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Old 02-22-2009, 09:21 PM   #49
Location: Victoria
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 132
Re: Underqualified Sensei

Hi George,
Interesting thoughts on transmission and the attainment of mastery of an art.

Quite of few of the last series of posts have recounted "time in rank" as being a measure of progress, and progress being a measure of teaching.

I would ask the question of whether the true master is one that has attained a certain level or spent a certain amount of time studying, or whether it is the person who has attained a level and still recognises that they are learning. True, most students of Aikido will not put in the amount of time and effort as an uchi deshi, but surely every person has something to contribute and the master still listens and considers.

I know there are facets of my training that have been influenced by twenty plus years of training in other arts, and that there are things that I have found, that my teachers cannot see for lack of a frame of reference. My favourite teachers actually do stop and listen and pay attention to what their juniors have to offer.

The most senior practitioners I have found are those that have attained a mystery factor (something that you as a student cannot yet explain) but are not too aloof to keep learning. I liken this to the adage of every student following a path up a mountain with some people in front of the student and some people following.

Attaining a certain level of proficiency is like having a driver's licence. It simply means that at some point in time you were able to meet a minimum criteria. I personally think that is not the same as saying someone is underqualified as just meeting some agreed upon standard.

Finding an instructor that you relate with, both in terms of your aims and objectives, your moral code and your wants and needs isn't in and of itself a compromise or a sign of sub-standard teaching.

Several people have said caveat emptor and the this is very true. Be wary, but take what you can and what you want from everyone, weed out what works and doesn't work, but at the end of the day be satisfied that you have derived what you want. I would liken this to studying at university. You can sit back and diss the lecturer for their (lack of) presentation, but at the end of the day you take responsibility for what you take away.
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