View Single Post
Old 10-30-2010, 02:11 AM   #117
George S. Ledyard
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Is two Days a week enough?

Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
I would say that both of you are making a logical fallacy, equating loving the art or feeling committed to it to claiming "my aikido is as good as your's." I never said the latter. I have said up front that I am not a professional aikidoka. But as Mary has pointed out, neither of you are in a position to second guess our hearts, our motives, or, yeah, or level of committment to the art.
Once again, I think I need to make my feelings clear. My statements about time training have to do with whether someone can master, at what I consider to be a decent level of competence, the techniques of Aikido.

There are folks who are VERY committed to the art, really love it, who really put themselves into their training when they can train, and who make enormous contributions to their dojos, their teachers and their fellow students but just cannot or do not train very frequently.

I have always had a problem with the hierarchical nature of the art... In this kind of structure, we tend to confer value, or status on the person with the highest rank. You get that rank by training more, and therefore the folks who train more have more value. I think that is total bs.

I know people who are millionaire business owners who built their businesses from the ground up. These guys are fantastically talented and have leadership and managerial experience that far exceeds anything you might find in your typical martial artist. But they don't have any particular status within the community because they aren't terribly high ranked. So the organization has all this talent that it really can't take advantage of, because the only thing that counts is the rank. Makes me crazy... these guys are Shihan in their world but in our world no one confers any great status on them.

When I say that you cannot reach an acceptable level of skill in Aikido unless you are training a certain amount, that is a totally separate issue from someones love of the art. They may have totally had their lives changed by their practice. They may have been a crucial element in the founding and survival of a dojo. There are all sorts of ways in which people can care and be committed. As far as I am concerned we should have ways of recognizing this contribution that is separate from rank or, we could have a separate track for teacher certification that is separate from rank. Then the many different ways that people can be committed could be recognized. Thirty years of Aikido is something, even if it isn't taken to a very high level. That person deserves recognition.

There are a number of folks whose Aikido is quite good but who are pretty wretched as human beings. O-Sensei cautioned his students against being too focused on technique. It misses the larger point of training.

We need to un-hook this imagined connection between technical skill and our own self image or sense of self worth. A great nikkyo has nothing to do with any individual's value. Technical skill only matters when we are talking about the transmission. I wouldn't care what Dan ranks people got relative to their skill if it wasn't intrinsically connected to their opportunities to teach. If teacher s had a separate certification from the Dan ranks, I think that folks could get Dan rank for any of a number of contributions they make on a regular basis to the art.

Technical skill must be there in order to be able to teach. Teaching skill must be there to be able to teach well. Rank at this point has little to do with the first and nothing to do with the second. I would like to see rank as only one element someones influence in Aikido. Great talent i any area should be something that commands respect in our world. I have a friend who does executive leadership training for huge corporations around the world. Do you think we take advantage of the talent? Of course not... she is relatively junior so no one pays attention. If I ran things I'd have her doing leadership and team building work with our senior instructors...

Everyone contributes according to his abilities and according to his or her desire. Ones value as a person is intrinsic and totally independent of whether ones Aikido is any good or not.

I am worried about the transmission. I worry about the quality. I try to inspire folks to be better than they have allowed themselves to be. I have no patience for teachers who can't do their jobs and won't do anything to change that fact. I have a tremendous sense of gratitude for all those folks, who know they'll never get high rank or be a teacher, who still train and love the art. That's a fantastic thing and no one should demean that commitment. It's just different than the commitment of time and effort needed to be excellent at the art. Teachers should be excellent at their art and many are not. That doesn't make them bad human beings, it just means that they shouldn't be teaching. It doesn't mean they care any less, they just haven't made the necessary commitment to training. Several folks have said they'd rather be a great Dad than great at Aikido... we should applaud that. I'm tempted to say that the world would be a far better place with more great Dad's than more great Aikido teachers. Personally I'd like to see both.

You can see how this whole thing can shape up to be oppositional. The folks that love Aikido but can't train more want to feel like it's still enough to be of value. The folks that put more effort and time into their mat training want to feel that it's worth the sacrifice, that the "more" that they do somehow makes them "better".

Well, it will make you better from a technical standpoint but it doesn't make yo better in any other sense. Folks who feel that they have to make hard choices and won't train as they would like to i an ideal world, need to be grateful to those folks who do make sacrifices for their art. because these folks will be the ones that keep the transmission alive, who give the art its depth and breadth.

And you definitely want to unhitch that sense of self worth coming from technical mastery. If you don't feel good about yourself already, don't create a false sense of worth because you are pretty good at throwing someone. Bruce Klickstein was an excellent Aikido teacher but was a completely wretched human being. People need to unhitch that need to be a teacher from their sense of self worth. I've done Aikido all these years so I should be teaching now. Why? Are you excellent at your Aikido? Are you an excellent teacher? Do you inspire people? If you can honesty say yes, then by all means be a teacher. But if you honestly can't say yes, don't teach. You can make every bit as important contribution by being a great student, a model for other students.

There should be no sense here that three times a week is better than two or that seven days a week makes someone a better or more valuable person. I'll stay with the three days a week as necessary to be good at the art. I haven't seen anything that would make me question that and I've been around a long time, But that has nothing to do with what someone takes out of their participation in the art, or how profoundly their participation, such as it is, can contribute to the art, the dojo, and their classmates.

These are simply choices. It's really simple. You want to be in the Olympics i any sport, you have to find an international caliber coach. You have to train every day for years. You have to compete against folks who are also world class, you have to put all that first, ahead of EVERYTHING else or you won't make it, because your competition did.

So if you want your Aikido to be anything like the Aikido modeled by your Shihan, you are going to have to train and train frequently. I think we are getting to the point in many areas in which one can legitimately expect someone heading a dojo to be a Shihan level teacher. I am trying to say that with only three days a week, he or she can do Aikido that is just as sophisticated as any Shihan you can see. You won't be as good at it as he is, not without the same kind of commitment in training they made. But you can be excellent with three times week and you can do an Aikido which has some depth and sophistication.

Not training that frequently doesn't mean you are not a good person. But it probably means that much of what your teacher would like to show you, you will never master because you simply aren't putting in the time. This isn't a value judgment. It is, at least in my own view, merely a statement of fact.

So, I'd like folks to not put value judgments on a personal level into these considerations. The question was "is two days a week enough?" If that means to love Aikido, support the dojo and the teacher, to get a basic sense of the art and the movement with perhaps flashes of something brilliant that you can't reproduce at will, then sure it's enough, given enough time. But if you mean attaining levels of proficiency associated with each Dan rank, to continuously improve from each stage to the next, then no.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
  Reply With Quote