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Old 11-25-2005, 11:07 AM   #26
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
Thanks Jorge - very interesting article!

I wonder how many beginning students would stick around if they were told that the responsibility for learning Aikido rests solely upon them?

Ruth
Ruth,
I don't think this would work in our situation where we need the income and we are working in an open system where we take all comers. In a situation that is self financed and where the dojo is private, it might work somewhat but it would still not be akin to the days where martial arts were secret and to study or train required a lot more dedication and purpose depending on who you were wanting to train with. I do find it interesting though to make comparisons to my private school where I work and the attitudes of the parents as well as the way people come into a dojo and what they expect from us.
Thanks for the comment.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 11-25-2005, 11:28 AM   #27
happysod
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Jorge, that was a very sneaky aikido-style reply - how dare you agree with me then expound on it further to tease me with a new and interesting approach, off to sulk... Seriously, thanks for the expansion, sounds interesting
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Old 11-25-2005, 12:13 PM   #28
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
Jorge, that was a very sneaky aikido-style reply - how dare you agree with me then expound on it further to tease me with a new and interesting approach, off to sulk... Seriously, thanks for the expansion, sounds interesting
That's funny, Ian.
You made my day.
Thanks,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 11-25-2005, 10:41 PM   #29
Carol Shifflett
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
. . . He started class and looked at what people were doing, clapped, and said, "No, look at what I am doing. It's not the same as the way you have done it before." He then demonstrated several more times. People started training again and went right back to what they'd been doing before....
Even worse: When a guest instructor at a summer seminar demonstrated a different approach, most of the attendees did what they'd always done. No surprise there. What was remarkable was that those who tried to do what Sensei was demonstrating were actually corrected by one of the seniors in the hosting organization, who spent the entire seminar walking around the mat "helping" and "correcting" attendees back to the usual way of doing things.

"HE is doing it WRONG," students were told. "Do it THIS way."

Habit and custom or even inability to see or do is no big mystery. But I've never been clear on what lies behind the determined refusal to see or try.

Cheers!
Carol Shifflett
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Old 11-26-2005, 12:06 AM   #30
Jerry Miller
 
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Trust me the visiting shihan knows. I saw a visiting shihan stop everything. People were doing iriminage the way our organization teaches it. He called for an uke and did it "our" way letter perfect to show us he understood this was our way. He then showed us his way again. It is a shame when people are not paying attention. Why are you there! Beginners mind is terribly important when trying new ways. Granted I need to do it our way for testing. But nothing is ever hurt by different looks at techniques.

Jerry Miller
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Old 11-26-2005, 05:49 PM   #31
eyrie
 
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't O'Sensei use to lecture extensively at Hombu? And IIRC, not many people listened to him back then either?

Teaching is communication - whether it be verbal/auditory, visual, kinesthetic or even metaphysical. The best teachers are able to circumvent the student's reception and perception filters. Usually, they'll say something tangentially and the light comes on in the student.

It's not so much teaching without speaking. It's being judicious in what you say that makes the student understand what the message is. Sometimes one only needs to ask the right question of the student.

Ignatius
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Old 11-27-2005, 08:26 AM   #32
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't O'Sensei use to lecture extensively at Hombu? And IIRC, not many people listened to him back then either?
My understanding is that O Sensei did indeed lecture or talk a lot during class but he wasn't talking about waza or technique. He was speaking about the various philosophies that he believed in with relation to Aikido. I also don't believe it is correct to say that "not many people listened to him...".
It would be more accurate to say that not many people understood him. The things he spoke about were vague and nebulous to most Japanese people, even back then and the students often were anxious for him to stop talking so they could start training again.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 11-27-2005, 05:42 PM   #33
MaryKaye
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

My head instructor recently came back from a seminar quite angry about this same point (people ignoring what the seminar instructor was teaching in favor of doing their usual thing).

Within the dojo, I think it helps to enforce the rule "Follow the person who is teaching today, even if you learned it differently yesterday." We junior students gripe about having to learn four different versions of a move, but I think the flexibility and training in close observation is worth it. If students learn at home that they are always responsible for trying new approaches, they are less likely to be hidebound at seminars.

