Teacher as Role Model

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by campsinger, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. campsinger

    campsinger Valued Member

    In a recent thread, I posted the advice about the importance of the teacher in selecting a martial art and a dojo in which to train. Actually, it is the teacher and the combination of what they are doing and how they are imparting the knowledge that will strike a chord with you or it won't.

    In essence when we study a martial art, we want to learn the mundane and the cool stuff (okay, not so much the mundane stuff :) ) that is associated with that particular art. But all that aside, knowledge without a role model to show us how to apply it is useless.

    How often do people ignore the teacher and just focus on the art? How many people go to the nearest Karate or Judo dojo and sign up because they want to learn that art, and not really pay attention to the teacher? Now most of them are not as obviously different as Mr. Miyagi and John Kreese of the Cobra Kai Dojo.

    If you actually pay attention and learn like you are supposed to do, you will move alot like your teacher and have many of his physical mannerisms, as well as sharing points of view. People in the know can tell who your teachers have been.

    As such, it is very important to pay attention to a prospective teacher. because you will adopt many of their mannerisms. Is this a bad thing? No, I don't think so. People will downplay the importance of role models, but in this day and age I think that perhaps it is more important than ever. This doesn't mean that you become their Mini-Me; but you do need to do things their way until you reach your Godan rank if you are going to continue to study with them. After that you can do it your way. But only after that point.

    Maybe that's why we have so many self-made internet warriors and hokey-soke's, and the popularity of home study courses.

    I would be interested in the opinions of others on this forum.

  2. Ace of Clubs

    Ace of Clubs Banned Banned

    I don't agree. Putting a teacher on a pedestal and worshipping them as a role model is the same as a personality cult (many BBT dojo's do run this way which is sad).

    The beautiful thing about human beings is that they make mistakes. I would rather be a teacher who acts as a student amongst peers rather then the infallible teacher who can do no wrong. This lets me makes mistakes, and lets my teachers make mistakes, without worrying too much about how others perceive them.

    Everyone should be their own role model and draw strength from themselves rather then blindly follow someone they think is a good person to mimic.

    I don't want to be like Soke or any of the senior shihan. I want to be myself.

    (I know that not everyone can do this but I think it is a good thing to strive for)
  3. stephenk

    stephenk Valued Member

    I'm going to fall in between here. I actually mostly agree with both of you.

    I totally agree that you shouldn't put your teacher on a pedestal. On the other hand anyone in any capacity that you hang around with that long is going to have an influence on you (whether you recognize it or not), so you have to be careful to surround yourself with good people.
  4. campsinger

    campsinger Valued Member

    I do not advocate putting a teacher on a pedestal and worshiping them. That is not what being a role model is. I did not mean for someone/anyone to be idolized, but rather for all people to strive to live their life in a way that should someone want to use their life as an example, that person would turn out okay. After all, isn't that was being a good parent is all about?

    While a teacher should be an upstanding and moral person in their daily life, in my post I was referring to being a role model for their ability within the art.

    I agree, and that is how I interact with my students. I'm not somebody special. I'm a very ordinary person who happens to be a little further along the trail others are traveling on and can therefore guide them a little. But since I am still walking the path myself, I still stumble and get lost sometimes. I also point these instances out to my students so they don't do the same thing.

    I agree, being oneself is what everyone should strive for. But everyone starts with a blank canvas and must create themselves. You take bits and pieces of various people (real and fictitious) and combine them until your canvas becomes filled up.

    My analogy for life is as follows: You spend up until 18 being what your parents tell you to be. You spend your 20s trying all kinds of (stupid) things trying to figure out what you aren't. Having eliminated some possibilities, you spend your 30s trying to figure out what you are. By the time you are in your 40s, you perhaps now have a clear idea of who and what you are, and you begin to compare that to who and what you originally wanted to be; hence the mid-life crisis. You spend your 40s reconciling with yourself that you got off track somewhere, and trying to get back on track. You spend your 50s refining who and what you are. By the time you hit your 60s, you have either achieved your goal of becoming who and what you are, or you have accepted that you aren't gonna make it and make peace with that. After that, life is concerned with being alive.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2010
  5. Kagete

    Kagete Banned Banned

    Despite being initiated by someone who has trained for a long time, I can't help but think that the premise for this thread is incredibly naïve.
  6. Nick Mandilas

    Nick Mandilas Resistance is an option..

    I think your instructor can be a good role model without a need of sensei-worship.

    My instructor is a good role model (and friend) to me because he moves well, can be very effective with his martial arts knowledge and is a good example of what can be achieved from years of training hard and dedication.

    Do I think he is bullet proof or flawless? No. Not at all.
    I am well aware that he is human enough to make just as many mistakes as I.

    Sure I listen to what he has to say and pay attention to what he has to show, because in the end, I am coming to him to learn this art, but he has always maintained that I should make my taijutsu my own. He wants me to move like me...not like him, because lets face it, we have different heights, builds, fighting styles, ways of thinking...it just isn't natural to more the same.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  7. The Unholy

    The Unholy Banned Banned

    I agree. It does not have to be one or the other.

