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  #76  
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 11-17-2010, 05:31 PM   #75
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
following in Wittgentsein's footsteps, who ground their thinking in as precise an analysis of language as they care capable of.
My undergraduate study was a double major in psychology and philosophy.

Having spent most of my life as an auditory learner (some one who actually thought you should spell phonetics phonetically and when the teach said sound it out I told her I was) I attempt to be very precise in my language since I am very aware of their power as direct and indirect suggestions.

That's why I enjoy these conversations.

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 11-17-2010, 06:34 PM   #76
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Dr. Goldsbury.

Over the last few years I've come to the realization that those philosophers I was most interested in during my college days ended up being those who were of the least significance to my thinking today. There were a few I studied who I didn't give any particular weight to their ideas *at the time*, Austen and Wittgenstein in particular. Interestingly enough they were the ones who had the most long term and profound effect on my thinking. Wittgenstein ruined me. Austen ruined me. So in class I struggled with Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre enamored with the "glamor" of the whole existential movement. But Austen and Wittgenstein just keep pulling me back down to earth.

I am going to have to dust off my old copy of "How to do things with Words".

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Old 11-17-2010, 08:17 PM   #77
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Do you know how much a copy is going for? I have yet to see one for sale anywhere.
On those infrequent occasions when a copy appears "out there", the price is usually in the $300-450 range, depending on condition. The majority of the copies I've seen offered have been located in Japan.
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:09 PM   #78
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Just to clarify...

I have Budo Training in Aikido that says it was produced by the Sugawara Martial Arts Institute. Copyright 1997 by the late doshu, printed October 2001. Translation by L Bieri. Is this the same book? If so, is the only difference the inclusion of the source Japanese or is the translation itself somewhat different?

Just trying to keep things straight.

Thanks!

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Old 11-17-2010, 11:45 PM   #79
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Just to clarify...

I have Budo Training in Aikido that says it was produced by the Sugawara Martial Arts Institute. Copyright 1997 by the late doshu, printed October 2001. Translation by L Bieri. Is this the same book? If so, is the only difference the inclusion of the source Japanese or is the translation itself somewhat different?

Just trying to keep things straight.

Thanks!
The Sugawara edition has the same drawings and translated English content. The earlier publication, with the traditionally hand-bound pages and slipcover, has all the Japanese text as well.
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Old 11-18-2010, 12:09 AM   #80
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Ah, great, thank you. That's what I thought but I realized I wasn't sure. Thanks!

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Old 11-18-2010, 12:53 AM   #81
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I am going to have to dust off my old copy of "How to do things with Words".
Hello Keith,

I think you will find Sense and Sensibila and some of the essays in his Philosophical Papers of more relevance to the topics being discussed here.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 11-18-2010, 08:38 AM   #82
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Keith,

I think you will find Sense and Sensibila and some of the essays in his Philosophical Papers of more relevance to the topics being discussed here.

Best wishes,

PAG
Thank you Dr. Goldsbury. Also, all apologies to the late John Austin -- I notice I keep typing Austen. I'm going to blame him for naming his book Sense and Sensibilia with a name so close to Jane Austen.

Of course she borrowed the name from Aristotle herself...

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Old 11-18-2010, 12:28 PM   #83
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Loose language is often a product of competency and accountability. When you become a politician in the US you also get a Rosetta Stone tutorial in loose language.

One of the things I liked about Dan Linden's book was that he used a straight-forward language that removed much of the Japanese terminology that required interpretation.

Sometimes I hear aikido conversations that start in English but then includes gooey Japanese terminology that not only requires translation but also interpretation. At some point in time authors of aikido instruction will need to present [instructional] conversations in a uni-lingual (and uni-cultural) format. These authors will need to be competent to interpret with accuracy the presentation and they will be accountable for mis-interpretation if the presentation is found faulty.

While I appreciate a brain boggle ever once in a while, at some point we need to move past this "bend like a reed in the wind" master on a hill stuff and begin instructing with a defined curriculum. And for the record, many instructors are already doing this...

While I understand the enlightened education of self-revelation, don't you just want to tell people where they can stick satsujinken and katsujinken when you ask them to clarify WTF they mean and they give you the "if you don't know, I can't tell you" members-only BS?
Oooohhh - maybe we need jackets!!?
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Old 11-18-2010, 03:29 PM   #84
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post

While I appreciate a brain boggle ever once in a while, at some point we need to move past this "bend like a reed in the wind" master on a hill stuff and begin instructing with a defined curriculum. And for the record, many instructors are already doing this...

