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Old 02-07-2006, 10:15 PM   #1
Leon Aman
 
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Is it proper?

The reason I opened this thread is to hear from everyone here of some opinions , suggestions, encouragement or anything about the difficulty we have now in our dojo.

I titled this thread "Is it proper?" because my primary concern here is on the SYSTEM of teaching, teaches by our current instructor (who is 4th dan and who is the replacement to our regular instructor who left for U.S. two years ago) . But just to make it clear that I am not referring here to a person, but on persons characteristic way of teaching... Of course I am grateful for his talent, time and effort that he spend to us and I am greatly appreciative on his seriousness to share his knowledge and to do his part for us. But again I think the only problem I've seen here is the system he uses in his teaching.

During the class he puts himself and stay in front of every partnered students and always commenting as: "not like that,,, that is wrong,,, always do this,,, or like this and such" and I never heard any word of encouragement from him and I never heard anything from him that there is anyone from us got what he taught. He teaches one level of teaching (and I don't know on what level is that) and it must be assimilated by everybody regardless of rank kyu or dan grade. But as I mentioned no one got his style including black belters so what more the white belters who doesn't even have enough knowledge about the proper foot-work and posture? Can anyone imagine the scenario in the dojo?. So practically all we're doing are wrong, all of us 6th kyu to sandan including guest( junior black or his contemporaneous) are all wrong , no one got his style for the past two quandary years of my experienced with him… While every after a class he quotes "you are lucky enough to have us, who teach you everything in detail that other dojos don't normally do". and also a word such as ." my teaching is a masteral" (and I really don't comprehend what he meant by his word masteral if he keeps on insisting it to white belters). So technically every session concluded with the feeling of frustrating to every student specially the beginners because nobody got what he taught… So are we really lucky?

It is not that I compare him in our former instructor where the environment in the dojo is fairly good, there we have many practitioners , the regular practice is so smooth, everything is practically in order and perfect. but now we're continuously decreasing in numbers, while the only point here is the proper way of teaching.

I am reluctant to open this kind of situation on this site as you know because it has to be an internal, but I need some enlightenment from everyone on whether my observation is wrong or whatever.

So I expect input from any readers here, positive or negative will highly be appreciated.

Leon
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:21 AM   #2
aikidoc
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Re: Is it proper?

All teachers have their own style of communicating information. It may be the way he was taught. Focusing on details is important in my opinion because if student constantly do techniques with bad habits they are building memory in their nervous system and muscles making it difficult to change later.

What I hear you saying is that your instructor focuses too much on what you are doing incorrectly and not enough on what you are doing correctly. When changing styles or instructors with different ways of performing techniques, it can be challenging. Has anyone talked to him about the discontent with his negative feedback?
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:45 AM   #3
billybob
 
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Re: Is it proper?

Leon,

If you were in the military I would tell you to "suck it up". As you are not, you have the option of leaving. It is proper to discuss your concerns with the senior student in the class - be sure to show more respect than you think necessary. If things do not change then leave. Study something else.

Or, give it time and you may grow to appreciate this teacher's way better than any other. Trust your intuition. Be respectful.

David
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:28 AM   #4
Bridge
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Re: Is it proper?

I had a karate instructor who was quite picky and perhaps could have provided more positive feedback in my time at his club. But he was a new instructor and a real decent guy too, I might add. Just unsuitable teaching approach/style.

One of the reasons I left was the negativity in feedback and the very low positive feedback, to me and the all the other students (including kids. which really upset me). Being one of the senior students I helped the others when they didn't understand and people were just copying each other very closely to avoid being singled out during basics, and avoided asking questions. I got to the stage where I begrudged going to training and was only going cos I felt obliged.

I left and went to another instructor eventually.

To give him his credit, he was very gracious about it and did ask for feedback while I was there. He asked for reasons for my leaving, which I provided, with suggestions for the future. I don't know if your instructor would do this if you left however...