Mary Kaye
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Old 11-27-2005, 10:38 PM   #34
ajbarron
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

IMHO "There are many roads to Rome" ................

and we are all different learners. We might ask if the retention of new students sometimes is inhibited by their unfirmilarity of the learning styles we employ in our dojos?

I enjoy "trying" to steal......................... but appreciate direction when stumped.
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Old 11-27-2005, 10:58 PM   #35
tedehara
 
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Quote:
After the war Tohei-sensei rejoined with O-sensei, training aikido instead of aikibudo, and quickly became the chief instructor -- a position now called World Chief Instructor. In the early 50s O-sensei sent Tohei-sensei to Hawaii to begin spreading aikido internationally.

Cultural differences between himself and his new Hawaiian students meant that Tohei-sensei had to innovate. His old teaching methods, learned from O-sensei, which consisted mostly of silent, repeated demonstrations of the complex physical motions of aikido interspersed with esoteric speeches, were inadequate. They relied on the cultural and religious context of Japanese society and the interpersonal awareness of the Japanese, and outside that framework his methods were ineffective.

He realized that he instead needed to convey verbally the essence of aikido, its principles. Thus were born the Four Basic Principles of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido.
from a Ki-Aikido Handbook

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 11-27-2005, 11:39 PM   #36
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

You wrote,
"Cultural differences between himself and his new Hawaiian students meant that Tohei-sensei had to innovate. His old teaching methods, learned from O-sensei, which consisted mostly of silent, repeated demonstrations of the complex physical motions of aikido interspersed with esoteric speeches, were inadequate. They relied on the cultural and religious context of Japanese society and the interpersonal awareness of the Japanese, and outside that framework his methods were ineffective."

I agree that the statement is correct. O Sensei was using a methodology taught to him and in common use at that time. I think it's purpose wasn't to reveal but in fact to hide. Outside of a world view that gave birth to that methodology, it is clear that westerners wouldn't know what to do with it. My discussion was bringing up the point that the method itself had some good points to it and could be useful in avoiding some of the problems of watering down our arts for modernity's sake alone. The modern method of laying it all out there has it's problems as well and hasn't solved our educational problems because people have different learning styles.
Best,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 12-26-2005, 11:04 AM   #37
Ed Shockley
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Every New Year's eve we hold a misogi practice at Aikido/Aikikai of Philadelphia. One single technique for one hour usually suwari waza. (Followed by Saki and chatter.) I always learn on the mat and at the party. (We all have focused intensely on the same technique with individual revelations.) I suspect we all agree that it depends on who is talking, what they are saying and when. I have never stepped on the mat and not learned something and train five days in a bad week. I have even learned at a seminar with an uncooperative uke chattering and refusing to do the technique as demonstrated. I believe this is true for all of us. The learning is in our openness and alertness, not in the style of transmission of information. Different days, different styles are needed with different people and a great instructor senses and adapts while a great student listens and absorbs.
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Old 12-26-2005, 02:26 PM   #38
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

I agree with your statement Ed but you seem to have missed my point. I don't think O Sensei was trying to teach but rather, trying to hide. In the older culture, they didn't use "showing instead of talking" because they thought it was a better teaching method. It was because they weren't necessarily wanting to reveal the art to every person unless they could cull it out themselves. It is clear that if your goal is to teach, a person can go a long way to make sure that everyone gets it and certainly using many teaching methods would facilitate that. I think that some of us can't fathom a scenario where the teacher is trying to hide instead of reveal. When a student would ask O Sensei to show a technique again, he would often reply- no. That isn't very proactive to helping a student learn. It is clear that we can use computers, tactile methods, speaking, showing, reading, demonstrations, etc. O Sensei didn't do those things out of ignorance, it just wasn't in his worldview.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 12-26-2005, 08:16 PM   #39
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

If the number of kuden in Iwama style is any indication, the Founder was not above talking to reinforce some points. I count 29 kuden in the first two volumes of Takemusu Aikido alone. Of course, considering that those books account for 139 techniques (give or take), one might not say that Osensei was especially loquacious...

