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Old 06-18-2000, 12:23 AM   #1
Erik
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Thought I'd ask in light of Norman's question.
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Old 06-18-2000, 04:15 PM   #2
akiy
 
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Erik asked, "What makes a good teacher?"

I think it's difficult to give a blanket answer that will please everyone, so I'll give a few qualities of teachers whom I admire.

I think the foremost in my mind is their willingness to make mistakes and accept them for such. I've trained with people who try to cover up mistakes and did not acknowledge them as such. I would rather have teachers who are open to being imperfect.

Another quality which I like is for a teacher to let their students be themselves. I don't want to be forced to become a clone of any of my teachers or of anyone else.

The people whom I consider to be my teachers have gotten to know me well enough to be able to push me both physically and mentally without "breaking" me.

Honesty counts, too. Encouragement is, of course, welcome, but I would rather not have everything sugar-coated.

Anyone else?

-- Jun

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Old 06-19-2000, 08:52 AM   #3
evelyncarino
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Thumbs down teachers

hi ya'll

yes, a good teacher?
dear jun,

for us personality counts. must be presentable. i mean for a physical subject
teacher, she./he must look physically o.k. you know looks she/he can still jog,
(not huffing and puffing) with physical strength, not miss/mr. universe.
at least looks fit and able.

can make us understand what she/he wants to say. can demonstrate the
techniques. patient. many years experience teaching aikido.

knows aikido's history, philosophy, techniques, etc.

must have had a good teacher her/himself.

guess, for us that's it.

thanks,

evelyn



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Old 06-19-2000, 09:22 AM   #4
Chuck Clark
 
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I think there are some fair teachers out there who, due to health conditions of one kind or another, don't fit your description.

You'll miss out on lots of good stuff if you check them off your list of people to give some attention to.


[Edited by Chuck Clark on June 19, 2000 at 05:29pm]

Chuck Clark
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Old 06-20-2000, 11:58 AM   #5
evelyncarino
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sensei,

didn't mean anything to put down anyone.

just a proposed ideal in reply to a query.

i know there are a lot of good teachers out there. somehow they
balance out into effective teachers.

my pal's, uncle who was teaching judo in high school, was
many kilos overweight, couldn't run around the block.

so, if i were really serious in putting such guys down, my pal would knock me!

no, nothing personal. i'm sure there ar a lot of good teachers
who have other sterling qualities.

sorry, it was just a thought.

evelyn
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Old 06-20-2000, 12:31 PM   #6
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Smile

No problems, Evelyn.

One of the things I've found out as I've gotten older...
I may not be able to run around the block as many times as I used to, but I surely know WHEN to run around the block now.

Regards,


Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 06-20-2000, 01:02 PM   #7
Erik
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Evelyn, the best kind of feedback is the kind you don't want to hear. I've griped about the same thing in the past. Unless there are extenuating physical circumstances a sensei should take care of themselves. Your point is very valid. If you choose to work in a donut shop being heavy is fine but if you choose to teach Aikido some physical discipline is in order.

Secondly, don't be afraid to offend someone. One of the worst things that happens in a hierarchical system is that the new voices (don't know if you are new) are never heard or given much less weight. Yet, they are the single most important resource that the Aikido community can learn from.
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Old 06-20-2000, 01:14 PM   #8
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Wink

Erik,

I find your response curious and possibly a bit prejudiced against donutshop personnel. Why should it be okay for a person who works in any field other than aikido teaching to lack discipline which enhances the quality of their life?

Shouldn't we all do our best to keep healthy? Some do, some don't make the best job of it. We can learn from everyone if we open our eyes and bring as few preconceptions to the experience as possible.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 06-20-2000, 01:29 PM   #9
Erik
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You are right.

I humbly apologize to all who work in a donut shop.

Come to think of it, every donut shop employee I've known has been thin.

It's the customers who have not been so elegantly configured.

[Edited by Erik on June 20, 2000 at 12:32pm]
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Old 06-20-2000, 02:34 PM   #10
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Smile

Erik,

Your attitude about those who are "not thin" and their lack of elegance is noted.

I hope you always fit the pants you're wearing just now. There's few things worse than wanting to be different than you are just now.

Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 06-20-2000, 02:43 PM   #11
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Not to get off topic with discriminations, but more my own point of view;

First,
Not all Aikidoka are of the warrior class, and not all warriors are Aikidoka.

But I bring up the point of class.
Warriors, (whatever the imagery just flashed across your mind) are the elite.

My preconceptions were wrong about some people. I expected every martial artist to be of the warrior class, that just is not so.
Let me give an example here;
Kokoro is an essential part of warriorship, yet there are many many non warriors who know the true meaning of Kokoro. There are people of every class, and ilk that overcome great adversity, and triumph over increadable hardships. these people that wouldn't know a backfist from a reverse punch, or Irimi from Tenkan could teach a lasting lesson in warriorship.

I have come to realise that all people, reguardless of class warrior, merchant, artist, farmer can teach each other great things about themselves.
A "bad" teacher can even teach you how not to be, to your bennifit.

Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions.

Norman Harvey
New England Aikikai

"We see the world as WE are, not as IT is, because it is the I behind the EYE that does the seeing"
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Old 06-20-2000, 04:18 PM   #12
Erik
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There's few things worse than wanting to be different than you are just now.

I couldn't agree more with this and I would go so far as to have it read:

there's few things worse than wanting to be what someone else wants you to be.

I'll italicize my humor in the future (the above isn't) as it seems not everyone gets my dry sarcastic wit or maybe you do. You'd think but it just doesn't always happen that way.

My specific point in the conditioning realm is one of perception. Both Evelyn and Norman pointed it out very clearly, albeit, unintentionally (why we should listen to beginners). People expect to see a martial artist be in good shape. Right or wrong, it's what they expect. Once, you do it a bit, you may decide that grabbing someone's wrist and throwing them doesn't even mean a whole lot as I've pretty much done.

But walking in the door for the first time, that first perception can be a killer. I know for a fact that when I started had the head instructor been really overweight as he later became I would not have signed up. Good or bad, it's what would have happened.

I think both of us are making valid points. Yours is one of acceptance mine is one of promotion.
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Old 06-22-2000, 02:15 PM   #13
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As far as appearance goes, I know some very experienced aikidoists who fall on the rail thin side of the spectrum as well as short and portly. From my experience with them on the mat, I can guarantee you that their appearances bely their abilities! I would be careful about falling into the trap of what an ideal physical appearance should be for a martial artist. In fact, I know a particular sempai who told me that the reason he started aikido was after watching a "short fat guy toss people around on the mat like ragdolls at a demo."

Second, I also think you have to be very careful on how you define "warrior." As far as I know, that definition can change across almost every culture on the planet. And I don't quite follow your definition of "classes." I disagree that there even exists a warrior class in our society today, at least in terms of modern sociological theory.


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Old 06-24-2000, 10:24 AM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: teachers

Quote:
Originally posted by evelyncarino
hi ya'll

yes, a good teacher?
dear jun,

for us personality counts. must be presentable. i mean for a physical subject
teacher, she./he must look physically o.k. you know looks she/he can still jog,
(not huffing and puffing) with physical strength, not miss/mr. universe.
at least looks fit and able.

can make us understand what she/he wants to say. can demonstrate the
techniques. patient. many years experience teaching aikido.

knows aikido's history, philosophy, techniques, etc.

must have had a good teacher her/himself.

guess, for us that's it.

thanks,

evelyn



I find it interesting that looking good seems to figure so highly in your evaluation.Most people would of course. As a horizontally challenged person I would like to point out that looks can be deceiving. I am 48 and a fair bit over the weight I'd like to be at. I teach college kids Police Defensive tactics and find that I can routinely work most of those kids into the earth.There aren't too many young Aikidoka that can go hard with me either. If we were going to war tomorrow I'd be in trouble but if I needed my art for self defense, fitness wouldn't come into it because it would be over too quickly. I don't think my students find my instruction less valuable due to my physique, although I could be wrong. I would say that the Aikido being done is a bit more important than the physique.

[Edited by George S. Ledyard on June 29, 2000 at 05:12am]

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 06-24-2000, 03:40 PM   #15
Chuck Clark
 
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Cool

George,

Ditto. Except some would say that I'm horizontally AND vertically challenged!

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 06-29-2000, 06:41 AM   #16
George S. Ledyard
 
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Kuroiwa Sensei

I once had a wonderful converstaion with Kuroiwa sensei when I visited Tokyo about ten years ago. One of the things he said was that if you are a good teacher, something it took you twenty years to learn will take your students ten. Then they have ten years to be better than you are.

There used to be the old Japanese idea that you had to essentially steal a technique. Your teacher would do little if any explanation. You had to figure it out for yourself. That has some validity but at the same time it essentially means that each generation of students must re-invent the wheel for themselves.

I have friends that train with teachers that seem to prefer not to give away too much. In fact they have a hard time getting the teacher to show them much of anything. I had one fellow who trains with a senior Japanese Shihan come to a seminar on teaching Aikido to the police because he wanted to do applied technique. He said that he had asked repeatedly for his teacher to show him and was refused. He said that only on a couple occasions over the years at demos had he seen his teacher do anything in this vein. Now I can understand that a teacher might not wish to teach that type of stuff to the public (O-sensei certainly didn't, hence a certain amount of misunderstanding about what his Aikido was)but this fellow is the senior student of this teacher. He is highly ranked and has been training and teaching for going on twenty five to thirty years. He told me that he is quite frustrated because his teacher is getting old and if he doesn't pass on what he knows in this area it will go with him when he passes away.

I have been fortunate in my training to have had teachers that have done everything they could to pass on their knowledge. Saotome Sensei has thrown out the whole spectrum for us to see. He has held back very little and has worked very hard to get us to understand what he is teaching. My other teachers, Hiroshi Ikeda sensei, Mary Heiny Sensei, Tom Read Sensei, William Gleason Sensei are all masters of the explanation, literally giving away what they had to work really hard to get themselves. Some would say that the students are getting their training too cheaply but I think that doesn't matter at all. No amount of explanation will make any difference to the student who doesn't put his all in to the training. But with teachers who are willing to share their knowledge in this open way and really teach, we may be able to have what Kuroiwa Sensei hoped for and that is a generation of students that can be better than their teachers because they don't have to spend the time rediscovering what the previous generation had to.

George S. Ledyard
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Aikido Eastside
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Old 06-29-2000, 08:30 AM   #17
Nick
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BC-

He was talking more, it would seem, about the four classes in Japan, which became especially clear during the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Four classes (in order of the most powerful and respected) were Samurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants. Farmers were not necessarily well thought of, but they provided the rice crop. The merchants, or eta, were looked down upon and lived in their own dirty villages, because it was believed it was wrong to make a living off someone else's work.

Anyways, back on topic-

before becoming an Aikidoka, I did Shito-Ryu karate. My instructor was in his 50's, and while he was in good shape, you wouldn't be able to tell he was an instructor if he wore street clothes. But watching his kata, and especially doing bunkai, you could tell you didn't wanna mess with him.

In the eyes of the warrior, everyone is as dangerous as their inner spirit, not their outer appearance.

Kanpai,

-Nick

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"Do not fall into the trap of the artisan who boasts twenty years of experience, when in fact he has had only one year of experience-- twenty times."
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Old 06-29-2000, 10:12 AM   #18
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Yeah, I know Norman was referring to the old Japanese class/caste system. I just disagreed about putting it into the context of today's society.
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Old 06-29-2000, 07:43 PM   #19
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I have been blessed to train with a small trainload of incredible teachers.

Each, in his own way, has made me get better, some by making me think about technique; some by making me think about energy, some by inspiring me to train harder, some by making me feel like a sissy for not training hard enough.

My favorite line from a teacher, I think, was an 8th Dan from Tokyo who said "A teacher must be very severe". When he was asked, he explained that he meant that a teacher has to be very severe on himself, to force himself to keep pushing his own envelope and improving. He said that a teacher has to find a way to make training pleasurable for his students in order to keep Aikido alive, so that more teachers will emerge from the pool who are willing to be "very severe" on themselves.

From the time I heard that, I made up my mind that I had no desire to teach until I was willing to make the commitment to myself to "be severe" on myself. Priorities make that not possible now, but I hope, someday.

I truly believe this kind of thoughtfulness is the "guts" of Aikido. This is, obviously only my opinion.
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Old 06-29-2000, 10:04 PM   #20
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My personal opinion is there are at least 4 elements in a good teacher.

1. Respect For Self

2. Respect for Students

3. Passion for what is being taught

4. Skill at the Art.

Without respect, nothing is taught. Without passion, nothing seems very important. Without Skill, there is no value.


Uma
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Old 06-30-2000, 01:58 AM   #21
dave
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agree with chuck

Quote:
Chuck Clark wrote:
I think there are some fair teachers out there who, due to health conditions of one kind or another, don't fit your description.

You'll miss out on lots of good stuff if you check them off your list of people to give some attention to.


[Edited by Chuck Clark on June 19, 2000 at 05:29pm]

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Old 06-30-2000, 06:10 AM   #22
Pete
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Wink

So, if Erik or Evelyn had gone to perhaps the Virginia Ki Society dojo, and seen Simcox Sensei teaching, would they have 'left' immediatley without giving a chance to see said Sensei in action during a class or demo?

If they had I guess it would have been their loss!!

Regards

Pete
(300+lbs and happy!!)

Pete

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Old 06-30-2000, 06:15 AM   #23
Pete
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So, had Erik or Evelyn gone to a Virginia Ki Society dojo where Simcox Sensei (no offence Sensei!!!) was teaching would they have left without giving said Sensei an opportunity to demonstrate his teaching ability in the class, or during a demo?



Pete
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Old 06-30-2000, 07:37 AM   #24
Pete
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Unhappy

Doh!!! Didn't realise there was 2 pages and posted the same reply twice!!!


Pete
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Old 06-30-2000, 11:24 AM   #25
Erik
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For the record, George is on my list of teachers to see one day. We just seem to be on opposite ends of a not so small country.
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