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Old 04-04-2012, 03:48 AM   #5
Dojo: Bristol North Aikido Dojo
Location: Bristol
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 659
Re: Politics, the Death of Martial Arts?

Larry Robinson wrote: View Post
Politics has watered down many systems. The public has changed as the schools have changed too. Here in the US I don' t think you can push students to the brink the way my Kaj sigun used to. He is a first generation student of Professor Emperado. His classes are not the grinders they were years ago. I remember leaving bumped and bruised and barely able to walk the next day. I was actually afraid of going back last year. I think Sigun likes having me back, bringing some of the old school back.

In a time where schools are competing for students, why would you maintain a class that was physically demanding to the point of failure, when the public wants as easy as possible. Add to that, the fact that the techniques that are high percentage effective, are usually the ugly ducklings or plain, and the low percentage techniques are the flashy ones that look cool in movies, and you have an environment where, in order to keep students coming through the door, you spend more time selling yourself than teaching grounded techniques, which are almost universal across many systems, and for the most part boring. Look at Aikido. How many are super excited, to work on Ikkyo, when they could be practicing Irimi Nage? Since, all other techniques, can be got from Ikkyo, wouldn't Ikkyo seem the most practical thing to practice? Yet, if given a choice, most Aikidoka would rather practice Irimi Nage, because it is flashier and Seagal makes it look cool in movies. I have seen this in Kaj too where the earlier learned techniques never really improve. They stagnate as the requirements are learned for promotion. The technique is technically correct, but the practicality of actual application is never obtained. The usefulness plateaus as it is no longer practiced for the sake of learning the new material.

So what we have is a student pool that wants quick rewards with little effort, and organizations, transforming to meet that need. Like when people hear I train in Aikido, and they tell me of a brother or cousin who has been training for a year or two and is a Shodan.
Agree in principle with a lot of this but think 'Politics' is a very broad label that is conveniently over used.

Is Financial viability the same as Politics? Not talking 'professional' instructors but non profit Aikido clubs who's target is survival only. Some consideration for Finance is essential - without it ...there won't be a club. So in a pyramid of needs this has to be first base.

Now regarding technique selection...some instructors are progressive, looking to evolve and improve, Others don't challenge themselves or their students. Most are a bit of both. For most instructors they operate a 1 to many relationship and provide a lesson that has to meet a wide range of objectives and skill levels - Is this diversity "politics? " ....Is a refusal to continuously improve "Politics" or perhaps some kind of 'my cup is full' ego thing?

in my personal experience I've run a large dojo for a number of years....and have had a number of fall outs with people.

The reasons are multiple but include bullying, lack of ambition, co-instructors forming cliques of students that wish to perform social aikido, students that think they should be the teacher...all sorts of things that you get when you have a lot of people and an open door policy.

On one occasion I also fell out with someone due to my own pig headedness...but only once.

I aspire to be better than my teachers, I'll select the best instruction I can get to and take it...and I bring that back to the dojo. What I won't do is tolerate behaviour that puts the dojo at risk or makes it a worse place to train in.

So I'll continue to fall out with anyone that jeapordizes the future of the dojo.

But I also work within a team, I'm not unregulated or all powerful ...far from it. I include myself in the high standards that I expect from my students. I validate my techniques by training, outside the dojo as well as inside, outside of Aikido too.

I channel this experience back in as improvement.

Anyway the upshot of this insistence on standards is that the bullies leave, those that want to play Aikido leave, those that think they should be teachers when they are not ready leave. Not necessarily immediately ...but so far this is the case since they realise I will not compromise standards and am within a team of instructors that think the same way.

Now - when these people turn up at other dojos they are asked why they left.

The answer is never that 'I bullied people' , 'I tried to dictate what the club did' or anything like that ....It is alway "politics...I left because of politics'.

So for me Politics is too convenient an answer - the death of martial arts is more likely to be due to the weakness of people and failure to aspire to keep improving and providing a training environment to foster this. In short a lack of beginners mind and true commitment to lifetime training.

As usual - I'll expect that to the unknowing outsider there are those that will say what give you the right to choose the standards and the rules.

My answer is validation - I continue to train with the best I can, I preserve the traditions transmitted by my instructors ...and when something better comes along its embraced. But everything is validated through training. I also encourage my fellow instuctors & students to do the same.My longevity and experiences also give me the right, when someone better is around then I've no qualms about accepting their seniority.

When someone worse comes around and tries to dictate then I am not so obliging.

I have made mistakes of course, I once asked someone not to return to training after a heated exchange of emails was the right result in the end as their future actions spiralled in a bad way...but at the time I could have handled it better...but just delayed the inevitable.

So not claiming to be perfect by any stretch !

Anyway - Happy Easter to those that celebrate it.

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