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Old 10-19-2006, 08:35 AM   #26
Dennis Hooker
Dojo: Shindai Dojo, Orlando Fl.
Location: Orlando Florida
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 456
Re: Where is the line drawn?

A little more light on the subject.

Budo Training - Shu Ka Ri
Yukiyoshi Takamura Sensei

Interviewer: How did you find learning & teaching different in the west compared to Japan?
Takamura Sensei: When I first came to America I realized that the western mind was not going to be taught in the same way as a Japanese mind. The American situation was just too different. Americans are by nature more skeptical and suspicious than Japanese. Western freedom of thought permits a student to examine and question things in a way that would be totally inappropriate in Japan.
This is both good and bad. On the bad side, it can lead a student to dismiss a technique or concept as invalid just because he has not put in the time to learn it properly or delve into its secrets. Students that fall into this trap never master their basics. Later in their training you find gaping holes left by ignoring important lessons that the student chose not to pursue because he couldn't see the value in them. When I find a student like this I usually will not accept him. It is too much trouble to undo the damage done by this mindset and a mediocre sensei.
On the good side, it allows for a much greater flow of information between student and teacher. It also allows a greater level of creativity by the student. Students with strong basics and freedom of thought far outdistance the more traditional Japanese model. The best of both worlds actually exists in concept in Japan. It is called "Shu Ha Ri." It is a theoretical method for transmitting any classical ryu. In practice however I believe it has had limited success.
Cultural realities in Japan historically don't encourage individuality. So while a great foundation for learning is built, the creative freedom to expand upon it is seldom realized. For proof of this just look at what has happened in Judo, or even Sumo for that matter. The more innovative foreigners have been dominating Judo. Europeans and Korean's are impressively driving the technical innovations in that sport. Foreigners are slowly making these same inroads into Sumo.
Sometimes Shu Ha Ri is correctly applied and innovative traditionalism keeps the arts core and practical truths in tact. Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu is one of the rare examples in the koryu world where Shu Ha Ri has in my opinion been successful

Dennis Hooker: (DVD) Zanshin and Ma-ai in Aikido

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Old 10-19-2006, 09:29 AM   #27
K Stewart
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 9
Re: Where is the line drawn?

I've only been practicing Aikido for about eight months, but another lifelong practice I've been doing for 30+ years is working with horses.

There are many parallels, many, many. For me, they are both about layers of knowledge, of understanding, of letting the knowledge sink into my soul rather than remaining rattling around in my brain.

Last year I had a huge realization that things I thought I "knew" on my path of horsemanship, such as softness, centering, intent, energy, I didn't really know. I was just dipping my toe into the pool of knowledge...and this is after decades of work. Now, I guess I'm in up to my knees. It'll be another few years before I peel off more layers and am up to my eyeballs! And also, I'll never be as good as I want to be, and there will always be more to learn, more to refine, more layers to unpeel. To me, that's exciting. It's a lifelong process, and I would be sad if it had a finite ending.

With Aikido, for me it follows the same path. I realize my "knowledge" of ikkyo or irimi nage or whatever today, as a 5th kyu, will be vastly different from my "knowlege" of it a few years from now.

Similar to katas, yeah, I "know" the 18 steps of the first jo and bokken katas. But put me next to my Sensei, who's been practicing Aikido for 20 years, and it will soon become obvious that his knowledge of the katas and my knowledge of the katas are worlds apart. His has depth; mine is superficial. And yet I'd bet if asked he'd say he's still working on making his kata the best he can.

So, for me, I accept and am content with where I am on this journey today, in this moment, and I'm also continually striving to do better, to understand at a deeper level.

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Old 10-19-2006, 10:11 AM   #28
ian's Avatar
Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,654
Re: Where is the line drawn?

I think you feel like you 'know' a technique when you have had an enlightenment about it or you suddenly understand you know how to improve it. Then you have a few more years of using this altered technique until you realise there is more to learn. I've often come out of class thinking - yes; I can do this. And for a while that is true, but then I start to reanalyse it.

Although I think it is great to have beginners mind, I think the learning process is actually cyclical (as mentioned before). You refine and rediscover aspects that you've already learnt.

Last year I felt like I'd understood ikkyo (and indeed I can teach an effective ikkyo far more quickly to my students than I could 5 years ago). I know there are many different ways to do it, using the same concept, but I am certainly better at ikkyo than I was.

Last edited by ian : 10-19-2006 at 10:15 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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