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  #26  
Old 11-07-2010, 09:42 PM
Lynn Seiser
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Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Breathe in, model
Breath out, mentor
Mindfully

I must admit that I tend to agree with Charles Barkley when he says that he is a basketball player and not a role model. I would hate to think...
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Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!

Last edited by akiy : 11-07-2010 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 11-13-2010, 07:49 PM   #25
Janet Rosen
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
This may be where we differ.

IMHO, standards (and high standards at that) are to be established, achieved, and maintained. That's the daily discipline.

Thoughts?
I'm not Barbara, but I'm going to raise my hand and guess that your difference may be semantic. There are standards as in goals - used this way in schools or workplaces sometimes - and there are standards as in principles - which is how I tend to use the term.

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Old 11-14-2010, 06:42 AM   #26
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
There are standards as in goals - used this way in schools or workplaces sometimes - and there are standards as in principles - which is how I tend to use the term.
Yes agreed.

We know there are semantically different ways to use and definitions of any word. Its always been a problem in communication and mis-communication.

There are standards for the goals and standards for the process of getting there.

The question is do we lower the standards (as goals and process) so more people can achieve them or do we raise them and model and mentor more people in making the higher standards (benchmark) for their standard daily practice?

How do we make (higher) standards more standard and the standard practice?

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:05 AM   #27
Barbara Knapp
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Yes, I think we are talking about slightly different things. I am very process oriented, and not much interested in end states. I am talking about guiding light standards, not standards for grading things, like eggs; or people's skills, like ranks in martial arts.

A thought - its the grading type standards that tend to divide people. Its ok to grade eggs, and important to divide incompetent professionals from competent ones. But it does create problems when we start imposing our personal standards, beyond basic health and safety, on other people. At least, its never worked well for me. Being judged, and being disappointed by other's failures to meet my standards, is no fun and not really all that useful...being shown the way by someone who cares and is still learning themselves, that is powerful.
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:08 AM   #28
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

...and I see I have turned your definition on its head. oh well.
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Old 11-14-2010, 03:08 PM   #29
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Barbara Knapp wrote: View Post
Yes, I think we are talking about slightly different things. I am very process oriented, and not much interested in end states.
I have never been very goal-directed end-state-oriented either.

But once I discovered I was direction-directed my life got better and I was able to surpass whatever end-state goal I would have set.

I find when I allow myself to be too process oriented I am not concerned with making any progress and usually do not.

The combination of process-orientation with direction-directed has allowed me to maintain a much higher standard for myself with forward progress than I found previously possible.

I do agree that anything that contains judgments of good/bad or right/wrong have not be useful for me.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-15-2010, 01:24 AM   #30
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
This may be where we differ.

IMHO, standards (and high standards at that) are to be established, achieved, and maintained. That's the daily discipline.

Thoughts?
The reason we call them "standards" is that we intend for them to be met. The things that we put out there to strive for, and perhaps never attain, are "ideals".

George S. Ledyard
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:09 AM   #31
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The reason we call them "standards" is that we intend for them to be met. The things that we put out there to strive for, and perhaps never attain, are "ideals".
Nice distinction. Compliments.

How we think of things (intent) are not just semantics, but literal commands to our neurology on how to respond.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:11 AM   #32
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The reason we call them "standards" is that we intend for them to be met. The things that we put out there to strive for, and perhaps never attain, are "ideals".
Hello George,

I have just had dinner with Jun Akiyama here in Hiroshima and we had long talks about aikido, websites, Aikiweb etc etc. So, full of renewed enthusiasm about the wonderful possibilities of AikiWeb, I enter into the fray--and ask: Really, what is the cash value of the difference between intending and striving? You 'intend' to meet standards, or, more impersonally, to have standards met (by others?), but 'strive' to attain ideals. As someone famously asked: where's the beef?

And then Lynn adds:

"How we think of things (intent) are not just semantics, but literal commands to our neurology on how to respond."

Wow. Lynn, forgive me for having a 'Szczepan moment' here, but are you reporting what actually happens when we think of things or when we issue commands to our neurology? The force of 'literal' suggests to me that I actually issue commands to my (mind which then issues commands or my) brain to command my arm muscles to move the steering wheel in such a way that the car I am driving actually moves in the way I want it to.

Or are you simply suggesting what we (in our psychologically unenlightened innocence) think happens?

