Thread: 5th kyu shihans
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Old 01-24-2011, 06:21 PM   #55
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
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Re: 5th kyu shihans

Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
To stay on this tangent for a moment: my husband is not an artist but has a good eye from years of looking at art. He is able to give me meaningful feedback when looking at a painting I'm in the middle of, such as : "there is something funny about that tree." Since he is not a painter at all, much less the equivalent of a junior student in painting, he is not able to give me any advice about how to fix it. In fact, very often the problem is NOT solved by doing anything to the tree, but making an adjustment to the sky right next to it.
That's why "how to" from a junior is often not helpful, but feedback on noticing how it looks or feels to them IS.
I really like this comparison...

I think it's useful for folks to remember Einstein and his "point of view" examples when talking about relativity. If you really want to understand something it is important to remember that the point of view you are operating from may not give you the best picture. For instance an observer of someone doing a technique might think what he saw was fake. The uke might experience what was happening as an irresistible force and quite powerful while the nage might experience his actions as effortless and quite soft.

The issue of feedback is complex. That's because there are a number if things we are simultaneously trying to teach in Aikido and much of it is non-technical. So, while it might be somewhat presumptuous for the junior to give advice, it probably isn't bad training for the senior's ego to deal with the feeling of being dissed. I feel that it is appropriate for partners to be helpful, I certainly don't get to spend much time with any individual during a given class. But within that there are certain patterns that aren't helpful, like the boys, regardless of level, feeling compelled to offer advice to every woman they train with, regardless of rank. That's one I try to put the kibosh on. I had one young man, out of the best of intentions that drove everyone so crazy with this that I told him he was FORBIDDEN to say anything to his partner if he wasn't asked. It was like watching the "Italian trying to talk with his hands tied up"... total torture for him to not speak while he was training with his partner. On another occasion I had a young ex-marine who at 5th kyu felt compelled to offer advice to a visiting female instructor. Of course he didn't actually know she was an instructor and had her own dojo, she just looked like a tiny Japanese female who could surely use his help... I turned around just in time to see his feet towards the ceiling as he went down. The she giggled and thanked him for his help.

If folks can train together with a genuine desire for nothing more than for each of them to get better, without all the bs involved with who is superior, whose rank is higher etc, feedback can be important from the partner. On the connection work it is very helpful, even crucial to get feedback from the partner, at least until one is good enough to understand what is happening and why something may be hung up. But if can't be clean, folks should just shit up and let the teacher do it.

It's interesting... Systema doesn't have any ranking, although you tend to know who the folks are who trained the longest with Vlad. But there's no formal hierarchy and I have found that pretty much everyone gives everyone else feedback, even advice. It might be great or it might be not so great. You can decide. Folks don't get their knickers in a twist much over it. Anyway, it's certainly a bit different than what we normally experience and I find that I feel about it differently in their context than in ours which is also interesting, I think.

When I did some training with Dan H, everyone was giving feedback and even advice (if they thought they could help) to each other but it was so clearly out of a genuine desire for everyone to get what Dan was doing that no one seemed to mind. I had one partner tell me something that clearly didn't jibe with what Dan has just told me earlier, but it just didn't seem impertinent and I found myself thinking about why he thought it worked that way and what the difference really was between what he told me and what Dan had said. Maybe something we could strive for in Aikido.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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