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Old 10-15-2004, 05:28 PM   #27
senshincenter's Avatar
Dojo: Senshin Center
Location: Dojo Address: 193 Turnpike Rd. Santa Barbara, CA.
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,426
Re: When Can an Instructor Stop Training?

Hi Tim,

Thanks for replying.

I should state that it is my opinion that the displacement of such discourses as Neo-Confucianism from martial arts sub-cultures do not cause things to happen. Rather, such displacements allow for things to happen. Actual driving forces are quite numerous and most likely can never be known in their totality. Most likely, only local-specific studies could determine true driving forces and this it will do at the cost of not being able to say much about the overall general trends that are determining the art as a whole.

As I said before, a mixture made up of viewpoints that equate doing and being with a general tendency for egalitarian worldviews is one possible driving force that is finding a voice in the silence of doctrines like Neo-Confucianism. I also think that another driving force is the fact that folks are being "squished" at the top now. The ranks are swelling. Ten years ago, in the States for example, the rank of sixth dan was probably as rare as something like an eighth dan in Japan at that time. However, today, the rank of sixth dan, because of its growing commonality in the States, is like the fourth dan of a decade earlier. More folks are holding that rank and more folks are holding that rank at a younger age. As a social consequence, when the ranks swell like this, it is hard to justify the growing singularity of a person that watches training from the sidelines and/or only from the viewpoint of nage. In an editorial, Stanley Pranin of Aikido Journal made this exact critique after he said he had been holding his tongue on the matter for a great while. I think Mr. Pranin's critique is an example of this energy finally finding its voice.

As I said, there are many of these types of energies at work, energies I feel are making it okay to say that no one should disengage from the training simply because of the status they have been afforded by time or by institution. These same energies are working across the globe to "pressure" all aikidoka to continue their training as fully as they can for as long as they can. For example, I train as a regular member of our dojo though I am the instructor. After demonstrating a technique, I partner-up like everyone else. We rotate two to three times per technique so I can instruct several folks directly as nage and as uke. This is also an integral part of my own practice. When a common point in need of correction is coming to the surface, I will stop the class to demonstrate a point meant for all. After that, it is back to partnering-up. That is what my students are used to.

One day, I overheard one of our lower ranks talking about Aikido with a friend that trained at a dojo in the next city. In their conversation, the friend was talking about training with her teacher. She was talking about how great it was, how much she learns from it, etc. Through the course of the conversation, my student was able to deduce that his friend was talking about a "special" occurrence. My student was shocked and could not focus in on anything other that this assumed "specialness." He was at a loss for words. When the friend realized that my friend was shocked that her teacher only trained on "special" occasions, she too was at a loss for words. Of the words she did say, they were all about trying to show how her teacher did train on a more regular basis than she first implied.

When that matter was elaborated upon, it became clear to my student that his friend's idea of "training with" did not include taking ukemi. Again, they were both at a loss of words, as they could not find the right way of saying it is better that a teacher not train with his/her students and/or it is better when a teacher does not take ukemi from his/her students on a regular basis. When I was a full-time deshi, what this girl was describing was the norm. No one thought it strange or odd or lacking in any way back then. Now it seems different. Now this is just our little part of the world, but I think in some very subtle ways it is related to energies like the editorial offered by Aikido Journal (mentioned above). So I would say yes to your question. Yes, dojo not in Japan are beginning to have less and less folks that do not participate in the training for reasons of "knowing it all" or "for having done it all," etc.

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