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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 1998 3:01 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 1998 6:01 am
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Location: Boston, MA USA
An interesting aside from contributors of “Aftermath”:

Van described some of the more colorful inhabitants of the MA domain. Like it or not, they’re there. But if we agree ‘martial arts aren’t for everyone’ are we responsible to filter these people out and if so who makes the decision to exclude them?

My guess is that throughout history, holders of MA knowledge considered transmission of this information differently and rarely went outside the ‘family’, perhaps one (maybe two) trusted disciples got the full transmission. This provides a method of selection very different from what we are used to.

Should we be more selective in teaching the martial arts and test applicants for mental or physical well being? Allow all comers but be selective about advanced teaching, possibly withhold information, to all but those most trusted? ... or open the doors, teach everyone everything, take their money and put up with them and then hope that either the beneficial effects of the martial arts seeps in at some point, the rigors of study provide ample barriers or an actual event (like a fight) causes them to realize they should have taken ballet lessons?

There are upsides and downsides to each.


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 1998 11:41 am 
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Phil,

That is the dilemna of "teaching" for me. For what purposes, to what end, and to whom. I can never satisfy myself in these inquiries and the "answers" seem to constantly shift. I am much more comfortable being a student and examining my own purposes.

I have "train" with very small groups, members of whom are not automatically accepted, where no money is involved for teaching (money for equipment is another matter). We share our "training", some taking the lead more than others. Nothing is explicitly/implicitly promised as the outcome of such "training". The members are expected to figure it out for themselves. We expect that we treat each other with respect as training partners, i.e. check the "ego" as much as possible.

Of course, none of us in these "training" groups propose or imply access to "hidden" inner teachings. To do so is to imply that one is "better" than the others and can control access to that information from the others. The premise of "sharing" of such a group would than be violated. No. If someone wants access to "hidden" knowledge, we have none and s/he had better find the right teacher to initiate with.

david


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 1998 5:51 am 
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Location: Boston, MA USA
Dave... I see some really good positives.

Since you are on solid ground with Uechi, and keep practicing, work with others from diverse MA backrounds must reinforce your Uechi and you probably learn a lot from coming in contact with other styles (if they have an equal say in the procedings). I'm not sure how it works but the lack of a formal structure sometimes forces some interesting common ground.

Also, the 'no automatic' acceptance policy and the general agreement (to check egos at the door) is a really good thing because it allows your group to remain in tact and functioning as a club or group of friends with a mutual interest, particularly since the love of doing (and not profit) is a prime motivating force.

I'm guessing but if the 'to what end' problems are troublesome it might be possible to address them by arranging to attend an 'official' dojo now and then, allowing you to 'keep your foot in the door' so to speak.

I was very interested in your observation that withholding information implies hidden knowledge or that the holder of this information is better than another. That's very true but it isn't just top-down learning and my guess is that it extends to every level of teaching and learning in the martial arts.

For example, a new student may have insight into a problem but consider it unworthy, thereby withholding it from his teacher or classmates. The level of trust is important to allow the student to share this information.

Or a student picks up a technique and makes it work while everyone else is having problems. Sometimes this person can explain it to the others so that everyone learns because his knowledge transfers easily, his understanding is singular and his explanation is appropriate. Does that make him better, I guess it depends.

There are also times when withholding is done to allow assimilation by degree, ie explanation does not often produce instant correction.... and additional 'words' only serve to confuse.

Anyway, my hunch is that it's a fairly common phenomenon and not exclusive or confined to the upper layers of martial arts. A group like the one you describe sometimes has a better chance of sharing this kind of information, without fear of discomfort or rivalry...

Hope all's well! Best regards...phils

[This message has been edited by Phils (edited 10-20-98).]


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 1998 11:39 am 
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Phil,

I still keep a foot in the aikido dojo and the other in Uechi with GEM. Nevertheless, no ultimate goals are being revealed or hinted at. Just an unfolding of the practice. I suspect that I will just keep practicing until I drop dead one day. There is no reason to do so except it is just something I do as part of living life.

