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jks9199

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Maybe that my opinion has something to do with my line of work also. Investigations, analysis, questioning and understanding how things work is part of my life in general. Nobody is the same, nobody learns the same way.

That said, I would never be able to learn from a teacher who basically tells me: "Just do it, don't ask questions", I would never be able to have any faith in him/her.

You're right about the way that modern martial arts are taught. But it's only normal. The teacher is also an employee of the student.
"Why" is a tricky question. As Doc has said, a large part of training, especially early on, really needs to consist of "Do this" and following directions. For many beginners, the only question they really need to ask for quite a long time amounts to "what did you want me to do?"

But there's a definite space and need for some understanding of the reasoning behind things, too. That's where some "why" is acceptable. "Why did you step that way?" "Why did you use that technique?" Not "Why do we do this?" Often, the legitimate "whys" will answer themselves, if you follow directions.
 

JesterX

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Oh my god!!! I'm starting to believe that we were talking about different why's all along!!!

I totally agree that a student shouldn't ask question like:

"Why are we doing this instead of that?" and "Why do you teach me that?"

That would be terrible and very non-productive...

But, there is another way to see "why" questions:

"Why is the solar plexus a good target?"
"Why isn't my opponent falling the way he did when you performed the technique on him?"

and for "what if":

"What if my opponent menage to bend his arm? Is there a way to follow that move?"
 
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marlon

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I think i must be very imprecise when i answer questions of "why" in kempo. Or i am just pursuing an agenda...I always do my best to explain 'how' for every 'why' question posed because to me they are so interrelated that i cannot separate the 2 easily. This may reflect my limitations. However, i welcome all questions and most students will ask 'why' about particulars of a technique and usually only after they have learned how and i have explained how...but the 'why' question for me fills the picture relating to our style of fighting and movement, the philosophy and intent that drives kempo to function as kempo and not as taikwando or shotokan as examples. It is true that the more one learns and practices...the more one becomnes better at the 'how' the better one can fight...yet there are legitimate styles out there that have different responses to attacks based on thier 'way' of fighting and thier system approach. It could lead to confusion in a student if someone else explains a difference that is logical on the mechanics the 'how' and still very different or contradictory to whgat i teach if the student cannot ask 'why' to me and have me explain some of 'the bigger picture' of our style as i understand it. So, at the risk of incurring the wrath of Doc, i find that 'why' questions are great and are exceptional opportunities to teach students and help develop thinking practitioners.

Respectfully,
Marlon
 

Xue Sheng

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They are the same expressed slightly differently.
Why do I step if? or What if I can't step here?

What if I did not respond to this post?

Why did I respond to this post?

Nope...they can be rather different.

What if I stop responding to this post form this point on

Why did I stop responding to this post?

Nope...still different

What if is both philosophically and psychologically vastly different from why.

What if I never did this...Why did I do that?

What if I never did this is looking to things like how would things be different. Why did I do that is looking more to the reason something was done. What if is in most cases self defeating and why is a way to learn.

With that I bid you adieu
 

Doc

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What if I did not respond to this post?

Why did I respond to this post?

Nope...they can be rather different.

What if I stop responding to this post form this point on

Why did I stop responding to this post?

Nope...still different

What if is both philosophically and psychologically vastly different from why.

What if I never did this...Why did I do that?

What if I never did this is looking to things like how would things be different. Why did I do that is looking more to the reason something was done. What if is in most cases self defeating and why is a way to learn.

With that I bid you adieu
The end result is the same. You didn't get any better.
 
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marlon

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The end result is the same. You didn't get any better.

I disagree. "why step here" is a question of how-do-i-make-this-technique-work, " what about the how of this technique" requires that i step here... "what if i cannot step here" is a discussion of "what if's" that leads nowhere. one is an opportunity to teach / learn thereby get better; and, the other is about finding reasons not to get better.

Respectfully,
Marlon
 

Sukerkin

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Doc, what am I missing in your viewpoint that makes me think you're being deliberately obtuse (I'm not trying to be insulting here, it's a truly honest question)?

"Why?" is a very important question indeed and it seems from what I read of your input above that calling it "How?" instead makes no functional difference; "Why?" is just accessing the same answer from a different angle (and a more direct one at that).

The "Why?" of a technique is core to the understanding of that technique. "What?" and "How?" are both subordinate to it (as is "Where?" to a large extent).

Your post#20 above just adds to my confusion as to what you are driving at?
 
