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Old 04-14-2011, 06:12 PM   #26
hughrbeyer
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Re: One more time. Ho do you tell your sensei they need help

Quote:
Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post
There is only one way to tell someone something: You have to talk to her. It's just that. No easy way, no shortcut, not helpfull phrases. "sensei, in my eyes, your technique is not good anymore as it used to be."
Ooh, ouch. You, anonymous, will have to decide if you're really seeing what you're seeing or if you should take some of the advice in previous posts to heart. But if you decide to talk to your sensei, you need Hugh's Helpful Hints for managing Really Difficult Conversations:
  1. Fix your mindset first: Start the conversation assuming you're wrong. Not: "Sensei, your technique sucks." But: "Sensei, I don't understand what you're showing in your Aikido these days." Most of the time, in my experience, you will find out you were wrong, or at least that your understanding was incomplete. But even if you weren't wrong, starting with this attitude makes the conversation less confrontational. You can't pretend, though. You have to really know that it's quite likely reality isn't what you think, and start from that point of view.
  2. Flag the conversation before you start: "Sensei, can I talk to you? I have something kind of awkward to bring up." That way Sensei's not blindsided and is warned to pay attention.
  3. Be specific. Some people say not to get into details, but I think you have to. "When you were showing shihonage today, it looked to me like your stance wasn't really stable. What were you doing with that?" From specifics you can go on to generalities if you need to.
  4. Be prepared to be vulnerable. You are, worst case, going in there with a can opener prying into a bunch of your Sensei's problems and issues that aren't really your business. You'd better be prepared to be a real participant in that conversation. Where are you in this story? What are your insecurities? What are the weaknesses in your aikido? You can't start this conversation and then get all defensive. Well, you can, but it won't be pretty.

Good luck with your training.

Last edited by hughrbeyer : 04-14-2011 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:29 PM   #27
JO
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Henry Ellis wrote: View Post
Marc

He asked his students if they thought he should grade himself to 7th dan - done - another outstanding achievement.

I am so pleased to see that my old student has gone on to great things, and to achieve higher grade than I am...I am so proud

Henry Ellis
Aikido Controversy
http://aikido-controversy.blogspot.com/
I'm not responding in order to contradict your efforts to keep history straight. I went through the material on your web site a while back, and my only comment is how pathetic does one have to be to to present fake aikido credentials.

However, there are real cases of people leaving teachers and surpassing them.

One of my main aikido teachers once trained under another sensei, and for reasons I have never asked him about he left that teacher and started his own club while moving on to a new primary teacher from outside the area. He is now a fully legitimate Aikikai seventh dan and shihan, and outranks his former teacher. It probably helped that the teacher he moved on to was a direct student of the founder.

I'm not sure the earlier teacher is exactly proud of his former student. Watching the two interact is a strange case of politeness and not quite perfectly hidden barbs.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:06 PM   #28
Janet Rosen
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Hugh your pointers for difficult conversations are spot on- and having used these tactics many times I'll say they are very effective.

Janet Rosen
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:19 AM   #29
sakumeikan
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Quote:
Henry Ellis wrote: View Post
Joe Curran

Joe I apologise for what I thought, more than what I wrote.
I really did bite on this one .
Forgive me

Henry Ellis
Ellis Aikido
http://henryellis-aikido.blogspot.com/
Dear Harry,
Absolutely no need to apologise or whatever for anything.I apologise to you for my weak attempt at humour.Good to talk to you last night.As ever warmest regards, All the best , Joe.
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:26 AM   #30
sakumeikan
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Re: One more time. Ho do you tell your sensei they need help

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Ooh, ouch. You, anonymous, will have to decide if you're really seeing what you're seeing or if you should take some of the advice in previous posts to heart. But if you decide to talk to your sensei, you need Hugh's Helpful Hints for managing Really Difficult Conversations:
  1. Fix your mindset first: Start the conversation assuming you're wrong. Not: "Sensei, your technique sucks." But: "Sensei, I don't understand what you're showing in your Aikido these days." Most of the time, in my experience, you will find out you were wrong, or at least that your understanding was incomplete. But even if you weren't wrong, starting with this attitude makes the conversation less confrontational. You can't pretend, though. You have to really know that it's quite likely reality isn't what you think, and start from that point of view.
  2. Flag the conversation before you start: "Sensei, can I talk to you? I have something kind of awkward to bring up." That way Sensei's not blindsided and is warned to pay attention.
  3. Be specific. Some people say not to get into details, but I think you have to. "When you were showing shihonage today, it looked to me like your stance wasn't really stable. What were you doing with that?" From specifics you can go on to generalities if you need to.
  4. Be prepared to be vulnerable. You are, worst case, going in there with a can opener prying into a bunch of your Sensei's problems and issues that aren't really your business. You'd better be prepared to be a real participant in that conversation. Where are you in this story? What are your insecurities? What are the weaknesses in your aikido? You can't start this conversation and then get all defensive. Well, you can, but it won't be pretty.

