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hot stuff 06-18-2006 10:43 AM

A beginner with delusions of grandeur
 
I recently passed my 4th kyu test, and i feel that i'm in a sort of limbo stage now. There's a lot that I know and could help beginners and children with, but I"m not a sempai so I'm not supposed to say anything. Plus, sensei has been pushing me to take a little more responsibility--leading warmups, taking his ukemi, helping the kids, etc. I tend to get real smug when these opportunities come up, cause I feel that I outdo my peers. I feel that I *could* handle more responsitbility, and I *could* teach people things. I was the "sempai" at a weapons group last week at which Sensei was not present, and I could so have taught that class. But I feel the need for humility and for the lowliness i'm used to as kohai, so i don't allow myself to appear as competent as I could be. Has anyone else experienced simelar things during this transition phase? i'd be glad to know how you dealt with it.

Nick Pagnucco 06-19-2006 07:59 AM

Re: A beginner with delusions of grandeur
 
Quote:

I recently passed my 4th kyu test, and i feel that i'm in a sort of limbo stage now. There's a lot that I know and could help beginners and children with, but I"m not a sempai so I'm not supposed to say anything. Plus, sensei has been pushing me to take a little more responsibility--leading warmups, taking his ukemi, helping the kids, etc. I tend to get real smug when these opportunities come up, cause I feel that I outdo my peers. I feel that I *could* handle more responsitbility, and I *could* teach people things. I was the "sempai" at a weapons group last week at which Sensei was not present, and I could so have taught that class. But I feel the need for humility and for the lowliness i'm used to as kohai, so i don't allow myself to appear as competent as I could be. Has anyone else experienced simelar things during this transition phase? i'd be glad to know how you dealt with it.

There seem to be a few different elements here, if I'm reading you correctly. One is your level of responsibility in the dojo, and the other is the degree to which you feel confident in your technique, especially in relation to others. They're related, but not the same thing.

For the issue of technique, I'm of the opinion that 'lowliness' is not the way to go; it encourages people to bounce back and forth between lowliness and arrogance, from what I've seen. One of the biggest things I've had to learn is that I am one of the least qualified people at judging how good I am. Sometimes I think I'm good, sometimes bad, but usually completely off the mark. "Just go and train" doesn't mean stop thinking, but it means leave the relative evaluations at home.

The best way for me to get out of the lowliness/arrogance dichotomy has been to focus on progress. What am I working on next? Nowhere in that question do I ask how good I am or how much better I am than others... whats the thing that I'm progressing at right now? The only place evaluation comes into in the dojo is when you decide who to work with (i.e., senior students who you can learn from), but even then the only statement is who are the absolute best peoploe for you to learn it from... there's no need to categorize the rest of the dojo after that. Also, in my opinion, ALWAYS appear as absolutely competent as you can. However, do NOT confuse 'competent' with 'throwing hard,' 'being a jerk on ukemi,' 'explaining kokyu,' or 'I should constantly correct my partner, because I know best.'

As far as responsibilities in the dojo, ask your sensei what (s)he would like you to do. If you want to do something, ask. Quietly waiting to be noticed is a bad strategy (trust me... i've learned this from experience). Now... with that being said... you were sempai in a weapons class but didn't teach? My two questions are a) you mean everyone else were 5th kyus with less time? and b) if you were sempai, who actually did teach?

TigerJK 06-19-2006 10:22 PM

Re: A beginner with delusions of grandeur
 
Well, I believe there is a difference between taking responsibility and ego.

I'm definitely a terrible example myself, but the two should be completely seperated in your mind.

For example, when your sensei asks you to help and lead in class, don't think of it as "Is it becuase I'm good now?" Take it as "I am below my sensei so I will obey his order to help lead." This keeps both the humility and responsibility intact. After all, who are you to question your sensei's orders? This switch of perspective could help; I hope it does.

Oh, and about this:
Quote:

But I feel the need for humility and for the lowliness i'm used to as kohai, so i don't allow myself to appear as competent as I could be.
Don't think that your competence reflects you, think of it as representing you sensei! Be and look at competent as you can and represent your dojo well, then if anyone wants to praise you, give all credit to your sensei and your seniors! Other than that, always see yourself as below your sensei instead of above your juniors, and I'm sure you can find comforting humility in that.

Gem 06-20-2006 07:11 AM

Re: A beginner with delusions of grandeur
 
When training with people of lower rank/lesser experience you will be expected to help them with clear instructions and demonstrations of correct technique. This forces you to take a closer look at what you are doing, think about the mechanics of a technique, and so increases YOUR understanding of aikido techniques. In other words, your sensei might not be asking you to do these things just because you are good but also because he or she wants you to take more time to think about what you are doing.

Not showing your true capabilities is not honest and is not in the spirit of aikido. Beware of false modesty!
I agree with James's comment that your competency is a reflection of your Sensei and other students' ablility to teach as well as your ability to learn.

I remember reading a saying somewhere, something like "On the Path there are always people in front of you, and always people behind you." Don't forget the ones in front! Also, I guess it would be true to say that people progress at different rates. These are not always constant, sometimes people seem to learn slowly, and then progress quickly. And vice versa. So remember that the people who are the same grade as you now, who you consider to be not as good, may one day 'overtake' your skill level. You may find later when introduced to more varations of a apecific technique that some people will be better than you at certain versions (eg: light, fast, flowing) and you might be better at others (eg: solid posture, breaking consolidated grips).

Happy training!

kaishaku 06-20-2006 05:35 PM

Re: A beginner with delusions of grandeur
 
Fourth kyu is a great rank to be. Congratulations. You probably have about a year of training? In a lot of ways the newbs will be looking up to you and hoping to develop your level of technique, so I would try to always do the best you can. In fact, I would work toward being the best yonkyu possible.

giriasis 06-20-2006 09:16 PM

Re: A beginner with delusions of grandeur
 
4th kyu = no longer a beginner and just barely intermediate.

I agree it's a good rank to be at. You made it past the beginner aikido pains and are starting into the intermediate aikido pains. Welcome to the journey.

"hot stuff" 06-22-2006 12:19 PM

Re: A beginner with delusions of grandeur
 
Hey, thank you all for the replies! Already i'm beginning to feel i can relax mor in the dojo. it's really cramping if you're trying hard all the time not to be arrogant, you know! Thinking of my technique as represinting Sensei's teaching is a great turn-around of perceptions. Now I can think, 'okay, I want him to look good, so my technique has to be the best I can make it.' And also to be competent enough to be a good example to the newbies.
Quote:

Gem wrote:
Also, I guess it would be true to say that people progress at different rates. These are not always constant, sometimes people seem to learn slowly, and then progress quickly. And vice versa.

Makes me think that rank itself doesn't necessarily signify anything. There are people in my dojo, including Sensei, who's experience is way beyond their rank, and others who's rank is way beyond their experience/ability. I guess wha'ts really important is that you focus on progress, as Nick said, at whatever capability level you're at.

I'm glad you think 4th is a good rank. I think it's exciting, because you're beginning to really understand how to work on and improve the details, thereby making the techniques truly effective. And no, I've been practicing between 2 - 3 years.

Again, thanks all.

"hot stuff"


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