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Old 10-18-2006, 07:43 AM   #1
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Where is the line drawn?

i wish i could remember the thread where someone quoted O' Sensei as saying: "...after all these years, i'm finally starting to understand ikkyo..."

or something along those lines. that's not my point.

my point is that it seems to be the norm that you should always should up for class with an empty cup, that you should never say, "i've learned this" or "i know this". our dojo only has white belts, to stress a beginner's mentality. and i've learned about how black belts turn white from the wear and tear.

then again, we do have ranks. and we don't go backwards, do we? even if we've hit our peak, or our highest rank, we don't go back to the beginning. at least not on paper.

aren't these two conflicting methods of training? if i ask someone wearing a hakama: "do you know ikkyo?", should the proper answer be "no?"

where is the line drawn, the line between knowing Aikido, and "knowing Aikido". if you can't say you know how to use it exceptionally well, how you can ever apply it?
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Old 10-18-2006, 08:14 AM   #2
SeiserL
 
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

I would agree, arrogance and confidence are very confusing, especially in light of humility.

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 10-18-2006, 08:48 AM   #3
Peter Seth
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Wink Re: Where is the line drawn?

Question? (Light hearted).
It is said, Aikido like so many other things in life (knowledge etc) is an ever expanding circle.
1). Is there a start or finish point?
2). Do we set them ourselves?
3). As we progress do we carry the start point (basics) on with us - leave them where they started (long way back - sometimes hard to return to).
4). Do we catch up with the start point (basics) - are we chasing the start point? Its a circle after all.
Lot of people say keep going back to the beginning? Has it changed when you get there? Can you get to the start by going forwards - will it be different when you get there? Etc etc etc.
Are we going round in circles???
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:06 AM   #4
crbateman
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

IMHO, the ways people learn differ, just like the ways people teach (or walk, or talk, or just about anything else). I believe that everyone's Aikido starts out as someone else's, and over time becomes their own. For some, the path is an upward climb, because that's how they visualize it. For others, it's a circle. For yet others, it's a point, facing outward in all directions. Regardless of the "geometry" a person applies to it, what is important is the journey. I simply try to be a little better (as an aikidoka, as a person, as a father, as a friend) every day.

Rank, ego, or the associated trappings, mean little, because those worth impressing will give you the means, opportunity and reason to prove yourself every day. What you do with it is up to you.
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:09 AM   #5
dbotari
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Peter Seth wrote:
Question? (Light hearted).
It is said, Aikido like so many other things in life (knowledge etc) is an ever expanding circle.
[snip]

Are we going round in circles???
I think in terms of an expanding spiral upwards. While we do circle back around to the "start" we are at a slightly higher level each time both in technique and in maturity.

My opinion FWIW

Dan
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:13 AM   #6
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

i'm impressed at the different levels of "geometry" people are envisioning. it's very imaginative. i'm asking this because i really had a tough time with Ikkyo last night; while it didn't lessen my spirits, it did make me see things from a different perspective.

you've all made good points about the type of path you'd like to follow, but i still want to tackle the question: if someone were to ask a Shodan if he "knew" Ikkyo, is "yes" an acceptable answer?
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:19 AM   #7
Guillaume Erard
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Luc, I think you raised a very interesting point. I have heard so often from teachers that we would never get to O Sensei's level or even to the level of such and such master.

Therefore, what is the point doing it? In all disciplines (science, sports and so on...) we build on top of our seniors, we still their knowledge and go beyond. Why would the way of harmony be any different?

Of course arrogance is to be avoided at all costs but IMHO too much modesty can aslo prevent progress. I have seen many students doubting so much of their own skills that they simply regressed!
Of course, we may also talk about the kind of people who hide beind fake modesty just to hear people tell them "no man! you're so good!"... They also very often give you lectures on humility (my humility is bigger than yours)...

When I am asked by people
"You're doing Aikido, are you any good?"
I generally answer, "yes I am pretty good at Aikido (I wouldn't have spent so many years doing it if I wasn't improving would I?) but I still many many miles to go!" Might sound arrogant but at least my answer is honnest.
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:29 AM   #8
Dazzler
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Dan Botari wrote:
I think in terms of an expanding spiral upwards. While we do circle back around to the "start" we are at a slightly higher level each time both in technique and in maturity.