Josh Reyer

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Old 12-27-2005, 02:29 AM   #40
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote:
If the number of kuden in Iwama style is any indication, the Founder was not above talking to reinforce some points. I count 29 kuden in the first two volumes of Takemusu Aikido alone. Of course, considering that those books account for 139 techniques (give or take), one might not say that Osensei was especially loquacious...
The "kuden' you mention were his private teachings to his personal student, Morihiro Saito. These "kuden " are Saito Sensei's revelation to the world of things the Founder did not tell the average student. Iwama was the place of O Sensei's private dojo where he continued to develop his Aikido after he retired. This is explained on pages 18-21 of the book, Takemusu Aikido, Volume 1, published by Aikido Journal.

I quote,"The Founder's teaching method in Iwama were very different from his approach during the prewar years. In earlier years, it was his custom to merely show his techniques a few times with little or no explanations and then to have students attempt to imitate his movements.This was the traditional method of martial arts instruction and students had to do their best to "steal" their teacher's techniques.But now, Ueshiba had the luxury of being able to devote his full energies to his personal pursuit with just a few close students...In the last years, I was taught by Sensei almost privately...Seeing Morihiro's devotion and enthusiasm toward training, Ueshiba gradually began to rely on him more and more in his personal life. Finally, only young Saito was left to serve the Founder on a regular basis...Serving the Founder was extremely severe even though it was just for the study of a martial art. O Sensei only opened his heart to those students who helped him from dusk to dawn in the fields, those who got dirty and massaged his back, those who served him at the risk of their lives. As I was of some use to him, O Sensei willingly taught me everything."

Saito Sensei himself, in other writings, has made a big point of the fact that when O Sensei lived in Iwama and occasionally would go to the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, he would usually not teach techniques but only do some "Aiki" type demonstrations. The kuden that you mentioned were not the rule, but rather the exception to the rule.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 12-27-2005, 08:55 AM   #41
Ed Shockley
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

I may well be missing the point and if so apologize for wasting time. Aikido is a young art and the teaching of Aikido is therefore also young. Aikido is an evolving art and its teaching techniques are also evolving. My understanding of what we are discussing is the advantage or disadvantages of verbal explanations. Any of us who are at larger dojos with many senior students guest teaching are likely to have experienced the chatty instructor who takes ten minutes to explain what our bodies would have learned in four throws. Conversely, when we attend seminars, often there is extensive explanation, sometimes even through a translator. I don't think that contradicts Mr. Garcia's premise because those events are dominated by instructors so they could be perceived as sharing "secrets" with the inner circle. I find it far easier to examine the result of the two approaches than to guess the motivations. (I've read that Osensei was playful and would sometimes demonstrate the same technique two different ways to senior students and chuckle at the clash of egos.) I do know that I trained with Osawa shihan who either doesn't speak much English or wasn't talking to me. I didn't know who he was until afterward since he was just taking class before teaching his own. He extended his arm and stood grim faced. I grasped katate then he tenkan-ed and applied a brilliant kotegaeshi. He was stone faced as he did it three more times. I then did my throws and he remained almost grim. His next turn he proceeded more slowly and paused at the first point of contact. He did this three more times. I then tried to reproduce what he had demonstrated and (key thought) what I had felt. When I performed it to his satisfaction he burst into a beautiful smile then returned to his stone face again. We proceeded through each step of the technique with the pause point moving further and further back always followed by a heart warming and brief smile when I seemed to receive his instruction. Later in his class, he used a translator to explain subtle points that the entire room seemed to be misinterpreting and I found that no less effective. It seems that demonstration works best (as someone said before) when it is small class format, like Osensei seniors, while explanation corrects universal movement misinterpretations. The key is knowing when to speak and what to say.
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Old 12-27-2005, 09:42 AM   #42
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote:
Saito Sensei himself, in other writings, has made a big point of the fact that when O Sensei lived in Iwama and occasionally would go to the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, he would usually not teach techniques but only do some "Aiki" type demonstrations. The kuden that you mentioned were not the rule, but rather the exception to the rule.
I'm aware of that, but the point remains. In Iwama, with a few students, he was given to vocal instruction. Indeed, in Traditional Aikido 1, two of the kuden are in fact well-known douka.