    Character is important when choosing a martial artist. On the other hand, if someone can't balance their checkbook that does not disqualify them as a teacher.

    As I wrote in my blog about fraud in the martial arts,

    In short, it does not require teacher worship to stay away from guys that lie or are otherwise bad examples of humanity.
  8. pmosiun

    pmosiun Valued Member

    Yeah, we need good role model.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2010
  9. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    There's a big difference between a role model and an object of worship. I agree completely with stephenk. Anyone who influences you, whether positively or negatively, is a role model. Being a role model isn't something you can choose to be or not. Whether Charles Barkley agrees or not, if kids look up to him, respect him, and strive to emulate his behavior, he is a role model. Really, it's just about understanding that your behavior will influence the behavior of people who respect you.

    If you're in a position of authority over kids, you ARE a role model, whether you like it or not. That doesn't mean that they worship you, nor should you encourage that. It simply means that, by example, you're leading kids in ways beyond the simple martial arts lessons you're teaching.
  10. Kagete

    Kagete Banned Banned

    Don, you of all people should know that there are bigger problems with some teachers in the Bujinkan than false credentials.
  11. The Unholy

    The Unholy Banned Banned

    Yes. agreed. But my point is that if they are not of good moral character for whatever reason and form, they should be avoided.

    Teachers should be role models and conduct themselves as such. They should not be worshiped. In fact, those that expect to be worshipped are the folks you really should avoid.
  12. Kagete

    Kagete Banned Banned

    It's not that simple.
  13. Big Will

    Big Will Ninpô Ikkan

    Nothing is simple in life.
  14. campsinger

    campsinger Valued Member

    My original point in this thread is that wanting to learn Budo Taijutsu is not as simple as it may sound. One must choose a teacher as well as an art to study.

    Furthermore, anyone who teaches is automatically putting themselves in a position to be a role model, like it or not. Some of you may say "But I don't 'teach,' I merely share what know," or "I'm just working on my own stuff, if someone learns something along the way, good for them." Still a role model.

    People who chose to be a role model for the sake of being a role model have ego issues. As Charles Barkley has said, he can't help it if kids choose to look at him as a role model. See, that's the way it works. You don't choose to be a role model, people choose you to be a role model. The only question then, willing or unwilling, what kind of role model are you?
  15. Kagete

    Kagete Banned Banned

    And at the same time we expect those who train in the Bujinkan to be reasonable adults, who "have to discover the art for themselves" instead of being taught.

    I don't buy this.
  16. noname

    noname Valued Member


    The Bujinkan schools are rooted in "heihou" (often translated as "strategy"). The nature of "heihou" is such that it extends through the entirety of a subjective being's existence.

    I like to think of "heihou" as the sun (as in, our solar system's star). (From our subjective perspective) It is a singularity that radiates in infinite directions.
  17. Big Will

    Big Will Ninpô Ikkan

    Definitely. I would say that the master-student relationship is the basis of the art(s) we are trying to learn. Our own Sôke is evidence of this.
  18. Kagete

    Kagete Banned Banned

    By the way, today marks the 65th anniversary of Hitler's suicide.

    Cheers everyone!
  19. Jason Overlord

    Jason Overlord Valued Member

    Kagete posted:
    I don't buy it either, Kagete.

    However, I do think campsinger has a point when he says:
    The unfortunate thing is that any teacher of martial arts or any other skill or discipline is seen as being a role model in anything other than what it is they are teaching (martial arts, sport, flower arranging, ornithology, etc).

    The fact that sportsmen and sportswomen are seen as being role models for children and even adults to the extent that their ethics and morality are scrutinised more than a bank manager's or a road sweeper's is utterly ludicrous and is a sad indictment on our society.

    Similarly, the idea that adults want or need to be interested in what their Bujinkan instructor is like in any respect other than his/her skill in teaching taijutsu, bojutsu, kenjutsu, etc within the law is unfortunate at best.

    Adults should be able to work out what is right from wrong behaviour in life without needing to look to their martial arts instructor for guidance.

    I am no more interested in what my martial arts instructor's moral or ethical beliefs are than I am interested in those of my piano teacher.
    Last edited: May 2, 2010
  20. Ninjuries

    Ninjuries The Man Who Genbukan Supporter

    From my perspective as a beginner I'd say it would (obviously) depend on the student and teacher in particular.

    As per the original post your Sensei's going to be a physical role model without question if he's the sole source of you learning techniques.

    As a personal role model all you need to do is take your perspective with you like you would with any other person. If they have qualities you admire genuinely and aspire to actually be like that person then it's no different to looking up to anyone else.

    Happily my Sensei is a fantastic guy so the above applies to me. In the dojo he's the teacher and I try my best to be aware of my etiquette and role as student. Outside, he's a cheerful guy who asks me how I'm doing, who I can chat with and who has a genuine concern for his students.

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