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Old 01-12-2016, 08:52 AM   #1
Peter Boylan
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What do we owe?

As we progress through the martial arts, we accumulate debts and gratitude for what we learn and the other gifts we receive through training. We won't even be able to meet everyone we feel gratitude to, but that doesn't make the feeling or the debt any less. What do we owe? and how do we repay it? That's the subject of my most recent blog.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2016/01/...do-we-owe.html

What obligations do you feel? How do you repay them?

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
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http://www.budogu.com
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Old 01-12-2016, 10:47 AM   #2
nikyu62
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Re: What do we owe?

Pay it forward.
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Old 01-12-2016, 08:01 PM   #3
Peter Boylan
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Re: What do we owe?

Quote:
Steven Shimanek wrote: View Post
Pay it forward.
That is a simple response. What does paying it forward entail? And what do you do when you have the opportunity to pay it back a little?

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
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http://www.budogu.com
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Old 01-13-2016, 11:08 AM   #4
nikyu62
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Re: What do we owe?

If you feel the need for longer responses, feel free to write them. I am usually on here while having breakfast, so my priorities may be different. That said, what i did was move to a location where aikido had never been introduced and start a dojo, devoting 12 plus hours a week to teaching and running a no cost to student dojo.
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Old 01-13-2016, 11:10 AM   #5
jonreading
 
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Re: What do we owe?

I liked the article. When I first started training, my instructor emphasized that the training relationship is a spirit of walking the path; keeping each other on the path, helping each other over obstacles and navigating difficult decisions to leave the path. My sempai came before me and inherited the responsibility and my kohai came after me and I am responsible for them. For most people who train at a basic level, I think this is a common-sense and adequate relationship. It's also the extent to which most of use have knowledge and can manage interpersonal relationships among those with whom we train.

I think this is different than the more personal relationship between elite practitioners, the rare relationship of a student inheriting more than the superficial teachings of an instructor. This is not for everyone and, for me, is more of what "Ōn" means. It's an un-payable debt, a thing that is remembered and calculated into the relationship surrounding the obligation. It's access to a treasure that can't be bought with dues, or inherited by perseverance, or assumed by lineage. Your grandfather's pocket knife that has no value, but is priceless; accepted knowing that is not something you can buy and it will have no value if you sell it.

Of course, this also means not everyone has that relationship with their instructor and also that not every instructor actually has the knowledge to elevate a relationship to that level. It's also a pretty big burden to elevate your training to fulfill your obligation if you have that relationship.

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Old 01-13-2016, 04:35 PM   #6
dps
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Re: What do we owe?

I have had five martial arts instructors. Of the five instructors three did not charge for teaching, one charged a minimum fee ($5 per hour) and one was a McDojang that charged money at every opportunity.

The McDojan instructor I owe nothing to, he got paid more than what he gave.

Three of the other four I owe thanks and respect for their knowledge, ability and what they taught me.They gave more than what they received.

The last one is second to my father in giving me the foundation for my life. He gave infinity more than what he received. What do I owe him? To be the better person he would expect me to be.

dps
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Old 01-14-2016, 08:00 AM   #7
nikyu62
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Re: What do we owe?

Love your last point, DPS. I would hope that for my students.
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Old 01-14-2016, 08:53 AM   #8
lbb
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Re: What do we owe?

What do you owe? Tricky question. Think about the so-called golden rule, "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." There are those who say that a better version is, "Do under others as they'd be done unto", acknowledging that how you'd like to be treated isn't necessarily how everyone would like to be treated.

Debt works the same way. The coin in which someone wants to be repaid isn't necessarily how you'd want to be repaid for the same thing. Also, that may not be coin that you carry. My teacher wants, ultimately, that someone, maybe multiple someones, is going to pick up where he left off. He doesn't teach in the expectation that this will happen, I don't think, but in the hope that some day it may. You can't "owe" what you don't have.
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Old 01-14-2016, 09:46 AM   #9
Walter Martindale
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Re: What do we owe?

I've heard of "giri" - roughly translated to "obligation"... or "duty"... To aikido, to your teacher, to your student, to your dojo.
Giri to provide a great environment for training
Giri to learn as best as possible from your teacher(s) to honour their commitment
Giri to provide the best training you can to the people you're training/teaching
Giri to operate and to be a member of the best dojo environment in your ability.

