I’ve been thinking a lot about other martial arts styles. On the one hand, I’ve always bought into the more “secretive” aspects of practice. What your sensei shows you is his or her best technique–and it is easy to argue that such teachings should not be doled out lightly to anyone. However, lately I’ve found this perspective to be more limiting and more unrealistic than I had thought.
First, the notion that you should keep technique “secret”–especially in Kokikai–seems out of place. I do not hide my “best technique” from new students who step onto the mat. Nor did Sensei Bannister, my teacher. Granted, I don’t show advanced versions of technique to new students, but that is more out of respect for the student. After all, you do not start teaching Calculus to a student who is just beginning to learn math.
Second, the best technique, I feel, is tempered by exposure to alternate perspectives. Professors and scientists, skilled and knowledgeable though they might be, do not take a concept or finding and proclaim it truth. They subject their results to vigorous peer reviews to ensure that their findings are accurate. The same is true for technique. I may not agree with everything another instructor says or does, but I know that, in most cases, their skills are enough to provide solid feedback to my own abilities and interpretations. Perhaps more senior instructors do not require this sort of feedback–but I do.
Third, I think a secretive atmosphere lends to the notion that one is fearful of competition. I do not worry that my students might find another instructor’s style “better” than mine. If they do, then so be it. I trust my technique and training. If people wish to share in that trust with me, I am grateful. If they chose a different path, I sincerely hope they find what they are looking for.
All this results in a simple decision: I will always take the opportunity to learn and share with others–whether they are a part of Kokikai or not. So long as we share ideas in an forum of mutual respect, we have much to gain.