In general, my own thoughts echo those of Fred Little, but I would push the thought that you can never derive 'ought' or 'should' from 'is' rather more strongly than Fred did.

Best wishes,

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:01 AM   #33
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Wow. Lynn, forgive me for having a 'Szczepan moment' here, but are you reporting what actually happens when we think of things or when we issue commands to our neurology? The force of 'literal' suggests to me that I actually issue commands to my (mind which then issues commands or my) brain to command my arm muscles to move the steering wheel in such a way that the car I am driving actually moves in the way I want it to.

Or are you simply suggesting what we (in our psychologically unenlightened innocence) think happens?
Neuroscience is very supportive of the inter-connectedness of the mind and body is a two-way street. What we do with body stimulates neuropathways in the brain. Also, what we consciously and voluntarily focus on in our minds gets neurologically transmitted to the body.

This is often studied in sport psychology through mental rehearsal.

In your example, if you look at something to the side of the road, yes your car will tend to drift in that direction.

I have a friend who told me that one of the problems he has in Aikido is he is trying to move in body in circles while his mind is still thinking in straight line.

In linguistics we often see the underlying implied meaning of the words we use often act as an indirect command.

Perhaps the congruence of body and mind is important.

Thoughts?

BTW: I am really enjoying and learning from our discussion here. Thank you to all.

Last edited by SeiserL : 11-15-2010 at 08:06 AM.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:37 AM   #34
Janet Rosen
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

To me a standard is the expectation of how I will behave or perform - whether it is an external standard laid out by, say, my workplace or my inner self-expectations; the latter being a very harsh taskmaster.

On the other issue... research indicates the brain/nervous system is indeed much more plastic than we were taught in university thirty years ago. And not only is there greater capacity for remodeling or regeneration that previously thought, our neuroanatomy/physiology is literally changed by what we experience or see (interesting stuff scanning the brains of kids chronically witnessing violence around them) and also by the messages and beliefs that form each person's inner landscape.

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Old 11-15-2010, 12:00 PM   #35
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello George,

I have just had dinner with Jun Akiyama here in Hiroshima and we had long talks about aikido, websites, Aikiweb etc etc. So, full of renewed enthusiasm about the wonderful possibilities of AikiWeb, I enter into the fray--and ask: Really, what is the cash value of the difference between intending and striving? You 'intend' to meet standards, or, more impersonally, to have standards met (by others?), but 'strive' to attain ideals. As someone famously asked: where's the beef?

In general, my own thoughts echo those of Fred Little, but I would push the thought that you can never derive 'ought' or 'should' from 'is' rather more strongly than Fred did.
Hi Peter,
I am simply using the terms in the way that folks seem to commonly understand them. "Ideals" seem to represent something that we'd like to see but most often don't even expect to, perhaps because of consistent disappointment, as in our politics here, but it's best if I don't start on that...

When someone who is said to be "idealistic" he is thought to be a bit out of sync with reality, a wishful thinker, one whose ideas don't really reflect reality, no matter how "nice" they are.

When someone seems to REALLY believe in his ideas and tries to actually live them, he is called a Saint. Given the history of Sainthood, not only would folks generally concede they are extremely rare, but most folks would admit to not really wishing to be one.

I think this is how most folks actually use the terms "ideals" or "ideally".

"Standards" however, are considered to be a statement or definition of quality or performance that is to be met. The expectation is that the standard MUST be attained or maintained. There is no wishful thinking here. Safety "standards" might be set by the government and failure to maintain those standards could even be actionable. Performance "standards" are the basis of ones performance review and determine whether one gets a raise or even keeps his job. If the "standards" are unattainable or too poorly defined, people get really upset and that is considered a form of bad management. "Standard" procedures are even used as part of a legal defense if one is being sued for negligence. One strives to show that ones actions were standard actions in the industry and not something out of the ordinary. So consistently when we use the term "standards" there is a connotation of expectation, even responsibility that simply isn't there when we use the terms "ideal" or "ideally".

So, the relevant question, since this is an Aikido forum, how this discussion applies to Aikido? In that realm I would say that the uses are perhaps a bit different.

I think that one of the great issues with Aikido is that we have treated the art and skill therein as representing some set of "ideals". The Founder was an "idealist" and perhaps even a "Saint" of sorts, and therefore we don't expect our technique or actions to meet that standard because it is seen as an "ideal", not really a "standard" that anyone expects to duplicate.