While I understand the enlightened education of self-revelation, don't you just want to tell people where they can stick satsujinken and katsujinken when you ask them to clarify WTF they mean and they give you the "if you don't know, I can't tell you" members-only BS?
Oooohhh - maybe we need jackets!!?
Hi Jon,
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning. So, on a certain level there is quite a bit of "if you don't know, I can't tell you" material in Aikido. I could show you, I could teach it to you given time, but without some mat time, I really can't explain it to you. All the really good stuff is like that. The stuff that can by easily explained to someone of lesser experience is really basic that's why it can be explained easily.

As far as referencing Mr Linden, well, he's the guy that says "ki" is bullshit. Doing an art called "Aikido".

- George

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Old 11-18-2010, 04:02 PM   #85
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Hi Jon,
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning. So, on a certain level there is quite a bit of "if you don't know, I can't tell you" material in Aikido. I could show you, I could teach it to you given time, but without some mat time, I really can't explain it to you. All the really good stuff is like that. The stuff that can by easily explained to someone of lesser experience is really basic that's why it can be explained easily.
Mr. Ledyard.

I think this cuts to the heart of the problem we have in transmission of these skills. The question is whether the "ineffability" of these things is a result of them being, well, ineffable as a fundamental feature *or* if the limitation is one of our language to express it. To riff a bit on the philosophical side of things, Wittgenstein had a great quote (among many) "The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for." We can quibble about what exactly that means, but I think his point is well taken.

I recently told someone else that I truly despise the concept of "It Has To Be Felt". Not because I don't "get" that it is apparently the most common way to transmit this stuff. But because back to Wittgenstein's point the real issue to me is whether we are suffering from a lack of understanding as the real core problem.

I would point out that some folk out there right now (Harden, Sigman, Threadgill, Akuzawa, Kuroda, Ushiro, etc.) teaching their students to do these things much faster. And each seems to have similar but varied conceptions of how this "magic" works. I think it is interesting that each person tends to be "attractive" to certain folk over others. And how passionate some get about their comparisons (or contrasts) and how very much emotional attachment there is to each individual's approach -- it is like a religious argument at times.

I think this situation implies that these people have models of how this stuff works and/or how to transmit the skills that is more efficient than what many had been doing in the recent past. That does not, however, mean that each model is equally valid or that any of them is correct, just that it is able to convey the knowledge faster than just "hey, feel this and try to do it".

All of the aforementioned guys do a lot more than IHTBF (tm, patent pending). They all couch it in a model of how it works with what appears to me to be internally consistent explanations.

So we are seeing improvement. Which means that I don't think the issue is one of ineffability but one of insufficient vocabulary. Which implies our understanding of what is going on "under the hood" is quite incomplete. Which quite frankly doesn't strike me as all that controversial of an idea. Most of the folk teaching it acknowledge they're often using metaphors and imagery to convey a feeling.

So to me this all cries out for a better understanding of the physiological. Of the dynamic. Of how these people can do these things. Then we can focus in on defining proper terms that are more physically descriptive, more precise, and as a result less "poetic" so we can get rid of some of the "mental masturbation" exercises we tend to see (even on these forums -- I'm thinking of one kanji thread right now).

To use a friend's rather colorful terms, our models to describe what we do suck. Some guys are offering up new models that suck less.

So when I read of someone like Mr. Linden saying "there's no such thing as Ki" within aikido, I don't really have an argument. Which 'ki" is he talking about? And who out there has even come close to defining what the hell it is in the first place anyway?

I'm a firm believer of the concept of standing on the shoulders of giants. It is the very foundation of many advances. But sometimes as you climb up on the shoulders you see things a bit differently, maybe a bit more clearly. However we in Aikido seem terrified of changing anything our sensei before us have said. No, sensei is never wrong. I just don't see it that way. We should thank our sensei for doing their level best to show us what they knew. Then take it, improve what we can, find maybe better ways to describe what we're doing so we can more easily transmit the beauty of what they taught us. To me it is the ultimate in sincere respect. To run with that ball.

It is happening. But I really hesitate when I hear "It has to be felt". Yeah, in some respect people need to feel it to realize that it might be something other than what they think. But it also implies we are not up to the task of describing what we're doing. Which tends to imply we may not really understand it in the first place. So I repeat Wittgenstein's quote...

"The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for."

