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Old 03-29-2014, 12:04 AM   #1
JoelLM
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The Validity of an Instructor

I'm not trying to step on anyones toes, insult or offend.

We currently have two instructors where im from, one a 3rd dan who is very clear on his claims and can provide evidence, as well as bring up one of his instructor for a week long seminars Tohsiro Suga. He also sends his students out to the French Federation for grading instead of passing out grades himself.

On the other hand, we have another who claims to be a 6th dan, who after speaking with him is very unclear on what he teaches, a lot of contradicting information, I've heard from others that he hold no official ranks in anything. Is there a way to verify his credentials?

I have nothing against this Instructor, I would like to take his class once I have a decent amount of experience with aikido, there are just a few thing about him that make me feel uneasy.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:39 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Trust your instinct.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 03-29-2014, 02:06 AM   #3
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Trust your instinct.
Yes.
Instinct, Feeling, Intuition ...
is our best leader in live.
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Old 03-29-2014, 03:07 AM   #4
osaya
 
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

having official credentials can sometimes be useful to give us a rough indication of standard/validity. however, it can be equally as misleading at times. there are people with high ranks/quals with crappy abilities, and vice-versa.

i know this isn't exactly where you are coming from with your question, but i guess this is just another POV to consider aside from an instructor's qualifications is their ability as an aikidoka(ist) as well as a teacher.
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Old 03-29-2014, 03:11 AM   #5
roman naly
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Watch a class and if you like what you see, then take one of the classes.
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Old 03-29-2014, 04:49 AM   #6
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

paper credentials can sometimes be just that, pieces of paper. In saying that anyone who claims high Dan ranking should be able to list his/her primary teacher and ranking organisation.
There are numerous individuals in the UK and elsewhere who claim (very) high rankings which are in fact awarded by their own students!

Now it can be argued that this is no different from the Aikikai; after all grades are awarded by people within the group; but at least bodies such as the Aikikai, Yoshinkan etc. have an international reach and, therefore, an extensive peer review system.

At the end of the day it depends on how important you, as a student, think rank is and your view af each teachers skill in both Aikido and teaching.
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:02 AM   #7
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

If he has skill, go learn. If not, don't bother. The paper is all garbage - even if the credentials are sound - it does not mean the teacher will be good.

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Old 03-29-2014, 06:51 AM   #8
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Seng-Yew Ong wrote: View Post
having official credentials can sometimes be useful to give us a rough indication of standard/validity. however, it can be equally as misleading at times. there are people with high ranks/quals with crappy abilities, and vice-versa.

i know this isn't exactly where you are coming from with your question, but i guess this is just another POV to consider aside from an instructor's qualifications is their ability as an aikidoka(ist) as well as a teacher.
A piece of paper is no guarantee of quality, that's correct. However, someone who lies about having a piece of paper should tell you all you need to know.

--Ashley
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Old 03-29-2014, 07:34 AM   #9
Millsy
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Ashley Hemsath wrote: View Post
A piece of paper is no guarantee of quality, that's correct. However, someone who lies about having a piece of paper should tell you all you need to know.
It's sometimes easy to look at a piece of paper and infer quality, but it is no guarantee, at the base level it is evidence of time spent. I don't think the OP was claiming the 6th Dan was lying, only that he couldn't make sense of his background from some conversations, for some their budo journey isn't as neat and linear as others who have stayed with the one teacher/organisation. Some times the more "ronin" person has a richer understanding sometimes a more confused one.

The ability to teach as little to do with a Dan level, or even technical ability and understanding of the art, but the ability to transmit that knowledge to their students. Ultimately watch the teacher teach, does he communicate in a way that works for you; look at the students they are the reflection of the teachers ability to teach; and speak to the teacher, are they open or honest even if somewhat confused
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Old 03-29-2014, 01:21 PM   #10
SteveTrinkle
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

just because he does not "hand out" grades him self may mean nothing , especially higher grades many times these must first be submitted to , for example Aikikai Hombu dojo one idea for you is to watch carefully the interaction between your instructor and his teacher what is your school's liniage? who was your teacher's teacher's teacher?

