Thread: Change
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:00 PM   #1
George S. Ledyard
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,670

I've come to the conclusion that people generally don't like change. Oh, superficial change is great; keeps us from getting bored, adds spice to life, etc. But deeper, more fundamental change is frightening and is resisted tooth and nail.

Aikido folks are not different. Although most would tell you that they are training hard and trying to get better, if they've trained for a while, there is a set of parameters within which they work. Anything outside this envelope, outside their comfort zone, will be ignored or even actively resisted.

I first saw this when Stan Pranin did the three Aiki Expos. He brought in some of the finest aiki people in the world. Teachers who simply blew you away with their skills level. For some of us, this was a life changing set of events. My own Aikido changed 200% and continues to do so; all due to the exposure I had to these teachers.

I watch as Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei, al ready a very senior teacher, completely redid his own Aikido based on connections he made at the Expos (especially to Ushiro Kenji Sensei). What he is doing now has almost nothing to do with what he was doing ten years ago, except the outer form is still Aikido.

Yet many of the folks I knew who attended the very same events did not change. You mention Ushiro Sensei and the say "Yeah, I saw him at the Expo". And....? And...? But there is no "and". That was it. They saw him, didn't understand what he was doing... or thought they did, and then they went home and went right back to what they had always done.

I once taught a seminar which some nice folks attended. I pushed them quite a bit to put some "intention" into their training. They had developed a nice comfortable practice that was very user friendly and was never going to result in any substantial increase in their skills levels. The seniors had plateau-ed out, which of course automatically places limits on any juniors at the school.

Everyone was very receptive. They all tried to up their intensity, put some life into their attacks, etc. By Sunday afternoon they were doing some good work. I thought I had really "dons some good" with the seminar. But a friend from the dojo told me that he was very disappointed to see that Monday night they went right back to doing things exactly as before. Absolutely nothing changed.

Now, sometimes it's hard to know how you are changing. In the short term, changes can be gradual enough you have a hard time seeing them. But think back to five years ago. Can you do things now that you couldn't do then? Do you understand better what your teachers are doing or is it all still "magical"? Do you continuously put yourself in the way of new teachers and new training experiences or have you been doing the same program every year... two or three weekends with the same teachers and maybe one of the summer camps... over and over.

I think folks who REALLY want to attain some mastery of this art need to make sure that their own training isn't being held back by their own teachers. They need to keep changing all the time. If that means moving periodically to find a dojo at which the training is better, then so be it. If you can't keep going where you are, then change where you are or find ways of getting what you need outside of those normal channels. It is your life and your training. You cannot be dependent on others to bring you along. It has to be you, yourself. Others just help, you do the work.

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