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Old 05-30-2005, 01:54 PM   #81
Charlie's Avatar
Location: Elgin, IL
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 165
Re: Culture of Martial Mediocrity?

There is a serious key element that I feel is being left out in this equation, that being the student. Yes, Aikido is for everyone, however, not everyone is meant to obtain the ‘higher teachings'.

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink!

Does this mean that an existing way of presenting the product is flawed? Or instead could it be that maybe the student has not delved deep enough to penetrate the surface teaching? I agree that many today are practicing the forms in a manner that is not conducive to reaching the higher levels. I don't think that the whole process is flawed though. If part of the test is going to be how many times you can reproduce the desired affect in others…you're destined to fail!

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink!

I polish my brick with the full understanding of what it is and what it is going to achieve. I know that my brick, by itself, is just that…a brick. But add that brick to my other polished bricks and what do I have? A well polished foundation to which will support anything that I add to it.

Creating and adding more exercises to your bag of teaching tools to try and reach a more spontaneous level of training is wonderful and highly encouraged. However, don't kid your self into believing that you're moving beyond a path of form training. In my eyes all you have done is added more form to your forms. [For this I am referring to the exercises on David's website…which I like by the way!] In order to reproduce the desired affect in others you have to create rules and boundaries. The whole process has to be defined and then practiced…correctly. What is so different about the exercises that you employ from that of doing jiyu waza with committed attacks? From forcing the students to practice with intent and to continually push them to the limits of what the forms provide? I personally don't see a difference it what you are presenting from what has already been presented (in my experience so far).

In my opinion, the difference is not in the presentation but in the presenter. Yes, you and you alone! You create the environment where this is possible. You are the one encouraging, pushing and defining. You are creating the pathway. Sadly, this does not mean that the student will always follow or even be able to for that matter. Because again you are the one that has done the leg work, has sweated, has pained and struggled and hopefully triumphed. It is your experience and your experience alone. And unfortunately, the only way to get a student to that same place is to concede the fact that they too must go through a similar process. They have to start at square one (e.g. this is proper kamae) and continue to move forward from there.

I don't feel that there is anyway around this process and to try to is to help sustain the current situation of today where anybody practicing Aikido thinks that they are martially viable. There are no short cuts. This is not my lesson but my teacher's lesson. So many times he has said, "If you would just listen to me you would already be there!" Yet he fully understands that he is only providing the pathway for me to walk on and that I would still have to do the leg work for myself. He provides me with the guide book to follow to show me what I should be looking for on the way. This, however, will only take me so far and then I have to eventually blossom on my own. This, to me, is the tried and true way of forms practice.

Forms are not spontaneity. It's not meant to be. However, they do provide the pathway to spontaneity if you look past them. To practice at an early stage of learning in a spontaneous manner without the knowledge that forms provide is an invitation to chaos.

I understand that no one here has suggested dumping the forms format. I guess all that I really wanted to say is that it is up to the student to take themselves to that next level of understanding. The instructor cannot take them there but only show them the way. If the instructor has done so with none attachment and the slightest of delusion then hopefully the student will continue on their way to make that reconciliation between form and none form. After all it is not an absolute that everyone will get there.

Charles Burmeister
Aikido Yoshinkan Yoseikai

"Calmness is trust in action"
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