I'm not saying that Saito-sensei did not have a special relationship with the Founder that gave him certain insight. But on the flip side of that, I find it hard to believe that these were super-secret revelations taught only to Saito when they are so technical and concerned with the basics: "After you take their balance, step forward with your left foot to push them, and then draw up your left foot." (Ikkyou) "Take the back of your partner's collar and pull with your left hand towards your chest." (Irimi-nage). Particularly in the context of post-war Iwama training, where it's mentioned that the Founder began using a serial method of training, and would take the time to demonstrate the technique with each deshi in turn. The fact that pre-war training was mentioned as being "without explanation" (説明なしに) when comparing it to post-war Iwama training suggests that post-war it was with explanation. Not a lot; I doubt it was as much as the average sensei today. In any case, that passage suggests that the last thing Osensei was trying to do in post-war Iwama was hide something. He wasn't giving away the store, to be sure, but the simple silent demonstration method Tohei learned under was not in use, as far as Iwama was concerned.

Incidently, this sentence:
Quote:
As I was of some use to him, O Sensei willingly taught me everything."
...is not in the Japanese original. And that passage is in the context of Osensei's relationships with his students, not with regard to his training methods. In the Japanese version, at least, Saito-sensei is merely explaining how he became so close to the Founder; other deshi had to live far away from the dojo in order to have the time and freedom to look after their own farms and families, something they could not do if they had to be at Osensei's beck and call.

The tendency of the bilingual versions of Takemusu Aikido to have some things in the Japanese version but not in the English, and some things in the English but not in the Japanese version is, to say the least, a little annoying.

Last edited by Josh Reyer : 12-27-2005 at 09:45 AM.

Josh Reyer

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Old 12-27-2005, 10:09 AM   #43
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Ed,
You're right. The original question was, "What experiences have you had in this way? What positives or negatives did it bring to your instruction (teaching or being taught)?" Some people though were discussing what should be done.
In addressing the original question, I would say that it's an interesting question because for me, in the simple things, verbal instruction was helpful. When I was starting, telling me to put my foot here or there saved a lot of time and guided me in the form in a way I would have delayed a long time in seeing myself. Also, by those who do use a lot of verbal instruction, it was helpful to me if they were skilled observers. A teacher or fellow student who was telling to do this or that but was himself not seeing what I was doing incorrectly did me no good. For example, recently In a kids class, one of my instructors was teaching the class for the first time. He noticed that some of the kids had a bad forward roll so he gave them a long lesson on rolling forward with a long toss forward. I knew immediately that he was wasting his time because these were kids that couldn't do a short roll. He was missing a step in the progression. His instruction did them little good.
On the other hand, when a skilled teacher has told me certain things I was doing, I immediately improved because his "wordsmithing" was accurate.
On the non verbal side, I have also observed that no matter what I say to some people, no matter how simple and clear I make it, they still can't see it. I can talk about extension, I can show my arms extended, I can grab the students arms and extend them and in the very next technique, they will have their arms folded in half !
I myself was this way when told by my instructors some things for years that I have only recently begun to see and do. My teacher says that you have to learn how to understand the teaching for yourself and that is the only way to really learn. For myself, I have come to the place where I try to show the best I can show and I do use words when necessary.
Best wishes,

Last edited by Jorge Garcia : 12-27-2005 at 10:20 AM.

