View Full Version : The process of learning

8th October 2002, 06:35

I have a question concerning shu, ha ri - the levels of learning.

In some Shorinjikempo dojo the students below dan level are expected to perfectly imitate the movements as presented by sensei. There is no room for discussion or to debate with the sensei. The student should follow this track until the sensei allow the student to move on to the next level. After reaching 3- 4 dan the students are allowed to diverge from senseis path and slightly adapt the technique to his/her personal physics.
First at godan or even higher level the students are allowed to see the full catalog techniques and strategies.
When I started Shorinjikempo the japanese guest instructors in Visby (from rakuto doin) told me that every student should stay up to 10 years in each level to understand Shorinjikempo.
My personal view of learning is opposed to what my seniors told in the late 1980:s. I believe that shu, ha, ri is not separated, but instead always walking side by side in the process of learning. What is your opinion?

Johan Frendin
Visby Branch Sweden

8th October 2002, 07:52
Can you be more specific what you mean by, "Walking side by side", please, Johan?

8th October 2002, 09:26

I apologize for my poor English.

With ”walking side by side” I mean that when you learn a new technique you must immediately start to adapt to your personal physics and make it ”yours”. You need to immediately start to play with it in different ways (embu, randori, self-defense etc) to deepen the understanding of it. This will make you think by yourself and will give you the ability to see the technique from different angles and views. I believe that this starts from day one and not after several years as my Japanese seniors suggested.

Johan Frendin

Johan Frendin

8th October 2002, 10:04
i share your oppinion for the process of learning, however, beginer
in budo may not be able to see trough the form and therfore its more
easier for them to copy the sensei first untill they feel more confortable with the form

Tripitaka of AA
9th October 2002, 04:27
You know, the method of learning hasn't really changed all that much. Shu, Ha, Ri is present in almost every learned skill, from Handwriting to Car Driving. In Shorinji Kempo it is painfully obvious that the Instructor knows better than the student how to perform each technique, so why not copy first.

Overcoming your own unique physical differences is one of the part of Shu. Unlearning any previous habits and forcing the body to adopt the Sensei's example is the beginning. Don't use physical differences as an excuse for not copying accurately.

If a child at school, learning to write, decided that they liked making the letter "S" as an "F", because it felt comfortable, would that be right? It might work OK, it might go unnoticed among all the other letters, but eventually it would need to be fixed. The longer that you go on with a mis-learned technique, the harder it will be to correct it.

As a student, it is understood that you know less about the subject than the Teacher. You may think you know more about your own body, but you won't have tried to use it this way before.

The best advice I could give - and I say this as nicely as possible - is to shut up and do what the Instructor says. It will all be so much easier in the long run, trust me.

Some people may be more blunt, others may be more eloquent and persuasive in their contributions. I think it is worth noting how the ones at the more experienced end of the spectrum will be more likely to advocate Copy copy.. copy.... copy......

9th October 2002, 13:50

My personal view is that a good sensei always take care of his students individual quality. Teaching in Shorinjikempo starts with the individual and continue with the group. To achieve a constructive method of teaching you certainly need mutual respect between the student and sensei. If the sensei and students treat each other with mutual respect the sensei can easily inspire both the student and the group (of individuals) to do great things.
In Japan, as I see it, the students have a exaggerated trust in their teachers. It look that they have an ‘image’ of this person as ‘Martial Arts Master’ that knows everything both in self-defense and spiritual aspects. The teacher command when it is time to leave “shu” and move on to “ha”, when to jump or lay flat on the floor. If a constructive relationship ever going to develop between a student and a teacher mutual trust is necessary. But if the teacher do not have the capacity to understand that his students need to adjust the techniques to their personal physics he certainly lack pedagogic education. Imagine Me learning golf (never played golf in my whole life) trying to play golf like Tiger Woods without some individual adjustment. It would be laughable and look very silly. It is the same thing when a minarai is trying to copy one of Arai senseis perfectly executed technique.
The student need to develop according to his own abilities rather than the teacher wants.

Johan Frendin

9th October 2002, 14:28
Johan, if you don't argue with a doctor about medical advice, or a lawyer about legal advice, how can you challenge a sensei on training advice? You seek out the person in question, be they doctor, lawyer, sensei (or translator!;) ) because they are experts in their chosen field. They know more than you do. Of course a minarai cannot perform technique as well as Arai Sensei, but Arai Sensei is the model to which they should aspire. I think disagreeing with them over how to learn is an indication of a full cup. No one's suggesting that you can play like Tiger Woods first time, but isn't Woods's technique the technique to which you should aspire?
Just my take on shu-ha-ri. "First learn walk, then learn run. Nature's rules, Daniel-san, not mine." (With apologies; the Karate Kid is not my idea of a good MA movie. ;) )

10th October 2002, 11:08
Hello Tony!

I think you have misunderstood my point!
All people have different physical and mental basic conditions to execute a certain technique. This will unconditionally make people do techniques different according to height, weight, knowledge of coordination etc.
I can not copy Arai senseis techniques!
Because he is a Shorinjikempo magician who practice almost everyday and I am a environmental inspector who has 10 kilogram overweight :D, practice 2 times a week and certainly is no magician in the Shorinjikempo arena. Of course Arai sensei can inspire me to practice more but if a tried to copy his formidable technique it would be silly and laughable. This unconditional copying is not only done in Shorinjikempo but I noticed this in other martial arts to. I have seen ordinary students (practice 2 times a week) in Aikido try to imitate Morihei Ueshiba, slim 50 kilogram kickboxers try to box like Peter Aerts and it all looks silly to me. You can not become another person, it is impossible! You and your sensei should in mutual understanding find out your own way to do techniques according to your physics, knowledge of coordination, height etc. This is what I mean by shu and ha “walking side by side”.

Johan Frendin

colin linz
12th October 2002, 01:22
When doing techniques in single form you should try to copy the teachers form, unless you have a problem that precludes this, I have had two surgical procedures on my right knee, due to torn cartilage this stops me from placing my right foot parallel to my left during kihon, I could force myself to achieve this but it would damage my knee further. This would be against the training philosophy of Shorinji Kempo.

However I think that there is some degree of adaptation of technique required as soon as you start training with another partner. The principles of the technique won’t have changed, but you may need to deviate from the exact physical form your teacher shows you. By way of example, if you happen to be shorter or taller than the majority of Kenshi in your branch you will need to adjust your footwork so you may achieve the desired distance to counter strike effectively. In the same theme you may be practising Chudan Tsuki to a taller opponent. Do you adopt the exact form that you have been shown, and execute Kinteki Tsuki, or adapt the form to allow you to target Chudan while achieving the principle of the technique?

I believe that techniques are taught the way they are for a number of reasons, two of these are:

1 Effective for the average person.
2 To teach other lessons, like how to take balance.

The important aspect here is that teachers understand when someone falls outside the normal parameters and offers strategies that allow the student to perform the technique effectively. The important thing is that the student understands the principles involved, how to take the opponents balance, how to get the correct joint positioning to create pain, how to direct them to the floor. Not that they have to step forward with their foot position at 45 degrees to their front position, or whatever the case maybe.

Shorinji Kempo is like any other physical activity, there will be an ideal way of doing something, however there may be need to modify this at times to suit a particular circumstance. This is one difference with Shorinji Kempo than Karate; it is why we don’t call our forms Kata, although I have heard some refer to them this way. My previous teacher (Todoroki Sensei) has told me in the past that the Kanji for Kata refers to the mould that makes Japanese urns, and therefore implies an exact copy; this is why Shorinji Kempo doesn’t use this term.