View Full Version : Does anyone take "private lessons"?
11-06-2006, 01:49 PM
I'm a brand new aikido student (just two weeks since my first lesson). Well, I've quickly realized that my progress with aikido is going to be directly related with my partner's skills. I'm noticing that when I'm able to work directly with the sensei or more advanced students, I really start to understand the techniques I'm being shown. On the other hand, when I'm paired with a student of roughly my experience...it's a lot tougher.
That said, I was wondering if anyone has ever heard of (or took part in) one-on-one private lessons with a teacher. I realize it would be pricey but I feel like I'd get more out of it.
Does such an animal even exist?
11-06-2006, 02:05 PM
Just my opinion, but I would not recommend doing that. You want to work with as many different people as possible. Every person moves a little differently, the more people you work with the easier it is to trouble shoot when something isn't working for you. As you've probably already experienced you will never throw two people the exact same way. Movements must be adjusted to fit the person you are working with. I do understand your other point about getting more out of working with experienced people. Hopefully at the dojo you practice at there are many people of different levels of experience to work with. Working with people who have more experience is definitely a benefit. Seek them out if you can during class. I do think it is also good to work with people of the same level though, you can learn from them as well. Just my two cents, glad to have another eager aikidoka join the ranks. -Mindy-
11-06-2006, 02:23 PM
Some teachers do private lessons, some don't. For most of the private lessons I've heard you are expected to show up with an uke. Which probably means you'll have a partner about your own rank and pay more for the privilege. If you really want to know if your Sensei offers private lessons you could ask them. The aikiweb archives have some old threads on this topic. http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-3292.html is one discussion.
Hope you enjoy training,
11-06-2006, 02:27 PM
That's actually a really good point! Actually, my "plan" (if you can call it that) would be to take private lessons just until I start to understand the movements really well. Then, I'd like to rejoin the regular classes. I guess I just want to make sure that I get off on the right foot (no pun intended :) ).
11-06-2006, 04:37 PM
I know exactly what your talking about. I few weeks back I was stuck with the same uke for a whole class. The technique was shiho nage (sp?). My uke was a large fellow, and not very experienced in Aikido at all. Every time I tried the technique, it would just feel sloppy, and I didn't feel like I was learning anything, or doing anything right. I didn't have a good training session that night. I noticed the same thing your talking about, when I train with more experienced uke's I feel like I'm really getting the technique, and making advancements. I'm slowly starting to realize that just because my technique doesn't feel as smooth, or the uke doesn't fall as well, doesn't mean I suck, or I cant learn anything from it. When you do something wrong to a veteran uke, they will quickly correct you. However, when with a beginner, you have to kind of fix your own mistakes. Im starting to like practicing with beginners like myself, it helps me keep myself in a sort of "mental check" because if I'm messing up, I'm the one who has to fix it. So as a final note, TRAIN WITH THE NOOBIES AND LOVE IT MAGGOT!
p.s. your not a maggot :circle:
11-06-2006, 04:59 PM
One of the advantages of paired practice is that you get experience dealing with different sized partners with various approaches and levels of experience. Most would not think it advantageous to get used to just one partner, regardless of his(her) skill level. If you find yourself stuck with the same uke in class, you might inquire of your sensei (discreetly) whether partners could be switched in class more often.
More importantly, be patient. Rome was not built in a day, and you won't learn Aikido that way, either. Instead, learn to relax, and enjoy the journey. Even the best of us learned the way you are being taught, and they turned out alright.
11-06-2006, 05:14 PM
I started Aikido about a year and half ago. The dojo I train at is small enough that there is only one advanced student (nikyu) and the instructor (sandan), besides myself on the regular. Then every couple of months one or two new students show up, last for a couple to three months and then split. Every once in a while we get someone who stays for closer to a year. Most of my aikido training has been very back and forth, two months with the instructor and the nikyu, then the new student/s shows up and I train with them for a couple months until they leave (or hopefully stay).
I have found that training with the new students helps me learn quite a bit, while being entirely frustrating at times. Learning the basics seems better with an advanced student or instructor because they teach you cleaner techniques. When training with my instructor, everything feels right, with few errors. When someone new comes along I see a lot of holes in my techniques. As I've progressed the student who is now a nikyu tells me that practicing with me the last year and a half from beginner has helped her find many issues with her techniques and she has learned a great deal more than when it was just the instructor and her.
So, I suppose there is a flipside to the training with the instructor or advanced student only coin. Practicing with beginners helps you learn quicker at times because they are less cooperative with your techniques, so you must adapt to their movements.
One of the advantages of paired practice is that you get experience dealing with different sized partners with various approaches and levels of experience. Most would not think it advantageous to get used to just one partner, regardless of his(her) skill level.
A sensei I used to train with (Sensei William Timms) was asked about private lessons from a stunt man so he could get his black belt in aikido quickly (he needed to get a black belt in 1 martial art as a stunt man). Basically the answer was it would be pretty impossible.
