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Old 06-21-2006, 02:15 PM   #1
"Frustrated with Dojo"
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Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

Recently I have been feeling that my progress in aikido is being limited to some extent by those whom I am training with as well as my instructor. So, here are numerous questions:

What if I have decided that I like a different sensei's aikido better; i.e., I want my aikido to be more like his, should I leave my dojo?

What about not liking the aikido that the other students in my dojo are doing; is that a reason to leave?

What about loyalty issues, in that we are talking about changing sensei within the same organization so we are liable to run into each other again?

I believe that a lot of my aikido is self-motivated by what I want to work on, but some things I can't learn on my own, like paired weapons.

Well, I am just a little frustrated. Sometimes I feel as if I could have progressed farther in my aikido if I was training with more talented sempai and/or sensei. Any thoughts?
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Old 06-21-2006, 02:49 PM   #2
Keith R Lee
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

If there's another dojo around you that you think has higher quality training, that you would fit in with better, why not? We're not in fuedal Japan here. You're paying money for a service. If you are unsatisfied with that service and find another service that you prefer, take your business there.

I mean, if I thought my dry cleaners was doing a bad job and found one that did a much better job for the same price, I would switch.

Keith Lee
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Old 06-21-2006, 04:35 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

IF you can clearly see another dojo where you'd be a better "fit", as opposed to being on a training plateau you'd be frustrated w/ regardless of the dojo, then i'd say yeah, go for it.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-21-2006, 06:37 PM   #4
Aiki Teacher
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

If you feel that you are not getting what you need then maybe you need to look around. What alarms me more in your post is the attitude that you feel that the Aikido you are learning is mostly motivated by your own learning. There is more to learning aikido than just going through the motions and putting on the wrist locks. There is also, and maybe most importantly, learning how to use your center and hips to throw people and move them. Then there is also the aspect of applying aikido your everyday life, especially humility and learning to be a learner. My sensei, John Riggs and our Shihan, Hiroshi Kato, both view themselves as continual learners. Even though Kato is in fact a master in the art, you would never hear him calling himself as such! This is what has impressed me about both of my teachers. They see themselves as learners first.

From your statements, my first impression is that you believe that you have nothing to learn that you can't teach yourself. In that case maybe you should be the shihan or sensei. I for one believe that I can always learn from my teachers and from my students I teach in our kids program. To hopefully be a great aikidoka and sensei you must first be a student and learner. I hope someday to be as great a student as John Riggs, and Kato Shihan!

Why don't you start by at least posting your name and your background in Aikido before you start disparaging your teachers.

Last edited by Aiki Teacher : 06-21-2006 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:05 PM   #5
wmreed
 
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

Quote:
Recently I have been feeling that my progress in aikido is being limited to some extent by those whom I am training with as well as my instructor. So, here are numerous questions:

What if I have decided that I like a different sensei's aikido better; i.e., I want my aikido to be more like his, should I leave my dojo?

What about not liking the aikido that the other students in my dojo are doing; is that a reason to leave?

What about loyalty issues, in that we are talking about changing sensei within the same organization so we are liable to run into each other again?

I believe that a lot of my aikido is self-motivated by what I want to work on, but some things I can't learn on my own, like paired weapons.

Well, I am just a little frustrated. Sometimes I feel as if I could have progressed farther in my aikido if I was training with more talented sempai and/or sensei. Any thoughts?
If I were in that position, I'd talk to the potential new sensei and share my feelings about my current training. I'd ask his opinion and advice, especially if they are in the same organization.

Is the "new" sensei of higher rank with more experience? That would make leaving easier.

I would want to discuss my thoughts with my current sensei. It's possible he might be holding back on me, not realizing I was ready for the next level.

My concern would be that I was truly stagnant in my progression due to teachers, as opposed to just having hit a plateau - which does happen, even when _I_ want to be progressing more, my body/mind/spirit gets stuck.

If your being truthful with yourself and your senseis, things will work out.


My 2,

Bill

William M. Reed
Columbus, OH USA
wmreed@columbus.rr.com
"I'm not the author William Reed -- yet."
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Old 06-21-2006, 08:19 PM   #6
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

If you can accept whatever consequences there are, you can do whatever you want. By that, I
mean that whether you are a new student, a junior student, or a senior student, the biggest obstacle
you will face will be your own acceptance of whatever consequences result from whatever you do.
Good luck with whatyever you decide. In gassho.
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Old 06-22-2006, 03:31 AM   #7
DmG
 
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

My belief is that you are ultimately responsible for your own training, so you have to do what you have to do. Be aware that there are polite ways to make a dojo change, without leaving hard feelings behind....but it takes some finesse.

On the flip side, as some of the others pointed out, sometimes some introspection is required. In my experience, I found that techniques, practices, people that I didn't understand at one point in my training career, became perfectly clear (and purposeful) later...as I changed and understood more.

As far as progessing further, faster....hmmmm....well, I see aikido as a life art. You have plenty of time to understand and progress. Someone suggested talking to your current Sensei....that is not a bad idea to say "hey, I'd like to learn that paired 31 jo kata, thingy, that I saw somebody do once.....do you think we could work on it?" At least you know his/her ability to work with you.

I do disagree about aikido dojos just being a service like a dry cleaner. IMO Aikido is a community (and a small one at that). I run a small dojo....and yes, I get paid....but the money doesn't even cover the basic rent. If I lose a person, it is a critical loss to our ability to keep aikido open in our area for everyone. I have time and friendship invested in every person in our dojo, so I would like to know if someone is unhappy and thinking of leaving. It is just a courtesy. I wouldn't try to stop someone from leaving if they felt that the dojo wasn't the right place for them (the same as I don't beg people to sign up for training when they visit....each person has to decide for themselves)...but I would want to know - so that I could get better.
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Old 06-22-2006, 03:50 AM   #8
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

Hi Frustrated!

Quote:
Recently I have been feeling that my progress in aikido is being limited to some extent by those whom I am training with as well as my instructor.
What incidences have made you feel this?

Quote:
What if I have decided that I like a different sensei's aikido better; i.e., I want my aikido to be more like his, should I leave my dojo?
Not necessarily! However, it is up to you where you train. You don't have to leave one dojo in order to train at another. I train regularly at 3 different dojo (I am a member of 1) and infrequently at several others. If you would never want to train at your present dojo again then yes, by all means leave.

Quote:
What about not liking the aikido that the other students in my dojo are doing; is that a reason to leave?
That's a tricky one, as you are all students on the path and chances are, most of you have not 'got it' yet! As sempai you can have a degree of influence in this. As kohai it is more difficult. Part of your progress in Aiki is learning to be tolerant of the misunderstandings of others, so I would say that this is not a good reason, unless your fellow students are breaking your arms every class or something

Quote:
What about loyalty issues, in that we are talking about changing sensei within the same organization so we are liable to run into each other again?
Now this can become an issue for some sensei who have ego problems. I personally have no problem with any student training anywhere. We have been given freedom of choice, and nobody has the right to deny us that. It is appalling how some sensei will make an ex-student feel wrong for 'leaving them'. I say get a life! Trying to control other people like that is the real wrong.

Quote:
I believe that a lot of my aikido is self-motivated by what I want to work on, but some things I can't learn on my own, like paired weapons.
Good attitude! You are responsible for your own training. Seek out those who will help you on that path

Good luck!

Ruth
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Old 06-22-2006, 04:05 AM   #9
Hanna B
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

I agree with Ruth - the first choice would be and train at both dojos. You say they are in the same organisation, and hopefully that will not meet any strange reactions. One never knows though, sometimes it does.
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Old 06-22-2006, 05:32 AM   #10
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

In life, all things aren't equal so you may have a choice to make. I would say though, that if you move, you need to stay there and not change your mind again. That should be a caution to you because if you want to leave again, then it's you and not the dojo.
That hearkens back to the idea that you are responsible for your training. Others might affect your "fun factor" but they can't affect you. You can be good if you want to and work hard, study and reach out. I know of a plumber in Croatia who has a yudansha book filled to overflowing with places he has been training. There is no Aikido in his town and he has pretty much taught himself and been to seminars at great expense all over Europe. His desire is so strong, that a plumber in the middle of no where did what he had to do to learn. By the way, he is a tremendous Aikidoist. You can do what you really want to do. Others can't stop your desire.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:33 AM   #11
DonMagee
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

I would ask yourself "What is so different in the other school?"

You might find you have grass is greener syndrome. Find the honest reasons you want to change and make sure any change you makes addresses them. Otherwise you will never find a home. Other then that, who cares if the teacher gets upset. Its your right to find the enviroment you want to learn in.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 06-22-2006, 07:49 AM   #12
dps
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

In another thread someone gave an example of restoring an old car. When first starting out a small amount of effort gives alot of results, but as the the restoration continues the amount of effort increases with leaser increase in results. As the gap between new techniques you have learned from your sensei and the techniques your sensei can teach you becomes smaller you need to switch from learning something new to refining something known.
This only a suggestion.
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:36 PM   #13
"Frustrated with Dojo"
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

First off, thanks for all of the great replies. They have all given me something to think about and, if anyone is curious, I think I will stay where I currently train and do some traveling as suggested or practiced by some of the respondents.

I would also like to take this opportunity to address the comments raised by one respondent that seemed to have quite a different, almost hostile, response to my question, Mr. Couch.

Mr. Couch said, "There is more to learning aikido than just going through the motions and putting on the wrist locks."

I agree.

Mr. Couch also said, "From your statements, my first impression is that you believe that you have nothing to learn that you can't teach yourself. In that case maybe you should be the shihan or sensei. I for one believe that I can always learn from my teachers and from my students I teach in our kids program."

I am very happy to hear that you believe that you can always learn from your teachers and student. I also believe that even the person who steps onto the mat for the very first time can teach me something, technique or otherwise. However, I did not mean to imply that I have nothing to learn that I cannot teach myself. Rather, I meant that my refinement as an aikidoka and as a person are motivated by values and desires that I want to achieve. Regardless, I cannot practice paired weapons when there is no one to practice with, and I doubt anyone would say that they can improve just as quickly with a beginner as with someone with decades of experience. Having a goal to reach toward is very important for progress.

Finally, Mr. Couch also suggested, "Why don't you start by at least posting your name and your background in Aikido before you start disparaging your teachers."

First, this in the anonymous forum, so the whole purpose is not to post names. Second, I view your invitation that I post my name and background as contrary to the apparent purpose for which you believe I should post this information. If I were to post my name and background (where I have trained) I would indirectly be disparaging my sensei, a result I wish to avoid and thus why I posted in the anonymous forum. Finally, and most importantly, I don't see how this information is relevant in anyway. Would it matter if I was a 6th dan or a 6th kyu? Are my concerns more valid one way or the other? I suspect that you have had some personal experience in this topic area and that is why you are so "mad."
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Old 06-23-2006, 04:57 AM   #14
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote:
I would say though, that if you move, you need to stay there and not change your mind again. That should be a caution to you because if you want to leave again, then it's you and not the dojo.
Hi Jorge,

Just wanted to clarify this: If you change and develop and need to train in a different way or under a different system (eg switching from Aikikai to Yoshinkan or vice versa) then yes, it is you and not the dojo, but why should this be taken as a caution?

I would say that it shows a healthy understanding of one's own development, and the commitment to do something positive about it

And if this happens to somebody more than once in their Aikido lifetime, then that's their path, and who are we to disagree with it?

