Join Date: Aug 2000
Re: When Can an Instructor Stop Training?
Good responses, all, that makes one think. Now that the discussion is going, let me weigh in with an opinion or two of my own.
I agree with David that much can be learned by taking ukemi for students. The point was made by Peter that the student does not benefit to a greater degree by having the instructor take ukemi for them than they would if another yudansha took the ukemi, and while this is true I think it misses the point. That situation describes a situation of teacher as teacher and student as student, with the emphasis on what the student learns. I think it is far more beneficial to turn that paradigm around and see teacher-as-student and *everyone* and *everything* else as teacher. This, IMO is another expression of the beginner mind, where the lessons were many and myriad, and every encounter was another opportunity to grow.
So, is there something the instructor can learn from taking ukemi for others? I would say most definitely: You see and learn what you are ready to see and learn. The instructor (who is just another student) must be ready to learn to make the ukemi beneficial, but there is no reason why it cannot be. Not only is ukemi practice practice of ukemi (where learning can take place), it is also a chance to learn about the other person and how they are progressing in their aikido, something every instructor should be concerned with. Further, I think that the instructor-as-uke has a unique chance for learning by taking ukemi, for they get the learning through what we might call their meta-instruction. That is, by seeing and feeling the way the "student" responds to the "instructors" instruction, the instructor is better able to instruct him or herself on how to instruct better.
I agree with Peter and his comments regarding the way cessation of training indicates a stagnation on the part of the instructor.
Philip, you are a brave, brave man, for posting what may very well be at the heart of the dilemma, that being insecurity on the part of those who stop training. I don't know that your point will receive much discussion, because I think that there is another insecurity on the part of aikido students *about* those teachers, that we don't talk about the emperor's new clothes, if you know what I mean. I personally think that what you say is on the minds of more students than would feel comfortable admitting.
Michael and Daren, I agree that there is a difference between training and learning, and understand how you both applied that to your high ranking instructors. However, I would counter by saying that there is learning that can specifically only be gained by training, and not just by taking ukemi, but by taking part in a class. More on that in a minute, but would you agree?
Bryan - ultimately, I agree with you of course, recognizing that this is a personal journey for each of us. However, it is only through asking these sorts of questions and judging the worth of different paths that we find for ourselves the best way. So I ask the question to think about our instructors, but I also ask the question because it is a question that should be considered individually as we move up in rank and take steps toward being an instructor.
For your position that their training does not affect you, I would disagree with you. Even you allow that if you stop learning from them that you would need to move on to another teacher, so in so far as that, they *have* impacted your training. Still, if you only focus on your instructors, you, IMO, miss half of this question... the part about you. About me. About each of us individually taking stock.
Now, a good portion of this thread has focused on the benefits of an instructor taking ukemi from their students, which has merit as a discussion. I have made my opinion known on that subject. But I think that there is another way of looking at the question, that there is a benefit to an instructor not only taking ukemi, but also in sitting in and participating in another's class. I think there is a great benefit to actually being a student in another's class, in dropping out of the instructor role, in training the mind to stop thinking of the training in terms of answers (that they must be ready to provide), but in terms of questions (that they must be willing to pose).
I think that is a fundamental difference in the mindset of these instructors who stop training and the students that follow them.
What do you think?