Ignatius Teo wrote:
This doesn't necessarily need apply to Martial Arts per se, but learning in general. I'm merely suggesting that perhaps we need to also look at effective learning strategies, rather than solely on effective teaching strategies.
Whereas, I certainly agree that there are folks out there who simply don't want to know, are quite happy doing what they do, and who find anyone pointing out that they could be doing better a distinct challenge, it is not my experience that this is generally the case.
I travel quite a bit teaching around the country. I see people putting in a lot of hours, attending seminars and camps, recovering from training injuries, spending a lot of money on their training etc. My experience is that these people do not lack for enthusiasm or commitment. They simply have no one giving their training direction. Anyone who can help them to make some headway towards what they see their teachers doing is given an incredible welcome.
Surely, I have taught at dojos in which my presentation of the art has caused some consternation. This has never been on the part of the students, who have been uniformly receptive, but rather on the part of the teachers. Some few of these people have not wanted to be shaken out of their complacency, are very happy being the big fish in the small pond, and did not appreciate a presentation of Aikido that they understood little better than their students. Needless to say, I didn't get asked back to those dojos (although I find that the students who trained at these seminars are apt to show up at other venues where I teach).
So, I would say that, it's probably 90% - 10% in favor of the group of students that are completely open and receptive to anything which they see as helping them get better. The percentage that isn't tends to get a bit larger, the more senior we are talking about. The more investment in time one has in, the more status one has attained doing one thing in particular, the more likely it is that new ways of doing things will be unwelcome.
That's why it was so much more impressive to see someone like Ikeda Sensei at the Expos, stripping off his hakama and training in the classes of the other teachers. That's the mark of someone who is really serious about his training. He modeled that attitude for all of us to see and imitate. And it is the model I follow myself.
I strongly feel that far more of the responsibility for passing on the art rests with the teachers than with the students. If the students aren't training hard enough or smart enough, well whose fault is that? It is their teachers who bear the responsibility for not teaching them how to train. But in modern Aikido how many of the teachers themselves had proper training? There are literally hundreds and hundreds of dojos out there run by shodans, nidans and sandans who have never trained directly under a Shihan level teacher or even with someone who did.
Look at the commitment of these people who spend their hard earned money building dojos in towns that cannot possibly supply enough students to ever make the dojo a paying propostion. Look at how many folks there are who spend their limited vacation time each year going off to Aikido Camp, rather than some resort somewhere. These people love Aikido. It is an art that they have devoted themselves to. They deserve better than they are getting. If they are given better direction they will run with it on their own and the level of Aikido will be collectively raised. We are part of a huge pyramid effort with a small number of high level people at the top. If only a few of them begin to pass on what they know in an effective fashion, the makeup of the whole pyramid will change. In this endeavor, the efforts of a small group of people at the top can make a huge difference.