Translation of language/concepts is difficult, as has been discussed elsewhere.
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Old 01-17-2016, 10:59 PM   #10
Dan Richards
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Re: What do we owe?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
As we progress through the martial arts, we accumulate debts...
Peter, I wonder where this idea of "debt" comes from, and I wonder if it's a healthy and constructive POV. Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. Teachers would not be teachers without students. And obviously, students give teachers a platform on which the teacher continues to grow and evolve.

Something you might find interesting is GI Gurdjieff's concept of the "three lines" of a school, which evidently comes from the esoteric tradition.
http://www.fourthwayschool.org/3lines.html

1. Work on oneself. 2. Work for others. 3. Work for the school.

In my studies on nearly any subject I've put a lot of time and energy into--music, cooking, martial arts, etc..-- I'm often in the role of teacher, but ultimately I'm a student. I feel no "debt" to anyone, nor do I feel anyone "owes" me anything.

In fact, the idea of giving something to someone, and expecting something in return, is called a "loaded gift."

I've continued on well past my 10,000 hours in various pursuits, not because of any kind of debt, but from a general love, passion, and inner drive that just doesn't seem to quit.

Giving is the breath out, and receiving is the breath in. Both are aspects of the cycle of the whole. That old yin/yang stuff.

Any time I've been in the presence of a teacher, I've also given them the gift of being their student. And they've given me the gift of being the teacher. In the end, the exchange is as fruitful, or not, based on the attention and energy from both sides. And, of course, the giving and receiving continues long afterwards as both parties progress down their own paths--for years--for lifetimes--to future generations.

I have had students ask me what they could do to repay me. I have always said, "nothing." They give me the gift of their presence and attention. In many ways, they are the ones who are giving. The exchange, in every moment, is equal.

When I've asked some of my teachers something similar, the response has usually been, "pass it on." I was never placed in a position of being indebted to a teacher. I also don't come from a position of "owing" anyone anything. Thereby allowing exchanges and relationships that are unencumbered and free, with no one in a higher or lower position, and no score kept.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:03 PM   #11
Peter Boylan
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Re: What do we owe?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Peter, I wonder where this idea of "debt" comes from, and I wonder if it's a healthy and constructive POV. Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. Teachers would not be teachers without students. And obviously, students give teachers a platform on which the teacher continues to grow and evolve. .
I honestly don't know how far back the ideas of debt and obligation go back, but they are there in the writings of Confucius and his contemporaries 2500 years ago.

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
When I've asked some of my teachers something similar, the response has usually been, "pass it on." I was never placed in a position of being indebted to a teacher. I also don't come from a position of "owing" anyone anything. Thereby allowing exchanges and relationships that are unencumbered and free, with no one in a higher or lower position, and no score kept.
I can honestly say that anyone growing up in Japanese culture would have trouble imagining the kind of relationships you are describing. The entire society is based on hierarchy and obligation.

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
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Old 01-30-2016, 01:59 AM   #12
Dan Richards
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Re: What do we owe?

Hi Peter, thanks for your reply.

And Japanese culture, whether real or imagined, might have what to do with what?

I don't live in Japan. In fact my culture has sort of told the Japanese how it was...since, oh, the end of WWII.

Really, what are the Japanese doing that's relevant to budo?

Are you more interested in being a reenactor?

I have no desire to pine for the ways of old.

I live in a very safe environment. And I'm a part of that environment and safeness.

Not really interested in looking back.

"Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid." - Shoji Nishio

I find your POV to be quite weak, and possibly even dangerous.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 01-30-2016 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 02-09-2016, 09:49 AM   #13
Peter Boylan
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Re: What do we owe?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Hi Peter, thanks for your reply.

And Japanese culture, whether real or imagined, might have what to do with what?

I don't live in Japan. In fact my culture has sort of told the Japanese how it was...since, oh, the end of WWII.

Really, what are the Japanese doing that's relevant to budo?

Are you more interested in being a reenactor?

I have no desire to pine for the ways of old.

I live in a very safe environment. And I'm a part of that environment and safeness.

Not really interested in looking back.

"Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid." - Shoji Nishio

I find your POV to be quite weak, and possibly even dangerous.
I do spend quite a bit of time in Japan, and they would be surprised to learn that the US tell Japan how it is. Very surprised indeed.

I'm not a reenactor, I'm part of a long river of learning. Each generation taking what flows to them from the previous ones and building upon, tweaking where necessary, sometimes adding to it.