He said he understood my leaving appreciated that it was my free time, my hobby and that I was paying good money and if I was not enjoying myself, i had every right to choose some other place train.

And he was quite right. By all means try to help him out, but it's your hobby, your free time, your money...
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Old 02-08-2006, 09:44 AM   #5
Steve Morabito
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Re: Is it proper?

Perhaps you have a problem with the way the instructor gives feedback, not his "teaching Method" per se. OSensei told us to always practice in a joyful manner. It seems that the feedback your instructor gives is not creating the type of environment where people can enjoy their practice. People become frustrated and may ultimately leave. If what you have posted is true and not just your own perceptions, here is one of many options: Join together with other people in your dojo and approach the instructor with some feedback of your own. You would actually be giving him feedback on the manner in which he gives feedback to the students . If you can give him positive feedback, maybe he will be more willing to give positive feedback during instruction. This can be as simple as saying, "we LOVE when you say positive things about our practice, please do more of that." IMHO, this simple little communication could make practice more enjoyable. I'm sure people will post other options as well. Good luck.
Steve
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Old 02-08-2006, 10:56 AM   #6
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Is it proper?

Sounds almost like an Iwama style instructor. Not to generalize, but the two Iwama instructors I've worked with are very concerned with details, and will correct any rank, black belt. I have no experience myself, but the impression I've gotten from my reading is that Saito-sensei was very much the same. Positive reinforcement is sparing; if you're doing it right (or close enough), they don't say anything. Although that's generally true of Japanese pedagogy as a whole.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 02-08-2006, 11:33 AM   #7
crbateman
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Re: Is it proper?

Some instructors do not coddle on the mat. If you are doing the technique properly, nothing needs to be said. Draw your encouragement from the fact that you are not corrected. If you know that this is your instructor's style, you will understand that his silence is a compliment, and you will take it as such. Cheer up, you COULD be training with one of those guys who never says ANYTHING, positive or negative, but only demonstrates techniques in silence. There are many like that. Count your blessings, and look to your mother for compliments.
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Old 02-08-2006, 02:05 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is it proper?

it may also be he does not understand the value of feeling rather than watching/telling--so perhaps worthwhile to reply to his verbal critique by sincerely asking if you may "receive the technique from him slowly in order to be sure I'm understanding what you mean?"--in my experience, it is always well recieved if these things are phrased to imply you are a deficient learner, *not* that the other is a deficient partner or teacher!

Janet Rosen
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Old 02-08-2006, 02:21 PM   #9
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Is it proper?

I like Clarke's response the best so far. All I can add is that;

I had an instructor that I respect very much who changed his teaching style and the direction of the school. I spoke with him for a time about the changes in direction, and he really wasn't going to change back to what I preferred. So I keep in touch, and am still friendly, and visit the dojo maybe once a year, but I train elsewhere now. His school, his way, best of luck to all that I came up with there. No hard feelings...each person is doing what is best for them. 'Course, here in Philly there are a host of dojo that I can train at if I so desire. This all sounds easy now, but at the time it was quite difficult.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:02 PM   #10
asiawide
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Re: Is it proper?

Well.. 4th dan rankers were very nice in your country. Mr. Reyes, Ms. Macapawa(probably 5th dan now..), and Mr. Buenaseda were all good. Maybe your teacher is not one of them..

First of all, you must know that some teachers extremely stick to only one style, one method, one ..... They didn't allow any personal style. And they think it's their duty to make the students like them. I even heard that some teachers correct the posture of fingers inch by inch. Aikido is 'The ONE and ONLY Way of Harmony' to them. Well.. it might be common in Japanese martial arts.

However, IT'S OK as long as his/her students are good. IMHO, good teachers are judged by his/her students. If you can't see any noticeable progress from the beginners or yourself for two years, your teacher might be wrong at teaching though still he may be a good aikidoka.

IMHO again, everybody can be a good aikidoka but only a few can be a good teacher. If you have the good teacher, you're lucky. If not, don't worry. There are so many students like you. Now your journey to the good teacher is just begun! Good luck!

