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Old 03-15-2006, 11:48 PM   #1
Leon Aman
 
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Sensei role!

Hi,

We're all aware that every sensei differ from each other in terms of style and variation of techniques they are teaching. Every student too differ from each other in terms of learning and choosing what variation they are want to adapt to which they think is more effective and satisfactorily to their personality and experientially demands. Well, I mentioned this to give way a question which is something vague to me such as:

Does a sensei need to strictly insist his style to his students although a lot of variations are open for everyone to choose from where they think is satisfying for them?

Doesn't the student have the right to choose what variation they should use but to accept what the sensei strictly insists (on such style patterned to what he had learned 2-3 decades ago and then refused to learn further)?

Well, these questions are not intended for the purpose of challenging some sensei probity and role, but merely seeking justification and right-ness that such manner in the aikido world is normal, right and favourable one. Because the way I view it, is more of self-centered inclination rather than on equation.

Any inputs will highly be valued.

leon

Last edited by Leon Aman : 03-15-2006 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 03-16-2006, 03:07 AM   #2
Dirk Hanss
 
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Re: Sensei role!

Hi Leon,

I guess it is really related to the "ryu". If the dojo is bound to a strict style, even guests should try to follow that.

If not, it is sensei's task to help the students find their own aikido.
That does not mean, that they do what they want.

Our sensei even encourages us, to do totally different techniques from what he showed, even in kihon waza - but only if uke resists to the intended technique or if you started wrong or badly.

If I do not manage to do the (intended) technique several times, he would step in and either show uke how to attack in order to let me learn the technique shown, or to show me, what I did wrong.

So if there there is a specific goal in what he wants us to do, he does not allow doing it differently, but if the "other style" works, he would either instruct uke or step in as uke to show when it doesn't and why I have to change here.

So for us there is no style, there is only aikido. That's why we do not have this problem.


Regards Dirk
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Old 03-16-2006, 05:40 AM   #3
arjandevries
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Re: Sensei role!

Well, A few things. When a teacher stops learning decades ago (as you put it), is he stimulating you at any way?

As I see it: the basics are most importantand should be practised several years under the guidance of a capable teacher.
After becoming a yudansha there is the matter of color. I don't like the word style. We are divided enough don't you agree?
Visiting other teachers on seminars (I started very early with this) gives you other viewpoints and this can be taken into your own practise if it fits you. I allways think about a seminar after a few month to see what is still in my mind or body. (no particular order). If nothing is there, I go on. If something is there I try to figure out what it is and what it means to me.

I hope that my teacher allows this kind of development. If not, (s)he is not right for me. It holds you back.

Arjan
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Old 03-16-2006, 06:30 AM   #4
Amir Krause
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Re: Sensei role!

When a teacher is asking you to do Kata, you do the Kata!

Most technique practice is Kata, there are many variations for each technique, yet at a particular time, the whole group is working on one of those, as the teacher directs. If the teacher directed you to a certain variation you should work on it, just like you would have performed a specific Kata had he instructed you to.
A good teacher will define some points in time to let you perfect the techniques and variations you desire. Those should not come instead of the grouped practice.

The teacher selection should be directed by multiple factors, including the group participants (for example - no point in letting 3/4 of the group who are having their second lesson, try to select a technique while a veteran group should allocate more time for individual techniques improvement and Randori). A teacher may also pick on a technique \ variation he feels the group is performing poorly or would assist in making people more aware of some principle they seem to neglect (the latter is more suited to an advanced group).

I don't think one should confront the teacher during class (if this is your implication), but talking with him politely after class and asking for explanations is legitimate (at least with my Sensei).


Amir
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Old 03-16-2006, 07:40 AM   #5
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Does a sensei need to strictly insist his style to his students although a lot of variations are open for everyone to choose from where they think is satisfying for them?
I will only speak to my main base, Doshinkan aikido (Yoshinkan). The form is the form. One of my favorite instructors taught last night, and what he said struck me strongly..."be as relaxed as possible while still maintaining the form". So I see a lot of what I'm working on now as trying to be more and more relaxed while having better and better form. That creates an interesting tension in my body, my mind and my training. Right now, that tension is very important for me to work with, and if I abandon the form I lose that.

In another context, using a variation might very well be most appropriate. But in general, I don't want to do a variation while in training. I want to do the waza as shown...to learn from someone who has gone before. If all I want to do is my own thing, I can hang up a shingle and see who's willing to come and sample what I do.

