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Old 07-07-2009, 09:12 AM   #3
Cliff Judge
Dojo: Aikido Shobukan Dojo
Location: Columbia, MD
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 994
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Re: Japanese Aikido Teachers - Translation

So we have a very old Japanese model of teaching - where the teacher is an exemplar of the art, and the students are each responsible for developing the observational and analytical skills necessary to extract as much information from watching the teacher "be" the art as possible, then process that information.

I am reading David Lowry's book _Autumn Lightning_ right now and part of the picture of how bushi lived in 16th century Japan that he relates is the idea that if there was a duel, every swordsman in the area would flock to watch in the hopes of seeing what kind of moves the other ryuha had. Because otherwise, you'd have to "ask for a lesson" from somebody which could be fatal.

As modern westerners, most Aikido people on this forum were raised with a different student-teacher relationship. We expect the teacher to come across the void and pull us forward. (I recall Ellis Amdur describing this as the American sense of entitlement.)

Thing is, I believe that if our Japanese senseis changed their methods to suit our cultural tendencies, they would not spend as much time manifesting the spirit of the art, but we would also not have as much claim to ownership of the skills we eventually developed.

And it still wouldn't work out very well. Ikeda Sensei has spent the last decade trying to develop a method to teach how to develop soft, internal skills, how to connect and break partner's balance, partner is already out, etc. And you, sir, have done an inspiring job of organizing such material into a more structured framework. But there is just no magic bullet. If we want to be able to do these things we still need to cultivate the mindset of being a bushi on a street corner in Osaka or something circa the late 1500s, watching two exponents of unfamiliar ryuha engage. How good we can be is defined by how much we can observe, analyze, and synthesize from what we see.

(Yeah yeah and then we need to develop the skill of figuring out why we're not getting inside our sempai's energy field rather than making the same mistake twelve times in a row too.)
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