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Old 10-18-2004, 08:29 AM   #33
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 168
Re: When Can an Instructor Stop Training?

daniel vanhee wrote:
The Shihans I have trained under didnt fall much, didnt have to, I think those guys paid their dues and we should be grateful for their teachings,regardless of their current physical condition.
Whatever dues they have paid are dues that they paid to better themselves, are dues that they paid to become a leader in the aikido community, are dues that they paid to be the one to instruct. Those dues, however, have nothing to do with their own training. You set up a false dichotomy of training vs. instructing, as if one can (or need) only be in one camp or the other. The dues shihan have paid mean that they can lead others, that is all, IMO (in terms of the scope of this question).

BTW, "pot belly = good hara" is a joke I've never really bought into. YMMV.

Michael Stuempel wrote:
1. What can we do during our mat time (I purposely don't say training here) to improve our own Aikido

2. What can we do during our mat time to improve the Aikido of our students.
Michael, thank you for the discussion, however, I disagree with you. Your first point, quoted above, makes me ask, 'When do these 'other' things an instructor does on the mat (not necessarily training) become a substitute for the whole of training?' When can training be written off totally? Again, I understand that there is learning that can be done without training, but my point is that I believe training is an integral part to aikido, and that there is particular learning that one only come upon by training. Yes, I hold that true even for shihan.

Your second point dealt more with the notion of what an instructor does during the time that they instruct, while I wish to focus on the time outside of their role as instructor, so I will leave that comment alone.

Michael Stuempel wrote:
For my own training and while training with my students (under another instructor) I am probably looking for different things in the techniques than they are. This is true when a 3rd kyu trains with a white belt or a black belt trains with a third kyu.
Just because you're looking for different things in the technique does not mean that you cannot both find those different things by training together.

Michael Stuempel wrote:
This isn't neccessarily a bad thing, but just something to point out. At my level, it probably isn't important because there are tons of things I can learn by working with these other various levels.
I hold this true for all levels.

Without this being true for all levels, you have stagnation. More, stellar examples of senior students (ie, shihan still training) would not be possible if this were untrue.

Michael Stuempel wrote:
With this idea in mind, however, training with peers or people of higher levels would seem to give the most opportunity for focused training on things that I am working on right now. For me, training in seminars and under other people who have the same or greater experience as me would be valuable.
It seems here you are referring to personal goals in your trianing, but that you cloud who you train with and who you train under. As I said above, there is no reason that in working with a lower rank you cannot find what you're looking for in the technique. Perhaps you can find it better or easier with someone of equal or greater rank/experience than you, but what does this do to the sempai/kohai relationship? If everyone thought this way to the point of never training with a rank below them, aikido would soon lose membership and proficiency.

As for whom you train under, you can still train toward your particular goals (considering that these goals are principle oriented and not "get-this-one-particular-technique-down") if you're taking a class from a more senior rank or a rank below you. You can still learn because (1) everyone presents the information differently, and (2) you are still *training* and can shape your movements/mind/expression/etc.

Now, what is good for the goose must be good for the instructor. Or the shihan.

Michael Stuempel wrote:
In my example of the top Yoshinkan instructors...well...they have no one better than them and I don't know how the work out the peer thing. Maybe this is why they stopped "training" but continue learning from observation and teaching and questions.
Again, I am not denying that they can learn through observation and mental acuity, but this still rings to me as an excuse on par with, "aikido becomes much more mental and holistic as you get up in rank." In fact, it is this sort of situation that I think you find as you begin to dig into the reasoning of people who defend an instructor not training. I believe that behind the defense of the idea that an instructor need not train you find a set of instructors that the person feels the need to defend or protect since these are the instructors that that person looks up to and respects.

Michael Stuempel wrote:
Tim Rohr wrote:
The matter at hand is not *how much* one should train. Such a line is inherently arbitrary and nebulous, with 10 different practitioners having 10 different levels of acceptability. No, the matter at hand is whether or not an instructor must continue to train at all. Now, the amount of training is very quantifiable, and the question becomes emminently more simple.

This is a cop-out. I've been told by many instructors that it is better to do a technique once, properly with total focus than to do it 100 times without commitment and spirit.

If this is true, then teaching a technique that *one* time is training and there is no longer a discussion.
Except that you have missed the point, IMO. If, as a student, you properly do the technique *one* time and do it with focus... should you then stop? The complete focus that you talk about is the mindset that I think shihan and instructors the world over would tell you is the mindset that should permeate our training. *All* of our training. All of this one hour class, that two hour class, or the weekend seminar. You do it once properly and then you go back and do it again and again, properly.

Does the one technique done with focus somehow qualify the instructor for an exemption at being a student? I say no, and *that* - using a technique done with focus as an excuse to not train as a student - is what I call the cop out.

Most importantly, I think you shorten the scope of what I am calling training. Training is not just being nage, is not just being uke, IMO. Training involves a beginner's mind and a willingness to learn what one can when and where one can. If an instructor had all the answers, there would be no divisions in aikido. Why not much more so many different people? Why can't one instructor learn from what another instructor has to say?

Again, I say that when you dig deeper with the people who defend not-training, you find an instructor of theirs that they are protecting.

It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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