Just MHO,

Ruth
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Old 06-23-2006, 07:03 AM   #15
aikidoc
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

Finding a way of learning what you feel you need can be a complex issue. I too have been in that situation in the past. Some due to geography and some due to an organization that was going in a direction different from where my aikido was evolving. The lack of quality instruction within a reasonable distance made it necessary for me to train myself beyond shodan. I used various means-videos of instructors I respected, seminars when I could get to them, reading, looking at video clips, etc. I took that information and worked on it on my own-I had a good instructor early on that taught me how to study aikido and be responsible for my own progress. He also grounded me well in solid basics so I had a foundation to work from. I would simply find out the requirements and teach myself. I did not necessarily do the techniques the way the "organization" wanted them done but they were done within the realm of what can be expected in the aikikai so it was hard to fault them. It allowed me to successfully pass my next 3 tests-all self taught. Fortunately, I have now found an instructor to move me forward. Also fortunately, his aikido was already in the direction I was slowly moving mine. A perfect fit. Bottom line -take charge of your own training no matter what the instruction level.
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Old 06-23-2006, 11:19 PM   #16
Aiki Teacher
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

If I came across angry, I am sorry for that impression. Mad, no if I were mad, I would have came across more hostile. Generally when I respond to such questions as posed in this thread, whether on line or in person, I tend to be more like a surgeon and go straight to the cutting of the problems. Blunt and straight to the point too much? Yes, such is a struggle I have fought with most of my life. Mad and angry no. I particularly don't feel on way or the other. But often in life and in teaching, as I am a school teacher, I often see students want to blame everyone else for their problems whether it is another student or their parents instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. My call is to look inward first to see if the problems you are having with your training are because of your own ego and not because of everyone else around you. It is far to easy to blame everyone else for the problems in one's dojo and not look inward first to see if your own desires are creating the problems you are encountering. Anytime I have struggle with a coworker fellow student or teacher, I always try to see if the problem is because of my ego or is the problem truly the way I perceive it. Often I go and talk to the person I am struggling with first. I believe that this was mention in one of the previous post, to go and talk with your sensei. I think we will find that most of the time the problems or criticism we think we see are really just a reflection of our own need for recognition or a blunting of our ego that we want to salve.

Angry, no. A little too blunt yes. and for that I apologize. But a call for self-introspection and reflection I do not apologize for.
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Old 06-26-2006, 04:10 PM   #17
"can't say"
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Post Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

I recently left a dojo I had been training at for several years. I will try to give you the best advice I can from my own perspective


"What if I have decided that I like a different sensei's aikido better; i.e., I want my aikido to be more like his, should I leave my dojo?"

-Sometimes a dojo is for you and sometimes it is not. Why don't you visit other places and see what suites you best.


"What about not liking the aikido that the other students in my dojo are doing; is that a reason to leave?"

-Remember everyone is different just because another student does aikido a certain way doesn't necessarily mean you have to do the same. If you are having problems with just an individual talk to Sensei about it.


"What about loyalty issues, in that we are talking about changing sensei within the same organization so we are liable to run into each other again?"

-In my opinion you have to be honest with yourself & your Sensei. Make sure to be respectful no matter what your decision is. Burning bridges could end up biting you in the ass later on down the road. If you decide to leave and do it on positive terms, there is no reason to worry about running into them. Really search your soul and make sure you are leaving for the right reasons not the wrong ones.


"I believe that a lot of my aikido is self-motivated by what I want to work on, but some things I can't learn on my own, like paired weapons."

-It is not a teachers job to give you what you want all the time.
Sometimes there are things we need to work on that we don't realize we need to work on. I don't know your experience level with aikido so it is hard to know where you are coming from on this...I'll just put it this way aikido is a process, if you think you are going to learn everything in a year your are mistaken. Take into account they might not be teaching you certain things because they don't feel you have the foundation to do them properly, in other words you are not ready for it yet. Again I don't know your experience level so all I can do is guess and try to respond.


"Well, I am just a little frustrated. Sometimes I feel as if I could have progressed farther in my aikido if I was training with more talented sempai and/or sensei. Any thoughts?"

-What exactly do you mean by progress? Are you speaking in terms of rank, skill, or experience. Let me play devil's advocate here for a moment... what makes you think you would progress further with someone else? I get the feeling there are some details you are leaving out. Regardless I wish you the best and really think about your decision before you make it.
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Old 06-27-2006, 12:07 PM   #18
ramenboy
Dojo: midwest aikido center
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

'slow progress' is a relative term...how long have you been practicing?
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Old 06-28-2006, 08:22 AM   #19
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

Quote:
Recently I have been feeling that my progress in aikido is being limited to some extent by those whom I am training with as well as my instructor. So, here are numerous questions:

What if I have decided that I like a different sensei's aikido better; i.e., I want my aikido to be more like his, should I leave my dojo?

