Bonsai Study Group Forum

General Category => General Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Elliott on March 22, 2012, 06:31 PM

Title: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Elliott on March 22, 2012, 06:31 PM
So lets imagine that you want to get to the next level in your bonsai skills and the only way to create the kind of top specimens that you admire, is to do an apprenticeship under a bonsai master in Japan.
 You sacrifice everything, you leave your job, you sell most of your trees, find a new home for your dog and then you go work your ass of for the next 5 years or so in japan. While there, you learn all techniques needed to teach and put out top quality trees. You have learned many professional techniques only done in Japan and maybe "secret techniques" only done by your master.
 You come back home and you are in great demand, you jet set around the world to all the biggest shows, you have study groups in all corners of the world. You are the shiny new penny on the bonsai scene and your schedule is all booked up for a very long time.
 The question is, Do you share EVERYTHING you learned in Japan? Do you only use those "secret" methods on your own and paid clients trees? do you just share that with your own apprentices?
 If you share those techniques with everyone, it doesn't make what you and others do so special anymore, but it enhances the the skill of the general hobbyist which leads to better quality trees all over. On the other hand, being able to offer something special makes what you do more likely to earn you a living and elevates the standard that way, making bonsai more of a legitimate business. Do you feel only those who have sacrificed so much should know these things or should it be taught at every little club meeting?
 I hope to hear from those who have studied in japan and those who are there now.
Ready, set, discuss....
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: JRob on March 22, 2012, 07:33 PM
Interesting. Skill wether learned in Japan, here or anywhere else for that matter in my mind is only a small but necessary contributor to a great tree. All to often we forget that this is an art form. Skills can be taught, improved and maybe mastered but not everyone who can learn the bonsai skills has an eye to produce a great tree. I study with a Japanese trained individual 3 times a year (This is my third year) not only to improve my skill but because he sees things in trees I do not. I have had and take workshops and classes for the same reason. All the great artist had students that learned the skills but not many produced masterpieces. I can do a very good job at what i'll call refrigerator art but do I have the gift to develop a great design without the aid of an master artist. Not sure only time will tell.

My initial thoughts,

JRob
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: akeppler on March 22, 2012, 07:40 PM
A very crafty teacher can teach for years and not really give away any secrets. Most teachers can show you the basics in a demonstration and then in a workshop they can explain mechanics and then let people start on their own. then they come around and tell you if you did well or need improvement. Then you may start all over and do it again and actually improve. then you will be comended for doing better all the while the teacher has not picked a single wire or shears and actually done any work. If they do work it is usually work that realtes to wht you may be working on right there in front of you and may not ever relate to a tree again.

I would think that a program such as that, that Boon teaches is probabl the closest you will come to learning things that have been passed down to students learned in Japan. A yearly program most likely will yeild the most "secrets".

Secrets are not always what they are cracked up to be. A secret is only good if it can be practised on trees with enough repition as to become rote. At that point it seems the the best results are almost gaurenteed while just simply "knowing" the secret is not always impressive if you always have crappy results.

40 years ago air layering was probably considerd a very secret technique, now it is the first thing mentioned by someone with 40 posts for a newbie to do to their crappy plant. "Hey air layer that thing and you will have two". Who cares, now you have two crappy plants.

But, seeing some of those masters in Japan that have taken this 40 year old heavily ramified branch and graft it to a small seedling only to "hold" it so it can be grafted back onto a tree in a place where it needs a good branch is really a wonderfull technique to have.

I am reminded of Jim Gremel. I have taken 4 workshops on making yamadori style junipers. I have made many. Have a very nice yamadori style black pine that is doing very well. Jims junipers look marvelous and seem so natural. John Kirby has posted a couple articles about his junipers here. The trouble is I have yet to see Jim actually bend one in front of anyone. He will show you how to tie raffia in a knot, apply it to the tree, wrap the damn thing with wire and then he will "tell" you to twist it up and squash it. He never actually demonstrates what he does. If you have a problem he will come to your seat and turn the plant several times and then tell you where you need to put more bends or crack it here or twist it there. Never touches it though.


