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Old 11-10-2013, 06:53 PM   #26
lbb
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

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Matthew Story wrote: View Post
I don't care enough about aikido to endure being regularly beaten with a stick while I practice it. I don't care enough about aikido to pack up and move across the ocean so that I can train with a particular instructor. In fact, I don't even care enough about aikido to drive a two-hour round trip every night I want to train: I would barely get to spend a waking moment with my wife on those days, and two or three days a week of that would get old quickly.
Well, I don't care enough about aikido by any of those standards, either -- not when you put it that way. On the other hand, I do care enough about aikido to put up with, shall we say, rather blunt and not uncommonly physical expressions of frustration from my sensei. I do care enough to give up my evenings for class time plus a 45 minute drive each way, and it would be pretty hard to get me to move away from my dojo at this point. So what are we really talking about here? You can't quantify commitment in terms of the actions you'll put up with, the distance you'll travel or the time you'll spend, because they all mean different things to different people. Moving continents means one thing for a 22-year-old gap-year kid, and another thing for a homeowner with a mortgage that won't just put itself on hold because you feel the need to train. You can't use the same yardstick to judge the dedication of different people, because different circumstances have different definitions of what it means to have some skin in the game. And that's the measure of dedication: what it costs you. The cost of a cup of coffee is trivial to the average middle-class office worker, but is all he has to a homeless person. I've seen poor people give to those with even less, while better-off people rationalized how the poor person didn't deserve it, wasn't doing enough to help himself...wasn't dedicated enough, I guess...and used that rationale as an excuse to give nothing. Compare the cost of training of a parent of three kids who gets to training two or three days a week on average, and the 22-year-old uchideshi-wannabee with no responsibilities who trains daily. Who is paying more for their training?
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:05 AM   #27
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Well, I don't care enough about aikido by any of those standards, either -- not when you put it that way. On the other hand, I do care enough about aikido to put up with, shall we say, rather blunt and not uncommonly physical expressions of frustration from my sensei. I do care enough to give up my evenings for class time plus a 45 minute drive each way, and it would be pretty hard to get me to move away from my dojo at this point. So what are we really talking about here? You can't quantify commitment in terms of the actions you'll put up with, the distance you'll travel or the time you'll spend, because they all mean different things to different people. Moving continents means one thing for a 22-year-old gap-year kid, and another thing for a homeowner with a mortgage that won't just put itself on hold because you feel the need to train. You can't use the same yardstick to judge the dedication of different people, because different circumstances have different definitions of what it means to have some skin in the game. And that's the measure of dedication: what it costs you. The cost of a cup of coffee is trivial to the average middle-class office worker, but is all he has to a homeless person. I've seen poor people give to those with even less, while better-off people rationalized how the poor person didn't deserve it, wasn't doing enough to help himself...wasn't dedicated enough, I guess...and used that rationale as an excuse to give nothing. Compare the cost of training of a parent of three kids who gets to training two or three days a week on average, and the 22-year-old uchideshi-wannabee with no responsibilities who trains daily. Who is paying more for their training?
That's kind of my point. Things all have different value to different people, based not only on their interest in the thing in question, but also on their circumstances. In light of this, I think it's very arbitrary and largely futile to try to judge who cares enough.

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Old 11-11-2013, 09:01 AM   #28
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

'We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.'

-Archilochus (Greek Soldier, Poet)
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Old 11-11-2013, 09:44 AM   #29
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

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I am a little surprised; I think this is a mindset that is pretty rare in activities other than the martial arts. I don't think Kobe Bryant disparages the guys who play basketball a couple times a week at the YMCA. I don't think Eric Clapton gets angry at the guys who strum chords around the campfire. I don't think Bob Woodward has a problem with the average blogger.

In the martial arts, though, I think there are a lot of people who, perhaps because of the pseudoreligious way some martial arts are taught, come to imagine that their activity is objectively, universally important rather than just important to them. And once that illusion has a hold of you, it starts to seem reasonable to insist that everyone value your particular activity exactly the same way you do.

I like aikido. It's fun, it's interesting, it's challenging, it's a good workout, and it has taught me a lot, including things that apply to life outside the dojo. I acknowledge that it requires time and effort. A select few take aikido further than that, and that's cool. I just take issue with the ones who think I need to be exactly like them.
I don't think Kobe, Eric, or Bob would disparage amateurs or dabblers simply because they don't care and they are not on their personal radar. They have more important things to do and have "filters" and "access" gates set up to really prevent amateurs and dabblers from wasting their valuable time.

I don't think you have many people complaining and griping about equal and fair access to Kobe, Eric, and Bob either. I would think most reasonable dabblers understand that they simply are not going to have access to them.

