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Old 03-02-2005, 10:55 AM   #1
darin
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multiple teachers in one dojo

Has anyone ever been in a dojo where the teachers often disagree? If so has rank and ego ever been an issue and what has happened?
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Old 03-02-2005, 11:20 AM   #2
Jordan Steele
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Many dojos have multiple instructors (2-4), but there is always or should be a chief instructor that has absolute authority. Aikido is not a democracy. Anyways I have never seen two teachers have a disagreement (openly), but different teachers frequently teach certain techniques different ways and that can lead to confusion for the students. The chief instructor will usually know whether his assistants are teaching the students correctly by how well they perform during testing. Multiple teachers is a good thing though because each one brings something different to the table. Ultimately it is the students responsibility to stay on top of things.
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Old 03-02-2005, 04:39 PM   #3
Chris Li
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
Many dojos have multiple instructors (2-4), but there is always or should be a chief instructor that has absolute authority.
Why?

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
Aikido is not a democracy.
Why not?

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-02-2005, 04:46 PM   #4
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Why?
Why does a ship have a captain?

Quote:
Why not?
While people can have say - even a lot of say in how a dojo is run and what is taught; someone must be there to make the final decision. An anarchy - however well-intentioned - is unstable. Sooner or later; disagreement crops up. While that is in no way a bad thing unless taken to extremes, someone must be there to insure it does not go to extremes. If, for example, people don't agree on how a class is to be taught, someone has to stop the argument and make a decision. That person is the leader.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 03-02-2005, 05:14 PM   #5
Gary Carlton
Dojo: Kulshan Aikikai
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

I share teaching duties at a dojo with one other instructor.

Do we disagree?
Yes, but in private where we come to a mutual undertanding of what is best for the dojo/students. We have somewhat different styles but we acknowledge that and use it to the students benefit.

Is ego/rank an issue?
Nope. He is my sempai and he makes the final call. If I have issues, they are my issues to deal with not his or the dojos issues.
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Old 03-02-2005, 08:45 PM   #6
darin
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

I know of a karate school where the senior instructor eventually left because the junior instructor who owned the dojo didn't like being no. 2. Does this happen a lot in aikido dojos?
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Old 03-02-2005, 10:05 PM   #7
Chris Li
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Dave Organ wrote:
Why does a ship have a captain?
Well, that has nothing to do with whether or not another type of organization is or is not viable in a completely different situation.

Quote:
Dave Organ wrote:
While people can have say - even a lot of say in how a dojo is run and what is taught; someone must be there to make the final decision. An anarchy - however well-intentioned - is unstable. Sooner or later; disagreement crops up. While that is in no way a bad thing unless taken to extremes, someone must be there to insure it does not go to extremes. If, for example, people don't agree on how a class is to be taught, someone has to stop the argument and make a decision. That person is the leader.
We weren't talking about anarchy, we were talking about democracy (I wasn't the one who brought up the word). There are plenty of viable organizational models in between anarchy and dictatorship.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-02-2005, 10:18 PM   #8
PeterR
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Last night two people two dan ranks higher than myself turned up. One actually comes at least once every two weeks. When this happens I still teach the class but make damm sure they feel appreciated - usually by giving them small groups for very specific problems and actually giving them some time to teach me what I need to know for the next grading.

I've never had troubles.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-03-2005, 03:03 AM   #9
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Our dojo is a democracy unless there is a disagreement where a decision has to be made. Then my sempai gets to choose. <wry grin>

We never argue in front of students and often discuss our differences in teaching styles and techniques. Sometimes off to the side while everyone else is practicing, sometimes in the changeroom and sometimes over beer.

We have a really good working relationship and I believe that the differences in both our teaching styles and the focus of what we teach within each technique benefit the students.

When it comes down to the "proper" way to do a technique, we ask the chief instructor at hombu and follow his answer...to the best of our ability <g>

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 03-03-2005, 05:04 AM   #10
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

We try and be democratic and do whats best for the dojo....but with a voting system everyone has to reach the legal age to do so making them all equal.

I don't believe this is the case when you have one instructor that has been teaching for say 35 years and another for 3 months. Our instructors range from 8th dan to 1st dan...with a 4th dan, 2 3rd dans and a couple on nidans thrown in plus some shodans. I believe like others here that there should be a single chairing authority.

Sometimes we disagree...we try and encourage a perfect world, but we are not all the same and we have some fairly wide chasms between what we see as the way to teach Aikido through this panel of instructors.

We try and utilise the range in backgrounds to the advantage of the students so they get more than 1 persons opinion of aikido and thus can make their own informed choices. We swap classes after every couple of gradings to help this...and no-one owns 'their' students - they are students of the club.

Not everyone fully embraces this concept!

anyway - we all have our say but the final major decision making making falls to the head of our club.

It can take quite a bit of managing - we have instructors that have just trained in our style and others that have spent many years elsewhere. Sometimes the external influences are beneficial. Often they are out of context and hinder our structured approach to student development.

