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Old 06-30-2008, 03:32 PM   #76
Tenyu
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Re: How one becomes a master

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Aikido is not a religion...Ueshiba Sensei said that himself. He did say that it completes all religions...but it is not one itself. Important distinction methinks...

Best,
Ron
Ron

I agree. Religious practice shouldn't be exclusive to any specific place or time such as an aikido dojo.

O Sensei:

This budo is both martial art and religious faith... a divine revelation from God. If you practice it for three months, you will have no enemies under heaven.
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Old 06-30-2008, 03:43 PM   #77
Ron Tisdale
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Re: How one becomes a master

Yikes! Nice poetry Dennis!

The only thing I am master of is my domain...

Best,
Ron (today, anyway...)

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 06-30-2008, 06:16 PM   #78
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Re: How one becomes a master

Ellis brings up two interesting distinctions within the subset of people who can be considered to exhibit genius.
The first distinction is between the high-functioning and the low-functioning genius. Low functioning genius, as seen in the severely autistic, seems to be characterized by literally having one activity be the focus of one's whole life. The severely autistic often cannot master or even attempt many basic skills, but can obsess completely and totally with a single piece of subject matter to the point of becoming expert who can never pass on their mastery. A good example is the Daniel Tammet who can recall pi to 20,000 some digits but cannot tell left from right and has been unable to learn to drive a car. Daniel does math by interpreting the colors and imagery he sees in his mind's eye. This is not a "learnable" skill, but I will get to that in a minute. By contrast, Leonardo Da Vinci was a high-functioning genius who was able to function very well in society of his time, but possessed the "renaissance man" ability to excel in any area his curiosity would take him. It seems that many of those I look up to as subject matter experts in my social sphere often excel in a similar variety of ways, often being able to add the likes of chef, poet, sculptor, craftsman, and engineer, to martial artist.
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Old 06-30-2008, 06:29 PM   #79
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Re: How one becomes a master

The second distinction is between people with seemingly "innate" skills and those with "learned" skills. As a caveat I would like to mention Ellis' story about the ballerina (maybe the same one) who was able to learn a rote form of Taekwando within a single demonstration. Training methods such as gymnastics and ballet often bestow upon the practitioner almost superhuman physical learning capacity, and that is not what I am talking about here when I say "innate" skill. That type of neurological adaptation is itself a learned skill and does not count as or bestow "innate" ability. An innate ability is something like what Daniel Tammet discovered after having a seizure. After a while he was able to associate the visions in his head with numbers and realized that he was now at the helm of a seemingly non-deterministic computing machine. Althought Daniel had to put in a lot of effort to discover the parameters of his new ability, the ability itself seems to be something he innately possesses. While all of us may have the occasional brush with synesthesia, it is unlikely that most of us will be able to teach ourselves to perform intensely complex mathematics by interpreting closed-eye visuals. On the other hand, a subset of people seem capable of taking some subject matter and either making it or adding it to their life's work in a way that yeilds unique or very hard to replicate results. They, over time, through effort, attain an understanding of the subject that cursory study would never reveal to any normal person. In my mind this is Osensei, fairly high-functioning, did not start martial arts training particularly early, did not train particularly long with the exactly right people, but made himself through his efforts and a unique (possibly incomprehensible) insight he brought to the table. Perhaps Osensei's unique insight was itself an "innate" skill, but it seems to have blossomed a lot later in his life than the innate skills of many others.
For me a difficult question is should I attempt to replicate Osense's insight, his methods, both or neither. It is a tough question and as many have stated here on Aikiweb, the results of choosing wrong can lead to spending a lot of time not learning much.

Last edited by bkedelen : 06-30-2008 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:11 PM   #80
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Re: How one becomes a master

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-expert-mind
I've highlighted several sectins in the quotes

Practice, practice, practice?
Motivation?

Seems to explain things in the most mundane fashion. There seems to be no genius, at least not that can be "scientifically" proved. The first quote, below, is a perfect exposition of kata training done properly.

