Thursday, April 26, 2012


Still getting pressure to create some kind of certification system.  I'm resistant to it for a number of reasons.  First, certification lead to organizations and dogma and I haven't seen any of those end well.  
Sometime people focus on the messenger and forget the message.  
Sometimes the people who never understood in the first place come to control the organization.  
Almost always, the sense of tribal identity completely washes away the value of the information.

Second, and more important-- what I am trying to teach here is thinking for yourself.  The very fact someone wants outside validation would be a disqualifier for that.

Plus, I don't want people teaching my stuff.  I want them to teach their own stuff as well as they can.  If my information helps with that, great.

My original thought was more towards endorsement than certification.  A series of three pretty scrolls:

"In my opinion, (Name here) is not a complete idiot."
"In my opinion, (Name here) can really think."
"In my opinion, (Name here) gets it."

'Getting it' would be a pretty high accolade, but even 'not a complete idiot' would be rare...

But that's a little flippant.  I got reminded over the weekend (grrr) and had some time to think and write.  For two of the levels the certifications would read like this:

"I believe that (name here) understands and can teach the relevant observational, psychological, physical and legal skills to help students become safer.  He or she thoroughly understands my material and can implement it."

The next level:
"I trust (name) to improvise.  X understands AND explores. He or she will create new stuff better than mine (so I expect and demand).  Simultaneously and more importantly, I believe, (at this time and subject to change) that X is resistant to drinking his/her own koolaid.  That he or she will never be sure, never insist that there is 'one right way'; that X will encourage students to question, debate and test. X understands that the sole legitimate goal of all training is to make the student better-- stronger, smarter, more aware, etc.  That implicit in this is the expectation that the students equall and eventually exceed the instructor.  Otherwise, the instructor has failed."

Something like that.

Yeah, there is stuff I could teach, and will teach and enjoy teaching.  And I can see, I think it is inevitable, some kind of recognition for that.  But just as fighting has almost nothing to do with technique, teaching has almost nothing to do with system.  And all of the important things are more-or-less intangible.  'Can the person fight?' is one question.  'Can the person see what an individual student needs and bring it out?' is deeper and more vague, but infinitely more important.

ConCom in London, Ontario tomorrow at 1000, kicking off five full days of training.  I should be pretty wiped.


Jake said...

I still think you'd do better with some kind of facilitator training model, rather than a certification program. Seems to fit what you do better.

If, y'know, you went that route at all. Not going that route is a perfectly valid choice.

Unknown said...

Can I get one that states I am probably a complete idiot?

Josh Kruschke said...

"Still getting pressure to create some kind of certification system."

Why can't "they," who ever they are, teach under their own name? Is it a lack of confidence in their own ability to think for themselves? They need some one to give them the right answers?

Rory says the right thing to do is.

The best thing Rory has done for me is give me a frame work of questions, so I can find the answers that wirk for me.

What would a certifacation program in tell? These are the current questions we are working on....

Ok, read this book or take this seminar. Now take a this test. Ok, I feel you understood the material, here is a peace of paper that say... what exactly?

Rory is the only one that can teach as Rory every one else will teach Rory through the filter of themselves.

If you want to know what bob thinks Rory knows, go to bob.

Rory I want to get this on paper before it got filtered through the rest of the post.

Now to the rest of the post.

Josh Kruschke said...


That was interesting.

Neil Bednar said...

Or, perhaps instead of a certification system you form a sort of loose "brotherhood". Ultimately, the individuals who are most observant, skilled, clever, open minded, and active in promoting and testing your message(s), will be the ones most effective in doing just that...and others will take note.

Wayne said...

I don't think you need a certification course, doesn't seem your style. Jake's idea is interesting.

Scott said...

It has always shocked me that people could get certified in First-aid type stuff having gotten only 80% of the questions right on a test. 20% wrong is a lot of death.
I never give my students any grade higher than a C-
--So if you want to make up a t-shirt that says "I got a C- in Con-Com and Scenarios from Rory Miller"
I'd paid "certification" prices for it.

Josh Kruschke said...


ush said...

Is'nt Menkyo Kaiden the equivalent of "gets it"?

