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Old 01-20-2011, 12:54 PM   #51
lbb
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I think it is worth considering what Aikido was when it started and what it has become...

When the Founder taught, Budo was a serious pursuit. To train directly with the Founder, you had to apply and be accepted. Someone he knew and respected had to vouch for you. You had to be serious, not just for yourself, but also because not to be serious would embarrass the person who had been your sponsor.
All true, but I think it's worth pointing out that the "seriousness" you're talking about was a luxury that few could afford. Those who pursued budo, or koryu before them, were not what you could reasonably term productive members of society: they and the arts they practiced were luxury items, each of which required a certain number of productive members (rice farmers, fishermen, craftsmen) to support him. In economic terms, the budoka you describe is a member of the leisure class, and in societies that lacked the resources, knowledge and level of social organization to create the surpluses necessary to support these luxuries, a leisure class simply didn't exist. As for "seriousness", again, that's historically been a privilege of the leisure class: the resources necessary to commit significant time to non-productive pursuits. Modern-day prosperity, and particularly that of the western world in the post-World War II era, has had something of a democratizing effect on this, by creating some access to leisure for those who must still live by their own efforts and who are not privileged to live by the efforts of others. This window of leisure, taken on weekends and at the end of a working day, can't support "seriousness" of the same type that the life of leisure of the privileged class can. Being "serious" as you describe it is not merely a matter of attitude; it is not even a matter of doing your very best with the resources you have. Such "seriousness" is not possible except for a privileged few.
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Old 01-20-2011, 02:43 PM   #52
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Being "serious" as you describe it is not merely a matter of attitude; it is not even a matter of doing your very best with the resources you have. Such "seriousness" is not possible except for a privileged few.
This is simply not true... Saito Sensei, for instance, worked for the railroads. He traveled hours every day back and forth to the dojo so that he could train with the Founder.

Most of the deshi had jobs that supported their training. I am sure that they had pressures which could have taken them away from training, they simply chose to train every day.

Until I went professional back in 1986, I had a career with Eddie Bauer. Unless I was traveling, I trained almost every day. My ex and I had eight kids between us. I managed to be at the dojo almost every day. Like many serious practitioners, my vacations were doing Aikido camps.

In Seattle, there are 20 or more Aikido dojos. Hardly anyone lives more than twenty minutes from a dojo. Most of these dojos have full schedules of classes, not just a couple days a week. Getting to training requires a fraction of the effort it used to for most folks. When I trained in Seattle with Mary Heiny, it took me over an hour to get to the dojo at rush hour and half an hour home. I did that every day. Now people live within minutes of a dojo but they can't seem to make it.

I know that some places money is an issue. But where my dojo is located, it is an affluent area. Folks have money. They just don't feel they have the time. But for most folks, the time is there, they just have to decide to use it differently. Some folks manage to do so and others do not.

I have friends in DC who are raising two children. They are both forth or fifth dan. Both have demanding careers. They alternate who takes care of the kids so they can get to the dojo. The husband is one of he management team at the dojo so he has admin work as well. They manage to be "serious". Do they wish they could train more? Sure. But they get there regularly. Training is integral to their family life, just like daycare, sports, music lessons, etc for the kids. They found a way to do it because they really wanted to. They work harder for each minute of training than anyone I know. But they are a perfect example of the fact that it is simply a matter of how badly you want it, not the difficulty of doing it.

And because they have to work so hard to get their mat time, they don't screw around. Training is a gift for them and they take it seriously. What time they get they treat seriously and they make the most of it. You don't see them staying the same year after year. You don't see them wasting their partner's time. In fact they are the ones looking at you like you are wasting their time if you aren't serious or are training like a bozo. I figure, if these folks can accomplish what they do with their situation, it's possible for most folks. It's just that most folks don't want it that badly.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 01-20-2011, 04:07 PM   #53
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Essence of Training

I think you need to very clear about which period of Morihei Ueshiba's life you have in mind here. The situation in Iwama in 1942 and after was quite different from the situation in the Kobukan in 1931 and after, and this also changed as the war developed. The situation was also different from that obtaining in the revived Aikikai Hombu from 1955 onwards.

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Old 01-20-2011, 04:21 PM   #54
lbb
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
This is simply not true... Saito Sensei, for instance, worked for the railroads. He traveled hours every day back and forth to the dojo so that he could train with the Founder.

Most of the deshi had jobs that supported their training. I am sure that they had pressures which could have taken them away from training, they simply chose to train every day.
Right, but let's be clear: this wasn't the all-day-every-day training that would have been more typical of the koryu, is it? It's still a matter of using one's leisure time to train, isn't it?
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Old 01-20-2011, 04:32 PM   #55
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
This is simply not true... Saito Sensei, for instance, worked for the railroads. He traveled hours every day back and forth to the dojo so that he could train with the Founder.
Are you sure?

There were a lot of sempai but they all grew up and left. They all returned to their own homes, entered companies, returned to their families, or got jobs. If their family had a dojo they inherited that, etc. In the end, only a small number of sempai from around here and myself were left. But all the sempai from this area ended up not being able to come to the dojo after getting married because they had to work hard at their occupations...
So everybody ended up unable to come to the dojo in order to maintain their own families. I could continue because I was free during the daytime though I went to work every other evening. I could live without receiving any money from O-Sensei because I was paid by the JNR. O-Sensei had money but students around here didn’t. If they came to Sensei they would have had no income and not have been able to raise rice for their families and would have died by coming to the dojo. All of them gradually stopped coming. I could continue because I had money enough to live. I was lucky enough to have a job, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to continue

Interview with Morihiro Saito - Part 1 (1979)

I believe he worked as a switchman for JNR in Iwama.

Last edited by Demetrio Cereijo : 01-20-2011 at 04:34 PM. Reason: bolding text

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Old 01-20-2011, 10:19 PM   #56
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
I guess I would submit that folks pursuing the art with less than the minimum amount of commitment required to at least make it the transformation practice the Founder intended or to work hard enough to have some level of actual functionality in a martial sense, are hurting the art. They are bringing this amazing pursuit down to the mundane level of a cross between video games and going to the gym. Video games are fun and going to the gym is healthy. Is that all Aikido really is? I think it is far more than that. I think we need to stop telling everyone that what they want to give the art is all fine and start talking about what it really takes to do Aikido. Folks need to decide whether they are willing to do Aikido or the commitment to do so is too much. That's the way it used to be and I think it needs to be again or Aikido will keep degenerating to the point at which no one even remembers when it was something more. I just don't see the point in doing something less.
This is a big statement, George.
Ultimately IMO, this is too selfish a stance to take. I take my training seriously, I value my time of the mat but to say to my partner and children that they had to fit their lives around my training is down-right selfish.
I continue to train, and will continue to train as long as I possibly can but I will not train up to four times a week when the only times available fall in the evenings when we are trying to get the kids fed and in bed. To leave my partner with that is just rude IMO.