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Old 11-19-2010, 12:47 AM   #86
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Hi Keith,

It has to be felt....Hummmm. I've probably been guilty of saying that, but you're right. As teachers (models) manifesting these skills, we should be able to explain (mentor) them without resorting to a hands on demonstration. I think I have done this with some success, but I know I can improve.

Describing the physical and mental processes going on internally in the TSYR Nairiki no Gyo is quite a challenge for me. To exacerbate this situation is the fact that my teacher had a rather limited english vocabulary. I had to modify his explanations and further invent my own terminology to describe what I felt was going on in my body. I've likewise been forced to constantly redefine and re-examine how my body has been influenced by this area of study. During my last visit to Japan I discussed this topic with Kuroda Tetsuzan over dinner. We both acknowledged how difficult it was to teach this stuff and both admitted experimenting with new methods of transmission. One very important but basic skill I am stressing to my students is developed thru our omote Nairiki no Gyo. It is developing a level of internal sensitivity very similar to the external, tactile sensitivity we all are familiar with. Without achieving this level of sensitivity to structure and musculature, I'm convinced much of what is generally identified as "IS" is difficult to manifest. Internal sensitivity is my personal benchmark for determining if a student is making the initial progress needed to gain the skills we in TSYR identify as "nairiki" (internal power).

I admire the other guys who are teaching this stuff but it was plainly obvious to everyone reading their posts that written communication (modeling and mentoring) was failing miserably. (What wasn't failing was improved awareness of the subject) Despite all the talk of creating agreement and a general IS lexicon, there never really was universal agreement on who was doing what and how well. Consequently, heated arguments followed with many of the readers left shaking their heads over communication styles and terminology that seemed to change weekly. It was at that point I walked away from such discussions because they were not beneficial to me on my quest to improve my pegadogical approach. Among other distractions, sematics was proving to be a tough nut to crack..

As time moves forward I will hopefully improve in my ability to convey the subtle factors required to internalize our nairiki skills. Fortunately, in TSYR we have a clear and concise set of forms and drills handed down to us that serve as the foundation for our study. That a similar pedagogy did not exist in aikido highlights how these skills were evidently neglected and marginalized. For future generations, this must be addressed. In TSYR, the Nairiki no Gyo have proven quite successful at preserving the knowledge and practices that allow us to manifest and maintain this portion of our mokuroku. It is from there I must as a mentor, continue my quest to improve and ensure the transmission of these skills.

Regards,

Toby Threadgill / TSYR
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Old 11-19-2010, 09:11 AM   #87
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Hey, Toby, good to see you here.

I think another issue that has confounded the problem is how these skills are integrated into a particular art.

If we start by assuming there is some degree of commonality to what is happening, then the next issue to address is how is it used and to what end. I think this is also a source of tremendous misunderstanding in discussions.

There are those who are pursuing these skills in isolation. In other words, trying to develop the body/power/skills for their own sake. They would probably say they are in pursuit of "complete and pure" IS.

But then there are those who are pursuing these skills trying to "fill in the blanks" in their art. To fill the holes left as time went by and the lack of transmission resulted in fundamental changes to how things were done as well as the understanding of what these things meant back when compared to what we think they mean today. This is a sign of a paradigm shift that will hopefully allow the person to realize the art in a different way.

Then there are those who never lost the stuff and continue along their way quietly shaking their heads and enjoying an occasional seminar and good food and dinner afterwards (that's where I'd place you guys).

Anyway, my point is that the expression of these skills necessarily varies among the various approaches. Those pursuing IS for its own sake (the purity group) will see anything less than a full, complete expression as not doing the same thing. And if we are careful in how we use words we can say they have a point -- those not doing the full expression completely and all the time are not doing pure IS. That is absolutely true. However, this raises the issue of "how much" and "how used".

I find your comments about the internal sensitivity development to be a good example. In a "normal" jujutsu art without these skills the primary issues in training are ones of leverage and positioning (practitioners please let's not argue here, there are many more skills involved and I'm not diminishing the practice). However, if your art is geared to develop the sensitivity you're talking about ("I can feel his center through his body via my relaxed structure and as a result I can use my bodily structure to affect his center") then arts will be trained differently. Again, Wittgenstein's quote is relevant. What we know, what we do affects what we understand. The understanding of the "confrontation" is fundamentally different depending on the training model. And here some of the IS skills come into play and are used as a fundamental feature. But that doesn't mean they will be the only skills in play (thinking in contrast to the "pure" crowd). So one group may point and yell that "Hey, that's not pure IS". And the only reasonable answer is "well, of course." Then you shrug because the IS is but only one component of a much larger context.

