Thread: Get Serious
09-28-2005, 22:33 #1
Should schools be more selective about who they allow to study? There are lots of stories about schools/temples/etc. having rigourous requirements to enter to make sure the student is truly committed to study. The problem in modern times is that it would almost certainly kill a commercial school. Teaching at the level required for advanced study hurts mind body and spirit as challenges are faced. Most people won't do this and you might even get sued! Your problem is shouLd you give up the benefit of teaching kids to line up straight and follow directions and the health benefits in general for others? but when the sweat and blood start coming on a regular basis the class thins out dramatically. One thought may be to have an 'A' and a 'B' track. Not beginner and advanced, but two tracks: One for the people who, frankly, have one level of commitment, and another for those with a higher level of personal commitment. This is not a macho club, either. We have women in our group who have the spirit and lots of guys who don't.
Then thereís the rank thing. We have not had any Ďsocialí promotions because the social pressure is on knowing the techniques, but many schools have that problem. Our advanced students have begun to evolve away from the desire for rank in itself and are more focused just on knowing the techniques in their true form.
Is it even possible for a commercial school to teach what needs to be taught the way it needs to be taught and survive? Would it be better to just build a training hall in your back yard for the ten students you will have and teach for free?
There are many more dimensions to this to discuss if anyone has an opinion on this.
Richard C. Goad
09-28-2005, 22:58 #2
That, in my opinion, is why we have blackbelts. A good school would allow those with the lower commitment level to advance through the lower ranks and even stay for a few years to learn enough to defend themselves competently. However, it would take a much greater commitment to reach blackbelt. The four/five years it takes to get a blackbelt in Okinawan Kempo is long enough to judge a person's commitment and character pretty accurately. Then the person is ready to begin learning the details and inflections of the art that make it most rewarding.
09-28-2005, 23:41 #3
Although I would not question my aiki jiujitsu Master directly on the matter, I strongly suspect he's torn between implementing his curriculum with the same amount of discipline he trained under "back in the day" and making the atmosphere in the dojo "friendly" enough not to scare away his students. He is in his fifties and has expressed his worry that the art as he knows it is dying. He does go a LOT easier on us than he obviously was instructed when he was in our position. I would not approach him on this matter but I have a feeling he is making a lot of concessions with us simply for the survival of his art: young adults in our society simply would not (and do not have to, unfortunately) put up with the type of discipline one would expect from a traditionally-founded Japanese art. I have a feeling that the way he designs his curriculum is based around that sacrifice of discipline for the sake of the survival of his art, at least in its technical aspects. There is still quite a bit left over on his side. For instance, he gives away no secrets. He will dangle the occasional black belt carrot when demonstrating a technique. But if you want to know it all you have to train for several years. He does hold back a lot, but unfortunately he has to hold back... too much of other things, if you ask me.Jason Hooper
You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.
- Charles Bukowski
09-29-2005, 06:51 #4
Wow, those are thoughtful answers. Jason, I think even your observation about what "young adults inour society today" would be willing to tolerate would NOT apply to either you or Troy. As good as this is for your teachers it's also sort of bad: Can your teachers teach you two to the level the art needs to be taught and keep ther schools open? They might be down to only a couple of students each before too long.
Troy's idea about using the blackbelt as the cut off is a good one. Years ago I was told that a blackbelt only meant you were a serious student. However, this drives the question back to the commercial school because if students aren't making it to blackbelt in large numbers then the school will lose students and have trouble recruiting new ones. Not bad from the serious student's perspective, but death to the school as a business and, therefore, disasterous to the serious student who needs somewhere to workout with high quality partners.
What would you guys do if your schools closed? What if your instructors had to stop teaching becase they could not afford the time?
09-29-2005, 09:43 #5Is it even possible for a commercial school to teach what needs to be taught the way it needs to be taught and survive?
If you are talking about a traditional school with a centuries old tradition and training regimen, no it's almost impossible to teach that in a commercial school. If you are talking about a decent awareness and self-defense class, then sure, something like that can be easily taught in a commercial dojo. If you are talking a self discipline art for kids with self defense thrown in, or a physical workout with self defense thrown in, or perhaps just predator awareness and escape techniques, these can all be easily taught in a commercial dojo.
