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Old 07-18-2006, 09:58 PM   #1
"Quandried"
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Doubts about instructor's abilities

Over my roughly 4.5 years of training at my school, I have developed less and less confidence in my instructor's skills and abilities.

Now there is another thread on here about brown belt syndrome, i.e. higher grades becoming less committed to training, one reason being due to boredom. I am finding myself in this category, I find I am simply not learning from him, or worse yet, I often find myself disagreeing with his interpretation of techniques!

The thing is, we train 2 nights/week, on the second night our sempai takes the class, who is actually alot more knowledgeable and skilled then our sensei. However since it is sensei's dojo and school (unfortauntely we are not affiliated with any other organisation or governing body) he outranks the sempai... from what I understand he essentially GAVE himself a 5th dan, after leaving his original school with a shodan and opening his own school/ style.

So I find us constantly doing these long and convoluted, and all to often, largely ineffective techniques, while our sempai (who was taught by a different school) teaches more plausible techniques, less dancy, and with a sounder base of basics (stance, centre etc). This opinion has been supported by a student who has trained under a different style before coming to our school, and he agrees our techniques are too large/long and often leave us open to easy counters.

There is now an under-current off a lack of respect for the sensei coming from a growing number of students within the school... to the point that some only train during the sempai's classes.

So i'm not really sure what my question is, but some advice or feedback would be great. What do you do when your sensei tells you to do something your more knowledgeable sempai states as being flat-out incorrect, and you yourself know it's incorrect too??!!
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Old 07-21-2006, 10:12 AM   #2
James Davis
 
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Look harder at what your sensei is doing and find what has value. For the stuff that doesn't work, shove that in your memory bank as what not to do when you open your own school.

Maybe you could go to some seminars and offer to share the stuff you've learned when you get back. It could maybe help your sensei learn something new on the sly.

Not to mess with your head, but...

...did it ever occur to you that your sensei wanted you to see those openings in technique? Maybe he's letting you figure out some things for yourself...?

As long as you have a place to train, and you feel that your getting quality training from somebody, that's two problems that some people have - that you don't. Count your blessings.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 07-21-2006, 10:32 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

I agree that seminars, if you can put together the time/$, are a great way to put one's dojo in a larger perspective.
You don't mention if you are in an area w/ only one dojo but if there are any other dojo in driving distance (even if it is an hour) get there for a visit and pay a mat fee and get on the mat.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-21-2006, 11:44 AM   #4
RoyK
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

It sounds like you have no faith in what you're learning. So why stay there? go find another dojo, even if it's further away, it'll br worth it.
Plus, if ranking means anything to you, then you should leave the dojo anyhow, since being part of no organization, there will be no outside recognition of your status.
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Old 07-21-2006, 12:26 PM   #5
aikidoc
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

If in fact your instructor was a legitimate shodan who promoted himself to godan, you may have a very valid point. This is often a problem with independents or split off groups. When they split everyone suddenly gets elevated-ego I guess. Quality can be maintained but it requires diligence and a good set of standards and willingness of the instructors to futhe their own aikido.

I guess I'd be looking for something else if it was me unless this is your only option to train. Perhaps you can get the other intructor to teach more nights. Another problem is that if your school has no affiliation your rank is only of value in your existing school. The higher you go, the less value because you have invested a lot of time and effort for something recognized only where you are at.
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Old 07-21-2006, 08:27 PM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

I think this is a no-brainer. Look for another dojo, for I think you are wasting your time where you are now. You also need to examine, or re-examine, your own reasons for training.

You say that you have been at that dojo for 4.5 years, training twice a week. Obviously each person's circumstances are different (family commitments etc), but at this rate you are barely scratching the surface. When I had done 4.5 years of training, I had already had three instructors and all three (a) were far beyond me in ability and (b) gave a vision of the possibilities that kept me committed to training in the art. The third of these instructors was K Chiba and he always stressed the importance of finding a good teacher; without a good teacher, it was perhaps even better to find another art to practise.

