View Full Version : "Traditional" method of teaching(repost)

9th December 2001, 23:03
How common is it for an instructor to teach using the "old" style; the one where a student stays with the sensei until they learn all there is to teach(generally living with the teacher). If this is still done, how does one go about asking for this type of instruction?
Tangentially related, are instructors generally willing to trade lessons for labor(i.e. dojo cleaning, etc.)?
Scott Torrence

10th December 2001, 11:23
They are out there, but most "uchi-deshi" relationships have all but disappeared. Some "traditional" types ask that the student pay the teacher in the manner of fees, donations, etc., the student doesn't live at the dojo, he lives elsewhere.

Be wary of these types today. Most are not on the up and up.

My personal caveat is that I don't know of any who practice this who are not expecting payment. They may be out there, but as of now I don't know of any.


PS: In fact, the seminar system is probably the closest you would get to it. The ones who sign on to the seminar are paying the costs, and sometimes fees for the teacher of these seminars. Most do not mind staying at someone's home, but in lieu of that, lodging is paid on teacher's behalf.

This may be considered traditional, as past teachers, e.g., Uyeshiba Morihei or Takeda Sokaku traveled to teach and were forerunners of today's seminars.

17th December 2001, 23:34
There is an aikido dojo nearby me where the students and teacher live and train together all in the one building. This is the only situation I have heard of recently where this type of thing applies. I have seen some karate schools offering uechi-deshi programs. They are relatively cheap but seem to be time limited.

In the 20 years I have been training, any time I come across any type of teacher-student relationship where this type of boundary is crossed, I have generally found it to be problematic. I trained briefly with a western man who went to China for a few months, became a lay monk, and then demanded all his young and impressionable students become his 'disciple.' People lost families over it.

I agree with Mark about being cautious. This is a mode of relating which is based on completely different cultural norms and expectations to that which happens in the west. In the west, such relationships can be the basis of some very unhealthy dynamics.

I think one of the big social changes we have been witnessing in the west in particular, but elsewhere as well, is the shift away from this type of power-base in relationships. The potential for abuse is too great (and many of the old 'traditional' relationships were abusive actually, in the guise of 'spiritual development.') The benevolent Mr Miyagi types are not the only gurus looking for disciples out there.

I can see as a teacher how easy and tempting it is for this type of relationship to unfold. I have had students offering to paint my house and do various chores - unconsciously these same students have been very demanding as much as they appear to be 'adoring'. At times I have asked students with particular talents eg graphic design to assist with advertising as trade for lessons. However, even this has proven somewhat problematic, and I won't be doing it in future. I think generally in the western culture it is better to keep some 'professional' distance.

Steven Malanosk
18th December 2001, 05:21
There where periods of time that I lived at the home / dojo of my teacher " Sensei Urban."

This was indeed more common in the past, but in organizations that are big enough to have many Shibu " branch" dojos, under the direction of qualified senior instructors, there are often uchi deshi situations available. Check it out .

9 Little Heaven in Calif. is a live in program, teaching Splashing Hands, Iron Palm, Tai Chi etc.

18th December 2001, 05:43

I am sure that they are still out there, but than I would assume that you need a higher level to join one of those.

In the old Days when there were fewer students they could accept low level Students, but with the amount of students these Days I would assume that it is reserved for special Students only.

Just my 2 Yen worth.

21st December 2001, 03:08
In my experience, there are few true Uchi-deshi programs out there. In some cases, Aikido Dojo offer uchi-deshi programs. I have not personally attened any. The most well-known uchi-deshi program in Aikido is the Iwama Dojo in Ibaraki, Japan.
To apply to become an Uchi-deshi at Iwama, you need to have trained for at least one year in an Iwama Ryu Dojo as well as a letter of reccomendation from a credible source. That source doesn`t have to be Martial Arts related. It could be from a person in any high position. It`s more of a character reference.

There are many people in the forum who know more about it than I do. if you are interested, I`m sure they can help.

Furtheremore, most of the longterm students at Iwama are Soto Deshi (not live in students) I think they find in the longterm it works better.

