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Old 09-12-2003, 07:08 PM   #1
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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Arrow teacher's character

Is it important to you that you respect your teacher's charater--through observation, encounter and, of course, personal judgement--as well as what they're teaching? Just wondering...I realize this question can be far more complex than it at first appears, covering many topics. What's your gut reaction?

~~Paula~~
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Old 09-12-2003, 07:16 PM   #2
PhilJ
 
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Good question. Respect, yes, because everyone has the right to be who they are. Understand and/or agree? I don't think so. I know teachers who handle things or behave in ways I never would want to, and vice versa. But I would still train with them and ejoy every second of it.

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
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Old 09-12-2003, 07:38 PM   #3
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, due to identification and imitation we tend to take in the medium as well as the message. While I don't believe that teachers have to be perfect in everything in their lives, it is important "to me" that they have some code of honor that is worthy of my respect.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-13-2003, 02:17 AM   #4
Hanna B
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I think respect is the key word. It is difficult to be a student of someone you do not respect. However, I hope most of us do not respect only those rare individuals who are perfect?
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Old 09-13-2003, 07:57 AM   #5
Larry Feldman
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When I looked for a 'new' sensei, character was a part of the equation.
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Old 09-13-2003, 08:58 AM   #6
PhilJ
 
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When we go to work during the day or night, and we have to work with someone we don't respect or like, does that mean we can just stop working? Is there no value in training with someone you simply don't like?

I missed the video where they said you should only respect people (and train only with them) because you like them.

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
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Old 09-13-2003, 10:14 AM   #7
jducusin
 
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As a lot of others have already intimated, it's certainly very difficult to train with someone you don't respect --- especially if you're trying to attain with them that spirit of harmony inherent in Aikido. But then I suppose, the idea might be to try to go beyond seeing them as someone whose character you do not respect, and instead trying to "blend" with them on a more basic level --- in that they are just another imperfect human being like you are...

Actually, this reminds me of something my father would say a lot when I was growing up: to "take the good, and throw away the bad" --- in other words, that there is the opportunity to learn from all people and all situations we encounter, and that it's up to us to choose what we take with us.

Open Sky Aikikai - http://www.winnipegaikido.com
"Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 09-13-2003, 02:38 PM   #8
Ari Bolden
 
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As a new student, what you see is not what you might expect.

Often, it's hard to know a sensei's character outside of the dojo.

Case in point: I know of a very high ranking karate instructor (7th dan) who has a very successful business.

His character however is less than perfect. He is angry, a bully (outside of his dojo, I am not sure what he is like in the dojo) and deals in criminal activity (drugs/steriods).

So, you can be technically sound while being an utter low life and deplorable human being.

Advice: Ask around, watch the classes, see how he acts towards students. USUALLY, someone like this gives cluse and hints (yells at students for example) about their character.

However, don't pick on their weaknesses in order to boost your own short comings. Focus on the possitive, what you offer, and how you can make life better for everyone around you.

Food for thought..

cheers

Ari

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Old 09-13-2003, 11:36 PM   #9
PhilJ
 
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Good points Ari, Jamie. I agree with "blending" with someone you don't like. It's often we see where are aikido is truly at when we lose our center and are forced to be in a situation we'd rather avoid.

One student told me long ago that he could tell what kind of a person someone was just by looking at them. I asked, "What if you're wrong?" He replied, "I've never been wrong, it's a gift.". That is a good example of someone I'd not have a beer with, but I'll still take ukemi for them.

I use my training as a reflection on my professional life. There are some at work who get under my skin, and I am truly grateful for the chances I've had to work with aikido-mates that I didn't really enjoy (I had a very long and hard lesson in this). Sometimes, it led me to the realization that I see myself in some of these folks and it made me try to understand my tendencies better.

All it boils down to is learning better control over myself. I can't deny someone their right to being themselves just because I don't like them.

It's like going to the zoo and saying, "I hate those giraffes".

"Why?"

"Because...they're GIRAFFES man!"

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
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Old 09-15-2003, 02:48 AM   #10
David Yap
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Re: teacher's character

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
Is it important to you that you respect your teacher's charater--through observation, encounter and, of course, personal judgement--as well as what they're teaching?...<snipped>
It depends on what you seek and your maturity (in thoughts rather than in age). If it is just techniques that you seek, then you may not care much about the teacher's character. But as an artist, IMHO, one should go beyond techniques, i.e. the perfection of ones character in addition to ones skill.

Here is something to chew on:

Don't Imitate!

- from the teachings of the Venerable Achaan Chah Subato

"We have to be aware of how people tend to imitate their teachers. They become copies, prints, and castings. It is like the story of the king's horse trainer. The old trainer died, so the king hired a new trainer. Unfortunately, this man limped when he walked. New and beautiful horses were brought to him, and he trained them exquisitely -- to run, to canter, and to pull carriages. But each of the new stallions developed a limp. Finally, the king summoned the trainer, and seeing him limp as he entered the court, he understood everything and immediately hired a new trainer.

As teachers, you must be aware of the force of the examples you set. And, even more important, as students, you must not follow the image, the outer form, of your teacher. He is pointing you back to your own inner perfection. Take the inner wisdom as your model, do not imitate his limp."

Peace.