Man of many mysteries..that one.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Adair M on March 22, 2012, 08:36 PM
Al, I hear ya.

I can't speak for Mr. Gremel, and his style of teaching, but I understand where you're coming from.

I have horses, and I wanted to learn Natural Horsemanship.  There are two famous "Clinicians" who sell training programs:  Pat Parelli, and Clinton Anderson.  (There are more, but I will just briefly discuss these two.)

Pat Parelli drives me crazy.  He's obviously a gifted horseman, but his shows, TV, etc show you what he can do with a trained horse.  His style is to show you all the marvelious things he can do with a horse, and you can too, if you buy his program.

Clinton Anderson is different.  His shows use untrained stock, and he trains them before your very eyes.  He shows you what he would do to train, and just does it.  I've seen him live, at clinics, and own his DVDs.  He does bring along a finished horse, and gives a demo ride to show what the final results should produce.

I obviously prefer Anderson.  Others prefer Parelli.  Maybe it's a left brained/right brained thing.

For bonsai, I think one of the things the kids are learning by being apprentices is they are surrounded by the best bonsai in the world.  They work on great material, and learn how to make it even better.

Peter Tea sent me a blog the other day, and it discussed a black pine and how it was re-styled.  Peter did a great job photographing it from all angles, and one of the major improvements was to the apex.  To make the trunk look larger the apex was "lowered".  Ok... so they chopped the top, right?  Uh, no.  They lowered the apex by pulling it down in front.  Foreshortening it.  You really can't tell when looking at the photo from the front.  But when you look at a side photo, why that tree is almost falling out of the pot leaning forward!  It's a "trick of the eye"!  You woud never be able to pick that up by looking at the tree from the front.

Anyway, Peter showed us "how it's done".  Just think how it would be possible to pick up on techniques like that if you lived, breathed, ate bonsai 24/7 like they do?

Anyway, that little tip got me out in the garden today, and I messed around with a JWP that I've been unhappy with the apex.  And I found that if I just moved the apex straight forward towards the front, it lowered it, rounded it, and made it better.  I bet those guys get an "Ah ha!" moment like that every day!

Can they teach it?  Time will tell.  Some may become bonsai Parellis.  Others more like Anderson.  Good thing is we will have new talents to choose from.

I personally am very grateful for what they do, and I enjoy their blogs.  And I wish them every success.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 22, 2012, 09:20 PM
My other obsession is the guitar.  I've played in bands for years, studied with teachers and attended workshops with professionals, and read and continue to read countless magazines and blogs.  I've been trying to figure out how the equate my feelings regarding the guitar and the guitar player/teacher community with bonsai and the online bonsai community.  Here's a couple of random things that have been circling in my brain.

- The teachers/players/musicians I enjoy the most are freely giving with the information they have.  They are equally excited sharing information with others as they are playing.

- The teachers I learn most/easiest from teach what the student is ready to learn, pushing just past the comfort zone. 

- I'm planning on giving my 4-year-old nephew a guitar soon and plan to teach him as he matures.  I probably won't start with sweep picking.

- A surefire way to improve is to play with musicians who are better than you.  They will continually push you to play better, and you'll learn so much more from/with them.


Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Larry Gockley on March 22, 2012, 09:52 PM
While reading the first post, another point came to mind. It is one thing to learn a skill from the best, but another to be able to actually teach those skills to others. Teaching is an art in itself. I have been to seminars where, when it was over, I'm thinking , " what in the world was he talking about". And I have been to seminars where I'm singing " I saw the light" all the way home. Larry
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: John Kirby on March 23, 2012, 10:55 AM
Al,
You have said three things that are very, very, germane:

