Dojo: Seikokan , Leeuwarden
Location: Leeuwarden. the Netherlands
Join Date: Aug 2002
Re: What Is Your Responsibility in Training?
Aahh totally forgot you where the one exception whose seminar I did attend. Apologies. ☺
Since you bring up the Netherlands as an example, allow me to use one of Chris' questions as a way to address a couple of points based on my humble experience. Oh and btw, these are in no way referring to your seminars.
- For a given seminar, what are your primary motivations for attending? I really don't understand how people can attend a seminar and not try to practice what the teacher is showing.
Well, it seems to me that A) as a student, especially early on in your aikido career (and by saying that I by no means am implying I have passed that point, far from it) your major point of reference are the reflections, point of view and social interactions you receive/perceive within your own dojo, from your teacher (and seniors), thus, this is what partially explains the attitude one brings to a seminar (initially), and B) to me this also very much depends on how ‘good' of a job the teacher is doing. I've been to seminars where there was hardly any explaining and techniques where just shown, in fact, most of the aikido seminars I attended (though not that much I admit) followed this pattern. I think that only now with a little more experience would I be able to ‘see' past the omote and pick up any possible ura.
Still, in my experience, I have seen little evidence of teachers being succesfull in conveying material that could be functional or applicable to those attending that are not part of the same organization.
Let me turn this around. What could the primary reasons be for teachers to teach ‘outsiders?' One of the reasons I stopped going to seminars was my growing disinterest in picking up yet another way of, for example, doing a shiho-nage (most times taught with the implicit message that this was actually a better way to execute it then versions a, b, c, d, etc. sometimes made even very explicit when these where said to be the way teacher a, b, c, d etc. executed them). My perception is that there was (is?) a lot of talk of ‘principles', ‘ethics', ‘spirituality' even, but these where (are?) hardly made explicit. Sometimes it was the hierarchic distance between teacher and student that refrained people from questioning the statements from the teacher, sometimes it was disinterest or ignorance. Sometimes this in itself was a no go area…
But I have often wondered, sometimes openly, whether this was merely a way to ‘cloud' the fact that the teacher wasn't able to make these things explicit or applicable. Not always, but more often then not.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not implying teachers need to feed the lazy and or serve the consumer type attitude. There is a very important investment required on the part of the student (which has been described in detail in George's post and some peoples responses). I'm talking about what aikido is lacking (which has also been the topic of various posts) from a teaching point of view. The current interest in IT seems, to me, partially the result of people's desire of do wanting to know these things but not having had the teaching methodology (made) available and or the vocabulary to make these things explicit. I'm not implying things where deliberately made obscure, but considering to what is currently happening as a result of people making IT a part of their aikido, things where obscure. Speaking for myself, my interest and investment in IT has drastically changed my aikido (for the better) and these are things that can be taught explicitly and are applicable also to ‘outsiders.'
One of the reasons I respect and admire my own teacher is that to me, being a teacher by profession myself, I can clearly see his experience pedagogically and didactically, him also being a teacher by profession. That plus I regard him as a wonderful human being (which in my book, comes first).
I understand these are not sentiments to be addressed during a seminar. That is one of the reasons why the internet can be such a powerful and wonderful medium. Still, even that requires an investment. In the end it does all seem to come down to that.
When I observe the quality of the interactions on the Dutch Aikikai forum, the topics that are raised, and the communication ‘styles' people use, I feel absolutely no interest whatsoever to contribute anything. At all. I become tired even scrolling through what is posted. Thus far, it has done nothing to make me reconsider attending aikido seminars in Holland again with the exception of one or two people. But my current curiosity in those few people has been made due to Aikiweb…