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Old 09-24-2012, 04:41 PM   #26
Russ Q
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Re: ethical?

Quote:
Secondly, when it comes to matters Aiki and Aikido related, I acknowledge no competition amongst individuals, styles and theories. Therefore, I acknowledge no competition between a master teacher and his or her students over time. The path of personal shugyo is singular and unique to each individual, leaving no basis for real comparison or authenticated contrast of the timelines, goals defined, or even goals attained for each person.
Well, that's a perfect summation of your point. Clear and, IMO, unarguable.

Thanks,

Russ
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:07 PM   #27
aikilouis
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Re: ethical?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
First, allow me to apologize for the terse nature of my statement. No doubt, the subject matter of the proper and successful transmission of knowledge, techniques, materials, instruction and wisdom from teacher to student has many facets, and many schools of thought and theory. If my statement came off as being a bit "elitist", it was intentional. I cannot fathom O Sensei, Kano Sensei, Takeda Sensei, Newton, Aristotle, Einstein etc. etc. etc. of ever accepting being surpassed by any of their talented students.

Secondly, when it comes to matters Aiki and Aikido related, I acknowledge no competition amongst individuals, styles and theories. Therefore, I acknowledge no competition between a master teacher and his or her students over time. The path of personal shugyo is singular and unique to each individual, leaving no basis for real comparison or authenticated contrast of the timelines, goals defined, or even goals attained for each person.

The notion long endured of "it is the teacher's goal to have the student surpass him or her over a lifetime" is absurd and offensive to all parties, if they would but think of what this really is trying to convey. It is assuming that there is a quantifiable method of determining correctly what that teacher's private goals actually were, or if it were even feasible to compare them with the those of the master's acknowledged students. If so, in what time frame? Using what parameters or guidelines? No such formula exists, nor can it ever exist, as each individual's path is singular, original, and time sensitive.
Why on earth would any genuine student want to tread on the master's path, only to claim to surpass it where the teacher left off? How much time would remain for that student to then create an original path of his own, learning from his own triumphs and miscues, and have a legacy to pass on to his own spate of students?

I do believe that the above stated notion is noble and romantic, but quite impossible to truly envision, let alone institute and achieve. If such an arbitrary standard were successfully raised, acknowledged and supported by all involved, then perhaps such a phenomenon of overtaking can actually take place. Otherwise, why waste any more mindless rhetoric on this matter?

For those who specialize in being hopelessly mired in circular arguments, good bye. And yes, it was I who made up that statement.

For those who still believe in the intrinsic ability of each person to strive for unique achievement, like the Founder of Aikido, like the great minds of science and philosophy over the centuries, and from countless other fields of human endeavor, be at ease, for yours is still the right to create and to lead as your talent, energy and drive supports your dreams. Your rigorous example is exactly what your future students really want from you, and to draw from on their own journies. Knowing that you never quit growing, restructuring and humbly acknowledging your humanity, and your genius, is what all students want and need from their mentors. Do not ever stop.

In summation, it is useless to have two or more individuals travel the exact same path. Since it is not possible, there can then be no way to overtake the one before. Have the courage, foresight and the perseverance to create your own path, and allow your teacher(s) to continue on their own pursuits, without thought of competition or fear of becoming someone else's milestone.
Sorry for intruding again, but a few things keep me thinking.

If there is no possible comparison between individuals, what is the nature of the teacher-student relationship ? Are they equals in practise ?

Why would it be so offensive to try to evaluate progression and quality ? And why couldn't a student manifest even better dispositions for excellence than his teacher ? If I was such a teacher, it would be a source of pride to have awakened a talent beyond my own.

According to what criteria would then be Einstein, O Sensei etc. be considered unsurpassable ? I guess they all started as beginners, their supposed superiority was not an intrinsic part of their nature from the get-go.

I agree that every path is one's own, but value is the result of a shared experience, excellence recognised between teacher and student, martial superiority between enemies, etc. Progression, no matter how personal and original, is always in relation to a context.

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Old 09-24-2012, 07:19 PM   #28
aikishihan
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Re: ethical?

Sincere thanks to all who have made sincere comments and shared interesting viewpoints.

I would like to respond to certain questions posed by Mr. Neveu, as they appear to be general enough to apply to the question of ethical behavior as introduced by the OP.

I believe that the nature of the student-teacher relationship is personal, and only the business of the individuals involved. To infer otherwise would indeed be unethical. Furthermore, this notion has apparently taken on mythical proportions, being given credit where absolutely little or no credit is due.

Is it reasonable and fair to align one student with one mentor for life? What of the other myriad stimuli, teachers, significant relationships, books read, adventures endured etc. that surely have much more than a passing influence on anyone’s growth of character, knowledge and wisdom? Even the Founder of Aikido had multiple key mentors he learned from, not counting those he privately cultivated over 86 years, and to which we are not privy. Again, this notion fails the smell test dismally.

There have never been, to my experience, true equality in peer relationships, that lasted much more than an incident or two. As we learn from our encounters, so do we automatically adjust with new energy, alternative choices and renewed stamina.

