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Old 03-17-2010, 12:53 AM   #1
Amassus
 
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Being your own teacher

I was having a discussion with a fellow yudansha after training last night. He seemed a little down and said that the more he trained the more he realised he still had to learn and maybe it was pointless.
This got me thinking about something another aikidoka said to me once.
"At some point you have to become your own teacher."

Now, I think everyone has to be their own teacher at some level through their training. What I'm meaning here is there is a point when perhaps your sensei retires or moves on, or you even outgrow your sensei's teachings and you have to seek answers elsewhere. There seems to be a moment of transition for some people where they need to realise that to truely become comfortable with your own aikido you must look within for answers instead of continually seeking the next best teacher (in other words an external source).

Now, I'm not saying that you give up on good instruction but I think there comes a time when you must ask yourself some tough questions about what it is you are doing in your training.

I started teaching at a High School just over two years ago and during that short amount of time some of the questions the teenagers asked of me I found I couldn't answer (or at least not to a level that I was satisfied with). I had to go away and think about those questions and really pull apart my own training methods and reasons. It has been good for my training and I feel more invigorated than ever. I am quite satisfied by the discoveries.

I know of some cases where people have quit aikido because they didn't make that transition of becoming their own teacher.

What do others think?

I'm just throwing it out there

Dean.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:56 AM   #2
aikishihan
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Re: Being your own teacher

It is true that at some point in your self quest, you must learn to trust unconditionally in the teacher within, above all others. This may be called your integrity of purpose.

All other teachers can never be more than your assistant instructors, however accomplished they may be.

Nonetheless, choose them well, and exchange them without hesitation whenever you realize that your needs are changing..

Even as you give yourself the best you can afford, it remains your responsibility to incorporate all such gifts into your commitment to become the best you can possibly be. The best of food, rest, source of income and education at all levels are your choices to make, not every so often, but for the rest of your life.

I have found this unconditional commitment and self realization to be true of all the great artists and human adepts I have studied, especially the Founder of Aikido.

Best wishes for an astounding journey!
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Old 03-17-2010, 07:24 AM   #3
Abasan
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Re: Being your own teacher

Early stages - the teacher teaches.

Middles stages - the teacher guides.

Later stages - you learn.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:06 AM   #4
Marc Abrams
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Re: Being your own teacher

Dean:

We are always responsible for our own training, regardless of whether we are a "teacher" or "student."

I wrote a brief blog on that subject for my students:

http://aasbk.com/blog/?page_id=61

I find that the earlier I can get students to focus on their own responsibility for being their own best teacher, the quicker that can learn from my guidance/instruction. This is simply a personal lesson that I know employ as a teaching tool.

Regards,

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:19 AM   #5
SteveTrinkle
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Re: Being your own teacher

The kakejiku that we use in our group (AKI - Aikido Kenkyukai International) was brushed for our teacher, Takeda Yoshinobu Shihan by a Buddhist monk friend of his. (I think this kakejiku usually appears on my posts to akikweb...) When he received the scroll, Takeda Sensei asked why it only contained the characters for Ai Ki. His friend told him it was because each person must discover their own Do.

I always liked this story and continue to find the idea inspiring in my practice. I'm not certain it applies exactly to the question of the original poster, but it's one way I understand it at this time in my life.

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Old 03-17-2010, 01:26 PM   #6
phitruong
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Re: Being your own teacher

i hate my own teacher. the bugger talked funny, and with a strange accent. looked kinda strange too, and sometimes smelled strange. very demanding. some days i want to sleep in, he would drag me out of bed and make to come to the dojo. never satisfy with anything i do with comments like: what are you thinking doing that move? you are too slow witted to understand that! you are not quick enough! are you talking to me.. are you talking toooo me? stop being a whiny, i'll kick your ass if my foot could reach your ass!

can one choke oneself to death with one's own hands?
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:43 PM   #7
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

Hey Phi, that's funny, that sounds exactly like my boss!

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 03-17-2010, 02:29 PM   #8
Marc Abrams
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Re: Being your own teacher

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
i hate my own teacher. the bugger talked funny, and with a strange accent. looked kinda strange too, and sometimes smelled strange. very demanding. some days i want to sleep in, he would drag me out of bed and make to come to the dojo. never satisfy with anything i do with comments like: what are you thinking doing that move? you are too slow witted to understand that! you are not quick enough! are you talking to me.. are you talking toooo me? stop being a whiny, i'll kick your ass if my foot could reach your ass!

can one choke oneself to death with one's own hands?
Phil:

A lot of us seem to have the same type of boss. The most annoying thing about my boss is that he has a chronic case of Athletes-Foot-In-The-Mouth Disease ! Incurable I hear!