Jaemin
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Old 02-08-2006, 09:29 PM   #11
PeterKang
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Re: Is it proper?

Hello Leon,
I have read the previous posts with interest and what everybody has mentioned has at one time or another rung true in my limited 10 years or so of aikido training. I have been fortunate to experience teaching from a variety of different senseis including the type of training environment which you are now faced with. Initially I was uncomfortable with the tough training environment where "ne'er a kind word " did I receive etc. I stuck with it and I did consider moving to another dojo. After analyzing the situation, I decided to absorb as much as I could from the "tough" sensei and "sucked it up" so to speak.

Overtime I stuck with the dojo and I discovered several things:
1) I developed a better sensei-deshi relationship after spending time and taking ukemi.
2) I decided that I wanted to take my standard of aikido to the highest possible level, comparable to the best dojos in Japan, US and in Europe.
3) I felt that my current dojo is the right one to take me in that direction.
4) My ability to learn was in large part up to me.
5) In comparison to other senseis I had experienced later on, it turned that our sensei(s) were really not as strict and they were really quite reasonable.
6) I didn't always agree with decisions but I accept that the sensei's word on how and what they teach in the dojo is the final one and should not be undermined.

At the end of the day... you want to continue to improve your quality of aikido so if you feel that you want to learn what your sensei has to teach then I suggest that you leave your ego outside the dojo and simply absorb what he has to tell you. From what you're saying, your sensei is conscientious about teaching. Let him teach you without you being too sensitive to his communication style. Be more open and receptive to his style. You might get something from being more openminded. Its up to you.

Good luck with whatever training direction you choose.

Best wishes,

Peter Kang
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Old 02-09-2006, 03:09 AM   #12
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Is it proper?

Yes Jaemin, my teacher is non of the names you mentioned but they are contemporaries. I just would like to comment on this.

Quote:
Jaemin Yu wrote:
First of all, you must know that some teachers extremely stick to only one style, one method, one ..... They didn't allow any personal style. And they think it's their duty to make the students like them. I even heard that some teachers correct the posture of fingers inch by inch. Aikido is 'The ONE and ONLY Way of Harmony' to them. Well.. it might be common in Japanese martial arts.
Jaemin
Well, if that is the way it is, doesn't this kind of thought normally causes the division or separation to any domain of relationship? Is that really common to a true nature of aikido or simply just common to some practitioners?

But…. anyway thanks for the input jaimen . It is a very pleasant reply.

Kamsahamnida
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Old 02-09-2006, 03:14 AM   #13
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Is it proper?

I must agree that every sensei have their own way of teaching but I am doubtful if every way of senseis teaching is right or proper teaching and aside from that he is the head sensei in our club and that is the reason no one dared to question his way of teaching.

Being one of the most active student in the class I hear all the feedbacks from my fellow aikidokas from Junior to Senior student of the class but they have all the same sentiment, "the style of teaching". And being one of his closes student he once asked me about losing students and I simply said his teaching method is focusing too much on the quality and its difficult for the student to absorb specially the beginners , and he retorted and said "let them be if they don't like my style ".

As I understand his values are more on expressing or rather insisting his style and the students have two choices either "to take it or to leave it" rather than the concern to the desideratum of the students.

So… what the majority is doing now is leave his class and go to another class meaning to a different sensei but the same club and dojo. I am still practicing with him, there are times just the two of us, of course respect is always there as a friend and as an apprentice.

Anyway thank you for all the inputs , everyone has a great and considerable point. .

Thank you very much.

Leon

Last edited by Leon Aman : 02-09-2006 at 03:21 AM.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:38 AM   #14
ian
 
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Re: Is it proper?

I think teaching aikido can be difficult, because any technique almost always is wrong. i.e. we learn how to do it badly and improve. This is unlike some things e.g. learning multiplication, where it is either wrong or right.

