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Home > Techniques > Learning Techniques
by Rocky Izumi <Send E-mail to Author> - 24. Sep, 1996

A lesson to be learned is that all things change--even what a Shihan says. One day, he will say: "Do the technique this way." Next day, he will say: "No, that is wrong." One day, he will say: "This person is weak." The next day, he will say: "No, I didn't say that."

Which is why I can only do what I think the Shihan told me to do and if they decide that it was not what they told me to do, I can only accept the fact that I interpreted them incorrectly and apologize. In all communication you require

  1. a sender;
  2. an encoding process;
  3. a transmission process;
  4. a decoding process; and
  5. a receiver

as the major parts of the system (there are a lot of other parts that I haven't mentioned but I will try and ignore them here for simplicity sake). What the sender intends to send must be encoded. The decoding algorithm must be the same. Who of us can be sure that the encoding process of a Shihan will match the decoding process that each of us uses? The transmission is also problematic in that we are often clueless as to the non-verbal messages that Shihan give as they talk. You have to be aware of their body language (which tends to be much more subtle than many others'), you have to be aware of past history (part of the encoding process), you have to be aware of present political situations (part of the transmission channel), and you have to be aware of what they understand of your background (part of the decoding process). Communication is a matter of perception.

I demonstrate a technique and one person says "he told us to do it this way." Another, higher ranked person says, "No, he told us not to do it that way." Both of them are right--from their individual point of view. And they probably both got the correct message. The same message was intended to be interpreted differently be each of those two people.

Many of the Shihan talk about harmony in Aikido. A gentle person interprets that harmony in terms of gentleness and caring for all living things. Others think, if the opposition pulls a .38, I'd better pull a .40! Both are harmonious but each of the sides will disagree with the other's harmoniousness.


(Rocky Izumi is the head of the Barbados Aikido Federation in Barbados, West Indies.)

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