Your teacher's self-promotion from 1st dan to 5th is the clincher for me. If he is that dishonest, he is not worth training with. Perhaps his next rank will be 10th dan and soke.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-21-2006, 08:45 PM   #7
Aristeia
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

if what you say is true, leave the dojo immediately. Perhaps talk to the sempai tell him the reasons for leaving, indicate that there would be support should he wish to set up his own dojo. But get out of that one. Find another aikido school or if there are truly none around, try another art. Either way you're wasting your time where you are. You would be better off training an art that appeals to you less, but training it properly, than training an art you really want to do poorly.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 07-21-2006, 08:57 PM   #8
dps
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

You have probably have learned all that you can from this sensei. Time to move on.
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Old 07-21-2006, 10:11 PM   #9
David Yap
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
James Davis, Jr. wrote:
Look harder at what your sensei is doing and find what has value. For the stuff that doesn't work, shove that in your memory bank as what not to do when you open your own school.
Sound advice but not necessarily needing to do so just to open ones own dojo. Avoid doing such crappy stuff in jiyuwaza will be a good start.

Quote:
Maybe you could go to some seminars and offer to share the stuff you've learned when you get back. It could maybe help your sensei learn something new on the sly.
Going to seminars is a good advice. Sharing them with the sensei is NOT; you will create some conflicts no matter how big or small.

Quote:
Not to mess with your head, but...did it ever occur to you that your sensei wanted you to see those openings in technique? Maybe he's letting you figure out some things for yourself...?
This is BS. Either he has not figured out those things himself or he just lacks communication skill.

Quote:
As long as you have a place to train, and you feel that your getting quality training from somebody, that's two problems that some people have - that you don't. Count your blessings.
Read the thread again. The poster implied that his knowledge of the art has surpassed that of his sensei and he felt that some the sensei's teachings are crappy. ("Crappy" is the term I use and not the poster's).

Sharing the views of the majority here, my advice is "GET OUT". I have seen enough of these "shodan" sensei (fresh graduated shodan teaching and opening dojo without supervision) and the problems they created in the aikido community. Due to their insecurity, they normally forbid their students from training with others and they do not welcome other yudansha into their own dojo.

Echoing someone else's thought - crappy instructors produce crappy students and crappy students go on to become crappy instructors. The art does not deserve this.

David Y
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Old 07-24-2006, 11:32 AM   #10
James Davis
 
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
David Yap wrote:
Going to seminars is a good advice. Sharing them with the sensei is NOT; you will create some conflicts no matter how big or small.
If his sensei is too egotistical to accept something that wasn't his idea. If that proves to be the case, then it just might be the clincher that makes the poster decide to move on, If the sensei accepts something from outside the dojo as a good idea, then maybe the student could go to some seminars with his instructor.


Quote:
David Yap wrote:
Read the thread again. The poster implied that his knowledge of the art has surpassed that of his sensei and he felt that some the sensei's teachings are crappy. ("Crappy" is the term I use and not the poster's).
Just finished reading it again.
He also stated that his sempai's techiques were more sound, and were of greater value. If he breaks contact with his sempai, he might be "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 07-24-2006, 02:02 PM   #11
Aiki LV
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

It seems to me you have more issue with the particular "style" or interpretation being taught by your Sensei. Apparently you prefer the "style" taught by your Sempai. Learn to appreciate both styles because as you might already know, you are going to train with a lot of different people with different "styles". The more exposure you get to different schools of thought and training the better. Training only one way, with one teacher all the time leaves you very limited.
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Old 07-24-2006, 02:22 PM   #12
DonMagee
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

I would suggest one of two things.

1) Find a new club.

2) Start being bad uke. Maybe you can gain some insight by not taking the fall and just standing there with a dumb look on your face when he goes into his long winded techniques that don't work. If they truely dont work, you should regain your balance at some point, so just stand there.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 07-24-2006, 05:33 PM   #13
shodan 83
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Shodan to 5th dan, you just snatched the pebbles from his hand, time for you to leave.

I was at Emory Aikikai recently and Dennis Hooker Sensei asked the group a question, and said he wanted a reply from those in attendance who might know something, that meant, as he said no responses from shodan or lower. It's called shodan for a reason, those of us at this level are just now scratching the surface.
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Old 07-24-2006, 09:12 PM   #14
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
Eric Lingswiler wrote:
I was at Emory Aikikai recently and Dennis Hooker Sensei asked the group a question, and said he wanted a reply from those in attendance who might know something, that meant, as he said no responses from shodan or lower. It's called shodan for a reason, those of us at this level are just now scratching the surface.
That has to be up there in the most pretentious, conceited, insulting things I've read in a while. It's good to know some people feel they are so high above others they can learn nothing from their responses.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:34 AM   #15
darin
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
Over my roughly 4.5 years of training at my school, I have developed less and less confidence in my instructor's skills and abilities.