The trick is to tell the student what they need to hear at the time so they can grow the most. If the teacher is new, have patience - when I started teaching I found it hard to comprehend how people couldn't do a ukemi. I just demonstrated and expected people to be able to copy!

As long as it is not an ego thing for him/her, take these negative comments as a bit of a compliment; it means you are ready to hear things that can improve your technique. Of course, if it doesn't help and it just makes things complicated, the extra advice is useless.

IMO aikido is very simple - it just takes a long time to realise this, then even longer to be able to achieve this simplicity. I also believe it can't be taught by word of mouth or explained with words and has to be experienced over time. The words are the equivalent of 'pointing at the moon', and shaking the finger harder will not increase the students capacity to understand.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:47 AM   #15
ian
 
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Re: Is it proper?

P.S. what benefitted my instruction enormously was help from the lower ranks who were more in touch with the difficulties of learning the basics of a particular technique. I encouraged certain students to be the 'intermediary' as I didn't understand their problems well. Also, I tend to direct the class towards the middle grade (otherwise you are always directing at the lower grades!) and these assistants help with the basics for the beginners.

From the sounds of it you feel dissapointed in what you are getting from your club. I don't agree with the 'take it or leave it' approach - my teaching only improved because of the patience and feedback of my students.

I would suggest that within the club you find a 'mentor' or find some way to broach this subject (as an instructor I would be happy to hear comments that would improve the teaching) - if not, find a club in which you feel the teaching would be better. Some instructors ego's swell to enormous proprotions because they are the best aikidoka they see most of the time. However the task of an instructor is to TEACH aikido, not to be a superstar at aikido.

I have found different clubs can suit you at different stages of aikido development. Don't feel bad if you feel you have to leave. Do what's best for your progression; if he is technically very good, you may find you want to come back in 5-10 years when you can appreciate it more. Good luck.

Last edited by ian : 02-09-2006 at 06:50 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-09-2006, 08:00 AM   #16
Mark Freeman
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Re: Is it proper?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
IMO aikido is very simple - it just takes a long time to realise this, then even longer to be able to achieve this simplicity. I also believe it can't be taught by word of mouth or explained with words and has to be experienced over time. The words are the equivalent of 'pointing at the moon', and shaking the finger harder will not increase the students capacity to understand.
Hi Ian
I agree with this point 'almost' wholeheartedly.
I absolutely agree that aikido is in essence 'simple', and that this is what the student struggles with. Our minds are more comfortable with accumulating knowledge than getting rid of the barriers that prevent effortless aikido.
I do however feel that the words that a teacher uses can help/hinder the students progress in the attempt to achieve aiki.
My own teacher has spent a lifetime refining his teaching technique, and he uses simple and easy to understand speech for all of his students. He seems to have honed his words down to the essence, which I for one really appreciate.
I'm sure that it is possible to completely over complicate the teaching of aikido, especially when there are spiritual and philosophical points to be made along side the mind/body movements.
So while I agree you can't teach solely by word of mouth, the words that come out of ones mouth make all the difference.

Cheers,
Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 02-09-2006, 08:13 AM   #17
Nick P.
 
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Re: Is it proper?

Are you really lucky?

Yes:
1 - You have a teacher who is showing you, in minute detail, how to do every part of every technique.
2 - You are being challenged by being frustrated at the end of every class; this is a valuable learning tool to help you work through frustration.
3 - You are reminded, constantly, of how good your teacher is.
4 - You now have an excellent benchmark to compare other teachers to.

No:
1 - You never get any flow or rhythm going, and your techniques are all staccato and harsh, and you over analyze every nuance.
2 - Your are simply frustrated, and it will never end.
3 - You are reminded, constantly, of how good your teacher is.
4 - You now have an excellent benchmark to compare other teachers to.

Stay and learn what they have to teach, or leave and find what you need. Simple but difficult.

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Old 02-09-2006, 07:19 PM   #18
asiawide
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Re: Is it proper?

