George S. Ledyard wrote:
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. ...
My question is, do arts which have a more systematized teaching methodology tend to create more and better quality students? Or is it par for course?
I don't think the issue is limited to Aikido. I'm pretty certain that this problem runs across a broad spectrum of (modern) martial arts. I agree, it is a teaching issue, and responsibility lies solely with the teacher.
And then there is the question: Are we passing on an "art", i.e. a modality of expression, or a systematized method of training, i.e. the "craft"?
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.
I don't disagree that we all deserve better, considering the time, effort and money we have all sunk into something we love doing. But I'm of the opinion that enhanced observation, listening and intuition skills is the precursor to developing better martial artists.
Otherwise, all we're doing is flushing money down the toilet. And yes, I agree, that effective teaching is also a necessary part of the equation for raising the collective level. I'm not disagreeing the point, but it works both ways.
Mike alluded to this earlier on... "that analysing of the really good teachers... is the heart of becoming good in any martial art". I believe it is not just aikido - but ANY martial art. I.e. learning how to steal techniques is prerequisite to being able to merely watch another MA performer and be able to analyze their movements and gauge both the level of ability and subtlety.
I'm talking about raising the bar from the learning side as well, by giving students the skills to learn how to learn... not just from aikido teachers, but from other MAs.
I have trained with many high-ranking teachers across a broad spectrum of martial arts. These are teachers that take the time to demonstrate and explain the finer points of high-level technique. Yet, on many occasions, I will catch the teacher overtly showing something very subtle, which will inevitably be glossed over by most others in the same room - even by their own students. And they know who gets it and who doesn't, because when understanding is mutually acknowledged, such things need not be said.