However, people in martial arts will gripe that an instructor or sensei is not willing to spend time with them or is spending time with certain people more than others. I don't get that. Personally, If you are a dabbler...I wouldn't really even think about you enough to disparage you....you simply would not be on my radar. I think it is probably as simple as that.

On Facebook Peter Boylan posted an interesting link to a musician that wrote a letter to a film company that was requesting his music for free. Why is their an expectation in the "arts" that people have a right on an entitlement to ask if they can "borrow" or have it for little or nothing?

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Old 11-11-2013, 09:53 AM   #30
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

It strikes me, Kevin, that it's a false dichotomy to label anyone not at the elite level as a "dabbler". Is that really how you see things?
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:31 AM   #31
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

No Mary....not at all...over generalization for sure. Certainly there is a huge gap between the examples Matt provides of Kobe, Eric, and Bob....and amateurs/dabblers. Would you not agree?

Out of those amateurs though there does need to be programs to recognize and develop budding talent. and certainly, these guys would make themselves available simply for the passion of their arts/professions.

Not sure though that they would really have much incentive to hang out and spend time with someone that was not passionate or committed...regardless of their talent level...hence a dabbler.

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Old 11-11-2013, 11:02 AM   #32
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

I will sound like a broken record because I have said this before. Our commitment to train should be a reflection or our expectation of gain. This post sounds like we are talking about valuing our training, and then comparing that value to our expectation.

I think amateurs are not professionals. I think hobbyists are not amateurs. We all struggle with prioritizing our commitment and following through with that commitment. I think no one takes issue with the claim that life sometimes requires different priorities than we would like. I think the problem usually comes in the delivery of expectation - especially when that expectation is less. I think we often mistake commitment as lacking sacrifice. money, time, whatever. We are sacrificing ourselves in some form to gain in our understanding of aikido. That sacrifice should be valued against the expectation of gain.

It is no small thing to excel in anything. When you step on the mat with someone of excellent quality, they have likely reached that level through no small effort. To either minimize their commitment or maximize yours is inappropriate. To comparatively argue you are the same is inappropriate. If the sacrifice of your commitment is appreciated by your peers they will respect your commitment, regardless of your skill. Eventually the value of your sacrifice will coordinate with your commitment and hopefully your expectation.

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Old 11-11-2013, 11:15 AM   #33
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

In music there's a pretty clear system in place - there are professionals and there are amateurs, and an amateur can certainly get lessons from a professional if they pay for the lessons. BUT usually the very top teachers teach at institutions where you won't get in without serious talent and practice. Otherwise you'll have to be content with a private teacher like me. :-)

In aikido the problem is I think that we all just practise together in one big jumble and there aren't that many places where someone could go who wanted to practise with the goal of getting to an elite level. If music conservatories had to accept everyone who came in the door, I can imagine the grumbling that would cause, both from the teachers and the students.

And afaik most of my colleagues recognize that especially for adult students, work and family come first and practising their instument only after that - for example, I always tell my students to come to a lesson whether or not they have practised - stuff happens, sometimes life interferes, that's ok, we'll just practise in the lesson instead.

Now if one of my students told me that they wanted to become a professional musician, that would be an entirely different situation. I'd be much tougher on them then.

Pauliina
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:44 AM   #34
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

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No Mary....not at all...over generalization for sure. Certainly there is a huge gap between the examples Matt provides of Kobe, Eric, and Bob....and amateurs/dabblers. Would you not agree?
Oh, absolutely! That's why I was a bit surprised at your earlier comment.

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Out of those amateurs though there does need to be programs to recognize and develop budding talent. and certainly, these guys would make themselves available simply for the passion of their arts/professions.

Not sure though that they would really have much incentive to hang out and spend time with someone that was not passionate or committed...regardless of their talent level...hence a dabbler.
Right, but (and maybe this is where the analogy breaks down) there are very few Kobes or potential Kobes, regardless of passion and commitment.
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Old 11-12-2013, 02:33 AM   #35
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

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Pauliina Lievonen wrote: View Post
In aikido the problem is I think that we all just practise together in one big jumble and there aren't that many places where someone could go who wanted to practise with the goal of getting to an elite level.
Hi Pauliina :-)
When I read over this thread I was wondering, why a teacher would or should demand a certain amount of "how much" or a certain way of "how" some practioner cares about aikid˘. I was asking me that because I don't experience such "one big jumble".

Sure, at a first glance it seems so. But when you take a closer look you may detect a lot of differentiation. At least this is true in my experience. It's clearly not comparable to the world of teaching and studying music.

