Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > External Aikido Blog Posts

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 06-05-2009, 11:22 AM   #1
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,639
Offline
Are People Really Training to Get Better?

I taught up in Gibsons, BC last weekend. I have known their Chief Instructor since the 80's, since he was a white belt. He's always been serious about his training, trained hard, put what he could financially into it, traveled for seminars etc.

Now he has lost his sight. He's using a cane, learning braille, all the stuff that sighted folks have to do when they have to rework how they approach daily life.

What's really amazing is that he simply continues to teach and train as if nothing has happened. He's doing Aikido and Systema. The Systema training has become increasingly important because of the emphasis they place on developing the intuition. It's made his Aikido more responsive and he's actually more relaxed.

Anyway, it made me think about regular folks who don't face anything like the challenges he faces. He has no choice but to make deep level changes or quit. And he seems to be doing so. So why don't most folks do that? What prevents them from making the kind of progress that he is making? I guess the answer is that he doesn't have much choice and most folks do.

Since he is quite adequately demonstrating what kind of changes can be made if you really want to change, it begs the question why don't most folks want to do that? I think it has to do with the fundamental motivations people have for training in the first place. I actually don't think that most folks train with the thought that they will master the art. However, they clearly enjoy being associated with someone who has done so. It's also clear to me that the dojo social environment is central to waht people are looking for rather than the depth of the training taking place.

Change is actually the enemy of the kind of stability and predictability that most folks seem to crave. I have repeatedly seen, over the years, the situation in which an established teacher decides to work on something new, investigate osme different aspects of the art and their students leave. Everyone was tooling along quite happily when they knew what was expected and where they were headed and then suddenly, their teacher has shifted his focus.

This is especially true of the senior students who had established their positions as people of great importance in the dojo due to their clear ability to do what what was being taught better than the juniors. When the direction changes, now everyone is junior, everyone is a beginner again.

In a case like this, a teacher can find the seniors actively resisting the changes he is making. He often finds that it is the juniors who are the most receptive to the new direction he's taken.

Anyway, I think that Aikido practitioners should take a look at their training and ask themselves what is important to them. I have listened to my teacher, Saotome Sensei, telling people that he has seen them each year for over ten years and the training hasn't changed. They aren't really getting better. I don't think he is wrong about this. I used to blame it on the lack of good teaching methodology for much of post war Aikido. But then I met and trained with a number of teachers who could explain and teach what they were doing. And only a very small number of people took what they were showing and ran with it. Most of the folks seemed to stick with what they knew and changed little or nothing.

If people make a conscious choice to do what they have always been doing, then great. But if this resistance to change is unconscious, then it needs to be examined.

I recently worked with a student on a sophisticated principle in a certain technique. I walked him through it with very detailed, body centered instruction. At the end of the process he was successfully doing it on me. So here he was... he was successful, he had done it several times, he could repeat thye principles I had shown back to me. Yet he immediately got a puzzled look on his face as if he still didn't understand what I was teaching.

I called him on it. It was a "habit", a habit of not getting it. It was so much a part of his default setting that when he did get it, he still hung onto his habit of being confused. I asked him, now that he had done it, and I had seen him do it, what his excuse was going to be for not just doing it going forward? He could no longer claim he couldn't do it, he had done it, more than once. So what was preventing a felling of understanding? I think it is the fear of change. I see many people training who choose not to progress because that would change them in some way and they wanted to hang on to who they have been.

So folks should take a look at what they want, ask themselves if they REALLY want it or are just pretending to themselves that they do. Then, if they do really want something, they need to ask if they are doing anything about it. Have they structured their lives or their training to achieve what they have told themselves they want. I think the answer to such an investigation would yield some surprising answers for many folks.http://www.aikiweb.com//blogger.goog...t.blogspot.com


More...
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2009, 12:05 PM   #2
Chuck Clark
 
Chuck Clark's Avatar
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,134
United_States
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post

So folks should take a look at what they want, ask themselves if they REALLY want it or are just pretending to themselves that they do. Then, if they do really want something, they need to ask if they are doing anything about it. Have they structured their lives or their training to achieve what they have told themselves they want. I think the answer to such an investigation would yield some surprising answers for many folks. http://www.aikiweb.com//blogger.goog...t.blogspot.com

More...
George, Great! I've had this conversation with many of my students. We must all be willing to change in each instant. It's frightening for most but the fear goes away if we can muster the courage to wade into the changingness and keep the good and let go of the other. It's a constant process of life. This is one of the most important lessons that teachers must pass on to their students in experience. It is often, though, very hard to do and continue to do. We must do it anyway. Shoshin... easy to say but difficult to BE a Shoshinsha.

