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Old 04-27-2006, 02:16 AM   #1
David Yap
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 561
Being your own teacher

Hi all,

Quoting from a post in the "Deepening our training" thread:
My advice is to actually train during your training. Whether you are focused on movement, maai, timing, etc. O sensei said that only 25% of aikido is learned from your sensei. The rest is from your own practice.
Seemingly from the mathematical POV, no one will ever surplus the level of O Sensei as illustrated by the following matrix:

% of learning from O Sensei teaching versus % learning from own practice
1st generation students 25% 75%
2nd generation students 6.25% 93.75%
3rd generation students 1.56% 98..44%
4th generation students 0.39% 99..61%

Here, 25% O Sensei's teaching is retained gen-to-gen, hence, the declining numbers. Though there is a possibility that some of us 3rd and 4th generation practitioners of aikido may have less than 2% the level of skill of O Sensei, it does not mean that we have less than 2% of his knowledge.

IMO, O Sensei could have implied that he could only teach and correct his students 25% of the time and 75% of time the students themselves need to polish the techniques and figure out/understand their underlying principles. Hence, O Sensei also said that different people would have varying conceptions of his art. This takes us to another matrix (hypothetically) of the first generation students:

% learned from O Sensei's teachings (1st column) and from self-learning (polishing) % Comprehension and % Misconceptions
Deshi #1 25% 91% 9%
Deshi #2 25% 85% 15%
Deshi #3 25% 70% 30%
Deshi #4 25% 60% 40%

Looking at the level of the 1st generation group of shihan, I think that all of them would have more than 90% correct understanding of O Sensei's teachings by now. Can/could anyone of them surpass him? Can and could, if they are/were more "enlightened" than O Sensei. But, we should also bear in mind that O Sensei did more than 60 years polishing his martial skill and yet on his dying bed, he still said that he was just beginning to understand.

So, where are we as the next generations of students? Well, we have to put ourselves into the above matrix and we would at least acquire 25% of our primary instructor's instructions and teachings (and this includes his/her comprehension and misconceptions of the art). We need to spend 75% of our training time to polish our skill, figuring out the truth from the myths [sort, filter, keep and discard]. Besides starting with a good teacher (but not necessarily a good performer) which is the 25% part, what level we are at the moment will depend very much on our commitment and dedication to learning the art -- this 75% must be quality time shared with equally committed comrades.

What bring me to this topic?

I received a call from an aikido acquaintance. While requesting for a contact, he also inquired whether I was training at the same place. Using the "my dad can beat your dad" analogy, he invited me to train with his current teacher. I told him that I have done better -- I have had studied under the teacher of his teacher. If his teacher is the best aikido teacher (I couldn't use the word "Master") in my part of the country then, his teacher's teacher is even better. But yet he insisted that his teacher has now surpassed his own teacher. I told him that I started to learn aikido from a teacher who was a teacher to many of the dojo-cho in my part of the country today and I have trained with many of the current dojo-cho and even with their teachers. Using the above matrices, I told him I believe I have acquired the 25% from each of these teachers (including my current teachers) and I am now concentrating on the 75% portion (the polishing part). It does not matter (now) where I train but wherever, the dojo-cho must understand that I need this self-teaching process to improve my skill and he should reasonably avail me the opportunity to do as long as I am abiding to his/her dojo etiquette. It is not about training with the best performer of the art. A good performer does not necessarily be a good teacher. It is about finding the best dojo to learn in. And, what is a good dojo without good fellow students?

Best training

David Y
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