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Old 12-28-2005, 11:04 AM   #44
Ed Shockley
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

Jorge. I completely agree that a clear statement can often save minutes, day, years or fumbling. It is a bit like placing the carrot before the horse (I'm confessing my age now). By knowing intellectually what should be happening I am often likely to pursue it more consistently and recognize it sooner. On the flip side, my love of weapons has convinced me that the best lessons are in motion. Every one thousand ken cuts whisper their secrets more clearly than any conversation. Moreover, and this is purely a personal preference, the casting about for the lesson of the sword point reveals a wealth of pearls that often are far more significant than the carrot placed in front of my plodding feet by the instructor. In my preferred world, talking is to establish the concept of today's class and to avoid injury. The rest is practice with each student taking from the experience the lessons that he or she needs. Having said this, I talk far too much when I teach. I name every technique as accurately as I can with limited knowledge of the Japanese language. I quote whose interpretation of the technique I am demonstrating and in the later set of throws, I will announce what specific nuance we are exploring that differs from what is expected by our sensei on tests. I justify this chattiness by saying that I am a sempai and "teach as a practicing Aikidoka." Everything that I demonstrate should be recorded in pencil until validated or disregarded by a shidoin. I completely understand your example of the kids class and agree that too much information can easily exceed the attention capabilities of adults as well. I do think that we can console ourselves with the knowledge that Aikido teaches and we are simply there while it happens.

thanks for your patience.
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Old 01-02-2006, 02:38 AM   #45
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

I live and train in Japan and my instructor speaks little english, It has been no problem for me at all and I learn just as well as the Japanese students but sometimes I wish I understood what they were talking about, I guess it would deepen my experience ,but like I said no problems. I am happy to be training with a highly ranked shihan that does not disregard me for the simple fact of a language barrier.

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Old 01-02-2006, 01:09 PM   #46
JAMJTX
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

My only experience in training this way was actually in Iaido.
We took a trip to Japan and the instructor spoke very little English.
He would come to me, do the kata the way I did it and say "No". Then do it right and say "Yes". It worked very well and I really liked training with him.

This could probably work with Aikido to a certain extent. But there is a lot of detail so for most people I think explainations and verbal instructions will be easier.

Jim Mc Coy
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Old 01-02-2006, 06:56 PM   #47
Mato-san
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

The basic command of english in Japan is good enough in "most" cases for teaching a martial art to a foriegner that at their schools they learn left, right, foot,wrist turn,throw,slide correct, incorrect,up,down etc You catch my drift, enough to teach Aikido. Hell I taught 4 year olds that language skill this year, some of em cant even tie their own shoelaces but they will tell you the time in 2 languages.

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Old 01-03-2006, 12:16 PM   #48
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

To answer the original inquiry, I prefer a combination of verbal advice, analogy and history mixed in with training; I am not opposed to verbal clarification between students. I am opposed to excessive communication or "chattering" on the mat. I endorse the use of Japanese terminolgy to describe the techniques and many concepts in training and I expect my students to be familiar with them.

Verbal lecture can catch attention, emphasis a point, or describe a subtle movement. Physical demonstration can do these too. I don't have any advice as to which one is better, only that I have the best luck when I find a balance between the two. I tend to stay pretty physical on black & white movement, but I'll elaborate on a complicated or subtle movement or concept...
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Old 01-03-2006, 02:27 PM   #49
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

There was a poll where 80% of the respondents said they were better than average drivers. That tells me many were fooling themselves.

I came from 7 years in one federation to another association (for the last 3). Down to raw basics, irimi tenkan is different; no one told me, I watched, I stole and now I own it. I can do irimi tenkan two ways. Big deal. I see one more thing every day (if I'm lucky).

So I can see the difference. I think I do what the teacher's doing all the time. But I don't always catch myself falling into old habits. My sempai help me with this. When I'm not and it's pointed out to me, I start again and try again, with focus.

My point is, don't be so sure you're better than average when it comes to following the teacher. That goes for everyone.

--Chuck
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Old 01-05-2006, 06:47 AM   #50
Mato-san
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Re: Aikido - To Teach Without Speech

I am not sure how to take your post chuck, although I understand kinda what you are saying, to take or to "steal" a technique is like the utmost disrespect were I am training, rather than take we are obligated to recieve, learn to move and then make the moves our own. But Hey we all work different and you obviously found what you were after even if you "stole" it! No dis by me, but I am confused!

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Proposta organização do Aikido Portugal kimusubi0 Portuguese 0 05-03-2004 04:26 AM
Propostarganização do Aikido em Portugal kimusubi0 French 0 05-01-2004 03:30 AM


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