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Old 03-29-2014, 03:39 PM   #11
Dan Rubin
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Perhaps the people offering advice will be helped by your first AikiWeb post, here:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23335
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Old 03-29-2014, 04:03 PM   #12
sakumeikan
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Philip Smith wrote: View Post
paper credentials can sometimes be just that, pieces of paper. In saying that anyone who claims high Dan ranking should be able to list his/her primary teacher and ranking organisation.
There are numerous individuals in the UK and elsewhere who claim (very) high rankings which are in fact awarded by their own students!

Now it can be argued that this is no different from the Aikikai; after all grades are awarded by people within the group; but at least bodies such as the Aikikai, Yoshinkan etc. have an international reach and, therefore, an extensive peer review system.

At the end of the day it depends on how important you, as a student, think rank is and your view af each teachers skill in both Aikido and teaching.
Hi Philip,
Hope you are well. As you say there are self graded individuals around.The latest being a certain gentlemen claiming 9th Dan here in the U.K. .My own view is this, simply keeping one or more grades ahead of your students and being graded to a higher level by panel of students of a lower grade imo is not the way to go.Personally I think anyone accepting or self promoting themselves to a high grade in this manner are fooling themselves.Of course different groups use different standards.Not every group has had the privilege of training under the tutelage from the many skilled Shihan we both have met over the years.I guess we could both agree that we are very fortunate to have had such experienced teachers in our formative years.I guess we are pretty lucky here??
Please pass on my warmest regards to your Mum, and warmest regards to your colleagues from Jenny and myself, All the best , Joe.
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Old 03-29-2014, 04:22 PM   #13
sakumeikan
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
If he has skill, go learn. If not, don't bother. The paper is all garbage - even if the credentials are sound - it does not mean the teacher will be good.
Dear Rupert,
Pray tell me how a beginner can tell whether a instructor is good or knows his /her stuff?A beginner has little knowhow to tell whether the aikido is good or bad, technically sound or technically flawed. There has to be certain standards. The Fukushidoin /Shidoin/Shihan certification may not be perfect but it a least gives a degree of credibility to the teacher.
If a Doctor set up a practice would you like to think that the guy went to a medical school /passed exams and was accredited by a legitimate group or would you just go to the guy because he uses the word DR. in his surgery/calling card?
I believe an aikido teacher should be able to over and above demonstrate reasonable aikido skills, he /she should be able to list their pedigree /lineage ie the names of main teachers he /sge has studied under. I also believe a teachers grading record should be seen or authenticated by a reputable body.Cheers, Joe.
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Old 03-29-2014, 04:27 PM   #14
sakumeikan
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Ashley Hemsath wrote: View Post
A piece of paper is no guarantee of quality, that's correct. However, someone who lies about having a piece of paper should tell you all you need to know.

--Ashley
Ashley,
Your quote says it all. Cheers, Joe.
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Old 03-29-2014, 04:39 PM   #15
Adam Huss
 
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Just came back from a quick visit to each school's website. Obviously armchair QBing this from the internet but, given lack of other information, here are my thoughts:

Both instructors seem skilled.

The younger instructor has a more obvious direct lineage, meaning, he trained with a particular person for a particular set of time. This consistency is very important for an instructor as it grants them a depth of knowledge (assuming their teacher knew what he or she was talking about) and can actually instruct others how and why things work. This is all assumption, no clue if its manifested in the dojo you are looking at.

