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Old 09-03-2002, 04:19 PM   #26
Janet Rosen
Janet Rosen's Avatar
Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,340
I voted no.

I have had the priviledge of training at seminars with gifted instructors who continued to teach DESPITE overwhelming physical ailments that resulted in them looking terribly "out of shape" .

Could they "keep up with what a beginner could" in terms of stamina, as one poster here suggested? Of course not. But:

could they drop anybody in the dojo with their aiki? YES

are they two of the best teachers I've ever experienced? YES

was their mere presence on the mat, with dignity and good humor despite physical disability/discomfort an inspiration? Hell YES

Maybe what we think an instructor should be is a reflection of our own values. YMMV

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-03-2002, 05:49 PM   #27
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
Location: Sheffield, UK
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 524
Alfonso Adriasola (Alfonso) wrote:
I'd much rather learn from someone who knows what he/she's doing than someone who is healthy and fit and doesn't.
Me too. There is nobody contributing to this thread who disagrees with you on this point, Alfonso.
Ari Fuchs wrote:
I'm just curious (seriously), how might one tell the difference between those naturally fat poeples and the ones who just indulge too much? Are you supposed to ask before you join a dojo?
You cant tell the difference, Ari, and I'm not suggesting you should try. I'm not suggesting you should quiz your sensei about their diet before you agree to grace their class with your presence. Nothing of the sort.

The question wasn't "do you think fitness is ESSENTIAL in a sensei", it wasn't "do you think it is impossible for someone with a disability to be a good teacher", and it wasn't "do you think fitness is more important than skill". None of those questions would lead to a debate because we all agree (I think) that the answers are no, no and an emphatic no.

There is a world of difference between expressing an opinion on what the ideal sensei would be like, and disparaging, disrespecting or otherwise slagging off the teachers who, for whatever reason, dont fit that ideal. Some of us on this thread are doing the former, nobody is doing the latter. I think its unfair to suggest otherwise.

Yes, there are many people who would like to have the 'perfect sensei'. Guess what, nobody has the perfect sensei, and we're all still training. (Including the 83% of us so far who voted 'yes' in this poll so far.)



Last edited by deepsoup : 09-03-2002 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 09-03-2002, 09:54 PM   #28
Location: Western Australia
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 241
IMHO I think that an instructor needs to know and how to teach aikido and can do that for a duration of the class. As along as those conditions are met and they have something of value to teach then I am happy with it regardless of body shape etc.

On the point of physical fitness, the term is ambiguous. I regularly workout in a gym (cardio, abdominals and weights). My last fitness test indicated that I was above average fitness based on various indicators including resting heart rate, blood pressure, recovery time after vigourous exercise (time taken to return to resting heart rate from pulse rate of 146), body weight to height ratio (body mass index), percentage of body fat, weight lifted vs my weight and flexibility (on the -1, 0 and +1 scale of selected stretches). This level of physical fitness helps my ability to go through class and the mechanics of the movements and techniques but its little value in terms of understanding the principles and concepts of aikido and how to apply them.

So I think its important to be clear about what constitutes "physically fit" if this is an important consideration. What is the measurement standard and why is this appropriate or desirable.

Janet Rosen wrote:
...Maybe what we think an instructor should be is a reflection of our own values. ...

All the best for training

Last edited by MaylandL : 09-03-2002 at 09:58 PM.

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Old 09-04-2002, 06:16 AM   #29
ian's Avatar
Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,654
I think maybe I was wrong - you don't need to be physically fit do teach aikido. However I do believe that students need to be confident of its effectiveness and in the dedication of the instructor. I think you can learn some things, even from relatively poor instructors. However until you are in the position to critically evaluate the martial art, we initially have to take a lot on trust when we train under an instructor. Dedication can be inferred through physical conidtioning but also by training after a stroke, or whilst having a physical difficulty.


---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 09-04-2002, 01:23 PM   #30
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 346
I believe the problem is that there's denial about old age health and infirmity. Being fit and healthy is a good thing but it also can be temporary.

I'm not inspired by training in spite of health problems so much as inspired by 40 something years of training, and the reflection of that training in his Aikido. I mean I stopped playing rugby after 15 years because it was destroying my body..

I know my sensei was in much better shape when he was younger. He claims his Aikido has improved with age. Since I wasn't around back when he was a "young turk" I can't compare, but what he has right now is enough to be overwhelming to me and most other people I've trained with.

hell he still dominates in ne-waza against people a third his age, chuckling as he applies the lot of dirty tricks in his bag.

the health issues, well, they're there, but they're not a huge problem. As all of you say, no one's perfect. I can still learn a lot.
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