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Old 03-30-2014, 10:29 PM   #26
JoelLM
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
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.
I see where you are coming from Rupert, but being able to tell if a martial art is bullshido or legitimately good is a skill. While some people might know what they are looking for I would wager the majority of people need some guidance if this was not the case then the problem of Macdojos would not exist. Aikido has so many different styles, it's not always easy to find what your looking for because non are "bad" they are just tailored to different people. What I look for is something that is a little more brutal, no nonsense, I'm not a big fan of styles that over exaggerate the movements and focus on internal energy. That being said and one of the reasons I've been asking questions is im also big on legitimacy which means being able to trace where my instructor came from in his journey.

While I think most people are able to tell if something is bunk, when your comparing two good dojos, its not always easy to tell which dose it best. And I nitpick a lot.
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:34 AM   #27
PeterR
 
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Well I would not go so far as to say none are bad - but generally Aikido seems to have avoided some of McDojo pitfalls.

Rupert's skill comes from experience - by nature (I suppose) he looked around before buying and bought well the first time. His soccer analogy holds water for him because you can easily see a lot of players at different levels quite easy.

Most of us are lazy or just don't have the opportunity to observe the wide variety so luck plays a far bigger role. And let's face it - the second part of human nature is to convince ourselves what we do is the bestest and the mostest. It is a trap easily fallen into.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-31-2014, 05:27 AM   #28
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Actually, now that I think about it - not quite true Peter.
I first did Judo as a kid and I guess I just trusted it _ my mom sent me. After a while I just found that I wasn't learning - I was just fodder for the bigger kids - and eventually quit. I did a lot of work - sweat etc - but learned very little. They taught very little. And I figured that out for myself.

Then, I found Aikido and they actually taught stuff. It was Tomiki Aikido and it emphasised effectiveness. My teacher was a prison officer and used it often. He was also black belt Judo and he taught us good Judo waza. I loved it and was hooked. We learned katas, and then we studied how to make the individual waza work (Tomiki and Judo). Then I discovered my teacher (Barry Vigrass) was also shodan in what he then called - Ueshiba Aikido - so off I went to find out what that was - Aikikai.

Back then, 1980s, I had lots of 'material' to compare. Many teachers were just not that good. More than a few clubs had teachers who were just kyu grades and it was OK for them to be not so good, but actually, they were usually pretty good for kyu grades. I have seen far worse dan grades in more modern times. My teacher encouraged us to train in different places and we did - I like to think it made a difference. In those days, it was rather taboo to train elsewhere so we had to be careful - everyone was so protective and I still don't really know why. At one point I was doing Tomiki, Aikikai, Judo, and Jujutsu, and Wing Chun all at the same time and I could not tell the teachers I was doing other stuff. I just had to keep my mouth shut (except to the Tomiki teacher). I went on all sorts of courses and got to see many different people so I think that is where I learned to distinguish between who has the skill ...or not. And it cost me a fortune! Sometimes I wonder if I have just wasted my time!

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 03-31-2014 at 05:30 AM.

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Old 03-31-2014, 06:25 AM   #29
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Actually, now that I think about it - not quite true Peter.
I first did Judo as a kid and I guess I just trusted it _ my mom sent me. After a while I just found that I wasn't learning - I was just fodder for the bigger kids - and eventually quit. I did a lot of work - sweat etc - but learned very little. They taught very little. And I figured that out for myself.

Then, I found Aikido and they actually taught stuff. It was Tomiki Aikido and it emphasised effectiveness. My teacher was a prison officer and used it often. He was also black belt Judo and he taught us good Judo waza. I loved it and was hooked. We learned katas, and then we studied how to make the individual waza work (Tomiki and Judo). Then I discovered my teacher (Barry Vigrass) was also shodan in what he then called - Ueshiba Aikido - so off I went to find out what that was - Aikikai.

Back then, 1980s, I had lots of 'material' to compare. Many teachers were just not that good. More than a few clubs had teachers who were just kyu grades and it was OK for them to be not so good, but actually, they were usually pretty good for kyu grades. I have seen far worse dan grades in more modern times. My teacher encouraged us to train in different places and we did - I like to think it made a difference. In those days, it was rather taboo to train elsewhere so we had to be careful - everyone was so protective and I still don't really know why. At one point I was doing Tomiki, Aikikai, Judo, and Jujutsu, and Wing Chun all at the same time and I could not tell the teachers I was doing other stuff. I just had to keep my mouth shut (except to the Tomiki teacher). I went on all sorts of courses and got to see many different people so I think that is where I learned to distinguish between who has the skill ...or not. And it cost me a fortune! Sometimes I wonder if I have just wasted my time!
Great story - I also tried several different things mostly dictated by where I was and what was available and then one day (with some idea of what I was looking for) I ran into gold. I am prettyt sure if it was the past experiences that allowed me to see it.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:43 AM   #30
Alex Megann
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

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Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
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.
Hi Rupert,

I think your wide background, and your insistence on seeking the "real thing" outside your immediate lineage, educated you to some extent in terms of perceived quality. You are surely rare in this respect.