The 6th dan guy seems to have a lifetime devoted to training. It's a full time dojo, meaning training and teaching is likely all this guy does. It seems like he seeks out training under many individuals, but does not list what his consistent training was. Did he have a disagreement with his organization around nidan level then split away and been solo for the last 30 years? Hard to tell. One important aspect of looking at an independent instructor is if he maintains ties with other practitioners outside of his own group, and does he seek to better himself or has running his own organization made him stagnate? HIs movements are reminiscent of older styles of aikido. His organization has a religious association (Christian Martial Arts Federation) and he is a pastor. Seems like he teaches several forms of budo...all taught within his seemingly own organization. So if you are looking for more exposure to different forms there's that to consider.

So really, it all comes down to you making a decision. Most importantly you need to audit classes at both locations. Observe the instructor's teaching style, atmosphere, student body and attitude. Then look at class schedule, what's offered, and how active they are (regularly host or travel to seminars, etc).

I would recommend caution in being too swayed by a website page. I have good friends whose dojo I would never visit based on their webpage alone, and they are great instructors.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:12 PM   #16
JoelLM
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
Perhaps the people offering advice will be helped by your first AikiWeb post, here:
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23335
Thanks, Dan

I wanted to avoid bringing attention to both dojos as I do not have any malice against the instructors and I do not wish to tarnish their reputations. Yes YAMA DOJO is the one that is in question for me mainly because I felt more confused after speaking with the instructor then I had previously. After communicating with some of the other members of the martial arts community things got even more muddled.

Speaking with the Instructor, he asked me what my experience was in regards to martial arts. I expressed I had very little in regards to grappling but had done boxing, karate, and had done a tad bit of aikido. I expressed my concerns for aikido, mainly the ki aspect of aikido (no offence to practitioners of ki aikido) he's answer was that he does not teach nor is he a fan of Aikido. This is where I became confused as he advertises as an aikido school, at least thats what his website led me to believe. He claims to teach Aikijujitsu, okay, so I made a mental note. So I watched the class, I enjoyed what I saw.

I jumped online, did some research on Aikijujitsu as I had no clue what this was at the time and found Diato ryu. Wow, I thought I'd struck gold, I've never tried Diato ryu, but from the videos I saw, I think it's something I would really enjoy. Yet again, I started asking questions on a different forum and found that under all the credentials listed on his webpage he has no Diato ryu experience.... insert more confusion.

So, I run into a few friends who are Bujinkan practitioners and ask if they have met said instructor and what they thought of him. One said that he had heard that he had practice in a Bujinkan dojo in easter Canada for a couple of years and he noticed in his class that some of the techniques are indeed Ninjutsu. The other said that when he spoke to said instructor he had a poor view of Bujinkan and he felt as if he was being spoken down to. Insert more confusion. (His experience in the Buj is not listed on his website)

I feel like he was trying to sell me his art. I have no issues with this however I'd like clarity and transparency. He makes a lot of claims that I can verify or that seem to be contradictory. This is why I had hoped that maybe there was a way of verifying his claims so I can actually get an idea of what is he teaching. His art dose not look bad, I'm interested in checking it out, but I want something solid. I dont want to learn an art thinking its aikido and later go to another dojo and look like a fool because what I had learned was not aikido.
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:22 PM   #17
JoelLM
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Just came back from a quick visit to each school's website. Obviously armchair QBing this from the internet but, given lack of other information, here are my thoughts:

Both instructors seem skilled.

The younger instructor has a more obvious direct lineage, meaning, he trained with a particular person for a particular set of time. This consistency is very important for an instructor as it grants them a depth of knowledge (assuming their teacher knew what he or she was talking about) and can actually instruct others how and why things work. This is all assumption, no clue if its manifested in the dojo you are looking at.

The 6th dan guy seems to have a lifetime devoted to training. It's a full time dojo, meaning training and teaching is likely all this guy does. It seems like he seeks out training under many individuals, but does not list what his consistent training was. Did he have a disagreement with his organization around nidan level then split away and been solo for the last 30 years? Hard to tell. One important aspect of looking at an independent instructor is if he maintains ties with other practitioners outside of his own group, and does he seek to better himself or has running his own organization made him stagnate? HIs movements are reminiscent of older styles of aikido. His organization has a religious association (Christian Martial Arts Federation) and he is a pastor. Seems like he teaches several forms of budo...all taught within his seemingly own organization. So if you are looking for more exposure to different forms there's that to consider.

