In my view, there is no question that students 'lend a hand', though unintentioned, to their much admired teachers. Aikidoists would talk about the 'ki' power of the Founder, Ueshiba,and would say he could throw an attacker without even touching him (or other fairly similar claims). They would discuss the old film clips, and find a 'now-you-see-him-now-you-don't' moment in which he seemed to change position fromin front of the attacker to behind in a flash.And many of us have seen the demonstations in which multiple hakama clad attackers are sent whirling and tumbling across the mats, etc.I have seen these old films,too. Lest I be misunderstood, I should say that I fully respect Aikido (wish I had the time to study it myself)and I am using this example only because it is fairly clear to me.Having studied these old films, I believe they show an automatic "flinch" or reaction on the part of many of the students which lend the appearance of effortlessness to the sequence. And the 'disappearing act' business is no more than an artifact of the grainy and scratchy old film (which pops anf jumps as old film do. Advanced students (of our art as much as any other)tend to be so filled with respect for their teacher (a good thing, no?) that we would have it no other way than to want to make him look good in front of the class. And isn't it an entirely different matter to practice a prearranged sequence than a freestyle encounter? To get back to the Aikido example, I also saw an old film in which a somewhat skeptical American journalist, having studied a little Aikido with one of Ueshiba's top instructors,challenges him to an"old-fashioned rough and tumble"...i.e.;basically a freestyle match. Well, as you might expect, the Aikidoist defeated him handily, though the journalist was much bigger and claimed to be a ex-marine with much fighting experience. But it was no show of elegance, and the Aikido teacher looked to be sweating at points!The point here is that the journalist had no preconceived belief or need to recognize the martial artist's skill. Quite the opposite; he wanted to challenge him to prove himself. And prove himself he did... so the sequence ended with the journalist offering a true bow of respect and acknowledging that he was converted.We could find many other similar examples to illustrate this point.
Now, would we want a dojo in which every student intentionally tried to upset, challenge or defeat the teacher every time a technique was being shown? We all know students who do something of this sort. They punch or kick against the block instead of at the target, or they add an extra movement or two to a prearranged sequence in order to show that id 'doesn't work'... I would argue that that student is missing the point of the exercise. Since it is prearranged we know exactly what the teacher is going to do and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to mess the sequence up. This is the flip side of the automatic flinch problem, and has as much to do with the preconceive notions of the student as the opposite problem does.
So what to do? Obviously we can't have each class end with a freeforall brawl so that the teacher can establish his dominance. (or can we...I suppose some dojos do exactly that, but what happens when the teacher has a bad day, or an emerging younger student consisitently beats him?)
The concept of transference, as first discovered by Sigmund Freud, is the key to this issue. Greg, you, of course, know what this means but many of our other readers will not... transference is the unconscious need to misinterpret relationships in the present based on unresolved and deeply repressed emotional issues from the distant past, especially the childhood developmental years.Because transferences are unconscious (i.e.;we don't recognize that we are doing it)they cannot be easily dispelled. The art and science of psychoanalysis has evolved over the past hundred years to teach us that there id no quick cure or shortcut to changing this, just as there is no 'ten easy lessons' way to learn karate, no matter what the make-a-buck enterpreneurs want to sell to the public.Psychoanalysis (and its derivative forms) is not for everyone, and I would not expect people to jump into it casually... but I do know from my professional experience in both fields (psychology and karate)that the problem of which you write is not one that will be easily or quickly resolved, unless human nature changes in some fundamental way.