Marc Abrams
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Old 03-17-2010, 04:28 PM   #9
David Partington
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Re: Being your own teacher

He who undertakes to be his own teacher has a fool for a pupil.

German Proverb
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Old 03-17-2010, 04:53 PM   #10
SeiserL
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

While I agree that ultimately were are our own teacher (and enemy) I am cautious about where in the sequence of training I make that switch. IMHO, too many people want to be the teacher and skip the student part entirely.

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 03-17-2010, 05:12 PM   #11
eyrie
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

Semantically speaking, you can't teach yourself - only others. Teaching implies imparting knowledge or skill, or to give instruction to someone (other than yourself).

Ignatius
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:17 AM   #12
Abasan
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Re: Being your own teacher

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
Semantically speaking, you can't teach yourself - only others. Teaching implies imparting knowledge or skill, or to give instruction to someone (other than yourself).
Fair statement, but...

You can gain insight on your own. Revelations or inspirations.

Einstein used imagination to produce his famous equation on relativity.
The apple (or some fruit) helped Newton and his idea of gravity.

It is not the same thing as teaching per se, but it is knowledge...
In most cases, all paths can lead to the top of the mountain. Some get there quicker. Some traverses hidden dangers. The main reason you get a guide to lead you up a mountain is to avoid those dangers and provide you with a quick and safe trip.

Body skills is slightly different to theoretical knowledge. A generalised version of this is to compare normal universities against polytechnics. Universities impart great knowledge, wisdom and articulate reading. Polytechnics gives its students practical experience and real grease time. Some pick up theoretical knowledge like a sponge and can ace an exam. The same person might know a car inside out as an engineer but might have problems replacing his spark plug.

A teacher or a manual can tell him how to do it, but in the end the person must learn on his own. So here comes the point... someone without a teacher or a manual could instinctively do this on his own too... by observation, elimination or experimentation. Mayhaps he would even be better at it because he didn't inherit his knowledge but had to learn by his own analytical skills, thereby imparting deep understanding. I know someone who is an ace programmer and taught himself how to do it.

Programming in a way is easy to learn on your own because by its nature, the laws are definite. As you understand the concept, its a matter of writing the language within those laws. Aikido is harder because it is covered by different laws. Laws of physics, anatomy, the natural universe laws and etc. Sometimes those laws are at odds with one another and it becomes a mess to understand.

I however stand by my earlier remarks. A teacher as a guide is necessary. But learning is your own responsibility.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:59 AM   #13
Walter Martindale
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Re: Being your own teacher

"becoming your own teacher" - well... at some point you conduct your own research into how things work.

The more you know, the more you realise you don't know. Instead of taking that as a reason to hang it up, your disconsolate yudansha friend can see it as a challenge to learn more.

I read of a judo practitioner from before my judo career who said "I take my worst technique and work on it until it's not my worst technique any more. Then I take my worst technique and work... (you get the picture)... Eventually the first technique makes its way back to the bottom of the pack for more training.

I seem to recall reading something about O-Sensei saying something like "I think I've figured out Ikkyo" when he was in his 60s or 70s or something like that...

Hang in there.
Walter
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:38 AM   #14
Bob Blackburn
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Re: Being your own teacher

This is a very traditional method of development. Shu Ha Ri in Japanese. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

You may always have a teacher; but, the more advanced you get the more self discovery you will do.

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Old 03-18-2010, 08:00 AM   #15
bulevardi
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Re: Being your own teacher

O'Sensei became his own teacher. Of course, after learning lots of other arts and techniques before.

You can always learn new things yourself, self-study, self-teaching, but it's always with trial and error.

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Old 03-18-2010, 12:20 PM   #16
chris crull
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Re: Being your own teacher

aikido isn't a solitary endeavor. the true teacher is the encounter. we learn (or have the potential to learn) something about ourselves or our aikido from every person we train with, regarless of that person's experience. we just have to be open to receiving the knowledge. i think that's the point of cultivating the "beginner's mind."
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Old 03-18-2010, 01:39 PM   #17
phitruong
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Re: Being your own teacher

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
Semantically speaking, you can't teach yourself - only others. Teaching implies imparting knowledge or skill, or to give instruction to someone (other than yourself).
what if you have multiple personalities? would one personality be able to teach the others?

stop that right now! *sorry, evil phi #2 made some rude gestures*

it could be done, right? might not be at the same time, but in asynchronous time?

no, i am discussing with aikiweb folks! go away! *sorry again, evil phi #999 keeps asking for things to do*

just trying to find out if there is a good chance that i can teach myself.
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:22 PM   #18
Eric Winters
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Re: Being your own teacher

Quote:
Bob Blackburn wrote: View Post
This is a very traditional method of development. Shu Ha Ri in Japanese. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

You may always have a teacher; but, the more advanced you get the more self discovery you will do.
Read this it is a informative. You could also go the Takamura Ha Shindo Yoshin Kai web site and they have a very good article on Shu Ha Ri. Basically you do everything your teacher tells you for a number of years and when you have reached a particular skill level of skill you do your own exploration. IMHO You can really only do this after having a good solid base in martial arts and body mechanics.

