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moon in the water Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 04-26-2010 11:46 PM
the water does not try
to reflect the moon
and the moon has no desire
to be reflected
but when the clouds clear
there is the moon in the water
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 155
Comments: 1,111
Views: 1,699,936


In General Overtaking our teachers Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #1 New 05-08-2010 07:11 AM
Overtaking our teachers "I play the banjo better now than him that taught me do…"

I remember my father listening to Paul Robeson singing the Banjo Song when I was a boy. Paul Robeson was a singer, actor and fighter for social justice. The song goes on, "Because he plays for all the world and I just plays for you." So the singer had become a better banjo player than his technically excellent teacher because he was playing from his heart for the woman he loved.

Maybe there's a lesson there for budo about doing it from your heart but for now the question I want to ask is: How do we get to be better than our teachers?

Let's leave the glass ceiling of O Sensei's maverick genius out of the discussion for the moment.

A teacher's task is to bring his or her students to the highest level they can reach. My first aikido teacher - a gentle, open, learned man as well as a great budoka - told me clearly he expected his students to become better than him. If they didn't manage it then he hadn't done his job well.

He thought he would be able to help us smooth out some of the difficulties he had faced, to shorten some of the long paths he had walked and to avoid some of the side tracks he had travelled.

It's a logical idea. It allows budo to grow continuously and it protects against stagnation or decay.

Unfortunately there is also an old tradition in Japanese budo of teachers keeping some part back - perhaps some secret teaching or special technique or unique movement - so that the student never will surpass the teacher. Perhaps hundreds of years ago a teacher felt that was necessary to protect against attacks from enemies. It's kind of sad that it's still true today - more than once I have been told by budo teachers that they deliberately don't teach everything.

But that's only a tiny percentage and I want to finish on a positive note. Going back to my first teacher another thing he used to say was that aikido was like breathing. Everything you learn you breathe in - then you have to breathe it out again by giving it to others. Hey - we're back to kokyu!

So however little you feel you know about budo you can rest easy if you have a good teacher. One day you will be playing the banjo better...

And to finish if you'd like to listen to the unforgettable voice of Paul Robeson,


photo: Karen Kerney's "Paul Robeson, Voice Of The People" In A Call Box On Varnum Street, NW (Washington, DC) "The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative." - from a speech at a London rally for Spanish loyalists, 1937. photo by takomabibelot http://www.flickr.com/photos/takomabibelot/415003735/ photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/takomab...ith/415003735/ used under creative commons licence and with his very kind permission

© niall matthews 2010
Views: 5495 | Comments: 7 (2 Private)

RSS Feed 7 Responses to "Overtaking our teachers"
#7 11-23-2010 02:45 AM
niall Says:
Thanks Carina! Some of the illustrations are very cool - great photographers and artists.
#4 11-22-2010 02:01 PM
guest1234567 Says:
Beautiful photos Every day your blog is getting better, you want to win a price
#3 11-13-2010 01:59 AM
niall Says:
Thanks, Carina! Yes, that's a really important point. But I still think we can guide our students (and our children) on the right path. Maybe on one right path might be more accurate. Of course then they have to walk it! (Hopefully without too many detours...).
#2 11-12-2010 03:07 PM
guest1234567 Says:
there is a story about a butterfly, a man wanted to help it come out of the small hole of the cocoon cutting it, but the butterfly was not ready, its wings too small, it couldn't fly because of its deformed body. We only can get freedom and flight after our own effort. Nobody can take away our difficulties, it is the same with our children, we can tell them but not avoid to do their own experiencies, these will help them to become strong and independent.
#1 11-12-2010 03:06 PM
guest1234567 Says:
Beautiful voice. My teacher also tells us everything, like Frank Noel Sensei, he shows us every small movement I'm sure he does not keep anything back. Niall about "He thought he would be able to help us smooth out some of the difficulties he had faced, to shorten some of the long paths he had walked and to avoid some of the side tracks he had travelled" it continues...

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