My opinion FWIW

Dan
Nice one Dan..I've alway thought of the circle getting smaller, as each time we pass a point we've slightly less to learn than on the previous visit. So effectively creating a nice spiral.

I guess factoring in your upward view and considering that which has been learned as balancing that which is still to be learned you can see a constant emerging which is the total of all to learn.

whatever that is.

I'll go now..its a slow day at work.

D
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Old 10-18-2006, 10:07 AM   #9
Dennis Hooker
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Why do we continue this stuff after so many years. Here is why I do it.

http://www.shindai.com/articles/hooker/continue.htm

Dennis Hooker: (DVD) Zanshin and Ma-ai in Aikido
https://www.createspace.com/238049

www.shindai.com
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Old 10-18-2006, 10:24 AM   #10
Dazzler
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Thanks Dennis.

A valuable dose of perspective.

Regards

D
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Old 10-18-2006, 10:28 AM   #11
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Dennis Hooker Sensei has said it: "shoshin". Not just on the mat, but as a way of life. Funnily enough, now heading for 16 years of aikido practice, my worst technique is shomen uchi ikkyo. The more you can see and do, the further along the path you begin to see. Sure I "know" ikkyo, but todays another day to perfect it (and myself).

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 10-18-2006, 10:48 AM   #12
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Alec wrote:
Sure I "know" ikkyo, but todays another day to perfect it
In this exact spirit, do you know your brother, sister? Your mother and father, who themselves may very well have lived your life span so far, Luc, before you were born. Do you know your best friend? Yes is an exceptable answer to these questions, but they're not definitive. You can always meet each of them for the first time, or tally the next experience into the average with everything preceeding. That's one way of bringing learning habits from aikido off the mat with you.

michael.
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Old 10-18-2006, 10:58 AM   #13
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

I suppose I "know" ikyo like I "know" how to speak english. I can get my point across, but I'm always finding new words that I've never heard before.

"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 10-18-2006, 11:30 AM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Just be in the "present"... you don't apologize for where you are, what you currently know. It is what it is. But where you are now isn't where you are going to be, or at least it shouldn't be.

When someone teaches, he is only showing what he knows. This is different than some sort of definitive answer. The instant one tells himself that he "knows" something, there is no longer any room, or even any reason, for change.

I just taught a seminar in San Antonio. It focused on the "Principles of the Entry". I had taught a block of instruction two years ago on the same subject but when I went back and looked at the lesson plan I had used, I had to throw it out and start completely from scratch. My understanding of the subject had changed so drastically in the past two years that I simply couldn't use the old material.

Does that mean that the old stuff was of no value? I don't think so. The old block of instruction was pretty good. I suspect that I could have taught that same material and the seminar would have been just as well received. My understanding then would still have been of great value to the folks who had not trained as long as I had. But my own understanding has changed; I simply don't look at what I am doing the same way I did.

So what I knew then is not the same as what I know now. It's not that I didn't understand what I was doing then and it's not that I understand what I am now doing in some definitive, final form. It's just a deeper understanding of the same material.

If you don't belive you can do something, the result will predictably be that you can't. If you know you don't understand ikkyo you won't be able to do it. So all training is really a form of "acting" in which we act "as if" we can do our technique. But at the same time we know that we are acting. We know that our current understanding is limited, that there is always a deeper answer to the same question. There is always someone who is more powerful, someone who is more graceful, someone who is more effortless. Someone always has another point of view. If we stay open to all of these influences, we grow. If we can be unattached to what we currently understand, we can let go of anything in an instant and embrace what is better.

The kiss of death in training is attachment to what we already know. As a teacher, if you start to "believe your own press", and start treating what you have been teaching as some sort of unconditional reality, your Aikido training is over. That is true at EVERY staged of your Aikido career, no matter how many decades you've been in the art. Aikido is like any other spiritual system... there are no final answers. All teaching is "Upaya" or "expedient means". I can show you what I know and it might help you move along the Path. But I have to know, for myself, that what I am showing you isn't actually any answer at all.