Yet, Gauss, who was mentioned among math prodigies, was doing creative math at age three. This is not a mere matter of practice. Kobe Bryant (an arrogant jerk) and LeBron James (a fine young man) - - again, character and skill are not linked - - are more than the product of mere practice. I used to practice basketball six hours a day. I literally practiced in over a foot of snow. And I believe, in retrospect, in the right way, with prospectively more difficult tasks (see below). But I never got beyond mediocre.

Are purely physical skills different from purely mental? Is there a continuum from the athletic to that in the middle (music, for example) to the purely mental (chess). Are physical skills more a mark of talent? One thing to note, again, is ballet. The Russians in the Bolshoi, the French in the Paris Opera, for example select children at a very young age, measuring limbs, flexibility, and reflexes. They can predict, with considerable accuracy, who will be a fine ballet dancer. They have no way of predicting who will be a Nureyev.

But harkening back to my original posts - Grandmaster Flash, our little three year old ballerina - passion (motivation) will drive "superhuman" levels of focused training. Sagawa (several hours of solo training for many decades every day), Ueshiba ("what I am is the product of 60 years of hard training" - recent interview on AJ of Saito Morihiro)

Since asking oneself if one is a genius is bootless, but proper training seems to take you as far as possible, motivation is the accessible key. (A lot of words expended to say the obvious )

Quote:
Ericsson argues that what matters is not experience per se but "effortful study," which entails continually tackling challenges that lie just beyond one's competence. That is why it is possible for enthusiasts to spend tens of thousands of hours playing chess or golf or a musical instrument without ever advancing beyond the amateur level and why a properly trained student can overtake them in a relatively short time. It is interesting to note that time spent playing chess, even in tournaments, appears to contribute less than such study to a player's progress; the main training value of such games is to point up weaknesses for future study.Even the novice engages in effortful study at first, which is why beginners so often improve rapidly in playing golf, say, or in driving a car. But having reached an acceptable performance--for instance, keeping up with one's golf buddies or passing a driver's exam--most people relax. Their performance then becomes automatic and therefore impervious to further improvement. In contrast, experts-in-training keep the lid of their mind's box open all the time, so that they can inspect, criticize and augment its contents and thereby approach the standard set by leaders in their fields.
Quote:
At this point, many skeptics will finally lose patience. Surely, they will say, it takes more to get to Carnegie Hall than practice, practice, practice. Yet this belief in the importance of innate talent, strongest perhaps among the experts themselves and their trainers, is strangely lacking in hard evidence to substantiate it.
Quote:
motivation appears to be a more important factor than innate ability in the development of expertise.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 07-02-2008 at 12:15 PM.

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Old 07-02-2008, 02:41 PM   #81
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Re: How one becomes a master

That makes me wonder how many leaders in various fields are more the products of inspirational coaches than the products of their own effort. A great coach can sometimes motivate a student beyond what they themselves could accomplish. In addition a great coach can mercilessly reveal the weaknesses that must next be addressed, and not coddle the student into thinking they are doing a great job when they are just treading water.

Last edited by bkedelen : 07-02-2008 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 07-02-2008, 05:11 PM   #82
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Re: How one becomes a master

Genius/talent passion and work. Renee Fleming, considered among the most wonderful sopranos of this age has written quite a lovely book (The Inner Voice: the Making of a Singer. Paperback ed. New York: Penguin Group, 2004. ISBN: 9780143035947). It is gracefully written, but is truly remarkable for the meticulous descriptions she gives on how "magic" is created - how technically precise beauty must be. Compare this to the relatively untrained Andrea Bocelli, a gifted natural talent - but whose weaknesses are quite apparent, due to his lack of training.
And then I think of a fellow from my neighborhood - who had this passion to be an opera singer, and who worked at low-level jobs most of his adult life, spending every spare dime on singing lessons. And my mother, who was an opera singer, visited him, he already in his mid-forties, and as she told me, "It was so sad. I can't imagine anyone working harder. But his voice was just not - - -it was painful to listen to."
And in many cases - a final component - timing. When do you start to learn. Some disciplines require an earlier beginning than others. Ignacy Jan Paderewski was renowned as a great performer. He was talented, brilliant, and had wonderful musical sense - and a wonderful work ethic. But, it was generally conceded, he started too late in music to be at the highest level.

