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Old 07-11-2008, 06:40 AM   #1
"Roamer"
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If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Daniel Pierson wrote: View Post
If you disagree with your instructor's explanations, why is she or he your instructor?
This is not quite so cut and dry as you might think. There are those of us that are not rooted to any one particular community and relocate after several years while Aikido (or any martial training) remains a foundation of our lives. We are not particularly tied to any one instructor and at times are constrained by the availability of dojos wherever we happen to find ourselves living. Personally, my main instructor will always be the one I spent the most time with in Asia. However, several other instructors and friends whom I have met during my many travels exert a good deal of influence on my aikido. There have been times where I have found myself practicing in a dojo where the instructor has a decent foundation but pales in comparison to others. Often there are stark contrasts which sometimes make me cringe and there have been times where the presiding instructor seems to miss what I understand to be the basic underlying principle of the technique or motion. Sometimes you find small dojos in rural or out of the way areas where the instructor has been training a long time but has not had the same opportunities or exposure to really good aikido, and their rank may not equate well with their abilities.

If no other nearby dojos are available or in some case may actually be worse, what are the options? Is it fair to a community of people to try and start a new dojo, if you know you are only resident in the area for a finite amount of time? Should you attempt to influence the instructor or try to change their approach to the technique? What do you say if the person has been practicing 10 or more years longer than you? Sorry, but I think you have missed the point the past decade? What if you're only a Nidan or Sandan and the instructor you dealing with is a Yondan or Godan? How can you express the disagreement without coming across as arrogant or condescending?

Some of us come from a very rich aikido background and have in a short amount of time experienced a very broad and expansive introduction to not only aikido but budo in general. So what do you tell an instructor whose background and experience is limited?
These are hard questions to answer. Sometimes all we're looking for is a place to practice, and while the instruction may not be teaching me anything new, the availability of the mat space and partners to practice with is valuable. There are times where I felt sorry for the local deshi. The instructor lacked the ability to truly connect with uke and relied solely on uke for any type of connection. Most of the techniques were at times ridiculous, and even seemed spiteful in execution. Ukes had to receive coaching on when to actually fall. This was seen as a failure of the uke and not the actual technique. So, what's a person to do?
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Old 07-11-2008, 09:15 AM   #2
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
So, what's a person to do?
Shut up and train?

No, seriously. But it sounds like that's what you're getting at?

I don't care if the instructor is a total knuckle-head. As long as there's nothing abusive going on ... and no-one asked for your opinion ... their dojo, their rules.

Quote:
These are hard questions to answer.
Actually, not so much. You're responsible for your own training.
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:27 AM   #3
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Gotta love these dramatic posts making a big deal out of the sensei-student relationship.

They're just teachers. They're not kings or messiahs. Ask questions, clarify, if disagreement persists, either find another teacher, or just agree to disagree, case closed.

No need to make it into a big crisis of faith. It's just a study.
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Old 07-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #4
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
How can you express the disagreement without coming across as arrogant or condescending?
You can't, so you don't.

I'm in a similar situation where I am required to relocate every 2-4 years. Not only does this mean I will likely not have continuity of training, I will also likely never achieve dan ranking. Am I worried about that? Not really.

Every instructor, no matter what his connection to "big time aikido" might be, has something to teach you, even if it's how not to do something. However, if you go into every new dojo judging it by all the previous dojos plus your own experience, chances are you'll miss it. Completely. As one of my former instructors used to say, you have to go into each new place with an empty cup.

I would suggest that if you are that unhappy with the local aikido dojo where you are, then take that time to crosstrain in something else. Try kendo, iaido, BJJ, or kung fu perhaps. Currently I am two hours away from the closest decent aikido dojo. While I occasionally put on an appearance there, I am also enjoying the chance to work with an extraordinary goju-ryu instructor.

Good luck to you.
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Old 07-11-2008, 09:40 PM   #5
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...you should be able to back up physically your opinion. It means you simply counter his/her technique.If your counter works - you are right and if you can counter all his techniques, well, you become instructor and he must learn from you
However, if he is able to do his technique successfully anyway, well, bow deeply, shut up and train harder.

As you see, it is so easy to solve your problem. Hope it helps.
Kind regards

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 07-12-2008, 10:40 PM   #6
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

how about: ask politely?...
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:53 AM   #7
Amir Krause
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Daniel Pierson wrote:
If you disagree with your instructor's explanations, why is she or he your instructor?
I think one should distinguish between your teacher and the momentary instructor.

One should have "his teacher" who one chose to follow, at least for some period of time. If you often disagree with your instructor's explanations, after a conversation, look for another.

