The answer to that is “whoever shows up at class”, to be honest, but last evening we got onto a somewhat more specific criteria. The students I most appreciate when they show up are the ones who will stick with this stuff for a long time, perhaps the rest of their lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had several of them. Two or three of them were with me at the bar last evening.
The Pamurai just got back from Chile where she was helping out with a jodo seminar. She has found herself a job and a boss who lets her spend a week working from her laptop. This was deliberate, she gets a lot from budo and intends to do it for a very long time. One of the first things she told us about the seminar was “Ueda sensei OWNED me”. She was delighted that an 8dan took her to school on Ran Ai in front of a room full of students. This is a good attitude, “step up and get your medicine” as is said. You rarely look as bad as it feels from the inside but you’ve got to be willing to look awful in public if you want to keep improving on this stuff. Class last evening was three experienced students and two beginners. We spent an hour and a half on Mae from Seitei and I concentrated on “fixing” the seniors while letting the beginners “see and do”. I look for resentment in my seniors in this sort of situation and I found none at all, just an openness to corrections without any worry about what that looked like in front of the newbies.
It doesn’t hurt that they are a couple of post-grads and a Prof. I’ve always found that the ego is inversely proportional to the reasons to be prideful. That Prof is one of those who will stick for the long term I think, he was away from practice for a while, teaching at another college, but has returned and is as regular at class as he ever was. More than that, though, he has begun to pick up the work on Niten Ichiryu, organizing the next seminar, a fast one taking advantage of the instructor’s travel to elsewhere. Picking up, not quite accurate, taking it away from me perhaps. This willingness to take up the work of organizing for others (the students) is another good sign. We don’t make money at this stuff, we spend it, so stepping up to organize a seminar or to start a dojo is a commitment without reward. It certainly shows willing.
A few other students were out last week doing the demonstration thing, to drum up the new students we need for the class. I wasn’t there, it’s fade-away time for my generation, and that’s a lot easier knowing that there is another generation to take over.
I wrote something like this to a student from Chile who passed his shodan and was thanking me for sending Pam to help out. I explained that the first generation has done their job, the five or six pioneers in South America have, through a huge effort and expense to themselves, obtained enough rank overseas to begin jodo gradings at home. This is not easy in the Kendo Federation, it takes a 4dan to sit on a shodan panel, and 4dan takes at a minium, ten or eleven years. That’s if you pass every grading at the first try, IF you can find a grading you can get to. Not only that, but you need 5 people to get this rank.
The effort has been made, and the first shodan grading has happened. This means the new ranks in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil will be the future of the art. They will be the second generation, one that can be home-grown, and that means the leaders will be looking, already, for their replacements. They will be looking for those who are willing to start new dojo, and help with future seminars, and just, mostly, get out to class to keep learning.
When someone flies in from overseas it can be assumed that they are keen, so you give them all you can. When it comes to home-grown, gradings and instruction is easier, so you need to search out the long-termers, nurture them a bit, make sure you don’t load them up with work too soon, make sure they don’t get burned out by others.
Oh yes, I’ve had promising students who I’ve asked to do too much too soon, but not many. On the other hand, I’ve had far too many who have been used up and thrown away by others. That I do not appreciate at all. These guys aren’t a “dime a dozen” and we aren’t paying them. To ask them, to expect them, to do too much in exchange for no pay, expense to themselves in fact, and to be rewarded by abuse and criticism is a very good way to move them on to some other hobby.
Find your replacements and use them well. Give them as much as you can, let them pull the work away from you, don’t thrust it at them.
And recognize them when you see them. They’re not hard to spot, they’re the ones that show up at class for ten years or so. Appreciate them, they are gems.
More valuable than rubies.
Sept 15, 2018
Check out the seminars below for the rest of 2018. Less than one week to the koryu jodo seminar with Kurogo sensei, chair of the jodo section ZNKR. Spend a tiny ruby and attend.
Next week I start annoying you to get to Fredericton, we’re doing a road trip, let the Pamurai know if you’re coming with us.
September 22-23 Kurogo sensei in Mississauga koryu Jodo seminar
September 29-30 Road Trip! Fredericton iaido and jodo seminar/grading
October 27-28 Niten Ichiryu in Mississauga (planning)
Novemer 3-4 Ohmi sensei in Peterborough koryu iaido seminar.
November 23-25 Mansfield Sensei, Mississauga, Jodo seminar and grading
December 1 Etobicoke Iaido grading
2018 April 6, Seito Bugei Juku seminar in Peterborough.