I agree with your thoughts on committed training and before coming a family man, I most certainly trained as much as I could, even traveling one and a half hours to train at another dojo after work to get more mat time. However, things change, priorities change.

At the end of the day would I rather see my aikido worsen, or my relationship with my partner and children worsen? All these things take effort to keep up.

Thanks for your input.

Dean.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 01-21-2011, 02:04 AM   #57
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I think you need to very clear about which period of Morihei Ueshiba's life you have in mind here. ...
Yes. But wasn't the issue "having to make a living in which way ever - practicing as intense as possible" always the same? And obviously is until today?
Different biographies and social contexts - different solutions.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Right, but let's be clear: this wasn't the all-day-every-day training that would have been more typical of the koryu, is it? It's still a matter of using one's leisure time to train, isn't it?
Same issue exists at the koryu I think. And here also: Different biographies - different solutions.

Also in the koryu there are teachers and students who had to and have to make their living and try do this in a way that will allow them to train.
At least here in Germany I know practioners of the koryu also choose their jobs and the city to life in a way the can study or teach.

Quote:
Dean Suter wrote: View Post
... but to say to my partner and children that they had to fit their lives around my training is down-right selfish.[
That's exactly what my former wife said and left me.
With my "new" familiy it worksb better than ever.
As I said: There is now a network of my children, my wife, my divorced husband and her partner ...

I think this is not a question of selfish or not selfish. It's a question how you live your life, with whom you share your life. How different lifes of persons "fit together".
I had times, when leaving for practice was like war (with my former wife).
I had and have a time now where leaving for practice gives me power, strengthens the connection between my (now) wife and me.

This also not a question of aikido but of how you get along with a partner who "has a lot to do" in his or her life. (My wife also has in hers. My daughter has. My former wife now has ...)
How to get all this, all those different lives together?

Quote:
... before coming a family man, ...
However, things change, priorities change.
At the end of the day would I rather see my aikido worsen, or my relationship with my partner and children worsen?
I decided to continue training. Become divorced. My life changed a lot.
My best friend quit aikido for some years because of his two children.
Different lifes, different persons, different decisions.

Hard times inbetween for both of us because of different reasons. Just like it is. But now we are both very very happy with our lifes and how it all went.
I am his teacher in aikido now and he trains once a week.

Different lifes, very different ways, different solutions.
It was just the "of course" in the OP that disturbed me.
I "of course" continued practice when becoming a family man.
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Old 01-21-2011, 04:41 AM   #58
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
Yes. But wasn't the issue "having to make a living in which way ever - practicing as intense as possible" always the same?
No. I do not think it was, at least in the way you have put it. It might well have been the case that all the close students of Morihei Ueshiba had to train very hard and also build their family responsibilities around their training. I do not know if they all did this successfully.

The point I made was a very precise one in response to the beginning of George Ledyard's lengthy post and in support of the post of Mary Malmros. I do not believe the thesis that Kisshomaru changed everything is quite so cut and dried.

I agree with nearly everything that George stated, but even Morihei Ueshiba had to adopt different standards for accepting students at different times of his life. Much is made of the requirement to have two recommendations from important sponsors, but this was true in the early period in Tokyo and the Kobukan period, but it was inevitably relaxed as the war continued and clearly would not have applied in the military institutions where Ueshiba taught.

In the very early days in Tokyo, Ueshiba clearly had aristocratic pretensions and his early deshi also had to have the means to support themselves while training in the dojo and also to pay for their training. Training had a distinctly elitist tinge, but his ceased to be the case as the 1930s wore on and the supply of potential deshi dwindled.

There was a huge general 'paradigm shift' with Japan's defeat and the changes consequent on this cannot entirely be laid at the feet of Kisshomaru. When the dojos reopened, training could no longer be seen to be elitist, but had to be seen to be beneficial to the community at large. Clearly, training was still very hard, but the economic situation had changed to the extent that some postwar deshi actually ceased to be deshi (temporarily) because of the dire economic conditions.

The degree to which Morihei Ueshiba accepted this paradigm shift is a major question--and a moot question. His discourses published by the Aikikai are not really any help here, since it is known that they were heavily edited. It is interesting that none of Ueshiba's prewar/wartime discourses, made when he was the head of the Omoto paramilitary organization, have ever been republished by the Aikikai.

When the Tokyo dojo finally resumed regular training, a training schedule evolved that still continues now. The first class everyday was taught by Doshu. After that classes were taught by senior instructors like Tohei, Osawa and Okumura (who taught the beginners) with others, Tada, Yamaguchi, Arikawa. The weekdays were rounded off with a final Friday class by Doshu and a class on Saturday mornings. The deshi (Chiba, Yamada, Sugano) took all the classes, but were also available to teach elsewhere--and also to go abroad and teach, because they were professional. But the vast numbers of people who, for example, took Doshu's classes very day, week by week, year by year, decade by decade, were what mattered to organizations like the Education Ministry. A company employee, or boss, or CEO, or cabinet minister, could take Doshu's class in the morning and then go off to work, refreshed and ready, after an hour of hard training. And some of these regulars became very good: Kato Hiroshi is a good example.

In Iwama Saito Morihiro was a switcher in a JNR marshalling yard. He worked shifts: either 12 hours on, twelve hours off; or 24 hours on, 24 hours off. Clearly enthusiastic, he organized his entire working life around the railway and his entire leisure time around training at what for him was a local dojo. There were not many people there, and Kisshomaru also lived in the Ueshiba house in Iwama and taught at the local dojo until the Tokyo dojo opened again. I suspect there was a similar training schedule as in Tokyo, but with O Sensei as the constant variable.

The episode about Kisshomaru's 'secret' job in Tokyo--and his father's wrath when he found out--is of some relevance here. When Kisshomaru Ueshiba's autobiography is published in English, I think it will be time for another rethink about these issues.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-21-2011 at 04:46 AM.

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Old 01-21-2011, 09:21 AM   #59
Basia Halliop
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
There were a lot of sempai but they all grew up and left. They all returned to their own homes, entered companies, returned to their families, or got jobs. If their family had a dojo they inherited that, etc. In the end, only a small number of sempai from around here and myself were left. But all the sempai from this area ended up not being able to come to the dojo after getting married because they had to work hard at their occupations...
I think it's often relevent when we talk about history (most kinds of history, not just Aikido) to think of the fact that the examples we now know about are almost by definition the ones who succeeded or survived....