It all depends, basically, upon just what it is that you are talking about studying as to whether it could be easily done in a commercial school or not.Paul Smith
09-29-2005, 11:38 #6
I think it depends on who you want to be teaching.
If you want to teach self-defense to those who need it the most, those who are naturally unathletic, out of shape, nonagressive, shy of physical contact, then you can't start them out with hardcore, super demanding training. You have to start them out at a level they can handle and progressively challenge them to move just beyond their comfort zone. Eventually, some of them may reach the point of being able to handle the really rigorous training. It's the same as weight training. You don't tell the 40 year old, 120-pound secretary to start out bench-pressing 300 pounds on her first day in the gym. You start where the student is, and move from there.
On the other hand, if you want to build a stable of champion professional fighters, it's pretty reasonable to expect them to start out hardcore from day one. These guys were probably pretty tough before they ever walked into the dojo.
Either way is okay, it just depends on your goals as a teacher.Tony Dismukes
"Violence is not a way of getting where you want to go, only more quickly. Its existence changes your destination. If you use it, you had better be prepared to find yourself in the kind of place it takes you to." - Hilary Bok
09-29-2005, 12:11 #7
Originally Posted by Tony Dismukes
This certainly makes sense. But there is also the economics consideration if you run a school as to how many people from each of the two groups described above are out there, and are likely to walk into your school. Some of it depends on location, e.g, inner city vs. relatively affluent suburb or small town, but typically there are many more of the "average Joe's" out there than the dedicated "fighter-type". And even in a class of "average Joe's" you will occasionally encounter a student that blossoms and wants more than the rest of the group can handle.
Our school handles this by offering two classes per night. The first starts with basic stretching and warming up, just to avoid injury, and the techniques offered are relatively basic, but with enough content to take someone up to the level of 1st dan, (in at least 4-5 years of regular attendance) if they desire.
Immediately after the first class, there is another class with a very strenuous, comprehensive workout. The techniques are typically more advanced, but tailored to the abilities of the particular group attending that night. Definitely,
"something for every level".
It is expected, if you desire to move beyond 1st dan, that you will regularly be in attendance during this second, more difficult class. Regardless of current rank, if you wish to advance, it will happen on a faster track with more attendance in this class. After that, it's pretty much up to the individual to decide what he or she wants from their training.
Seems to work well, at least here....The world is a dangerous place.....Not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.----- Albert Einstein
There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.-----Winston Churchill
"SERENITY NOW!!"-----Frank Costanza
09-29-2005, 18:42 #8
- Dennis P. McGeehan
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Another way to teach "traditional" and still keep the numbers up, is to hold camps at different times of the year by invitation only. The regimen at camp will be very intense, those invited will know this ahead of time. The camp is all day, 8 hours or more, and is designed to push the students to their breaking point. Students in regular class may decide to push themselves in class so they get invited to camp.
DennisOnly a Cowardly Loser hurts an innocent, defenseless person.
Dennis P. McGeehan
09-29-2005, 21:04 #9
The young guys rushed in with their input and it was great and gave insight from their perspective. Then some more seasoned folks come in later with awesome ideas of their own. This is great!
We have the 'advanced' classes and seminars and invitation only curriculums that are more serious than the regular classes. I really like those. The problem with commercial schools is they are tempted to become belt mills, at least for the ranks below black. Now before the spears fly, I acknowledge not all do that, but it is easy to find lots of examples.
Do you folks find that students are content to remain green belts (e.g.) for several years as they decide if hey are going to try being serious? Do you have lots of pogo students who take for a few months, leave, then come back for a few months, only to repeat this cycle almost indefinitely? Are people like this wasting their and your time? Not to be cruel or Philistine, but they may be learning a bad budo lesson about vacillation anyway. Maybe they should be told to pick up another hobby. Itís too easy for martial arts schools to become social clubs. And the time you spend trying to bring these people around is time you donít spend with the serious students.
In other words, the regular classes should be for the serious students and the special one-off seminars are for the less serious students who just want some basic self defense or orientation to meditation, etc. If they like what they see, maybe they should apply to be accepted to the regular classes and do a very menial series of classes to get a taste of the discipline they will need for the regular classes. Drop rank under black altogether and just test the techniques, forms, etc. individually or as related groups.
Richard C. Goad