So someone demonstrates these arts. One group walks away grumbling "that's not the real deal because they didn't do A, B, and C." They may grudgingly give you props for some aspect, but they wander away unimpressed because it isn't "pure". So someone who moves with incredible speed and agility like Kuroda gets dismissed by some because they aren't doing the same thing with those skills. Or expressing them in the same way. And yet I can't for the life of me come up with any sort of explanation of some of his stuff without appealing to aspects of internal skills. He uses what he needs to do what he does. And I would never want to be facing that man with a sword in his hands. Unless I was 30 feet away with a machine gun. And beta blockers in my system to steady my hands...

So here we're talking about cross purposes and the confusion that will introduce. All while people are doing amazing things.

As I've told you privately I'm somewhat envious of your approach. You have a set curriculum and as you are teaching an art with history and defined concepts it is more incumbent on the student to figure it out. Those of us outside stamping our feet saying "Explain it to me on *MY* terms" really have no right and miss the bigger picture of the responsibilities involved in transmission of an extant ryu.

In the end I'm left with the same conclusion. We need to find someone with the skills to train with. And to pick someone who is expressing the skills in a fashion that fits what we want to learn. Or if we are in a position where we suck *that* much, maybe we need to chuck it all and start over completely. Then when all that is done... We need to suck it up, shut our mouths, and train.

So on that note... Time to train. And to make some decisions myself.

I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure it out what I think in the first place...

Last edited by Keith Larman : 11-19-2010 at 09:14 AM. Reason: minor fix.

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Old 11-19-2010, 09:56 AM   #88
Nicholas Eschenbruch
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post

(...)

I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure it out what I think in the first place...
Great post anyway! :-)
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Old 11-19-2010, 10:01 AM   #89
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Nicholas Eschenbruch wrote: View Post
Great post anyway! :-)
Thanks. And now I notice the sentence you quoted was terrible and I'm past the edit window...

Should have read...

I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure out what I think in the first place...

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Old 11-19-2010, 11:27 AM   #90
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I sometimes wonder if I'm posting to explain what I think or to figure out what I think in the first place...
Both!
That's what makes for a great discussion.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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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 11-19-2010, 11:37 AM   #91
Keith Larman
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
Both!
That's what makes for a great discussion.
Very true. Over the years I've had people "confront" me with things I've written on topics like sword polishing and mounting saying I was being inconsistent or contradictory. It usually just makes me laugh -- most of what I post is a result of me struggling to understand something. And if my opinions do not change, well, I'm not struggling hard enough, neh? Hopefully I don't end up doing a 180 too often, but as the rabbit hole gets deeper things do tend to look different.

Anyway, just getting back to the original point a bit... The whole modeling metaphor is really interesting to me. Having this discussion reminded me of something I had totally forgotten about and I now wonder how much of an impact this one book had on my thinking today. Interesting... When I was just about to start high school (and before really discovering the joys of girls which derailed a lot of things I had been doing) I played a *lot* of tennis. My coach at the time got tired of me constantly asking questions about how things were done. I wonder if I was as much a pain then as I am now. Regardless... He gave me a copy of "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Tim Gallwey (had to look up his name). From what I remember it affected me greatly in terms of awareness of what was going on inside me and my mind when I played. Unification of mind and body... Hmmm, no wonder that term resonated with me when I started Aikido...

Wow. Thanks for the thread Dr. Seiser -- I hadn't thought of that book in 30 years. Now I have to wonder how much of what I eventually ended up doing (and thinking and trying to learn) was related to the effects reading that book at a young age.

Off to check my local library to see if they have a copy...

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Old 11-19-2010, 11:43 AM   #92
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning.
Yes agreed.

There is so much that cannot be put into words. And even if there was a word, we all may interpret that word differently.

Even if we experience it, we tend to store that experience/information into our own understanding and language which may or may not have any relevance or relationship to the way our model/mentor meant it.

One of the reasons I love the cross training, training with different instructors, and conversation is that I helps me get a slight glimpse of the common denominator of the direction they are all suggesting I go.

I would probably do better if I heard a single clear explanation and demonstration by a single person, but as a mosaic thinker that has never been my way.

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 11-19-2010, 11:47 AM   #93
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

Quote:
Toby Threadgill wrote: View Post
As teachers (models) manifesting these skills, we should be able to explain (mentor) them without resorting to a hands on demonstration. I think I have done this with some success, but I know I can improve.
I have always enjoyed that about training and talking with you.

