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188. Strategies of Teaching

Strategy most normally involves setting goals and priorities and then determining actions to achieve the goals and using resources to execute the actions.  Having a strategy entails a description of how the goals will be achieved with the resources and in many minds is primarily thought of as being a military or governmental idea; large or global as it were.  Strategy may also be applied to smaller venues, such as succession at a dojo or kai (martial arts school or martial organization).

A Samurai saying was that there are three kinds of people.  The first is the person (deshi) who understands the purpose of his teacher’s teachings and functions well within that limited scope.  However, he does not have many original or creative teaching ideas of his own and does not practice much. He can become a teacher of students but not a true leader or master of the art.

The second type of person is the one who, besides what he learns from his teacher, adds his own ideas of effectiveness into his skill sets and randori ability.  He practices long and hard to both improve those skills and his ability to communicate (and teach) those skills.  He is the deshi who excels and if put on a battlefield will likely as not prevail most of the time.

The third type of person is the one who does not learn all his teacher’s techniques nor absorb his knowledge but understands the ones he does learn.  He can become competent on the battlefield and in randori but is rarely able to grow beyond whatever direct lessons he has been taught.  Some would refer to him as being a “book person”; if it’s not in the book then does it exist.

The Samurai strategist who proposed these categories of students or deshi was referring in the larger sense to warfare on a larger scale but these may also be applied to the smaller universe of the dojo. 

The Sensei or Dojo Cho (dojo manager) needs the ability to do a couple of things here.  First, be able to identify which up and coming Yudansha fit into which category; and second, be a guide.  The Sensei must be able to teach, guide, and work with all three categories.  A dojo does not need only the second type of person who excels at everything at the potential expense of the other two.  A Sensei should be able to work with all three and assist each of those in improving, growing in understanding and ability, and becoming a real leader; his replacement as-it were and in so becoming, a testimony to the ideals of teaching.

L. F. Wilkinson Kancho

The Aikibudokan

Houston, TX

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