Best,
Eric Winters
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Old 03-18-2010, 04:40 PM   #19
trademark8806
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

This is an inrtsting blog. I think that we all must be our own teacher. We lurn form others , but we also lurn from our selfs what we lurn from others.

Best wishes ,
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:05 PM   #20
eyrie
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Fair statement, but...
You can gain insight on your own. Revelations or inspirations.
... I however stand by my earlier remarks. A teacher as a guide is necessary. But learning is your own responsibility.
Hi Ahmad, I think we're pretty much saying the same thing. But I don't necessarily agree that a teaching guide is always required. One can still achieve some level of practical proficiency thru self-paced and other learning methods, e.g. discovery, example, analysis, debate, synthesis, reflection, intuition and application.

If you're interested in the subject, there's a swathe of reading material in the field of systems thinking and knowledge management related to the subject of cognitive and applied learning - e.g. Ackoff, Kolb, Fitts and Posner etc. Certainly too much to get into in a medium designed for a largely different use.

And in answer to Phi, suffice to say, we are ultimately responsible for our own education - in the broadest sense of the word. To mangle a quote, learn all you can learn, be all you can be, share what you know.

"Teachers" are like Buddhas... you know what to do if you see them on the road...

Ignatius
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:30 AM   #21
Budd
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

Well, I'm at the kind of place where I almost "have to" be my own teacher for a bit . . recently moved to a new environment . . have a young child and another on the way . . not looking to do someone else's version of aikido - pretty set in continuing to work within the aikido shape as Ellis Amdur developed at the Itten Dojo - while also pursuing my obsession with internal strength training - while also occasionally getting around to "scrap" *cough* I mean train with other folks (really, I smile and am friendly) . .

But given that life is going to keep me from regular formal classes for a while . . and that I am not looking to change what I'm working on (especially given the progress I feel like is being made) . . I'll probably end up seeing if anyone else wants to do what I do at some point and if a small study group forms, cool, but not worrying about it too much at this point. I'm pretty selfish in chasing what I want to work on.
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:50 AM   #22
phitruong
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Re: Being your own teacher

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote: View Post
H
"Teachers" are like Buddhas... you know what to do if you see them on the road...
road-kill? this is going to mess up my car.
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:27 PM   #23
Amassus
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

Thanks for the replies.

Concerning my fellow yudansha I mentioned in the OP. I was thinking just now, why not give it up if that's the way he feels. I mean, aikido is not for everyone, all the time. He has been at it on and off for 10 years, he has given it a good nudge. Maybe other things should take priority.
(I am playing devil's advocate here).

Dean.

"flows like water, reflects like a mirror, and responds like an echo." Chaung-tse
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:54 AM   #24
aikishihan
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Re: Being your own teacher

Free advice may not be worth the price to both give and receive it. You get what you pay for, no more, no less.

I have been told that advice must be given in a miserly fashion, only when it is specifically requested, or if an emergency exists.

Wizard's Second Rule may apply. "The greatest Harm may come from the desire to do the greatest Good."

Counsel gently, listen compassionately, and encourage courageously, but refrain from usurping the person's right to choose.

Any decision made privately, may be changed without fan fare. A decision made publicly, may well invite the unwitting bondage of wounded pride, false ego and the fear of embarrassment. Being a friend, means allowing each other to be human, and to learn from acting as one. Acting in Aiki, may well form the basis for the best support possible.

In this way, we will truly become our own teacher

Last edited by aikishihan : 03-20-2010 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:04 PM   #25
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Being your own teacher

I think what you are talking about is the point at which you become A teacher. When you teach the system from your perspective, and not just parroting what your teacher said.

I've watched lot's of Aikido practitioners take over one of their teachers classes. All of them sound like a little copy of their teacher. Eventually most of them, over time, start to get their own voice, and their own answers. This is when you really start to become a teacher. When you teach Aikido (or whatever) from your personal experience and your not just spouting off what your teacher told you.

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