1. Rote repetition- I was going to post on this thread yesterday, but repotting was too inspirational. Lots of people have heard 99% of the secrets floating around from folks who have apprenticed (years), done training stays (Like with Kobayashi or Urushibata, these are weeks or months in length) or worked around bonsai for a while (like me). The key difference between a talent like Ryan Neal telling you how to do something and having Ryan Neal do it is the experience of having done it many, many, many times, with a critical master or teacher. Boon says, you want to learn how to wire well and fast- wire everyday with someone inspecting your work, hmmm, for a few months 3-5, like in Japan.
2. I will come back to this, my meeting is now more engaged.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: rockm on March 23, 2012, 02:12 PM
I think most people don't completely grasp what a Japanese-trained teacher is showing them. The teacher really doesn't have to keep anything "secret" because techniques have become second nature to him. He performs them so easily and efficiently, that students miss most of what he's getting at even if they're staring right at it.

Take Cesar "Dog Whisperer" Milan as an example of the "hide in plain sight" kind of instruction. There are no "secrets" to his methods, but people don't see what he's actually doing to train a canine. His techniques are simple and direct, if you know what you're looking at and are very familiar with how dogs works. Doesn't hurt if you grew up in a multiple dog household either.

He is so effecient at non-verbal communication with the animal, that people assume he's performing some kind of magic, or at least speaks dog language. Not really true. Boils down to a lifelong (or long term) relationship with what he's working with every day.

In other words, I guess, asking a teacher "Why" is as important as asking how a technique works. Understand why it's done and the path to doing it opens up--regardless of the exact manipulations done by the teacher.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: donmaple on March 24, 2012, 11:08 AM
Hey, don't forget we all have an agenda! Are you growing Bonsai for yourself or is it your livelihood? If it is your bread and butter it will pay you more to be really good at most everything, and you have to get people to pay you money and tell their friends how good you are and come back and give you more money, ect.. or you may be a Bonsai artist in hobby form only. You can be taken seriously at either level. Your skills can be as good at either level. If you share your knowledge and experience at either level is completely up to you. Fortunately for us all, we don't all learn the same way, so if we truly want to know something we will find someone who can teach us in our style of learning. Now sorting out who can do this is another matter. Take me for example: I thank God every day for spell-check. Happy Bonsai-ing Don.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: akeppler on March 24, 2012, 12:25 PM
Theers speilcheke?
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Elliott on March 24, 2012, 02:41 PM
OK, so far we have learned about god, dogs, guitars, and horses. But no one has answered the question; do you share EVERYTHING you learned? Do you just use it on your personal trees? Do you just use it on paying clients, but don't teach it? Do you just teach it to your apprentices? Etc
 I heard Ryan say that sometimes late at night, Mr. kimura would kick out all the apprentices and want to work alone. Was it because he was gassy from the pickled diakon radish dish Mrs. kimura served for dinner? I don't think so. I remember in old bonsai today articles that were translated from kinbon magazine about Kimura bending the piss out of a thick trunk tree, it would say that the trunk had some marks with cut paste on it from something he did to it before hand that he would not explain. They speculated that it was probably a special technique that was to advanced for amatures, and it would result in someone riming their tree.

 I don't think so. Some things he just doesn't share. Remember, in Japan, its a business and you have alto of competition for limited amount of clients. If you can offer something the next nursery across the street can't, you get the money. When the current crop of apprentices get back, it may become a little competitive.
 I guess we relay need to hear from those that are in Japan now or those that have come back already. But, if just finished an apprenticeship, are you relay gonna get on a popular board like this and announce that I'm gonna keep some things to myself and make people distrust you or are you gonna say, "hire me, I will show you all my secrets" and market yourself?
The world may never know. LOL!
 
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: akeppler on March 24, 2012, 06:07 PM
I don't think it so much that anything they learn in Japan is  a secret, much of it is so much minutia and timing. I have the whole diary of Kathy Shaner when she was in Japan. I have read it so many times much of it is burnt into my brain. I remember her working on Crytomeria and leaning on branches while thinning areas not worked on yet. Teacher would scold her because the new clipped areas were prone to browning by bruising the exposed edge by leaning on it. "NO browning on client's trees".

