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A question about questions
Just Passing Through
Joined:
2013/5/6 21:53
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Hi there,
I'm new to the village and would like to start out with a question. I'm not sure if it would better fit into the "Life in Japan" category.

What do you think about asking questions in the dojo?

In our European school, university, work, etc. environment it is highly encouraged to ask questions, but I was told, that in Japan, it is not.

Now I found two quotes about this topic.
The first one was from Nagato sensei, but I can't find it at the moment (maybe someone can help me out, here?) and basically said: Don't ask questions. If you have to ask you are not ready yet. And once you're ready you don't have to ask anymoe (written down from memory, but should be the main point).

The second one was published by Arnaud in his blog (on May 1, 2013):
"[...]hoping that Sensei will come to them to correct their movements. If you want to be good and to improve? Be brave and ask Sensei politely. Worst case scenario: sensei will not give you an answer.

When you go to Japan to meet your teacher, ask everything you need to know because once you are gone no one will give the answer you need."

So what is your take on this subject? Is there a "wrong" and "right"?

Personally when I train at home I ask all the questions I have, but when I was in Japan I sticked to what I considered was the "Japanese way" (so: not asking questions). I think my amount of questions at home will also decline since that experience.

Cheers :)

Posted on: 2013/5/24 18:40
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Re: A question about questions
Village Old Timer
Joined:
2004/12/21 19:52
From Dayton, Ohio
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There are two standards.

Nagato states he never asks questions, but in his class during the break, he often asks if anyone has any questions. He likes to answer them and is fairly free with his opinion to a point. Soke likes some questions but will almost never give you the answer you want or expect. He will reward a good question with a fun conversation.

Westerners are often permitted to ask questions because they rightly think we are stupid and dont know better to not ask questions. You should likely try your questions on your teachers to see if they are appropriate for sensei or ask one of the long timer's in Japan if they think it is appropriate.

Our discussion in Nagato's class about questions was prompted by me asking him a question, and he responded with "only an american would ask such a question".

Marty

Posted on: 2013/5/29 18:53
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Re: A question about questions
Permanent Village Fixture
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2003/2/1 16:07
From Antelope, Ca.
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Marty; What was the question you asked Nagato?

Posted on: 2013/6/12 3:33
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Caressed by the wind I talk with it.
Can you throw the earth?
Nourished by the earth, I cultivate it.
Can you grapple with the fire?
Warmed by the fire I feed it.
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Re: A question about questions
Active Kutakian
Joined:
2011/1/8 0:49
From Boston, MA
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The opposite can be awkward too! I recall having the chance to sit with with Mr. Oguri Sensei years back along with a friend living in Japan who was a very good Japanese speaker. Oguri sensei made it clear that he was perfectly willing to try an answer any questions I had, and I...

...kinda drew a blank!

:)

I came up with some of course, but didn't feel like any of them were at all worthy of the opportunity at hand. Like asking Mario Andretti how to parallel park. Still, great just to be with such a kind man, amazing teacher and dedicated practitioner! Dearly missed indeed.

Then there was a time at a Tai Kai where I worked up the 'courage' to ask Hatsumi sensei a question in private (with the kind help of a translator). I knew, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, that I was really just talking to hear myself talk...and HE knew too!

And I knew that he knew, and he knew that I knew that he knew, and so on and so forth, and that's really all there was to that.

: )

So yeah. Questions!

Posted on: 2013/6/12 5:02
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Re: A question about questions
Active Kutakian
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2010/9/5 23:36
From Savannah, GA
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"Shut up and train." is one of Soke's (and Nagato's) most well-known quotes.

I strongly recommend you limit your questions/comments to before class, during the break, or after class. Don't let your limited time over there turn into a Q&A session, they won't be able to devote that much time to any one particular student in a class of 50+ anyway. I've seen them lose patience (without losing their cool) with students talking too much and detracting from the actual training. Especially in a room full of people who traveled from all over the world to get the hands-on experience in person.

Soke even says directly to everyone that he is teaching on the Shihan level and everyone else won't really understand at this point. He says it pretty often too, probably to remind everyone who seem frustrated that they should not be discouraged. "Just keep going." ~ Nagato at end of class (Nov.2010)

Let your body learn by doing, you gotta miss some shots before you can hit the bulls-eye all day.

Posted on: 2013/6/12 15:37
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Re: A question about questions
Active Kutakian
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2011/1/8 0:49
From Boston, MA
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Well said.

Posted on: 2013/6/13 2:32
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