Re: Group versus Individual
I see this a bit differently. I am interested in a teacher/student relation with specific teachers. I don`t do various actions because everyone else is doing them, I do them because (I hope) the teacher has taken my abilities and needs (and presumably everyone else`s) into account and has come up with a particular curriculum. From the outside, it may look like we are all doing things together, but my thought process is individual in nature. As a teacher, I believe the same idea is necessary. I ask my students to all do various things because I believe they all need it, individually.
I do think that once a person has made the individual choice of joining a dojo, the first step is to become a "blank eyed clone," not of the group, but of the teacher. The next step of the training starts when the individual realizes through experience that being a clone just doesn`t cut it.
Of course, this is all ideal for me, not realistic. But it is a goal I try for. Also I believe the difference between Peter`s and my thinking is largely semantic. I had similar problem of an individual throwing off the rhythm years ago. When I was training at John Stevens` Tohoku Fukushi University dojo, Stevens Sensei had us do solo weapons kata in groups with a leader calling out the steps and setting the pace. One non-Japanese refused to follow the pace and would race ahead which would throw off the freshman still trying to learn the steps. I tried to solve the problem by sarcastically calling him "Sensei" and he responded with a few words still banned from American tv. I don`t recommend this approach.