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SL4Drew

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What if I did not respond to this post?

Why did I respond to this post?

Nope...they can be rather different.

What if I stop responding to this post form this point on

Why did I stop responding to this post?

Nope...still different

What if is both philosophically and psychologically vastly different from why.

What if I never did this...Why did I do that?

What if I never did this is looking to things like how would things be different. Why did I do that is looking more to the reason something was done. What if is in most cases self defeating and why is a way to learn.

With that I bid you adieu

What I understood Doc to be saying is that if you ask "what if you can't do A" then naturally flows into the "why are you going to B over C or D." It made sense to me, but then I am used to hearing "everything depends on everything else."

And I don't think he was making the assertion that as a matter of strict logic that 'why' is an identical question to 'what-if.'
 

SL4Drew

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I think i must be very imprecise when i answer questions of "why" in kempo. Or i am just pursuing an agenda...I always do my best to explain 'how' for every 'why' question posed because to me they are so interrelated that i cannot separate the 2 easily. This may reflect my limitations. However, i welcome all questions and most students will ask 'why' about particulars of a technique and usually only after they have learned how and i have explained how...but the 'why' question for me fills the picture relating to our style of fighting and movement, the philosophy and intent that drives kempo to function as kempo and not as taikwando or shotokan as examples. It is true that the more one learns and practices...the more one becomnes better at the 'how' the better one can fight...yet there are legitimate styles out there that have different responses to attacks based on thier 'way' of fighting and thier system approach. It could lead to confusion in a student if someone else explains a difference that is logical on the mechanics the 'how' and still very different or contradictory to whgat i teach if the student cannot ask 'why' to me and have me explain some of 'the bigger picture' of our style as i understand it. So, at the risk of incurring the wrath of Doc, i find that 'why' questions are great and are exceptional opportunities to teach students and help develop thinking practitioners.

Respectfully,
Marlon

I'd also suggest that there are lots of different why questions. And I think there are few answers to a question of "why do we do X" that are universal and exist without regard for context.
 

Doc

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I disagree. "why step here" is a question of how-do-i-make-this-technique-work, " what about the how of this technique" requires that i step here... "what if i cannot step here" is a discussion of "what if's" that leads nowhere. one is an opportunity to teach / learn thereby get better; and, the other is about finding reasons not to get better.

Respectfully,
Marlon

How to step where I tell you is more important, than why, and why won't teach you how.
 
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marlon

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How to step where I tell you is more important, than why, and why won't teach you how.

i will remeber this distinction whenever, should i ever get to learn directly from you Doc. i appreciate your perspective.

Respectfully,
Marlon
 

DavidCC

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I don't remember who told me this, might have been Doc or might have been Dr Crouch or maybe someone else:

"First learn HOW to do it; then once you can do it, you have the rest of your life to learn WHY it works"
 

Doc

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I don't remember who told me this, might have been Doc or might have been Dr Crouch or maybe someone else:

"First learn HOW to do it; then once you can do it, you have the rest of your life to learn WHY it works"

For an activity that demands high level performance at the core of its purpose, that would seem to be logical. The controversy is wrapped in the myth that permeates arts taught as a business in the west. "If you don't understand why you do something, you can't learn how to do it." But that is typical of most students at the bottom of any class of activity when "what" is being asked is strangely unfamiliar, and there is a lack of perspective. Students have natural curiosity. They want to know, "where is this going?" if they cannot readily see it for themselves.

Sometimes the "why" questions are good, but most often, they are not. Only a really good and knowledgeable teacher can decide which "why" questions are, or can be conveyed simplistic enough to not derail the physical lessons. Therefore, in my lineage, students may not generate the question, "why," but that doesn't mean that teachers do not volunteer answers when they are relevant. It is the policy that students may not ask, however.

You want to learn to defend yourself, I presume. You've done your homework, given up some cash, and invested in equipment. It would appear at this point you have a level of trust in where you are, or you shouldn't be there. Now give the instructor the courtesy of doing his job, until you feel he is not helping you, than move on.

Don't make the mistake however, of realizing you are not being taught well, but than hang around anyway because you've invested time money and ego, and now you need to stay a little while longer chasing a belt that is worthless anyway, to make you feel better about your poor decision.

I stand guilty of that phrase David, and that is how I teach. Anyone that wants my instruction that thinks they are smarter than me in my area of expertise, should be teaching themselves and will be, because I know I wont.