So, too often this extends all the way down through the whole "pyramid" of the Aikido endeavor. Performance at all levels is seen as a set of "ideals" rather than "standards". No one seems terribly upset when an "ideal" isn't reached. Yes, I would have liked it if he had done such and such on his test, but he's older, has kids, has a career, isn't very athletic, whatever... and it's the effort that counts anyway, so voila we have a new back belt.

This happens all the way to the top. No one seems terribly upset by the fact that his teacher has admittedly not measured up to the "standard" set by the Founder because it isn't really seen as a "standard" but rather as an ideal.

No one in my organization seems to be terribly upset that not a single one of their teachers has met the standard set by Saotome Sensei because it's been turned into an ideal. So much so that people go about their training telling themselves that they couldn't actually attain that level. It's ok to go to a seminar with Saotome Sensei and not understand a thing that happens from Friday night until Sunday night because Sensei is "amazing" and, of course, we are not.

All along the whole vertical hierarchy of the art we see people letting themselves off the hook for doing their jobs because they have turned what should have been "standards" into "ideals" and no one really expects or is expected to reach and "ideal".

I think that one of the definitions of Budo would be that one treats the "ideal" as the "standard". It is a continuous search for a perfection that, while truly unattainable, is sought with single minded, unflagging effort. This effort continues right up until ones death. Remember the Nike ad campaign "Just do it!". Well, that's more the Budo outlook. No excuses, no letting oneself off the hook. It's the attitude of shinken shobu or "live blade encounter". You either perform or you die. My wife Genie was a championship fencer. When entering the finals after a whole weekend of fighting matches to reach that place, there's profound level of exhaustion... the will is often the only thing that separates the winner from the loser on that day. "Be tired later" was her mantra.

So, in my opinion, Budo is an exercise of the will to keep one in pursuit of the "ideal". Aikido, in my opinion, is an extremely "idealistic" art. But it takes a strong will to pursue those ideals and treat them "as if" they were really standards. One could maintain that doing Aikido with some actual "aiki" should be a standard, that with no "aiki" it's, ipso facto, not even Aiki-do. Yet somehow we've ended up treating skill in "aiki" as an ideal, not something we insist on but a sort of unattainable "ideal" for most of us, that only a chosen few attain.

Since we are no longer a warrior culture, we can let ourselves off the hook. There's no serious negative consequence to not being any good at Aikido. It's not like we perform or die. Besides, it's just a hobby. It's supposed to be "fun". Folks who are too single minded about things make everyone just a bit uncomfortable. Believing that one could actually be as good or better than ones teacher would be seen, not just as unrealistically idealistic, but actually disrespectful, ones ego getting out of control.

So, for me, contrary to popular usage as I have defined it, in Budo, and therefore Aikido even more so, the "ideal" should be the "standard". I am going to understand what O-Sensei understood before I die. I am going to be every bit as good as my teacher, Saotome Sensei. Absolutely nothing stands between me and Ikeda Sensei but my own lack of resolve. If I am less committed to the pursuit of this "ideal", if I don't simply insist for myself that this "ideal" actually represents a "standard" for my performance, then it's just a short step from that to making the whole thing an "idealistic", pie in the sky, wishful thinking, hobby. And that sure as hell isn't Budo.

And, as a teacher, it is not only my job to do this for myself, it is my job to "set the standard" for my students. And here is the "road to Hell", for sure. I have a beautiful dojo with the commensurate rent and expenses. I need a certain number of students just to keep the doors open. If I am too "idealistic" about setting my "standards", I'll be training with two people in my garage. So, I have to compromise on what I would prefer to see as my "standards" and treat them as "ideals". Rather than insist on a standard, I set up easily attainable "minimum standards" that I can live with without feeling like I am running a McDojo, where I can look at myself in the mirror each day and not feel like I am ripping people off and then I try to cajole, inspire, push, interest, even trick people into slowly raising that standard towards an ideal that I know most will never be serious enough to attain.

The endeavor is a Sisyphean task for ones own training and as a teacher responsible for the training of others. It is a daily struggle. And that's what makes it Budo, I guess.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:30 PM   #36
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Semantically, I think the term "standard" requires an objective component against which to be compared. Standardized testing for example compares a solution against an undisputed answer; the question is either correct or incorrect. Industry standards for example set a specification that must be met by a manufacturer before they can sell a product. These are real expectations to be met by those who operate under them.