During the course of my aikido career, I have seen groups - in some instances, whole organisations - whose aikido has certain good points, but who have poor posture and (in my opinion, at least) lazy, sloppy and complacent technique. The teachers set themselves up as transmitting the "authentic" art, and their students, in the absence of much to compare with, believe them and copy their bad habits faithfully.

With regard to the original thread topic, I don't think there is any absolute guarantee of quality, regardless of paper qualifications. As Philip said, the moderation of dan gradings by shihan from the respective Hombu gives at least some assurance of a minimum standard, but then we get back to the thorny problem of a good practitioner not necessarily being a good teacher.

I would always say do some research online ("Google is your friend") and then, bearing that in mind, go with whichever group you like most on an intuitive level.

Alex
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Old 03-31-2014, 07:04 AM   #31
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

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Joel Martel wrote: View Post
Aikido has so many different styles, it's not always easy to find what your looking for because non are "bad" they are just tailored to different people. What I look for is something that is a little more brutal, no nonsense, I'm not a big fan of styles that over exaggerate the movements and focus on internal energy.
So, here's the flip side of the question I asked Rupert: if you're a beginner (or relatively new), how do you know that a movement is "over exaggerated" (emphasis mine)? How do you know that something is "nonsense", why do you want something that is "brutal", and how do you know it when you see it?
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:03 PM   #32
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
So, here's the flip side of the question I asked Rupert: if you're a beginner (or relatively new), how do you know that a movement is "over exaggerated" (emphasis mine)? How do you know that something is "nonsense", why do you want something that is "brutal", and how do you know it when you see it?
I have a bit of background in other martial arts so I have an idea what works for me and how I like to train. Like Rupert I was thrown into MA at a young age fallowed by boxing later in life, I was fortunate that both my instructor where very skilled and that was reflected in my sparing. Later when my Karate teacher moved back to Japan and my boxing coach moved back to Quebec I was left looking for something new to fill in the gaps instead of going back to what I already knew. During my search I tried Bagua and xingy quan, a very compliant form of aikido, Japanese Jujitsu where the instructor was teaching out of a book, and last but not least Karate again. The Karate was just not the same and felt sloppy and I just did not love it.

So now I'll try and answer your questions.
Quote:
if you're a beginner (or relatively new), how do you know that a movement is "over exaggerated" (emphasis mine)?
Had I not tried 3 different aikido instructors I probably would not know that the moves were over exaggerated, I would have assumed that this is just the way it's done in Aikido and never returned because it didn't work for me. What do I mean by that? Well I tend to challenge my instructor, I don't do this out of malicious intent, I do it in order to learn better. So I want my instructor to be able to perform techniques on me while I resist to some degree, if he can't I think there maybe a problem with the way he is performing the move. In general you will be able to generate more strength closer to your body rather then further a way, this is one fundamental difference that I've seen in the different aikido schools iv visited. The schools that tend to lead the uke a lot or have an abundance of compliance tend do perform techniques further away from their body. This is just an observation I made and isn't true for everyone nor dose it apply to every teachnique. So how does a beginner know if something is exaggerated, they probably wont unless A, they have tried multiple schools and has taken the time to make observations or B, Is willing to take what he has learned and test it to see how it works best for him with a non compliant partner.

Quote:
How do you know that something is "nonsense"
This one is a bit personal and other people will define nonsense differently. If I can't make something work for me while performing it correctly then it is nonsense. If It doesn't have the desired results then it is nonsense. This isn't isolated to martial arts. For example if im taking yoga to become more flexible but am not achieving my goals, then I may find that class to be nonsense. That dose not make the class bad, if I felt relaxed and calmer and this is what I was looking for from the yoga class, then it would have been a success. It really depends on your goals.

