:04 PM
Another question would be why an "experienced" student would come to the lessons of the teacher if he/she is not following the teachings given by that teacher?

We have that happen all the time. It's simple really, they moved away from their dojo of origin and they need someplace to practice. Fortunately my sensei is secure enough in his aikido to not demand the transfer to conform exactly to our way of doing things. He respects their different style, but I have seen him on occaision tell them that then ask them to try and work on a point he's trying to make. Also, he has even allowed some of these folks to teach their own class so people can get introduced to a different approach. As a result this USAF-East stylist has been exposed to ASU, Iwama and Western Region teachings. Radical, isn't it?

tarik
10-19-2005, 02:41 PM
As "experienced" student one has several responsiblities. One of those responsibilities is to be an example and cause one never know when other students might look at the "experienced" student to see an example

I agree with that. Completely.

the "experienced" student simply does not have the freedom to deviate from what the teacher is doing at all.

I disagree with that. Completely. IMO, It's the inexperienced student who has less freedom.

Another question would be why an "experienced" student would come to the lessons of the teacher if he/she is not following the teachings given by that teacher?

What makes you think that the experienced student is deviating? At some point, you have to take ownership of your own training or you will not make any progress. Any truly excellent instructor will not only encourage this, but actually be able to teach you the tools you require to embark on that level of study.

The real problem described earlier in the thread is one of curriculum. If a school has a strong curriculum, it has a "WAY" of practicing techniques that should be the standard "WAY", and for every single thing practiced, there should be a legitimate WHY that is answerable.

If a senior student is deviating, they may not understand the WHY of the curriculum, or they may simply be engaged, as I described above, in their own exploration of specific principles presented within the curriculum.

In reality, of course, while most dojo do have a curriculum, a WHAT, some do not have very much real WHY. I've heard some very bizarre reasoning for doing things in an fashion I might otherwise consider reasonable.

I attribute that to the junior level of the instruction frequently offered, not by the dojo cho, necessarily, but by the inevitable array of yudansha who begin to lead classes without formal training or just because they've reached shodan (including me). A shodan does not yet know the WHY very well.. heck they've just barely learned the WHAT (and probably have more WHAT ahead of them).

Charles Hill
10-20-2005, 12:18 AM
Rocky Izumi wrote a post a while back on how he was taught that when a senior student reached the level where she was doing things differently from her teacher, this was the point where she was expected to break off and start her own dojo. One of the main reasons, Rocky wrote, was to keep the senior student from influencing the junior students too much.

I agree with Anne in that this situation happens when people move. It is common for people to join our local dojo who studied Aikido in college and now live here due to work. Our local shihan is the only choice around here for Aikikai people. These people rarely even seem to be aware that their style is different from what the shihan is doing. And too many of them, when paired up with someone of less experience, start "teaching." I think a major source of problem is the idea that Aikido is Aikido, that there is a standard. And of course, the standard is always what the individual thinks is correct. Standardization means that a Big Mac tastes the same in Chicago or Tokyo, but it doesn`t mean it tastes good.

Anne,
I`m not sure that your teacher is open because he is secure. You train with Peter Bernath, right? He has been around for a fairly long time and your dojo is fairly big. I imagine that most of the senior students have movement that is immediately recognizable as Yamada/Bernath movement with a touch of Kanai. Because this support system is solidly in place, he can offer "side" classes in other styles. Back in the early days, I doubt that would have been so easy.

Charles

giriasis
10-20-2005, 02:04 AM
I think I see your point that you're trying to make is that due to the size of our school that we have "the luxury" of allowing some oddballs to be different, and smaller less well-established schools do not.

But when I'm saying that Peter is secure in his aikido I mean two things:

First, I mean by being secure in his aikido is that he doesn't go around during or after class or at seminars and talk about others. i.e. "other schools do that, but we do this..." or "such and such style is ineffective." or "such and such instructor doesn't teach this correctly." He doesn't go around offering his opinions, and when asked questions of politics, he is incredibly diplomatic and does not take advantage of the question being asked as authorization to blab on about politicial differences between instructors or groups.

Second, the other way I feel he is secure is that he allows people to maintain their own aikido and not expect them to teach elsewhere once they develop "their own aikido" in fear they might influence his other students.