Good luck,

Jonathan Hicks

Gil Gillespie
1st January 2002, 20:45
The whole uchi-deshi concept was woven into the braid of a cultural-historical period which no longer exists. Not that the uchi-deshi relationship no longer exists, but all informed observers relate that it is increasingly rare, even in Japan. It's virtually impossible to duplicate in a modern western culture. It remains as a cherished relic of budo history, along with the wandering warrior accepting challenges and refining his skill and spirit. As the posts above illustrate, those who seek after a traditional uchi-deshi relationship find mostly problems.

As far as trading "janitorial services" for dojo tuition, these services are mostly considered among the obligations of dojo members, provided to foster the sense of dojo community as well as a part of one's own misogi. There are various levels of elitist non-participation superimposed over this philosophy, but each dojo will define that for itself.

Steven Malanosk
1st January 2002, 21:06
Funny thing, about elitest nonparticipatory behavior.

I often yell at the sempai's for pushing a broom in my dojo, if under ranks, are standing around. It usually turns out that they are practicing quality control, by example, not mandate, ie, finishing up, what they felt incomplete. Somthing that I passed on without realizing it.

When in Okinawa, circa 19 80, 81, 82, I found the secret way, of getting a regular private audience with Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku, was to show up in front of the Yagi structure, "in which the dojo was upstairs" early in the morning. You see, Yagi Dai Sensei, would be sweeping the side walk, and cleaning up in front. A joy and experience in humility indeed, to pick up a paper or two, as the Master, refused to give up the broom, time and time again.

Maestro Urban, always got his hands dirty with us. He was always on the ready, with a roll of duct tape, whenever anything broke or ripped. But we did our share also. :smokin: " "happy understatement"

Kevin Meisner
4th January 2002, 05:26
In my school the first guy there prepares the room (that's me, the teacher). At the end of the evening the students, without me ever asking, clean it all up. By then I'm pretty tired and boy do I appreciate them putting all the gear away for me! My teacher always arrived hours early to prepare the room, I had to practically beg to get a shot at cleaning the dojo, and I had to show up earlier than him to get a crack at it, or it would already be done. But I didn't touch it before he got there...

Kevin Meisner

Joseph Svinth
4th January 2002, 06:57
The broom provides lessons in using the back muscles to push and pull while the wet mop provides lessons in hip rotation and weight shift, and the combination makes for a gentle warmup.

Tim Chilcott
5th January 2002, 01:49
Anyone ever read "Moving Zen" by C.W. Nicol? After each class the students would grab cloths and buckets of water. The students would then dampen the towels and place them on the floor. Both hands were placed on the cloth with the buttocks high, almost in a push up position. The students would push the cloths across the floor. When I was in Marine Corps Recruit Training we cleaned the "deck" in a similar fashion. The recruits who performed this duty were refered to as "snakes". We would also push these cloths under our racks(beds) utilizing the low crawl. This particular task built strength in the hips and shoulders. Even menial tasks as this can serve dual purposes; fitness, duty and cleanliness which leads to a disciplined life.

Yours in the Way,
Tim Chilcott

Kevin Meisner
5th January 2002, 03:44
I've read Moving Zen, must have been 20 years ago. I remember I enjoyed it. Welcome aboard, Tim!

Kevin Meisner

5th January 2002, 22:36
I actually read Moving Zen not too long ago... I had an extra copy and wanted to make sure it was appropriate for the student I gave it to. Excellent reference Tim! Welcome!

Tim Chilcott
6th January 2002, 05:00
Thanks Kevin and Ken, glad to be aboard! I first read Moving Zen in 1979 as an assignment for a book report in my senior English class in high school. This book was very inspiring to me and eventually influenced me to train in Karate-Do. This is a great book for inspiration, and allows us a glimpse of the training in Japan and a feel for the culture of the Japanese people. Truly a timeless classic!

"I watched you, Nic-san. You fought well. So do not expect us to pamper your weaknesses. We would be very bad sempai if we did that. Your weaknesses would only be magnified, and soon any excuse would stop you from fighting-or to fight and not except the results. We are like soldiers. When a soldier puts on his uniform, carries a weapon and goes to war, he is obviously willing to fight and kill his enemies. If he is willing to kill, then he must be prepared to die. It is only right. We must cultivate spirit."
-Moving Zen

Be Well,
Tim Chilcott