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#134472 - 02/27/05 08:05 PM No Win Situation
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
On another thread, there has been a discussion about how involved a Sensei should be in terms of how he gets involved in the students life outside of training. Some feel a Sensei should just teach technique and people how to fight or defend themselves. Sensei should have no say about a students behavior, or how he acts outside the dojo. Others feel the Sensei has every right to judge how a person acts because he is a reflection of the Sensei and the school. Either way, its a no win situation. In this forum, you can go on any post and see the term McDojo or McSensei. Here a Sensei gets criticized for teaching for money, and not getting into the other tenants of training. They teach for money, bottom line and give nothing but technical training. On the other hand you have others that see the Sensei as a Shepherd tending his flock, and people criticize that Sensei for being too involved, he shouldn't deal in students behaviors or how students live their lives. So if people don't want a Mc Sensei, but don't want him in their daily lives, and teach how to be a better individual either, what do they want? In the old days you shut up and trained. The term Uechi Deschi, meant serving your Sesnei as a live in student,so not only was the Sensei involved, but people had to take care of the Sensei. I wonder how many people would do that now if they had the chance. Live with the Sensei, learn all he has, but were servants as well. If they don't want a Sensei too involved with their lives, how would they feel about waiting on his every need. Back then it was an honor to be an Uechi Deschi, not so much now.

I know of a Sensei who was known for producing great fighters. But that was all he taught, he was hands off everything else, and did not burden the student with history, philosophy, code, or lineage. He often said "my job is to teach people to fight". And....the only time you got a call from Sensei was for your dues. Lets call him Sensei A. If you wanted to get better Sensei A would give you privates, which he made much more money than for monthly classes. Essentially he was a McDojo(or is it only a McDojo if the Sesnei produces poor fighters?)
One day Sensei A's Instructor came to him and told him he needed to refine his fighters, that they were thugs in the ring, technically good, but mentally horrible. Sensei A's instructor told Snesei A that if he didn't start teaching more than just fighting he would be sorry the way his students turned out. After a while Sensei A tired of his commercial school and just did privates at his house. He started to build a dojo in his garage but in the meantime, worked in the backyard. Students really didn't like training here and started to leave. Eventually Sensei A only had a handful of students and decided to retire and enjoy his life from all the money he made. He left several holding the bag. In his retirement Sensei lost his wife, his house and decided to un-retire after a 5 year abscence. He called all his students to let them know he was back. Sensei's A's instructor tried to help him out and had a get together for Sensei A. His Instrucotr called all his past students and his peers in training. No one showed up, no one. Sensei A asked his Insructor "why did he think no one came". His instructor said, that Sensei A had come full circle. His students treated him, just like he taught them. They were not taught other aspects of training, only how to fight. There is more to teach, and what you leave with your student, is what he is going to give back. If all you leave is physical training, how can you expect them to understand the philosophy of the art.

I think this really sums up the dilema between getting too involved and not involved enough. If all you teach is commercial information, in a commercial setting you get labeled as teaching for money, and then if one teaches more he gets criticized for interfering in the students life. The one thing I know for sure is you can't have it both ways. If all you want is a instructor to teach you how to fight or just technique you can't be upset that he is teaching for dollars. On the other hand, if you want more of the arts, you can not get upset if your Sensei teaches you about life, not just Martial Arts. Its a dichotomy, and a no win situation. No matter how you treat your students, someone will find the shortcoming. I wonder why it is people look for the shortcomings in a person, instead of the good he does. Especially in the MArtial Arts. I know 100's of people who train and that many Sensei. I only know 1 Sensei in all these years that I have never heard a bad word about! In 20 years, only 1 Sensei that has never been criticized by someone, and as a side note is a noted historian as well and his students all are very knowledgeable, but no one seems to have a problem with this Sensei. Yet ask about any other Sensei and you hear he is in it for the money, he doesn't care or he is too controlingwith his students. Its something that is really a quite unique. A no win situation.

#134473 - 02/27/05 08:43 PM Re: No Win Situation

The answer is simple yet painfully difficult: dont post on the boards.

Only way to escape the bullshido of the masses. Theres always someone offended by something. Course, you knew that, didnt ya?

- Op. Skinny Ninja

#134474 - 02/27/05 09:11 PM Re: No Win Situation

I don't necessarily think it is a "no-win" situation. Like everything else in life, it comes down to personal choices and how you want to live your life, irrespective of what other people may think or say.

Only we can make that choice - to live in the light, or hide in the dark. Either way, we are all subject to the immutable laws of nature. We can choose to accept it or ignore it. The fundamental law of "reap as you sow" is one.

If the choice is to produce fighters only, without the requisite philosophical and moral foundation, then you reap what you sow. If the choice is to build relationships and "farm individuals", then you reap as you sow.

Win or lose, it's all an illusion.

The hardest thing to do is to find the balance between the two - for love AND money. With most, it is one or the other, each being mutually exclusive of the other. But I don't think it necessarily has to be that way.

#134475 - 02/27/05 10:01 PM Re: No Win Situation
nekogami13 V2.0 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 2643
Loc: Texas, USA
I believe the option is up to the individual.

If you want a shepherd who teaches you martial arts, origami, the meaning of the universe and 31 different uses for a swizel stick-by all means go find one.

I personally do not need a shepherd-I am not a sheep.
If I want philosophy and ancient Asian wisdom, I will buy a fortune cookie.
My behavior outside of the dojo/kwoon/dojang does not need to be monitored-I am a responsible adult who was raised by responsible people. A good teacher should realise this and focus his shepherding energies somewhere else.

I understand some teachers do become very involved in students lives. Good for them, I commend and applaud them(seriously), but it is not something I want or need.

