Re: Aikido Transmission and Class Size
What I do in my own sphere of influence:
a) I host instructors from other martial arts at my own dojo. I have had one of Angier Sensei's former seniors, I've hosted Toby Threadgill Sensei; the Systema boys do callses at my place and we regularly attend their workshops (which, fortunately for us take place next door on the other side of the wall).
b) I have students who have substantial backgrounds in other arts teach classes. I have several folks who have sandan - yondan levels in karate. They do regular seminars on striking.
c) My students and I go to other workshops together. The local koryu and aikijutsu folks all send me announcements of their events.
d) I encourage my students to do other training. This has resulted in some losses over the years because many do not really have time to train seriously in multiple arts and they move to the other art they've taken up. But for the folks that stay, the whole dojo benefits from the skill they bring back. I benefit by having students who are better in certain areas than I am. One of the reasons my sword work can keep getting better is that I have students who ar serious students of kenjutsu. These are real swordsmen not just Aikido folks with swords. I have to be able to wrk everything I do with these folks before I figure I get it.
e) I am trying to create opportunities for the senior teachers both within our organization and from outside to teach together rather than everyone just doing his own thing. I have a weapons seminar scheduled in which three of us Rokudans will teach together this summer. Not only should the attendees be able to gain from multiple perspectives but each student should be able to get much more individual feedback with three teachers working the group. My great hope is that the teachers will experince the different approaches we each take and go away with something for themselves as well.
f) We hold two Intensive Training seminars each year which focus on Randori and Weapons for seven hours a day for four days. The event is limited to around 14 - 16 people. It is intimate and intense but the folks go away with more feedback than they would typically get in a couple of yaers of normal camps and seminars. I have been experimenting with doing this for instructor level folks only on the theory that if I can reach someone who teaches, I am reaching 30 or 40 people by extension. I have peoplpe coming from all over the US and Canada for this event so I am having an effect far beyond my onw area or dojo. A few intrepid souls from other organizations have actually attended although I am not sure how my heretical ideas were received when they got home. I know one fellow came to both Intensives for several years religiously and then ended up quitting Aikido to do Systema because he couldn't find the kind of Aikido training he wanted. I felt bad that I was succesful in reaching him with my ideas only to have him get frustrated because there wasn't anywhere near him that trained the same way we do. In most cases though, I think the ideas we put out there have continued to percolate far beyond my sphere of awareness. I had an e-mail recently from a woman who did the training a number of years ago. It had been difficult for her as it was radically different friom what she was used to. I had thought she didn't go away very satisfied but I got an e-mail from her just the other day and she has been telling folks how great it was and that they should try it out. So I guess you can never tell what kind of effect your efforts have, you just have to put it out there.
There are lots of things we can all do which do not impinge on the prerogatives of the folks that run our organizations. We should all do what we can... I think that, as I said in my previous post, if the folks out there start to inititiate various things on their own without waiting for others to doit and withoutr asking for permission, the people at the top will respond. I have noticed that there is a tendency for ideas to be dismissed by folks and then later turn up again as "their ideas". The person that put it out there first will never get credit but things get moving nevertheless.
Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 02-26-2007 at 06:15 PM.