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My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
Kutaki Postmaster
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This is just my criterion for mentor selection...

1.) Train with someone who has been a regular Uke for Hatsumi Sensei or other Japanese Shihan.
or
2.) Train with those who have been a regular Uke for a Shihan that have been an Uke for Hatsumi Sensei or Japanese Shihan.

3.) They should study the art as much or more than you do... ( They should continue to study the art).

4.) They fit or resemble your body type.


This isn`t really geared for beginners per say, but more for 5th dans and above maybe.

Mere watching a technique in person is not enough to understand the technique or what is being taught, it must be fully experienced. Being an Uke is the best method of learning what is being taught. If watching a technique is good enough then a video is as good of a teacher as anything (it obiviously isn`t, but it is a good study tool).

I assume that by being an Uke under these conditions there is already a proper foundation of the Basics in place.

Can anyone add to it... Or comments, just something I have been thinking about, that might help some people in selecting mentors.

Rob

Posted on: 2007/5/4 19:01
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
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One of the first things on your list should be "can I trust this person." If you can't then you shouldn't train with them! It is way too easy to be seriously injured in this art to expose yourself to someone you can't trust. Next can they teach me something that is of value. If not why expend any of your valuable time? It is not enough that the person can DO a movement, they must be able to teach YOU to do that movement.

Posted on: 2007/5/4 20:06
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Ed Martin aka Papa-san
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
Kutaki Postmaster
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That sounds like a good addition to me. I just assumed that people being that close to the source, would be trustworthy enough not to hurt or maim their students or would have enought self control at the point in their training. But, trust is a very important thing in this art. Not just in the dojo, but also outside the Dojo.

Like if you can trust your fellow budoka to point out your short-comings to make or help you become better. When they see them, and amoung other things... The ones I trust are my strongest critics.

Posted on: 2007/5/4 20:13
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
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Something which has always impressed me has been when those I consider the most experienced still consider themselves just fellow travellers or students on the same path. I hate it when people act like they have all the answers or presume they know more just because they are of such and such rank - even if they do. Its like the hot chick who 'knows' she's hot and has no problems comparing herself to everybody around her and reminding you of just how hot she is. Her inflated attitude actually makes her ugly instead, regardless of just how physically attractive she might be.

One of the things I admire in a mentor/teacher is their ability to really pull out the best in me, challenge my conclusions, encourage me when my fear or lack of confidence limits me, praise me when I 'get it', always provide a glimpse of something more, and be the first to admit when they don't know something or make a mistake.

I guess for me, a mentor/teacher is someone who can provide a glimpse of who I can become if I do what they do - example centered leadership.

That includes character just as much as technique and 'feeling'. It also isn't defined by any rank - some of the best growth curves for me have been sparked by people who were looking to me for leadership or guidance. The student was really the teacher, so to speak.

In my opinion, we are all surrounded by quality teachers and mentors, whether we care to notice the valuable lessons they present or not.

Posted on: 2007/5/5 1:59
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
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Mr. Martin and Hartung,
Taken together your criteria look like my own but I would add a couple more:

1) I prefer to be mentored by someone with a similar overall training outlook (e.g. I'm interested in personal development via budo with a lot of kata training and not much interested in stuff that's often used to pad training like ultimate fighting or outdoor survival).

2) I prefer to train with someone who's well-rounded and has created a life for themselves that I admire. "Do they have anything to offer anyone besides Bujinkan training?" is the relevant question here. For me this is much more about character and maturity than socioeconomics, education, or even age. The age bit is important though, only because there are a lot of very young shidoshi in the Bujinkan. I consider life experience and character very important but, for better or worse, they usually take longer to earn than a shidoshi certificate. But on the other hand, age and character/maturity don't always correlate.

Posted on: 2007/5/5 3:20
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
Kutaki Postmaster
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Quote:

Something which has always impressed me has been when those I consider the most experienced still consider themselves just fellow travellers or students on the same path. I hate it when people act like they have all the answers or presume they know more just because they are of such and such rank - even if they do.


Very important!


Quote:
I guess for me, a mentor/teacher is someone who can provide a glimpse of who I can become if I do what they do - example centered leadership.


Nice!


Quote:

2) I prefer to train with someone who's well-rounded and has created a life for themselves that I admire. "Do they have anything to offer anyone besides Bujinkan training?" is the relevant question here. For me this is much more about character and maturity than socioeconomics, education, or even age.


Again nice!

Great additions, I sometimes forget some of the important characteristics associated with mentors. These perhaps are even more important factors than the ones I first laid down. I often just assume these things will be apparent in our mentors.

