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  1. Yamaarashi is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/23/2011 9:00pm


     Style: Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I think a lot of it has to do with incorrect western perceptions of the Japanese sensei. People have been too brainwashed by the whole Karate Kid relationship of Miyagi and Daniel, where he is constantly passing off Eastern wisdom to the kid and treating him like a son. There seems to be this idea that a Japanese martial arts instructor is there to turn people into some kind of warrior and has to be part Zen priest as well.
    The reality was in feudal Japan bushi learned all this as they grew up from their father and others in their social strata. Time at the dojo was for training, not for indulging in pointless philosophy. People didn't go to their sensei's house for dinner or tea, because the relationship didn't work like that. This ties in with the unwavering deference to one's teacher - it pretty much wasn't an option in the old days. If you were part of a clan, you trained under a set teacher appointed by the clan. Hence your success was pretty much tied to his ability ie there was a vested interest in supporting him.

    I find it somewhat odd to be honest when I see most western martial artist's relationships with their instructors. Whether at judo or when I studied Toda ha Buko ryu naginata, there has always been a certain emotional distance between instructor and student. It wasn't that they didn't like us or that they thought themselves too good to associate with us outside of class (apart from the end of year school bbq), it was just that they were the teacher and we were the students. Like Res said earlier, it's just social distance.

    Apologies if that was somewhat rambling, it's Sunday morning and I'm still waking up
  2. daishi is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/24/2011 3:14pm


     Style: Aikido/JJJ/Judo/GoJu Ryu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Yamaarashi,

    I think its also important for people interested in Japaense student-teacher realtionships to consider how Japanese martial arts have changed over the years. The bugei trained for war and combat, and were quite practical about it. Some, like the Kage Ryu (Now Yagyu Shinkage Ryu) trained in a manner which promoted something beyong physical skill....training physically until one's body came out of the picture and their "spirit" began a sort of forging process (call it 'manning up' on a large scale). Now that type of training has to go beyond the simple level of "watch what I do and copy me" methodology, as the teacher has to personalize the training to some degree.

    Now with the budo, the training focus is on the individual's growth as a person, vice only combat skills. Not to say that training in combat does not promote self-growth, it does, its just that budo were created after the Sengoku Jidai period in Japan when open warfare was less prevalent. In the absence of the growth derived from combat, budo were created to imitate those qualities. Because of the intent of budo being personal growth, I find it difficult to not have some semblence of a personal relationship with your teacher. This occurs more at the higher levels, of course, due to the teacher knowing you longer and understanding your increased level of commitment. I'm having trouble putting this into words...and I'm not disgareeing with what you stated above, I just feel that a relationship beyond the simple 'show up to class a couple times a week' level is required if one wants to actually puruse some sort of growth in their art.
  3. Lil'Wolverine is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/25/2011 6:38am

    Bullshido Newbie
     Style: Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I fail to see why student and teacher relationships should be different in martial arts than in any other sport.

    If you do gymnastics, are you expected to be 'loyal' to the teacher, or treat them as inherently superior rather than just senior and experienced? Or basketball, or fencing, or any other sport? No...

    Of course things were different way back when, but this is 2011...
    Last edited by Lil'Wolverine; 7/25/2011 6:46am at .
  4. Prince Vlad is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/25/2011 8:36am


     Style: BJJ n stuff

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I went to college in Tokyo for a while and experienced a couple of the clubs on campus including judo, Muay Thai and Shorinji Kenpo. There was very little if any sensei nutriding there except maybe for the style/org heads outside of the university.

    Funnily enough, the MMA club I trained at had the highest level of blind devotion to the head instructor (he was well known at the time). I noticed that he had two very different types of Japanese students 1) the serious kakutougi types who trained like fanatics and 2) the part time otaku types who were more enamored with the instructors fame and celebrity than actually learning anything of use from him. Unlike in Western clubs there was no middle ground, just fighters and otaku.

    My Buj experience there was pretty interesting too. I stayed away from Hatsumi's dojo because I found it to be full of weird Westerner japanophiles. The classes were made up almost exclusively of foreigners and they carried on the way you typically imagine TMA students to carry on in Japan (which is considerably more OTT than the reality). The shihan I trained with however had a very informal class made up of mostly high ranking older Japanese students who were there from the early days. There was obvious respect given but in a very informal way (maybe because they were all friends from so long). Things only ever got weird when foreigners rolled in and started putting there foreheads to the floor, the result was generally an uneasy feeling among the rest of the class.

    The whole honour your sensei and blindly follow the 'bushido code' is really only something I ever saw outside Japan. As for Western instructors calling themselves "sensei", that's always seemed ridiculous to me.
    Last edited by Prince Vlad; 7/25/2011 8:41am at .
  5. daishi is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/25/2011 10:48am


     Style: Aikido/JJJ/Judo/GoJu Ryu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Lil'Wolverine View Post
    I fail to see why student and teacher relationships should be different in martial arts than in any other sport.