As I said before, if the students are moving to other class, it means the teacher lacks something important. Some people dare to join harsh army special forces and overcome the hard training. It's simply because they think there are something to learn.

If the teacher has undeniable 'something' about aikido, why are your dojo mates moving to other class? Maybe they just lack 'GONZO'. Then, take it or leave it. But though you have 'Gonzo', if you can't accept the way of the teacher, you're right. You should move to other dojo.

By the way, what really important is 'Skill'. Does he have it? If the teacher really suck at teaching but you can still learn from him if he has 'Skill'. However, if 'no skill and teaching sucks', don't waste your time. Otherwise... stay.

Jaemin
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:02 AM   #19
billybob
 
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Re: Is it proper?

Ian Dodkins said "IMO aikido is very simple - it just takes a long time to realise this, then even longer to be able to achieve this simplicity. I also believe it can't be taught by word of mouth or explained with words and has to be experienced over time. The words are the equivalent of 'pointing at the moon', and shaking the finger harder will not increase the students capacity to understand."

Succinctly put sir.

Leon, do you have your answer sir?

dave
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:32 AM   #20
Mark Uttech
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Re: Is it proper?

With age and experience, right vs. wrong lose their sharp edges; only blatantly right /wrong keep their edge. Of course, without age or experience, we can never understand. In gassho
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Old 02-10-2006, 03:28 PM   #21
ikkitosennomusha
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Re: Is it proper?

There are alot of thngs that can be going on here. If there is another dojo nearby, you have the option to leave. Beginers are often frustrated so as long as their is no foul play, give it some time.

This is why I like to be a part of a oraganization. There are constant improvements on how to do a technique and this is why mandatory seminars are excellent, which is like continuing education.

However, if he is not part of an organization, then it could or could not be a case of someone doing "home grown" aikido. Be patient, do some research and ultimately, trust your judgement about this guy. I have seen some aweful sensei but I did not know it until I finally trained under a good one. Experience is the only way to tell really.
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:13 PM   #22
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Is it proper?

Quote:
Ian Dodkins wrote:
P.S. what benefitted my instruction enormously was help from the lower ranks who were more in touch with the difficulties of learning the basics of a particular technique. I encouraged certain students to be the 'intermediary' as I didn't understand their problems well. Also, I tend to direct the class towards the middle grade (otherwise you are always directing at the lower grades!) and these assistants help with the basics for the beginners.
Ian,

With all my heart I completely agree, the way you handle your student on different stages and your "phrase" that "understanding aikido is understanding the training method" and I am sure your students are very lucky for they have you and I salute you. But my apologies for I cannot utterly acquiesce something I haven't experienced yet. My bewilderment to the simplicity of aikido is maybe because I haven't experienced it from the teacher I haplessly encounter who are making aikido complicated instead of simplifying it, and thus maybe my 5 years experience in aikido is too young enough to understand everything about it.

Leon
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Old 02-11-2006, 03:37 AM   #23
raul rodrigo
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Re: Is it proper?

Leon, we've trained together a few times, and I know the instructor you are referring to. Strictness is a good thing in an instructor. On the other hand, there is such a thing as being too negative. I've had classes with one or two sempai who would make so many corrections that, being a white belt at the time, I couldn't absorb it all. The best teachers i've had (Macapawa, Asperin, Kumagai, etc) focused only a few simple things at a time and didn't try to make my waza perfect all at once.

Now that I am a yudansha and have had to teach a few classes myself, it becomes even clearer to me that I have to keep things simple for my kohai (even at the risk of oversimplifying). They have to have a simple goal to grasp (e.g., to make sure to get into proper irimi position, or to keep one shoulders relaxed, or in shihonage never let one's hands pass behind your head). If they have to keep track of too many things, the danger is their waza will become in fact staccato and jerky and over-analyzed. And their keiko will be devoid of joy.

There are many paths up the same mountain. For a sensei to insist that his is the only right path would be a disservice to aikido. For you, the question is whether you can keep on learning and improving your waza in such an environment. If so, well and good.