So really, it all comes down to you making a decision. Most importantly you need to audit classes at both locations. Observe the instructor's teaching style, atmosphere, student body and attitude. Then look at class schedule, what's offered, and how active they are (regularly host or travel to seminars, etc).

I would recommend caution in being too swayed by a website page. I have good friends whose dojo I would never visit based on their webpage alone, and they are great instructors.
Thank you, that was a very good Answer.

I've been with Aikido Yukon for almost two month now and have enjoyed my time there tremendously. There are issues which are not anyones fault other then life. The instructor missing class due to work, and I would also like to attend class more frequently then 2-3 times a week, but these things can not be helped. Aikido yukon is also bringing up Toshiro Suga this April for a seminar, this is something I have not heard the other dojo doing. I do not believe Yama dojo has ever brought up another instructor for a seminar, but that doesn't mean it has never happened, I've just never heard of it. One of the draws to Yama dojo for me was how frequently they trained and why I started questioning.
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:30 PM   #18
Dan Rubin
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

According to this webpage, our very own Szczepan Janczuk knows Vitold Jordan 6th dan, and likes him:

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthre...ructor-inquiry
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:35 PM   #19
JoelLM
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
According to this webpage, our very own Szczepan Janczuk knows Vitold Jordan 6th dan, and likes him:

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthre...ructor-inquiry
Okay, well that's very cool. At least this is conformation from someone that has practiced under him.
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:42 PM   #20
Adam Huss
 
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Be careful not to associate DRAJJ with aikijujitsu. Vitold doesn't appear to claim Daito Ryu lineage, and that is a very specific thing to claim. He appears to claim aikijujitsu, which is a more generic term. His movements overall seem to indicate that type of influence....things like his zanshin "stances" and hojo dosa for ushiro waza.

I felt pretty confident I've heard of Vitold Sensei before. Must have been through Mr. Janczuk's posts.

I don't mean to discredit someone who doesn't associate outside his organization (for those who are kancho/kaicho status), just that its something to pay attention to. Sometimes people want to teach a very specific thing in a very specific manner. That's not my approach, but I can appreciate legitimate reasons behind that thinking...namely quality control. But it can also indicate a person thats just difficult to get along with, or has poor grasp of teaching material and doesn't want to look foolish in front of other instructors. Impossible to tell w/o personally experiencing their dojo.

Joel,
glad you are enjoying your new dojo! Maybe you can even train at both, or just drop in to Vitold's school every once and awhile (if your teacher and Vitold are okay with that). I would be cautious with that until you have a solid understanding of what your home dojo is teaching, to avoid confusion. Part time dojo, like I am guessing yours is, becomes a pretty close 'family' of sorts. You definitely have to take into account that training environment can drastically change if your instructor becomes injured, or has work and personal life issues. These things happen. My dojo is pretty small, so if a couple people don't make class on a night, it can really change the energy level in class. Currently our dojo cho is recovering from surgery so the other black belts take turns teaching....so currently our class is a very very different experience depending on who's directing things that day. This is why I always recommend to people shopping for a dojo that they make more than one visit to each school they are looking at.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:09 PM   #21
JoelLM
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Be careful not to associate DRAJJ with aikijujitsu. Vitold doesn't appear to claim Daito Ryu lineage, and that is a very specific thing to claim. He appears to claim aikijujitsu, which is a more generic term. His movements overall seem to indicate that type of influence....things like his zanshin "stances" and hojo dosa for ushiro waza.

I felt pretty confident I've heard of Vitold Sensei before. Must have been through Mr. Janczuk's posts.