I'd be curious to see what Nishio Sensei said in Japanese. I would argue that newness has no direct connection to validity. Effectiveness on the other hand does. I'm really not impressed with new stuff just because it's newer. Effectiveness at achieving the goal or fulfilling its purpose is what impresses me.

I'm not sure what is dangerous about my views, but I'm curious to find out. The weakness I just don't see.

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
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Old 02-09-2016, 05:47 PM   #14
Fred Little
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Re: What do we owe?

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post

"Budo must always reflect its surroundings. If it isn't newer and stronger, it isn't valid." - Shoji Nishio

.
Dan,

Having been fortunate enough to have trained with Nishio Sensei during several of his seminars on the West Coast in the mid-Eighties, also having been fortunate enough to interact with him in small groups at several meals, and, not least, having interacted with him one-one-one both on and off the mat, I have to say that he was not only one of the most punctilious and impeccable men I have had the good fortune to encounter, but his conduct demonstrated a deep understanding and manifestation of precisely what Peter is attempting to discuss here.

He was most unusual insofar as he managed to study Judo, Karate, Jojutsu, Iaijutsu alongside his aikido practice, and to integrate these very different arts in a unified system of riai. I suspect that one of the ways he succeeded in doing this in Japan -- no small matter given the way in group loyalty can make such things difficult -- was because of his exceedingly close attention to insuring that he fulfilled the obligations he had incurred along the way, whether he felt them personally, or simply knew that others would feel that he had incurred them and needed to discharge them appropriately.

Your views are, of course, your own, but I say this to suggest that perhaps the quote that you have chosen is not so terribly applicable to the question at hand, and that making it so is something of a violent departure from the character of the man being quoted. Inasmuch as you, as do I, clearly have great respect for him -- why else quote him? -- I would be remiss if I didn't share my own perspective with you and I hope you find it helpful.

Best regards,

FL

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Old 02-18-2016, 09:54 PM   #15
Nick P.
 
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Re: What do we owe?

We owe what we think we owe; how can anyone other than ourselves determine what we think we owe? By that I mean it is neither possible for anyone outside ourselves to quantify it/the amount, nor is it absolute for everyone.

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Old 02-18-2016, 09:59 PM   #16
kewms
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Re: What do we owe?

Quote:
Nick Pittson wrote: View Post
We owe what we think we owe; how can anyone other than ourselves determine what we think we owe? By that I mean it is neither possible for anyone outside ourselves to quantify it/the amount, nor is it absolute for everyone.
On the other hand, if someone thinks you have an obligation, but you decline to honor it, awkwardness can easily ensue.

I do find the notion up-thread that obligation is strictly a Japanese concept quite strange. Japanese society may have codified it much more precisely, but if you think that, as an American/Westerner, you have no non-financial obligations, I suspect you are missing some very large and important aspects of your various relationships.

Katherine
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Old 02-18-2016, 10:07 PM   #17
Nick P.
 
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Re: What do we owe?

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
On the other hand, if someone thinks you have an obligation, but you decline to honor it, awkwardness can easily ensue.
Agreed.

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I do find the notion up-thread that obligation is strictly a Japanese concept quite strange. Japanese society may have codified it much more precisely, but if you think that, as an American/Westerner, you have no non-financial obligations, I suspect you are missing some very large and important aspects of your various relationships.

Katherine
Also agreed. You owe me.

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Old 03-04-2016, 03:51 AM   #18
Dan Richards
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Re: What do we owe?

Katherine, you are the voice of sobriety and profound health.

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
On the other hand, if someone thinks you have an obligation, but you decline to honor it, awkwardness can easily ensue.
And so what?

There's a "sales job" happening on either end.

Either someone sells you on the idea that you owe something—often specifically to them—or "the school," or...maybe Amway.

Or you sell them, or at least yourself, on the idea that you don't own them or anyone anything, or that if you feel you owe something, that you can return the universal favor in your own way and in your own time.

Butterflies and hurricanes stuff.
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Old 03-04-2016, 11:39 AM   #19
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Re: What do we owe?

A couple of things come to mind here:
1. Caveat emptor - If you are implying that the relationship between a dojo (or instructor) and a student is inconsistent with the actual value, you can only advocate that students understand what they're doing and stay away from inequitable relationships.
2. Entitlement is not generosity - There is a culture movement that is replacing the perception of the generosity of others with the perception of the entitlement of the self. The two perspectives are not the same.

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