What indeed is to be gained by focusing on an ongoing comparison of the merits and demerits of two individuals and their alleged progress over an extended period of time Who can comfortably or profitably function in such an arbitrary vacuum? Why bother?

I would never declare known giants such as Einstein, Newton, Salk, and Morihei Ueshiba to be “unsurpassed” in anything. There is no criteria I can imagine to adequately do so, or any compelling logic to even try. We know next to nothing of the context of their daily lives, have no clue as to their innermost thoughts and items of faith, or their decisions to benefit from their private experiences. Who is so prescient?

Superiority is an word applied by others, rarely by the individual in question. It is a term of relativity, quite like a professional appraisal on a piece of property, which is only good for that one day. It has a very short half life indeed.

So too, words like “excellence”, “progression” and “shared experience” mean less than nothing without context, and again, unethical to use without it.

Let us rededicate ourselves to training our own selves in the Aikido method of choice.
There would be no profit for me in trying to manage or interpret the value of another person’s private journey. I would feel like some kind of slimy voyeur or inappropriate “busy body”, who no one really cares to associate with. I am busy as it is.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:21 AM   #29
Chris Li
 
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Re: ethical?

Happened to run across this old quote of Morihei Ueshiba via Shoji Nishio from Aiki News #60:

Quote:
This old man reached this stage, you should surpass me building on what I have left.
Best,

Chris

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:48 AM   #30
aikishihan
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Re: ethical?

Who has, and who can?

Different paths result in different results. Simple physics, simple math.

O Sensei was simply being a cheerleader, yet who really gets the message?

Stop dreaming someone else's dream. Be a true warrior, and fight your own fight.

O Sensei also said, "after me, there will be no more aikido."

Believe as you will. Being a failure is not his fault, it is yours.
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:25 AM   #31
aiki-jujutsuka
 
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Re: ethical?

sorry am I missing the point here or is this an issue of how is someone qualified to bestow a rank/grade, which they themselves have not obtained? If this instructor is a Shodan in Aikido and has promoted a student to Nidan in Aikido how is this possible? I don't understand how that would work? No matter how much experience this person has (he may well be at a Nidan level himself in experience), if he has not graded and gone through this process himself and passed having demonstrated he has clearly achieved the rank, how can he be qualified to judge and therefore grade accurately and correctly?
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:40 AM   #32
Walter Martindale
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Re: ethical?

I don't teach aikido. I do, however, coach a sport that is competed at the world and Olympic level. One athlete I introduced to the sport and coached for the first 15 months of her career passed my athletic achievements 23 months after she started rowing by winning the Pan American Games. 4 years later it was two world championship gold medals, the next year it was two Olympic gold medals. Later she retired with (let me see... 3 Olympic gold and one bronze. 3 world gold, two silver. In recent discussions with others who remember, I learn that they think she had the best "form" of any female in the sport. At best I was at "club" level in the sport. I've helped a number of others learn enough of the sport to make the leap to elite level competition, despite my never having coached at that level myself.
Others I have coached either as athletes or coaches have raced or are coaching at elite or near-elite levels. I guess I can consider that a success, even though my "students" passed me by.

Is it ethical for a shodan to recommend another shodan to higher ranking? I think so - if the former can tell that his/her student has passed him/her by and is going on to bigger and better things. Is it ethical for the person to hold the student back? Not on your life.

Forgive me for not having eloquent phrasing
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Old 09-27-2012, 10:15 AM   #33
Chris Li
 
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Re: ethical?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Who has, and who can?

Different paths result in different results. Simple physics, simple math.

O Sensei was simply being a cheerleader, yet who really gets the message?

Stop dreaming someone else's dream. Be a true warrior, and fight your own fight.

O Sensei also said, "after me, there will be no more aikido."

Believe as you will. Being a failure is not his fault, it is yours.
I wasn't dreaming anybody's dream in particular, I just thought that it was an interesting and relevant quote.

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
The notion long endured of "it is the teacher's goal to have the student surpass him or her over a lifetime" is absurd and offensive to all parties, if they would but think of what this really is trying to convey.
I do notice, however, that you seem to be a little more forgiving of the statement when it comes from Morihei Ueshiba.

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-27-2012, 10:20 AM   #34
Chris Li
 
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Re: ethical?

Quote:
Ewen Ebsworth wrote: View Post
sorry am I missing the point here or is this an issue of how is someone qualified to bestow a rank/grade, which they themselves have not obtained? If this instructor is a Shodan in Aikido and has promoted a student to Nidan in Aikido how is this possible? I don't understand how that would work? No matter how much experience this person has (he may well be at a Nidan level himself in experience), if he has not graded and gone through this process himself and passed having demonstrated he has clearly achieved the rank, how can he be qualified to judge and therefore grade accurately and correctly?
In the Aikikai, at least, I would say that the mechanism is that the instructors don't really promote people.

No instructor in the Aikikai has the authority to promote their students - not Yamada, not Saotome, not Chiba, not Hiroshi Tada.

Every instructor in the Aikikai recommends for promotion - the actual promotion itself comes from Doshu and Doshu alone.

Of course, Doshu has no idea who most of these people are...

Best,

Chris

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Old 09-27-2012, 11:15 AM   #35
aikishihan
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Re: ethical?