Similarly one might get the impression that the majority of literature written before the 19th century was brilliant. Because the brilliant is what mainly survives and continues to be printed to be known centuries later.

From that interview, it sounds like retention of students and getting people to train many hours and keep up training when they had other responsibilities was a big issue back then too... but who do we know now and thus hear the personal stories of? The few who excelled...

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 01-21-2011 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:42 AM   #60
RonRagusa
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I guess I would submit that folks pursuing the art with less than the minimum amount of commitment required to at least make it the transformation practice the Founder intended or to work hard enough to have some level of actual functionality in a martial sense, are hurting the art. They are bringing this amazing pursuit down to the mundane level of a cross between video games and going to the gym. Video games are fun and going to the gym is healthy. Is that all Aikido really is? I think it is far more than that. I think we need to stop telling everyone that what they want to give the art is all fine and start talking about what it really takes to do Aikido. Folks need to decide whether they are willing to do Aikido or the commitment to do so is too much. That's the way it used to be and I think it needs to be again or Aikido will keep degenerating to the point at which no one even remembers when it was something more. I just don't see the point in doing something less.
Hi George -

Well, I can sympathize with your sentiment but WADR I disagree with your conclusions. Where you see the diversification of Aikido as a process of degeneration, I see it as the realization of the Founder's gift to the world. Aikido in all its forms and permutations can still be traced back to the Founder. And while the martial aspects of his art have been diluted in many of the varied ways in which it is practiced, as long as there are people such as yourself, the Iwama, Tomiki, Yoshinkan folks and probably many others, the facets of the art that you see as disappearing will continue to live on.

Regarding your point on the waining commitment of students present; I think consistency is more important than quantity when it comes to practice and I'd rather see a student once a week for life than a student who comes to class four times a week for a few months and then leaves. Students are responsible for deciding their level of commitment to practice and it's not up to me to judge them. My job is to show up for every class and teach whoever attends. Were I to filter my students based on commitment then I would not have met and got to know some of the people who have become dear friends over the years they have been training.

Best,

Ron
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Old 01-21-2011, 11:13 AM   #61
mathewjgano
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

I've been trying to think about Ledyard Sensei's post a bit because it fully applies to me. I've been a terrible student these last several years...and each time I step back on the mat I feel like I'm getting in the way of proper training. I agree with the idea that the overall quality of training is a product of those who are training, and that when someone like me steps onto the mat, the overall quality drops. I really notice it when I arrive late on the weekday class I more or less resumed, and my sempai who gets to train with sensei is suddenly stuck with me...I always feel a bit guilty for that, recognizing that I just got the better end of that stick.
That said, I also believe this is a somewhat unavoidable aspect of training, particularly given Mary's remarks about luxury activities and the modern society...which I agree with comepletely. Also, I believe the affected quality is only part of the training. One can (I think) still develop their ability, particularly the internal aiki, while training with inconsistent people like me. It's not ideal in many aspects, but my view is that "true" budo essentially says, "come what may, I'll deal with that too."
...also...
If a person wants to avoid the situation students like myself create, I believe it is entirely up to that person to make that happen. I think it's a very important message to suggest people look very seriously at what they're doing and what they want to get from their training...and to look hard at what Aikido means to those who make it a major center of their life. However, while students like myself need to recognize our effect on those we train with, where it's unwanted there needs to be a time set aside for serious students to train with other serious students...which is why so many schools have general classes, beginner classes, and advanced classes, right? The sensei sets the tone in this regard and the student needs to find a place that fits with his or her goals.
My view on the efficacy/quality issue always seems to come down to this: where people suggest Aikido is being degraded, I always have to ask, "is your Aikido suffering?" That's where the quality is found, in the individual, and it is up to the individual to make their training whatever they want it to be.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-21-2011, 01:45 PM   #62
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Re: The Essence of Training

...if we start out with 10 people and let's say 5 "get it," while the remaining 5 only get most, or some of it. Then, "it" becomes super popular (through the teaching by those 10) and we have 50,000 people doing some form of it. If we only have 20 who get it compared to the 49,980 who get some "lesser" version, this is still an improvement in my mind and cannot be described as a degradation.
...nevermind all the subtle ways an activity like Aikido can be of use. When I first began training, Aikido itself wasn't very useful to me. Going to the dojo and being with people; focusing on relaxation after mild forms of road-rage emerged; things like that were useful to me...as well as those around me, adding to the benefit from Aikido to that portion of the world at large.
I wonder if the essential point to Ledyard Sensei's post has to do with the idea of give and take. Anytime we benefit from something, I think it's important to consider how we can give back to the system(s) which propogate(d) that benefit.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 01-21-2011 at 01:48 PM.

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Old 01-21-2011, 01:54 PM   #63
graham christian
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I've been trying to think about Ledyard Sensei's post a bit because it fully applies to me. I've been a terrible student these last several years...and each time I step back on the mat I feel like I'm getting in the way of proper training. I agree with the idea that the overall quality of training is a product of those who are training, and that when someone like me steps onto the mat, the overall quality drops. I really notice it when I arrive late on the weekday class I more or less resumed, and my sempai who gets to train with sensei is suddenly stuck with me...I always feel a bit guilty for that, recognizing that I just got the better end of that stick.
That said, I also believe this is a somewhat unavoidable aspect of training, particularly given Mary's remarks about luxury activities and the modern society...which I agree with comepletely. Also, I believe the affected quality is only part of the training. One can (I think) still develop their ability, particularly the internal aiki, while training with inconsistent people like me. It's not ideal in many aspects, but my view is that "true" budo essentially says, "come what may, I'll deal with that too."
...also...
If a person wants to avoid the situation students like myself create, I believe it is entirely up to that person to make that happen. I think it's a very important message to suggest people look very seriously at what they're doing and what they want to get from their training...and to look hard at what Aikido means to those who make it a major center of their life. However, while students like myself need to recognize our effect on those we train with, where it's unwanted there needs to be a time set aside for serious students to train with other serious students...which is why so many schools have general classes, beginner classes, and advanced classes, right? The sensei sets the tone in this regard and the student needs to find a place that fits with his or her goals.
My view on the efficacy/quality issue always seems to come down to this: where people suggest Aikido is being degraded, I always have to ask, "is your Aikido suffering?" That's where the quality is found, in the individual, and it is up to the individual to make their training whatever they want it to be.
Hi Mathew.
Well put. I find what you said here honest, refreshing
and thoughtful.
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Old 01-21-2011, 05:55 PM   #64
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Are you sure?

