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George S. Ledyard 06-02-2009 03:00 PM

Change
 
I've come to the conclusion that people generally don't like change. Oh, superficial change is great; keeps us from getting bored, adds spice to life, etc. But deeper, more fundamental change is frightening and is resisted tooth and nail.

Aikido folks are not different. Although most would tell you that they are training hard and trying to get better, if they've trained for a while, there is a set of parameters within which they work. Anything outside this envelope, outside their comfort zone, will be ignored or even actively resisted.

I first saw this when Stan Pranin did the three Aiki Expos. He brought in some of the finest aiki people in the world. Teachers who simply blew you away with their skills level. For some of us, this was a life changing set of events. My own Aikido changed 200% and continues to do so; all due to the exposure I had to these teachers.

I watch as Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei, al ready a very senior teacher, completely redid his own Aikido based on connections he made at the Expos (especially to Ushiro Kenji Sensei). What he is doing now has almost nothing to do with what he was doing ten years ago, except the outer form is still Aikido.

Yet many of the folks I knew who attended the very same events did not change. You mention Ushiro Sensei and the say "Yeah, I saw him at the Expo". And....? And...? But there is no "and". That was it. They saw him, didn't understand what he was doing... or thought they did, and then they went home and went right back to what they had always done.

I once taught a seminar which some nice folks attended. I pushed them quite a bit to put some "intention" into their training. They had developed a nice comfortable practice that was very user friendly and was never going to result in any substantial increase in their skills levels. The seniors had plateau-ed out, which of course automatically places limits on any juniors at the school.

Everyone was very receptive. They all tried to up their intensity, put some life into their attacks, etc. By Sunday afternoon they were doing some good work. I thought I had really "dons some good" with the seminar. But a friend from the dojo told me that he was very disappointed to see that Monday night they went right back to doing things exactly as before. Absolutely nothing changed.

Now, sometimes it's hard to know how you are changing. In the short term, changes can be gradual enough you have a hard time seeing them. But think back to five years ago. Can you do things now that you couldn't do then? Do you understand better what your teachers are doing or is it all still "magical"? Do you continuously put yourself in the way of new teachers and new training experiences or have you been doing the same program every year... two or three weekends with the same teachers and maybe one of the summer camps... over and over.

I think folks who REALLY want to attain some mastery of this art need to make sure that their own training isn't being held back by their own teachers. They need to keep changing all the time. If that means moving periodically to find a dojo at which the training is better, then so be it. If you can't keep going where you are, then change where you are or find ways of getting what you need outside of those normal channels. It is your life and your training. You cannot be dependent on others to bring you along. It has to be you, yourself. Others just help, you do the work.
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Karo 06-05-2009 07:49 PM

Re: Change
 
Quote:

I've come to the conclusion that people generally don't like change. Oh, superficial change is great; keeps us from getting bored, adds spice to life, etc. But deeper, more fundamental change is frightening and is resisted tooth and nail.
There are good evolutionary reasons why we resist great changes. The risk that such a change will have a negative effect is too big. If it ain't broke, don't fix it :p You can see this in all areas of human life, not only aikido.

The above refers to cases when we don't know what the change will bring.

In cases when we do know that the change would result in something better for us, a different problem arises, one connected with self-esteem. In order to change, we'd have to admit that what we had so far wasn't good enough, that what we were doing was - in a way - wrong. This recognition may feel threatening to many people. Better leave everything as it is and pretend this is exactly what we like best.

And in these cases, I'd expect resistance to change to be correlated with the inability to openly admit to your mistakes in other everyday interactions. Or the reverse: people who accept change easily should be more likely to admit to mistakes.

Nafis Zahir 06-05-2009 10:05 PM

Re: Change
 
I understand very well what you are saying. I don't really look at my Aikido "changing", but rather, I like to think that it is evolving. My Aikido today is not what it was even 5 years ago. When I attend a seminar, I try to do what is being shown. I try to look for what is the same and what is different. I then try to learn from that experience and incorporate it into the foundation that I already have.

I remember being at a seminar where Chiba Sensei was teaching. He made a statement that really hit home with me. He stated that we should never get stuck in doing things one way, but that we should always look for a better way. So I am always looking to improve my technique, and sometimes that may come from a very unlikely source. But in order to do so, you have to keep an open mind.

Randy Sexton 06-06-2009 02:10 AM

Re: Change
 
Thanks for the guidance!

An explorer discovers two cavemen sitting in a misty rain trying to start a fire by rapidly rubbing two sticks together but unfortunately the sticks were wet so they were not having much luck. The explorer reaches into his backpack and hands the cavemen two matches and walks to the stream to get some water for dinner. Upon returning he discovers the cavemen sitting in the dark and eating their meat raw. Perplexed he asks them why did they not start the campfire to warm themselves and cook their meat. They both shook their shoulders and said, "No matter how fast we rubbed those little sticks together we still could not start the fire."

Sometimes we have to completely change how we look at things in order to get the results that we want and need.

Doc

Shadowfax 07-19-2009 07:32 AM

Re: Change
 
Quote:

Sometimes we have to completely change how we look at things in order to get the results that we want and need.
So very true. My own life has undergone some huge changes in recent months, causing me to rethink and change my opinion on many things. Taking up aikido is one of the results. Change is hard and sometimes frighting but sometimes very necessary.

Abasan 07-20-2009 05:21 AM

Re: Change
 
In your face and talking from experience. What you wrote probably surmises what us Human beings are like.

In any large group of like minded people, there will be these 'outliers', people who perform better and with greater skill. There will be a few who will come close to these 'outliers' because they are attracted to them. Yet most will see with awe and will find some excuses not to challenge themselves. Because greatness requires sacrifice.

Even training with more intent requires more energy and effort. Both from the outset and the outcome. So I guess the one word that would best describe the majority of people are that they are Lazy.

dps 07-20-2009 09:51 PM

Re: Change
 
" People deny reality. They fight against real feelings caused by real circumstances. They build mental worlds of shoulds, oughts, and might-have-beens. Real changes begin with real appraisal and acceptance of what is. Then realistic action is possible."

from David Reynolds

David ( a different David)

NagaBaba 07-21-2009 09:40 AM

Re: Change
 
I think that one can’t constantly change. In contrary, one needs a stable system with clear leading principles to learn something valuable.
Jumping from one teaching to another, just because you see some cool stuff on one seminar or other, is a waste of time.

It is because different teachings are not coherent with each other. Even if these teaching have common subject as aikido, the body conditioning from one teaching will contradict the body conditioning from other teaching.

But even more important is that everyone needs different teaching at his particular level. It means that only his teacher can adjust such approach – seminars are not designed for that. If you believe that your ‘once a year seminar’ will change somebody you must be very na´ve. For real change they will have to change whole pedagogical approach, change all their values and it can’t be done lightly.

Such change can be done only if a teacher strikes right to the heart of student, and a student is ready to leave/throw out everything he learned so far. Such situation is rather exceptional.


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