Regarding "hidden teaching" (Okuden) which is often refered in koryu (old traditions), it could be benign. And, as you pointed out, it may simply be a matter of letting a student assimilate by degrees. A teacher doesn't complicate matters for the student by introducing "new" concepts until the latter has already incorporated in body memory/understanding the previous concepts. But, okuden, has also been used as a device to maintain a hierarchy, a "we" and "they", even within a school. This suggest a power structure that is purposely maintained not as a natural outcome of experience and understanding but of intent. Once in awhile you run into a so call master who claims all the "teachings" of a particular style, suggesting that others do not. Perhaps...

I guess the idea of "okuden" bothers me because of the latter. Also, I tend not to believe in concept of so-called hidden teachings. Given effort and time and some degree of talent, most practitioners will at some point arrive at the same understanding of a teacher. He may have to stumble here and there but will eventually get there. A teacher can expedite by pointing out at appropriate times but cannot stop a good student from learning by ommission.

I would be interested hearing your answers to those questions. Would you, or are you teaching? If yes, what are you teaching (purpose)? Gin Soon sifu has been around a long time. What is his way of teaching? What is he trying to "transmit?" Is this freely accessible to all who enters the kwoon (provided dilligent effort/time)?

david

[This message has been edited by david (edited 10-21-98).]


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 1998 2:54 am 
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A few gems from David:

"Nothing is
explicitly/implicitly promised as the outcome of such "training". The
members are expected to figure it out for themselves."

That has always been my understanding of the martial arts concept as explained by Mattson sensei as well as the other Okinawan masters in their visits to the States !

"Of course, none of us in these "training" groups propose or imply
access to "hidden" inner teachings. To do so is to imply that one is
"better" than the others and can control access to that information
from the others. The premise of "sharing" of such a group would
than be violated. No. If someone wants access to "hidden"
knowledge, we have none and s/he had better find the right
teacher to initiate with."

True>> this is the real difference between a good teacher/ school and the Bull S @#$ teacher /dojo!


"Regarding "hidden teaching" (Okuden).. But, okuden,
has also been used as a device to maintain a hierarchy, a "we" and
"they", even within a school. This suggest a power structure that is
purposely maintained not as a natural outcome of experience and
understanding but of intent. Once in awhile you run into a so call
master who claims all the "teachings" of a particular style,
suggesting that others do not. Perhaps...

I must agree with this also ! Without offending anyone , We , over the long years , have had to put up with some very senior people who happened to study in Okinawa for some time frame and then come back to the states with a swollen head , strutting and preaching deep and dark secrets which we ' would not understand ' unless we traveled to Okinawa to study under A master ! In those days [ right or wrong] I measured the worth of any training in terms of fighting abilities in the wars of the 60's and 70's and my arguments in my sparring classes and fighting teams were always to the heart of the matter " If you have such secrets why can't you fight worth a damn and keep polishing our dojo floor with your ass "? Why can't you go up against Chuck Norris or Joe Lewis and kick their asses full contact ? Just about 100% of the enlightened ones either would not enter tournaments or would try to impress us with leg banging techniques !

So one day I took a leg banger and put him up against Jack London , one of my best kickers on the team and told him to offer his right leg , which he did ! With a conceited smile the leg banger went for the bait with a vicious low shin sweep aimed at the outside of the leg ..but I was smiling even wider as I knew what the outcome would be ! Jack's leg went up with the kick 's propulsion and then hooked back with the heel to the head of the hapless senior knocking him down ! Now isn't that a kick in the head?

Wait ..you say ..well he should have kicked the inside of the leg ..not the outside ..right ?? Hah ..that is what happened to a top fighter …all Okinawan champion , in the Okinawan championships when he went against our Bob Bethoney ! As the champ kicked bob inside the leg , Bob pulled on him our "secret technique " ! He just lifted his leg over the low shin slash and moved in with the same leg deep inside for a stunning throw and follow up seiken to the surprised face on the floor ! We have that on film btw !


" I guess the idea of "okuden" bothers me because of the latter.
Also, I tend not to believe in concept of so-called hidden
teachings. Given effort and time and some degree of talent, most
practitioners will at some point arrive at the same understanding of
a teacher. He may have to stumble here and there but will
eventually get there. A teacher can expedite by pointing out at
appropriate times but cannot stop a good student from learning by
omission. "

Wiser words never said ! But the only way the 'Okuden' blessed marvel will learn this truth is by the rules of engagement , not by sitting up and stiffening his back into a Buddha position ! Our Clarence Wilder really loves those guys to feed his meat grinder !