There were a lot of sempai but they all grew up and left. They all returned to their own homes, entered companies, returned to their families, or got jobs. If their family had a dojo they inherited that, etc. In the end, only a small number of sempai from around here and myself were left. But all the sempai from this area ended up not being able to come to the dojo after getting married because they had to work hard at their occupations...
So everybody ended up unable to come to the dojo in order to maintain their own families. I could continue because I was free during the daytime though I went to work every other evening. I could live without receiving any money from O-Sensei because I was paid by the JNR. O-Sensei had money but students around here didn't. If they came to Sensei they would have had no income and not have been able to raise rice for their families and would have died by coming to the dojo. All of them gradually stopped coming. I could continue because I had money enough to live. I was lucky enough to have a job, otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to continue

Interview with Morihiro Saito - Part 1 (1979)

I believe he worked as a switchman for JNR in Iwama.
You could certainly be right... I read somewhere he had a serious commute but I could be misremembering some other teacher's story. Certainly the idea about the job was true. Later the uchi deshi were supported, at least at Hombu, but in those days there was simply no money for that. Anyway, the point was that the folks who trained had to balance a lot of different competing concerns to do so.

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Old 01-21-2011, 07:30 PM   #65
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Hi George -

Well, I can sympathize with your sentiment but WADR I disagree with your conclusions. Where you see the diversification of Aikido as a process of degeneration, I see it as the realization of the Founder's gift to the world. Aikido in all its forms and permutations can still be traced back to the Founder. And while the martial aspects of his art have been diluted in many of the varied ways in which it is practiced, as long as there are people such as yourself, the Iwama, Tomiki, Yoshinkan folks and probably many others, the facets of the art that you see as disappearing will continue to live on.

Regarding your point on the waining commitment of students present; I think consistency is more important than quantity when it comes to practice and I'd rather see a student once a week for life than a student who comes to class four times a week for a few months and then leaves. Students are responsible for deciding their level of commitment to practice and it's not up to me to judge them. My job is to show up for every class and teach whoever attends. Were I to filter my students based on commitment then I would not have met and got to know some of the people who have become dear friends over the years they have been training.

Best,

Ron
Hi Ron,
Actually, I don't filter my students either. Whoever shows up on any given night gets my best efforts. I can't be attached to the results... that's a good way to burn out. I do it because I love to do it.

At the same time I do have a sense of responsibility towards the art and the people in it. Although my latest series of posts have largely been focused on the student commitment side of things, my harshest criticism is often for those with the responsibility to pass on the art.

As a teacher of this art and one who has received the greatest of gifts from an array of teachers, I feel that it is my job to "teach". Of course this requires students who are hungry and we've been discussing that. I can fulfill my job of making sure what I have been taught doesn't disappear just within my own dojo. I have several students whom I believe will be better than I am if they keep training as they are decades ahead of where I was at the same experience level.

If this were a koryu, that would be enough. Just pass it on to enough people that ensure the art's survival. But tens of thousands of people have been encouraged to take up this art. Teachers were sent world wide to spread Aikido. Organizations have trained second and third generation instructors and opened dojos all over... big cities, little towns, colleges and universities...

This endeavor supports a small group of professional teachers who exist at the very top of the Aikido pyramid. Yet, I do not see an investment on the part of the folks at the top in the success of the general mass of students at the bottom. It's as if they exist to pay the bills but no one really expects them to be good at the art and little upset exists over the fact that the aren't. The students actually end up absorbing that attitude and get in the "habit of not getting it" but aren't terribly concerned that they do not. Even instructors get complacent and really don't believe that they will ever do the kind of Aikido the Shihan are doing.

I had a teacher tell me that it is my job to go up "up the mountain as high as I can, and show my students." There was absolutely no sense that I should worry about whether anyone can actually follow me up the mountain behind me or that I should look back to see if folks have trouble negotiating the obstacles I had overcome. It's all about I show them, they get it or not get it, that's not my problem...

I believe that this whole thing is a two way street. Sure as a professional, I require the support of the mass of students out there to survive. But in return for that support, they deserve my best efforts. It's not just about showing folks that I can do marvelous things all weekend and going home with folks saying how good I am... it's about going home on Sunday night knowing that every single person who attended that seminar was at least a bit better. I know it's a very un-Japanese attitude but I actually care whether folks get better.

The fact of the matter is that doing good Aikido that actually involves some "aiki" does not take any more effort than doing bad Aikido. A certain minimum amount of practice is required for either. We've already had that discussion... I believe that for most adults that is three times a week - minimum. Others disagree and nothing I will say will change that opinion.

But I really believe that if we rework Aikido from the bottom up, and that means changing many common notions of ukemi, really teaching proper relaxation, teaching beginners right from day one what center to center connection really is, and much more, virtually everyone in the Aikido pyramid would be better. But the Aikido establishment, the dojo heads who have the responsibility of teaching have to want to change. The heads of the organizations have to support the efforts to change. And I think that is a difficult thing to accomplish.

Inertia is a huge force. The 30+ year teacher who wants to retool his Aikido is rare. Most dojo heads don't see the need to change much. They worked long and hard to be the "big dude". They are now officially important, at least on a local level, and there's not much incentive to make sweeping changes, they are happy as things are. It's the same with the really high up folks. They are happy, they are high up. Everyone thinks they are great, everyone treats them with great respect (and the occasional person who doesn't leaves and joins some other group). So what is the incentive to change anything?

The "old boy" model, of which senior Americans can be just as guilty as any Japanese teacher is to show everyone the great stuff and then sit around with the other "old boys" and bemoan that students these days aren't what they once were. And of course they are right... it's really hard to find folks who want to train like we did in the sixties and seventies. this is a trap like any other and I can feel myself falling in to it periodically. But the reality is that circumstances have changed. This is a very different world now. What is required is that teachers step up to the plate and do their jobs well. Students don't train often because the teacher simply hasn't inspired them to do so.

The teacher is responsible for modeling the proper attitude for the student. Is the teacher someone who hasn't changed a thing for twenty years or is he like Ikeda Sensei who retooled his Aikido from top to bottom at 7th Dan? You know how many teachers I run into who have never done any other martial arts training, have never read many, if any, if the articles on Aikido Journal, who readily admit to being less than competent at material they are responsible for teaching to their students? I genuinely don't get it. They teach an art but they have nothing more than the rudiments of knowledge if its history. They are almost completely unaware of the great teachers who have gone before, they are uninterested in their wider peer group of teachers from outside their immediate group, in fact they are intimidated by them, they are often less aware of influences coming from outside the art such as the internal training folks, or the Aikido folks doing Systema than many of their own students are.

There are twenty dojos here in he Seattle area. When the Aiki Expos took place, I believe that two of us attended. Many teachers were so disconnected that they simply were unaware that these seminal events were taking place. Now my wife is a lawyer... it is required of her that she do yearly classes called CLE's, she even teaches some. You want to stay certified you have to take these classes which keep you up to date on new laws, new interpretations, the latest judgments, etc As a professional you are required to stay up to date. You can lose certification if you don't and be open to malpractice suits.

Why is Aikido such a sloppy mess? There is a certain level on which EVERY person running a dojo is a professional. Perhaps not as I am, making my living this way, but certainly as paid professionals. Virtually every dojo has dues. And even if they do not, the students pay in the currency that is far more valuable and that is their time. Every minute a student gives to a teacher is a minute that can never be gotten back. Our time is a non-renewable resource. A student chooses to give that time to you, you absolutely owe him your best effort and the competency to teach what needs to be taught and teach it well.

The unwillingness of many teachers to do this borders on fraud in some cases. This isn't a stylistic thing. Every style has a different emphasis and a different set of requirements. But anyone setting himself or herself up as a teacher should feel a commitment to deliver the goods or they shouldn't be teaching.

And it's not just plain competency that's needed... it's the ability to inspire, to touch people's hearts, and a real commitment to teaching. Sensei once said "Student not do well on test, not student's fault, teacher's fault." Everyone teaching Aikido has to accept some responsibility for the current state of the art and the higher up your are, the greater that responsibility. All these folks who have set themselves up as teachers but who are no longer even trying to be the best that they could be are failing themselves and their students. The organizations that allow this state of affairs to exist are failing their members.

So when I talk about more commitment from the students, that they should be "hungry" all the time, pushing their teachers for more and more all the time, it goes doubly and triply for the teachers. If they do not model what is right, their students will never see the need to change.

George S. Ledyard
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Bellevue, WA
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:01 PM   #66
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
Could you please describe how keiko けい古 relates to shugyo and renshu?
Hello Carsten,

(Be prepared for a long post, full of Chinese characters.)

There are two ways of studying how one Japanese term relates to another: (I) by looking at what the words mean and how they are actually used in the present-day Japanese language, and (II) by looking at the relationship between the Chinese characters that make up the compound word and comparing this with that of other words. (By ‘compound word' I mean a Japanese word that is written with two more Chinese characters.) We will look at each term under these headings. The relationship between the meaning (I) and the composition (II) is sometimes clear, sometimes not. Native Japanese have learned the Chinese characters, but sometimes have false ideas, or no idea at all, of whether or how the composition affects the meaning.

KEIKO 稽古
(I) Meaning
(a) The activity of studying ancient texts and referring to / commenting on ancient matters, thus making clear the rationale behind such matters; (b) the learning [narau: 習う] of activities such as martial arts and music instruments; (c) the exercise or practice [練習: renshuu] of what has been studied; (d) the possessing (the possibility of some level of visibility or display is implied) of a high level of learning.

(II) Composition
稽: KEI: no Japanese kun reading: consider; reflect; bow low
No compounds were given apart from KEIKO.
古: KO: furui: old
There are many compounds, none relevant specifically to KEIKO.
NOTE: (1) Clearly, there is a plausible connection in the construction of the compound between reflection and old , but this is not evident at all in one compound, 会稽 kaikei, as in kaikei no haji wo sosogu: to avenge an unendurable shame. (会稽山: Kaikeizan is the Japanese name of a mountain in China.)
(2) The question is when the first meaning was transferred to the martial arts.
(3) The meaning of KEIKO and RENSHUU are clearly similar, as in (c) above.

RENSHUU 練習
(I) Meaning
Learning something (in education, science, scholarship, arts, crafts) by repetition, with the aim of becoming proficient.

(II) Composition
練: REN; ne(ru): knead, train, polish; ne(reru): become mellowed / mature
Compounds with REN have either the sense of kneading, as in dough, or of drilling, as in parades or marching. This is especially true when REN is the second character in the compound. Examples:
洗練: SENREN: refine, polish; 修練: SHUUREN: training, drill; 教練: KYOUREN: military drill; 訓練: KUNREN: training; 習練: practice training (NB. This is RENSHUU, with the order of characters reversed); 精練: SEIREN: refining, smelting; 錬磨: RENMA: training.

習: SHUU; nara(u): learn
The compounds of SHUU do not have the central sense of learning by drilling, though this is what might actually happen. Examples:
Examples: 習性: SHUUSEI: habit; 習俗: SHUUZOKU: manners and customs: usage; 習得: SHUUTOKU: 習熟: learn, master; 習癖: SHUUHEKI: habit, peculiarity.
学習: GAKISHUU: study; 自習: JISHUU: self-study; 実習: JISSHUU: practice (as in for a driving test); 教育実習: KYOUIKU JISSHUU: teaching practice (in a school); 食習慣: SHOKUSHUUKAN: eating habits; 演習: ENSHUU: seminar (as opposed to a lecture).

SHUGYOU 修行
(I) Meaning
(a) Carrying out the teaching of the Buddha in order to achieve enlightenment;
(b) 精神を鍛え、学問・技芸などを修め磨くこと。また、そのために、諸国を経巡ること。Seishin wo kitae, gakumon, gigei nado wo osame migakukoto. Mata sono tame ni, shokoku wo hemegurukoto. Forging the mind / spirit (by) studying and training in scholarship or skills. Traveling round the country for this reason (= Musha shugyou).
(NOTE: The metaphors all relate to forging and polishing. 鍛え kitaeru means to forge a sword, but also means mental training / spiritual cultivation, as in RENMA 錬磨. Migaku 磨く means to polish e.g. a mirror.
Similarly, osame-migaku 修め磨くhas the sense of cultivating oneself by training the body and the mind. In other words, more strictly ascetic training is the central focus.)

(II) Composition
修: SHUU; SHU; osa(maru): govern oneself; conduct oneself well; osa(meru): order one's life; study; cultivate; master. Examples:
修正: SHUUSEI; amendment, revision; 修道院: SHUUDOUIN: monastery; 修理: SHUURI: repair; 修辞: SHUUJI: figure of speech, rhetoric; 修築: SHUUCHIKU: repair a house.

GYOU: row, line of text, walk, do, carry out; KOU: go, do, carry out, bank; AN: go, travel. I(ku), yu(ku): go; okona(u): do, carry out, conduct. Examples:
There are hundreds of compounds, so explaining the composition of a word by means of compounds is pointless here, especially as the original composition of the compound in many cases has little to do with its present meaning.
(NOTE: For shugyou, Morihei Ueshiba used 修行 and 修業 interchangeably. So the use of 業 is not considered here.)

SUMMARY:
Considered simply as an activity, keiko has a wide range, but there are some activities, such as learning to drive a car, that would never be considered as keiko.
Considered as an activity done in a certain way, renshuu has a sharper focus than keiko, but the range of applications is still very wide.
Considered as an activity done in a certain way and with a certain purpose, shugyou has a much sharper focus than keiko or renshuu.

PAG

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-21-2011, 09:56 PM   #67
RonRagusa
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Re: The Essence of Training

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
If this were a koryu, that would be enough. Just pass it on to enough people that ensure the art's survival. But tens of thousands of people have been encouraged to take up this art. Teachers were sent world wide to spread Aikido. Organizations have trained second and third generation instructors and opened dojos all over... big cities, little towns, colleges and universities...

This endeavor supports a small group of professional teachers who exist at the very top of the Aikido pyramid.
Here you have raised two very important points George. The first is the decision that Aikido should be made available to not only a select group of dedicated individuals but to masses of people throughout the world. This decision virtually guarantees that as the number of Aikido students grows world wide, the majority of students practicing Aikido will display, shall we say, a mediocre commitment to their practice. I suspect that if we could quantify commitment and plot the results we would see that they form a classic Bell Curve where the outliers represent both ends of the commitment spectrum. This seems more a natural consequence of large numbers of people engaged in a common task reverting to the mean with respect to their level of commitment than the result of general disinterest of the small number of people who "get it".

Secondly, the fact that the Aikido hierarchy and most of the organizations within Aikido are structured in the shape of a pyramid breeds the type of elitist behavior that can be observed in any organization with that particular structure. Students at the lower levels are all too often willing to cede their power to individuals above them simply because of their relative positions within the hierarchy. And, sadly, instructors and other high ranked individuals are only too happy to accept it. Higher ups are afforded a special place and are able to bask in the admiration of those below them. The seductive power of adulation becomes something to defend and before you know it the organization grows into a sort of caste system.

As instructors I do not believe that we can effect any change in the macro level of commitment displayed by Aikido students worldwide. At the dojo level, so long as the student enrollment remains below some critical threshold, I think we can model correct behavior for our students and give them our encouragement so they feel free to let their commitment grow to whatever level they are comfortable with. Beyond that critical enrollment level we necessarily begin to lose the intimate personal touch that's possible with a smaller group.

Regarding the second point, we must avoid the temptation to let students put us on pedestals and so willingly give their power to us. We can do this by consciously fostering an attitude in our dojos that treats all students, regardless of rank or ability, with the same respect and dignity. A more helpful organizational structure in this regard would be a circle where all members are equally distant from the center which represents our common goal of learning and practicing Aikido.

Best,

Ron
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:12 AM   #68
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

If I may, I'd like to attempt to put Professor Goldsbury's post in more layman's terms, and hopefully address some of Hanna B.'s questions in the other thread.

If I were to rank "keiko", "renshuu" and "shugyou" in order of weight, I'd put it, "renshuu", "keiko" and "shugyou". The sense of "renshuu" is doing something over and over, constantly improving what one has learned. Hence, "polishing (ren) what one has learned (shuu)". It is thus used most widely for a variety of things both mundane and extraordinary.

"Keiko" is often glossed in Japanese texts as "古を稽える" "Inishie wo kangaeru", or "Think on the past." In antiquity, it was a word to describe scholarly learning (which in medieval China and Japan, heck, Europe for that matter, meant studying the classics). In modern day, it's associated with arts (performing and martial) because it has a sense of not just polishing one's skills, but of learning new ones, expanding one's understanding, reaching back (through physical practice, not intellectual study) to the lessons of one's teacher, and one's teacher's teacher.

One interesting use of the word "keiko" is for "rehearsal" in the context of theater. I believe this is an artifact of the term being used in traditional arts such as Noh and Kabuki. Another interesting idiomatic distinction is that "renshuu" is in someways an individual activity (though it can be done with others). Keiko, OTOH, has the phrase "keiko wo tsukeru". A direct translation would be messy and confusing, but it's used to describe a teacher training with a student. One might say, "Sensei ga keiko wo tsukete kudasatta." -- Sensei trained with me. So, within "keiko" you have a sense of transference from a teacher to a student. "Renshuu", OTOH, has no "transitive" property from one person to another. One does "renshuu", and hones one's own skills.

"Shugyou", as Professor Goldsbury's post implies, has a "monastic" sense to it. It is used to describe long-term, concentrated training. It can have a focused meaning -- an aspiring chef sojourning in France for a number of years to bring his cooking skills to a top level. It can also have a fuzzier meaning, referring to one's lifelong practice, in which case, it never ends.

In a sense, the meanings are nested in a martial arts context. In the course of "keiko", one will do "renshuu", among other things. The pursuit of "keiko", concentrated over a lengthy time and dispersed over one's whole life, is "shugyou".

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:28 AM   #69
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: The Essence of Training

Thanks Josh, I've been grappling with that words lately (reading the works of Yuasa Y) and I find your explanations useful.

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Old 01-22-2011, 08:32 AM   #70
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Thanks Josh, I've been grappling with that words lately (reading the works of Yuasa Y) and I find your explanations useful.
Ed. Thanks to Peter too.

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Old 01-22-2011, 02:43 PM   #71
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Here you have raised two very important points George. The first is the decision that Aikido should be made available to not only a select group of dedicated individuals but to masses of people throughout the world. This decision virtually guarantees that as the number of Aikido students grows world wide, the majority of students practicing Aikido will display, shall we say, a mediocre commitment to their practice. I suspect that if we could quantify commitment and plot the results we would see that they form a classic Bell Curve where the outliers represent both ends of the commitment spectrum. This seems more a natural consequence of large numbers of people engaged in a common task reverting to the mean with respect to their level of commitment than the result of general disinterest of the small number of people who "get it".
Yes, this would be definitely true if everyone were left to his own devices. It can be altered however by the setting of minimum standards of commitment. For instance, the stipulation at my own dojo that anyone wishing to test for anything above 4h Kyu must be training at least three times a week on the average, That tends to reduce the number of folks at the lower end of the bell curve.

Quote:
As instructors I do not believe that we can effect any change in the macro level of commitment displayed by Aikido students worldwide. At the dojo level, so long as the student enrollment remains below some critical threshold, I think we can model correct behavior for our students and give them our encouragement so they feel free to let their commitment grow to whatever level they are comfortable with. Beyond that critical enrollment level we necessarily begin to lose the intimate personal touch that's possible with a smaller group.
Actually, I do disagree that we can't effect change on the macro level, although it is more difficult and requires more effort. There are folks on the forums here, for instance, that are not top ranked in the Aikido world and are therefore mostly under the radar. Yet, they are out there trying things out, doing Daito Ryu, working on internal skills, playing with the Systema folks, training in BJJ, whatever. They contribute their experience to these discussions and thousands of people are exposed to another set of ideas.