Raul
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Old 02-12-2006, 06:21 PM   #24
Leon Aman
 
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Re: Is it proper?

Thanks a lot Raul that would be a great insight in budo training. I will definitely see you again and with your fellow comrades, soon.

For now IMH understanding, running away couldn't be the best solution of resolving any problem. Because I understand problem will remain a problem whether one gets out of it or not unless it is not clearly resolved otherwise. Likewise I must also agree with some people here trying to suggest that to free myself from the current situation is the best solution of resolving it , it is just a matter of my own decision and choice. Now since the real concern here is not about resolving the problem (and besides because I have no power to alter anything outside of me like changing ones attitude, instead the only power I possess is altering myself towards anything which in this case is somewhat difficult to accept). but where to put myself from the state of uncertainty and its consequences. Now I'm beginning to realize that they are right with their suggestion. That though I am in a labyrinthine path out of "many paths up towards the same mountain" as Raul stated , the only thing I need to do is to decide and to choose on which path do I have to take in to account to, and now it is more clearer to me that the problem is not actually the labyrinthine path but my very own self who have all the freedom to decide and to choose whatever I want to do with my aikido way of experiences.

With this I just want to take this moment to say thank you very much to all those who contributed to this thread for everyone has in each own positive inputs on a different stages of positivity, though it is not that long enough to compare to some thread out there but I'm deeply touched with the words all of you outlined here. The subject matter may somewhat be significantly important worthy to be contemplated by students , teachers or soon to be teachers who are involved in this art, I myself too has learned a lot from this short conversation and this one could lead me to pattern my journey on the last part of my aikido training.

Domo arigatou gozaimashita to all

Have a nice day!

Leon
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Old 02-12-2006, 06:48 PM   #25
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Is it proper?

Quote:
Leon Aman wrote:
Thanks a lot Raul that would be a great insight in budo training. I will definitely see you again and with your fellow comrades, soon.

For now IMH understanding, running away couldn't be the best solution of resolving any problem. Because I understand problem will remain a problem whether one gets out of it or not unless it is not clearly resolved otherwise. Likewise I must also agree with some people here trying to suggest that to free myself from the current situation is the best solution of resolving it , it is just a matter of my own decision and choice. Now since the real concern here is not about resolving the problem (and besides because I have no power to alter anything outside of me like changing ones attitude, instead the only power I possess is altering myself towards anything which in this case is somewhat difficult to accept). but where to put myself from the state of uncertainty and its consequences. Now I'm beginning to realize that they are right with their suggestion. That though I am in a labyrinthine path out of "many paths up towards the same mountain" as Raul stated , the only thing I need to do is to decide and to choose on which path do I have to take in to account to, and now it is more clearer to me that the problem is not actually the labyrinthine path but my very own self who have all the freedom to decide and to choose whatever I want to do with my aikido way of experiences.

With this I just want to take this moment to say thank you very much to all those who contributed to this thread for everyone has in each own positive inputs on a different stages of positivity, though it is not that long enough to compare to some thread out there but I'm deeply touched with the words all of you outlined here. The subject matter may somewhat be significantly important worthy to be contemplated by students , teachers or soon to be teachers who are involved in this art, I myself too has learned a lot from this short conversation and this one could lead me to pattern my journey on the last part of my aikido training.

Domo arigatou gozaimashita to all

Have a nice day!

Leon
It sounds like you have found your answer through all the voices. That's good. I think that when you have a Sensei, in your heart, you must believe in him. If you do, then it is good to stay and learn and adjust to that person. If you don't really believe in the person, then it's better to go on. We can't change others. We can only change ourselves. The instructor is learning too as he teaches but in the sense that he learns from himself, sometimes, we must have patience until he sees the truth. I have had experiences with instructors like the one you mentioned but I always tried to adjust to them and learn what I could. I have always been glad that I did that while I could. Then I had to move on.
I wish you the best.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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