Mike Sigman wrote:
It's a good point, but I think it needs to be understood that a lot of westerners are into Asian martial arts as a type of harmless role play... the discussions of how best to teach or how best to learn really don't apply.Sigman
Part of teaching is to impart a sense of what an art could and should be. I can't imagine that someone, having been exposed to your level of skill and ability to teach, for instance, could be satisfied with something less. I think that most Westerners do the "harmless role play" in place of something more substantial because they have not been exposed in any consistent fashion to something better.
The problem with the various principles at work in "aiki" arts is that there aren't many gradations of performance. It's not like you can almost get it. It's very unforgiving in many ways. Much of what we try to do either works or it doesn't. It usually doesn't "sort of" work. Not if we are talking about "aiki". Once you start to grasp what is going on, then there are certainly levels of skill after that. But it is rather like riding a bike... it seems impossible right up until the instant at which you "get it". Once you can ride, then there are certainly levels of skill that can be attained through diligant practice. But it required a quantum breakthrough to get to the point at which one was riding at all.
It's true that many people do not want to admit that they have put so much time into something and they still cannot "ride the bike". So they redefine the art to fit their own attainment. But that only works until the folks around them see someone who is actually performing on a different level. Then it's impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. That's why many senior folks are so reluctant to go out and train out there in the big bad world... they might have to admit to themselves that there are realms of knowledge that they don't know.
But that trap is really for the seniors, the ones with an investment. I generally find the less senior folks to be quite open to anything that they see as helping them be better. It's our job as teachers to set the standards, to show what our art should be and could be. People see that and they do respond.