Re: When Can an Instructor Stop Training?
I'm getting confused. I understood that you had separated Training and Learning for the basis of this discussion. I guess your definition of training and mine in this context is different, so I figure I'll go through what my thoughts are. Its quite possible that we are saying the same thing in different ways...but just don't know it.
In my view, there are many ways to learn. As an instructor I learn and grow within my Aikido using the following methods:
1. Training - physically taking uke and being shite and not being involved in the teaching of the class except perhaps answering questions from current partner. This works when working both with people of the same rank or people of different ranks. The focus of training might change depending on partner but I will always be able to learn something with my training partner.
2. Physical Exercise - push-ups, sit-ups, solo ukemi, bunny hops, duck walks...anything that makes you sweat and improve your physical stamina that is not done by doing a technique. Stamina is good. I can do more Aikido.
3. Teaching/Demonstrating Technique - Running the class or part of a class where I use an uke to demonstrate different parts of the technique or a particular part of the technique while everyone else stops and pays attention to what is being taught. I have to really focus and think of the points I'm explaining and my Aikido improves because of this.
4. Visualization - a form of solo training where I try and remember not only the different steps in the technique, but how my balance feels while doing and receiving the technique. This is best practiced when trying to fall asleep or when bored on the train.
5. Planning a class - everything from warm-ups to the final seiza can be planned to flow together. How different techniques are similar and how similar techniques are different is a challenge to explain and makes me think alot about Aikido. Putting together a class with a different focus a few times a week is a challenge I really like because it makes me compare and contrast all the Aikido I know and find a way to try and explain it and make it fit together.
6. Listening to questions - Learn what people are thinking by what they ask. This is usually technique related, but also expands to more general Aikido questions. By thinking about the answer, or if you don't have an answer to the question you can always find someone else to ask. My Aikido grows in either case.
7. Watching the class practice - getting an overall feel for the pace, safety and general mental attitude of a class and finding a way to use that attitude or change it to something else. It is very interesting to watch the dynamic of a class and to see what flows and what is a little outside of the dynamic. I learn something about the way people move from this.
8. Watching a single shite/uke practice - getting a feel for what they are seeing/doing in the technique and finding a way to improve that feeling, or conversely, learning from something that you see them do that you hadn't thought about even if you do it.
9. Taking ukemi from students - a way to feel what they are doing and sense their Aikido. This is not training as in #1, but a way of teaching. To describe how I feel and what I feel makes me think about Aikido and the technique. This challenge is to determine the students ability and to try and teach just above that so that the goal you set for them is within their grasp. My Aikido gets better as I think of this.
10. Doing a technique with a student as uke - also not training as in #1 or teaching as in #2 but a way of showing a student what you want to feel when they throw you. The challenge here is not to do an amazing technique that uke doesn't understand, but to do the technique with emphasis on something that the student can feel and understand. I want to show them what the next step towards the technique as I currently understand it is, not just show how good I am.
11. Discussing Aikido with people - gives me a chance to think upon what I learn and formulate my ideas to a stronger degree and to listen to others and their views and incorporate them (or not) into my gestalt. It gives me lots to think about and is much like having to write a university paper with a thesis I am actually interested in. Go Aikiweb! <g>.
So...all I am saying is that for three people who I have studied under, I have not seen them training as in #1 and I think that that is fine <i>for them</i> because they have passed the point where training the technique repetitively would benefit them or me (as a student). It is possible - I just don't know - that they do train as in #1 with each other, but I haven't seen it.
For me and for other instructors who I have had the pleasure to train with, *not* doing point #1 would be a mistake. I agree with you that it is an important part of training and in particular of *my training*.
Instructors other than the three I mention who I have seen stop training as in #1 I feel have made a mistake and their Aikido has suffered. The Aikido of their students has probably suffered as well, which is tragic.
I understand how someone might think I am defending something about these three instructors I mention, but I don't think that is the case here. I had never considered the question before with respect to them before this thread came up. With others...yes. They should train. With these instructors I didn't notice they weren't until I had to think about it and realized that I hadn't actually seen them "just train".
Anyway...that's a long post (again). I'm enjoying this thinking about it and asking what else you might get from time on the mat was a good thing to help put it in perspective for me.