In the end it is about "process" and has nothing to do with the so-called "answers".

Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 10-18-2006 at 11:33 AM.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 10-18-2006, 02:03 PM   #15
crbateman
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

As for "Do you know ikkyo? Yes or no...", I think much depends on how the asker and the respondent define "know". And even if convinced of an answer (notice that I didn't say "the" answer, as there may be more than one), the respondent may not give an answer that will convince the asker.

And then there may be different levels of "know", as the respondent may "know" ikkyo well enough to use it properly on the mat, or even in realtime, but not "know" it well enough to stop trying to practice it and make his ikkyo even better. Is "knowing" the end of that particular branch on the path?

You are not really dealing with absolutes here, like you would be with mathematics, for instance. In math, any concept remains a theorem until such time as it can be definitively proven, and then it becomes a law. An Aikido technique might be considered "known" once a certain (very subjective) level of proficiency is reached, or might be considered "unknown" until the absolute state of perfection exists, meaning that no further improvement is possible.

But even if not perfect, an instructor must at some point consider himself, and be considered by his student, to be "knowing" enough of a technique to pass that training on, or no teacher would ever feel or be thought worthy to teach anything at all.

It's a "chicken before the egg" thing. It's semantics. When asked a question like "Do you know ikkyo?", within applied context, there is no absolutely right or absolutely wrong answer. If I were asked the question, I'd probably just have to say "Maybe...".
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Old 10-18-2006, 02:22 PM   #16
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote:
You are not really dealing with absolutes here, like you would be with mathematics, for instance.
judging from all the replies, i can agree with this with regards to Aikido waza.

then what about kata? we share our mat space with a TKD school, and it's all about the kata. if your knowledge of kata is based on memorization and physical ability, then it is absolute and finite, is it not? out of principle, a Sensei will never admit this, but it makes you wonder.

i believe in philosophy, spirituality, bushido, etc. i still think, however, that it is human nature to put a hard line between yin and yang. i think it's very hard for people to refine themselves and lose the ego. as i'm typing this, i am realizing that i am one of those people at times.

if you tell someone that he/she will never truly, ever learn this art, would it motivate them? would it hurt their ego? we're told that this is how we should think, but i'm wondering how many people are actually willing to humble themselves to that point...
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Old 10-18-2006, 03:25 PM   #17
crbateman
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Luc Saroufim wrote:
then what about kata? we share our mat space with a TKD school, and it's all about the kata. if your knowledge of kata is based on memorization and physical ability, then it is absolute and finite, is it not?
Kata is technique, as it is simply an organized grouping of other techniques. But it cannot be considered "finite" until absolute perfection in execution is achieved. It is not the simple memorization that determines this perfection, although my TKD days showed me that many felt that was enough. Until nothing can be gained from further effort, then there is still work to be done.

Quote:
Luc Saroufim wrote:
i still think, however, that it is human nature to put a hard line between yin and yang. i think it's very hard for people to refine themselves and lose the ego. as i'm typing this, i am realizing that i am one of those people at times.
As you have correctly stated, that is human nature, but it is also human nature to identify weaknesses, and to self-motivate to work on corrections. It's all about where each individual is disposed to be satisfied with his/her progress. It is not weak to have faults, nor to accept those that cannot be improved. The weakness is in being satisfied with less than your best.