Good luck with your training.
Dear Hugh,
In a situation like this one you have to be sensitive.Nowadays I find a lack of this in young people.It seems to me that the young are goal oriented and while they may develop skills they do not always develop wisdom, compassion and understanding of the human condition.Your advice is very good.Liked your logic.
Cheers, Joe,
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:32 PM   #31
hughrbeyer
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Thanks Joe, Janet. But I forgot this one:

5. Never, ever, ever, talk about what other people think. Just talk about your own experience. You don't really know what other people think--just your interpretation of what you heard them say--and they didn't appoint you their messenger anyway. Take responsibility for your own words.
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Old 04-15-2011, 03:47 PM   #32
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Sometime we live in bubbles and we put blinders on, seeing no evil, hearing no evil, speaking no evil...well the last one maybe not. But, sincere courage to express care and concern is something I appreciate. A sensei shouldn't slip in their skill. They are not information kiosks, or should be measured as such. They need to perform to give students motivation and confidence.
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Old 04-15-2011, 07:05 PM   #33
Russ Q
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Best pointers I've ever seen for this kinda thing!

Quote:
Fix your mindset first: Start the conversation assuming you're wrong. Not: "Sensei, your technique sucks." But: "Sensei, I don't understand what you're showing in your Aikido these days." Most of the time, in my experience, you will find out you were wrong, or at least that your understanding was incomplete. But even if you weren't wrong, starting with this attitude makes the conversation less confrontational. You can't pretend, though. You have to really know that it's quite likely reality isn't what you think, and start from that point of view.
Flag the conversation before you start: "Sensei, can I talk to you? I have something kind of awkward to bring up." That way Sensei's not blindsided and is warned to pay attention.
Be specific. Some people say not to get into details, but I think you have to. "When you were showing shihonage today, it looked to me like your stance wasn't really stable. What were you doing with that?" From specifics you can go on to generalities if you need to.
Be prepared to be vulnerable. You are, worst case, going in there with a can opener prying into a bunch of your Sensei's problems and issues that aren't really your business. You'd better be prepared to be a real participant in that conversation. Where are you in this story? What are your insecurities? What are the weaknesses in your aikido? You can't start this conversation and then get all defensive. Well, you can, but it won't be pretty.
Quote:
5. Never, ever, ever, talk about what other people think. Just talk about your own experience. You don't really know what other people think--just your interpretation of what you heard them say--and they didn't appoint you their messenger anyway. Take responsibility for your own words.
Thank you!
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Old 04-17-2011, 04:58 AM   #34
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: One more time. Ho do you tell your sensei they need help

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Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Ooh, ouch.

Thank you.

Quote:
You, anonymous, will have to decide if you're really seeing what you're seeing ...
Yes. True.

Quote:
Start the conversation assuming you're wrong.
Why not being confident in one's own expertise/competency?
I think there comes a time when it is more helpfull, important and responsible to assume, one is right.
Think about testing: You have to assume, you are right, when saying, "yes, you passed and are shodan now." Or "no your are not"!

I think it is important to learn to judge one's own aikido, teachers, students. If you are not able to judge a teacher, how will you find the one you trust?
If you are not able to judge your students, how will you be able to teach them.

True: Being humble is important. Very important. But being self-confident also is. So one has to bring both together, I think.

Quote:
Most of the time, in my experience, you will find out you were wrong, or at least that your understanding was incomplete.
As I said: My experience is different. I think it depends on the "gap" between teacher and student? Whether there still is one or not or it has become smaller or even very small ...
After a certain time of practice you might experience you come near a teacher who once was far away ... This happens.

