I'm reminded of an interview with Threadgill Sensei that I read a couple of months ago. (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article...light=Takamura
) He explained (paraphrasing) that even in a koryu, it is impossible for any teacher to pass down everything he knows. No matter how excellent the teacher or how diligent the student, one lifetime is never enough.
It is therefore one of the duties of each headmaster to add the results of his own studies back into the tradition. Every generation loses some things, but rediscovers others, and that's how the art survives.
I agree with Toby Threadgill Sensei. The following may be seen as off-topic, but I don't think so. I've been around for quite awhile, and I've been asked "what made you pick your teachers?"...
Well, in the beginning, I was a youngster and hung around whoever seemed to know what I wanted to know. By the time I was fourteen, I'd gotten enough experience that I became pretty selective. I learned a lot from a number of teachers, mostly good principles and also some lessons that were hard learned from negative aspects of teachers' qualities and actions. All of these lessons are necessary I think. As I got into my twenties I began to really see that I not only wanted solid training in physical aspects of budo, but I wanted also the spiritual qualities also. I then realized that the teachers I wanted to spend my time with and learn all I could from them were teaching students, who could learn, how to be their own teachers
. This meant to always be looking for more... refining, polishing, and always hungry for a wider, deeper, finer view and scale... I'm still doing that after 58 years of active practice. At this point, I'm understanding that the hunger for more will not go away, but the knowledge that 'right now is okay' is what is real. I've heard a similar story about Shimizu Sensei, the last headmaster of Shinto Muso ryu when he was close to death. Someone asked him what was on his mind... his answer was, "I wish I could get my left hontei uchi to feel as good as my right hontei uchi." (hontei uchi is the basic/fundamental strike with a jo). I think that's the answer... and I'm still trying to help students learn how to be their own teachers... not a copy or model of their teacher/s.
I think it's important to learn about the histories of teachers and learn from all aspects of their practice and life so we can take complete authority of our own practice. Possibly, for those of us that are instructors and teachers, some of our students will learn how to teach others to be their own teacher.
Those Japanese teachers who wanted students to "really get it" would never articulate something of this nature. You must steal it from them while being smart enough to understand what it is to be still wanting to get your basic natural posture, movement, kihon, etc. better as you near death. All while understanding that each breath is one less...