You have always tried to get my head and body pointed in the same direction.

Compliments and appreciation.

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 11-19-2010, 12:00 PM   #94
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Very true. Over the years I've had people "confront" me with things I've written on topics like sword polishing and mounting saying I was being inconsistent or contradictory. It usually just makes me laugh -- most of what I post is a result of me struggling to understand something. And if my opinions do not change, well, I'm not struggling hard enough, neh?
Yes agreed.

Inconsistencies and contradictions in communication often just point out that I still have some inconsistencies and contradictions in my thinking about a subject. I was taught that higher levels of logic and intelligence (like Taoist) often include their complimentary opposites.

I also find that how I express myself at one time with one person may be different than I express myself at another time to another person because of their level of understanding and experience. Communication is like that.

I hope I never stop the struggle, which I quite enjoy, because I don't really want to have it all figured out. I like letting the mysteries of life unfold.

BTW, if you cannot find a copy of Inner Games let me know. Last I checked I had a few old copies lying about. I got interested in the self-application of sport psychology which dramatically changes the way I do clinical psychology. Elite athletes don't wants to be normal and accept and appreciate the physical and mental discipline. As I said earlier, I think we set our standards in life (and Aikido) far too low.

Thoughts?

Lynn Seiser PhD
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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 11-19-2010, 12:34 PM   #95
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Hi Jon,
While I agree that we should be as clear as possible, there are concepts that we simply do not have in English. No amount of explanation will suffice, it requires the actual experience to understand the meaning. So, on a certain level there is quite a bit of "if you don't know, I can't tell you" material in Aikido. I could show you, I could teach it to you given time, but without some mat time, I really can't explain it to you. All the really good stuff is like that. The stuff that can by easily explained to someone of lesser experience is really basic that's why it can be explained easily.

As far as referencing Mr Linden, well, he's the guy that says "ki" is bullshit. Doing an art called "Aikido".

- George
Thanks George, I see you point and I may need to clarify... aikido has colloquialisms, idioms and other expressions which are subjective in both translation and interpretation that will remain enigmas. I would argue to consider these enigmas the exception, not the rule. I would also argue that many of these concepts are [more] appropriately fully introduced during advanced training [learning] (that is not to say the concepts may not be introduced at abridged levels during earlier training stages).

In other academic realms I would construct my curriculum around several factors, one being the level of education. I would not teach algebra to an elementary student for example. Instead, I would structure a curriculum to teach the elementary components of math in preparation for a later education in algebra. Conversely, in aikido the first thing I blurt out to a new student is some esoteric phrase they will not understand for some time. Then I'll show them something they cannot do for the same length of time. Why? It's like there is a mad rush to fill students full of things they cannot possibly understand for 10 years. (for the sake of conversation, I understand inspiration plays a role in demonstrating where we "want" to go, I am speaking more specifically about the role of education).

I guess the point I am driving at is that there is serious training to be conducted under subjective, gooey, touchy-feely, spooky, (fill in the blank) instruction. Under the best conditions there are few instructors who can adequately teach this material and a limited audience to receive this instruction. We don't need to make our elementary education any more complicated than necessary in our preparation to undertake an advanced education. As an instructor, I believe that my role is to prepare students to undertake this advanced education by building a foundational education on which my seniors (the yondans, godans, shihans, etc.) can build their education.

For example, in my day-to-day instruction I do not teach the ikkyo George Ledyard shows; I teach the ikkyo my students can use to to identify what is ikkyo when Ledyard sensei shows it, or Hooker Sensei, or Messores sensei, or Saotome Sensei or any of my seniors. If that ikkyo is incorrect I should get a ninja-gram from Florida saying, "You teach a terrible ikkyo that we cannot use when we are teaching at a seminar. You need to improve your instruction." In this sense, I am both accountable for my instruction and the competency under which my instruction is applied. Thankfully, spooky aikido is still above my pay-grade...

Does that make sense?
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Old 11-19-2010, 02:11 PM   #96
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Toby Threadgill wrote: View Post
Hi Keith,

It has to be felt....Hummmm. I've probably been guilty of saying that, but you're right. As teachers (models) manifesting these skills, we should be able to explain (mentor) them without resorting to a hands on demonstration. I think I have done this with some success, but I know I can improve.
Ok, maybe I am just a slow student... but working with Dan, Mike, Akuzawa, and you yourself, there have been things that no amount of explanation was going to result in my being able to reproduce what was happening.