I don't mean to discredit someone who doesn't associate outside his organization (for those who are kancho/kaicho status), just that its something to pay attention to. Sometimes people want to teach a very specific thing in a very specific manner. That's not my approach, but I can appreciate legitimate reasons behind that thinking...namely quality control. But it can also indicate a person thats just difficult to get along with, or has poor grasp of teaching material and doesn't want to look foolish in front of other instructors. Impossible to tell w/o personally experiencing their dojo.

Joel,
glad you are enjoying your new dojo! Maybe you can even train at both, or just drop in to Vitold's school every once and awhile (if your teacher and Vitold are okay with that). I would be cautious with that until you have a solid understanding of what your home dojo is teaching, to avoid confusion. Part time dojo, like I am guessing yours is, becomes a pretty close 'family' of sorts. You definitely have to take into account that training environment can drastically change if your instructor becomes injured, or has work and personal life issues. These things happen. My dojo is pretty small, so if a couple people don't make class on a night, it can really change the energy level in class. Currently our dojo cho is recovering from surgery so the other black belts take turns teaching....so currently our class is a very very different experience depending on who's directing things that day. This is why I always recommend to people shopping for a dojo that they make more than one visit to each school they are looking at.
Thanks for clearing that up for me. Vitold never claimed Diato, just to be clear! That was just the assumption I made because I didn't know any better.

Thank you for everyones help, now I can maybe help clear somethings up. Vitold has always been shrouded I mystery and skepticism because no one has ever been able to verify his claims. Lots of gossip can now be put to rest and maybe this will help both Aikido dojos grow.
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Old 03-29-2014, 06:22 PM   #22
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Joe Curran wrote: View Post
Dear Rupert,
Pray tell me how a beginner can tell whether a instructor is good or knows his /her stuff?A beginner has little knowhow to tell whether the aikido is good or bad, technically sound or technically flawed. There has to be certain standards. The Fukushidoin /Shidoin/Shihan certification may not be perfect but it a least gives a degree of credibility to the teacher.
Cheers, Joe.
Fair comment, but I like to think that I have been able to tell between the good and the bad, especially if you see more people for comparison - even when I was young. I mean, I'm not very good at soccer but I can easily see who is and who is not good. Of course, standards are good to have - but even then - there are many people with good credentials that lack skill. I have seen them many, many times (not only in Aikido - in every walk of life).

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Old 03-30-2014, 09:52 AM   #23
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Fair comment, but I like to think that I have been able to tell between the good and the bad, especially if you see more people for comparison - even when I was young. I mean, I'm not very good at soccer but I can easily see who is and who is not good. .
Hi Rupert,

Perhaps you're unusually astute, then? I say this because there are plenty of garbage "martial arts" schools whose students are fervent fans of what they're doing, and who earnestly believe that they're being taught good stuff by good instructors. If it's a common skill to distinguish good from bad, even with no prior experience, how do you explain these students?
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:19 AM   #24
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Christian Martial arts, Brazilian Ju-jutsu, Arabian Hip Hop, Venusian sushi and Martian belly dancing.
Jolly good, jolly nice!
What a bloody mess!!

"Nobody told me there'd be days like these,
Strange days indeed!"
John Lennon
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Old 03-30-2014, 04:11 PM   #25
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Hi Rupert,

Perhaps you're unusually astute, then? I say this because there are plenty of garbage "martial arts" schools whose students are fervent fans of what they're doing, and who earnestly believe that they're being taught good stuff by good instructors. If it's a common skill to distinguish good from bad, even with no prior experience, how do you explain these students?
I have no answer to that except to say they must be blind in some artistic sense. I too have come across this many times. Because of this, when I first visited Japan 25 years ago I visited many places before choosing where to train. I am now back in Japan again - as of last week - searching.

I have been involved in various sports (plus coaching) since a young age and have always followed the skill.

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