#134476 - 02/27/05 10:13 PM Re: No Win Situation

My Sifu is a very cool guy.

He is an excelent teacher and Ive learned alot from him. He's produced some very good fighters (though we dont do much tournament) and he has a very deep knowledge of the arts. He's one of the few teachers Ive met who asks students what they would like to learn. He makes jokes during class and he is easy to talk to socially or if you have a problem. He pushes all his students without pushing them away, and the class regularly goes out for food after class snd occasionaly has a movie night at his or someone elses home. Some students even get lifts to and from class with him.

At the same time he never extols any philosophy other than training hard and taking care of ones self. He never tells his adult students how to behave, only how to train. When dealing with kids he advises first, "listen to your parents" He asks where we've been if we havent shown up for a while, but he never presses anyone for personal information and conversation stays on neutral subjects unless otherwise initiated by the student.

He has a perfect balance between training us and being friends with us.

I've not heard a bad word said about him by anyone.

One of my old teachers did many of the same things, but you would get the impression that you owed him for it. If people couldnt make an extra class he would guilt trip us about the effort he put in. When we went out together he expected people to still call him sensei and gave orders as though we were still in class (including banning adult students from going into the town during a weekend break to a beach training camp). He would press people about percieved problems and was unhappy if they did not want to talk. Ocassionally large portions of a class would be taken up with him extoling his views on things, which often were not shared by his students (who were rapidly cooling down), or if in a one to one conversation, the problems of other students would come up.

There was much being said about him in the changing rooms.

#134477 - 02/28/05 03:47 AM Re: No Win Situation

In any organization, you have CEOs that walk the talk, and those who don't. MA organizations are no different.

I can see why Shonuff makes the case for maintaining professional distance; it is hard to separate the personality from the person. It is an integral part of what makes us human, and not dispassionate automatons.

I think the fundamental issue is how we relate to other people. Some students might not appreciate Sensei B (in Shonuff's example), but for others, it may be just want they need to shake them out of their dream - even if they don't know it, don't want it, or don't know they need it. Others yet, might have no preference either way. In other words, people will take things however they perceive it.

There is merit in the alternative view of who becomes the judge of what the student needs or doesn't need. I would counter that surely, teaching experience would have a large part to play in this?

I had a aikido sensei who used to stop the class midway, and then proceed to go into a lengthy discourse about something obtusely related to training attitude, liberally couched in Zen parables and philosophy. Whilst he was very diplomatic and generic enough about it, I could tell which particular individuals he was directing his monologue to. Most of the time, people just thought he was loopy and off his tree.

This used to disturb many students, who afterwards related that they had a hard time reconciling what my sensei was trying to say, yet I understood where he was coming from and exactly what he meant. The fact that we were in seiza for a good 20-30 mins didn't make it any easier. But I took this to be the lesson.

My point is, everyone's experience of the same person is different, because our perspectives are different. Whilst I am not saying that sensei is always right and we should suspend critical thinking and judgement because they are the teacher, by the same token, who are we to judge, when we do not have the breadth and depth of experience that the sensei has?

#134478 - 02/28/05 01:14 PM Re: No Win Situation
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
Whilst I am not saying that sensei is always right and we should suspend critical thinking and judgement because they are the teacher, by the same token, who are we to judge, when we do not have the breadth and depth of experience that the sensei has?

Amen, my point exactly.

#134479 - 03/02/05 03:36 AM Re: No Win Situation

[QUOTE]Originally posted by senseilou:
...who are we to judge, when we do not have the breadth and depth of experience that the sensei has?

Who is sensei to judge when he/she does not have the breadth and depth of experience that the student has?

#134480 - 03/02/05 03:56 AM Re: No Win Situation

I'm afraid I have a very one sided view on the matter.

I believe that a Sensie should get involved in his/her student's lives because this is the traditionsal way. If students only want to learn to fight then they are not worth teaching. Martial arts that strive have always been those that promote discapline, kindness, respect and so on. I have great respect for my sensie and in my class after you start to get close to black belt you are expected to put things in yourself, for example checking the uniforms of younger or lower grade students, or taking over the lesson if the teacher is stuck in a traffic jam.

I believe that if students are not going to put the effort in and give up more of their time then they are not worth teaching. A good student should have good morals and be devoted.

#134481 - 03/02/05 04:41 PM Re: No Win Situation

To clarify... this was actually my quote:
...who are we to judge, when we do not have the breadth and depth of experience that the sensei has?

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Shonuff:
Who is sensei to judge when he/she does not have the breadth and depth of experience that the student has?


However, if you turn up to someone else's class, you're a student, and they the teacher. Therefore you must accord them the requisite respect and adopt appropriate humilty in the process. Otherwise, you might as well take over the class, or better yet, leave, if you strongly feel that the sensei is ill-placed to judge what is best for their students, based on their experience (or lack thereof).

Otherwise, it becomes a county club with codes of conduct for their members. Although there is nothing wrong with that, I am a bit of a traditionalist at heart. Student come to learn, whatever form that lesson may take. You take with you want to want and reject what you don't. But as long as you're a student, you must behave like a student. Likewise, we hope that the teacher has the good sense to say what is necessary for that student to develop and push themselves beyond their perceived capabilities.

It is no different to an educational setting. Perhaps that is why the truancy rate is so high in schools these days. The youth of every generation go thru a rebellious, arrogant stage. They think they know better, they [think they] are "street-wise", "smart-asses", "wise-guys", and that the wrinklies know jack. There is no respect and no humility.

Is it so wrong to inject some respect and humility in today's youth (including some adults!)??? Or are we ill-fated to repeat the cycle from generation to generation?

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