    If you do gymnastics, are you expected to be 'loyal' to the teacher, or treat them as inherently superior rather than just senior and experienced? Or basketball, or fencing, or any other sport? No...

    Of course things were different way back when, but this is 2011...
    Are you saying you see no difference in practicing a martial art and doing a sport then?

    Gymnastics folks are actually quite ecentric, at least the serious ones.

    "Way back when" ? Again, people are confusing those who were conscripted soldiers or retinue samurai in medevial Japan to those who studied a martial way in Japan in the 1930's and up. Judo, karate, aikido, kendo, jujitsu are all modern martial arts. They have sport aspects to them, but a primary attraction to them, vice something like volleyball or pingpong, is that they focus making someone grow as a person by throwing a bunch of **** at them, seeing how they react, and "coaching" them to do better. The idea being that only thorugh something truly difficult can that person grow. The martial arts, in particular, focus on physical ways to do this....or rather using physical strife in such an intense way that the person has to "go beyond" the physical, reach down, grab a pair, and get through it. Judo and jujitsu often seem to limit their focus on the WHY of what they do. I feel physical training is simply one of many methods for attaining self-betterment, and the one I prefer. Many don't seem to realize the full potential of what they do, particulalry when caught up in the sport of it. This is a shame, because I feel that competition is a great way to enhance this type of personal growth (pitting oneself against another). Anyway, with all that, I fele the level of importance goes beyond the typical "coach" relationship. Though, in hindsight, great coaches often effect the whole of someone's life. It is ashame this isn't as true today as it used to be.

    And about calling someone "sensei," I still call my coaches "coach" even outside of the basketball court or the track. Also, there are some words that do not translate well directly from english to japanese. It is my belief that, for brevity's sake, its sometimes more appropriate to use a commonly understood word vice giving a long explanation.
  6. Matsubayashi is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/29/2011 7:26am

    Bullshido Newbie
     Style: Okinawan Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Hedgehogey View Post
    Truly? There's that myth of american exceptionalism again. USian society is highly stratified. One look at the economic distance between white males and everyone else confirms that.

    Anyway, the OP's premise is further undermined by the same unwavering defend-my-master-until-I-die behavior being seen in RBSD students, and RBSD is a western-originated phenomenom.
    By an honest examination of history, US Exceptionalism is far from a myth. The reason for it was the unique freedom from pre-determined social hierarchy and individual freedom the system of government offered. The economic distance between white males and everyone else is much more of a myth these days and actually smacks of racism to me.

    The relationship between teacher and student is pretty much the same today as it was 100 years ago. Human emotion has not changed one bit.
  7. Coach Josh is offline
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    Posted On:
    7/29/2011 9:31am

    Business Class Supporting Member
     Gladiators Academy Lafayette, LA Style: Judo, MMA, White Trash JJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I have a unique perspective when it comes to instructors and adult students in MA. Grow the **** up. We are both grown ass men/women. The only difference is that the instructor has devoted a huge portion of his time to learning MA and the student wants to share in that knowledge. Blindly following an instructor is ignorant as well as any instructor that allows you to do so.

    In the structure of modern MA in America is that competition for students is high in many areas and many clubs breed this loyalty to insure they make money. It is no longer about honor and respect with many instructors but protecting their financial status. Its strictly business. Now you take MA instructors in places that support MA like Japan and Europe were the instructors are university professors or part of some type of government program and you will see loyalty based on respect. Many of these instructors have college degrees in physical education with an emphasis in the MA along with accreditation from an agency and MA governing body. So many of these instructors performance is based on production of athletes not customer relations.
    Judo is only gentle for the guy on top.
  8. daishi is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/29/2011 1:31pm


     Style: Aikido/JJJ/Judo/GoJu Ryu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Josh makes good points.

    Blind followers is a bad trend in the US, and Japan. Despite being from a traditoinalist background, my teacher also preaches practicality....as in the students have the ultimate power and can choose to train wherever they please. In fact, he left his longtime Japanese instructor many ago because that teacher refused to allow my teacher to train with his teacher's teacher in Japan (does this make sense?). The concept was that my teacher was 'betraying a trust' by seeking lessons from someone else, even though that person was his teacher's teacher. My teacher now encourages us to seek training elsewhere and to experience new things.
    Last edited by daishi; 7/29/2011 1:35pm at . Reason: addendum
  9. Matsubayashi is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/29/2011 6:15pm

    Bullshido Newbie
     Style: Okinawan Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    This thread is hinting at mythos. Martial arts students, never blindly followed their leaders. If you study the history of any style, there has always been a student who became better than their teacher and either took over, moved on or started their own system. We are all human and no matter the part of world we are born in, we still are captive to human emotion and ego.
  10. Omega Supreme is offline

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    Posted On:
    7/29/2011 6:43pm

    staff
     Style: Chinese Boxing

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Matsubayashi View Post
    Martial arts students, never blindly followed their leaders.
    LOL, yeah um no. You might want to reword this.
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