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Old 07-02-2008, 08:56 PM   #83
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Re: How one becomes a master

Ellis,

After reading the last two stories, which I enjoyed and am not debating you, I can't help to think that Andrea Bocelli isn't a master. I understand he lacks technical training and doesn't stand up to those measures of what is set as acceptable in Opera. I am sure it is like Bob Dylan vocals vs. Whitney Houston (before the drugs) vocals.

I understand your point. My comment about Bocelli has nothing to do with your point about mastery. It is that he became so popular and really did a lot for bringing more people into enjoying Opera. Opera is in all it's technical greatness, requires an ear trained in the appreciation of Opera. I prefer Bocelli, because my ear isn't trained, it prefers imperfection for some reason.

There are many of us who lack talent and have the passion for the art who will never be masters, this is true. I think we expect and place too much importance on mastery of skill, and that is the only thing that is valuable. It is about results, about winning. But there is also the mastery of passion. Those of us who have passion but don't have the talent to be masters. There isn't much placed on the importance on passion, the amount of passion, the longevity of passion etc. a person has.Like a passionate person who knows they lack the talent, but is still intensely passionate keeps on. But that isn't valued. It is over-shadowed my technical mastery.

In other areas like romance, passion is highly valued, it is what makes it all happen. Later in life, passion for like is what keeps you going. Many people have sad lives because they lack passion. But too often people don't see the connection and value results over everything else, like the passion. Because mastery is like genius where only a small percentage of people become master have, I think those who have great genuine passion regardless of the technically abilities are masters. And so what if your instrument isn't played perfectly, because it is the passion behind the musician and not the technical perfection that makes the music passionate. Come to think of it, it is the same for dance a passionate dancer brings life to the dance. A technically great dance who doesn't bring or put passion into the dance is dancing dead.



I think if a person is a master and acts like a royal diva, a rotten arrogant jerk or snob doesn't make them less of a master, it makes them less of a person.

So the question is how one becomes a master, but mastery really is about passion and if you don't have the passion to put into what your doing, your not going to be much of a master even if your a devil or a saint.

Do I got it?

Last edited by Buck : 07-02-2008 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:25 PM   #84
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: How one becomes a master

Buck -

As far as I'm concerned, yes, I think we both got it. Passion above all, because without it, the practice, no matter how many reps and hours, is rote and dead.
Best

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Old 07-02-2008, 10:46 PM   #85
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Re: How one becomes a master

Ellis,

I should have said that upteen posts ago before replying. In my first posts I took passion in one light, then after reading more of you posts I started to see you may have been using passion differently then what I had first read it as. I am glad I got it.

Thanks.
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:07 AM   #86
Aikibu
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Re: How one becomes a master

Hey Ellis, Buck, and gang,

A particular tome that I find inspirational year after year is

"Sparks of Genius" by Michele and Robert Root Bernstein.

I bought it when it first came out and it has some really great insights (in fact a whole book full! LOL ) and I highly recommend it.

I guess the 2nd edition is now subtitled "The 13 Thinking Tools of the worlds most creative people."

Here is the Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Sparks-Genius-.../dp/0618127453

If you guys buy it I hope you enjoy it and it's practical suggestions as much as I do. I found it to be very helpful.

William Hazen
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:57 AM   #87
Keith Larman
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Re: How one becomes a master

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
It is gracefully written, but is truly remarkable for the meticulous descriptions she gives on how "magic" is created - how technically precise beauty must be. Compare this to the relatively untrained Andrea Bocelli, a gifted natural talent - but whose weaknesses are quite apparent, due to his lack of training.
Ya know, it's funny. I've been working on the 3rd movement of the moonlight sonata. Lots of years of classical training. And I have a few recordings I like to listen to. Horowitz does a lovely job. I have a few others that are quite remarkable. But lately I've been "re"-listened to my Glenn Gould recordings. Damnit, that man was a genius.

