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Thread: Further controversy, doubts, and the current situation (mostly in italy)

  1. #16
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Los Angeles, CA USA
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    It's great you have an opportunity to go to Japan and train. Good for you. As far as training under two different lines of DR, this will surely be a problem.

    On one hand, it is the best way to decide - for you. Personally, when prospective students come to my dojo, I fully encourage them to look around at other dojo and watch classes taught by other instructors of the arts I teach. That way they can be sure about which dojo they choose, and not waste their time or mine. I often give them references to other places and teachers to help them become more educated on what is out there, and I'm impressed with those that actually do look around prior to requesting to join. Part of the reason for my openness is that my policy is that anyone is welcome to train with us, and anyone is welcome to quit to go train with another teacher of the same art. I'll even provide an introduction and reference if the student is in good standing. But, once you quit to study under someone else, you will not be welcome back as a student again, even though we will still be on good terms with each other. So in short, checking around and being sure which place you want to train at is in the best interest of yourself and your future teacher, IMO at least.

    On the other hand, in Japan especially, sampling two different branches of the art would be very problematic and unusual politically. I would be surprised if either branch would permit it, and even asking them for permission will make them upset and uncomfortable. However, there is a reason that "kengaku" (watching a class prior to asking to join) is standard practice in Japan. It gives you a chance to meet with the teacher, the students, and watch a typical training class. You get to ask questions of the teacher, and ask students what they like about training there. You also get to see how they train, what the energy is like, and how the instructor teaches. Does the dojo have "good etiquette", or do they come off more like a cult religion or anime club? Lastly, some instructors are very skilled, but have students with very low skill levels. This is a big problem. Personally, I don't believe that some teachers just "aren't good at teaching". I've found such teachers to simply have big egos, who are looking for people to pay monthly fees to join their fan club. If the students are no good, it is either because the method of training is no good, or the teacher wants to be the only one who can perform at a high level. Either way, don't join.

    So, I would recommend bringing a business suit to Japan, and have someone arrange for a kengaku at both dojo prior to going. You should not have a problem making a decision after that.

    As far as Shibucho, yes, it represented less than 2/3rds of the teachings necessary to obtain Kyoju Dairi, the first teaching license of the original ranking structure. Kyoju Dairi translates as "substitute instructor", and means you are permitted to teach on behalf of the headmaster since they cannot be there on a full time basis to teach directly. This is how Sokaku tried to establish branch dojo (shibu) under his control and direction. Later, Sokaku was pressured to create a Menkyo Kaiden level (full transmission), allowing students to eventually graduate the system and obtain a considerable level of authority and transmission of the art themselves. Kyoju Dairi was originally the first level teaching license, but required an understanding of most the curriculum. Tokimune mostly taught Ikkajo through Gokajo of the Hiden Mokuroku, and added Ono-ha itto-ryu as a supplement to the training. He created the Shibucho license and other licenses with lower requirements to encourage students, since reaching the level of Kyoju Dairi was so hard and time consuming to achieve. That being said, it doesn't mean students don't even get exposed to teachings that are above their current level of initiation. I know I have been. But there is usually a reason a teacher doesn't issue higher ranks or licenses to a long-time student. It is in the best interest of the art to promote good, skilled students. That's something to think about.

    For most people, finding a teacher of good character and personality is most important. I generally agree with that in principle, but I've also found that such teachers often are not the highest skilled or initiated in the arts. The fact is, many of the most famous martial artists have been either gruff mannered, eccentric, and/or just plain odd. It usually takes a person who is driven and somewhat obsessive about training to get to the highest levels, and such people often end up being impatient and intolerant of others not as serious as themselves, and sometimes, pretty arrogant. Training under someone like this at their dojo as a full time student might be too much to put up with. But training with them as a direct student from a distance (not full time) can be a good compromise. Sokaku was a perfect example of this type of personality, and all his direct students eventually created a long distance relationship with him in hopes of advancing in the art while minimizing extended contacts with Sokaku.

    For me, only being "pretty good" at a martial art means I will only die some of the time, and that is not an acceptable compromise. Martial arts isn't like other "arts", like flower arranging. Becoming skilled is an all or nothing venture in martial arts, traditionally speaking. It is important for me to obtain the best qualified instruction I can find under someone who is willing to impart the teachings, then work around any personality issues that may present themselves. The reward is eventually you may be permitted to form a study group or dojo and do things a little differently. While the "path" of martial arts should be enjoyable, continuous development through a logical progression of increasingly advanced skills is, to me, more important.

    I would recommend staying away from "for-profit schools" all together. Mixing budo and business is simply not in the best interest of the art or student. But in all regards, teachers get the kind of students they deserve, so be part of the solution!

    Thanks for posting and good luck,
    Last edited by Nathan Scott; 2nd January 2012 at 21:36.
    Nathan Scott

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Ciao Alessandro,

    I do not think that our teachers will be very pleased upon learning that you plan to train under them and then under Kondo Sensei. Of course, I cannot talk on their behalf, but I nevertheless get that feeling.

    You still have plenthy of opportunity to check out for yourself: Our Senseis are coming one, twice a year in Europe, mostly Italy, not far away from your home town, and Moscow. This year, they went as far as Israel. I suggest you wait until june or july and join the one week seminar. One week is long enough to get a good idea. I might be wrong but I do not remember seeing you last year in september in San Benedetto.

    Kondo Sensei has students in Europe, Italy included, he comes regularly in the Netherlands. This could be a good opportunity to meet him, to train with his students and then make a choice, but you cannot seat between two chairs, that would be both uncorrect and unconfortable.

    Let me also tell you that, as far as the Shiseikan Italy is concerned, you will not find better teachers and persons than Pino and Mauro.

    Aquila-Modena or Aquila-Milano is not a long trip if I were you and given your hesitations, I would try it.

    Un saluto
    Deception is one of Kenpo´s best technique.

    Väck ej björnen som sover

    Raphael Deutsch

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