Not to be fatalistic, but your teacher can die tomorrow – car wreck, heart attack, he screws up on the street, whatever.
Then where are you? You are back to square one – so you have to start at square one.
Your best teacher will always be yourself. Only you look in the mirror…not your instructor, not your wife, not your child, not your detractors.
When you see yourself for who you are and can be, and not who others think you are or want you to be – then you’re prepared to learn from another.
Until then, you will only get into the way your self.
People are people – before anyone is an instructor, teacher, or student – they are a person with psychological needs. They want affection, adoration, respect, the esteem of being something better than others, or who they are.
Instructors are no different.
Far too often, students fall into the grasps of teachers who begin to, whether intentional or unintentional, control their student beyond the mat. Students then talk like their teacher, they write like their teacher, they attribute things to their teacher that they would never attribute to their own father or mother or grandparents. They lose themselves in something new, and they begin to draw their identity from it.
At a certain point, no matter how much bs their teacher is teaching, or no matter the accurate critiques – they will do anything to defend their teacher because they are defending their own identity.
The greatest thing that ever happened to my development in the early 2000’s was Russia being so far away. After our group trained at Kadochnikov School, we were forced to ‘go west’, and begin our own thing. Before I went to Russia I studied ROSS, and while it was great study, I knew there was something I needed beyond and we parted ways. Going to Russia, we didn’t have to dogma or the hero worship – we were not constantly given jewels of wisdom from our betters at fighting. We never saw them. We had what we were taught, books, and that was it. There were no videos of Alexei or Victor, Arkadij or Sergey – it was our notebooks, our experience, our memories, and the wholehearted attempt to get better.
What would have taken us and made us something other than we were, that I was…the hero worship of great teachers – these things were stifled.
So, we developed in other ways – taking from everyone and everything we could and working without ego because someone was always better than me, us, and we did what we could to get better.
In the end, we accomplished more by not being there, by not going to the school every month or quarter – we only went a few times, but we left with knowledge, not with an adoration of a teacher.
Learning martial art is a vicious cycle of getting your ego and experience out of the way of you.
The truth is – there is no teacher, be it experience, movement, skill, public speaking skills that will stand up to a .40 bullet.
Far too often student and teacher can forget this.
I close with this, because after all these years, I realize it….
For the student – you do not need a teacher as much as you need a guide. You do not need someone to teach you to be a better you – you simply need a guide to show you paths to get there, so you should never have just one guide. One of my oldest mentors always says, ‘I go to everything I can to learn, because I never know when I will learn that one thing that will save my life.’ You, as a student have to recognize that your teacher doesn’t go to work for you, he doesn’t brush your teeth, feed your children. S/He is simply a guide to knowledge you didn’t have…if you look at your teacher in this way, as a guide, the dogma begins to fall away and you are left with a person with experience you can learn from.
For the teacher – be a guide, not a teacher. Have your own guides. You have to put aside your ego and how your students stroke your ego and recognize you are a conduit for information and knowledge – not the information and knowledge. The moment it gets to your head – you are no longer a teacher, but an ego on your way to dictatorship over those who wish to learn what you know. Be a guide to their learning – be a source of information…do not try to be their teacher, because your students life will teach them more than you ever will – you can only help to enhance that life through what you know. Your legacy left is more important than you dollars earned (because, as a business person, legacies create generation wealth for you children).
And to those searching – search in all directions…because your one teacher could die tomorrow, and you’ll be left with just you.