But ...
... there exist different classes ...

Mostly they are accessible for every member of a d˘j˘. But you have to meet certain requirements for advanced classes. You have to do more to participate in the classes which are preparing for dan-gradings. And there may even be classes to which certain students are invited by a certain teachers / the teacher of the d˘j˘.

... and different seminars.
Seminars do have a special charakter, they are "more than" the daily practice. And some people are going very often, others go seldom, some never do.
And while most seminars are free for everyone to attend, there are a whole lot of seminars which are restricted. Be it by a certain grade like shodan or even sandan. Or you can take part only by invitation. Or only certain students of the teacher are allowede to attend. ...

... aikid˘ is taught in a teacher-student-relation.
So during class everybody practices. But only the "declared" students of the teacher are taught in the proper sense. This is true at home in the d˘j˘ and it is even more true during seminars. You can go there and practice but the teacher will not teach everyone but only his students. The others "only practice", they only take part and have to watch, to steal.

... finally both aspects come together.
There are students of a teacher who are following him more to his abroad seminars than other. Only few attend the international seminars in his home d˘j˘ (maybe in Saku in Japan) regularly or visit him there (maybe in Paris, France) once a week.
And only a handfull lives in the d˘j˘ as uchi deshi for some years, or at least near to the d˘j˘. This may only be three or seven students.

This is at least how I experience the structure of the student body in aikid˘: To me it is clearly a pyramid.
And maybe living and practicing directly with a shihan for some years, even living in the d˘j˘ as a uchi deshi, is a little bit like being student at conservatoire.

So I have to admit I didn't really understand the point of this thread.
I think everyone can care about aikid˘ just the way he or she does. That's fine. Because everyone hast to choose his or her own way through one's life.
I myself never experienced a teacher to make demands of a student where there was no relation and who only wanted to practice and nothing more.
Demanding to overthink the way one cares about aikid˘ I only know from situations where the practioner has to care "enough" to become a declared student, or to care "enough" to take part in a certain training or seminar or to be graded. Or to fulfil whatever to reach a certain aim.
I never experienced a teacher to accuse a student to not care enough, when the interest of this practioner only was to just practice.

Last edited by Carsten M÷llering : 11-12-2013 at 02:48 AM.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:30 AM   #36
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

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That's kind of my point. Things all have different value to different people, based not only on their interest in the thing in question, but also on their circumstances. In light of this, I think it's very arbitrary and largely futile to try to judge who cares enough.
My instructor used to say, "you cannot hide who your are on the mat." There are a number of indicators to help us assess this subjective decision. We have attendance records, belt ranks, leadership positions in the dojo to name a few. We also have implicitly given some measure of control to our instructors to make this decision - we have an obligation to keep them informed of our personal decisions and such so they may make an informed decision. So we are empowered to make a fair guess at who is training to a level of expectation set forth by their personal circumstances. Of course, we then need to consider the answer and adjust our training accordingly...

I think the problem is not deciding who cares enough. I think the problem is that we often think we care enough and that perception is inconsistent for our expectation of skill. I think the Western model of buying access to excellence causes confusion. Here we have people who pay to touch the robes of our shihan and other high ranking aikido people. They take our money and train with us. They stay at our house. And they politely refrain from telling us our aikido is poor because we train 2-3 times a week for 1-2 hours, usually. Well, except on holidays, too. You want to train with an instructor who gives tough love? See how many people are on the mat... Sometimes we need to look at alternative solutions. Can't be on the mat? Does your dojo offer solo exercises that you can do at home? Do you do them?

Then there's performance on the mat. Yes, there are some lucky people out there who are just good. Bo Jackson once remarked that he actually did very little to maintain his body prior to college. But most of us have to work at it. Most of us make mistakes. And most of us are not nearly as good as we imagine in our heads (where surprisingly few damsel butt-grabbing, ex-convicts on drugs in a bar escape our imagined, cool, even-handed control until said assailant realizes the error of his ways and enrolls in a self-help clinic).

Finally, sometimes we step away from our investment because it help insulate us from being hurt by criticism. Sometimes, I think students are intimidated by a fear of criticism. The defense mechanism is simply to "not to care enough," to be hurt by the criticism. I think as instructors, we need to always be considerate of what we say and how we say it. I think aikido has experienced a period of instruction that was not considerate, with individuals who maybe were gifted martial artists but poor instructors. We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors. I think aligning with instructors who are considerate is important to introducing better means of constructively adjusting our training.

