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Old 09-09-2001, 09:38 PM   #1
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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95 to 5

As of 7:30 on Sunday night, character was leading technique by the above score. I would love to hear people's thoughts on this one because it flies in the face of my experience and I think we are BSing ourselves.

Bill Clinton was well-liked as president here in the US. As long as the economy kept going, no one cared what he did in his private life. I'm willing to bet this philosophy is nearly universal throughout the world. Yet, it changes in the dojo?

Bruce Klickstein was defended to the end by some folks as I understand it. He was the prime example of this question because he had exceptional technique. I sometimes wonder if the only reason anything happened to him is that it became common knowledge.

I can think of a couple of other situations, that I won't put out here, where this has also been the case. I think we are able to overlook a lot as long as we are getting what we want from someone. Apparently technique isn't very high on the list.

So, is this just a lousy poll question? Am I making too much out of it? What exactly is character anyway? Are we really that pure? Hooray if we are, I'm just not buying it.

Last edited by Erik : 09-09-2001 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 09-09-2001, 10:29 PM   #2
guest1234
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I think the trouble is, the poll question, like most, stir our thoughts but is very open to interpretation. For example, while your post implies technique can be bad as long as character is good, that is not part of the question.

The more debatable portion, however, is character. I would interpret this as: foremost, is he honest--I don't have to agree with his views, but is he honest about them; is he able to take an unpopular stand if his beliefs (again, doesn't have to be mine) demand; does he respect his students?

Private consensual relationships among adults--that can be complicated when it includes adultery (everything else in that category is to me private and not for me to judge). I would put adultery in the same category as other human weakness, like drinking too much (found in other presidents); that we are all human and it is how the person deals with it that speaks of their character. Maybe just as we more easily identify with saints who were sinners we can learn from sensei's who are human.

Would I pass on an instructor who got drunk at a party, or once had an affair? While I might wish it weren't in his past, I'd recognise that I'm human, too. If he always got drunk, or had a string of affairs? That implies to me a devaluation of the preciousness of human life. While I might learn a lot of technique from that person, he would not be the kind of person I'd want to spend much time around...and so I'd leave.

What surprises me is: only 5% who say technique alone won't do it for them. It seems like a higher number who write in saying they do Aikido only for self defense and that it has no spiritual side, and they would be the ones that I would think would grade an instructor on skill alone.
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Old 09-09-2001, 10:41 PM   #3
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
while your post implies technique can be bad as long as character is good, that is not part of the question.
It did?

Quote:
Private consensual relationships among adults--that can be complicated when it includes adultery (everything else in that category is to me private and not for me to judge). I would put adultery in the same category as other human weakness, like drinking too much (found in other presidents); that we are all human and it is how the person deals with it that speaks of their character. Maybe just as we more easily identify with saints who were sinners we can learn from sensei's who are human.
Bill Clinton is more than adultery. Can anyone say Whitewater? We take it for granted that these guys are going to get fat while in office. As long as we get our fat, I submit we don't care.

Quote:
If he always got drunk, or had a string of affairs? That implies to me a devaluation of the preciousness of human life. While I might learn a lot of technique from that person, he would not be the kind of person I'd want to spend much time around...and so I'd leave.
Yes, but a lot of people don't leave and I sure don't think it's only 5% that stay around.
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Old 09-09-2001, 10:51 PM   #4
guest1234
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Well, maybe folks look for something different in their President than they do in their Aikido instructor (just like they may want something different in the police, their priest, and their nanny).

Could it be that lack of character is not too common among Aikido instructors? I know that a couple of names have come up, but considering how many instructors there must be in the US alone, perhaps we just have a decent bunch 'in office'?
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Old 09-09-2001, 10:56 PM   #5
guest1234
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By the way, "95 to 5.As of 7:30 on Sunday night, character was leading technique by the above score." implied to me character was more important than technique.
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Old 09-10-2001, 12:22 AM   #6
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by ca
Could it be that lack of character is not too common among Aikido instructors? I know that a couple of names have come up, but considering how many instructors there must be in the US alone, perhaps we just have a decent bunch 'in office'?
I contend this is more along the lines of asking 100 people how many of them always tell the truth. 95 of them will say "I NEVER LIE" until you ask them things like:

Have you lied to your spouse about why you were late?
Have you ever called in sick when you weren't sick?
When you were looking for a new job, did you tell your boss when she asked?