David
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Old 09-15-2003, 06:18 AM   #11
DGLinden
Dojo: Shoshin Aikido Dojos
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I spent four years studying philosophy at a major university and never met a single one of my professors out of class. I couldn't tell you a thing about them.

I don't know if they were good men or bad men because it doesn't have a thing to do with their ability to teach a difficult subject.

Aikido teachers are subject to all the good and bad that everyone else is subject to, and maybe more since you get all that sucking up from the students. Weak minded teachers actually believe that crap.

My advice is to take the good, discount the bad, learn their best stuff and keep your hand on your wallet. Leave your moral or ethical imperatives or instruction for your church, which is where they belongs. Of course, that leads us to another really uncomfortable discussion.

Daniel G. Linden
Author of ON MASTERING AIKIDO (c) 2004
Founder Shoshin Aikido Dojos
www.shoshindojo.com
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Old 09-15-2003, 08:01 AM   #12
Hanna B
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Daniel, I have sympathy with your post except for the end.
Quote:
Daniel Linden (DGLinden) wrote:
Leave your moral or ethical imperatives or instruction for your church, which is where they belongs.
I do not have a church. I am not religious. But I do think ethics has an important place in my life. Not sure that it has much to do with aikido teachers, though.
Quote:
Of course, that leads us to another really uncomfortable discussion.
You mean, the one I just started?

regards

Hanna
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Old 09-15-2003, 03:42 PM   #13
Lyle Bogin
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"Leave your moral or ethical imperatives or instruction for your church, which is where they belongs."

This is an interesting topic to me. The affective domain (attitudes and ways of thinking) is one of the three explicit primary foci of Physical Education (the other being the psychomotor and cognitive domains). Does this not apply to the martial arts as well? Martial arts are being integrated in to Phys Ed in the US specifically due to the effectiveness of the arts as a medium for positive change in several psycho/social areas. Is that such a bad thing? If we have a tool that we can use to improve people's self esteem, decrease violence and/or anti-social behavior, and guide people towards a more heathly lifestyle, should we just set it aside?

We expect the behavior of our coaches to guide our youth, but not our martial arts instructors?

We don't have to be perfect, but we should at least try to be decent, reasonable, and educated.

"The martial arts progress from the complex to the simple."
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Old 09-17-2003, 08:05 AM   #14
Amelia Smith
 
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[quote="Daniel Linden (DGLinden)" Leave your moral or ethical imperatives or instruction for your church, which is where they belongs.[/QUOTE]And which begs the question: Do you expect moral/ethical perfection from your minister/religious leader? Many people do, on some level, and it's not realistic. Sure, they should be trying to live up to their ideals, but flawlessness is not possible (probably not desirable, either, which again is a whole new topic of discussion). Also, I don't think it's healthy to make only one person in our lives the be-all and end-all of correct living, even if he or she is in a role that is supposed to model those things.

I think that as long as the leader in question is not vicious, abbusive, or mean-spirited, and is making a good-hearted effort to do things right, most of the time, that's a pretty good start.

--Amelia

(I have an M.Div., and that education gave me some experience of ministers and priests outside their churches. Most of them were very good people, though obviously none of them were perfect. They could still teach (in most cases, anyway).)
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Old 09-17-2003, 09:24 AM   #15
happysod
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Lyle, I think you're using too broad a stroke in your query. If a ma teacher was abusive on the mat, there'd be an outcry on this forum, calls for immediate recall of their hakama etc. Their morals outside the dojo are their own, as long as it doesn't spill over into the areas they are teaching me, I'm fine with that

Speaking as a fairly amoral individual myself (I must stop reading the spiritual threads...), the idea that I would ever be judged in my aikido by my personal life rather than my standards during the class is abhorrent. I've happily taught and trained with people who I can't stand socially and whose personal ethics I find distateful. As long as we all follow the rules while training, I don't see a problem.
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Old 09-17-2003, 10:55 AM   #16
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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One point hasn't been mentioned that I think is important: as I grow, I find myself able to find respect for a larger and larger variety of people with a larger variety of lifestyles. I see this growth as connected to my study of Aikido.

Since I would find it hard to study under a teacher that I did not respect (for whatever reason), this has some bearing on the question.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 09-17-2003, 01:48 PM   #17
Ari Bolden
 
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Hey Ian:
Quote:
Ian Hurst (happysod) wrote:
the idea that I would ever be judged in my aikido by my personal life rather than my standards during the class is abhorrent. I've happily taught and trained with people who I can't stand socially and whose personal ethics I find distateful. As long as we all follow the rules while training, I don't see a problem.
I am unable to seperate my sense of right and wrong with my teachings as a martial art instructor. I am a open minded person but I will not train with or teach anyone I know to be involved in actions which are contradictory to my aikido and personal ethics.

Such examples are: drug dealers, violent persons, or abusive ones.

I am not saying people can't change but O Sensei said it best in is dojo regulations:

"The purpose of Aikido is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all the techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums."

Would you knowingly send your child to an instructor who you found out was a dealer or ...worse? What he/she does off the mat, as you said, should have no barring on what he/she does on the mat.

Personal lives, like it or not, are transmitted on the mat, sometimes verbally, sometimes physically.

Food for thought...

Ari

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