"Shoulds", "oughts" and "coulds" fall into a subjective realm. We use these terms to describe those things we believe are important, but maybe are factually ambiguous or morally defined or include some element of subjectivity.
As a personal comment, I think most people have difficulty structuring an argument and use soft language like "shoulds", "oughts" and "coulds" to soften their conclusion statements...just in case they are wrong. I don't think these people are wrong, but the quality of their argument should be questioned. Logic is used precisely to derive a "should" from "is" (classically, at least two "is" statement). We call this "should" a theory, theorem or hypothesis. The difference is that a logical "should" is substantiated by fact, and verified by examination (or experimentation). We have reached a point in our cultural dialogue that we neither require substantiating facts to support a claim, nor verify the concluding statement. So we stop using these concluding statements because heaven forbid we're wrong...

For what its worth, I believe Aikido falls into a more subjective realm. We are kinda the purple markers of the grading world (this is a joke about school boards encouraging teachers to use "less harsh" colored markers to annotate student work, seriously). I think it is tough to have [universal] "standards" in aikido beyond that which a dojo sets forth.
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Old 11-15-2010, 03:09 PM   #37
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
To me a standard is the expectation of how I will behave or perform.
Yes a statement of intent and expectation of what you "will" do, not what your hope to do someday maybe.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:27 PM   #38
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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It is a daily struggle. And that's what makes it Budo, I guess.
As an admitted hobbyist I know I limit my growth. However, I know I can be a lot better by keeping my standards of practice high.

IMHO, too many people set their standards of practice so low that they limit their potential and guarantee disappointment and failure.

That's how we make the daily discipline into a daily struggle.

I am fortunate that I have been exposed to models and mentors that helped be get past many of my own limitation and get a glimpse of the possible.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:33 PM   #39
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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I think it is tough to have [universal] "standards" in aikido beyond that which a dojo sets forth.
IMHO, standards are personal statements we make about ourselves, not from the Aikido world or our dojo.

Its not about what other people should or ought to do. Its about what I want to do.

I have been told I am very opinionated but not very judgmental.

I state what I belief based on my level of practice and understanding to date. With any luck and more progress it will change as my perspective changes.

IMHO, standards are not something I want to project out onto others, but to incorporate and integrate into my own life. If others see they are worthwhile and which to practice too, that's fine. If not, this is the direction I am walking.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-15-2010, 05:41 PM   #40
Janet Rosen
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, standards are not something I want to project out onto others, but to incorporate and integrate into my own life. If others see they are worthwhile and which to practice too, that's fine. If not, this is the direction I am walking.

Thoughts?
If I'm a friend, family member, peer, student, etc...then I agree.

If I'm an instructor or a supervisor, then it is up to me to set clear standards for those I'm instructing or supervising.

Semantically, this is where the difference between "standards" and "values" applies.

Janet Rosen
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Old 11-15-2010, 06:49 PM   #41
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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I am fortunate that I have been exposed to models and mentors that helped be get past many of my own limitation and get a glimpse of the possible.
I think that you find the teacher when you are ready. You and I met at the Aiki Expos. We trained in some of the same classes... I was at all three and was exposed to some of the most mind-blowingly talented martial artists I could have imagined. I had some of those teachers really reach out to me. Some of the folks I met there have become lifelong friends and colleagues. Some have taught at my dojo, others, I've had to travel to see again. A few I have even been able to co-teach with, an honor I value beyond my ability to express.

My point is that I was a part of a large event. A whole group of acquaintances were there... we went to the same classes, we saw the same teachers. Some of us walked away with our Aikido transformed, for us, it was a paradigm shifting event. Some of us formed a relationship with Ushiro Sensei, especially Ikeda Sensei, and we were able, over a period of years to take our Aikido to an entirely different level. For others, it was meeting Vladimir and Michael from the Systema. For me it was in some ways all of them but the most profound change came from putting my hands on Kuroda Sensei.

So for a group of us, these events were seminal events in our Aikido development. But there was a whole group of folks I knew that were there who walked away changing nothing. I asked a guy if he had seen Uhsiro Sensei... his response was "yeah, I saw Ushiro, he was good." All I could say was, "And? And?" But there was no "and". he saw these guys and went home.