Dan had us doing some exercises in which we were extending out the middle finger, drawing back with the little finger and forefinger, then setting up cross body connections which you'd feel in a rib or in a toe on the other side of the body. So, I got a visual by watching him, I got his verbal explanation which was certainly essential as far as I am concerned. But there was no substitute for the paired hands on. He would grab me and I would do what I THOUGHT I was supposed to do, he would then say no, no, occasionally, yes. We would switch and he'd do it with me holding on and I'd go, oh, that's different than what I had thought. I am convinced that, without this hands on, I would never have figured out what could be communicated in a fairly small amount of time with the mix of good verbal, clear demo, and hands on.

Even the teachers seem to need the hands on to really know what is happening. Look how often Mike or Dan has said, "I'd have to feel it" when trying to decide on someone's skill level. There's a place at which it can't be adequately described and it can't even be seen.

The human brain tends to filter out input that it can't readily categorize or name. I made a shift of my intention while working with a guy doing a static technique. His whole body moved when I did it but when asked if he "felt it" he said, no he had not. I pointed out that his whole body had moved a bit when I did it and everyone watching had seen it happen. then it was a bit strange that he didn't register feeling it. But once I told him what to look for and did it again, he said, "Oh, I felt THAT..." Until he felt what I was doing and had an associated concept in his brain for what I was doing, his brain simply filtered it out. That's the kind of thing I think requires feeling it before any amount of clear verbal description will really be understood.

I have to be one of the most "verbal" people I know (yes, go ahead and laugh your asses off, my friends). If I understand it, I can explain it. But there are a number of things which I have to let the student feel first before my explanations penetrate. If he hasn't "felt" what I am talking about, it's just a concept and he has no actual associations in his body for what I am describing. Once he has "felt" it, my descriptions then have some body centered associations and he can start making connections. This is why having a really top level teacher is so important because you actually start feeling what he is doing often long before he even starts talking to you about it as a discrete element to start training. This is also why junior folks who almost never get to take ukemi at seminars etc are not getting what they should out of the training.

Personally, I had felt Saotome Sensei doing certain things with his intention from the time I was a beginner. When I finally encountered the conceptual explanation and terminology for what he was doing (not from him) I was able to understand what was meant. If I had never worked with anyone functioning on that level, I would not have been able to understand what was really meant in those explanations because i wouldn't really have understood what was being explained.

Just my take on it...

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 11-19-2010, 02:21 PM   #97
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Thankfully, spooky aikido is still above my pay-grade...Does that make sense?
It certainly makes sense to me because its above my pay-grade too.

Yet, with the right models and mentors, it won't always be above our pay-grade.

It only looks (sounds and feels) spooky from here.

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 11-19-2010, 02:25 PM   #98
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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Jon Reading wrote: View Post
. Thankfully, spooky aikido is still above my pay-grade...

Does that make sense?
I understand what you are saying... and I don't really disagree. I would just caution you, you will only find answers to the questions you are asking. One of the reasons that Aikido, even when done by some of the top instructors, is simplistic and unsophisticated, is that at some point the art went in one of two directions. Either folks "drank the Kool Aid" and tried to do the so-called "spooky stuff" with no idea what they were doing and not enough solid foundation to pull it off. Or they went the other way and spent 30 or 40 years on what should have constituted Shodan Nidan level basics that they left behind years ago.

We saw very high Dan ranked Aikido at the Aiki Expo that I wouldn't have passed on a Dan test for anything over Nidan and I wouldn't have been happy with that. It was nothing but strength and muscle, not an ounce of aiki and martially a bad joke. I had to sit with the Systema boys and see them looking at each other and shaking their heads. It was a total embarrassment. Forty years of Aikido training, but bad Aikido training.

Start looking for the goodies right from the start and they will present themselves. Otherwise you too can have many decades in and still have missed the good stuff entirely. You get what you train. Look at Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei and figure out how one gets there... that's what they are waiting for. Decide its above your pay garde and you risk never getting there at all.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
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Old 11-19-2010, 02:28 PM   #99
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Re: Mindful Modeling and Mentoring

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
The human brain tends to filter out input that it can't readily categorize or name.
Yes agreed.

The mind tends to try to understand something in reference to what it already knows. Unfortunately, this can limit our growth by filtering out new input.

Therefore we often practice, teach, and perpetuate what has been a part of our past experience. Again, very limiting.

IMHO, it takes courage and humility to actively seek out models and mentors who make you feel like you are the dumbest one in the room. (My wife says I go out of my way for this experience and have a smile on my face when I come home.)

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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