Quote:
Doesn't the student have the right to choose what variation they should use but to accept what the sensei strictly insists (on such style patterned to what he had learned 2-3 decades ago and then refused to learn further)?
I'm surprised to see that you think an instructor has stopped learning for 2 to 3 decades. I don't think I would stay with such an instructor. The Yoshinkan focuses very strongly on form...but personally, I think even with that stricture, the serious teachers and students keep pushing the boundaries of that form, and the relaxation it contains. I don't know your situation...but if this is not happening, you may want to either

a) look deeper into the situation, or

b) find someone still developing themselves so that they can lead you.

It could be that you are missing what is going on...I couldn't say from this distance.

Best,
Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 03-16-2006 at 07:42 AM.

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-16-2006, 08:14 AM   #6
Mark Freeman
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Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
It could be that you are missing what is going on...I couldn't say from this distance.
Best,
Ron
How much further away do we have to be before we can Ron?

Quote:
Does a sensei need to strictly insist his style to his students although a lot of variations are open for everyone to choose from where they think is satisfying for them?

Doesn't the student have the right to choose what variation they should use but to accept what the sensei strictly insists (on such style patterned to what he had learned 2-3 decades ago and then refused to learn further)?
Of course a student is free to follow any teacher of their choice, but out of respect for the teacher they are practicing with at the time, they should do what is being instructed. They may have a different understanding of it from what they've done before, but how will they understand the truth of what is being taught if they insist on doing something else. If that student finds that in doing so they find this way of doing things is not for them, then fine at least they tried it.
If a teacher is not inspiring you, because you feel he is stuck and is not progressing, find one who isn't.

regards,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 03-16-2006, 10:38 AM   #7
Adman
 
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Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
... the serious teachers and students keep pushing the boundaries of that form, and the relaxation it contains.
That about sums it up for me. Thanks, Ron!

Adam
(... the more things change, the more they stay the same.)
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Old 03-16-2006, 11:30 AM   #8
dbotari
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Re: Sensei role!

From reading the first post my response would be "Shu Ha Ri". Depending on what level you are currently practicing aikido at you should either embrace sensei's techniques and katas (Shu) or look to refine/make your own sensei's demonstrated techniques or katas (Ha). I don't think anyone here is at the Ri stage yet (I could be wrong) .

FWIW

Dan Botari
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Old 03-17-2006, 08:11 AM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: Sensei role!

IMHO, before we can find "our" Aikido, we have to find Aikido. In that regard, learning the strict craft of your Sensei's Aikido is a good foundation for learning the art of your own.

IMHO, if you have chosen to learn from a specific teacher with a specific curriculum, style, organization at their specific school, then it is only respectful to do it their way. If they say strict, be strict. If they say choose, choose. When you get your own school you can do it your way.

Personally, I am glad I stayed within the strict guidelines of my teachers, there are always more subtle levels to learn that would take me far to long to figure out myself.

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 03-17-2006, 09:01 AM   #10
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Sensei role!

My sensei from Japan is not very form driven. He has a way and a form he uses. He teaches that but when you are trying to copy him, he will help you if he sees you are doing it incorrectly but in the end, he will let you do it your way, right or wrong. He "shows you" and the rest is up to you. I have seen many of his students from Japan and they all look different to me. They all pick up varying things. You can see the forms and shapes that were taught but each one interprets with his or her body a different way. His older students look different form him while the younger tend to look more like him. I try to do what he does all the time but I am learning and I understand that I have to discover the movements and principles he is using. I have picked up a few new things that I am anxious to show him. Under his teaching, I feel a great freedom. Here at home, I am not afraid to learn different or new things from other teachers because I know my teacher will not censure me for it but will see how I have incorporated that into what I am doing. He is the boss and I am the student but he gives freedom in that he shows one way but he lets you work with it too. If you go wrong with it, he will tell you but that's your responsibility. That's how I understand his way.

Here are some phrases from an interview my Sensei did that appeared in a magazine published by the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

Martial arts (Budo) cannot be taught.

"Budo cannot be learned from other people. It has to be exercised by oneself." (Quoting O Sensei)

Each Aikido teacher has his own idea and way of practicing and teaching. I think it is because the founder did not really teach as if there were only one mold or pattern. Therefore, I think each individual style has developed out of his teachings.