So when you say you have been "lucky" I would say the same thing others say to me when I say I have been "lucky". Luck has had nothing to do with it, not really. We met these amazing teachers because we put ourselves in their paths. None of them ever came to my door looking for me. These people gave you their incredible gifts because you were the kind of student that they wished to invest in. You think they just give these gifts to everyone? My experience is that no, they do not. If you don't look hungry, if you don't look like you want to do the work, they won't spend the time. So, one has to work to make himself or herself in to precisely the kind of student that teachers want to teach. Any gifts we've been given were given because you looked like someone who wouldn't waste the gift.

So "hobbyist" or not, you've been serious. Or these "models and mentors" wouldn't have spent an ounce of effort on you. I do the same thing when I teach. I put it out there for all. I look to see who is receptive, who wants to do the work, who goes out of his or her way to keep getting exposure to what I am doing, then I give them all I can. The folks that don't want to work or who don't seem to value what I have to show, well, that's fine. Obviously they don't feel they need or want my help. It's not about who is, most talented or who gets the stuff the fastest.

Often I find that the people most excited about what I am doing are the folks who have had the toughest time over the years, the non-wizkids. These are the folks who have been left behind, who just could not get what our teachers were doing with the lack of systematic explanation provided, who weren't senior enough to be on some teacher's radar. I have these folks showing up at my dojo or attending some seminar I am teaching to the point at which I asked a couple if they were "stalkers" since I seemed to see them everywhere. Luck has nothing to do with what I give them. Every time I turn around they are there, hungry for help, better than the last time I saw them because they actually work on what you show them. These folks aren't "my" students. They train under other teachers, some aren't even in my organization. But they get every ounce of effort I can give them because they have shown they deserve it. Other folks I wouldn't cross the street to show anything. Some of these folks could be good but they don't want to do the work or they only want to do the work to look good at what they are already good at but don't want to work on what they REALLY need to work at, which is what they are not good at or are not comfortable with. They make look good now, but in the end they will amount to nothing.

I find that there are two kinds of students who attend seminars. There is one group who are doing the checklist thing (some dojos too). Oh yeah, I've seen Endo, I've seen Kato, I've seen Doran, Nadeau, Bookman, Ledyard, Seiser, whomever. It's like "peak bagging"... climbing all the peaks over 14000 in Colorado, or some such.

There isn't a teacher out there who has something of skill or depth to show that you can get it with only one exposure, or an exposure every five years. If that's what you are doing, it's only entertainment. It might be inspirational even, but you aren't learning what they are doing. If you find someone who really has the goods, attach yourself to him and work with him until you have mastered what he has to offer or don't feel it is your direction any more. The people who approach things this way get an investment from a teacher that goes far beyond the call of duty. The teacher actually looks forward to working with that student, will show him things after class, or take him off in a corner at the potluck. Being the person that teachers will do that for has nothing whatever to do with luck, although those of us who have relationships like that do consider ourselves lucky.

We just finished one of the finest and most amazing seminars I have ever attended. Gleason Sensei has taught at my dojo every year for thirteen years. It took me twelve years to get to the point at which I understood what he was doing and could do it myself. Then he shows up this year and his stuff was off the charts. Friday night class I was back to feeling like a developmentally challenged student. His work with Dan Harden, combined with his 40 years of Aikido experience has taken him up to another whole dimension.

Do I feel lucky that he is one of my teachers and is willing to work with me, sit up all night discussing what he's doing, mentor me on a very deep level? You bet I feel lucky. But I also attended every class he taught at any event which we both attended, I'd grab him to work with when Saotome Sensei was teaching, I had him every year, even when for the first five years I pretty much felt stupid when he taught. I sat with that and was rewarded with his instruction which has been totally unrestrained. I couldn't even begin to express how much I have been given by him. But "luck" really wasn't a part of it and I know it wasn't with you and your teachers. You went after it.

So many folks are training who don't even know what "being hungry" is... what really going after it is. They think it is going to come to them if they pay their dues and go to the dojo or show up at a seminar now and then. Well, it's not. You have to really want it. The folks who really have it did, that's how they got where they are. And they recognize it in others. No one gets the gifts unless they look like they want it. Now it might not be the gift they thought they'd asked for, especially if the teacher is really good. But it won't be given if the teacher thinks it will be wasted or it will never be offered again if the teacher sees it wasn't appreciated.