Now there is another thread on here about brown belt syndrome, i.e. higher grades becoming less committed to training, one reason being due to boredom. I am finding myself in this category, I find I am simply not learning from him, or worse yet, I often find myself disagreeing with his interpretation of techniques!

The thing is, we train 2 nights/week, on the second night our sempai takes the class, who is actually alot more knowledgeable and skilled then our sensei. However since it is sensei's dojo and school (unfortauntely we are not affiliated with any other organisation or governing body) he outranks the sempai... from what I understand he essentially GAVE himself a 5th dan, after leaving his original school with a shodan and opening his own school/ style.

So I find us constantly doing these long and convoluted, and all to often, largely ineffective techniques, while our sempai (who was taught by a different school) teaches more plausible techniques, less dancy, and with a sounder base of basics (stance, centre etc). This opinion has been supported by a student who has trained under a different style before coming to our school, and he agrees our techniques are too large/long and often leave us open to easy counters.

There is now an under-current off a lack of respect for the sensei coming from a growing number of students within the school... to the point that some only train during the sempai's classes.

So i'm not really sure what my question is, but some advice or feedback would be great. What do you do when your sensei tells you to do something your more knowledgeable sempai states as being flat-out incorrect, and you yourself know it's incorrect too??!!

I have been in this position before. Your sensei is probably feeling jealous. Whats the relationship between him and the sempai?

Your situation is common where an instructor who lacks experience and proper training opens his own dojo but has to get other instructors in to compensate for his lack of skill/knowledge hoping that it will make him look good. Usually this backfires as students obviously see his limitations when comparing him with someone else. He feels jealous because he's not the center of attention anymore.

As an instructor its most important to be aware of what you know and to teach within your abilities. If you BS then eventually you will get caught.
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Old 07-25-2006, 06:36 AM   #16
shodan 83
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
That has to be up there in the most pretentious, conceited, insulting things I've read in a while. It's good to know some people feel they are so high above others they can learn nothing from their responses.
I think you missed the point and the intent.
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Old 07-25-2006, 06:49 AM   #17
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
What do you do when your sensei tells you to do something your more knowledgeable sempai states as being flat-out incorrect, and you yourself know it's incorrect too??!!
I'm voting with the majority here - You should do it as it was shown or leave the class.
Quote:
I think you missed the point and the intent.
I need help here seeing the point - like Don I can see only three real interpretations:
a) Dennis was specifically testing his higher grades
b) He wanted the answer in a specific form to help emphasise a particular point
c) He felt there was no useful information available from his lower grades.
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Old 07-25-2006, 07:13 AM   #18
shodan 83
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

I need help here seeing the point - like Don I can see only three real interpretations:
a) Dennis was specifically testing his higher grades
b) He wanted the answer in a specific form to help emphasise a particular point
c) He felt there was no useful information available from his lower grades.[/quote]

Let me put it to you this way, when you look back at your training and your life, are your views about both the same today, is your practice today the same as it was four years ago, ten years ago, and then finally if shodan is just a dan grade why is not ichdan? Sho has a meaning, and I think Sensei Hooker's point was your personal development in this art really begins at Shodan. Although I hate to quote him here as he'll probably voice in. I can say definitively, it was not meant to be insulting in any way shape or form.

E
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Old 07-25-2006, 07:51 AM   #19
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

To use a phrase "Let me put it to you this way " - you've chosen option (c) as the answer. That's fine and while I'm sure neither Dennis or yourself meant any lack of respect, it also does imply a certain view about grades and experience which I don't adhere to.

I asked for the expansion of your point as I could understand where Don was coming from, thanks for the clarification.