When entering a class, it has an instructor, which is a "technical role". One may be better then the current instructor and even more senior then him (when replacing my absent\sick Sensei this had happened more then once). In such cases, one should try to learn as much as he can from the instructor and gain insight from the different prespective (even "bad example" can teach us some things).
The ethiquete of Aikido (and teaching) implies that one should normally not interfer with the instructor, even if he disagrees with him, definitly not during class (having done this once or twice, the practitioners would rather unlearn a stupid mistake the net lesson then being confused with two teachers arguing over something).

I would also mention that above a certain level (I ma far from it), the teacher one chooses might be the ideal of a long dead person, as one starts to build and investigate his own insipiration and carve his own way.

Amir
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:28 AM   #8
James Edwards
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Using the Shu Ha Ri principles might help perhaps?

To my humble and probably rather shallow understanding, it's about taking everything in at the beginning. Both the good and the bad. Only after that you can deconstruct everything, analyse the parts that you've learnt and finally you can put everything back together the way you see fit. Create something new that is your own so to speak.

I'm only a beginner in aikido and I've agreed with almost everything that my sensei has taught us. After all he's been doing this for decades. Recently I've been back in my own country and trained in the closest dojo I could find. I didn't really care who taught me, I just wanted to train. Well they were really different and I wasn't used to their training methods. I was told off quite a lot in that first session although there were people who needed more help than me. Then I went there the second time and there was a different instructor. He is not remotely as experienced as my usual instructor but he was also a good teacher. I still got quite a few criticism but I learnt a lot of things from that one lesson as well. So I thought what if I opened up completely, forget the stuff that I've learnt while I'm in the dojo and adopt a complete shoshin (beginner's mind)? I tried that in my third visit and I did not get criticised at all as I copied what is taught as closely as possible while trying to drop what I learnt in my home dojo. In the end, I took in a lot more and of course I managed to understand techniques better as well when I think of the different ways of doing them. It's not that they're wrong outside of my home dojo, it's just different. And I'm still learning from them. Of course there are still things I don't agree with in the new dojo but I could just shed them later on and combine it with my own understanding to create my own aikido that is made for myself.

I also understand what you mean when you said that the instructor may have a very narrow understanding of budo and aikido. If it is that unbearable then perhaps politely talk to him after class to indicate that? If he or she is too arrogant to listen to your constructive criticism then I would suggest you move to another dojo.
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:57 PM   #9
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Hiya:

When I originally posted this, I was speaking in general- If you disagree with your instructor's explanations (often, regularly, a majority of the time, etc.)

Some folks interpreted this as "If you EVER disagree, than why is he/she your instructor?"

I was going for the general statement to provoke thought and discussion, but some took it as very black/white unyielding commentary.

I apologize if I offended anyone, as that was not my goal.

BTW, I like Amir's point about differentiating between one's teacher and a momentary instructor.

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
- Aesop
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:23 PM   #10
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...you should be able to back up physically your opinion. It means you simply counter his/her technique.If your counter works - you are right and if you can counter all his techniques, well, you become instructor and he must learn from you
However, if he is able to do his technique successfully anyway, well, bow deeply, shut up and train harder.

As you see, it is so easy to solve your problem. Hope it helps.
Kind regards
Hi Szczepan, don't know how serious you are about this, but this is not going to work. The instructor might be doing something wrong while I don't have the skill back up my opinion physically. Should I then do my best to learn the teacher's decent way or should I try to improve my own good way?
And I have often seen teachers use this type of argument against students: "what you are doing is wrong because I can counter it like this". Well, if someone with more aikido experience than me, who already knows what I will be doing and who can adjust his attack to facilitate his counter to my technique, is not able to consistently counter my technique, I'd run out of their dojo screaming.

So while taking the discussion to a physical level may determine who is the better fighter, it will not determine whose ideas about aikido are the best.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:38 AM   #11
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

I completely disagree with quite a few of my instructors.

I feel my judo instructor's tactics and opinions on ground work are flawed and simplistic for example. However, I can not argue with his tactics and techniques for throwing people.

If I see something I feel is crap, first I will test it myself, then failing any positive results, I will ask my instructor for clarification. At that point if I feel he is still wrong I wait until a private moment and I challenge him on that assertion. Not in a fight, but just by saying "I feel this (insert whatever here) as I understand it is incorrect and this is why. Then I explain why, siting examples of my practice, my understanding of the art, etc. IF he ever was offended by that, I would then quit.

Just because your instructor is wrong is no reason to have any issue with him. If your instructor refuses to admit he doesn't know or is wrong, then by all means get out!