This whole teacher / student thing is completely co-dependent (in a good way). The teacher can't teach without a student who is prepared to learn. The student cannot learn without a teacher who is willing to teach. Each requires the other. And there needs to be a match. A great teacher is wasted on a mediocre student and a great student is nothing more than a "potential" with a mediocre teacher. When a great student finds his great teacher, then magic can happen. And when that great teacher inevitably turns out to be simultaneously a great student himself, then the process is functioning, the transmission is occurring, and the art is healthy. But "luck", no matter how "lucky" we may feel, isn't truly much of a factor.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:29 AM   #42
Barbara Knapp
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Ledyard Sensei,

I always look for your posts, as so often I feel like standing up and cheering, especially when you go to bat for aikido as something worth doing seriously for all those reasons people shrug off as just ideals. I was avoiding the word, because it tends to suggest "something not practical which we can and even should ignore." I think that any serious practice is always a striving to become better - constantly resetting the standard ahead of where we are. By definition the pursuit of an ideal.

I also think the practice itself is what matters - otherwise, there would be an end point, when we could say, yeah, that is good enough. So I am going to be bold, and take you on.

If aikido really is a way to change the world, it has to address those who are not ever going to achieve on the highest levels and who know it and go on practicing anyway. If there is no place in aikido for the students who struggle to come two or three times a week, who are raising kids alone or taking care of older parents, who have a disability that limits them, or are just trying to hold down some crappy job so they can get by, or even just started old, or have some other art that comes first, then aikido is dead in the water as anything but a little known art form practiced by a bunch of cranks. The serious aikido student you describe will only become another martial arts instructor, after all. The students who use aikido to change themselves, at whatever level they can, and take that out into whatever they are doing, are the ones who will change the world. We need the devoted teachers, but the students who just practice as best they can, are at least as important. Where would you be without them?

That is why achieving some set standard of physical technique for a belt is pointless. what matters is the quality of the practice. I do not see the link between perfect technique and perfection of character as all that strong.
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:53 AM   #43
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Barbara Knapp wrote: View Post
Ledyard Sensei,

I always look for your posts, as so often I feel like standing up and cheering, especially when you go to bat for aikido as something worth doing seriously for all those reasons people shrug off as just ideals. I was avoiding the word, because it tends to suggest "something not practical which we can and even should ignore." I think that any serious practice is always a striving to become better - constantly resetting the standard ahead of where we are. By definition the pursuit of an ideal.

I also think the practice itself is what matters - otherwise, there would be an end point, when we could say, yeah, that is good enough. So I am going to be bold, and take you on.

If aikido really is a way to change the world, it has to address those who are not ever going to achieve on the highest levels and who know it and go on practicing anyway. If there is no place in aikido for the students who struggle to come two or three times a week, who are raising kids alone or taking care of older parents, who have a disability that limits them, or are just trying to hold down some crappy job so they can get by, or even just started old, or have some other art that comes first, then aikido is dead in the water as anything but a little known art form practiced by a bunch of cranks. The serious aikido student you describe will only become another martial arts instructor, after all. The students who use aikido to change themselves, at whatever level they can, and take that out into whatever they are doing, are the ones who will change the world. We need the devoted teachers, but the students who just practice as best they can, are at least as important. Where would you be without them?

That is why achieving some set standard of physical technique for a belt is pointless. what matters is the quality of the practice. I do not see the link between perfect technique and perfection of character as all that strong.
Hi Barbara,
I know I often seem like a hard case and an elitist. In a certain sense I am but in others I'm not. But I have been given a unique gift... 35 years ago I stumbled upon a demonstration of this amazing art by Saotome Sensei, a man who spent fifteen years under the direction of the Founder. I have been doing Aikido ever since. The more I have put into it, the more I have gotten out of it.

It is because I was given such a unique gift, the chance to train with and learn from an array of truly amazing teachers that I find myself called upon to champion the art. Aikido, in the sense the the Founder intended it to be (as I understand it, not that everyone agrees) and as it has been presented to me by Saotome Sensei is endangered.

No one needs to "champion" the hobbyists, to put forth the cause of the average... There are so many of those folks... they are the vast majority. What there are not very many of is folks like my teachers, or even folks like me. I do not see students who remind me of myself when I started. Or like Raso Hultgren or Kayla Feder.

Look at the discussion of what Aikido is... what kind of art is it that the folks doing it can't even tell you what it is.? Why would young people wish to start an art that has such an identity crisis? Where is the excellence? The system is badly broken. Japan is no longer the heartland for the best Aikido. Overseas there are some remarkable teachers but I have seen almost none who look to have produced any students who are even close to their own levels.

