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Old 07-05-2011, 01:19 AM   #17
George S. Ledyard
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670
Re: Open Letter to My Students

David Skaggs wrote: View Post
You are disappointed, you chastise and expect more commitment of time and money from the people whose dues pays your salary.

Isn't that biting the hand that feeds you?

For one thing, people are paying me to be members of the dojo which is a place dedicated to teaching Aikido and carrying on a transmission that started with O-Sensei and came to me through my teacher.

If, as one might assume, they are paying to learn the art, then it is my job to make clear what needs to be done to do that. Not doing that job would be taking their money under false pretenses.

I can set up all of the opportunities to make progress and potentially achieve excellence but it is up to the student to decide whether to take advantage. It is possible that students of less experience don't understand why they need to make a particular effort, why it certain experiences are crucial to their Aikido development. So it needs to be stated.

I don't get why it is that in so many other activities, it would be considered absolutely normal for a teacher to demand a certain effort and, if that expectation were not met, the student would be asked to leave. Bela Karolyi taught gymnastics for many years and turned out champions on a regular basis. Does anyone think he accepted just anyone into that training? People had to be "accepted" into that training. They paid a lot of money just to have him demand their best. It was his job to demand their best and show them how to achieve that. Why is Aikido different?

If I were to find myself a top level piano teacher, does anyone think for a minute that he or she would put up with anything less than my full effort? The money I would pay for having such a teacher would be wasted if that teacher did not care enough to demand excellence from me. Is Aikido not at least as valuable as some other practice which has depth and requires great effort to achieve excellence?

I understand that my perspective is different than many others, because of who I trained with and because of the fact that I am a professional instructor. In my case, the local Seattle area has well over 20 dojos in the immediate metro area. There are multiple dojo choices open to any student wishing to train. Each of these dojos will have a different expectation, each will see its mission differently.

It is my job to set my expectations for my dojo and my students. I take the fact that they pay me to teach them Aikido VERY seriously. I have done my level best to set up a program which makes that possible. If people are paying me to learn Aikido but are not dong what needs to be done to do so, it is only doing my job to let folks know what I do feel is necessary. There are plenty of places folks can go which set an entirely different standard and have vastly different expectations. But if they join my dojo then it is up to me to set the standards and to let folks know when they are not meeting them. That is precisely what a professional teacher gets paid for. Not doing so is almost fraudulent as far as I am concerned.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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