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Old 11-12-2013, 08:58 AM   #37
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

personally, i only care enough about my practice and leave others to their own care or not care. i don't live their lives or walk in their shoes (some are very stinky) so they don't bother me much. as long as they don't whine too much on the mat, i really don't care that much.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 11-12-2013, 10:13 AM   #38
Keith Larman
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

Pfft... I do my best whenever I'm on the mat. I do my best when I have any free time by myself at home. When I teach, I do my best to show whatever I can and communicate whatever I can. Period. The rest, well, that's up to someone other than me and with respect to them, well, there ain't much I can do about that part of the equation.

FWIW I also get a monthly or so random contact from someone who wants to know "the secrets" of polishing swords. Or wrapping sword handles. Or whatever. I give the same answer -- lots of time, lots of sweat, lots of study. No secrets. And nothing someone can tell you in an email or even standing in front of you will get you anywhere other than maybe a millimeter further along that path. The rest involves walking it. Doing it. Getting training. Doing. Studying. Thinking. Making mistakes.

So do I spend much time answering specific questions from folk like this? Nope. Because no answer I give will be understood without all that other stuff they haven't done yet, even if they are willing to do the work. Once they've started doing the work, well, that's another issue. But still there's always the question of whether someone knows enough yet to even begin to understand the questions they ask. Or maybe more accurately, how more often than not the questions they ask are the very things they should be least concerned with as the unasked ones are often vastly more relevant.

So... Do you care about what you're doing? How much time does one who has spent decades honing skills devote to helping those who are trying to learn? How much time do they give to those who are just coasting? How much time do you give to dabblers?

Me, when I'm in the dojo my job is to teach to the best of my ability. And I try knowing full well there are those out there for whom the message will be missed. But I do my best. When it's the random guy contacting me out of the blue telling me I have a responsibility to share what I've worked so hard to learn because the world "needs" to retain this info and yet they're completely unable to understand answer? Nah, no time for that. I've got stuff to do...

So mixed feelings on my part. And it depends on context.

I'll also touch on one thing already mentioned -- we've seemingly moved from a world that views virtually everything as market based. Many seem to feel entitled to whatever they want simply because they've paid for something. Or want to know what it is they have to pay to get. Well, not everything works that way. And no one is entitled to anything. There are some things money can't buy. Sometimes it takes building trust and confidence. Sometimes it takes friendship. And quite frankly the things I've learned from some in the martial arts that were based more on a long-standing friendship turned out to be vastly the more valuable lessons of all.

And in saying that I realize I need to make a few phone calls to some old friends.

K

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Old 11-12-2013, 11:16 AM   #39
Basia Halliop
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

Personally, I don't see why I should care one way or another how personally dedicated my training partners are or what thoughts they have about aikido in their head, or what right I have to even ask them. In your head is private. It is simply none of my business one way or another what role aikido has in the life of someone I'm training with, or what they do or think about when they go home, or even really how likely they are to keep training for years, unless we happen to get in a chat and we feel like talking about it. I'm sad sometimes if someone leaves or doesn't train often, but that's my problem, not theirs. They don't 'owe me' their training, and I would find the idea disturbing. I don't own anyone's life but mine.

How they train in those minutes that they're training with me is important to me. (Or in those minutes when I'm teaching them, in the event that I'm teaching a class). That matters.
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Old 11-12-2013, 11:32 AM   #40
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

I also kind of agree with Carsten a bit. There are plenty of ways for more driven or more advanced students to seek out more training or more teaching.

As we all keep saying, 'what you get out of it is what you put into it', which means that everything basically sorts itself out. The person who shows up rarely will get less teaching and will learn less, the person who really concentrates will make the most of the time they have, the person who seeks out seminars or seeks people after class for extra training will get more and different training experiences, the person who brings themself to a certain level will be allowed into advanced classes and given extra help by sempais. And so on.

It seems kind of fine to me.
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Old 11-12-2013, 02:12 PM   #41
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

Quote:
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We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.
...which, to put it bluntly, is stupid.
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Old 11-12-2013, 03:33 PM   #42
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

'We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.'

Isn't there, though? There's usually a kind of informal apprenticeship, from what I've seen, where students watch how their teachers teach and are gradually given more and more teaching responsibility themseves for kohais. I certainly feel like I've gotten a lot more support to develop my teaching skills through aikido than in situations where it was my actual job (e.g., as a teaching assistant in a university).

Although of course such a system can pass on harmful teaching methods as easily as it can pass on helpful ones.

Last edited by Basia Halliop : 11-12-2013 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 11-13-2013, 11:30 AM   #43
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
'We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.'