Good points, Chris, and thank you again for the Tada Sensei interviews.

Actually, it is my view that, IF the Founder made those two statements of a) exhorting his students to surpass him, and b) predicting that his aikido would die with him, he may have been a bit disingenuous. I doubt not that he always strove to be both honest and sincere, but, as amply documented, he advised against being totally forthcoming in his inner most thoughts and secrets.

I have found all manner of teachers who employ a plethora of teaching "tricks" and well intentioned subterfuges to get their students over a hump of understanding or complacency. We would be well adv ised to take these quotes attributed to the Founder with more than a few grains of salt. I have yet to see conclusive evidence that he was indeed accurately quoted, or consistently so, and not arbitrarily credited with the translator's bias or hidden agenda.
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Old 09-28-2012, 06:25 AM   #36
Walter Martindale
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Re: ethical?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Good points, Chris, and thank you again for the Tada Sensei interviews.

Actually, it is my view that, IF the Founder made those two statements of a) exhorting his students to surpass him, and b) predicting that his aikido would die with him, he may have been a bit disingenuous. I doubt not that he always strove to be both honest and sincere, but, as amply documented, he advised against being totally forthcoming in his inner most thoughts and secrets.

I have found all manner of teachers who employ a plethora of teaching "tricks" and well intentioned subterfuges to get their students over a hump of understanding or complacency. We would be well adv ised to take these quotes attributed to the Founder with more than a few grains of salt. I have yet to see conclusive evidence that he was indeed accurately quoted, or consistently so, and not arbitrarily credited with the translator's bias or hidden agenda.
Perhaps this point has been made elsewhere but.... re: "b" - predicting that his aikido would die with him. Perhaps I'm simplistic, but only Ueshiba had his nervous system and life history. "Aikido" as he developed it and passed it on to others would (does) live on, but "his" aikido ended when he ended. Since "Spock" was a fictional futuristic alien, we had (and have) no way of extracting "Ueshiba O-Sensei's Aikido" and re-mind-melding it into another person... It's gone, but Aikido lives on.
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:26 PM   #37
corbett
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Re: ethical?

Thank you for your feedback. I encourage you to embrace a code of discipline and love based on respect for each other's strengths and weaknesses, the hard work and discipline of our ancestors and the notion that promoting anyone to a rank higher than that which you hold is unacceptable. Honor is everybody's business. The kami expects us to make it our business. Entering the chaos of what seems wrong, dancing with the confusion and feeling alive and well in the spirit of aiki will always be my business. Thank you for allowing me this short visit to your dojo.
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:13 PM   #38
hughrbeyer
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Re: ethical?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Actually, it is my view that, IF the Founder made those two statements of a) exhorting his students to surpass him, and b) predicting that his aikido would die with him, he may have been a bit disingenuous. I doubt not that he always strove to be both honest and sincere, but, as amply documented, he advised against being totally forthcoming in his inner most thoughts and secrets.
I suppose it's inevitable that we create our heroes in our own image. We interpret their words in ways that make sense to us; we ignore or downplay the words that go against our preconceptions.

It's not even wrong, as long as we are honest with ourselves (and others) that this is "our" hero, a construct of our imagination, that perhaps draws inspiration from the historical original but is not that person.

The drawback is that such an attitude is prone to limit what we can learn from our Founder (tho I quote Mr. Takahashi above, my comment applies to us all--myself not least). There's a book called "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time"--how does one take a historical figure and re-encounter, re-engage with them after a lifetime of getting used to what they mean?

To my mind, this is one of the great values of the work Chris Li and others are doing. Not that this is the only way to read O-Sensei, but that this is one way to read O-Sensei that has great internal consistency and validity, and which casts light on his art and on what he was attempting to teach.

I don't think we get to ignore his other pronouncements ("Aiki is love")-we need to understand how he reconciled those attitudes with statements about how aiki gives you mastery over opponents--understanding that "reconciliation" has to recognize a lifetime's maturation and also that people aren't entirely consistent anyway. And understanding also that while he may have reconciled these things in his own mind, we may not choose to reconcile them in the same way.

But if you have a great teacher, I think it's always a mistake to give up on the attempt to understand them. People are only human, and sometimes the understanding may include "well, he had a bad day" (I think Jesus was having a bad day when he met the Syrophoenician woman, but that's a topic for another blog), but that doesn't let us off the hook--why did "having a bad day" show up that way, at that time?

So--love and budo. Spiritual reconcilation and immediate mastery of a contentious situation. I reconcile heaven and earth and at the moment my enemy strikes, I am already behind him. If we accept the paradox, not attempting to explain it away, where does that leave us?

(I have been expanding my research into beers and ales, and have lately gotten on to small batch specialty brews. This post brought to you by Green Flash Brewing Company's Trippel Ale, after a full day spent working on kumitachi and tachi dori. Both are recommended, tho perhaps not for clean syntax and clarity of expression.)

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-05-2012, 01:22 PM   #39
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Re: ethical?

Maybe it's me or maybe somebody threw a blinding supernational technique at my last post but whatever hapened it disappeared. How'd that happen?
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