Quote:
why do you want something that is "brutal", and how do you know it when you see it?
Brutal might not have been the right word to use. I prefer something more Martial rather then Art, so should it hurt during practice, yes to an extent, I think it should. I want to get thrown hard, I want my wrist to get torqued, and I wont make it easy. I'm not sadistic, I don't believe that pain equals injury, I hate getting injured and I hate seeing people get injured but I believe a bit of pain is good for the soul, it also allow you to undertand your own pain threshold as well as how far you can take something before seriously injuring someone. These are both good lessons that need to be learned in order to prevent injury. If ever the time comes and you find your self in a situation that you need to use your aikido, you will have better self control and have a better idea of your capabilities. This is less about seeing and more about experiencing.

Something that isn't made clear about traditional Martial arts that I think needs to be clarified is the difference between how you train a martial art and how you use it. I think that is where a lot a beginner make mistakes, get confused and drop out.

Last edited by JoelLM : 03-31-2014 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 03-31-2014, 05:58 PM   #33
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

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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
Yeah, I knew him 25 years ago, then I lost contact with him. Not sure what he is teaching now. If I was you, I would be very prudent, he seems to embrass very particular spiritual approach....

Nagababa

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Old 03-31-2014, 10:42 PM   #34
JoelLM
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

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Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Yeah, I knew him 25 years ago, then I lost contact with him. Not sure what he is teaching now. If I was you, I would be very prudent, he seems to embrass very particular spiritual approach....
I spoke to him about this, it was a concern of mine. From what I understood, he does not inforce the philosophy found in most Dojos, such as bowing before entering and exiting the mat, as well as bowing to O'sensei. He still expects you to be on time and wait before entering the mat if you are late. He does not preach his own beliefs and philosophies during class, but if you want guidance he is willing to provide that at your request. He was very upfront about this and I respect him for that, its a non issue for me.

All I wanted to know is, is he what he claims to be, if so then can someone verify this or speak for him on his behalf. If the community here knows of him, and can confidently speak for him so I can trace his lineage, then thats good enough for me.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:00 AM   #35
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

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Joel Martel wrote: View Post
I spoke to him about this, it was a concern of mine. From what I understood, he does not inforce the philosophy found in most Dojos, such as bowing before entering and exiting the mat, as well as bowing to O'sensei. He still expects you to be on time and wait before entering the mat if you are late.
Those are not "philosophy", but matters of etiquette. Do not read too much into them.

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Joel Martel wrote: View Post
He does not preach his own beliefs and philosophies during class
I've yet to meet an aikido sensei who does, but ymmv.
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Old 04-01-2014, 01:29 PM   #36
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

First, rank is supposed to be correlated with skill. That does not mean it is. Part of your decision-making process is balancing the learning model and access to talent and the practicality of commitment. Not students train to gain martial skill. There is an increasing number of practitioners whose goal is social community and physical outlet. While not negative, I would be critical of training under false expectations.

Second, most instruction will take on the flavor of the instructor, if not directly her personal influence. A zebra is not going to change her stripes. Watch or participate in 3 classes - if you aren't impressed, you're not gonna be impressed. The question then becomes, would you be satisfied with the training?

Third, a solid teaching model is going to clearly illustrate a path of education. There should be a "why" and "how" for what you do. Ikeda sensei is known for taking his movement, slowing it down and making it big to better illustrate what is going on. He also says that is what he is doing.

As a note of terminology for me, "brute" usual refers to the education of force. It would not be the term best describing aikido. To your point, the act of properly applying much of our waza should solicit discomfort.

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Old 04-07-2014, 04:04 PM   #37
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

The lineage of the various aikijujitsu styles seems to be ... complex. If someone is going to claim a rank as high as 6th dan, though, I would want to know who awarded the rank, and then I would do a little research. There's nothing wrong with having trained with lots of people, but a high rank should imply a long-term commitment to a single style, and being unwilling to elaborate on that would be a big red flag for me.

The aikido lineage is less complex. I'd be very skeptical of someone who claimed to be teaching aikido but couldn't (or wouldn't) trace his lineage to a direct student of Ueshiba Sensei's. The higher their claimed rank, the more skeptical I would be.

(McDojos claiming to teach aikido do exist. There was one up the road from us until a couple of the senior students stopped by and asked about his lineage. He decided to change his sign...)

Katherine

Last edited by kewms : 04-07-2014 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:10 PM   #38
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Joel, there is nothing that says you can't try them both. You do not have to make a blind decision; you do not have to commit to either one. Try them both, and then trust your gut. And, even if you discover you've made a mistake, then you still have the same options.
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:12 PM   #39
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond, your input is greatly appreciated.