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:01 AM   #12
NagaBaba
 
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
Hi Szczepan, don't know how serious you are about this, but this is not going to work. The instructor might be doing something wrong while I don't have the skill back up my opinion physically. Should I then do my best to learn the teacher's decent way or should I try to improve my own good way?.
Hi Joep,
Don't forget, we are doing martial art, it is not a class of philosophy or how to discuss ideas.Whatever works phisically - you can't argue.If you disagree with some interpretation of technique, but instructor still can throw you, it simple means that your judgement is wrong.Face this brutal reality like a men

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
And I have often seen teachers use this type of argument against students: "what you are doing is wrong because I can counter it like this". Well, if someone with more aikido experience than me, who already knows what I will be doing and who can adjust his attack to facilitate his counter to my technique, is not able to consistently counter my technique, I'd run out of their dojo screaming..
Normally instructor is more experienced then you, so he must have a skills to backup his teaching.If he hasn't - un out of his dojo screaming
You can counter a technique because it has at least one opening, and not because you know what is coming.So countering a technique will display this opening, however even then, not every instructor will see it
Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote: View Post
So while taking the discussion to a physical level may determine who is the better fighter, it will not determine whose ideas about aikido are the best.
I know that it is very difficult for instructor ego, when his student can reverse his technique - but it is the only way for them to improve understanding of aikido .

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 07-22-2008, 11:27 AM   #13
DonMagee
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hi Joep,
Don't forget, we are doing martial art, it is not a class of philosophy or how to discuss ideas.Whatever works phisically - you can't argue.If you disagree with some interpretation of technique, but instructor still can throw you, it simple means that your judgement is wrong.Face this brutal reality like a men

Normally instructor is more experienced then you, so he must have a skills to backup his teaching.If he hasn't - un out of his dojo screaming
You can counter a technique because it has at least one opening, and not because you know what is coming.So countering a technique will display this opening, however even then, not every instructor will see it

I know that it is very difficult for instructor ego, when his student can reverse his technique - but it is the only way for them to improve understanding of aikido .
This is not entirely true. I can out box a lot of people, but to claim they should come learning boxing from me would be silly. I don't know the first thing about boxing. I know plenty of guys who because of their size and build can take me down with single leg takedowns that would make even the worst highschool wrestler cringe. They are not qualified to teach those takedowns simply because they work on me. A true test of skill is not defined by a single encounter. A good technique works no matter the size, strength or skill of the attacker.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:30 AM   #14
jss
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
A good technique works no matter the size, strength or skill of the attacker.
That's not a good technique, that's a perfect technique. And perfect techniques don't exist, only good (i.e. high-percentage) techniques.
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:41 AM   #15
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hi Joep,
Don't forget, we are doing martial art, it is not a class of philosophy or how to discuss ideas.Whatever works phisically - you can't argue.If you disagree with some interpretation of technique, but instructor still can throw you, it simple means that your judgement is wrong.Face this brutal reality like a men
I'm all for backing up ideas physically, but if the instructor still can throw me, it can mean to things:
1) there was no opening to begin with;
2) there was an opening, but I lacked the skill to exploit it.

Quote:
You can counter a technique because it has at least one opening, and not because you know what is coming.
But if you know what is coming and you adapt your attack (as uke) to create the desired opening in tori/nage's technique so that you can counter it, you are doing something quite skillful, but it is no longer an honest evaluation of the technique. It's winning a technical argument at the cost of sincerity. And that's what I see happening all of the time.

Quote:
I know that it is very difficult for instructor ego, when his student can reverse his technique - but it is the only way for them to improve understanding of aikido .
If you actually teach this way, more power to you!
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Old 09-11-2008, 01:46 PM   #16
max5payne
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

I guess you're stuck in a pretty bad situation right now.

But as you know, with the thousands if not millions of aikido practitioners in the world, you have to realize that what you perceive as basics is probably different from what your instructor might consider basics.

Take for example, an ex-commando that teaches aikido has a totally different mindset and skill sets when you compare it to a ki aikido instructor. what might be considered a tangible skill for instructor X might be considered hogwash by instructor Z. Compare that with the varying styles of aikido within aikikai itself. Most shihans are different if not VERY different from each other. some are very soft , and some are pretty hard. for example a aikidoka that studied under nishio sensei could/would put more emphasis on atemi, while someone else might focus exclusively on pure technique.

And you have to understand that aikido is for many people, many different things. For some, a way of life for others a way of self improvement. Some see it as a sport, some see it as self defense some just see it as a simple pass time. (cause movies and beer is getting more expensive nowadays :P)

But for your situation, if you are REALLY bugged by it, talk to the sensei privately. NO one wants to be countered in the middle of class especially when they're the sensei. It's always nice to offer the hand of diplomacy rather than shoot off about this or that being wrong.

But as far as I've seen, your probably get like 3 different type of replies

A --> Instructor thinks it's OK! and he even wants to learn from you
B --> Instructor thinks that it's OK, but isn't completely OK with it.(i.e. like maybe his/her students cant take ukemi the way which is required for a certain technique that you are advocating)
C --> Instructor calls you to shut the hell up.