Sorry Jun, I'll stop the thread drift now
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Old 07-25-2006, 07:53 AM   #20
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

It is simple...find somewhere else to train...
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Old 07-25-2006, 08:29 AM   #21
shodan 83
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
Ian Hurst wrote:
To use a phrase "Let me put it to you this way " - you've chosen option (c) as the answer. That's fine and while I'm sure neither Dennis or yourself meant any lack of respect, it also does imply a certain view about grades and experience which I don't adhere to.

I asked for the expansion of your point as I could understand where Don was coming from, thanks for the clarification.

Sorry Jun, I'll stop the thread drift now
I disagree with the assumption of C, but hey, total agreement would be boring, thank you for the reply.

E
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Old 07-25-2006, 09:21 AM   #22
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

I don't think Hooker sensei's comments were disrespectful. Although I'm sure exceptions abound, you are generally going to get different responses to questions based on the place people are in their training. At the lower ranks through shodan, people are more focused on learning the basic techniques and principles. As rank progresses, hopefully, people start asking more indepth questions and start really trying to understand what the art is about. They are moving beyond basics. Again exceptions abound and some never make that transition in spite of increased rank. Even through 4th dan we are considered low level instructors by the Japanese. I guess we are not taken seriously until we hit 5th-that's when we get to join the big boys and get promoted only once a year at the annual event and then only by recommendation. IMHO.
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Old 07-25-2006, 10:26 AM   #23
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Smile Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
I don't think Hooker sensei's comments were disrespectful. Although I'm sure exceptions abound, you are generally going to get different responses to questions based on the place people are in their training. At the lower ranks through shodan, people are more focused on learning the basic techniques and principles. As rank progresses, hopefully, people start asking more indepth questions and start really trying to understand what the art is about. They are moving beyond basics. Again exceptions abound and some never make that transition in spite of increased rank. Even through 4th dan we are considered low level instructors by the Japanese. I guess we are not taken seriously until we hit 5th-that's when we get to join the big boys and get promoted only once a year at the annual event and then only by recommendation. IMHO.
Very well stated, it is how I took it, and you know what, I do not recall the question. My whole point to this was that a shodan has no business opening a dojo and promoting himeself to 5th Dan. I know, I know, before I get bombarded, I'm sure there a plenty of reasons to go train at a school opened by a shodan, save your fingers.
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:42 PM   #24
"Mike Braxton"
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

There are many problems here but it's not necessary for you to leave the dojo. Your interpretation of a technique is not the same as your Sensei's. In my dojo, that is a good sign. My Sensei always tells us to make the art our own. Somethings will be the same as your Sensei's and somethings won't. As far as the long techniques not being effective, not all techniques are actually effective. Sometimes the techniques being taught are more an exercise than an actual technique that you would apply on the street to protect yourself. Maybe this is what he wants to get across to you but just hasn't said it out loud. Maybe, once you are ready, he will then break it down for you into the little pieces. Have you asked him about this? About the 5th dan thing, who or where else can he get a high rank for it is his style/interpretation? At least it wasn't 10th dan, give him some credit for that. I already have a name for my style, name for my dojo, name for teaching acronyms and so forth if I ever open one. What are guys like me supposed to do if we ever completely deviate from the style that we originally learnt? As long as he doesn't say that his way is the only way or put down the other styles or instructors and especially forbids you from training with other people. Now the last part of that sentence is touchy for there are some very legit styles/instructors that it is only there way or the highway, we lost one student due to this. He was cross training and the other Sensei gave him an alternatum. All you can do is just train and make the techniques the way that you want them to be {softer, harder, or somewhere in between} as long as you feel that what the Sensei has shown you has some relevance for we have all seen videos of people doing stuff that is complete nonsense.
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Old 07-25-2006, 01:52 PM   #25
Erik
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Re: Doubts about instructor's abilities

Quote:
Over my roughly 4.5 years of training at my school, I have developed less and less confidence in my instructor's skills and abilities.
Quote:
I find I am simply not learning from him, or worse yet, I often find myself disagreeing with his interpretation of techniques!
Quote:
who is actually alot more knowledgeable and skilled then our sensei.
Quote:
So I find us constantly doing these long and convoluted, and all to often, largely ineffective techniques
The relationship is over and it won't recover. Get out, move on and don't look back.

Funny what brings out a post after 6 months of not posting.

Last edited by Erik : 07-25-2006 at 01:56 PM.
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