Last week I attended a class where the instructor directly contradicted the standard dojo approach...It happens and takes a bit of dealing with. I mentioned it...but didn't get it resolved.

I'll try again.

We are having a club grading this weekend...It will be interesting to see how the various groups of students reflect the backgrounds of their different instructors...will there be any big issues to deal with?

who knows?

just my ramblings...

D
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:08 AM   #11
DaveO
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
]

We weren't talking about anarchy, we were talking about democracy (I wasn't the one who brought up the word). There are plenty of viable organizational models in between anarchy and dictatorship.

Best,

Chris
I agree - my post wasn't as clearly written as it could have been. The point I was trying to make is that in any structure; one person must be in overall charge. Whether that is done democratically or otherwise is up to the person running the dojo.
Use our dojo as an example: As senior student, I do some of the teaching and given my history have some definite ideas on many subjects. Often, these ideas conflict whith my Sensei's. If that happens however; it's her word we follow, not mine - she's in charge. We can discuss it all we want, but once she makes a decision as far as I'm concerned that's it, her word is law.
IOW; the way in which "aikido is not a democracy" is that as senior, the Sensei knows best what and how to teach. If everyone wants to do A and the Sensei wants to do B, the B's have it, IMO.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 03-03-2005, 03:09 PM   #12
Jill N
Dojo: K-W Ki Aikido (Kitchener, Ont)
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Hi all:

Well said, Dave. I think there is a lot of advantage to students getting different perspectives on training. We are all different physically, emotionally, learning styles, etc etc. Each instructor comes with different life experiences and different talents. I like to encourage people to see more possibilities and choices, not to get the idea that there is only one right way. (i have this approach generally as well as in aikido- I do a lot of things other than teach Aikido) So... the more the merrier with ideas about how to think about technique, and drills and movement exercises (as long as it is safe practice) and then when we approach testing time, I rein in to the techniques we are looking for specifically for the test. Then is the time to rein in the other instructors.

e ya later
Jill.
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Old 03-03-2005, 03:43 PM   #13
Chris Li
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Dave Organ wrote:
I agree - my post wasn't as clearly written as it could have been. The point I was trying to make is that in any structure; one person must be in overall charge. Whether that is done democratically or otherwise is up to the person running the dojo.
Use our dojo as an example: As senior student, I do some of the teaching and given my history have some definite ideas on many subjects. Often, these ideas conflict whith my Sensei's. If that happens however; it's her word we follow, not mine - she's in charge. We can discuss it all we want, but once she makes a decision as far as I'm concerned that's it, her word is law.
IOW; the way in which "aikido is not a democracy" is that as senior, the Sensei knows best what and how to teach. If everyone wants to do A and the Sensei wants to do B, the B's have it, IMO.
And what if you have four or five seniors of similar rank and experience?

I'll agree that in most dojo there is one person in overall charge - but that doesn't mean that it is the only way to run things, or even the best way.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-04-2005, 04:03 AM   #14
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
And what if you have four or five seniors of similar rank and experience?

I'll agree that in most dojo there is one person in overall charge - but that doesn't mean that it is the only way to run things, or even the best way.

Best,

Chris
What do you think is the best way in this situation?

D
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:59 AM   #15
Chris Li
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
What do you think is the best way in this situation?

D
Like anything else - it depends upon the people involved. I was simply resisting the assumption that a top-down heirarchical organization was the only possible arrangement.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-04-2005, 12:26 PM   #16
jonreading
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Uh, not to call anyone out but like my Dad says, "Critize all you want, but back it up with a better solution."

First, to address the developing comments:

I think that multiple instructors are necessary for a dojo to appeal to different tastes and training styles. A dojo cho is typically in charge of coordinating those instructors to keep the dojo running smoothly. A democratic platform is a great idea for guiding leadership, but most management and coordination really should be limited to fewer individuals that have the "final say." If you look at many companies and corporations, you'll find that stockholders may have input for the company, but an executive committee makes the final decision. I would argue that most dojo (especially large dojo) could benefit from adopting similar structure.

On that note, I do feel that a dojo cho or head instructor is obligated to respect the concerns and ideas of junior instructors and students. My instructor calls it a "benevolent tyranny." A dojo cho has a severe responsibility to uphold the interests of the dojo, not necessarily the students. This is a key difference in management. Most of the time the two are parallel, but sometimes they are not. For example: If a dojo had financial obligations to moneylenders, the dojo cho has an obligation to protect the financial interest of the dojo. What happens if students petition for free uniforms and weapons? Not such a simple concept anymore to compare...

Now, back to the original issue:

Teachers disagree all the time. Good teachers disagree in private and settle their differences so the dojo may move forward. Bad teachers squabble in front of students, refuse to cooperate to resolve their differences. Which one sounds like aikido to you? A dojo cho is integral in refereeing these arguments and maintaining coordination and a clear training message. Again, not easy stuff.

