Michael Gallagher wrote:
So, if we met in person, you would be a disrespectful horse's @$$ to me until I earn it by proving I could beat you up? No, of course not. You'd stick your hand out and say "So you're mike? Nice to meet you. Want help with your bag?" At least I hope you would.
Asian cultures do have a slightly different take on respect than the west does, but a lot of it is how they express simple courtesy. Just as you wouldn't misbehave when being introduced to someone in polite company, you shouldn't misbehave in martial arts.
Questioning is misbehaving?
Michael Gallagher wrote:
As to challenging what you are taught, well, if I know more about a subject than you do, how can you claim to know enough to challenge me? You can't. If I am a nuclear physicist, and you are just learning the subject from me, coukld you say, "I don't agree with that?" No, of course not.
I am still very new at Aikido. I don't question the methodology because I don't know what the outcome is it's looking for. I have my specualtions, but I won't know until I get there. But to just challenge my sensei, who after 35 years knows the material a lot better than me, would be rude, impolite, and just plain ignorant. How can I reasonably question something I don't know all that well to start with? Doesn't pass the laugh test.
Actually it is expected in science to question what you are told. If I think my physics teacher is wrong. I will say so. He will ask me to prove I am wrong. We will find out who is right. Who knows the best way to educate a student in aikido. A aikido sensei, or someone with a college degree in education? My point is that just because someone has done something for a decade does not mean they are doing it right. Just because we have done something for two thousand years does not mean its the best way. You dont need to know aikido to understand how to teach people things. Aikido is no different from anything else when it comes to teaching. There are good ways to teach things and bad ways.
What you are talking about is not changing a teaching method simply because that is the way it has been done. It seems obvious to me that O Sensei didn't really have a standardized or committed way of teaching. When I read about his life I see he taught different things different ways to different people. Some people he didn't teach at all, he just let them figure it out. The priciples and techniques are not dependant on a training method. The quality and speed in which you aquire them is however dependant on your training method. If I tell this to an professors at the college where I work they understand this perfectly. However it seems to be disregarded in the non sport martial arts community. I have even seen 'Sensei's' get offended that I would even suggest they look at other methods of teaching. It is amusing that saying " Have you ever looked at this method of teaching with your students?" is replyed with "Are you a 3rd degree in X martial art? How can you possibly know how to teach this?" Knowing a martial art has nothing to do with understanding the best way to teach a physical movement/principle or philosphy.
I had a horrible programming teacher in college. I confronted him and was told this is how he learned and it should be good enough for us. (No code examples, all theory, lots of talk, etc). I had to work hard on my own and most of the people failed his class. The few that did were actually poor programmers. When I got in the real world, I had to learn a lot of new things. I found better ways to find and learn this information. Now when I teach my students, I teach them with a good method that allows the majority of them to understand and leverage the information I am giving them. Should I teach the way my programming professor taught me? Its obvious I have a better method and I am nowhere near the programmer he is. I am however a better teacher than he is because I am not afraid to try new ideas and change my approach, however my coding philosphy and technqiues are passed down no matter what my approach.
I am not on a crusade to change aikido. I train my own way. I simply want to make people aware that there is nothing wrong with a little change and teaching methods should be explored and questions should be asked. Maybe somewhere out there this will click in a teachers head and he will start adding these training methods (especially the I-Method) to his existing methods. Maybe people will realize being hard set on pretending to be a culture they are not slows down the actual training and you dont need the false pretense of a culture that is not your own to learn the philosphy and techniques of aikido. But I'm not holding my breath. I do however love having these discussions and learning about why people do or do not like these ideas. It helps me with my own training and the training of my students (although I do not teach martial arts yet, I teach programming and unix).