Re: Being your own teacher
One of the things a good teacher can do (and should do, in my opinion) is to teach the student HOW TO LEARN, not just what the teacher knows. How to learn and how to practice added to the inspiration from the example of the teacher and other seniors' practice and trustworthiness helps us motivate ourselves to continue our practice. If this is done, then the Japanese traditional model of Shu, Ha, Ri can and will come to fruition. This is how traditions survive for many generations. Otherwise, there would be a continuing diminishing level of skill and the ability to pass it on.
Of course, not every student has the motivation (or the natural tools) to reach the higher levels of budo practice. The beauty and elegance of "Michi" is that skill level, on an individual level, isn't the most important part of the practice. How we understand ourself and then relate to others is the key. Fortunately, enough individuals do reach the level where they are the art and the art is them.
Does this happen all of the time in all arts. Of course not. It's up to each one of us to find our teacher and the courage to continue with them to enable the full transmission of the teacher's art and then accept the responsibility of original knowledge and authority and become the teacher.