Sep
03

One-upmanship – Learning from Beginners

Everyone will agree, unsolicited lectures are nauseating, monologues put you to sleep and soliloquies don’t need more people than the speaker. And yet everywhere you go there are contests of intellect that generally mean nothing and arrive nowhere.

Turn the radio on and you get long winded descriptives that make you pay for the music you hope to hear. Switch on the TV and the raucously unskilled advertisements never end. The tower of Babel, it would appear, is with us to stay. Why, even if you go for a walk through the jungle the monkeys never seem to cease their incessant hooting. The suburbs, dogs bark gratuitously day and night, but have nothing meaningful to say.

There’s nothing more painful than the guy who has all the answers and most of them are ridiculously wrong and not requested. Educated fools are the worst. When you get to hear for the thousandth time, “When I got my degree..” it’s no ambassadorial example of how the stress of getting a degree by sleeping through long lectures can do mental and verbal damage towards calcifying a soul. Or, when you can’t get away from a heated discussion where two individuals with nothing to say are trying to outdo each other for no good reason other than ego issues.

Folks, here’s a tip. Wisdom is not found in words but in the trail a person leaves in life, those proverbial footsteps in the sands of time, the fruit by which you will know them.

Too much talk, unless measured and advisedly rendered is not much more than hot air, good for raising balloons, otherwise merely adding to global warming.

Some of the most scintillatingly brilliant individuals I’ve had the privilege of knowing were more doers than talkers and if they did say something, it unlocked volumes over time. One has more degrees than you could pile up next to him yet plays the fool when not lecturing. You could not pick him as one of the foremost professors of his time. Yet another appeared almost illiterate, but was not. One, a millionaire several times over, dresses like a scruff and nobody notices him, but when women somehow find out the car he drives the cat fights emerge as to who would get driven home by him. I mean in the car. They hope his home.

One of my best teachers would listen quietly as fools big-noted, boasted, gibbered and put him down airing their knowledge and generally succeeded to make asses of themselves excepting in their own minds. And yet this master, played the part of fool!

One day, in my youthful arrogance, entirely fed up, I said to him, “You could have kicked butt in a debate. Why didn’t you show who you are?”

He smiled quietly and explained, “That’s not how one learns, Nev. He was not ready to hear but I picked up a few useful tips and added to my knowledge base.”

By playing the fool, this man added to his already great wisdom. And this he expressed in action.

Another, probably one of the world’s foremost mathematical minds in his time, a person whom NASA would contact when they got stuck, would cheerfully state, “I don’t know,” when he didn’t. Again, my questioning of this, in the face of customary verbal contest, got an unexpected answer. “It’s called simple honesty. If I don’t at that time know, the honest thing is to say so instead of making a fool of myself and wasting people’s time trying to hide it. Besides, I’m free to find out. And then I do get to know. Acknowledgement enables you to solve problems. Denial keeps you in the dark. Armed with this, I note my points of ignorance then set about doing something about it when I get the chance to do so. This way I get to indeed know more than I did before. And if someone has no use for it, why bore them with it.”

Another is a genius of clarity and incisiveness in the capacity of lecturing on subjects so esoteric few people exist on the planet can render them so clearly and yet a damn fool in daily life.

Over the years I’ve noticed that when you throw a beginner into the deep end they will learn to swim without consciously realizing the immense quantum leap they have achieved. In multiple attacks even the most modestly untrained of individuals will often emerge with an advanced technique or two without realizing it. My job is to patiently feed it back to them, breaking it up into small parts if necessary, and by the end of the class they have learnt something consciously, which whilst somehow innate, is now a valuable part of themselves they can continue to build on and refine.

Curiously, these spontaneous attempts most usually resemble one of sixteen acknowledged Aikido basic kihon. Why is this?

I learn from my students and in thankfulness return the best quality instruction I know how on the day.

You can learn from anyone including beginners.

Sensei would, instead of scolding, watch us in our youthful exuberance fang about disruptively, unconsciously spontaneous with the good Aikido he had taught us. Then he would promptly feed those very same variables back to us and make us consciously conscious of their existence. Incisively brilliant mitori geiko.

In ancient time in the battlefield, senior men with insight, would watch and note what worked in just this way and then bring it back for practice drills in the quiet periods in-between battle. This gave some clans the edge. Indeed, the origins of aikijutsu emerged just this way.

Learning is a cycle that revolves both ways, not just from “the top down.”

None of my teachers were know-it-alls. Outside of formal or appropriate capacity, you could not pick them as great teachers and probably they did not consider themselves as such.

Some were friends and others not. Their forte, whether accidental or deliberate, resided in their sense of appropriateness and timing. Not all of my teachers were human. I also learned from my cats, dogs, horses and some others creatures not domesticated. Some human people I learned from, were enemies and yet some great lessons even emerged from these circumstances. Often especially from these circumstances.

Sensei was a quiet man, modest, soft spoken and used few words. And yet his exemplary teaching method spoke more than volumes.

Learn to pay attention and to notice what it is you are seeing. This is not possible when you are making noise.

This is done best with the mouth shut, a good steady breath and a receptive mind.

How many times have you felt like saying, “Don’t talk, just show me.”

“Beware of speaking lest in doing so you reveal the immensity of your ignorance..” Anon

Nev Sagiba

aikiblue.com

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Comments

  1. Nev: You have a gift with words, but how ironic you used so many to make the simple, yet profound point in your article:

    “One of my best teachers would listen quietly.

    One day, in my youthful arrogance, entirely fed up, I said to him, “You could have kicked butt in a debate. Why didn’t you show who you are?”

    He smiled quietly and explained, “That’s not how one learns, Nev. He was not ready to hear but I picked up a few useful tips and added to my knowledge base.”

    Sensei was a quiet man, modest, soft spoken and used few words. And yet his exemplary teaching method spoke more than volumes.

    Learn to pay attention and to notice what it is you are seeing. This is not possible when you are making noise.”

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