For example, when I tell students how to take people down without using force, I demonstrate this to help people understand the sense of it. Then, I let people try it. Then, from that, learners take it from there, sensing what it feels like. After that, if they are willing to be stronger, I tell them to do it by themselves.

Master Kisshomaru, Osensei's son, was like that also. He was really a tough teacher. Especially in terms of judging students, his perception and discernment of people's integrity was very strong. Although I don't mean he was a cold person. And above all, he acknowledged teachers who had a strong individual style. That is wonderful. It is hard to acknowledge someone who is doing a different Aikido from one's own. In order to do that, it requires extreme generosity as a human being.

I was not a full-time disciple of Osensei and I had a job during that time. So, I could not spend much time with him. Therefore I had to train myself and practice it. There must be many ways to do it, for example using sword and jo (staff).

If you really establish your individual style, you should practice it alone. Practicing is like that fundamentally, isn't it? If you are young, you should practice to your physical limits. While practicing, you discover your own thoughts and world view. If you keep doing that, your experience will bring you something to tell others. You train yourself. If you train yourself, do it alone. That is my ideal in my practice and words to you.

Interviewer: An editor from "Aikido Tankyu" magazine
Interviewee: Hiroshi Kato
(Chairman of Suginami Aikikai, Eighth Dan)

http://www.toitsu.dk/articles/articles2.html

Best

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:09 AM   #11
raul rodrigo
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Re: Sensei role!

If one has chosen one's sensei, then its only right to follow their teaching. If you cannot stay within the parameters he or she has set, then its time to find a new teacher. The time to find "your own aikido" probably hasn't arrived for you yet, Leon.


R
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Old 03-17-2006, 10:21 PM   #12
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Sensei role!

Thank you for all the inputs.

When I said different style, I mean it, we can deny it, but a fact is a fact and we cannot escape from it. About 3 years ago a shihan from Europe emailed me about "different sensei different style" mode in aikido, he replied something like "every sensei put their personality on what they do that's why different styles occur". I must agree with this but something still puzzles me on should a sensei style/technique needs to insist to his/her students, or shouldn't a sensei give a chance his or her students to develop their ability from within themselves, or can't it be possible to instruct a student on "how to do" , instead of "what to do"?

Some senseis want their uke to hold tightly in katatetori or kokyu ho but some sensei don't do that instead for them light hold is better. some senseis also wants us to mind on our uke while executing/doing a technique but some sensei/shihan discourages us from such style, instead they try to motivate us not to mind on our uke and move as if you don't have an uke but to keep on focusing in your movement (sabaki?).

IMO I think the only wrong technique is, e.g. when a sensei asks us to do ikkyo and I do kotegaeshi. But since I am doing ikkyo regardless of variation where I think is more comfortable and effective on my part, I see no complication with it. I don't think strictness is needed in the dojo neither the founder did that in his time as his teaching method.

Just my thought.


Leon
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Old 03-17-2006, 10:40 PM   #13
giriasis
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Re: Sensei role!

I think if we need to trust our sensei, especially in the beginning, to provide us with the proper foundation of aikido. To that extent we should be following what our sensei is teaching us, but once we develop our foundation and basics of aikido then we can start exploring and developing our own aikido.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 03-18-2006, 04:00 AM   #14
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
I think if we need to trust our sensei, especially in the beginning, to provide us with the proper foundation of aikido. To that extent we should be following what our sensei is teaching us, but once we develop our foundation and basics of aikido then we can start exploring and developing our own aikido.
That is true for a beginner giriasis.

I do practice 4x a week for a period of 5 years, I tried to practice to every visiting shihan (I regret I missed the seminar of yamada shihan)in the country whether from aikikai or from different organization. I love to practice and to learn different variations from them. I've learned a lot from them but I do not claim I know everything about techniques but at least I am aware what is the best variation I can rely on. I'm just a student eager to learn more about this art.

Leon
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Old 03-18-2006, 09:28 AM   #15
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Leon Aman wrote:
That is true for a beginner giriasis.

I do practice 4x a week for a period of 5 years, I tried to practice to every visiting shihan (I regret I missed the seminar of yamada shihan)in the country whether from aikikai or from different organization.
Congratulations on your sincere effort. In any case, had you practiced for 10 hours a day every day for 10 years you would still be, ...yep, ...a beginner.