I think problem is that the "system" doesn't provide a manual of how to deal with a teacher, who isn't going the path further on himself .
Except: Leaving. Finding a new teacher. Or establish one's own dojo.

ahh, @ Joe:
Im not young. Neither in years nor in aikido.
And as a teacher I like students to be honest and to tell me their truth. My truth I know by myself.
We don't use the term "sensei" but tell us by our forenames. I do this with my teacher (who is very far away) and my students do this with me.
So we only have to be polite. And thereby says what is in our hearts.
Just that.

Sorry for my english, to difficult to expess in a foreign language maybe ...
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Old 04-17-2011, 06:11 AM   #35
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Re: One more time. Ho do you tell your sensei they need help

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Carsten Möllering wrote: View Post

Why not being confident in one's own expertise/competency?
Maybe another way of saying it is "Start by assuming that you're not seeing everything there is to see." It's generally true in life, and as an operating assumption, would probably change our lives for the better.
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Old 04-17-2011, 09:32 AM   #36
philipsmith
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

A thorny problem.

It is true that sometimes peoples technical ability deteriorates due to age, illness or complacency. Worse still some "teachers" become quite egotistical because thay are never questioned. We need as both students and instructors to be honest in our approach to both our art and .our students.
This means being self-critical and (heresy to some people) allowing students to criticize us.

I find it interesting that almost no-one on this thread assumes the original poster is in fact correct; after all he (or she) might be!.
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Old 04-18-2011, 09:56 PM   #37
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Just tell them you don't think they're as good as they used to be. Although this may simply be due to you getting better.

When I first started Aikido, my teachers seemed so amazing, after training regularly for 3 years, going to seminars, trying to regularly train certain things and introduce new ideas I realized that they were.... mediocre. Unfortunate, but true.

There's nothing you can really do to make them be better unless they're interested. Even then they may say they are, but not really be interested.
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Old 04-19-2011, 12:05 PM   #38
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

I think that comes to everyone once they get to a ripe old age, some quicker than others, all depends on fitness and diet if you ask me...
Crikey I'm not as fast on my feet as I used to be......
It's all about timing anyway, if that goes, time to hang up the dogi and hakama and think "aiki" instead ..... Then it's yoda time whooopeeee!!!!
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Old 04-19-2011, 01:31 PM   #39
JW
 
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
It's all about timing anyway, if that goes, time to hang up the dogi and hakama and think "aiki" instead ..... Then it's yoda time whooopeeee!!!!
I can't resist!!
O-sensei said it is NOT about timing:
"It is not a question of either ‘sensen no sen’ or ‘sen no sen.’ If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory."

He also said it is his "firm belief" that it's time to think aiki instead:
"Takemusu aiki is a service we offer in order to protect the worlds in which all Universal activity occurs, that is, the three Worlds—Appearance, Subconscious and Divine—and help them to harmonize with each other and flourish."
Whooopeeee!! Well he was just a crazy old bunny after all.

Well, I guess no one says you have to do Takemusu aiki. Maybe what you do is all about timing. That's fine for you but it is not what I do.
Just kidding around Tony, that was another paraphrased O-sensei quote. Carry on. Bait always looks yummier than regular food..
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Old 04-19-2011, 01:37 PM   #40
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
I can't resist!!
O-sensei said it is NOT about timing:
"It is not a question of either ‘sensen no sen' or ‘sen no sen.' If I were to try to verbalize it I would say that you control your opponent without trying to control him. That is, the state of continuous victory."

He also said it is his "firm belief" that it's time to think aiki instead:
"Takemusu aiki is a service we offer in order to protect the worlds in which all Universal activity occurs, that is, the three Worlds—Appearance, Subconscious and Divine—and help them to harmonize with each other and flourish."
Whooopeeee!! Well he was just a crazy old bunny after all.

Well, I guess no one says you have to do Takemusu aiki. Maybe what you do is all about timing. That's fine for you but it is not what I do.
Just kidding around Tony, that was another paraphrased O-sensei quote. Carry on. Bait always looks yummier than regular food..
Have you ever considered that he wasn't always right?.......
Great technician but well over pedestalled in my opinion..... Not by him I might add......
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:01 PM   #41
chillzATL
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
Have you ever considered that he wasn't always right?.......
Great technician but well over pedestalled in my opinion..... Not by him I might add......
Tony,

when he's talking about what he could do, which the head of your lineage (along with many other skilled men) felt and wanted to be able to do himself and what I assume you're doing some approximation of today, then it's probably safe to say that yes, he is right. Just because you don't understand it, can't do it and seemingly aren't interested in it doesn't make him any less right.
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:03 PM   #42
JW
 
