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 Post subject: Further
PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 1999 4:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 108
Location: Boston, MA USA
Paul: After reading the other thoughts on the subject, let me try to clarify and be more specific. While anyone can introduce a new and valuable idea to help someone in the class. Evan's point is well taken that people move along their chosen path and make their choices along the way.

To carry the art analogy a bit further, I sometimes attend a 'life' class, where artists of all types, draw live models, a very classical, tried and true method of teaching the 'basics'. To me, basic artistic skill in draftsmanship involves accurate and sensitive rendering of the human anatomy. Light, proportion, ability to draw what you see, everything is there. That may be too high a standard to set but there you have it.

As I say, there are all types and levels of skill represented in any one of these classes but it is not at all apparent, unless you look at the work, as to who is skilled and who isn't. There is no 'black belt' apparent and you'd be shocked at some of the stick figures coming from folks who say they have studied for years. To me, the basics shouldn't be presumed by the black belt rank. Some of the best artists in these
sessions have no formal training and have learned from attending these informal 'classical' classes on their own. Yes, natural ability plays a part, etc., etc.

Now say someone introduces a new and creative way to draw. In general, how many will listen or profit from it? Let's say it is a fifty-minute warm-up in Hatha Yoga before starting the drawing. If really serious individuals are there to hone their skill in a classical form, how many will welcome the diversion? Some may and some will regard it as an intrusion or distraction. It may be a valuable lesson for everyone; say, that a warm-up period helps focus attention etc., etc. Now just say this suggestion comes from one of the stick figure folks. Fun and games right?
Now picture the same suggestion coming from one of better artists and he demonstrates specifically how it will improve your development in rendering the human anatomy (in the context of the class). Will everyone
sit up and take notice? How many will stick to changing their routine, diverting their own methods to follow this somewhat unorthodox path? Worse, the less experienced or unskilled will be confused, particularly when another person with the basics tells everyone he warms up by drawing. Many of the more skilled members will see it for what it is and decide it is not of value to spend their time. Particularly if the fifty minutes means a ten minute drawing session. It's a mixed bag. That was in part my argument at the outset. If you spend a year doing this yoga routing and there's no result, you may have wasted the time.

There is the dilemma in a nutshell. While anyone can introduce change, the central question is how the change is received.

Therefore, I would suggest that to be effective (in a masters class) there needs to be prior agreement from ALL attending students to the type of class it wants: how much time it wants to spend, who can introduce change, what level of experimentation participants are comfortable with and the degree to which it is willing to divert from the 'the basics'. Is that too democratic? There are ways to arrive at such answers but they sometimes involve honesty and openess that you must share with the others.


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 Post subject: Further
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 1999 1:39 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 27, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 317
Phil,
I wouldn't make it completely democratic, that is, I don't poll the newest students in the group for their opinions (even though some of them are at lower black belt level). We rotate the teaching function among the group of ten or twelve senior black belts, who already have a proven track record for their teaching and technical ability. It is true that some of the innovative exercises fall short in that they may fail to inspire new learning... these may be good tries, so to speak, but they don't survive the cut and they fall by the wayside. But if we never tried them we wouldn't ever know, so the time spent in the long run is worth it because we do occasionally come up with a "gem".


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 Post subject: Further
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 1999 4:52 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 108
Location: Boston, MA USA
Paul: Then you have a slightly different set of circumstances than the one I was addressing. In that case, you may even be able to use the agreement worked out among the twelve to inform newer participants on what they can expect from the class. They can choose to attend or decline, no suprises or disappointments, free and informed choice.


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 Post subject: Further
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 1999 1:30 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 27, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 317
Phil,
Yes, that is exactly how we operate. I suppose it is inevitable that a teacher in the rotation will present ideas that are neither particularly inspiring or new. The rest of us try the exercises anyway, to be polite and for their aerobic value if nothing else, and await the next rotation. You can' please all of the people all of the time.


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 Post subject: Further
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 1999 2:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 2071
Location: Boston, MA
Paul,

I am not around as much as others but I haven't found a rotation that I dislike. one doesn't always agree fully with the emphasis on a given rotation but the underlying tone of encouragement for experiment, testing and trying out new things is a good thing. It allows for prercolation of ideas. Like different coffees, you can acquire a taste and stock up if you like it.

david


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 Post subject: Further
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 1999 5:51 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 108
Location: Boston, MA USA
Paul: I've got about five minutes to write this and I think you have already hit on this but when you look at it objectively, Uechi is a deep study but not necessarily wide in breadth from a teaching point of view. It has three main kata, one of which is the keystone. If the rest is a relatively 'new' invention as is suspected, your class would seem to be on very solid ground, sticking with solid participants who understand the ground rules, particularly where the object is to look at alternative areas and evaluation. The occasional moans and groans would be inevitable whenever someone reaches into the unknown. phil


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