I turn out some pretty good people, and none of them seem to mind, or the benefit of the instructions is high enough to make them overlook and old instructors stupidity.
 
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marlon

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i certainly hope that no one has understood any of my comments to mean tyhat how is not of primary importance. I use the question of 'why' in my personal style of teaching (for good or for ill) to explain how because for me one leads to the other and back again. I do not wait for a why question to happen in order to explain how i just use it to emphasize the how. My point is that i find a 'why' question most of the time a good learning and teaching opportunity that i can share with the class and at times deepen my understanding of the material also, as i am not as senior as some others nor have i had the benefit of learning from great masters (although my Shihan, i find brilliant). I have had to fight for a long period in my life and i have had to rerstrain violent, aggitated patients and deal with some young want to be thugs. So i have some training and some experience and am seeking to make the best of it. The whgy questions have helped my understanding of how and my explainations of how...but the focus is of course on learning how.

Marlon
 

Tames D

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Only in the wonderful world of Kenpo can a discussion like this exist.
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Stephen Kurtzman

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The controversy is wrapped in the myth that permeates arts taught as a business in the west. "If you don't understand why you do something, you can't learn how to do it." But that is typical of most students at the bottom of any class of activity when "what" is being asked is strangely unfamiliar, and there is a lack of perspective. Students have natural curiosity. They want to know, "where is this going?" if they cannot readily see it for themselves.

Doc, do you discount the value of curiosity? In my teaching, I've found that when a student asks a question, it can mean any combination of a number of things:

1. I've not been clear in my presentation.
2. I've not motivated the material properly to give them context.
3. They are not ready for the material being presented.
4. They require a different presentation to understand the material.
5. They are seeking to make connections in their mind between the present lesson and other lessons.
6. They are using their brains and see possibilities and implications of the material beyond the context of the lesson at hand.

And it is my experience when one student asks a question, others have the same question but are too timid to ask. A good answer to a well asked and/or well timed question can make the difference between a great class and just another drill.

Sometimes the "why" questions are good, but most often, they are not. Only a really good and knowledgeable teacher can decide which "why" questions are, or can be conveyed simplistic enough to not derail the physical lessons. Therefore, in my lineage, students may not generate the question, "why," but that doesn't mean that teachers do not volunteer answers when they are relevant. It is the policy that students may not ask, however.

So, "really good and knowledgeable teachers" can decide. But in your lineage, students are not allowed to ask why. Does that mean in your lineage you don't have "really good and knowledgeable teachers"? I mean no disrespect by that question. I mean only to bring to your attention a valid inference that one can draw from your statement.

Your rule sounds like a good one in a group class dedicated to physical training or first-level instruction. It might even be appropriate in other settings depending on the personalities and goals of your students -- i.e., if they lack discipline or seek only to be fighters.

It sounds like a horrible rule for private lessons, advanced classes, and seminars. And it would run counter to nourishing real students of the art.

I stand guilty of that phrase David, and that is how I teach. Anyone that wants my instruction that thinks they are smarter than me in my area of expertise, should be teaching themselves and will be, because I know I wont.

Wow, Doc. I'm sorry to hear you say that. It seems you think a question is a challenge to your authority instead of an exploration of ideas. If that's the case, then that is sad.

That is not the attitude I would expect to hear coming from someone who holds a PhD and runs an organization named "The Martial Science University". It is my understanding that the foundation of both the sciences and universities is to always allow the questioning of ideas. I also thought Mr. Parker believed there was always room to challenge what we know or are taught.

peace,
stephen
 
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Sukerkin

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It's probably best not to let the thread stall on raising our eyebrows at just one sensei's methodology.

I couldn't agree less with Doc's approach but it is his approach and not one that I imagine will ever directly impinge on my training (given different country, different art and so forth :D).

To me, "Why?" is a very critical question for a student to ask. I certainly don't want anyone I teach for any amount of time to be willing to just accept what I tell them as gospel. Learning and understanding comes from questioning.

It is true that when anyone starts in an art you don't know enough to know what questions to ask - you have no frame of reference. But time reveals that in any established art, particularly koryu ones, there are answers to be found and the student begins to know what to ask.

As the years mount, I find I still have those moments which lead to a deeper understanding of how various techniques interleave with each other. Often these 'revelations' come about because of the foundations laid by a "Why?" I asked years ago :lol:.

It is those moments which are what I term 'true learning'; the question opened the gate to a path that lead me to the answer suitable for my level of comprehension.
 

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