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Attilio Anthony John Wagstaffe wrote: View Post
Have you ever considered that he wasn't always right?.......
Great technician but well over pedestalled in my opinion..... Not by him I might add......
Well I can't argue with that. (One can argue about what he said/meant, but opinions about him and his abilities are just that, opinions.)
I can't quite agree with it either-- if I did feel that way, I would be one of the many folks who do not practice aikido.
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Old 04-19-2011, 06:46 PM   #43
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Jonathan Wong wrote: View Post
Well I can't argue with that. (One can argue about what he said/meant, but opinions about him and his abilities are just that, opinions.)
I can't quite agree with it either-- if I did feel that way, I would be one of the many folks who do not practice aikido.
Jonathan,
I have to say that aikido is just one of the martial arts that I have practised along the way and it is one of my favourites, I still practice karate and gung fu movement as I find it fits in well with my aikido, which is eclectic but still based heavily on the Tomiki/Shodokan style....
I used to like judo, but do not practice anymore, but still used to whip in the odd waza for a change while applying aikido principles, I think it is all part and parcel of the same thing, being adaptable....my students liked the change from time to time as it gives them a broader outlook
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:09 PM   #44
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
Tony,

when he's talking about what he could do, which the head of your lineage (along with many other skilled men) felt and wanted to be able to do himself and what I assume you're doing some approximation of today, then it's probably safe to say that yes, he is right. Just because you don't understand it, can't do it and seemingly aren't interested in it doesn't make him any less right.
So you do understand it? I always felt it is pertinent to have a inquisitive mind and not to accept everything just 'cause someone says so.....
I'm not doubting Proff Ueshibas ability, but I also recognise that there are just as good martial artist as he was that are/were around even to this day.... not just in aikido..... Proff Ueshiba cross trained and really came up with his own eclectic system, based heavily on Daito Ryu, that there can be no doubt of. Takeda was an excellent all round martial artist who took on all comers and really proved his worth, why can't we? He experimented/fought even to the risk of his own life, have you?
I know I have to some extent.... I don't pretend to be the best, nor am I the worst, but I prefer reality to just heresay.... Not just hope it works.... If I wasn't interested in it I would not bother to train which I still do most days, even though I do not have a dojo at present.... I think it's more about searching within oneself, not hoping to do what others do and just copying which is what we all do in the beginning as we all have to do, learn the basics for at least ten years of regular solid practise. If we cannot develop from that we are wasting our time don't you think?

Last edited by Tony Wagstaffe : 04-19-2011 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 04-19-2011, 07:14 PM   #45
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Just tell them you don't think they're as good as they used to be. Although this may simply be due to you getting better.

When I first started Aikido, my teachers seemed so amazing, after training regularly for 3 years, going to seminars, trying to regularly train certain things and introduce new ideas I realized that they were.... mediocre. Unfortunate, but true.

There's nothing you can really do to make them be better unless they're interested. Even then they may say they are, but not really be interested.
There are many mediocre but don't realise it? I'm not the prettiest, I'm not the best, but I know it works, that's all I have to say on that one....
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:13 AM   #46
Walter Martindale
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
As a teacher, I can think of no greater achievement that developing students that surpass me. Of course, I will give them one hell of a run for their money to try and catch up to me....

marc abrams
Hear, Hear!!
I don't teach Aikido but I do coach. I never made it past "club" and "college" level in either Judo or Rowing, but people whom I've helped learn their rowing basics have far surpassed anything I've done.
Do I live vicariously through them? I hope not. Do I cheer their accomplishments? YOU BET.

Walter
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Old 04-20-2011, 02:23 PM   #47
Aikibu
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

An easy way to avoid this. Does your Sensei have a Sensei? If they do...Do they practice with them and are they still learning. Teaching can be a trap.

William Hazen
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Old 04-20-2011, 06:58 PM   #48
Helle Buvik
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

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Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Just tell them you don't think they're as good as they used to be. Although this may simply be due to you getting better.

When I first started Aikido, my teachers seemed so amazing, after training regularly for 3 years, going to seminars, trying to regularly train certain things and introduce new ideas I realized that they were.... mediocre. Unfortunate, but true.

There's nothing you can really do to make them be better unless they're interested. Even then they may say they are, but not really be interested.
Not all teachers will be great, either as teachers or as martial artists, but remember you trained with them for 3 years, and that a lot of your progress is due to the time and effort they gave you.

