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Old 04-15-2011, 07:05 PM   #33
Russ Q
Dojo: Shohei Juku Aikido Gibsons
Location: Gibsons BC
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 192
Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Best pointers I've ever seen for this kinda thing!

Fix your mindset first: Start the conversation assuming you're wrong. Not: "Sensei, your technique sucks." But: "Sensei, I don't understand what you're showing in your Aikido these days." Most of the time, in my experience, you will find out you were wrong, or at least that your understanding was incomplete. But even if you weren't wrong, starting with this attitude makes the conversation less confrontational. You can't pretend, though. You have to really know that it's quite likely reality isn't what you think, and start from that point of view.
Flag the conversation before you start: "Sensei, can I talk to you? I have something kind of awkward to bring up." That way Sensei's not blindsided and is warned to pay attention.
Be specific. Some people say not to get into details, but I think you have to. "When you were showing shihonage today, it looked to me like your stance wasn't really stable. What were you doing with that?" From specifics you can go on to generalities if you need to.
Be prepared to be vulnerable. You are, worst case, going in there with a can opener prying into a bunch of your Sensei's problems and issues that aren't really your business. You'd better be prepared to be a real participant in that conversation. Where are you in this story? What are your insecurities? What are the weaknesses in your aikido? You can't start this conversation and then get all defensive. Well, you can, but it won't be pretty.
5. Never, ever, ever, talk about what other people think. Just talk about your own experience. You don't really know what other people think--just your interpretation of what you heard them say--and they didn't appoint you their messenger anyway. Take responsibility for your own words.
Thank you!
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