These things may become second nature as it is heard a few times around the nursery. This tip may come about maybe two or three times in Kathy's career as something to be passed on. Would someone consider this a secret? I don't know.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 24, 2012, 06:10 PM
I gladly share when I remember to, when it pops in my head and the opportunity arises.  But, I by no means consider myself a professional.

I have gladly paid money to bonsai professionals and will continue to do so for as long as possible.  I'm happy to support them and am happy with what I have been taught.  I have learned quite a bit and appreciate the way it was presented, in a manner in which it stuck.  

The better teachers will evaluate what you're ready for.  Attempting a technique without proper knowledge of it's execution, preparation, or aftercare is a dangerous proposition.

Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: akeppler on March 24, 2012, 10:37 PM

The better teachers will evaluate what you're ready for.  Attempting a technique without proper knowledge of it's execution, preparation, or aftercare is a dangerous proposition.



Thats where I fall off. Even if just a theory I try it. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I feel that every technique had to be tried by someone sooner or later. I have not seen any technique done to a simple tree that would lead me to believe it was a dangerous proposition.

I feel more in danger when I get in my truck in the morning and enter the hiway to go to work. Now thats danger. Working on a tree, dead or alive is pure joy.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 24, 2012, 10:44 PM
I guess I should have added, "...for the tree."
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Tona on March 24, 2012, 11:11 PM
Hey Elliott,
If we take it a bit further, in your own monthly club meetings at Sansui Kai, besides the paid demonstrations, would you say that the advanced members take the newer members under their wings and work with them, telling them all that they have learned (secrets). Or would you say that it is  more of a "look what I can do" or "look at my tree" situation. I have my own opinion on that. I am a member of a few clubs including Sansui Kai.
It doesn't only have to be those that studied in Japan that have techniques that they covet and don't let out.
Just throwing another wrench in.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: nathanbs on March 25, 2012, 12:10 AM
Hey Elliott,
If we take it a bit further, in your own monthly club meetings at Sansui Kai, besides the paid demonstrations, would you say that the advanced members take the newer members under their wings and work with them, telling them all that they have learned (secrets). Or would you say that it is  more of a "look what I can do" or "look at my tree" situation. I have my own opinion on that. I am a member of a few clubs including Sansui Kai.
It doesn't only have to be those that studied in Japan that have techniques that they covet and don't let out.
Just throwing another wrench in.

Unfortunately there is not a whole lot of original information to be shared with young bonsai enthusiasts here in southern california, especially at the local clubs. You can learn just about everything you are going to learn by reading Nakas books volumn 1 & 2.  If you want to learn something that could even be referred to as a secret you must enroll in classes with teachers like Ted Matson, Tak Shimazu, John Wang, Ryan Neil(if you are lucky to snag him when he is down here), David Nguy and maybe only 1 or 2 others. You can always travel to No. Cal and take classes with Boon or go all of the way up to Oregon to work with Ryan. The more controversial issue here in so. cal is the Naka clan that still preach his gospel(CBS). Dont get me wrong I respect and appreciate everything that John Naka did for bonsai in the 60's, 70's, 80's and even into the 90's. But Naka would be the first to say to be open to change and new techniques.  I think that without their leader there has been some stagnation in bonsai here. In my opinion they arent very willing to accept new techniques and young newer members that whether they like it or not will be the future of Southern Cal. bonsai.  Sorry for my rant.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Tona on March 25, 2012, 12:41 AM
Perhaps what Nathan said is the problem (reality) that I am seeing at demos, shows, clubs etc. It is slightly old school. I agree with Nathan that there is a Naka clan (and I mean no offense to the great bonsai artist that John Naka was). I also respect the teachers that Nathan mentioned. Perhaps the influence of newer blood such as Ryan will spur new ideas and techniques. As Elliott may be intimating at the start of this discussion, I'm just not sure they will be shared with us mortals.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Elliott on March 25, 2012, 03:46 AM
Yeah, what Nathan says. But at Sansui Kai there is no one that I know of holding anything back if they are teaching newbies. There no world class members in that club at this time anyways. There is a certain member who is unfortunately active in the club that is very off putting to new people, but that's his personality, not that he is holding back something.
 Anyways, again, what I'm talking about is something you may have learned from your master in Japan, that is not done by others. Do you share that and if so, with whom?
 99% of what you learn you share and teach, but everything?
I have had someone tell me that they have been told at a study group that they pay alto of $ to be in, not to share the stuff they learn there cause if you have not paid for it, you don't get to use it.
 Again we need to hear from those who are studying in Japan and those who already have and they have not chimed in yet.
Owen; John Wang told me to tell you to go ahead and give us your 2 cents worth LOL!
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Owen Reich on March 25, 2012, 04:22 AM
Sorry, Repotting has kept me busy.  My two cents is that when I teach, I try to dump as much useful information on the subject as I can and hope that some of it "sticks".  I will share 100% of what I know.  Would it help someone who just started?  Probably not.  It would be impressive though  ;D. I think that each person's conception of bonsai evolves at a different rate.  If you don't have a bullet-proof understanding of basic wiring, that is what a teacher should focus on. Your ability to style a tree well depends on it. Crappy wiring = crappy bends, broken branches, bad branch angles, etc.  The reference John K made about wiring is true.  You can show someone how to wire, but after wiring my first few trees here under a Super Critical eye, my technique improved dramatically. 