Is not the teacher that helped you build your foundations in the art to be honored as much as the teachers you may have towards the end of your career, when you yourself become great? even when you become better than them ask yourself if you would have advanced in aikido without the first teachers you had?
Would any of us?
They are the ones that kept uscomming back for those first few years, learned what aikido really can be and to differeniate between great and madiocre.

In rideing I've found that I dont really need the greatest teachers on earth to progress. I need a teacher that's slightly better than me, that can spot my mistakes and explain the basics to me. Someone I can talk with and pose questions to. Someone that's a good observer and has the patience to remind me to fix the same mistake again and again untill I actualy remember and the mistake disapare.

I imagine that in aikido it will be the same, it's more important with teachers that can help me stay motivated and judge what mistakes to try to make me fix first, and what to ignore while I struggle with learning where to put my feet and how to move than to have teachers that are the very best of the country's aikido practioners. If I continue with aikido for long enough to someday get good at it, it will be because of the teachers I have now, and their patience and generousity with their time.

I still remember teaching spinning wool into thread to a friend, years ago, and the pride I felt when she became better at it than I was. whenever I teach someone something, that's what I aim for, that my "student" will get better than me, and enjoy it enough that when that point arrive, they'll look for a better teach to take them to the next level.

Without that gift, from someone, it's unlikely that any but the most talented will ever become good. And even a student that some day exeed their first teachers skill, should try to remember that and feel some gratitude for that, even as they move on to better and more advanced teachers. be greatfull that your teachers helped you advance and encouraged you, rather than try to limit you to their own limits.

to the original poste:
If you chose to discuss your teachers skill with them, remember what they've done for you and be polite and respectfull in how you bring it up. studying with someone more advanced than your current teacher doesnt nessesarily mean you need to leave her altogether either.

Helle
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Old 04-21-2011, 01:53 AM   #49
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Re: What to do - Telling sensei their waza isn't good any more

Quote:
Helle Buvik wrote: View Post
Not all teachers will be great, either as teachers or as martial artists, but remember you trained with them for 3 years, and that a lot of your progress is due to the time and effort they gave you.

Is not the teacher that helped you build your foundations in the art to be honored as much as the teachers you may have towards the end of your career, when you yourself become great? even when you become better than them ask yourself if you would have advanced in aikido without the first teachers you had?
Would any of us?
They are the ones that kept uscomming back for those first few years, learned what aikido really can be and to differeniate between great and madiocre.

In rideing I've found that I dont really need the greatest teachers on earth to progress. I need a teacher that's slightly better than me, that can spot my mistakes and explain the basics to me. Someone I can talk with and pose questions to. Someone that's a good observer and has the patience to remind me to fix the same mistake again and again untill I actualy remember and the mistake disapare.

I imagine that in aikido it will be the same, it's more important with teachers that can help me stay motivated and judge what mistakes to try to make me fix first, and what to ignore while I struggle with learning where to put my feet and how to move than to have teachers that are the very best of the country's aikido practioners. If I continue with aikido for long enough to someday get good at it, it will be because of the teachers I have now, and their patience and generousity with their time.

I still remember teaching spinning wool into thread to a friend, years ago, and the pride I felt when she became better at it than I was. whenever I teach someone something, that's what I aim for, that my "student" will get better than me, and enjoy it enough that when that point arrive, they'll look for a better teach to take them to the next level.

Without that gift, from someone, it's unlikely that any but the most talented will ever become good. And even a student that some day exeed their first teachers skill, should try to remember that and feel some gratitude for that, even as they move on to better and more advanced teachers. be greatfull that your teachers helped you advance and encouraged you, rather than try to limit you to their own limits.

to the original poste:
If you chose to discuss your teachers skill with them, remember what they've done for you and be polite and respectfull in how you bring it up. studying with someone more advanced than your current teacher doesnt nessesarily mean you need to leave her altogether either.

Helle
Dear Helle,
Well said. We are all products of each person we meet on the tatami.I learn from every encounter with students.It is not required to have the greatest aikidoka to teach you, sometimes its the beginner who shows you the Way,
Therefore you should be grateful to all who you meet over the years.Without the countless number of people I have trained with for over 40 years i would not be the person I am today.I thank each and everyone for their assistance.
Cheers, Joe.
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