Posted on: 2007/5/5 14:50
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
Kutaki Postmaster
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Another word on trust: Perhaps we must have trust that the one teaching us can actually do the movement that they say they can teach you. Ed I assume you meant this as well, as in addition to being able to do it.


But, this of course should come to no suprise to people, first the teacher must be able to do the movement before they claim they can teach you it right?

It`s kind of like a person trying to teach someone to fly a plane that has never flown one himself, not sure if that this is the teacher you want.



Teaching something of value is an interesting thing, this of course will depend on the person of what is valuable, and what they want from the training. I wouldn`t go to a Budo master to learn tea ceremony, unless of course he or she was also a master of it.

I have multiple teachers, and a few Budo mentors, along with friends that keep pushing me towards excellence. It is sometimes a harsh thing and sometimes a caring thing this pushing.

I suppose this trust thing is a fairly difficult thing to come across, I am old fashion in ways or child-like enough to trust everyone in the beginning then decide whether or not it what they are teaching is valuable.

But, I trust my mentors to hide and lie to me enough to give me room to figure it out on my own. I trust them not to spoon feed me, but to hide what they are teaching to make it difficult. I trust them not to over-teach me but teach enough and hide enough to allow me to grow in my own unique way. The Best teachers don`t teach...

I also trust my teachers to hurt me in the correct ways to teach, i.e. be it physical or mental/emotional. Of course I am stubborn, child-like, innocent - maybe, and super genki most the time, although I am getting older too.

But, what is the value of the Bujinkan Martial arts, this is something I often probably neglect the deeper aspect of value. What is valuable and what are the values of the Bujinkan seems to be an interesting question. Of course there are several things outside the Bujinkan that are valuable but, I am concerned only with what is of value in the Bujinkan.

We do have these core values:

Quote:
(8) The tradition of the Bujinkan is something which shows the universality of nature and the life of the human race, and is that pursuit of martial arts which enlightens the natural mysteries that exist in them.


Know that the secret of taijutsu is the foundation of peace
If you study this, you can walk the path of the immovable heart

Dojo Instruction

Know that perseverance is, first of all, for but a brief period of time.

Know that the path of man is justice.

Forget the heart of greed, comfort, and discrimination (reliance).

Consider sorrow and bitterness to be natural laws, and simply take advantage of the enlightenment of the immovable heart.

With a steady heart, do not stray from the path of loyalty and filial piety, aspire deeply to the ways of both literary and martial arts.

The rule of the Dojo is to keep the above 5 laws.
Signed:

Meiji 23
Showa 33
Passed on through First Day of Spring
A Lucky Day in March
Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou
Hatsumi Masaaki Byakuryuu


There are many ways to uphold these and impart these values in us. Keep in mind that Japanese culture do not have principles in the same light as the western world, things are not as black and white as regards to right and wrong in Japan, it is more situational based.

What is right is right based on the situation not right based wholly on the principle.

So, perhaps our mentors should provide us with the "feeling" of the above rules of the dojo.

The heart of the warrior is not one that shys away from pain, or harshness but embraces it. A mentor ought to attempt to create or give birth to a warrior. I trust my mentor to be harsh when necessary and my fellow budoka to tear down the weaker parts of me... you have to be able to laugh at yourself, in all your glory and misgivings.

Rob

Posted on: 2007/5/5 16:56
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
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To me one of the most important things in looking for a teacher is do they scare the ever living crap out of me. On any given day do I think I could just take that person out if we were involved in an altercation.

While that may seem immature to some of the advanced minds of martial arts, I have narrowed my overall focus of 15+ years of martial arts down to the fact that I'm probably wasting my time if the person I'm trusting to teach me could not actually beat the ever living crap out of me.

You can talk about, philosophize about it, write books about it, have group therapy about it, but at the end of the day can the guy do what he is claiming to teach? If not then throw everything else out of the window.

When I was in Japan I was most impressed by Nagato. I think all of the Shihan were nice, all of them were very good, but Nagato just gave me that vibe of "I will eat your children," which worked for me. Needless to say I didn't miss any of his training.

Posted on: 2007/5/6 14:13
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
Kutaki Postmaster
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Nagato sensei has that feeling down to a T. He always seems way bigger than he really is, but just as scarrrryyy is Noguchi sensei, He`ll smile at you in the momment you know you are about to die, and actually laugh when you realize it.

Posted on: 2007/5/6 21:48
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Re: My criterion for selecting a teacher or mentor.
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There aren't any of the Japanese shihan I wouldn't train with; but Nagato and Noguchi are the two that I will never miss anytime I go to Japan.

Posted on: 2007/5/7 14:16
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