View Full Version : Training, Training, & More Training?

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12-22-2005, 02:10 PM
My first Sensei and many other Sensei along the way have told me that knowledge and progression in aikido comes through training, training & more training. I have come to discover over the years that this statement is very true. That is my problem, I'm currently training at a dojo where the head Sensei never trains. He teaches day to day classes, but when the group attends seminars or we have a high ranking guest instructor he does not train. I don't understand this, I'd think as a Sensei when you have this rare opportunity to train with these high ranking people you would take advantage of it. If not for your own knowledge, than for that of your students. To be honest I'm not sure what to do at this point because I feel as though my Sensei is stale. I respect and like him, but I and other higher ranked students feel we are not getting what we need to progress (I'm not talking "progress" in terms of rank, but rather experience in the art). We are not growing as Aikidoka. This concerns me because if he does not evolve (so to speak) as an aikidoka, chances are the rest of us will suffer for it. I'm eager to go to seminars and visit sister schools to get different experience. In fact I travel quite a distance to do this as much I as I can. At this point I just have to say to myself that the training I'm getting at my dojo is better than no training at all. I don't want to feel like that, but that is the situation I'm in. Anyone have any advice or been in a similar situation? HELP???

Ed Shockley
12-28-2005, 11:26 AM
My own Sensei who have nearly eighty years of Aikido between them have frequently repeated that there should come a point where I feel as you do. It doesn't mean that we become as good as our instructors but rather that the combination of their effectively indoctrinating us into their Aikido vision and our developing our own interpretation mean that we must seek out our own road. I was told that doesn't necessarily require one to leave ones dojo or become a Sensei but it may. I have always thought this a major reason for the seminar requirement in Aikikai (along with other political and economic realities.) I humbly suggest that you respect your Sensei for preparing you so well that you require greater stimulation. That rei should inspire you to seek out either in practice or in travel the stimulation that you need without expecting Sensei to lead you there. He may be inspired by your example and reveal subtle ideas that he has heretofore neglected, he may disown you, who knows. I do think we owe great respect to anyone who has prepared us so well that our thirst exceeds their expertise. I am curious what dan rank your sensei has attained? I can't imagine reaching the bottom of the bucket with my Sensei in all areas of Aikido but ask me again in ten years.

happy hunting

PS: The senior students at my dojo travel as a group once every two months to dojos suggested by our Sensei. That goes a long way toward keeping things fresh.

12-28-2005, 06:27 PM
I hear you!

I am in a similar situation, training at a small dojo where the instructor doesn't go to many seminars, and rarely trains. Currently, when he does train with us, he gets winded very easily. He rarely attends seminars, and unfortunately his lack of enthusiasm for seminars has spread to many of the other dojo members.

I often feel like the lone voice in the wilderness, trying to get everyone else, including the sensei, to go to seminars. Sometimes, it works, but the basic issue (that the sensei lacks enthusiasm and ambition) remains. I wonder if he is uncomfortable with having a lot of higher-ranked students, and lately I feel like he's pulling away from the dojo a bit, asking students to cover his classes more and more often. I think that wouldn't be such a bad idea, but in the meantime we're left with a serious lack of leadership. It's as if the dojo (not just me) has outgrown its sensei. It's a very awkward feeling, and I don't know where it will lead.

The conclusion I've come to, after struggling with this issue for a while, but mostly in the past year, is that I've come to a point where I really have to be self-directed in my training, and/or look outside my regular dojo for direction. If I could train somewhere else, I would, but aikido is not quite important enough to me that I would pull up my roots to go to another dojo. You have to keep training, one way or another, if you want to progress. The question is how to do that without a sensei that you see regularly.

12-28-2005, 06:52 PM
I am fortunate because after 11 years I still see and feel no staleness from my Sensei in our everyday training. He is very supportive of us attending outside seminars to augment our training. The little differences I bring back to my everyday training.

There is always more to learn, but its not up to your Sensei to go get it and give it to you. You go and get it.

Ed Shockley
12-31-2005, 09:59 PM
We have open dojo on Fridays; no Sensei. There are days in our dojo when the mat is often all Sempai and we decide to "practice" rather than "train." Instead of receiving instructional pointers from an instructor we do as many responses to an attack as we can think of then on to the next attack. Sometimes partners share observations but often we are satisfied to explore moving and manipulating a partner. Afterward I always fill my notebook with observations and often later classes will illuminate things lucked upon in those free sessions. I guess I'm repeating my message that "Aikido teaches." Finally, I looooove weapons. The bokken screams lessons about posture, movement balance etc. and can be practiced with or without partner.

All the best.

Edwin Neal
01-14-2006, 12:34 AM
maybe the sensei is watching his students to judge their level of improvement... ie being sensei...

this is a test
every practice is a test
every time you step on the mat is testing
every waza is a test
every moment is a test
sensei is watching you
Osensei is watching us all
this has been a test

Edwin Neal
01-14-2006, 12:37 AM
we are all our own first sensei...

hey watch what you're doing!