I love teaching and it also keeps me conscious of little things I should remember myself from time to time. Money does play a role in all this of course.  However, after being slowly bled information by some teachers when I started my bonsai life, I will never do that.  "We're doing a pine workshop, not maples today......"  >:(.  I'd rather overwhelm a student than leave them pissed off and feeling swindled.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Owen Reich on March 25, 2012, 05:23 AM
I feel that a good teacher will be in demand and people who are not qualified or are bad teachers will fade away.  Nowadays, everything is connected and there is no point in hiding anything.  There is of course, misinformation and different ways of accomplishing the same goal.  This is the tough part.  While I enjoy reading blogs and write articles for newsletters and other publications, my heart is in the YouTube series.  Facebook works well for photos and such.  If Bjorn and I do a good job, those videos can be re-watched later once you have more experience on a given task and something will "click".  While I support printed and written bonsai publications completely, the future is in DVD's like Boon's, YouTube, and others. 

Should I be compensated for voluntarily subjecting myself to a life of bonsai b!*<h work?  If I'm a good teacher and help you enjoy and improve your bonsai, yes.  Coming to Japan doesn't make you good at bonsai.  Can't hurt though.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Owen Reich on March 25, 2012, 09:49 AM
I do not think it's possible to share absolutely everything we learn from being in Japan now that I thought about it more.  Some of it is just experiece.  Studying here exposes you to thousands of bonsai made from small group of plant species; both good and bad.  I'm required to evaluate a tree's qualities and come up with a shortlist of strengths and weaknesses for a tree quickly.  Michael Hagerdorn's book refers to getting an "eye for bonsai" and recognizing a "good tree".  That's tough to teach someone in America, but possible. 

One final thought which may get some people fired up in regards to John Naka; not trying to start anything just want some civil feedback of my own.  This is purely my opinion and I never knew the man.  It seems to me that he wrote those two books with a lot of ultimatums and dogma in order to help people new to bonsai have some stable footing from which to set off from.  He may have been constantly haggled for "rules" and so on by his students and laid out the text in a way easier for Westerners to understand.     
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: nathanbs on March 25, 2012, 11:58 AM
One final thought which may get some people fired up in regards to John Naka; not trying to start anything just want some civil feedback of my own.  This is purely my opinion and I never knew the man.  It seems to me that he wrote those two books with a lot of ultimatums and dogma in order to help people new to bonsai have some stable footing from which to set off from.  He may have been constantly haggled for "rules" and so on by his students and laid out the text in a way easier for Westerners to understand.     