Last edited by jonreading : 03-04-2005 at 12:27 PM. Reason: spellin'
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:51 AM   #17
JessePasley
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Multiple teachers can only bring about positive results. Along with Peter, there is usually one or two other teachers at our classes. Each has a different teaching 'flavor' and I get the benefit of multiple perspectives on the techniques. During most free practices, there is no teacher or authority at all; things run quite smoothly.

Regarding democracy, anarchy, and authority:
Yep, can of worms with me. I've been a part of several organizations that were run as anarchies. They were all successfull in their aims. I consider the dojo and gym I train at to be fairly democratic. If I have a suggestion or something I really want to work on, I have no problems asking Peter or any of the other teachers and I never feel out of line. It all comes down to a balance of maturity and playfulness. Authority rests soley in my teachers' experience in their respective arts, not titles or ranks. If Peter came to class with a crown on his head and made me shine his shoes before class, I would leave. That is, unless he was dressed as Darth Vader and promised to teach the Dark Side. Shiney shoes for lightening bolts: fair trade.
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Old 03-06-2005, 09:51 AM   #18
darin
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Doesn't rank and title represent experience and authority?

Budo, as with most things in Japan, wasn't meant to be a democracy. If you are an instructor in a dojo you are expected to teach to a standard that is set by those that out rank you. If you are the head master of a dojo then you have the right to demand anything. Of course if you demand too much you may left with yourself as the only person to teach to.

I think most dojos are a member of an organization such as Yoshinkai, Shodokan, Aikikai etc. How strict are your organizations when it comes to instructor performance? Are there any evaluations? I always thought that instructors in a dojo must teach to a specific syllabus.
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Old 03-06-2005, 10:24 PM   #19
JessePasley
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Quote:
Doesn't rank and title represent experience and authority?
Um, not really.If the certifying organization engages in quality control, has a rational and well-planned syllabus,etc, then it is safe to assume that the experience obtained is worthy of respect. But beyond that, no. Many martial arts have no rank at all, as experience is self-evident in a person's performance.

Quote:
Budo, as with most things in Japan, wasn't meant to be a democracy.
Correct. I would say most of traditional Japanese culture derives from military privlige. But do you honestly believe this is how the world should run?

Quote:
If you are an instructor in a dojo you are expected to teach to a standard that is set by those that out rank you.
Not because of rank, but because of experience. Again, two different things.

Quote:
If you are the head master of a dojo then you have the right to demand anything.
Only if you're Darth Vader.

Quote:
I always thought that instructors in a dojo must teach to a specific syllabus.
Having a specific syllabus is different than being a drill sergent. At the Aikido club, we are all there to study and improve our Aikido. If the teacher, with all of his/her rank and authority, decides to teach something other than Aikido, that has gone against what people attending have agreed to do.
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Old 03-07-2005, 12:57 AM   #20
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Hi Jesse,

Don`t you think that in the surface sense of things, rank and title represent experience and authority in Japan? Of course, experience and authority often don`t equal ability. It has been my experience that in Japan, one is supposed to adhere to the ranking system in the dojo in terms of what one should do. This may or may not be the best way to do things, but that would be a separate topic. I post this mainly because although you live in Japan what you have written is not what one might call basic Japanese sensibilities. (for right or wrong)


Charles
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Old 03-07-2005, 03:07 AM   #21
darin
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Charles you are absolutely right about Japanese culture! I have worked for a few Japanese companies in Tokyo and let me tell you it was no democracy.

Rank and title are supposed to represent authority and experience. If not then why have them in the military, sports, education and business? I should point out that experience should be based on quality not quantity. If a person has been doing 20 years of aikido and is technically as good as white belt should they be the head instructor?

Jesse, you may change your mind once you start running your own dojo. I am sure the reason Peter allows multiple instructors in his dojo is because he trusts them and approves of what they teach. If he didn't he has the authority to tell them to change or go somewhere else.
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Old 03-07-2005, 03:19 AM   #22
PeterR
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Actually the reason is I am so thankful for their presence. One was team captain of one of the strongest competitive teams in Japan, one was Japan champion, another was professional deshi to the top guy for 3.5 years.

The dojo is actually my call and I do run the class (even though two of the above outrank me). They defer to me and I make damm sure they get something out of the class. All three of the above are Japanese and used to the Japanese system. Perhaps they get something out of my class beyond the ordinary - who knows. None of them have to be there.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:15 AM   #23
JessePasley
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Charles, those are good comments. Yes, in Japan, I do as the Romans do, er, wait, as the Japanese do. In the outward sense of things, yes, I give a nod to rank. But I don't think things would change terribly if we all wore shorts and t-shirts to class and had no ranks. Peter would still be running the show (ego stroke: he's a first-class teacher) and I would still be enjoying myself and we as a class would still be learning and growing. But you're right, these are not Japanese sensibilities, but when people come together to workout and improve I've found a lot of cultural tendencies tend to be tossed out.
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:21 AM   #24
PeterR
 
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Purrrrrrr.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-07-2005, 07:21 AM   #25
darin
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Re: multiple teachers in one dojo

Nice kitty...
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