Van Canna


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 1998 3:13 am 
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Posts: 108
Location: Boston, MA USA
David:

To be very honest, with Gin Soon and his sons around, I’m embarrassed to say I ‘teach’ (Tai Chi Chu'an). GS is very patient, quiet, professional and straightforward in his manner of teaching, very knowing but direct and to the point, no nonsense. He is a marvel with new students, gentle and kind but never overly so or familiar and can instill confidence without saying a word. It’s something to see. What I try to do is help (when asked) but even that isn’t easy though I get more out of it than the recipient (victim)!

It’s hard to say for sure about hidden teaching. It’s like money in the bank… some people give the impression they have lots… others keep it strictly to themselves and it bears no relationship to what they actually have or what they are prepared to ‘spend’.

I understand why the idea of "okuden" is troubling but I do see a logic for it and it has to do with what you are saying in the last paragraph; value and the process of acquisition and selection. To the extent that it takes time, effort, money, etc. to acquire MA skill, what is the bearer’s responsibility to pass this on freely? After all, it came at a price. Shouldn’t a teacher exact a price (and shouldn’t a student be prepared to pay it), whether the cost of the lesson, time or effort? … and if the student lacks the requisite initiative (is unwilling to pay the price), isn’t there a point at which responsibility to ‘share’ diminishes or ceases? Isn’t this a logical way to separate the serious (worthy?) students and weed out the bad actors?

Best regards. phils



[This message has been edited by Phils (edited 10-23-98).]


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 1998 8:57 pm 
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Location: Boston, MA USA
Vann: Yes indeed, all mentioned (including you) very tough, mentally and physically as I remember, willing and able to prove it to anyone, anytime.... a most efficient selection device, the ability to stand up and prove it!

Best regards..phils


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 1998 11:45 pm 
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Phils,
You were no slouch yourself ! I am glad to have followed a 'certain road' along the way ..I will always cherish those wonderful memories of so many talented, hard working and fierce practitioners ! Sensei Mattson's dojo at the bottom of Beacon hill was the furnace that forged many a hammer who gained respect world wide by the visiting 'fighting ' Okinawans ,visiting all Japan collegiate champions [moto and Taro], countless visiting fighters from diverse styles and the tough American tournament scene ! That is why I will never accept or allow "Okuden " talk from the people who have not shown me to have walked the same path !

Regards,

Van


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 1998 4:20 pm 
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Posts: 148
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Van,

If anybody wants to learn Bethoney sensei's "okuden" techniques, then get a copy of GEM's video magazine # 003 ($25). This tape has the match between Bob Bethoney and Okinawan champion Myamia at the 1985 All Okinawan Karate Championships.

I have used that tape repeatedly for demonstrating that "secret" leg technique! Absolutely exquisite in its simplicity and devastating effectiveness!!!

Best,
Moe


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 Post subject: Survival of the Fittest?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 1998 2:29 am 
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Location: Boston, MA
Phil,

>>To the extent that it takes time, effort, money, etc. to acquire MA skill, what is the bearer’s responsibility to pass this on freely? After all, it came at a price. Shouldn’t a teacher exact a price (and shouldn’t a student be prepared to pay it), whether the cost of the lesson, time or effort? and if the student lacks the requisite initiative (is unwilling to pay
the price), isn’t there a point at which responsibility to ‘share’ diminishes or ceases? Isn’t this a logical way to separate the serious (worthy?) students and weed out the bad actors?<<

To my way of thinking, the process exacts the "price" in terms of commitment of time and energy. This is the greatest "weeder" of the serious from the not so serious. The teacher need not exact a price though a student may willingly pay back with respect, a sense of gratitude, a feeling of indebtedness (which has nothing to do with money per se) and, yes, even love.

Regarding "bad actors", some of them can "act" very well in front of the "sifu" or "sensei". In fact, some end up being the upper echelons of some dojos. Sifu's and senseis are not Gods. They can be fooled like anyone else.

Thanks for sharing,

david


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