Yes i certainly agree and maybe to make it more controversial its very similiar to another book that a man or men wrote thats typically bound in black.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: nathanbs on March 25, 2012, 12:24 PM
Owen thanks for chiming in. By the way did you or do you know of any apprenticeship programs that make you sign any type of confidentiality agreement?
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: jtucker on March 25, 2012, 12:34 PM
Excellent thread! I've been enjoying reading in and I'm impressed with all of my forum-mates for keeping a civil, intelligent and thoughtful conversation  going (I feel like this would've exploded somehow on other forums).

So we have several different types of teachers in our club that I've had experience with. One person says, "Come on over, let's work on some trees. Help me trim/repot/wire/whatever." You go over there, work all day, and learn a ton in  the process. This person buys or makes you lunch and it's a great time and I've never gone over there and not learned something valuable and interesting. I don't know if this person has ever charged anyone for a lesson, ever.

Next person charges people for lessons, takes care of trees for clients, etc. However, if this person knows you, you're free to come over during business hours and hang out and talk or help out. Again, I've never gone over there and NOT learned something, even if my sole purpose was to go over and buy/pick up some trees and head out (somehow that usually takes no less than an hour or so...)

Third person charges for lessons, workshops, everything. Lessons are very formal and focused on a specific topic, and usually at the end it's, let's get back together in a couple months, and I'll charge you x dollars then. Several have commented that this person does the "teach, but don't teach everything" style, and this person has also remarked over and over about how his/her teachers taught in the "teach, but don't teach everything" style.

All three people are thought of very highly in the club and all three are very generous with their time, talent, energy and material donations to the club. At some point, I've heard people say that each person's trees are superior to at least one of the others for some reason or other. Being I don't have a great eye for judging between the various levels of "good" bonsai. I can tell between good and bad bonsai, but that's as far as I'll claim.

I've spent most of my time between the first two instructors, but I've also benefitted from the times I've spent with the third. Each has a strong following of devotees. I think it really depends on the student and what they think they are getting for their money or lack thereof. Perhaps in America many of us prefer things like the current political situation, polarized and simplified (being x means you can't be y). If you work with this teacher, you don't work with that teacher, etc. I don't think this is the way to go. We need to be intelligent consumers of information, whether you get it from a teacher, book, or the internet. Talk to as many people as possible, learn from as many people as possible, work with as many people as possible.

As a schoolteacher by trade, I tend towards the teach everything to everybody. However, after teaching Hot Cross Buns to middle school band kids for 4 years straight, I was thrilled to teach something more advanced. Maybe with bonsai it would be the same thing: once I had a student/apprentice who was ready for something advanced/tricky/secret, I'd be overjoyed to share it :-)
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Elliott on March 25, 2012, 12:38 PM


Yes i certainly agree and maybe to make it more controversial its very similiar to another book that a man or men wrote thats typically bound in black.
[/quote]

HeeeHeeeHeeee

Nate, I'm so proud of you. Someone hand me a tissue.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Owen Reich on March 25, 2012, 06:48 PM
I've never heard of a confidentiality agreement for an apprentice before.  I think fear is a powerful motivator for some, while the highest possible level of respect for your teacher could be another factor; or both.  It's all about teaching styles.  My teacher has taken the time to train me and deal with all the hassle of a non-fluent (in ever aspect of Japanese life including language) foriegn apprentice and take big losses in the short term.  I've basically been adopted.  If my sensei asked me to stop doing something publicly like the video series or writing about sensitive subject, I would.  My teacher doesn't tell meneverything at once, but gives me pieces of the puzzle along the way.  Sometimes it's a "reward" for doing good work.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: bwaynef on March 25, 2012, 08:04 PM
My teacher doesn't tell meneverything at once, but gives me pieces of the puzzle along the way.  Sometimes it's a "reward" for doing good work.

What an AWESOME motivational tool.
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Chrisl on March 26, 2012, 10:07 AM
My teacher doesn't tell meneverything at once, but gives me pieces of the puzzle along the way.  Sometimes it's a "reward" for doing good work.

