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Old 12-03-2011, 05:57 PM   #44
mathewjgano's Avatar
Dojo: Tsubaki Kannagara Jinja Aikidojo; Himeji Shodokan Dojo
Location: Renton
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,207
Re: The Founder's Teaching Ability

Ken McGrew wrote: View Post
This often repeated claim that O Sensei did not teach well because no one, allegedly, is as good as him. The people that make these claims have very high opinions of themselves and think they should be as good as O Sensei or their teachers, though they have trained for fewer years than their teachers. The argument that if O Sensei had been a better teacher there would be more greats like him is not a logical argument. Just about everyone learns tennis the same way. Everyone learns baseball pretty much the same way. Not everyone will be as good as O Sensei. But there are lots of people who are good. Even the people who doubt themselves. The problem is that they want to be good like a Bruce Lee movie, standing their ground, powerful, but Aikido is not about that.
I think the opinion people have of themselves is beside the point. I think the argument surrounding pedagogy is a valid one. We probably agree Ueshiba was something of a "genius" with somewhat exceptional ability. This doesn't take away from the idea that his method of teaching probably wasn't geared as much toward explicit teaching as it was toward implicit teaching...or that his teaching style or emphases may have even shifted somewhat from situation to situation, and that it probably affected the way different aspects were emphasized in turn by different groups of people.
I believe there are almost certainly better ways, speaking very generally, to teach people; simply because the science of teaching is a bit more refined. I get the feeling O Sensei's method of teaching was very well suited for some people. I'm not convinced he expected everyone to get everything and suspect he left a great deal to the individual to make happen. He points over and over again to the idea that quality training comes from the quality of the trainer; that it is up to the student to internalize the art; that it is up to the student to figure out how to master the student, if that makes any sense. With that in mind I think it's likely he felt people would naturally develop as they were naturally inclined and that he may have even valued the idea that things should be allowed to grow somewhat on their own terms.
Strictly speaking, not everyone learns baseball the same way; the most widely established methodologies aren't always best for everyone.
My personal opinion is that "greatness" like O Sensei's is a matter of having a very high-functioning obsessive quality. "Greatness" is the product of passion and reason coming together in large doses (usually with a bit of luck) that most people can't (or more likely won't) do. In that sense I agree we don't need to have a bunch of O Sensei's for his teaching to be called "good," but I do think it's valid to suggest his teaching might have been shaped by his personal method of learning more than what might have been better for some of his students.
Take care,

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