Best regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2009, 12:43 PM   #3
lifeafter2am
Dojo: Shindai Aikikai
Location: Orlando
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 153
United_States
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
So folks should take a look at what they want, ask themselves if they REALLY want it or are just pretending to themselves that they do. Then, if they do really want something, they need to ask if they are doing anything about it. Have they structured their lives or their training to achieve what they have told themselves they want. I think the answer to such an investigation would yield some surprising answers for many folks.http://www.aikiweb.com//blogger.goog...t.blogspot.com

More...
I really like this last paragraph, because it can apply not only to our (or anyone's really) training, but also to life itself. It is indeed a very deep paragraph that can, and should, be used for serious introspection for all parts of one's life.

Arigatou Gozaimashita

"The mind is everything. What you think you become." - Siddhattha Gotama Buddha
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2009, 01:23 PM   #4
Karo
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 62
United_States
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

Thank you, Ledyard Sensei; this is an important insight in the learning process. To play the devil's advocate, I wonder, though, whether we can assume that change is always good, at any time, for anybody.

Quote:
an established teacher decides to work on something new, investigate osme different aspects of the art and their students leave. Everyone was tooling along quite happily when they knew what was expected and where they were headed and then suddenly, their teacher has shifted his focus.
Did the students know why the focus was changed? Did the teacher change the direction because he wanted to learn something new, or because he wanted his students to learn something new, or both? Were the students ready to shift the focus to other aspects? All of them? Did they learn all (or enough) of the "old" things to have at least a good chance of understanding the "new" things?

Everyone's an individual. Everyone learns differently, at different speeds, in different order. So while a completely individual one-on-one instruction is not possible almost in any art, neither can we expect all students to follow in synch with the teacher.

Another thing: immense trust is implied in the relationship teacher-student. How can the student really know that the teacher has his (student's) best interest at heart? (And whose best interest are we even talking about, if there are multiple students, each an individual?) Ultimately, each of us is responsible for our own learning; each of us has to choose whether to follow or not what is offered by the teacher. But you've already said it, Ledyard Sensei:

Quote:
If people make a conscious choice to do what they have always been doing, then great. But if this resistance to change is unconscious, then it needs to be examined.
My point is that maybe some of that resistance to change - even if it's unconscious - is justified. Maybe not all students are ready for a particular change when the teacher wants to introduce it, and they are aware of it, although only on a sub-conscious level.

Karo
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2009, 01:36 PM   #5
Kevin Karr
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 41
United_States
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

You have made some really good observations here, George. I completely agree because I have seen some of these things happen to others or have experienced them personally.
I don't believe most people are prepared to make the necessary life-sacrifices in order to achieve what they THINK they really want to achieve in regards to serious Budo training. I believe most people subconsciously liken their Aikido practice to a weekly Spinning or Pilates class. To even attempt to "master" an art such as Aikido is a big commitment. I have personally come to realize that, as my training proceeds, to actually become "better" my commitment to the training has to deepen exponentially. This is difficult. I don't think many people realize what this entails. It reminds me of a great anecdote I read somewhere. I can't remember the author but it goes something like this:

Student asks his teacher:
"Sensei, what do I do if my wife doesn't like me training all the time?"

Sensei replies:
"Get a new wife."

And that sums it all up very succinctly, I think. People, generally speaking, do not even comprehend the idea behind "get a new wife" because this means making a lot of difficult decisions often, and all because of Aikido; especially because you can say the same thing about Aikido practice as has been said about Zen practice: It is completely useless. It isn't good for anything. So, how does one rationalize spending so much of their life on an esoteric study that, to onlookers, appears absolutely Byzantine? I believe it manifests itself in the very thing that you mentioned: people do not want to make the tough changes to actually get better, they will continue to do the same thing with the idea that, as long as they meet their required "training hours," they can test for the next belt rank and not actually take the time it requires to deepen their understanding of Aikido and Japanese Budo, on the whole. It isn't just about training (though one must do this all the time), there is reading and discussing and seeing and contemplating about things, too; if you really want to see the big picture, I think, anyway. Not an easy task. It is much easier in the beginning to make headway but as one nears Shodan and above, Aikido just keeps growing and growing and growing...
As to your friend who lost his sight, I am impressed that he is strong enough to continue training despite his set back. Honestly, I must admit I do not think I would be that strong. I would probably move on to something else. I will honestly say that I train in Aikido to get "better" although I don't think there is enough time left for me to "master" the art, but if I lost my sight or a limb or something like that, I would not go on. Sad but true.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2009, 05:54 PM   #6
Janet Rosen
  AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
 
Janet Rosen's Avatar
Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 3,942
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

George, while I agree with most of what you say - certainly with the core ideas of your most cogent essay - I would like to offer an alternate explanation for the student who had successfully "done" something but was still confused.
What we know about how things are learned, especially physical stuff, indicates that there is an integration period. One's body may have learned a new pattern but the pathways haven't been laid down yet and this will come over the next day or days although to really cement it it helps if the person ponders it, visualizes it, redoes it etc. The confusion "in the front of the brain", that's the cognitive lagging behind the muscles.
my one penny of thought late on Friday....