What needs championing is excellence. What is lacking is enough folks who want to be good at the art that a critical momentum is maintained in which excellence defines the art while the less serious or committed participate and get what they can out of it. Aikido is becoming an art which is defined by the average, the hobbyists, the marginally committed. It used to be that there were only a few places one could study Aikido. The original teachers tended to be at the top of the field, they were the best. Gradually, moire and more dojos opened. There wasn't time to train high level instructors so more and more dojos were run by less accomplished instructors. Everyone loved Aikido and hung out for decades and that perseverance was rewarded. So we have Rokudans out there whose claim to fame is that they;ve been doing Aikido since the flood.

With so many folks at seniors levels who simply aren't very good, as nice as they may be as people, the art has declined. As a martial art Aikido is a joke. Serious martial artists make fun of Aikido, fifteen year old martial arts wanna be goobers have Aikido sucks month on Bullshido. And hardly anyone takes O-Sensei seriously, including his own grandson back in Japan. The philosophy is watered down, there's little "aiki" in the Aikido. Where there used to be both breadth and depth there is often neither. It is at the point at which Aikido folks don't even know the difference between good Aikido and bad Aikido. In fact that there have been a number of folks on these threads who basically maintained that there really isn't such thing as bad Aikido.

So, I try the best I can to tell people that they don't have to settle for less, that they can do this art the way their teachers can or better, that there is a spiritual and philosophical foundation to this art which is fundamentally connected to the techniques of the art as created by the Founder. It is absolutely true that everyone will never be at the top of the pyramid. Someone will always train just a bit harder, put in more time, have more inherent talent. But every single person could be far better than they currently are, top and bottom. And a change like that is never driven from the bottom up. It happens when that small group of folks who devote their lives to a practice start insisting on higher standards, representing excellence in their own practices, and inspiring those below them to do the same.

So, yes, your statement, where would we all be without the non-stars, the average folk, the hobbyists, is a good and relevant one. Those people are important and I think that if Aikido is to be some sort of trans-formative practice that can change the world, it absolutely has to reach those folks and speak to them. No question. But those folks are not capable of fixing the art or raising the standard. Bad Aikido isn't trans-formative, it isn't good spirituality and it isn't good martial arts. For the practice to be trans-formative it has to have depth, it has to be taught by excellent teachers who are skilled and thoughtful. There has to be a core of folks who think the art is worth devoting ones life to perfecting. Everybody likes the idea of doing Aikido when they can, when they have time, if they can afford it, whenever something else isn't more important. Someone else will be the one who does the heavy lifting, who sacrifices for the art, who adds something to the art by his or her participation rather the just taking from the art. It's just not me, I am a hobbyist, someone else should be responsible for keeping the art strong and vibrant.

So, yes, when I write, I don't spend much time telling folks that things are ok when I don't think they are. The fact that so many people seem quite content with the mediocre Aikido that is being presented to them is not a positive thing for the art. In the old days in Japan, if someone came in to your dojo and beat you up in front of your students, the students wold leave. There was a certain expectation that the art and the teacher could really do what they were saying. How many Aikido dojos would there be if that were how things worked still?

People will talk at length about O-Sensei and Aikido philosophy and they know almost no history, haven't ever had a subscription to Aikido Journal, aren't familiar with the modern history of the development of the art. I know Rokudans for whom this is true. They simply didn't have the interest to educate themselves. So how can anything they say be treated seriously?

It is so bad that teachers no longer represent the standard properly. So if they do not, how can one think the students will figure it out? It is excellence that we need, not more numbers. We need truth tellers and not more validation. We absolutely require a core of practitioners who will practice every day, not just the three times a week I said is needed to be competent. We need more Aikido fanatics who will take their training to the limit. That's where the next generation of excellent teachers will come from. It shouldn't be a bunch of mediocrities who have gotten rank because they've been loyal to some also mediocre teacher for decades.

So yes, when it comes to the survival of the art, I am an elitist. I am judgmental. I think that a number of "teachers" should commit hara kiri out of embarrassment over what a mediocre model they've been. I want to support and encourage the ones who want to do more, be better, I want to empower people to go for it and do a better Aikido, to be better than what they've been shown. It is completely doable. Aikido could transform itself in one generation if folks simply decided to do it.

I don't spend a lot of time worrying or talking about the "average" practitioner. To my mind, the best way I can help him or her is to do my best to raise the standard of instruction. I don't have any problems with average folks training any way they wish, as often as they wish, as hard or as soft as they see fit. It's the teachers I have a problem with and I see no need to be tolerant or forgiving when it comes to folks who open dojos and set themselves up as teachers who can't do the job due to lack of effort and commitment to being excellent at the art.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
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Old 11-16-2010, 05:20 AM   #44
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Hello George,

Many thanks for the response (Post # 35).

I am aware of the differences between standards and ideals, both as these are commonly understood, and as they are sometimes used in aikido.

However, my questions, to you and Lynn, did not really concern these terms. You used the terms 'intending' and 'striving' and Lynn used the word 'literal'.

In response to your post about standards and ideals, Lynn mentioned that 'how we think of things (intent) were literal commands to our neurology.' I asked for an explanation and gave a concrete example, about driving, but Lynn did not really give an explanation. If I look at something at the side of the road, my car might well drift to that side, but I am not a professional psychologist and I need some explanation of how this is relevant to issuing 'literal commands to our neurology'.

(The only other professional psychologist I know [non-American, I hasten to add] who practices aikido is famously / notoriously bad at giving explanations about virtually anything, since he claims that nothing is ever 'objective', but is a mishmash of subjective aims, intentions, strivings, emotions and motivations. For him aikido is a martial way of undergoing counseling.)

So, here is another question. In his training seminar, did Mr Gleason discuss the role of 'intent' in personal training? Of course, I am not talking here about the general standards and ideals that you so eloquently argue are not being met--virtually anywhere. I have in mind something much more basic: the role of intent in personal training exercises: exercises like, for example those that Mr Gleason must have done at the hands of Mr Harden and exercises that O Sensei certainly did alone. (My own training exercises here are from Mr Akuzawa.)

Finally, I believe that saints are not noted for doing what they believe, so much as living lives of heroic virtue. There is a religious connotation here and I think the cognate concept to 'saint' is holy. The way you described the popular idea of sainthood in Post #39 would also apply to Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

As always, best wishes.

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 11-16-2010 at 05:22 AM.

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Old 11-16-2010, 06:08 AM   #45
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Semantically, this is where the difference between "standards" and "values" applies.
Yes agreed, we differ.

I don' change my standards or expectation based on who others are or what context we are in.

IMHO, it is a personal choice and statement about the level of my standards.

I personally value high standards.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:13 AM   #46
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

[quote=George S. Ledyard;268298]No one needs to "champion" the hobbyists, to put forth the cause of the average... There are so many of those folks... they are the vast majority.

What needs championing is excellence.[quote]
Yes agreed.

Even as hobbyist there is a level of excellence far beyond what we can imagine and we can get closer to it than the think.

IMHO, we have made it easy to be good at AIkido because we have set the bar so low. (BTW, I say the same thing about being a good man.)

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:21 AM   #47
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I think that you find the teacher when you are ready. You and I met at the Aiki Expos. We trained in some of the same classes... I was at all three and was exposed to some of the most mind-blowingly talented martial artists I could have imagined.
Yes agreed.

The Expos blew me away. I will always be grateful to Sensei Pranin for the experience.

While I didn't see anything I didn't see everyday from my Sensei, I saw it from different perspectives and applications and realized that some of it was not only outside the box, but that there was no longer a box.

I have found most teachers (yourself included) would honestly teach if I honestly wanted to learn and put forth some effort to try what they were offering.

Hopefully as I model and mentor (not always by choice) that my models and mentors know how much I appreciate what they have invested in me by my humble attempts to pass the lessons on.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:29 AM   #48
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Barbara Knapp wrote: View Post
That is why achieving some set standard of physical technique for a belt is pointless. what matters is the quality of the practice. I do not see the link between perfect technique and perfection of character as all that strong.
Yes agreed.

I value mindful practice that pays close attention to the application of the principles. The principles can be generalized to other contexts.

While many say the "devil is in the details", I often respond "so are the angels".

IMHO, it is the integration and expression of those principles (not the techniques) that can be transformative and generative.

One of those principles (for me) is to accept and appreciate all with the courage to show up, dress out, and bow in.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:41 AM   #49
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Edit to my last post.

To George: my comments about sainthood refer you your post #35, not #39.

To Lynn: I pointed out that my professional psychologist aikido colleague was non-American, in order to avoid any suggestion that my judgment also applied to your good self.

Best wishes,

PAG

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