As instructors we should feel compelled to get out and train "outside our box". A good leader is able to effect everyone he or she meets, simply by being who they are and modeling the correct things. I don't mean specifics of any given way of doing something, or acting a certain way. I mean modeling how to be completely oneself without being fearful, which is vastly powerful and is one of the great attractive forces in the human universe. I mean training with everyone, regardless of level with the goal that you leave every training interaction with your partner feeling enhanced by the interaction. You let everyone see your passion for the art and share it with anyone who is willing.

Over time, if each individual looked at his interactions this way, the whole would get better. The enthusiastic, passionate student can get a burned out teacher excited again. The teacher who had lost touch with why he was training could become motivated once again simply by finding someone who could help him be better than he ever thought he'd be. Anyone who moves through his life committed to excellence will effect everyone he or she encounters, especially if he or she shows a willingness to help other folks be excellent as well, without a lot of judgment, without any sense that they are cared for less if they don't achieve something in particular.

Quote:
Regarding the second point, we must avoid the temptation to let students put us on pedestals and so willingly give their power to us. We can do this by consciously fostering an attitude in our dojos that treats all students, regardless of rank or ability, with the same respect and dignity. A more helpful organizational structure in this regard would be a circle where all members are equally distant from the center which represents our common goal of learning and practicing Aikido.
Once again, I will respectfully disagree. I think endeavors of the kind we are pursuing lend themselves to a hierarchical structure. I have never seen a non-hierarchical training model produce excellence in terms of skill. The few dojos I have seen where the model was by committee, the result was the "least common denominator" phenomenon. It was virtually impossible for anyone to be excellent because they were held back by the folks who didn't want to be. The result wasn't even mediocre, it was actually poor.

I think the pyramid is the most reflective of the inevitable difference in commitment, talent, athletic ability, social circumstance between the members of any training community. There will always be someone who trains harder, longer, has the money to attend more seminars, is single rather than married, who has a nothing job to support his training rather than a demanding career, etc.

So there needs to be a set of distinctions that everyone understands clearly right up front when they train. First, skill in the art has nothing to do with whether you are a good person or even socially functional. The discipline required for training gives a certain advantage to the fanatic, the one who is willing to drop everything else and do nothing but train. So attainment of skill is just that, it means you are good at the skills, nothing more.

Second, skills other than technical skill are crucial to our endeavor and need to be respected and recognized. I have white belts who are central to the running of the dojo. They take responsibility for all sorts of things and, because they are naturally inclined towards leadership, they draw others into stepping up and contributing too. Leading by example, once again. Because folks still tend to overly invest in the senior hierarchy, when I get someone like this, I create a title for them. For instance, I have a 3rd kyu who is called the Dojo Manager of Operations. As a 3rd kyu, there is a natural tendency for the 3rd, 4th and 5th Dans to minimize her, not to mention that she's a woman. But the title seems to take care of that. Everyone knows that I have conferred the title and given her the responsibility that goes with it. So now the 3rd kyu sits at the table with the 5th Dan. And the 5th Dan is actually happy about it because he didn't really want to be responsible for that stuff and isn't "losing face" because he's taking direction from a 3rd kyu. So I will actually create titles for people with talent so that they have the authority to act as peers with the high Dan ranks when it comes to off the mat issues. Of course, when it comes to the training everyone knows who is senior.

Harder to accomplish but equally important on an organization level is recognizing the importance of mastery in other realms and the fact that it a) relates to our own pursuit of our art and b) is every bit deserving of acknowledgment and respect as technical skill and Dan Rank. For instance our organization has a number of people in it who are highly educated, millionaire entrepreneurs. These people are masters of business and management. Yet, the only people who really have any influence, and even that is small, over the ways things are done are the Rokudans, as if our skill on the mat somehow qualified us to understand management, marketing, etc.

We have a couple of people who travel all over the world doing leadership training, team building etc for huge multi national corporations. Wouldn't it make sense to take advantage of that for our organization? But there's this assumption that because you have made it to Rokudan you have these skills, which is quite clearly not true. And certainly you are not generally going to see the old boys asking a woman to give them leadership classes or look at a shodan as having much worth while to contribute, regardless of that persons accomplishments outside the dojo.

Too often what you have at the top are a group of poorly integrated people whose great claim to fame was that they had found a way to tolerate all the BS for 30 or 40 years and not quit. As we have commented on numerous occasions, we have a ranking system that does not necessarily reflect excellence, even technically much less anything else, coupled with a hierarchical structure in which the only thing that counts is rank.

I think most folks are instinctively hierarchical by nature, which is why virtually every social structure man has ever devised that survived was hierarchical not egalitarian. So, I think that we should retain what we have but decouple the Dan system from Teaching Certification and we should find organizational ways to recognize the contributions that people with mastery from outside the art and take advantage of what they can offer.

I would do what the Systema folks do. You get teacher certification that has to be continuously renewed. If a teacher knew that his certification would be withdrawn if he was working at developing himself, then the importance of some high Dan ranking would be minimized. Dan ranking would be recognized as the achievement it was, no matter how long ago it was, but in terms of status within the group at a given instant, it would really about having and maintaining current certification. Loss of certification would mean no promotions accreted from that teacher, removal of the dojo from the website list of "approved" affiliated schools, etc.

I would do a mission statement for the organization that clearly defined the purpose of the organization as the transmission of the art to the highest level possible to the largest number of people possible. I would have the Shihan doing almost exclusively training for the senior Dan ranks, perhaps 4th Dan and up. I would have the Rokudans and second tier instructors out there doing seminars in which they would see their jobs as mentoring the instructors teaching in the various dojos. There shouldn't be a single black belt teaching class in any dojo within the organization who isn't personally known by name by at least one or more of these Rokudans. I'd have only a couple events per year which were "open level" events in which the expressed purpose would be for the most junior folks to bond with and be inspired by the Shihan and the senior teachers. And those same senior teachers would be told that their job at these events would be to mentor the juniors, not just train with each other; that the event existed to benefit the most junior folks.

I would require every dojo in the organization to host at least two seminars a year with one of the second tier instructors. The Shihan wouldn't even be doing ordinary weekend open level seminars at local dojos, If a dojo were too small to even host a seminar independently, then they would need to combine forces with another dojo(s) to make it happen.

