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Old 11-13-2011, 09:09 AM   #2
Lee Salzman
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 405
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Re: why do people outside Aikido for IS?

Mary, it is absolutely fantastic that you found a clear path towards your ultimate development and have stuck with it! Congratulations!

Now, some of us have not been quite so lucky. I trained in various ASU clubs. By all means, the instructors were generally great people, and some of them were even quite skilled in some inarticulable way. But generally even amongst the ones that impressed me with what they can do, they could not concisely pass on what made them so skilled to others.

So, I went out and explored, in part due to discussions here that happened to resonate with my own personal disillusionment. That exploration happened both within my organization, amongst recommendations here, and other things totally off the map. Lo and behold, I found some amazing things, they widened my conception of what I was trying to achieve in my training beyond what I believed was even possible through training.

And you know what? Those things did not come from inside aikido or the holy trinity of Mike, Akuzawa, or Dan. All the same, both Akuzawa and Dan impressed the hell out of me, and Dan in particular probably remains one of the biggest influences on my current thoughts, despite only a few opportunities to train with him as of yet, because of the clarity and conciseness of his teaching relative to what I had encountered within my aikido career. And you know what else? Dan is not the biggest influence or most impressive teacher I have seen in my perhaps admittedly short decade-long martial career, as I alluded. But had I not trained with Dan, I would not have seen the significance of what I was able to discover elsewhere for what it is.

But there is something really important Dan hammered into me, not through repetition, but through poignancy of the moment in which it was discussed. And this was later tattooed deep in my brain by current teacher, by his example and by the philosophical underpinnings of what he was teaching, and why I try to avoid talking about him. On Dan's part it was, "Don't tell, show." On my teacher's part, it was simply that our abilities stand on their own, and it doesn't really matter who shows us what or where it came from, because we're not in this for lineage or obeisance, we are in this for ability, for performance. Our goal in our training is not blind allegiance to tools because some guy said so, but having the ability to analyze our own performance, diagnose problems, and fix them.

Talking about our teachers, Dan or otherwise, is pointless, and not just pointless, it is dumb, it can achieve nothing. We can either understand it well enough that we can describe our own understanding, or we're not contributing anything to the pool of understanding that wasn't already there from someone else. So when I see all these people talking about what their teacher can or can't do in the third person, I feel an empathic embarrassment, because I think our teachers would much rather be proud of our ability, rather than us proud of theirs. The kool-aid aspect of it disturbs me as much as anyone else.

But on the other hand, another poignant thing my teacher said to me in conversation (yes, I know, the irony is burning me to a crisp right now), was that there is no use in proving ourselves right. We should be doing everything we can to prove ourselves wrong, that's the point of training. Except, in this case, it is not a euphemism, it defined every aspect of my training for top to bottom. Every single tool of the training was defined to make me fail, so that I could figure out how not to fail. And when I have not been failing, I have been utterly stagnating.

To have have my failings pointed out all the time, so definitively, is a wondrous gift, and it just wasn't there in aikido. Had I just stuck to aikido, I would have probably been mildly convinced that I just had to keep trucking along with same old-same old, waiting for some elusive, subconscious spark of transformation to hit. I would have believed that the problem was not the way I was training, that there was just something wrong with me. But I much prefer being shown my failings on a regular basis, so that I can work through the process of transformation gradually and methodically, rather than stagnation.

But hey, if you think you've got everything so figured out that you no longer need to test the boundaries of what you know and explore new possibilities, more power to you! If only we all could live with such certainty.
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