Quote:
Leon Aman wrote:
I love to practice and to learn different variations from them. I've learned a lot from them but I do not claim I know everything about techniques but at least I am aware what is the best variation I can rely on. I'm just a student eager to learn more about this art.
Again, a very sincere attitude to have. Over time, I believe that one moves from wanting to learn many variations to wanting to do one variation really very well. Maybe for the next five years try to focus on doing no variations at all, but rather try to distill the principle from the movement. This of course is merely another way of training.

With regards to listening to your sensei, that of course is up to you. Many times what he is asking you to do is not for you, but rather for you to show proper form to the guy next to you (not your uke). There are many reasons why a teacher demonstrates a technique one way at one point in time. If you don't practice what is shown, how will he know if you understand it. Better yet, many students tend to gravitate towards things they like or are good at and away from things they don't like or are not so good at doing. A good teacher will find ways for you to train the areas you are most in need of training. A good student will follow. A bad student may be bad simply because they choose to do their own thing.

Someone mentioned hanging out a shingle and trying it on your own if you want to do your own thing. I don't recommend that either, for the person considering it, or for the sake of the students they might attract. Simple reason is that bad students will most likely make bad teachers. Those very same teachers will then make more bad students. As a rule whenever I meet anyone in the martial arts I ask them two questions.

1. Who is your teacher? If they don't have one, I am able to understand right away many things about their situation.

2. Who is your teacher's teacher? If a student doesn't know the answer, it tells me something about their teacher's relationship to their teacher. That tells me even more about the situation.

Of course these are generalizations, and generally we can't always be correct so it is important to keep an open mind at all times, even when closed minded...

Bottom line -- Being a student, I would spend more time worrying about the role of the student.



.

I no longer participate in or read the discussion forums here on AikiWeb due to the unfair and uneven treatment of people by the owner/administrator.
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Old 03-18-2006, 02:45 PM   #16
giriasis
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Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Leon Aman wrote:
That is true for a beginner giriasis.

I do practice 4x a week for a period of 5 years, I tried to practice to every visiting shihan (I regret I missed the seminar of yamada shihan)in the country whether from aikikai or from different organization. I love to practice and to learn different variations from them. I've learned a lot from them but I do not claim I know everything about techniques but at least I am aware what is the best variation I can rely on. I'm just a student eager to learn more about this art.

Leon
I'm with Shaun, here, Leon. That it's more than true for beginners. 5 years in my dojo puts you at the point where you reach the point to quoting myself, "develop our foundation and basics of aikido." In two to three more years you'd reach shodan and then the exploration of finding your own truly begins. I really feel blessed to have trained with people like Peter and Penny Bernath (in addition to many senior and high ranking students who teach and train in my dojo.) Sticking to the same instructor for the past 6 years really has given me a solid groundwork to build upon. So, just now, I'm able to begin exploring other alternatives because I feel that by sticking to what he has taught me for the past 6 years that I have a good enough foundation whereby I will be able to grasp the differences without losing the confidence I have in my aikido.

Of course this doesn't mean we shouldn't be exposed to other sensei or styles. I think it's good to be exposed, but when I train my sensei's advice trumps everyone else's. If something else I've been exposed to works within what he teaches me then I'll keep it and if it doesn't I put that on a back burner to play with later on in my training.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 03-18-2006, 07:59 PM   #17
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
A good teacher will find ways for you to train the areas you are most in need of training. A good student will follow. A bad student may be bad simply because they choose to do their own thing.
.
IMH understanding a bad teacher are the teachers who choose to do their own thing and do not consider the need of the students that's why the reaction of a student appears to be bad. It's not a resistance or an intentional, it's a common law that once you expect good at least you did good.

I do not generalize all the senseis, Anyone not encompassed by the quality of sensei I am describing of must not be affected by this. I believe there are lots of good sensei out there as well as good students.

Leon
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Old 03-21-2006, 03:48 AM   #18
Amir Krause
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Confused Re: Sensei role!

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
A good teacher will find ways for you to train the areas you are most in need of training. A good student will follow.
I agree, this was my intention earlier.

Self development is a phase one should arrive at, but only after he has a very firm base. And even then "Shu Ha Ri" can be done in steps - at first you mostly follow and examinr your own interpretation in a very limited manner and only later (after several more years) yourown interpretation becomes the center of your training.

Amir
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