I pray for you that he is the A type.

Another thing you have to consider is his view on the subject, he might think entering differently as better because it's safer, rather than being more flowing or any other reasons.

In the end, everyone that's teaching has something to give. you might not consider it useful or right NOW, but if you stick with it, you might see something in the future. If you really dun want it? It's ok to leave.

To do aikido is to enjoy it, no point having tension while following ueshiba's way to make better people. I don't think making bitter, angry people is the main goal of aikido.

hope this helps!
cheers from Singapore!

p.s. my English isn't really fantastic so bear with me.
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:34 AM   #17
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Szczepan try this experiment. Find the most experienced instructor you can find -someone you're convinced has the goods. Tell him you're going to attack, say shomen uchi. Then place a wager. If he throws you irimi nage he gets $50. If he doesn't you get $50. If you were to genuinely run that test I doubt he'd irmi nage you -whatever his skill level.

Thats not to say he's no good - the point is it's easy to counter when you know the strategy.
Ah you say but he should be able to blend with my counter into something else.
Sure but then he's no longer demonstrating irimi nage. So a simplistic "can you counter the technique" argument doesn't work when we're talking about a paradigm which is asking uke to "behave as if" they didn't know what was coming for the sake of learning individual techniques rather than sparring continuously.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 09-12-2008, 01:29 AM   #18
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote: View Post
Thats not to say he's no good - the point is it's easy to counter when you know the strategy.
Ah you say but he should be able to blend with my counter into something else.
We are talking about teacher and his/her students - are we?
And: In our training it's normal to "test" the techniques of our partners by resisting or cuntering them.

When I begann to do Aikido I admired my teacher for the ability to do the techniques he wanted to do with every student. If he wanted to do irimi nage you could do nothing against that. Neither beginners nor advanced students could resist to his technique.

By now I am teaching aikido myself. And I think it is a matter of course that I can do the techniques on my students even if they try to resist.
Because a teacher should be able to blend with a counter of a student and find a way into and through the technique he wants to demonstrate. Or he shouldn't call himself a teacher.

The more difficult this becomes because of the skills of a student the more I become the partner of that aikidoka instead of being his teacher.

And - how Szczepan Janczuk wrote - everytime a student is able to resist or counter my technique this is an opportunity for me to learn and to improve.

Or at least hope I do...
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:33 PM   #19
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote: View Post
Szczepan try this experiment. Find the most experienced instructor you can find -someone you're convinced has the goods. Tell him you're going to attack, say shomen uchi. Then place a wager. If he throws you irimi nage he gets $50. If he doesn't you get $50. If you were to genuinely run that test I doubt he'd irmi nage you -whatever his skill level.

Thats not to say he's no good - the point is it's easy to counter when you know the strategy.
Ah you say but he should be able to blend with my counter into something else.
Sure but then he's no longer demonstrating irimi nage. So a simplistic "can you counter the technique" argument doesn't work when we're talking about a paradigm which is asking uke to "behave as if" they didn't know what was coming for the sake of learning individual techniques rather than sparring continuously.
Hi Michael,
I did it already long time ago, when I searched for right teacher To these days nothing changed - he can still do whatever he decided to do - there is simply not openings Such teachers are very precious and rare. I understand you didn't find one. Please try harder!

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 09-13-2008, 10:42 PM   #20
DonMagee
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Hi Michael,
I did it already long time ago, when I searched for right teacher To these days nothing changed - he can still do whatever he decided to do - there is simply not openings Such teachers are very precious and rare. I understand you didn't find one. Please try harder!
I guess I've never met anyone who has no openings. Because if I know what is coming, I know example what to do to make life difficult for that person. For example, if I know you want to grab my wrist, I'm going to be apprehensive and pull my wrist away when you try to grab. This means no commitment in my strikes.

I'm of the opinion that a good martial artist does not make the technique he wants to do work, he adapts himself to what his partner/opponent is doing and finds a way to get the desired result (uke on the ground, uke unconscious, etc). It's not about doing X technique, it's about the desired result. If I tell you i'm going to throw you with O'soto gari and you resist, I'm not going to keep trying that technique, that goes against the principles of judo, instead i'm going to use your resistance and throw you harder with a different throw. Then when you get up all made that I told you O'soto, I'm going to laugh my ass off.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-14-2008, 08:35 AM   #21
JO
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Re: If you disagree with your instructor's explanations...

Interestingly enough I once took a class taught by Szczepan's sensei where we were doing shiho nage. I was training with a big yudansha and we were resisting eachothers technique by keeping our elbows in and low and sinking our weight down. After about five minutes of getting nowhere, my partner asked the sensei: "What would you do?" His aswer was "Something else".

Jonathan Olson
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