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2009, 06:48 PM   #7
Chuck Clark
 
Chuck Clark's Avatar
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,134
United_States
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

There's also a certain type of student that doesn't really want to "be good" or be responsible for their own training by being the best they can be each instant. Often they won't hold them self responsible and will instead, always try to be better than they can be in this instant. Failing to be as good as they want to be lets them off the hook for just trying to do their best all the time while depending on the teacher or instructor to tell them what they're doing wrong and keep encouraging them to "hang on and keep trying." We should hold ourselves responsible for carving those pathways deeper and deeper into the core of our being. But then I'm "Picky" as many have told me. Our goal should be to become our own teacher at some point while always looking for more information.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-05-2009, 10:18 PM   #8
raul rodrigo
Location: Quezon City
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 777
Philippines
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

I have a sempai who was quite skilled back in the day and who then stopped training for several years. He came back recently. In the interim, the dojo's skill level (at least with the top five or six yudansha) had undergone a major upgrade, what with most of the seniors traveling to Japan to train and so on. So now even his one time kohai had gotten better than the sempai. In training these days, sempai insists on doing his movement the way he did it nine or ten years ago. It's not working and we've done our best to explain to him why. In spite of many attempts to explain to him what's missing, he moves as if all he needs is better conditioning but he thinks his old movement is still enough to make the grade.

Does he really want to get better? I don't think so. I think he misses the feeling of competence and skill and wants them back, but is unwilling to make the changes to his movement that would make that feeling an authentic one.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2009, 04:11 AM   #9
Abasan
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 813
Malaysia
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

This is interesting stuff. A perpetual yardstick in my mind.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2009, 06:26 AM   #10
Mary Eastland
 
Mary Eastland's Avatar
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,202
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

Thanks George......interesting stuff.
When Ron changed our weapons practice I experienced exactly what you described...I felt angry and vitimized.
Since I am married to him besides being his senior student...I felt the need to stay training with him more than other senior students might have...a few did leave.
Those of who stayed have enjoyed a wonderful journey.

On another note after I gained about 20 pounds my knees were killing me...I had to decide if food was more important than Aikido. It wasn't....great motivation to lose weight and keep training for the rest of my life. Change is neither good not bad....it is constant.

best,
Mary
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2009, 11:31 AM   #11
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,218
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

Onegaishimasu. Sometimes unwanted change comes to us. I have always hated the word: "better," it would always bring the question:"Better than what?"

In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2009, 04:06 PM   #12
George S. Ledyard
 
George S. Ledyard's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 2,639
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
On another note after I gained about 20 pounds my knees were killing me...I had to decide if food was more important than Aikido. It wasn't....great motivation to lose weight and keep training for the rest of my life. Change is neither good not bad....it is constant.

best,
Mary
Hi Mary,
I haven't gotten to that point yet... talk about resisting change... Oh well, we all have issues that are at the core of what we need to be working on. I suspect that this is mine but I haven't gotten my mind right.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
  Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2009, 05:35 PM   #13
gdandscompserv
 
gdandscompserv's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,214
United_States
Offline
Re: Are People Really Training to Get Better?

I find myself in Okinawa training with some rather advanced Aikidoka and am loving it. I love learning. Not sure if I'm getting better, but I think I'm trying. I am a slow learner, and this impedes my progress, but somehow that doesn't bother me. I have chosen a path of continuous self development and I can say with certainty that I am a better person today than I was twenty, or ten years ago. Some of that I believe came from my training in aikido, some of that came from being a husband and father who after making many mistakes is still learning from those mistakes, and lots of it came from me trying to better myself spiritually. I learn things from my family, my friends and from those around me. Yes, I really am training to get better. I'm just slow.
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

Aikido DVDs and Video Downloads - by George Ledyard Sensei & other great teachers from AikidoDVDS.Com



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Aikido and Diabetes holmesking General 26 02-28-2013 05:45 PM
I'm Leaving Aikido Daniel Ranger-Holt General 122 10-07-2010 08:01 PM
Am i missing something?? aikigirl10 General 119 04-20-2006 12:07 PM
When Can an Instructor Stop Training? Magma General 42 10-20-2004 01:51 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:59 AM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2014 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2014 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate