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Old 10-18-2004, 08:43 PM   #1
PeterR
 
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Group versus Individual

This thread grew out of the Acceptance thread in the Anonymous section.

Most of us join Aikido for perfectly valid selfish reasons - we want to learn self defense, get more fit, get out of the house, meet new friends and interesting people, have a pajama fetish, etc.

As we continue to train the reasons may or may not evolve but in the end it comes down to the stated goal of Budo which is self development.

But then comes trouble. Traditionally part of that self development requires letting go of the self. A contradiction if I ever heard of one. However, this does not mean no longer trying to be physically and technically the best you can be but it does mean getting past the idea of what I want in the context of the Aikido training at any one point in time.

The question is simply How much is a group expected to conform to my particular needs?

A group if it expects to survive must accommodate its members and make some allowance for new members - that is a given. I do believe though that individual members must strive to conform to the group not so much to become blank eyed clones but because Aikido is intrinsically a group activity. The members of the group act in concert to raise the bar for all concerned without holding individuals back.

The Shodokan Aikido training method involves a fairly rigorous warm-up, followed by drills and technique sections interspersed by drills. There is a definite rhythm to the training which can be totally disrupted by individual action. My view is that if there is a reason that you would disrupt this rhythm one should either not come or leave early. Individual training can be done during free practice.

For the same reason people considering to join a group should consider firstly if they can do (eventually) whats being done rather than can the group accommodate them.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-18-2004, 09:16 PM   #2
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
The question is simply How much is a group expected to conform to my particular needs?
Sounds a bit like jiyu waza.
Should you be conforming? Should they be conforming?
How good is your connection with the group?

(Wow, that looks really fruity when it's written down!)
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Old 10-18-2004, 09:31 PM   #3
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Group versus Individual

Hi Peter,

The Group vs Individual situation has crossed my mind on a lot of occasions during my training, especially since taking on the role of Instructor.

In dealing with a diverse group of people, one will inevitably come across those who would like to participate but may be unable to, unwilling to or the training method may just not suit them or what they are looking for in Aikido. This can be expressed in many ways, from folks who won't bow to the shomen for particular reasons, to those who may be physically or medically unfit to handle things like full resistance randori, deep personality conflicts within the dojo or even those who may not want to partake in certain tasks because deep down it may reveal a weakness in their training that their ego can't deal with at the moment, to those who are looking for something in Aikido based on concepts gained from the popular media or books, as well as many others.

When these issues threaten to disrupt the flow and rhythm of the session an instructor is faced with the option of trying his best to accomodate the individual's needs while keeping things at a level where all involved can benefit in some fashion. We often find many creative ways to do this, but there are times where one has to choose either or.

The way I see it, when one joins a dojo as a beginner one gets an idea of the stated and unstated rules and norms that constitute training at that particular dojo. As such it becomes a personal choice to conform to the training methods employed in that dojo when you sign up to seriously start doing Aikido. By extension, if the type of training or concessions an individual requires are not readily forthcoming at that dojo, then it may be best that the individual find a more accomodating place to train. Alternatively, if one does not have options due to the lack of availability of dojos, then the question comes down to how much one desires whatever they intend to obtain from Aikido training or whether the need for the particular concession outweighs the need to merely train in Aikido.

In my opinion, if one chooses to train it should be understood that although most instructors (I've found Aikido to have very accomodating folk for instructors generally) will try to make concessions where possible, he also needs to address the needs of the entire group vis a vis what his teaching curriculum prescribes for the group as a whole. Sometimes the required individual concessions can be easily made, sometimes they cannot. In these cases it's up to the individual student to decide whether this situation is palatable to them or not. How many times do we have the mudansha who get disgruntled with drilling the basics repeatedly because there are a couple of beginners in the class who are seeing it for the first time, or the student who wants to learn to do mystical things by learning "the cosmic secrets of Ki" in Aikido when the dojo's training may be more based in the physical, practical realm, or one who decides Aikido should include grappling and high kicks (or at least more flashy moves to make you look good) because they saw too many Seagal or Van Damme movies and think Aikido is like Karate or some eclectic mix of styles. There are also those who may have other issues - like the serious student who has become pregnant (as we saw in the originating thread) but is eager to continue training, or the aged, physically or medically unfit student who wants to take part in full resistance randori and other aerobically intensive training aspects, the student who may be fighting a language barrier and can't communicate, or the one who has a communicable disease that requires special conditions for safe training. In my opinion the final call comes down to the instructor and the plan he has for the session in light of his "standing orders" for training like safety, technical principles and basics to be taught, progression of training for various ranks etc.

Just a few initial thoughts. This is a great question Peter, as it can affect many aspects of how one approaches training.

Arigato Gozaimashita
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-18-2004 at 09:37 PM.

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Old 10-18-2004, 09:48 PM   #4
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Re: Group versus Individual

Thanks for the expansion Larry. It added much to what I wanted to say but didn't because my post would have been over long.

Often those that demand accommodation are the least likely to accommodate. The group, a gathering of individuals, is expected to change more easily than one.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-19-2004, 12:23 AM   #5
Charles Hill
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Re: Group versus Individual

I see this a bit differently. I am interested in a teacher/student relation with specific teachers. I don`t do various actions because everyone else is doing them, I do them because (I hope) the teacher has taken my abilities and needs (and presumably everyone else`s) into account and has come up with a particular curriculum. From the outside, it may look like we are all doing things together, but my thought process is individual in nature. As a teacher, I believe the same idea is necessary. I ask my students to all do various things because I believe they all need it, individually.

I do think that once a person has made the individual choice of joining a dojo, the first step is to become a "blank eyed clone," not of the group, but of the teacher. The next step of the training starts when the individual realizes through experience that being a clone just doesn`t cut it.

Of course, this is all ideal for me, not realistic. But it is a goal I try for. Also I believe the difference between Peter`s and my thinking is largely semantic. I had similar problem of an individual throwing off the rhythm years ago. When I was training at John Stevens` Tohoku Fukushi University dojo, Stevens Sensei had us do solo weapons kata in groups with a leader calling out the steps and setting the pace. One non-Japanese refused to follow the pace and would race ahead which would throw off the freshman still trying to learn the steps. I tried to solve the problem by sarcastically calling him "Sensei" and he responded with a few words still banned from American tv. I don`t recommend this approach.

Charles Hill
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Old 10-19-2004, 01:13 AM   #6
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Re: Group versus Individual

Hi Charles;

I must add that I am a strong believer in the student/teacher relationship at least with respect to myself and my own teacher. As a result if there is a conflict between what I think is necessary for my Budo growth and what he thinks - I will take his advise. A conscious choice on my part and though only exercised on a few occasions, no less difficult because I too am highly individualistic by nature.

I suspect we are talking about the same thing. I certainly don't do what I do because the group does it but because my teacher trains us in that particular way. To get the most benefit out of it I have to consider the group and help them get the most benefit out my individual action. This is the qualitative difference that I am trying to get across.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-19-2004, 01:52 AM   #7
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Re: Group versus Individual

This is indeed an interesting thread! Those who have read my posts will already be aware of the fact that the majority of my training has been done outside a dojo. Now that I am finally attending an Aikido dojo, I feel like a square peg in a round hole to be honest!

It is true, that my reasons for training "formally" now are simply to get me out of the flat (as I am Agoraphobic) and hopefully help me to overcome my fear of being around people in general. At the moment, I'm not even thinking beyond that. Presently, going to the dojo, in itself, is a huge step forward for me. Whether I am actually relaxed enough while there, to learn Aikikai is still a concern for me.

The instructor and many of the members know of my condition - although few will actually be fully aware of how debilitating they are for me. Yes, I am the odd one out. Not just because of my Mental Health problems, but also because of my 20 or so years of "unorthodox" training. I do find it difficult to be the "clone", as was suggested, as I have already developed my own style of "self-defense" after so many years training. I am finding it difficult to conform.

Therefore, for now, I must stick to my own "selfish" agenda, which is to use "going to Aikido" as therapy.

This is my take on this issue.



Iain.
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Old 10-19-2004, 03:32 AM   #8
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
The Shodokan Aikido training method involves a fairly rigorous warm-up, followed by drills and technique sections interspersed by drills. There is a definite rhythm to the training which can be totally disrupted by individual action.
Can you give a few examples of such "individual action" - either things you have come across, or that you could imagin? Without examples, I fear we might get into discussion without actually knowing what the other person is referring to.
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Old 10-19-2004, 04:28 AM   #9
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Re: Group versus Individual

Hanna - Larry gave a pretty good list above. However, try to imagine a series of drills. At the end of each drill the line rotates and another drill begins. This goes on for about 20 minutes and involves seven drills, done left and right. These drills are done every single lesson and for those that have never seen it can be quite the thing. Now I can't imagine anyone just stopping in the middle, even if you don't quite understand what's happening its hard not to get swept up in the rhythm, but lets say someone did, just refused because the striking techniques are just too violent, or you don't see the point, or you think you look silly. How about if I visited an Aikikai dojo and pointedly refused to do tenkan exercises because I found them pointless - would that not interrupt the harmony of the group.

Lots of possibilities - deciding to talk during instruction because well you heard it all before. The feel of any dojo is quite a delicate thing. Like the ease of shutting down any technique you know is coming the destruction of wa is easy. This is actually what I'm getting on about. It is an individuals responsibility to maintain the wa of the group it surely can not be done by force from the instructor.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-19-2004, 05:41 AM   #10
Hanna B
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Re: Group versus Individual

I am not entirely shure I have understood Peter right. Well, here comes my reactions.

There are many ways to define groups. One of them is that everyone should do the same things; then it is a group. I do not find this definition as very interesting.

To me, one of the beauties of aikido has been that a group can consist of so many people doing things slightly differently depending on who you are. You do breakfalls if you are young and fit enough, but most people will stop taking very many breakfalls when their bodies start feeling they have had enough of this kind of traning. Young people will want to go fast. Older people might want to go slower and explore detalis. Nobody says that young people should do this and old should do that, it happens naturally and with quite a bit of individual variation. All train together, and you adapt to your partners abilities regardless of it these depend on aikido experience, age, fitness level, handicap or something else. In the beginning, you get lots of help from those you train with and they adapt to your limited capacity. In time, you will spend more time adapting to people who are less advanced. Maybe in some time more, they will have to accept that you can not take all kinds of ukemi because of how that hip operation was performed. It is OK. You switch partners regularly, so if training with the old guy was kind of slow and dull you can grab a young and athletic partner for the next technique. It all evens out in the end.

If everyone should do the same thing in the same way, then you must fit the definition of the group to be a well functioning member. Correct me if I am wrong; I believe that Shodokan aikido was formed in a university dojo setting and to me this makes perfect sense. Even though you have variation among those who come to a university dojo also, I can imagine forming such a training method as Peter describes in that environment. I can not imagine it being formed in a group with ages ranging from 14 to 58.

Quote:
A group if it expects to survive must accommodate its members and make some allowance for new members - that is a given. I do believe though that individual members must strive to conform to the group not so much to become blank eyed clones but because Aikido is intrinsically a group activity. The members of the group act in concert to raise the bar for all concerned without holding individuals back.
"Conforming to the group", again, depends on how this group is defined. The more narrow definition, the smaller deviations can be tolerated.

In one of my ex-dojos, the instructors always showed techniques in two ways - with breakfall and without. It is then up to you and your partner how you train. Relative beginners and older people will generally do without break falls. Warm up is pretty simple, everyone can do it. I know of one person there who because of his interpretation of christian belief did not want to practise the sword. Although this is a dojo who does fairly much weapons training for an Aikikai dojo (som jo/bokken almost every class) this was no problem, not even for being given ranks although weapons are specified in the curriculum from 4th kyu. I do not see that this meant that the group suffered because of the individual. Occasions where the group suffer because of an individual would be when someone trains too carelessly injuring people, or just act so strangly that people feel uneasy about them, or act in a way that creates extreme rivalry and negative reactions in the group. This happens sometimes but pretty seldom.

This is another way of structuring training than the one you describe, and another way of building a group. I know of the feeling of many people doing the same thing at the same time; I have experienced it while singing in a choir, in karate and in a few other settings. This is to me not a crucial part of aikido; it has actually never been part of my aikido training. I do not see this other approach as inferior in any way. Rather, I see the benefits of more easy adaptation to age and injuries.

However, if I was put to handle a big group of newbies who do not have a clue, I would be less inclined to let them choose their own training. In most dojos though, beginners are a small flow into the main group and so they melt into the group nicely, simply adapting to how people around them do. It is a functional system.

Does these two methods of structuring training have philosophical implications, regarding personal development and such? I can not see that but then, I have never believed that aikido training implicates more self development than other activites. This is something has been debated many times. I think all things in life imply opportunity of growth. One does not need many people doing the same thing at the same time to accomplish that.

Now Peter, to what extent have I misunderstood you... :-)
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Old 10-19-2004, 05:48 AM   #11
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Often those that demand accommodation are the least likely to accommodate. The group, a gathering of individuals, is expected to change more easily than one.
Sadly, I have also found this to be the case. Interesting phenomenon that.

Quote:
Aikidoiain wrote:
I do find it difficult to be the "clone", as was suggested, as I have already developed my own style of "self-defense" after so many years training. I am finding it difficult to conform.

Therefore, for now, I must stick to my own "selfish" agenda, which is to use "going to Aikido" as therapy.
Iain: I hear you brother. I have had similar problems when training seriously in other martial arts. The good thing about your approach is that although you may have your own personal needs and reasons for going to Aikido, it sounds like you are not allowing your needs to hinder the progress of your peers or in any way disrupt the flow of training. You are trying your best to conform, but it is difficult. This is different to one who gets an understanding of a particular dojo's culture and decides for whatever reason they don't want to participate and seek to be accomodated as a result. So I don't see your approach as being as selfish as those who want the class to conform to their needs because they are unwilling to do something (being unable to do something is a different story as this may not involve the factor of choice).

When I train in other Aikido dojos (of a different style) I try to follow what the instructor teaches as much as possible. I know I have my own way of doing things and I may not even agree with some of the things being taught, but when in another man's house you follow his rules and respect them imho. I expect the same when I am instructing.

We often say Aikido is about harmony. I think the preservation of the wa or spirit of the class as Peter indicated, is another aspect of that training. It's about sensing the atmosphere and rhythm of the instructor and the dojo and knowing how to flow with it and utilise it's natural energy to one's benefit.

Also, many times the group helps to push individuals to go further, do better and strive harder, it is the individual who gains more out of the practice by trying to follow the encouragement of the group in many occasions. One example is in the randori we do. There are often times when one may feel that they are totally spent, unable to do any more and may request a rest. There are usually very short rest periods for everyone during this exercise, but there may be some who want to sit out the next round. Sitting out can often disrupt the numbers in the class if one has an even number of participants. This may cause the instructor to have to enter the group and train (meaning he can't take the time to observe their training from outside and make decisions as he is engaged at the time) or find some other creative way of restoring balance to the class, like having a more advanced group do 2 on 1 ninindori while others continue the original pattern.

Now there are times when the instructor must see that the person has reached his/her absolute limit and let them take the extra time out as well, and there are times when the instructor must also identify attempts to be lazy, to cop out and relax instead of pushing oneself to do better when one is able. In the case of the latter, the group energy helps to encourage the student to fight on (as it's very possible that everyone is spent to some degree at this point). In this way one learns valuable lessons in how the mind can marshall the body's forces into action to meet a challenge even though the initial feeling is to quit and roll over at this point. In many cases those who decide to push on learn things about themselves and how they operate under pressure that they never would have if the group energy (guided and led by the sensei of course, as safety is a primary factor) not encouraged them to push beyond and get to this point.

Just my few cents.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-19-2004 at 05:53 AM.

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Old 10-19-2004, 06:22 AM   #12
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote:
There are many ways to define groups. One of them is that everyone should do the same things; then it is a group. I do not find this definition as very interesting.:-)

To me, one of the beauties of aikido has been that a group can consist of so many people doing things slightly differently depending on who you are. You do breakfalls if you are young and fit enough, but most people will stop taking very many breakfalls when their bodies start feeling they have had enough of this kind of traning. Young people will want to go fast. Older people might want to go slower and explore detalis. Nobody says that young people should do this and old should do that, it happens naturally and with quite a bit of individual variation. All train together, and you adapt to your partners abilities regardless of it these depend on aikido experience, age, fitness level, handicap or something else. In the beginning, you get lots of help from those you train with and they adapt to your limited capacity. In time, you will spend more time adapting to people who are less advanced. Maybe in some time more, they will have to accept that you can not take all kinds of ukemi because of how that hip operation was performed. It is OK. You switch partners regularly, so if training with the old guy was kind of slow and dull you can grab a young and athletic partner for the next technique. It all evens out in the end.

"Conforming to the group", again, depends on how this group is defined. The more narrow definition, the smaller deviations can be tolerated.
Hi again Hanna,

Interesting post you have above. In the very vast majority of martial arts dojos I've visited people tend to be doing the same things at the same time. If in Karate class you are practicing a particular kata, everyone is doing it, pace and style of movement etc. comes from the individual, in Judo class when we are doing grappling, chances are everyone is doing grappling. Being a freeform practice, its manifestations can be many, but within a defined pattern of what can and cannot be done, this is also seen in Aikido. The different individual methods of operation, doing breakfalls or not doing breakfalls, going fast or slow, exploration of details etc. etc. all of this is inherent in group training as guided by the instructor. It's not as if a group of senior citizens goes into one corner of the dojo and says - "Okay folks we're gonna work slowly on details because those young 'uns are just movin too fast" or the youngsters go into another corner and decide "We are gonna see how fast we can throw each other in randori while doing really hard ukemi".

The rhythm of the class is directed by the instructor and as such the majority at least of the students should follow his lead. This is where the group energy comes in. If the instructor decides to separate the class then he has created a different form of group energy, based on people doing the same things at the same pace etc. etc. The question Peter is raising has nothing to do with the peculiarities of dealing with different types of people when training in what obviously sounds like cooperative kata practice or basic exercises in your post. He is referring to, at least from my impression one who decides that they cannot or will not partake in certain elements of the same training you outlined above. It is about the youngster who refuses to train with the senior citizen because things are moving too slowly as against the heart patient who has to stop doing randori because he has a pacemaker. In the first case it may be better to meld the will of the youngster to conform to the training of the group, in the latter we are talking about a serious medical condition which affects the safety level in the dojo. The decision in the latter may be to only let the heart patient partake in only the least rigorous exercises and slow kata training. This is the nature of diversity. But there is diversity that can grind things to a halt (or threaten to do so at least) and diversity that can be worked through. The question is, when you have an idea what you are getting into, should you expect the dojo to accomodate you all the time even though your request causes a disruption in the flow of things, or should you in fact find somewhere better suited to training?

I'll give another personal example: Folks who have kids under the age of 16 who want to train. I send them to the Judo school nearby because I don't have children and juniors classes at my dojo. It is an adult class, as such, the 2 or so teenagers I have who are under 16 understand that they have to meet the level of the rest of the class and accomodations would not be made outside of reason for them. An example of an accomodation here would be to minimise if not eliminate application of hard joint locks since it can have a negative effect on growth plates over time. This is a minor accomodation. However, if the same person's mother came and requested that the individual is under no circumstances to partake in any exercise involving joint locks then I'd tell em to try somewhere else, as kansetsu waza ia a large part of the Aikido repertoire.

I hope this clarifies things a little bit.

LC

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Old 10-19-2004, 06:38 AM   #13
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
How much is a group expected to conform to my particular needs
Still a bit puzzled at the need to ask this one, despite the entertaining discourse. The only group dynamics on the mat are surely the main instructor of that dojo?

OK, perhaps I'm a bit schizo. I do expect to be able to talk to any instructor as an adult, be treated as an adult on the mat and put forward any "special needs" I may or may not have. However, my caveats are twofold. Firstly, I have a responsibility to the rest of the class not to be disruptive to their training (without a damn good reason, and if it's permanent, I should rethink my training). Secondly, it's the instructor's call. If I expect to be treated as an adult, I also have the responsibilities as an adult to accept that if it's not my class, it's not my rules. If I don't like the rules or the training regime, I should leave.

If you question is really "how far do I bend my normal teaching procedure to accommodate a difficult student", my answer would be "how much do you value and want to keep that student".

OT: Larry, you and Peter are coming across as far too mellow and reasonable, please desist as it's affecting my inner equilibrium.
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Old 10-19-2004, 07:51 AM   #14
Hanna B
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Re: Group versus Individual

Well Larry, guess why I asked for examples...

In the previous thread, regarding pregnancy, break falls were mentioned as something pregnant women should not do and because of this they would desturb this flow in the dojo. I have never seen someone not doing break falls disturbing anything at all! Therefore I supposed there was a difference. Was I wrong?
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Old 10-19-2004, 08:16 AM   #15
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Re: Group versus Individual

IMHO, it is paradoxical that as you develop the self you also lose it. Eventually we learn the win/win model of training and life. Rather than the group wins and you lose, or you win and the groups loses (which by the way, if anyone loses we all lose), we all must win. The group and the individual self become one.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 10-19-2004, 10:51 AM   #16
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Re: Group versus Individual

If aikido = budo
&
Budo = Japanese martial training
&
Japanese culture is EXTREMELY group oriented...I can not see how aikido wouldn't be at least fairly group oriented. Now, my main instructors are either japanese, japanese american or have spent considerable time in japan training...so to them aikido = culture...specifically japanese culture. When you transplant the dojo to another place, there are going to be things that change...maybe even important things. But in general, I see the context of aikido to be very important, and that context has a lot to do with joining a group, maintaining the group standards, maintaining the harmony of the group. The individual (hopefully) benefits from what is good for the group. I think some notable exceptions to this are obvious from fairly recent history.

Quote:
Although this is a dojo who does fairly much weapons training for an Aikikai dojo (som jo/bokken almost every class) this was no problem, not even for being given ranks although weapons are specified in the curriculum from 4th kyu. I do not see that this meant that the group suffered because of the individual.
Well, if someone needs a separate syllibus because they refuse to do buki waza

a) are they really learning the instructor's aikido?

b) aren't they really lowering the standards of the group?

c) isn't there at least the chance that some members of the group will think 'why doesn't this person of x rank NOT know the material...why when I ask them to help me during test preparation do they send me elsewhere...why do they have x rank and not know the material when all the others of x rank do know the material?

I have personally been on what I now consider the wrong side of this arguement. I trained for a long time at a branch dojo affiliated with a group that had buki waza as an important and substantial part of the syllibus (especially the dan syllibus). I can assure you I have run into all of the above mentioned problems and more as a result of the branch dojo NOT 'following the group'. I finally decided that for me to learn the head instructor's aikido, I HAD to join the group, and learn material that at one time was not considered a priority. It has been a struggle (some physical problems, some problems integrating to a new group) but so far it has definately been worth it. I'll let ya know how it goes long term...but right now I'm real sure I made the correct choice for myself. And I also believe my aikido has directly benefited...although there are times when that is hard to specify in words.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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Old 10-19-2004, 06:48 PM   #17
Charles Hill
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Japanese culture is EXTREMELY group oriented...I can not see how aikido wouldn't be at least fairly group oriented.
My own personal take on this is that this group orientation is a major cause of personal trouble for the average Japanese. For Americans (and other westerners?) it is the opposite. If I was being nice, I`d say that this is why Japanese shihan in the US wait so long to promote students to shodan. Most Japanese conform quickly and gain some skills in a more timely manner. In my experience, many Japanese aikidoka get stuck at this basic level, not being able to discover their individuality after gaining the basics. I find that many Americans, on the other hand, have a hard time conforming and trouble getting to even a basic level. (Of course, these are gross generalities.)

I agree that Aikido is group oriented but I feel that the goal is to break free of this, and then to integrate with the group as a centered individual, the old shu, ha, ri thing. I also wonder if Aikido, as a kind of therapy designed for Japanese students, is appropriate for non-Japanese in its traditional format.

I`m guessing that some specific occurance led Peter to start the thread. I`d like to hear about it, if so.

Charles Hill
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Old 10-19-2004, 07:51 PM   #18
Hanna B
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Re: Group versus Individual

A definition of "group oriented" would be nice. Does anyone have one to offer?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Well, if someone needs a separate syllibus because they refuse to do buki waza?
Separate syllabus, well I guess the weapons were just left out no other changes made and nothing written about it. The examiner can always make the exceptions he see as fit, I guess. Whether or not he compensated for this in one way or another, I have no clue. I do know that he taught loads of children's classes, and was a huge resource for the dojo.

Quote:
a) are they really learning the instructor's aikido?
a) Well, Kobayashi sensei (Yasuo Kobayashi) seemed to think so... As long as both him and the chief instructor of the dojo thought it was OK, nobody had a problem with it. There are many ways to define what is important... at this time, the chief instructor of the dojo always said "Kobayashi dojo is not a specific way of performing technique. Kobayashi dojo is an attitude" and I don't think for a minute that someone felt this specific yudansha was detracting from that attitude.

Quote:
b) aren't they really lowering the standards of the group?
b) If many people took this route, probably. Then maybe it would not be allowed. But as long as it is one individual in a dojo with plenty of yudansha - no, I do not think it caused any kind of problem.

Quote:
c) isn't there at least the chance that some members of the group will think 'why doesn't this person of x rank NOT know the material...why when I ask them to help me during test preparation do they send me elsewhere...why do they have x rank and not know the material when all the others of x rank do know the material?
c) Maybe they could think so... but is that something to consider? There is no problem in asking one individual for help with one set of the requirement, and others about other parts. Really, where I have trained it has always been the case that some folks have been better choices for grading help than others, regarding their background from other dojos etc. It never was a problem. If you join this dojo as a sandan from an Aikikai lineage without weapons training, hey you would still be an Aikikai sandan - but not the first choice to ask for grading training help. Maybe not for leading a branch dojo, either.

Of course, the main point here is that no one saw it as a threat to the group. In an Iwama aikido setting, for instance, I do not think it would be possible to take dan grades without weapons. Here it was OK. If the chief instructor felt it had been damaging to the dojo to let this person have rank without weapons training, I think it would have been very wise not to let him do it. Also, I suppose this person did not just walk in the door saying "I want it like this". Talking about it before making a decision, taking the individual's motivation in consideration is a good thing. Remember that this individual was a resource to the dojo in other ways - I do not know if it played a part or not but I can imagine that it might.

To a certain extent it is up to the main instructor to decide what is a threat of the group, and what is not. As I previously said: wide definition of the group, more deviations accepted... and the other way around. Just make a choice! but be aware that there is one. (Depending on your organisation/teacher there might be less of a choice - but that is because someone else already had made it.)

Last edited by Hanna B : 10-19-2004 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 10-19-2004, 08:12 PM   #19
Hanna B
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Re: Group versus Individual

It could be added, maybe, that the central Aikikai requirements for rank include no pure weapons work - only a little tachi waza and jowaza/jodori. Then one can add additional requirements, which most teachers and dojos do, but the minimum requirements need always to be fulfilled.

The Aikikai is a group - but a pretty diverse one...
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Old 10-19-2004, 09:42 PM   #20
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote:
Well Larry, guess why I asked for examples...

In the previous thread, regarding pregnancy, break falls were mentioned as something pregnant women should not do and because of this they would desturb this flow in the dojo. I have never seen someone not doing break falls disturbing anything at all! Therefore I supposed there was a difference. Was I wrong?
To be a bit more precise, very many people in the last thread indicated that break falls would be disallowed for pregnant women due to safety reasons, this includes kata training and what the rest of the Aikido world refers to as randori. Only the Shodokan folks indicated that this could disrupt the flow of practice in the specific case of the sort of randori we do.

There is a difference in the training methods of the different schools, unless the majority of Aikido schools give one person a tanto and gives that peson 1 or 2 minutes to make sure and sink the blade at least half way into his empty handed partner as many times as possible via a stabbing motion while resisting any attempts to stop him by applying atemi waza for throwing as well, while allowing the empty handed partner to also resist being stabbed as much as possible by seriously attempting to put down the attacker, throw him or make him tap out with an inescapable joint lock.

If one does not understand the nature of the practice system one cannot understand the nature of the point being made. The point is that the pregnant woman would not be safe in this sort of practice and should be made to sit it out for safety reasons or go practice something less strenuous. Depending on the numbers involved in that class (even or odd), her sitting out may mean 1 other person having to sit down as well, as someone else in the room would not have a partner to train with for randori. This disrupts the practice of the other individual who is conforming to the group practice, but has the misfortune of having to sit out because of the person who needs to be accomodated for safety reasons. On a physical level, having to sit out disrupts the rhythm of that person's training and by extension any cardiovascular fitness work he may have been doing as he now has to sit and cool off after having already accelerated his heart rate to a certain level, probably having to start it all back up again when the next turn comes and someone else has to sit down for lack of a partner and repeat the process his associate just went through. The fact is, this same situation can apply to a myriad of things that can happen in the dojo, such as folks who have injuries etc. Regardless of the reason, either accomodations need to be made by the instructor or if this becomes an ongoing thing that disrupts practice, the person may need to find another place to train. In the case of pregnancy, hopefully this disruption is not a regular thing once the baby is born and bodies return to normal.

I have actually had people leave our dojo because they were unable to perform well in even low resistance randori due to things like ankle and knee injuries. They wanted to train, but also realised that the rest of the class would sort of grind down to their pace when doing randori (and they did not want to short change their class mates, since had they been able to perfrom they would not want to be short changed either) and I think they also realised that the joints would have given in had they continued pushing them. As such they chose to leave, but the door is always open if they want to start again.

Just my thoughts.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-19-2004 at 09:49 PM.

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Old 10-19-2004, 09:48 PM   #21
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Re: Group versus Individual

Very interesting topic, Peter.

I think that aikido practice is something very individual. Apparently one practice with various partners, is memeber of group, but in the end of the story, you are alone. You face alone your weakeness and your forces, ppl come, ppl go, if you stay long enough, you can see how different your way is from any other oldtimer. And there are less and less those oldtimers...........you can't even compare yourself with others in any domain.
Nobody can help you. You have to go through all difficulties alone, even your teacher from certain level simply looks at you and doesn't give any advice. Ever wondered why?

Everyone develop in long term his own vision, and you can't say what is objectivly right or wrong. Everything is up to individual understanding and individual skills..........
That is a beauty of aikido.

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Old 10-19-2004, 11:45 PM   #22
PeterR
 
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
Very interesting topic, Peter.
Yeah its becoming so - I'm enjoying reading. Trying to keep my comments to a minimum.
Quote:
I think that aikido practice is something very individual. Apparently one practice with various partners, is member of group, but in the end of the story, you are alone. You face alone your weakness and your forces, ppl come, ppl go, if you stay long enough, you can see how different your way is from any other oldtimer. And there are less and less those oldtimers...........you can't even compare yourself with others in any domain.
Nobody can help you. You have to go through all difficulties alone, even your teacher from certain level simply looks at you and doesn't give any advice. Ever wondered why?
Well in the case of my teacher probably consternation. Anyway I will agree that it is pointless to compare our own progress with others with the possible exception to spur ourselves to greater effort. For sure your primary drive should come from yourself and not the group even though a good group will help. However I think drive and progress are quite secondary to the question.

Generally I also want to add that I really don't think this is a Shodokan versus other style of Aikido question. The reason I started another thread was to break away from the specific issue itself but also how one style deals with it.

I have trained in a number of dojos from a number of styles - some on a regular basis. The problem cuts right across the board. The first time I saw someone excluded because of physical ability was in an Aikikai dojo I attended for a time. At that time I thought accommodation could have been reached and the sensei changed his mind after I talked it over with him. On hindsight I was wrong but luckily all parties realized it together. In this case the teacher had to spend the majority of his time dealing with a very difficult situation and a lot of students were starting to feel short changed.

I have been to dojos were the training is pretty laid back and others (again across styles) which were pretty hard driven. My own personal impression is that the level of Aikido in the latter group exceeded the former. These hard driving groups appeared to have a much higher group cohesion during training. Often afterwards also but that is another thread.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-20-2004, 01:30 AM   #23
Hanna B
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Re: Group versus Individual

Larry, IMO the pregnancy comments belong in that thread. I am not trying to bring it up again. Thank you very much for your randori description, though. Peter, I am not trying to create a Shodokan versus Aikikai issue. Aikikai is diversity, and you will find all sorts of stuff therein.
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Old 10-26-2004, 09:07 AM   #24
stern9631
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Re: Group versus Individual

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
For the same reason people considering to join a group should consider firstly if they can do (eventually) whats being done rather than can the group accommodate them.
I agree.
I started for my own reasons and then I got frustrated because I was growing and so were my needs. My training seemed to become less relevant at this time. I then realized that I was on someone else's boat and that it was my choice to stay on and find pertinent applications with what was being done or to get off. I think I have.
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