Quote:
Luc Saroufim wrote:
if you tell someone that he/she will never truly, ever learn this art, would it motivate them? would it hurt their ego? we're told that this is how we should think, but i'm wondering how many people are actually willing to humble themselves to that point...
I prefer to tell people that nobody will ever perfect the art, because that emphasizes the need to keep training, without the negative implications that might be felt in hearing it told as you have described. Again, it's just semantics.
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Old 10-18-2006, 03:34 PM   #18
heathererandolph
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

I don't know if anyone really knows what they think they know about anything. If you know a person, that does not mean you know everything about them. To know ikkyo is to know, technically how to do ikkyo, that is as well as you have been taught. In our style we do not even do shomen-uchi ikkyo anymore, thought to "not work in a lot of cases." I think part of admitting we don't know everything is to leave the mind open to the nuances of a technique. It is not always easy for me to teach a technique that I do not think is perfect, but it's dealing with this imperfection that is part of Aikido. To admit I do not know leaves me a lot of room for improvement, and at the black belt level, small changes can mean a large increase in power. It's difficult sometimes to make those small changes. I enjoy Aikido because I can feel a technique working particularly well in a moment in time. I don't think it matters weather a dojo has rank or not, that is superficial. If it inspires people to learn, that's really what it's there for.
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Old 10-18-2006, 03:47 PM   #19
Esaemann
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Isn't it more fun when we don't get it?

For example, if your favorite football team threw a touchdown every time they got the ball, wouldn't it get boring after a few games?

In that vein, don't we as humans try to put obstacles in our way so that life doesn't get boring.

Once you get it (are at the destination), then what?

Eric
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Old 10-18-2006, 05:19 PM   #20
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Eric Saemann wrote:
Isn't it more fun when we don't get it?
If it was, I'd be the happiest guy on earth...

Quote:
Eric Saemann wrote:
For example, if your favorite football team threw a touchdown every time they got the ball, wouldn't it get boring after a few games?
Heck no... That's what I want 'em to do...

Quote:
Eric Saemann wrote:
In that vein, don't we as humans try to put obstacles in our way so that life doesn't get boring.
I get them thrown at me from every angle. I would never seek to further the process.

Quote:
Eric Saemann wrote:
Once you get it (are at the destination), then what?
Then you try to get it BETTER.
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Old 10-18-2006, 05:27 PM   #21
ChrisMoses
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Luc Saroufim wrote:
then what about kata? we share our mat space with a TKD school, and it's all about the kata. if your knowledge of kata is based on memorization and physical ability, then it is absolute and finite, is it not? out of principle, a Sensei will never admit this, but it makes you wonder.

if you tell someone that he/she will never truly, ever learn this art, would it motivate them? would it hurt their ego? we're told that this is how we should think, but i'm wondering how many people are actually willing to humble themselves to that point...
As someone who studies a kata based art, I'd say that there are certainly shades of 'knowing' a kata. There's knowing the footwork and basic movments, there's being able to visualize the opposite side (if solo waza), there's the ability to explain uchi and soto meanings of the waza, then there's just the depth of 'knowing' that comes from working the same kata thousands of times over the course of decades. Same thing is true for aikido waza. I think some people get too into showing how incredibly humble they are, to the point that it comes back around to a kind of arrogance. Best to just be honest with yourself about what you know and how deeply you know it. There's no such thing as a truely empty cup, best just to make sure there's room enough for more.
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:18 PM   #22
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote:
There's knowing the footwork and basic movments, there's being able to visualize the opposite side (if solo waza), there's the ability to explain uchi and soto meanings of the waza, then there's just the depth of 'knowing' that comes from working the same kata thousands of times over the course of decades
pardon my ignorance. it's refreshing to hear a solid justification for kata; i'm not sure i truly understand its purpose and benefits, but i do keep hearing how important repetition is while you learn.
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Old 10-19-2006, 02:36 AM   #23
stelios
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

I only know that along last evening's training I had a moment of physical/mental clarity: I managed to understand that I do not know ikkyo.
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Old 10-19-2006, 07:31 AM   #24
Luc X Saroufim
 
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Quote:
Stelios Papados wrote:
I only know that along last evening's training I had a moment of physical/mental clarity: I managed to understand that I do not know ikkyo.
haha which is what led me to start this thread.

your name reminds me of my days in Cyprus. the only Stelios i ever knew was my neighbor; he taught me chess. on Saturday mornings he would just scream across our driveways until i would wake up.

that, or he would sing in the shower.
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:01 AM   #25
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Re: Where is the line drawn?

Clark,
No problem .. to each his own.

If everyone thought the same, I think this would be a pretty boring world.
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