In the end, it's more like 0 to 100.

Everyone lies and I submit to you that everyone overlooks character if they are getting the results they want and those character flaws don't affect them directly. But, ask them how important character is and the chests puff up and they proudly proclaim the value of character.
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Old 09-10-2001, 07:53 AM   #7
ian
 
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I didn't read so much into this poll. I just thought that if the instructor was someone who was a bit nasty to his students and possibly violent it is unlikely I would train with him. If his technique was great I would probably get as much out of him/her as I could before finding a different club (and before being injured/abused).

I think peoples character often reflects their thoughts towards other people. e.g. Clintons infidelity was a sign that he couldn't be trusted in that respect (though it is hard to know how strong the temptation was). Although there are people in politics with 'good intentions' I think to make it in politics most of them have to feel that the ends justify the means.

To me character is important, but they are generally also quite complex - the fact that Clinton also devoted so much time to the arab/isreali peace process I think developed from his good character. Also everyone has different views on the degree of 'wrongness' of something, so an honourable character could exhibit what we may consider bad traits (e.g. most samurai were quite ruthless killers).

Ian

Last edited by ian : 09-10-2001 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 09-10-2001, 11:08 AM   #8
Yo-Jimbo
Dojo: formerly Windward Aikido, formerly at Keewenaw Schools of Aikido (ASU)
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it always matters

Did I vote that character matters?
*chest puffs out* Yes.
Does character matter in a highly philosophical martial way like Aikido?
Of course it does.
Would I train with someone who was better martially if that person was less admirable than a very nice but less experienced person?
I do this whenever I can.
Aikido is about dealing with adversity and a real jerk can give a person great training, particularly if the character flaws don't extend to causing permanent bodily harm at every opportunity.
Don't expect me to brag you up to my friends unless you are like my sensei, both a great person and a great martial artist.
Besides, most polls are just an excersise in human nature vs. poll syntax.
Let me rewrite the same poll to get different results.
Would you refuse to train with a sempai that had poor hygiene, was over weight, smoked or has some other personal habit/trait that you don't like?
yes: 3%
no: 96%
I don't do aikido: 1%

Do you avoid training with sempai that have poor hygiene, smoke or has some other personal habit/trait that you don't like?
yes: 12%
no: 86%
I don't do aikido: 2%

Do you tend to train more with sempai that you like personally and spend time with outside the dojo?
yes: 33%
no: 66% (a third of which are lying to themselves)
I don't do aikido: 1%

Would you go out of your way to train with a sempai that was asked to never return to you dojo for repeatedly bad mouthing other students and on a couple occations breaking someones fingers out of anger?
yes: 2%
no: 97%
I want this person on my talk show: 1%

Would you train in aikijitsu from a master that has killed all the previous students?
yes: 1% (there is always one)
no: 98%
I want the movie rights: 1%

Would you be more likely to vote for a candidate that practiced aikido?
yes: 93%
no: 2%
I think the above would just vote along party lines: 5%

Do you usually train with right handed voters without galsses?
yes: 50%
no: 46%
I didn't understand the question: 4%

In the land of the internet, the pollsters rule.

Trying to become a better person (for those it matters to),

"One does not find wisdom in another's words." -James D. Chye
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Old 09-10-2001, 12:10 PM   #9
lt-rentaroo
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I voted yes. I believe that people who teach martial arts should be of strong moral character. I think we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. I'll agree that many Samurai were ruthless killers, but even they had a moral code to live by. As teachers, we have a profound influence on our students; both mentally and with the techniques we teach. I'm sure we would all agree that young students are very impressionable; kind of like monkey see, monkey do. Abusing students and having relationships with them (regardless of consenting adults or not) is not a good idea. Too often I've seen this lead to problems for all involved.

If I felt that the person I was receiving instruction from was a dirtbag (morally and physically) I would look for instruction elsewhere. There are many excellent teachers out there who have good technique and strong character.

Integrity, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do. These are the core values I live by. I extend these values onto the tatami as well.

LOUIS A. SHARPE, JR.
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Old 09-10-2001, 12:20 PM   #10
cbrf4zr2
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I voted yes. Not only on this poll, but in a choice I had to make a couple months back. Two dojos "came together," and I use this term as loosely as possible. They split apart and unfortunately we had to make a choice. I made my choice based entirely on that fact alone. I could hve split and possibly gotten better technique by joining the other dojo - but I wouldn't count on getting much more more out of Aikido than that.