I made up my mind and I believe I will stick with AikidoYukon under Gael Marchand, as an instructor I find him excellent, he explains things well as to why techniques are preformed the way they are. I very much enjoy the community he has built and any questions or suggestions I present he addresses. Overall I trust him and believe him to be honest, overall a very good guy with a solid body of knowledge.

The purpose of this thread was not to help me make this decision but more so to help me discover who vitold is. While I think Vitold is a nice guy, their are still some things that remain unclear and make me feel uneasy, I doubt I'll be attending his dojo in the near future. This is not to say that Vitold is a bad instructor but that he is just not the right instructor for me.

Again thank you for your time.

Joel
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:05 PM   #40
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Quote:
Joel Martel wrote: View Post
Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond, your input is greatly appreciated.

I made up my mind and I believe I will stick with AikidoYukon under Gael Marchand, as an instructor I find him excellent, he explains things well as to why techniques are preformed the way they are. I very much enjoy the community he has built and any questions or suggestions I present he addresses. Overall I trust him and believe him to be honest, overall a very good guy with a solid body of knowledge.

The purpose of this thread was not to help me make this decision but more so to help me discover who vitold is. While I think Vitold is a nice guy, their are still some things that remain unclear and make me feel uneasy, I doubt I'll be attending his dojo in the near future. This is not to say that Vitold is a bad instructor but that he is just not the right instructor for me.

Again thank you for your time.

Joel
Finding the right teacher is definitely a rare and beneficial, and critical, part of your budo.

How is the relationship between Vitold and Aikido Yukon? Do the two schools have joint seminars? I've been training for some time, and am still surprised at how closed off some people can be to training outside their comfort zone. For my personal training, I always like to go outside my comfort zone. Helps with awareness training, humility, patience, and empathy.

Glad you are comfortable with your decision and have a great time training!

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:33 PM   #41
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

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Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Finding the right teacher is definitely a rare and beneficial, and critical, part of your budo.

How is the relationship between Vitold and Aikido Yukon? Do the two schools have joint seminars? I've been training for some time, and am still surprised at how closed off some people can be to training outside their comfort zone. For my personal training, I always like to go outside my comfort zone. Helps with awareness training, humility, patience, and empathy.

Glad you are comfortable with your decision and have a great time training!
Well, I'm not sure, I know Gael has encouraged student who have been interested in checking out Vitolds class to do so. Vitold seems to keep a very tightly knit circle and for the most part keep to them selves. I know that Aikido yukon has a really good relationship with judo club and the ninjutsu club but Vitolds seems to keep his dojo Isolated. I mean, I've seen, members of the Judo club at our dojo and I've trained with members of the Ninjutsu club, but I've yet to see a member of Vitolds dojo drop by.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:54 AM   #42
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

Yeah, you'll have that...especially in aikido or sword arts. Doesn't mean Vitolds group isn't good, but I like it when people collaborate. My group has a seminar in the summer where we invite teachers from many different styles, and they all teach short, 30 min sessions. It's fun because everyone there will be doing something new at some point.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 04-10-2014, 03:09 PM   #43
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Re: The Validity of an Instructor

We here in New Zealand have this...

http://www.nzmai.org.nz

Copied and pasted from website...

"Sadly, within the martial arts community, as in other aspects of our lives there are people who claim qualifications that they do not have or have not earned.

There are also martial arts instructors who commit serious crimes or abuse their students.

In an effort to identify properly qualified and trustworthy martial arts instructors for the benefit of the public and the wider martial arts community the NZMAI was formed.

There are also instances of hard working competent martial artists who have no senior teacher and therefore no path for promotion or have inadvertently gained their grades from an unqualified teacher.

In these cases the NZMAI is there to help by setting up panels of independent but appropriately qualified people to assess individuals so their grades can be recognised and to put these people back on track for further progress in martial arts. We need the help of properly qualified martial artists to achieve this.
What if you are already reputable and recognised as such?

You may consider that because you already belong to a reputable overseas organisation, you do not need the services of the NZMAI. This may be true to some extent. However other New Zealand martial artists may need your help. We are a community of (mostly) like minded people and as such we can support each other in numerous ways.

Once the auditing process is complete you will be in a position to protect your chosen art from those who would bring it into disrepute.

Let us speak with one voice to the public and to government on the issues surrounding ethical and competent teaching in the martial arts"

Food for thought...

There is always 3 sides to a story, their side, your side and the TRUTH
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