And he played that third movement too damned fast!

It's infuriating!

But gorgeous...

From another planet...

And I can't reconcile it...


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Old 07-03-2008, 01:02 PM   #88
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Re: How one becomes a master

Great discussion!!

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Buck -

As far as I'm concerned, yes, I think we both got it. Passion above all, because without it, the practice, no matter how many reps and hours, is rote and dead.
Best
And a thousand reps of suburi done wrong, but none-the-less done "passionately" by so many is also dead. Practice doesn't cut it as many-including the opera singer-aftetr years of training came up bupkis. Oh I can't count the Berkley grads I used to play with who sucked.

It's why I asked in the first place. It’s a fascinating, but perhaps fruitless quest to either define or replicate it.
I don't think genius alone cuts it, as fortitude, obsession, and a good dogged work ethic is needed in most cases
Mentoring is no promise either.
Passion alone I mentioned above.
I don't think anyone truly knows the spark's origin-or even how to nurture it. Your idea of Daemon driving someone to "play out their calling or predilection may equate with the Christian idea of divine prominence. Call it God playing and having fun spreading some talent and seeing what comes of it.
Or an evolutionist’s dream of certain human folk jump starting the next selection.
But maybe both of those still require a trigger perhaps to put it in motion, and the right environment to help it grow.
I've seen genius squandered, talent gone to waste, impassioned mediocrity, and visionaries imprisoned and held back by dullards in authority. Inversely most bankers will tell you its very dangerous to have the visionary at the helm, they are always looking for the bean counter / planner behind him.

I guess I don’t have a real point to make, other than I think it may just be a broad range of in born talent, coupled with genius or not needed for certain things, nurtured skills that help extend a conducive environment, and maybe a little weirdness thrown in to achieve a self- absorbed state of focus through failure, that brings us the masters.
Who knows. One thing is for certain. Men’s judge of just who the masters are, when it doesn’t involve statistical models and competition- is as subjective as their favorite foods and their own abilities to judge.
One sees a spark
One see a bright flame…
And another just sees a lot of smoke.
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:27 PM   #89
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: How one becomes a master

My compliments. You sometimes say you can't write - and that was both lovely - and true (in that architect's sense of things lined up).

Best

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Old 07-03-2008, 05:59 PM   #90
Mark Kruger
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Re: How one becomes a master

To reach the very pinnacle of an art requires innate talent as well as hard work, good instruction, and a host of other things.

I hate innate talent.

It is a variable in the equation of mastery that I cannot control. It is constant that was set in my genetics. I can't do anything about my innate talent (or lack thereof), so why think on it? I'd rather spend my time and effort on those things I can control. Things like time spent, awareness invested in practice, and skilled teachers sought out. Will I ever be the best? Given my lack of innate talent at anything, no. Will I be better than if I didn't work on the things I could control?

All to often it is a crutch to explain away failure. The other person is better, not because paid more attention, found better instructors, spent more time training, and just plain did the work. No, it is because the other person has more innate talent... At a pistol match last winter a new shooter shows up. His score was 30% of mine. He said: "Wow, I wish I was a natural like you." He had no idea of how much time I spent at home working on the basic skills in dry-fire, how many times a week I go to the range, the tens of thousands of rounds fired every year, the money spent training with skilled instructors. What work? It's innate talent that allowed me to beat this guy.

When I get beaten, is it because of innate talent, or because they put in more and better work than I did? Sure, at the very top levels, when everyone has done as much work as they can, innate talent will provide that little extra edge that separates the winner from the first loser. Am I near that level? (The answer to that last one is: No.)

Passion. I think that passion is a motivator that drives awareness. Awareness, examining the moment, is where I think most folks fall down. It is all to easy to fall into the trap of routine and train for 20 years and end up with the 1st year 20 times.

Respectfully,
Mark Kruger
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