Isn't there, though? There's usually a kind of informal apprenticeship, from what I've seen, where students watch how their teachers teach and are gradually given more and more teaching responsibility themseves for kohais. I certainly feel like I've gotten a lot more support to develop my teaching skills through aikido than in situations where it was my actual job (e.g., as a teaching assistant in a university).

Although of course such a system can pass on harmful teaching methods as easily as it can pass on helpful ones.
Yes, I think the sensei/sempai/kohai relationship was intended to be an apprenticeship process. I think that relationship structure is being changed in Western aikido dojos and that is damaging the basic foundation for learning responsibility and instructing others. Sure, there are groups of good instructors developing good instructors, but on any given day you can simply read the threads column here and find a thread about a poor instructor, or sempai, or whatever. I am not sure if that is a criticism or simply an observation about our most prominent method of "teaching" instructors how to share what they know.

In ASU, we are invited annually to the Shrine in Florida for a seminar for instructors. The idea is to share ideas about what to teach, when, and how. Plus, Sensei usually yells at us about something. But, its a forum for instructors to ask how to better instruct. I support that idea which I why I go. I also am blessed to have relationships with seniors whose teaching ability and aikido I respect. I work very hard to develop a methodology of instruction, a curriculum and a process of evaluation to positively push the training in the right direction. That is a difficult endeavor for me and I do appreciate it when someone gives me advice or new direction that helps me be better.

I think beyond apprenticeship is also the art of effectively sharing knowledge with interpersonal communication. Kinda the 'ol "the best players don't always make the best coaches" observation. I think there are bad instructors. I think there are great instructors. Plain and simple. Most aikido instructors fall somewhere in the middle.

When I read this thread, the perspective that jumped out at me was, "Is there anything I can do to make my students care more?" In high school I had an English teacher who made me care more about English than I would have thought possible. He didn't get paid more for it. I didn't learn it from the other students. He did it. Sharing inspiration and encouragement is tough - any teacher knows that. I try to thank everyone I meet that shares their inspiration and encouragement.

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Old 11-14-2013, 04:33 PM   #44
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
We forget there is no "teaching 101" for instructors.
Hi Jon,

There is in the UK, the British Aikdio Board has a coaching accreditation programme that runs to 11 different courses at three levels. This covers all affiliated organisations across many styles of aikido and the coaching level 1 is a prerequisite for insurance cover under the BAB. This in turn sits under a wider scheme called Sports Coach UK. There's even an online searchable database of everyone's qualifications, pass dates and certificate numbers.

I guess this could be seen as anywhere from a bureaucratic straitjacket to a comforting level of professionalism depending on one's perspective

Cheers,

Paul
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Old 11-18-2013, 10:37 AM   #45
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

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Paul Funnell wrote: View Post
Hi Jon,

There is in the UK, the British Aikdio Board has a coaching accreditation programme that runs to 11 different courses at three levels. This covers all affiliated organisations across many styles of aikido and the coaching level 1 is a prerequisite for insurance cover under the BAB. This in turn sits under a wider scheme called Sports Coach UK. There's even an online searchable database of everyone's qualifications, pass dates and certificate numbers.

I guess this could be seen as anywhere from a bureaucratic straitjacket to a comforting level of professionalism depending on one's perspective

Cheers,

Paul
That's right, you guys run your insurance through your board.

Ironically, here in the states we require a college degree to baby-sit our kids; not to mention websites where you can perform "security checks" on individuals. But you got a black belt? Well, obviously we should just trust you... Where can I drop my child off to practice a violent fighting system for an hour? Ohhh? Weapons, too? Excellent. We're like a comedy skit waiting to happen.

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Old 11-18-2013, 12:34 PM   #46
jurasketu
Dojo: Roswell Budokan
Location: Roswell GA
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 53
United_States
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
That's right, you guys run your insurance through your board.

Ironically, here in the states we require a college degree to baby-sit our kids; not to mention websites where you can perform "security checks" on individuals. But you got a black belt? Well, obviously we should just trust you... Where can I drop my child off to practice a violent fighting system for an hour? Ohhh? Weapons, too? Excellent. We're like a comedy skit waiting to happen.
And remember - the most important reason to send a child to martial arts class is so that they can learn discipline. So, naturally - you get very undisciplined children, because that's what we claim we teach. And they do things like suddenly FLING themselves into a mirror or a wall - while you go "GAHHHH... WHAT ARE YOU DOING???"

All paths lead to death. I strongly recommend taking one of the scenic routes.
AWA - Shodan - Started Aikido training in 2008
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:00 PM   #47
JLRonin
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 27
United_States
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Re: I Don't Care That Much

Thank you OwlMatt
Your OP really really really made my day and year.
God Bless!
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