Anywhoo maybe if candidate A sends you some people that they have trained from scratch and, in your assessment, these people show strong signs of not being complete idiots or really thinking then candidate A can be awarded the "gets it" certificate?

Nomad said...

Yeah, I'd love a certificate that said I probably wasn't a complete idiot.

Old Bull Lee said...

I hope I don't offend you with this statement Rory:

I don't have any exact quotes and I may not be articulating this well, but an idea you often emphasize in your writings is to not just take anyone's word for anything - including Rory Miller's.

It seems like any of these official validation scenarios would encourage the opposite.

Rob Lyman said...

It sounds like a bad idea to me. Zero upside, lots of downside both for you personally and for the ideas you are promoting. Don't do it.

Jim said...

I haven't had the fun of actually training with you -- yet. Gonna make it happen one of these days.

That said -- I do think that, at least for some of your material, you can develop a Train-the-Trainer certification program. Not necessarily for the hands-on, but the Conflict Communications stuff, for example.

Hands on would be harder; I think that would take a facilitator approach, and probably an apprenticeship model.

Kai Jones said...

Tell people who want a certificate to make up their own.

You could hand out certificates of attendance. I've gotten them from seminars so I could prove to my employer I didn't just take an unofficial day off.

Somebody who wants a certificate didn't really get it-how about a certificate that says "I went to the seminar and all I got was this certificate."

Brian said...

As a Karateka I hate the belt system. I'm Nidan, I've whooped Godans and been whooped by kyu ranks.

Belts, titles, certificates don't really mean anything to me. If you'd like to know how long somebody has been teaching or how good they are ask or better yet, listen.

There is some argument for organization but I feel systems tend to do more harm than good.

Rory said...

Old Bull- Far from offending me, I think you pegged it.
Thanks, everyone.

Ymar Sakar said...

One aikido instructor put it in a Japanese philosophical framework that I thought made a lot of sense when I cross referenced it against my own experiences.

I think the only reason to get a system is if you are training a cadre and that cadre needs to train 100 other people for each member of the cadre. Then you need a system. But if Rory is going to tour around personally and doesn't want any assistants, then he can maintain direct control with all its attendant benefits and disadvantages.

A lot of the problems I see with trainees and trainers is that they are too stuck on the monkey see, monkey do paradigm. Meaning, they copy forms and movements, but that is it. They somehow think that if they put the body in motion that after 10,000 tries of this, that the brain will then "get it". But the thing is, that doesn't work. At least, not these days. So most students are at the Shu stage and kept that way by instructors and the low quality training they receive. They are always stuck at the point of memorizing, not thinking. Following along perfectly and copying other people's knowledge rather than making the knowledge their own.

Anonymous said...

Three reasons for certification programs - money, rewarding persistence and awarding someone a higher place (status) in a tribe. These are all typically male-oriented ego needs (women get automatic certification when they produce sons/heirs/future warriors). In modern days, pieces of paper are substitutions for bringing home a nice, juicy mammoth haunch or the head of an enemy.

Certifications can have a real benefit to instructor and student, however, beyond the aforementioned cynical reasoning - they help the instructor define exactly what they want the students to get (the goal) and how the instructor wants to get them there (the path); the student then can focus his or her time and energies on learning.

However, the more you define something, the more specific the goal(s), the more restricted and exclusionary the thinking and experiencing becomes.

A condominium, yes?

Flinthart said...

Posts like this... if I needed a reason to keep reading here, this post would be more than sufficient.

Thank you. In this case, thank you for framing so neatly something I've been thinking for a very long time.

Meagan said...

I totally agree with your comment about dogma... Beware of paradigms! One of the big problems with American medicine (a field I recently divorced) is its dogmatic and outdated framework for conceptualizing patients. I don't have a problem with paradigms per se as conceptual frameworks ARE needed... Hence your dilemma. :). But how does one prevent them from becoming dogmatic views blindly followed by the masses?

Josh Kruschke said...

Some Monty Python

Kasey said...

You need a certification that reads Kasey is sexy as hell and the only reason I roll is to have a chance to secretly snuggle with him

Ymar Sakar said...

I think I would term a 3 tier certification system this way.

Student learns by copying.

Student learns by thinking for themselves.

Student learns by becoming better than the instructor and is expected to create better students than the instructor has done.