Why it's like this, however, although I do see you're point, I don't necessarily agree with it. I believe different people have different teaching styles and some prefer to be more strict in their view of aikido than others. Maybe Peter is more flexible regarding other styles because of all the years he has taught and he has developed his own teaching style that works for him, and part of that teaching style has included incorporating and respecting other viewpoints of aikido. If you didn't know, Peter started in ki society dojo on the West Coast before he started training with Yamada Sensei and every now and then he will bring that teaching into his class. And this may be part of the reason for such a view.

Ed Shockley
11-10-2005, 10:32 AM
The more I study, the less I talk.

Rocky Izumi
03-22-2006, 08:55 PM
Rocky Izumi wrote a post a while back on how he was taught that when a senior student reached the level where she was doing things differently from her teacher, this was the point where she was expected to break off and start her own dojo. One of the main reasons, Rocky wrote, was to keep the senior student from influencing the junior students too much.

Some recent research in Decision Training shows that early exposure to variations in techniques allows the trainee to more easily and more quickly learn how to deal with variations in practice later (as in a real situation). There must, however, be a good basis in the fundamentals of the training. So, that means that having different seniors showing things a little different from the shihan-dai (chief instructor????) is not bad but can be a good thing if the shoshinsha already had a good basis in the fundamentals and the fundamentals should be all the same for everyone if the shihan-dai teaches not from the basis of techniques but from the basis of fundamental principles.

After all, this is what should be differentiating Aikido from the many other martial arts that have the same techniques as we do. The techniques from one martial art to another, even though similar, differ in the principles upon which that technique is based. I think the best example of this is the difference in how a technique is performed between Aikido and Hapkido, or Aikido and Tai Chi Chuan, or Aikido and Wu Shu. In Aikido, we are trying to teach by the principles by using the techniques to demonstrate the principle which is best shown by that technique, rather than teaching techniques through which practitioners are supposed to elucidate the principles.

Yeah, we do things backwards, but that is what I find most intriguing about Aikido. By studying through the principles, the fundamentals of Aikido become applicable to the study of any other martial art, interpersonal interactions, or other behaviour. Thus, Aikido, as pointed out by Tohei Koichi Sensei, is applicable to daily life. It becomes applicable to the practice of organisational management. It becomes applicable to counter-terrorist driving. It becomes applicable to military strategy. It becomes applicable to anything you do.

If you study a bit of Wu Shu or Tai Chi or Karate or Kendo, you find how the fundamental movements are seen in all the martial arts, they are just applied a little differently. I used to study Napoleonic warfare a bit and found how the 90 degree rule is so important to military strategy. By studying the 90 degree principle rather than the techniques you begin to see all the different ways of applying it and it becomes clear how there are many different ways of getting to the same point. That makes it much easier to accommodate the many different ways of doing the same technique.

If you teach from the basis of showing principles through techniques rather than just teaching techniques for achieving some end goal (like bouncing uke off the mats), it becomes very easy to accommodate all the different ways that the senior students helping junior students teach a shoshinsha how to do a technique. In other words, I don't care if a senior student does a technique differently than I do it as long as they are showing the shoshinsha an application of the principle that I am trying to get across. I just got back from a class where I made a couple of the senior students show me how to do Katatetori Shihonage from the basis of Ken style and also from the basis of Jo style, and showing me a clear distinction of the two. Then, I made them explain the principles they were demonstrating using the technique.

Rock

Perry Bell
04-06-2006, 12:53 AM
I have noticed that at many dojo there are often yudansha that obviously have "transfered" from other dojo. They do techniques in different ways from the teacher. This might be fine in itself but I wonder about the effect on newer students. I have also often seen this kind of person teach students during practice. I think that this is due to the open nature of Aikido. I also think that this must be irritating and problematic for teachers.

I would really like to hear from teachers who have had to deal with this kind of thing. It would also be great to hear from students who have been "taught" by seniors in ways differing from what the teacher is teaching.

Thanks,
Charles Hill


Hi Charles

In my school I run specific classes for assistant instructors so that the students all learn the same way, I explain to my senior students that they may do the technique in a way that most fits their body, but if showing someone else there is a specific way to teach, in that way I keep the style as it was taught to me and it does not get mixed up with other peoples beliefs on how things should be done. what the student does with it after that is their responsibility after all the journey is their's.

Smile heaps be happy take care :D

Perry :)

Perry Bell
04-06-2006, 01:17 AM
Hi Charles,

Sorry I forgot to add that whilst the class is going on all students are encouraged to train in the same techniques regardless of what rank they are, unless they are having difficulty with it then they are show taken aside by a senior dtudent to help them learn, when the class is over thestudents are then encouraged to share their experiences with whom ever will listen

Thank train hard

Perry