Trying to speed up your aikido through private lessons I think is a waste of time and money. Its the little experiences you develop yourself over time which makes the difference between an aikido veteran and someone who just wears a black belt.
Go to courses, train more, train with different sensei, but don't waste your time and money on private tuition. I'm certainly of the belief that aikido is based on principles that need to be learnt by your body and understood in a physical way, not a set of techniques. Doing things wrong is essential to understanding why it is imperative to do things correctly. Aikido is not 'book knowledge' and will develop naturally through sincere training.
11-07-2006, 04:25 AM
Private lessons are worth it IF you are going to be learning stuff that you would not get to learn in normal class. Let's face it, teachers differ a lot, mostly with culture - take Eastern and Western for instance. A guy who walks around the dojo making small talk while showing off what he knows here and there and letting the students work on stuff themselves would not qualify as a teacher in the West, but is perfectly normal in the East. So this same person would talk in more specific terms (still not giving out all the info, but definitely more pointers) and actually correct a lot of basic stuff if a student went to private lessons and paid the requisite small fortune. In fact, in the past, before mass classes, just about any lesson was "private" and costly. I wouldn't say it is a always waste of time, but the onus is definitely on the student to know what they are getting into, and what they can expect out of it. More and harder training of the same does not qualify as private instruction, rather as special classes (for instructors, or some thing like that, such as Aikikai and Yoshinkan have established already).
11-07-2006, 05:01 AM
I agree with Ian and Clark, private lessons are not practical, although your Sensei could probably use the money. :)
If it's feasible, depending on the dojo schedule, just show up early or stay for a few minutes extra after and if you can get someone around the same experience level as yourself, you can do some experimenting with the basic motions and techniques. If you master these you won't need private lessons. ;)
One of the greatest aspects of the Marital Arts paradigm is that it is more about self-discovery then rote learning.
While I'm agreeing with everyone above,
Didn't Osensei take private lessons from Takeda?
off: Funny how the spell check here doesn't recognize the word "OSensei" :)
11-07-2006, 06:15 AM
one of the things i liked most about training with people my level is a bond you gain over the years worth a lot after a few years.
11-07-2006, 07:13 AM
"I'm a brand new aikido student (just two weeks since my first lesson). Well, I've quickly realized that my progress with aikido is going to be directly related with my partner's skills. I'm noticing that when I'm able to work directly with the sensei or more advanced students, I really start to understand the techniques I'm being shown. On the other hand, when I'm paired with a student of roughly my experience...it's a lot tougher.
That said, I was wondering if anyone has ever heard of (or took part in) one-on-one private lessons with a teacher. I realize it would be pricey but I feel like I'd get more out of it."
It's an interesting question. Here in Houston, all my instructors in the past have offered private lessons but the charge was $100 an hour. My last instructor, (before my current one) always had two or three takers. They were usually shy doctors or lawyers that had the cash. Most of these never transitioned into a regular class and eventually dropped out. Not because of the cost or private nature of the training but because of their "private" personality types that didn't lend itself toward being with other people.
The truth is that even I will give private lessons but not for less than $50 an hour because my time is valuable and for less than that, it's not worth it for me. I have never given a private lesson though because I always tell people that it's not worth it from the financial point of view. A small class can be the same as a private lesson. If you just come to class and do your best for some years, you will find that everything will wind up in the same place and your wallet will be a lot thicker. If you want Aikido to change your life, accept it as it comes to you and don't try to make it fit you. Making Aikido fit you isn't change, adjustment and flexibility. That's staying the way you are already. If you adjust your wants and desires to the art, you will be richer in the end.
11-07-2006, 09:09 AM
Private lessons do exist. They even have them at the Aikikai Honbu dojo. However, I would say to not take the private lessons now for you are still new to the art. If someone is going to charge you that much money per hour that has been stated by another poster, then it is not worth it while you are still learning how to move and the principals of the art. Once you have the hang of some of the principals, how to move, and a basic understanding on how you want your techniques to feel like, then take the private lessons. The Sensei can then pack in a lot more work into the hour and you will be picking it up a lot faster and saving yourself a whole lot of money and time in the process.
11-07-2006, 05:41 PM
One of the greatest aspects of the Marital Arts paradigm is that it is more about self-discovery then rote learning.
11-07-2006, 11:12 PM
Actually, my "plan" (if you can call it that) would be to take private lessons just until I start to understand the movements really well. Then, I'd like to rejoin the regular classes. I guess I just want to make sure that I get off on the right foot (no pun intended :) ).It's easy to get private lessons and for free too. Just keep showing up and from time to time you will be the only one there. The real value though is to keep showing up. As you have noticed - it's a lot easier when you are paired with a senior student and so grab them as much as possible. Don't worry that things do not go as smoothly when two beginners are paired up. It's not going smoothly for both of you and that's an excellent time to think "What could I do to make things go smoothly?"
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