************************
...then again, that's just me.
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Old 09-10-2001, 02:26 PM   #11
TheProdigy
Dojo: Aikido Kokikai Delaware
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To me, Aikido is about far more than technique. It is the principles that underlie the techniques that truly make it what it is. When I took up aikido, it was not for self defense, but rather for a far more spiritual pursuit. Over time, this pursuit has only grown stronger. In all truth, if my instructor did not grab my respect I am sure I would not have joined(as it happened though, he gained far more respect from me than I realized possible to give a person).

Being new to the art, any dan rank will appear to have great technique. It is the character and personality then, that typically decides whether or not the person will train there(given they want to learn the art).

-Jase

P.S. I walked away from another dojo(tai chi), because of the instructor's negative outlook(his technique looked very good). You can learn much about a person in an hour of training.

Jason Hobbs
"As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life."
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Old 09-10-2001, 03:36 PM   #12
Kenn
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Re: 95 to 5

Quote:
Originally posted by Erik
As of 7:30 on Sunday night, character was leading technique by the above score. I would love to hear people's thoughts on this one because it flies in the face of my experience and I think we are BSing ourselves.

Bill Clinton was well-liked as president here in the US. As long as the economy kept going, no one cared what he did in his private life. I'm willing to bet this philosophy is nearly universal throughout the world. Yet, it changes in the dojo?

Bruce Klickstein was defended to the end by some folks as I understand it. He was the prime example of this question because he had exceptional technique. I sometimes wonder if the only reason anything happened to him is that it became common knowledge.

I can think of a couple of other situations, that I won't put out here, where this has also been the case. I think we are able to overlook a lot as long as we are getting what we want from someone. Apparently technique isn't very high on the list.

So, is this just a lousy poll question? Am I making too much out of it? What exactly is character anyway? Are we really that pure? Hooray if we are, I'm just not buying it.
I just voted Yes. Here's a little more of an explanation. Would I train with a Sensei who had perfect technique and no moral character? NO. Would I train with a Sensei that had wonderful character and poor technique? NO.

You are making it into a black and white question when there is a lot of grey area. The idea, to me anyway, is to find a Sensei with the best possible balance of those things you find important. To me, I wouldn't want to learn any martial art from someone who I didn't respect. Therefore, they would at least have to have enough moral fiber to earn my respect, as my Sensei does, and more.

I would definitely turn down better technique for someone I respected more. And if I couldn't find an Aikido instructor to fit that bill, I'd study something else....

As has been said many times before; "It's not the martial art, it's the martial artist".

I'd say, Eric, that perhaps you should look into your own reasons for perhaps choosing better techinique over moral fiber and stop projecting those feelings onto others. Just my opinion, I could be wrong, but it's doubtful....lol

Peace all

Kenn

Remember, the only way to be happy always, is to be happy always, without reason.
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Old 09-10-2001, 05:26 PM   #13
Erik
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Re: 95 to 5

Quote:
Originally posted by Kenn
Just my opinion, I could be wrong, but it's doubtful....lol
How does it feel to be wrong?

The choice between technique and character is an easy one for me.

Alas, the question becomes more complex outside of technique and my experience tells me I'm not the only one.

Last edited by Erik : 09-10-2001 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 09-10-2001, 07:12 PM   #14
Kenn
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Re: Re: 95 to 5

Quote:
Originally posted by Erik


How does it feel to be wrong?

You tell me, I wouldn't know.......

Kenn

Remember, the only way to be happy always, is to be happy always, without reason.
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Old 09-10-2001, 09:09 PM   #15
Erik
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95 to 5

Quote:
Originally posted by Kenn
You tell me, I wouldn't know.......
You sure about that?

Quote:
Originally posted by Kenn
I'd say, Eric, that perhaps you should look into your own reasons for perhaps choosing better techinique over moral fiber and stop projecting those feelings onto others. Just my opinion, I could be wrong, but it's doubtful....lol
Check my username and profile.

Gotcha!
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Old 09-10-2001, 09:33 PM   #16
Kenn
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Re: 95 to 5

Quote:
Originally posted by Erik


You sure about that?