What about not liking the aikido that the other students in my dojo are doing; is that a reason to leave?

What about loyalty issues, in that we are talking about changing sensei within the same organization so we are liable to run into each other again?

I believe that a lot of my aikido is self-motivated by what I want to work on, but some things I can't learn on my own, like paired weapons.

Well, I am just a little frustrated. Sometimes I feel as if I could have progressed farther in my aikido if I was training with more talented sempai and/or sensei. Any thoughts?
I think this is a very difficult question. If it only rose recently, as you wrote, I would suggest that you stay there for a while and examine if things d change. We all reach durations in which we feel we are no longer progressing, and sometimes, we even feel our performance is diminishing for some periods. Often, the feeling is real, but the reason is the development of a new level of understanding that requires us to change everything, if only slightly, and thus the overall feeling is of very bad techniques.

Sometimes, one should change a sensei. even the best sensei worldwide does not have to be the right sensei for you. This should be understandable, each person is different.

Quote:
You're paying money for a service.
Sorry if this is your feeling. But I disagree with you. Learning Budo is not simply a service, you are paying for it, but if you only consider it as a service, you will never truly learn anything beyond the physical aspects.
To be able to really learn Budo, you have to be willing to face hardship in your learning. One of those is to have loyalty and trust towards your teacher. And be willing to continue when faced with hardship. This type of relationships does not qualify as service in my book.

Quote:
Would it matter if I was a 6th dan or a 6th kyu?
Yes, a 6th Dan has already faced long periods of hardship in his learning. He should know if the reasons for his problems is the limitations of his sensei (8th dan?) or his own.


As strange as this sounds. My recommendation for you is to go and talk with your sensei. A good sensei should be able to send you over to another if he feels this would help you or find a way to assist you in the same place, or sometimes just give you a good advice (wait for another 6 months might be). I know, some people would not be willing to suggest other places for egoistic reasons, and if you realize this is the case - you should leave without hesitation.

Amir
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Old 06-28-2006, 12:51 PM   #20
Adam Alexander
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Re: Changing Dojo b/c Slow Progress, Loyalty

Quote:
Recently I have been feeling that my progress in aikido is being limited to some extent by those whom I am training with as well as my instructor. So, here are numerous questions:

What if I have decided that I like a different sensei's aikido better; i.e., I want my aikido to be more like his, should I leave my dojo?

What about not liking the aikido that the other students in my dojo are doing; is that a reason to leave?

What about loyalty issues, in that we are talking about changing sensei within the same organization so we are liable to run into each other again?

I believe that a lot of my aikido is self-motivated by what I want to work on, but some things I can't learn on my own, like paired weapons.

Well, I am just a little frustrated. Sometimes I feel as if I could have progressed farther in my aikido if I was training with more talented sempai and/or sensei. Any thoughts?
In my eyes, the question isn't about which instructor has the better technique or which school has students who you believe to be better. The question is "Which Sensei do you want to be like?"

If you want better technique, it'll come with research and practice and the occasional prod from your Sensei. If you want better students to train with, you can go out and solicit them.

Even if you want harder or softer techniques, you can adapt them to fit your demeanor. (My experience is that as long as you're not hurting anyone, no one really minds if you adjust the way you do them.)

However, the thing that is beyond your control is the nature and personality of the Sensei. That, in my experience, is the most important thing. This single issue in my life has had more profound effects than I could ever express on a single page.

When I've been lead by someone who was arrogant, I became much more arrogant. When lead by someone who was humble, I've knashed my teeth in shame. When lead by one who was oppressive, I've become resentful and resistant.

However, in all cases, my technique was improving dramatically. Pick the person, not the technique. (At least, that's what I'd do.)

BTW: sorry if anyone's already said this. I didn't have time to read it all...but of course, I've got time to give my opinion
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