What an AWESOME motivational tool.

No Doubt!!
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on March 26, 2012, 11:46 AM
So, what's he do for punishment?  :)
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: jtucker on March 26, 2012, 11:15 PM
SIFT FASTER!!!!! >:(
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Owen Reich on March 26, 2012, 11:30 PM
Punishment usually comes in the form of reiterating what I did wrong about 20 times over the course of that day.  He knows how much I hate it  :D.  That and having to wire a really crappy trees for auctions and picking out every imperfection and again, repeating ad nauseum what I did wrong.  That is a powerful motivator! 
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Sulaiman on March 27, 2012, 09:32 AM
Hi All

I am from South Africa where we have the most flora in the world to turn to bonsai but yet our bonsai are of an inferior quality. Meaning the normal bonsaist does not have good looking bonsai's. This excludes our Master's and few dedicated individuals.
1) I agree most don't push themselves to learn all the tricks of the trade.
2)As a guy doing bonsai's for 5 years I am only now only starting to crack the code. e.g How to water properly, correct soil, ramification and nebari.
3)At my club they say you must at least be 10 years into bonsai's  before you move onto intermediate level and I totally agree.
4)Bonsai's is an art that your learn only by practising and can only see by seasonally changes of your bonsai's

Yours Truly
Sulaiman Galant
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: John Kirby on March 27, 2012, 10:41 AM
Time and years in bonsai are a funny thing. I have had the good fortune of studying with Boon for the past 7 years. It has  taken me a number of years to discard the baggage that I brought in to the equation when I first started studying with him. Has been a slow process. Peter Tea started 3 months before me, he only had a couple of years of experience, and he rapidly learned and mastered techniques with no real fear of reversion, Peter still has less than 10 years of experience and I would rate him as excellent by US standards. If you ask Boon what is the most difficult thing to do in Bonsai, he will say "teaching a student who has been in bonsai for 30 years". Frequently, they have repeated year one 30 times and have not really progressed, yet armed with BT1 and BT2, they proceed. I fight reverting to my old ways all the time- especially when I have 100 of something to do.

John
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: Elliott on March 27, 2012, 10:49 AM
Off topic, but John you hit it on the nail exactly! Bad wiring habits and trying to make the best out of less than first rate raw material and many other bad habits are a real set back when you finaly get with a Japanese trained instructor.
 It's even Harder to teach an old dog new tricks when yoi have to unlearn your original bad tricks!
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: bigDave on April 21, 2012, 01:26 AM


So we have several different types of teachers in our club ...

Sounds like a great place.  Keep up the interesting posts J-tucker

I like this forum, you guys are awesome
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: akeppler on April 21, 2012, 10:18 AM
Time and years in bonsai are a funny thing. I have had the good fortune of studying with Boon for the past 7 years. It has  taken me a number of years to discard the baggage that I brought in to the equation when I first started studying with him. Has been a slow process. Peter Tea started 3 months before me, he only had a couple of years of experience, and he rapidly learned and mastered techniques with no real fear of reversion, Peter still has less than 10 years of experience and I would rate him as excellent by US standards. If you ask Boon what is the most difficult thing to do in Bonsai, he will say "teaching a student who has been in bonsai for 30 years". Frequently, they have repeated year one 30 times and have not really progressed, yet armed with BT1 and BT2, they proceed. I fight reverting to my old ways all the time- especially when I have 100 of something to do.

John

If you had to pick one thing you try to revert to, and Boon has taught you a better way, what would that one thing be?
Title: Re: How about a juicy debate?
Post by: John Kirby on April 22, 2012, 06:19 PM
Al, sorry missed this one. Pinching/Green shoot pruning. I have had the habit of constantly pinching junipers and certain types of deciduous trees- keeps em weak, makes them look purdy when they are full, but then there is no structure underneath. Allowing trees to grow out and then prune back to lignified tissue is an easy process to espouse, is often hard to stick with when things get going.