Check my username and profile.

Gotcha!

lol, spelled your name wrong, but obviously that wasn't what I was referring to..........

Kenn

Remember, the only way to be happy always, is to be happy always, without reason.
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Old 09-10-2001, 09:37 PM   #17
Erik
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Re: Re: 95 to 5

Quote:
Originally posted by Kenn



lol, spelled your name wrong, but obviously that wasn't what I was referring to..........
I also voted Yes.
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Old 09-11-2001, 12:24 AM   #18
AikidoSteve
Dojo: Foothills Aikido, Evergreen, Colorado
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I think both Louis and Ian have good points.

I have visited other dojos in my travels and came across one where the technique from the instructor was flawless. However, I believe that this instructor liked to hurt his/her students. I thought it might be me, that my ukemi was not in tune that day. However, I also noticed that the other students would grimace and flinch every time the instructor touched them.

I have also seen another Instructor in anger go after a student - The student was new and deliberately trying to prevent the instructor from executing any technique. Granted the student was being "difficult" but the instructor quit playing nice Aikido and reverted to some sort of "way of the fist and foot sweep" to show this student, who was in charge of the mat. The student - a beginner, a stupid young male (SYM), was fast and cocky and jumped strait up about three feet into the air, the foot sweep went by, and student ended up landing on the instructor's hakama. Which prevented the instructor from being able to stand up, which freaked out the student who then jumped sideways about four feet to get out of the way of a bad situation that was rapidly getting worse. Thankfully, another black belt, a student in the class, intervened. (The landing on the hakama was a fluke - but it worked! - kind of)

Both instructors have very good technique, but because of their display of character, if given the opportunity, I won't practice with them at their dojos. Meaning I'd visit their dojos but only if, they were not teaching. This is what I thought of when I voted yes. However, if I turned around at a seminar and one of these two instructors was to become my partner, I would not avoid them - at least not the first time.

As far as infidelity, how can a person who is a national leader, who breaks a promise to one person (their spouse) be trusted to keep their promises to the millions of other people of the nation. As far as Clinton's middle east negotiations go, I wonder what the PLO Chairman, Yasser Arafat thought, when he found out why he was made to wait in the White House Rose Garden while Clinton took a cigar break with Monica Lewinsky. I would not take Aikido instruction from Clinton either. No matter what the press reports - or doesn't report, to me, Character Counts. Please excuse me I've digressed.

Steve Nelson
Confront the enemy with the point of your sword against his face.
-Miyamoto Musashi, "A Book of Five Rings"
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Old 09-11-2001, 03:19 AM   #19
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by AikidoSteve
As far as infidelity, how can a person who is a national leader, who breaks a promise to one person (their spouse) be trusted to keep their promises to the millions of other people of the nation. As far as Clinton's middle east negotiations go, I wonder what the PLO Chairman, Yasser Arafat thought, when he found out why he was made to wait in the White House Rose Garden while Clinton took a cigar break with Monica Lewinsky. I would not take Aikido instruction from Clinton either. No matter what the press reports - or doesn't report, to me, Character Counts. Please excuse me I've digressed.
Hi Steve. I believe you are either in the minority, or a Republican. That was a cheap joke. Ha! Ha! ha! h...never mind.

Seriously, I don't think most people cared but how many people will stand up and admit it I wonder. The economy was good and what was a little infidelity amongst interns. I wonder if he'd been taking cigar breaks with male interns....

I still don't believe the number will be 95% in the real-world. I just don't think most of us are being brutally honest with ourselves on this one.
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Old 09-11-2001, 06:56 AM   #20
Kenn
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Quote:
Originally posted by AikidoSteve

As far as infidelity, how can a person who is a national leader, who breaks a promise to one person (their spouse) be trusted to keep their promises to the millions of other people of the nation. As far as Clinton's middle east negotiations go, I wonder what the PLO Chairman, Yasser Arafat thought, when he found out why he was made to wait in the White House Rose Garden while Clinton took a cigar break with Monica Lewinsky. I would not take Aikido instruction from Clinton either. No matter what the press reports - or doesn't report, to me, Character Counts. Please excuse me I've digressed.
As if our current President is an honest, upstanding guy........lmfao........

peace, Kenn

Kenn

Remember, the only way to be happy always, is to be happy always, without reason.
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