I would have different grades of teaching certification. One that simply state that you were approved for running a dojo. I would have another that would certify you for teaching seminars around the country or internationally. That certification would be posted on a list that would be consulted by the various dojos who needed to fulfill their obligations of hosting two seminars with second tier instructors. I would actually try to find a way of rating these instructors... not sure about the mechanism, and re-certification to be on that list would be based on that rating. I'd probably include continuous training in the rating and also find a way to formalize a rating system so that the host dojos could give feedback to the organization about how they felt about the teachers being sent out to help them. Finally, I would integrate an experience quotient that would weight more experience teaching seminars more heavily. That would reflect the fact that the folks who get invited to teach more than the ones who don't are pretty much "delivering the goods" and are therefore invited back more often. If someone ends up teaching less than a certain number of seminars, then he or she is taken off the list. So, the instructors would have to do on-going training and would have to actively be teaching to be on the list. That would place performance above ranking while still letting the organization steer folks to the instructors they felt would do the best job moving the various dojos in the proper direction.

I think that we need to totally reverse the thinking about hierarchy. It's not about what you deserve because you made it to the ranking stratosphere. It's about how much responsibility you have to help everyone else below you. I also think that we need to understand hierarchy not as something to do with power but rather from a mentoring standpoint. I do want to tell anyone what they do and don;t have to do. The organization leadership or even the Shihan himself can set up the performance requirements for the membership. After that, it is all about helping folks achieve success at each of these levels.

The training we got in order to reach the point at which we can teach was a gift. The only real way we can repay our teachers for that gift is to pass it on. We are mentors. We should not be merely showing people and leaving them to their own devices. If that system worked we'd be seeing a lot of great Aikido. We don't see that. We see a small number of folks doing great Aikido while the majority serves to support their training.

Some of what I am talking about can be achieved simply by a number of individuals deciding to think about what they do this way. Other parts would require a change in the way our organizations, or at least many of them, are run. So we either decide to start our own organizations, which some teachers have actually done, or we wait until the current management changes and we are no longer second or third tier but first tier. I think there is enough desire for a more effective transmission that this change will occur inevitably. If not things won't simply stay the same they will get worse and eventually fall apart.

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 01-22-2011 at 02:50 PM.

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Old 01-22-2011, 06:57 PM   #72
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Thanks Josh, I've been grappling with that words lately (reading the works of Yuasa Y) and I find your explanations useful.
Take care with Yuasa. There are major differences between the Japanese originals and the English translations. I bought the translations initially and then the Japanese--and was somewhat surprised.

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Old 01-23-2011, 03:57 PM   #73
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Old 01-23-2011, 08:02 PM   #74
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Re: The Essence of Training

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George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post

I don't mean specifics of any given way of doing something, or acting a certain way. I mean modeling how to be completely oneself without being fearful, which is vastly powerful and is one of the great attractive forces in the human universe. I mean training with everyone, regardless of level with the goal that you leave every training interaction with your partner feeling enhanced by the interaction. You let everyone see your passion for the art and share it with anyone who is willing.

Over time, if each individual looked at his interactions this way, the whole would get better. The enthusiastic, passionate student can get a burned out teacher excited again. The teacher who had lost touch with why he was training could become motivated once again simply by finding someone who could help him be better than he ever thought he'd be. Anyone who moves through his life committed to excellence will effect everyone he or she encounters, especially if he or she shows a willingness to help other folks be excellent as well, without a lot of judgment, without any sense that they are cared for less if they don't achieve something in particular.

Too often what you have at the top are a group of poorly integrated people whose great claim to fame was that they had found a way to tolerate all the BS for 30 or 40 years and not quit. As we have commented on numerous occasions, we have a ranking system that does not necessarily reflect excellence, even technically much less anything else, coupled with a hierarchical structure in which the only thing that counts is rank.

I would do a mission statement for the organization that clearly defined the purpose of the organization as the transmission of the art to the highest level possible to the largest number of people possible. I would have the Shihan doing almost exclusively training for the senior Dan ranks, perhaps 4th Dan and up. I would have the Rokudans and second tier instructors out there doing seminars in which they would see their jobs as mentoring the instructors teaching in the various dojos. There shouldn't be a single black belt teaching class in any dojo within the organization who isn't personally known by name by at least one or more of these Rokudans. I'd have only a couple events per year which were "open level" events in which the expressed purpose would be for the most junior folks to bond with and be inspired by the Shihan and the senior teachers. And those same senior teachers would be told that their job at these events would be to mentor the juniors, not just train with each other; that the event existed to benefit the most junior folks.
I think your statement brings up an important issue. Sometimes it seems like people can not separate the division between spreading Aikido and spreading quality Aikido.
I've seen a lot of schools with this zealous attitude to spread Aikido to everyone, yet they go to seminars to see the Shihan with the same attitude as though they were viewing a circus side show. As though they had money to blow to be entertained by Shihan instead of trying to absorb what they can while they are there. They want to spread Aikido to the world, but don't seem to buy the idea that what Shihan do is achievable by anyone who's willing to put the hours in on the mat. I find it a tragedy for the art as a whole.
And frankly I've heard every excuse in the book for why that level of Aikido and commitment to the art is not possible. To that I think people sell themselves short, and the art short for what it should be in some one's life. Not a fan of the kyu-with-the-excuse, the hobbyist, the 5th kyu Shihan, the NO-dan, or the hobbyist in denial. Not trying to be offensive to anyone, just a fan of intellectual honesty when it comes to what Aikido is in our lives. Anything less than a commitment that is equal to your very best-minus the excuses, is a disrespect to the art. IMHO.
I don't like the idea of Aikido being promoted with the hobbyist attitude that shihans are freaks with something us mere mortals can never do. My opinion: either teach the Aikido the Shihan promotes, or don't practice at all. Sometimes it feels like people believe there is shihan Aikido, then there is the Aikido the rest of us slobs can do. Aikido should never be dumbed down. IMHO.

Last edited by RED : 01-23-2011 at 08:10 PM.

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Old 01-23-2011, 08:50 PM   #75
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Re: The Essence of Training

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Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
Anything less than a commitment that is equal to your very best-minus the excuses, is a disrespect to the art. IMHO.
So what, in real-world specific terms, is "a commitment that is equal to your very best"? Training every day? Training three hours a day? Six hours? Nine hours? Becoming an uchideshi?

No matter what anyone does, you can make the argument that that's not their "very best" because there is something they didn't do and that they could have done (at least theoretically). But how does that help people to know what they should do?

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Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I don't like the idea of Aikido being promoted with the hobbyist attitude that shihans are freaks with something us mere mortals can never do.
If you don't like that idea, then it's up to you to show how "mere mortals" can achieve your level of commitment, isn't it? Railing against the "hobbyist" attitude is only helpful if you also show the alternative.
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